Read Galatians 2:1-10
1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. 3Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
6As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (NIV)
Paul continues to put forth his resume to the Galatian church. Many believe that the Galatian churches were started only 1 to 2 years before Paul writes this letter. The letter is one of Paul’s earliest letters. Most think it was his second letter with 1st Thessalonians being the first letter Paul wrote.
Paul is having to reintroduce himself because after he left, others preachers came in after him and preached “a different gospel,” one in which the Gentile believers needed to become Jews. So Paul is beginning his letter with addressing the problem of this approach and in this section of the letter attempts to show that what he preached was presented to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem and was accepted by them.
One of the things we miss in this letter is seeing the Greek in this section. It is fragmented and shows Paul is struggling with the right words to use about his address to the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem. He doesn’t want to say too little, but he also doesn’t want to say too much. He is choosing his words carefully to both stand up for his calling and at the same time honoring the leadership at Jerusalem.
This is an important point because it shows in this passage that Paul wants to honor the leadership in Jerusalem and yet at the same time, show that what he was given was of God. We read that while he was there, a problem was discussed which involved Titus and whether Titus needed to be circumcised. You get the feeling that Paul was encourage to do this for the peace, but Paul stood firm knowing that if he gave in, then much of the Gospel message he had given and the churches he started would be under an attack to loss the understanding that it is faith in Christ that saves us, not adherence to a law or doctrine that does.
Paul gives us a model to use in dealing with the world. We can show respect to those who differ from us, but we can also still stand on what we believe. We do not have to set aside our beliefs to appease others. But we must do it with respect. That is what our country has been losing sight of over the last 20 or so years. We have lost the respect of people we disagree with. We cannot preach the Gospel to people if we don’t first care about them.
How do we show respect to those who want us to compromise and yet still stand our ground? This is something to think about. I am reminded by something Bill Bright said some years about. He said that Christians have lost much of their freedoms, not because they were taken from them, but because they gave them up without question. We need to learn to stand up for what we believe and do it with honor and respect.
Blessings and Peace