Galatians 2:1

Sunday, 23 July 2017

-Today’s teaching will be part one of a new series I’ve titled, “How to Solve Problems.” -In our text today, the Apostle Paul is confronting a serious problem with respect to the churches there in the region of Galatia. -Namely, that of the Judaizers worming their way into these churches and confusing them with a false gospel of faith and works.

-What we’re about to see is Paul, true to form, hitting the problem head-on and in so doing providing us with a template of sorts. -As such, this template will give us practical ways to solve the relational problems that we face in our daily lives as Christians. -My prayer for this teaching series is that we can experience first hand the power of the practical application of the Word of God.

1. Tact (Verses 1-2) 1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. -After saying he went to Jerusalem 3-years when he met Jesus on the Damascus road, 14-years later he makes a second trip. -He then explains that he went in response to a revelation, and to privately present the gospel to those esteemed as leaders. -Then he very interestingly tells them that he wanted to be sure that he was not running nor had been running his race in vain.

-To say what Paul does here is both tactful and remarkable would be a gross understatement, and this for a number of reasons. -Chiefly because, Paul, being both led by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit, does the right thing, and he does it in the right way. -By that I mean Paul could have confronted them publically, instead of meeting with them and communicating to them privately.

-The question becomes why?  Why does Paul use such tact?  The answer is actually twofold, first to avoid unnecessary conflict. -Had he come in hot, so-to-speak, with all guns blazing, he would have added another log to the fire that was already burning. -As one commentator aptly noted, “Paul didn’t do this because he knew being right did not give him the privilege of being rude.”

Proverbs 26:20–21 (NKJV) — 20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) — 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 25:15 (NKJV) — 15 By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.

-A second reason as to why Paul wisely uses such tact is that had he not, damage to his reputation and ministry may ensue. -This explains why he says that he wanted to be sure that he was not running his race, nor had been running his race in vain. -In other words, had he done the right thing in the wrong way and with the wrong heart, it would have marred the work he did.

2. Discernment (Verses 3-5) 3 Yet 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 believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. -In verses 3-5, Paul tells them that not even Titus who was with him, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. -He says that this matter arose due to some false believers infiltrating their ranks undetected to spy on their freedom in Christ. -Paul then tells them that they didn’t give into them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for them.

-This is one of those places where we need a bit of the back-story for the sake of context, so we have a better understanding. -It’s important to note that Titus was a Gentile, which was why he wasn’t circumcised as a requirement of the Law of Moses. -The problem was that there were those in Jerusalem who were requiring that Titus submit to this to show his real commitment.

-It’s for this reason that Paul outs them by exposing them as the legalists they were saying they infiltrated the church as spies. -As one commentator said it, “They crept in to spy on the liberty of Paul Titus and Barnabas-not to celebrate it but to regulate it. -I suppose you could say they didn’t know who they were up against, such that Paul not only discerns it, he doesn’t give in to it.

-By the way, Paul doesn’t only discern it and not give in to it, when we get to chapter 5; he’s downright blunt and harsh about it.

Gal 5:11-12 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

-Lest one think that Paul is being disproportionately harsh in confronting them, let me hasten to say that he knows what’s at risk. -Actually, notice that he refers to this at the end of verse five where he says that at risk was preserving the truth of the gospel. -In other words, the stakes were so high, that the truth of the gospel was in jeopardy of being compromised and even corrupted.

-Had Paul not tackled this serious problem as he did, the church was in danger of being brought back into bondage to the law. -I would suggest that this danger of legalism is alive and well in the church today, and left unchecked it can do unthinkable harm. -Kindly allow me to close by way of an illustration that I think would be apropos in giving us something to take home with us.

-Let’s say that you’re in a conversation with several Christians and someone says, “I don’t have a TV, I got rid of that sinfulness.” -How will you respond? Will you tactfully, perhaps privately communicate to them the legalistic danger it poses to the believer? -Or would you acquiesce to the legalist under the banner of not having a TV being a requirement for a more righteous Christian?