Galatians 2:7-11

In Galatians 2:7-11 Paul talks about the leaders of the church in Jerusalem approving of his preaching of the Gospel. Specifically those leaders were James, the brother of Jesus; Peter, and John. They accepted the fact that Paul had been called to take the Gospel to the Gentiles like they were taking it to the Jews. “On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles)”

Paul knew his calling was from God. He’d had a direct interaction with Jesus and knew the Gospel that had been given to him to spread to the Gentiles. So he didn’t need the blessing of these leaders, but wanted it so all would know of his calling “and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” The Jerusalem leaders blessed Paul and Barnabas and the ministry they were called to go do and made it clear to all of Paul’s calling and the Gospel he was preaching as being of God.

The Jerusalem leaders only asked Paul and his team to do one thing: “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” There were many poor believers in Jerusalem that the leaders asked Paul to keep in mind. They were asking that he gather money from the churches along his journey that could be used for the sake of those in Jerusalem in dire need. And Paul certainly did that over and over on his missionary journeys. A bit later though, there was a showdown between Paul and Peter at the church in Antioch. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.”

Peter had previously been in agreement with Paul that they could welcome Gentiles into the church without bringing them under the Law of Moses. But when Peter came to Antioch (Paul’s home church), it was another story. He refused to associate with Gentile Christians once certain Jewish believers from Jerusalem came. “For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles…”. Peter waffles on his early acceptance of Gentile believers as he deals with other Jewish believers who did not agree with this stance. Knowing their background, Peter knew they would be offended at his fellowship with Gentiles who had not come under the Law of Moses. In their eyes, these uncircumcised Gentiles were not really Christians at all. Therefore, to please them and to avoid a conflict, Peter treated these Gentile Christians as if they were not Christians at all.

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