Grace Life Study

Galatians 2


1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.

  • This could be referring to the fourteen years after his conversion that he spoke of in the previous verses, or if this is fourteen years after his first visit to Galatia, which was also mentioned in the previous verses.
  • Barnabas was a Jewish brother who helped evangelize and establish the Galatian churches on Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14).
  • Titus was a Gentile convert to Christ but not submitted to the Jewish rite of circumcision, which will be explained as the letter continues.


2  And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.

  • These leaders are mentioned by name in verse 9: Peter, James, John, and Paul. They came together to discuss the problems of the Gospel and the Law among the Jews and Gentiles. By making sure they were all on the same page, they could move forward in presenting the gospel.
  • Paul didn’t compromise, but he didn’t seek to offend either. The fact that he had this private meeting with the leaders of the Jerusalem church shows that he cared about how they received this message and the impact that their opinion would have. 
  • Many times, people will try to push their beliefs on others. Even though your heart may be to set people free, if you do not approach things with wisdom your efforts can be counterproductive.


3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

  • The law had crept its way back into the Galatian church.  They were trying to go back to the law by saying that you must be circumcised to be saved, but the gospel is all about what Jesus did, not what we do.   


4  And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),

  • This is a strange situation. These men were saying that faith alone was not enough, holiness was needed as well. Hebrews 10:10says, “By that will we have been sanctified (or made holy) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” You don’t have to strive for holiness, you’ve already been made holy!Yet, in an effort to promote holiness, they were spying on Titus to see if he was circumcised! This isn’t just something you see walking down the street! . They had to have been spying on him in the latrines or in his private quarters! They had become “peeping Toms” in the name of the Lord. They were committing a much greater sin in the name of holiness than the one they were accusing Titus of.
  • The lesson to be learned here is religion will cause you to do crazy things!


5  to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

  • They stood strong the truth of the gospel, not compromising what they believed. There is a time remain quiet, and there is a time to defend the gospel.
  • Even Jesus, who told us to turn the other cheek got upset at times. The only times He got upset with were the things that were hindering a relationship with Him. God hates religion, or anything that stands in the way of us approaching Him with confidence.


6  But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

  • In the Message Bible, Galatians 2:6 says, “As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn't concern me. God isn't impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.”
  • Again, Paul is proving the authority that this message holds. He was saying that the greatest leaders of the church, Peter, James, and John, didn’t have any additions or corrections to the Gospel that had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.  


7  But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter

  • You can see the gospel by the fruit it produces. Religion and law caused the Jewish leaders to spy on people in their private quarters, but the gospel of grace changed Paul from the “pharisee of all pharisees” to the biggest defender of the faith.
  • Paul was used to reach a certain people group while Peter was used to reach a different group. You can't compare yourself to other ministers of the gospel. Even if you are sharing the same message, you can reach groups of people who they can't, and they can reach people who you can’t.


8  (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

  • This shows the importance of the Body of Christ working together to accomplish different things. I can reach people who you can’t and you can reach people who I can’t. If Christians can work together, we can reach more people than we can on our own.


10  They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

  • James, Cephas, and John only asked Paul and Barnabas to remember the poor, but in all actuality, the gospel will cause you to care for everyone!


11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.

  • The renewing of your mind is a process. We can easily step back into our old ways of thinking if we’re not careful. Even Peter contradicted the very message he preached so Paul confronted him on the matter.
  • This shows the important of having people in our lives who will bring us back down to earth. The disciples were not perfect and if they needed to be reminded of the truth sometimes, just as we do.


13  And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

  • Galatians 2:13 (Passion Translation)  - And so because of Peter’s hypocrisy, many other Jewish believers followed suit, forming a clique and refusing to eat with non-Jewish believers. Even Barnabas was led astray by Peter’s poor example and condoned this legalistic, hypocritical behavior!
  • People are watching you whether you really it or not. The poor decisions you make can cause others to follow suit. Likewise, the good decisions you make can also make a difference.


16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

  • “Justified”  means made righteous. An easy way to remember it is, “Just if I’d never sinned”
  • The KJV says “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
  • Notice that twice in this verse, the faith OF Christ is referred to, and our faith IN Christ is referred to once. It is true that we put faith in Christ, or trust Him, for our salvation. But it is also true that it is not our faith that justifies us but the faith of Christ. We don’t need more faith, we just need to put faith in His faith! That’s what justifies us.
  • We are not righteous by good works or by following the law. Righteousness comes by faith alone.


17  “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

  • Galatians 2:17-18 (Passion) If we are those who desire to be saved from our sins through our union with the Anointed One, does that mean our Messiah promotes our sins if we still acknowledge that we are sinners? How absurd! 18 For if I start over and reconstruct the old religious system that I have torn down with the message of grace, I will appear to be one who turns his back on the truth.
  • This is similar to Paul’s question in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
  • Grace doesn’t promote sin, or give us a license to sin. People sin enough without a license! Grace frees us from the bondage of sin. 
  • When you sin under grace, there is nothing you have to do to cleanse yourself in order to be made holy again in God’s sight. Your lack of sinning doesn’t make you righteous, faith in Christ makes you righteous!
  • The law is what promotes sin. When we magnify sin over the finished work of the cross, we are turning our back on the truth and no longer approach God with confidence.


20  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

  • The King James Version says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
  • Again, the better translation is that we live by the faith OF Jesus. This is one of the most powerful truths in the Bible! You are IN this world, but you are no longer OF this world. It’s not about your faith and abilities, it’s about Jesus’ faith and His abilities working in you.
  • When you put more trust in Jesus’ performance than on your own performance, you will see God move in and through you in ways you never imagined!


21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

  • Frustrating the grace of God means that we are trusting in our own works rather that what was provided by grace through faith.
  • Some say that we were set free from the rituals of the law, but we still need to live by the moral laws. If this is true, what did Christ die for? Part of the law, or the entire law?