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Preserving The Gospel

As we continue our journey through Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, we move to chapter two this week.  Paul has spent his time in the first chapter doing three basic things:

  1. Defending his apostolic authority
  2. Defending the gospel he is called to proclaim
  3. Defending the mission he is called to

Chapter two brings Paul to a different focus.  Whereas he was trying to establish his independence from the other apostles in the first chapter, now he attempts to show his unity with them.  Why?  For the sake of preserving the gospel.

After Paul had previously gone to Jerusalem, he spent an interval of fourteen years away on missionary journeys proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.  He, Barnabas and Titus went up to Jerusalem.  Why?  Because of a revelation.  While at Antioch, some false brethren came from Jerusalem teaching that one had to be circumcised as well as have faith in Christ to be in the Church.  The brethren decided to send Paul and Barnabas, prompted by the Holy Spirit it seems, to Jerusalem to settle the matter.  That is how important this issue was.  They took Titus along, who was a Gentile, as evidence of the results of the gospel work they were doing.

Paul met with those who were of reputation.  He submitted to them the gospel that he preached.  Notice how he did this.  He did this in private.  Why?  For fear that the work he had been doing was in vain.  Paul wanted unity in the gospel, so he was afraid that his gospel and the other apostle’s were not in unity.

Paul goes on to state that those who were of high reputation contributed nothing to him.  Why is Paul saying this way to the Galatians.  He has already described the apostle’s as being reputation.  There must be significance to this.  We must remember that the false brethren, the Judaizers, came in throwing the apostles from Jerusalem names around.  Paul is simply bringing them down a notch from the loftier status they had been placed.  They did nothing to add to the gospel Paul preached.  Instead, they saw that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.  The same God and the same Christ who worked through Peter worked through Paul.

What were the results of this meeting?  They gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.  Unity was preserved.  Most of all, the gospel was preserved.  The apostles and Paul were on the same page.  They only thing they encouraged Paul was to remember the poor –  the very thing he wanted to do.

What can we learn through this set of events?

1.  Truth matters.  Paul believed in what he was doing.  He was willing to fight for it.  He was not willing to lay down or compromise with the false brethren.

2.  Handling conflict.  Paul handled the problems in a way that was biblical and practical.  How much better would our conflicts be if we approached them with someone in private first?

3.  Unity was maintained.  Unity within the church remained and the gospel flourished.

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