(Gal 2:1 NASB) Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
Gal 2:1: The fourteen years mentioned by Paul is probably a reference to fourteen years after Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem. That time frame would make these verses a reference to Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council.
(Gal 2:2 NASB) And it was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
Gal 2:2: Paul met with those of good reputation. That would have been the Apostles and elders. Once again, this appears to be a clear reference to the meeting of the Jerusalem Council as described in Acts 15.
(Gal 2:3 NASB) But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Gal 2:3: Titus was not “compelled,” or a better word, “forced” to be circumcised. The Greek word “anagkazw:G315” is used in a manner that means “forced” or “made.” It does not mean “he was not convinced that circumcision was necessary.” The translators seem to want to help us understand their theology instead of the text of the passage.
Therefore this passage is saying that Titus was not forced to become a proselyte. He was not forced into becoming a convert to Judaism in order to be “saved.”
However, Timothy wished to be circumcised out of obedience to Elohim’s Law (Acts 16:1-3).
(Gal 2:4 NASB) But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
Gal 2:4: These false brethren were not good men. They were intentionally attempting to pollute the message of becoming a part of the Kingdom through Yeshua. They were teaching that one must become a Jewish convert and be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-4).
Paul says that the false brethren had “sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Messiah Yeshua.” What “liberty” was Paul speaking of? He was speaking of the liberty we in being a part of the Kingdom through Messiah Yeshua without converting to Judaism.
(Gal 2:5 NASB) But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
(Gal 2:6 NASB) But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)– well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.
Gal 2:6: Paul said that he did not want to yield in subjection to them and their religion for even an hour. The Greek word for “subjection” means “control.” Paul did not want them to control him as they do the Jewish masses.
Paul knew they did not need to go through their traditions in order to be a servant to Elohim.
Elohim does not play favorites. Even though these Judaizers were powerful and influential men, they did not concern Paul. He knows that Elohim does not judge people from the superficial, external point of view.
(Gal 2:7 NASB) But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised
(Gal 2:8 NASB) (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),
Gal 2:8: At that time, Paul was responsible for the mission to the Gentiles and Peter was responsible for the mission to the Jewish people.
“He who effectually worked for Peter…” and Paul was the Spirit of Elohim.
(Gal 2:9 NASB) and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
Gal 2:9: James, Cephas (Peter), and John recognized the grace that had been given to Paul. Remember that Paul, at one time, was against the followers of Yeshua. But by the grace of Elohim, he was brought to Yeshua Messiah.
Those three men gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship to go to the Gentiles with the message of Messiah and Torah.
(Gal 2:10 NASB) They only asked us to remember the poor– the very thing I also was eager to do.
Gal 2:10: Paul has a heart for the poor because he follows Torah (Deut. 15:4-8). The believers in Jerusalem were very poor and were being taken care of by the believers according to Torah also (Romans 15:26).
(Gal 2:11 NASB) But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Gal 2:11: Paul and Peter had an argument and it was for good reason. Paul says that Peter “stood condemned.”
(Gal 2:12 NASB) For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
Gal 2:12: Peter was being a hypocrite. He would fellowship with the Gentiles until men appeared that were sent from James. Then he would only fellowship with the Jews. It seems that Barnabas was doing this also.
This was a part of Rabbinic teaching. According to the Rabbis, it was allegedly unlawful for a Jew to associate with a Gentile. But Peter had already learned this (Acts 10:28).
Many Christians are under the misconception that Torah teaches that the Jew should not associate with the Gentile, therefore this passage is saying that we should no longer follow Torah. But Torah says no such thing. It was the Talmudic teaching of the Pharisees that states the Jew should not associate with the Gentile. It is Talmudic dogma filled with hate against other peoples that Paul was against.
(Gal 2:13 NASB) And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Gal 2:13: Those men that James sent joined Peter in his hypocrisy. Barnabas was caught up in this sinful elitist mentality also.
(Gal 2:14 NASB) But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Gal 2:14: Paul says they were not straightforward about the Truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom is for all whom Elohim chooses. But Cephas and the others were treating Gentiles with contempt simply because they were Gentiles.
Paul tells Cephas, “If you live like the sinning Gentiles, How can you compel the sinning Gentiles to live like Jews?” By putting together both verses 14 & 15, this meaning is crystal clear.
(Gal 2:15 NASB) “We are Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles;
Gal 2:15: Paul is confronting Peter for his hypocrisy. Before the men from James arrived, Peter was telling the Gentiles to live sinless lives. But when the other Jews arrived, Peter shunned them in the same manner he did before. Peter was treating them as if they were not as worthy of Messiah as were he and the other Jews.
Paul says, “You tell them to live sinless, yet you sin right in front of them and TO them.” They were not being straightforward with the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom because they were going back to disallowing Gentiles.
(Gal 2:16 NASB) nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 2:16: Paul is saying that even though they are to live sinless lives, they are not saved (justified) through Torah. Following Torah does not provide justification to Elohim. Justification comes only through the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua. Cephas knows this, but Paul publicly rebukes him for his sinful hypocrisy.
Paul restates the fact that man is not justified by the works of Torah that Cephas was to teach the people in Galatia. However, that did not keep Paul from getting publicly angry with Cephas for breaking Torah by acting as if Elohim is a respecter of persons.
The Tanakh also teaches that man is not saved by following Torah (1 Kings 8:46, Job 4:17, 15:14, Psalm 130:3-4, 143:2, Prov. 20:9, Ecc. 7:20, Isa. 53:6).
(Gal 2:17 NASB) “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!
Gal 2:17: Paul is continuing his rebuke of Peter. He tells Peter, “if we, who are saved through Messiah, are hypocritical sinners, is Messiah then a minister of sin (lawlessness)?”
If we are truly justified through Messiah, we will avoid sin in our lives.
Apparently Paul thought that a public sin deserved a public rebuke. Just because we are not justified by following Torah, we do not have a license to sin in any way.
(Gal 2:18 NASB) “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
Gal 2:18: Peter was rebuilding the myth that Gentiles are unclean and Jews are clean. He was taught that was wrong by the vision of unclean things in Acts 10.
Paul is continuing his rebuke of Peter by telling him that if he goes back to treating the Gentiles as sinners since they are not Jews, then he is proving himself to be the transgressor.
(Gal 2:19 NASB) “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.
Gal 2:19: Verse 19 is a very difficult verse to interpret because it does not seem to make sense by itself. Is Paul saying that Torah must not be followed in order to live to Elohim? That is an absurd thought which certainly contradicts many of his own statements, including what Paul just now told Cephas.
This statement of Paul’s is best explained by Paul himself in Romans 7:1-13:
(Rom 7:1 NASB) Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
Rom 7:1: “Or do you not know,….” Paul is saying, “Are you ignorant?” He was always blunt in his teaching and never beat around the bush. Torah has jurisdiction and should be followed by a person as long as he lives.
Paul never taught against following Torah. He says here a man should follow it all his life.
But Paul is going to make a comparison between those who seek to follow Torah alone for salvation, such as those who were steeped in Judaism sought to do, and those who are alive through the blood of Messiah.
Paul says that Torah has jurisdiction over a man as long as he lives. Death is the only thing that separates a man from the jurisdiction of Torah. It is only at death that we are released from the judgment of Torah. Because of this, we must die with Messiah on the tree in order to be wed to Him. Then we have life through Him.
(Rom 7:2 NASB) For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
Rom 7:2: Paul is not trying to give us rules about marriage and divorce. He is using this law to illustrate that a wife is bound to her husband until death. In other words, if he is dead, she is no longer married to him.
He is using this illustration to show how we are under the jurisdiction of Torah while we are alive.
(Rom 7:3 NASB) So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.
Rom 7:3: Some people claim that this verse prohibits divorce and remarriage. That is not what Paul is trying to convey here. For someone to make that claim means that they have no idea what Paul is saying in this section of Romans. Divorce and remarriage are not actually mentioned in this passage at all.
Paul is making the narrow illustration that a woman is bound to her husband until he dies. Then she is free to remarry.
(Rom 7:4 NASB) Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.
Rom 7:4: The wife represents the believer in Messiah. The second husband represents Messiah. Who (or what) is represented by the first husband? The first husband represents Adam and our sinful position in Him which leads to judgment according to Torah which means death. We have been told in previous chapters how we are joined to Adam and death is the result.
Torah was given to control our sinfulness, but we in our sinful flesh are not able to live up to Torah in an of itself.
Paul says that when Messiah died in His body, we are identified in Messiah in His death, and now we are dead to the condemnation of the Law and that condemnation through the Law is dead to us. The first husband is Adam, and we are no longer joined with him. We are now joined to the living Messiah. We died with Him and are raised with Him. He is the second husband and enables us to bear fruit. The believer is not under the condemnation of Torah, but is under grace of Elohim.
(Rom 7:5 NASB) For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Rom 7:5: Before we came to Messiah, the sinful passions which were defined by Torah, were at work in our body. Those sinful passions led to death. The word “arounsed” is not in the Greek. Torah does not “arounse us to sinful passions.”
Torah is there to define sin for us. It is not there to control the flesh. The flesh, without Messiah, has no desire to follow Torah. The flesh broke the Law and suffers the penalty. Death.
(Rom 7:6 NASB) But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Rom 7:6: We shouldn’t follow the Torah simply because it is a list of written rules and regulations. But we should delight in serving Elohim because we love Him and want to please Him.
Yeshua said to the disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, 21-24, 1 John 2:3-7). Serving Yeshua is not a matter reading and observing the rules. It is an act of love.
The question for believers is not whether he will follow a written set of rules for salvation. The question for the believer is this, “Do you love Yeshua? If so, then there is only one way to do so (2 John 6).
Paul is saying that we should not follow Torah because it is a written set of dos and don’t. We should follow Torah out of love because His Spirit is within us.
(Rom 7:7 NASB) What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”
Rom 7:7: Paul is making it clear here that Torah is not the problem. Torah defines for us what “sin” is. Paul admits that he would not know not to covet if it were not for Torah.
(Rom 7:8 NASB) But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
Rom 7:8: Paul says that apart from Torah sin is “dead.” He doesn’t say that sin does not exist, but that it is dead.
Paul is going to show here that the Torah and sin are not the same thing. Torah is Elohim’s will for us. The problem is not with the Torah, but with us. Our own sinful flesh is incapable of following Elohim’s will.
Why don’t more people want to study Elohim’s Word? We all like to look at ourselves in the mirror on many occasions, but the Word of Elohim is a mirror that the sinful flesh does not want to look into. We cannot look good if we gaze into that mirror. We end up looking like sinners.
Notice here in this section that Paul uses himself as an example of our struggle against sin. He uses “I, me, and myself” in the next few verses.
(Rom 7:9 NASB) And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;
Rom 7:9: Torah does not bring us salvation. It only brings death to us because it shows us our sins and brings about our condemnation.
When there is Torah, sin becomes alive and it kills us. Torah shows us our sinfullness and our judgment that awaits us.
(Rom 7:10 NASB) and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
Rom 7:10: Elohim tells us if we obey the commandments, we will live (Deut. 8:1). Through Yeshua we can obey Elohim and have life. Yeshua said that is why He came (John 10:10). Through the Messiah and through the Spirit of Elohim we can have life and have it abundantly.
(Rom 7:11 NASB) for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.
Rom 7:11: Sin will lead us to death. Torah merely defines sin. We are dead and condemned in Torah through our own efforts.
(Rom 7:12 NASB) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Rom 7:12: Paul never preaches against the Law of Elohim. He knows the Torah is set-apart. He clearly states that the commandments are holy and righteous and good. Paul has already said in this letter that we establish Torah through faith (Romans 3:31).
He knows there is nothing at all wrong with Torah. It is exact, precise, and is the will of Elohim. The only problem is mankind. Man is the sinful and unpredictable one.
(Rom 7:13 NASB) Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Rom 7:13: Torah did not cause our death. It is our own actions, our own sin, which produced death. The Law defines sin for us., Paul makes that abundantly clear. If the Law defines sin, why should we not follow the Law and avoid that which is utterly sinful?
Man needed help because sin was defined by Torah and man cannot overcome the judgment and awfulness of sin.
Therefore, we see that Paul in this short passage in Galatians 2:19-20, is giving us the truth that we must die to the sin in our lives because Torah demands death as the penalty for our willful sin. But we have life through Messiah and His Spirit within us that gives us the desire and power to live by faith and in a manner pleasing to Elohim, which is in accordance with His Torah (1 Peter 2:24).
(Gal 2:20 NASB) “I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 delivered Himself up for me.
Gal 2:20: These are some of the most beautiful words of Scripture. We died to Torah alone and were crucified with Messiah because Torah alone cannot save us. Messiah lives within us and and we are to live by that faithfulness. This also means the traditions of man that had been attached to Torah had to be abandoned.
(Gal 2:21 NASB) “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Gal 2:21: If we are righteous (justified) through obedience to Torah, then Messiah died in vain. Our faithfulness in the death, burial and resurrection in Messiah is the only way we can live in righteousness. If we live according to this fact, then we cannot have sin in our lives. If we do, then we make Messiah a minister of sin, as Paul told Peter earlier.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas