Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
APOSTLE OF THE
RECOGNIZED BY THE
REASONING AS TO THE
1. Translate, "After fourteen years"; namely, from Paul's
conversion inclusive [ALFORD]. In the fourteenth
year from his conversion [BIRKS]. The same visit
to Jerusalem as in
(A.D. 50), when the council of the apostles and
Church decided that Gentile Christians need not be circumcised. His
omitting allusion to that decree is; (1) Because his design here
is to show the Galatians his own independent apostolic authority,
whence he was not likely to support himself by their decision. Thus we
see that general councils are not above apostles. (2) Because he argues
the point upon principle, not authoritative decisions. (3) The decree
did not go the length of the position maintained here: the council did
not impose Mosaic ordinances; the apostle maintains that the Mosaic
institution itself is at an end. (4) The Galatians were Judaizing, not
because the Jewish law was imposed by authority of the Church as
necessary to Christianity, but because they thought it necessary
to be observed by those who aspired to higher perfection
(Ga 3:3; 4:21).
The decree would not at all disprove their view, and therefore would
have been useless to quote. Paul meets them by a far more direct
confutation, "Christ is of no effect unto you whosoever are
justified by the law"
Titus . . . also--specified on account of what follows
as to him, in
Paul and Barnabas, and others, were deputed by the Church of
to consult the apostles and elders at Jerusalem on the question of
circumcision of Gentile Christians.
2. by revelation--not from being absolutely dependent on the
apostles at Jerusalem, but by independent divine "revelation." Quite
consistent with his at the same time, being a deputy from the Church of
states. He by this revelation was led to suggest the sending of
the deputation. Compare the case of Peter being led by vision, and at
the same time by Cornelius' messengers, to go to Cæsarea,
I . . . communicated unto them--namely, "to the
apostles and elders"
to the apostles in particular
privately--that he and the apostles at Jerusalem might decide
previously on the principles to be adopted and set forward before the
It was necessary that the Jerusalem apostles should know beforehand
that the Gospel Paul preached to the Gentiles was the same as theirs,
and had received divine confirmation in the results it wrought on the
Gentile converts. He and Barnabas related to the multitude, not
the nature of the doctrine they preached (as Paul did privately to the
apostles), but only the miracles vouchsafed in proof of God's
sanctioning their preaching to the Gentiles
to them . . . of reputation--James, Cephas, and John,
and probably some of the "elders";
"those who seemed to be somewhat."
lest, &c.--"lest I should be running, or have run, in vain";
that is, that they might see that I am not running, and have not run,
in vain. Paul does not himself fear lest he be running, or had
run, in vain; but lest he should, if he gave them no explanation,
seem so to them. His race was the swift-running
proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles (compare "run,"
Margin, for "Word . . . have free course,"
His running would have been in vain, had circumcision been necessary,
since he did not require it of his converts.
3. But--So far were they from regarding me as running in vain,
that "not even Titus who was with me, who was a Greek
(and therefore uncircumcised), was compelled to be circumcised." So the
Greek should be translated. The "false brethren,"
("certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,"
demanded his circumcision. The apostles, however, constrained by the
firmness of Paul and Barnabas
did not compel or insist on his being circumcised. Thus they virtually
sanctioned Paul's course among the Gentiles and admitted his
independence as an apostle: the point he desires to set forth to the
Galatians. Timothy, on the other hand, as being a proselyte of the
gate, and son of a Jewess
Christianity did not interfere with Jewish usages, regarded merely as
social ordinances, though no longer having their religious
significance, in the case of Jews and proselytes, while the Jewish
polity and temple still stood; after the overthrow of the latter, those
usages naturally ceased. To have insisted on Jewish usages for
Gentile converts, would have been to make them essential parts
of Christianity. To have rudely violated them at first in the case of
Jews, would have been inconsistent with that charity which (in
matters indifferent) is made all things to all men, that by all means
it may win some
Ro 14:1-7, 13-23).
Paul brought Titus about with him as a living example of the power of
the Gospel upon the uncircumcised heathen.
4. And that--that is, What I did concerning Titus (namely, by not
permitting him to be circumcised) was not from contempt of circumcision,
but "on account of the false brethren"
(Ac 15:1, 24)
who, had I yielded to the demand for his being circumcised, would have
perverted the case into a proof that I deemed circumcision necessary.
unawares--"in an underhand manner brought in."
to spy out--as foes in the guise of friends, wishing to destroy and
rob us of
our liberty--from the yoke of the ceremonial law. If they had found
that we circumcised Titus through fear of the apostles, they would have
made that a ground for insisting on imposing the legal yoke on the
bring us into bondage--The Greek future implies the
certainty and continuance of the bondage as the
5. Greek, "To whom not even for an hour did we yield by
subjection." ALFORD renders the Greek
article, "with THE subjection required of
us." The sense rather is, We would willingly have yielded for
love [BENGEL] (if no principle was at
issue), but not in the way of subjection, where "the truth of
was at stake (namely, the fundamental truth of justification by faith
only, without the works of the law, contrasted with another Gospel,
Truth precise, unaccommodating, abandons nothing that belongs to
itself, admits nothing that is inconsistent with it [BENGEL].
might continue with you--Gentiles. We defended for your sakes your
true faith and liberties, which you are now renouncing.
6. Greek, "From those who," &c. He meant to complete the
sentence with "I derived no special advantage"; but he alters it into
"they . . . added nothing to me."
accepteth--so as to show any partiality; "respecteth no man's
seemed to be somewhat--that is, not that they seemed to be what
they were not, but "were reputed as persons of some consequence";
not insinuating a doubt but that they were justly so reputed.
in conference added--or "imparted"; the same Greek as in
"I conferred not with flesh and blood." As I did not by conference
impart to them aught at my conversion, so they now did not impart aught
additional to me, above what I already knew. This proves to the
Galatians his independence as an apostle.
7. contrariwise--on the contrary. So far from adding any new light
to ME, THEY gave in
THEIR adhesion to the new path on which Barnabas and
I, by independent revelation, had entered. So far from censuring, they
gave a hearty approval to my independent course, namely, the innovation
of preaching the Gospel without circumcision to the Gentiles.
when they saw--from the effects which I showed them, were "wrought"
was committed unto me--Greek, "I was entrusted with."
gospel of the uncircumcision--that is, of the Gentiles, who were to
be converted without circumcision being required.
circumcision . . . unto Peter--Peter had originally opened the door
to the Gentiles
(Ac 10:1-48; 15:7).
But in the ultimate apportionment of the spheres of labor, the Jews
were assigned to him (compare
So Paul on the other hand wrote to the Hebrews (compare also
though his main work was among the Gentiles. The non-mention of Peter
in the list of names, presciently through the Spirit, given in the
sixteenth chapter of Romans, shows that Peter's residence at Rome, much
more primacy, was then unknown. The same is palpable from the
sphere here assigned to him.
wrought effectually--that is, made the preached word efficacious to
conversion, not only by sensible miracles, but by the secret mighty
power of the Holy Ghost.
in Peter--ELLICOTT and others, translate, "For Peter."
GROTIUS translates as English Version.
to--with a view to.
was mighty--Translate as before, the Greek being the same,
in me--"for (or 'in') me also."
9. James--placed first in the oldest manuscripts, even before
Peter, as being bishop of Jerusalem, and so presiding at the council
He was called "the Just," from his strict adherence to the law, and so
was especially popular among the Jewish party though he did not fall
into their extremes; whereas Peter was somewhat estranged from them
through his intercourse with the Gentile Christians. To each apostle
was assigned the sphere best suited to his temperament: to James, who
was tenacious of the law, the Jerusalem Jews; to Peter, who had opened
the door to the Gentiles but who was Judaically disposed, the Jews of
the dispersion; to Paul, who, by the miraculous and overwhelming
suddenness of his conversion, had the whole current of his early Jewish
prejudices turned into an utterly opposite direction, the Gentiles. Not
separately and individually, but collectively the apostles together
represented Christ, the One Head, in the apostleship. The twelve
foundation-stones of various colors are joined together to the one
great foundation-stone on which they rest
Re 21:14, 19, 20).
John had got an intimation in Jesus' lifetime of the admission of the
seemed--that is, were reputed to be (see on
pillars, that is, weighty supporters of the Church (compare
perceived the grace . . . given unto me--
gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship--recognizing
me as a colleague in the apostleship, and that the Gospel I preached
by special revelation to the Gentiles was the same as theirs. Compare
10. remember the poor--of the Jewish Christians in Judea, then
distressed. Paul and Barnabas had already done so
the same--the very thing.
I . . . was forward--or "zealous"
Paul was zealous for good works, while denying justification by
11. Peter--"Cephas" in the oldest manuscripts Paul's withstanding
Peter is the strongest proof that the former gives of the independence
of his apostleship in relation to the other apostles, and upsets the
Romish doctrine of Peter's supremacy. The apostles were not always
inspired; but were so always in writing the Scriptures. If then the
inspired men who wrote them were not invariably at other times
infallible, much less were the uninspired men who kept them. The
Christian fathers may be trusted generally as witnesses to facts, but
not implicitly followed in matters of opinion.
come to Antioch--then the citadel of the Gentile Church: where first
the Gospel was preached to idolatrous Gentiles, and where the name
"Christians" was first given
(Ac 11:20, 26),
and where Peter is said to have been subsequently bishop. The question
at Antioch was not whether the Gentiles were admissible to the
Christian covenant without becoming circumcised--that was the question
settled at the Jerusalem council just before--but whether the Gentile
Christians were to be admitted to social intercourse with the Jewish
Christians without conforming to the Jewish institution. The
Judaizers, soon after the council had passed the resolutions
recognizing the equal rights of the Gentile Christians, repaired to
Antioch, the scene of the gathering in of the Gentiles
to witness, what to Jews would look so extraordinary, the receiving of
men to communion of the Church without circumcision. Regarding the
proceeding with prejudice, they explained away the force of the
Jerusalem decision; and probably also desired to watch whether the
Jewish Christians among the Gentiles violated the law, which
that decision did not verbally sanction them in doing, though
giving the Gentiles latitude
to be blamed--rather, "(self)-condemned"; his act at one time
condemning his contrary acting at another time.
12. certain--men: perhaps James' view (in which he was not infallible,
any more than Peter) was that the Jewish converts were still to observe
Jewish ordinances, from which he had decided with the council the
Gentiles should be free
NEANDER, however, may be right in thinking these
self-styled delegates from James were not really from him.
favors this. "Certain from James," may mean merely that they came from
the Church at Jerusalem under James' bishopric. Still James' leanings
were to legalism, and this gave him his influence with the Jewish party
eat with . . . Gentiles--as in
Ac 10:10-20, 48,
according to the command of the vision
Yet after all, this same Peter, through fear of man
was faithless to his own so distinctly avowed principles
We recognize the same old nature in him as led him, after faithfully
witnessing for Christ, yet for a brief space, to deny Him. "Ever the
first to recognize, and the first to draw back from great truths"
[ALFORD]. An undesigned coincidence between the
Gospels and the Epistle in the consistency of character as portrayed in
both. It is beautiful to see how earthly misunderstandings of
Christians are lost in Christ. For in
Peter praises the very Epistles of Paul which he knew contained his own
condemnation. Though apart from one another and differing in
characteristics, the two apostles were one in Christ.
withdrew--Greek, "began to withdraw," &c. This implies a
gradual drawing back; "separated," entire severance.
13. the other--Greek, "the rest."
dissembled likewise--Greek, "joined in hypocrisy," namely, in
living as though the law were necessary to justification, through fear
of man, though they knew from God their Christian liberty of eating with
Gentiles, and had availed themselves of it already
The case was distinct from that in
It was not a question of liberty, and of bearing with others'
infirmities, but one affecting the essence of the Gospel, whether the
Gentiles are to be virtually "compelled to live as do the Jews," in
order to be justified
Barnabas also--"Even Barnabas": one least likely to be led into such
an error, being with Paul in first preaching to the idolatrous Gentiles:
showing the power of bad example and numbers. In Antioch, the capital of
Gentile Christianity and the central point of Christian missions, the
controversy first arose, and in the same spot it now broke out afresh;
and here Paul had first to encounter the party that afterwards
persecuted him in every scene of his labors
14. walked not uprightly--literally, "straight": "were not walking
with straightforward steps." Compare
truth of the gospel--which teaches that justification by legal works
and observances is inconsistent with redemption by Christ. Paul alone
here maintained the truth against Judaism, as afterwards against
(2Ti 4:16, 17).
Peter--"Cephas" in the oldest manuscripts
before . . . all--
If thou, &c.--"If thou, although being a Jew (and therefore one who
might seem to be more bound to the law than the Gentiles), livest
(habitually, without scruple and from conviction,
Ac 15:10, 11)
as a Gentile (freely eating of every food, and living in other respects
also as if legal ordinances in no way justify,
and not as a Jew, how (so the oldest manuscripts read, for
'why') is it that thou art compelling (virtually, by thine example) the
Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (literally, to Judaize, that
is, to keep the ceremonial customs of the Jews: What had been formerly
obedience to the law, is now mere Judaism). The high authority
of Peter would constrain the Gentile Christians to regard Judaizing as
necessary to all, since Jewish Christians could not consort with
Gentile converts in communion without it.
15, 16. Connect these verses together, and read with most of the
oldest manuscripts "But" in the beginning of
"We (I and thou, Peter) by nature (not by proselytism), Jews, and not
sinners as (Jewish language termed the Gentiles) from among the
Gentiles, YET (literally, 'BUT') knowing that . . . even we (resuming the
'we also,' as well as the Gentile sinners; casting away trust in the
law), have believed," &c.
16. not justified by the works of the law--as the GROUND of
justification. "The works of the law" are those which have the law for
their object--which are wrought to fulfil the law [ALFORD].
but by--Translate, "But only (in no other way save) through faith in Jesus Christ,"
as the MEAN and instrument of justification.
Jesus Christ--In the second case, read with the oldest manuscripts,
"Christ Jesus," the Messiahship coming into prominence in the case
of Jewish believers, as "Jesus" does in the first case, referring to
the general proposition.
justified by the faith of Christ--that is, by Christ, the object of
faith, as the ground of our justification.
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified--He rests
his argument on this as an axiom in theology, referring to
"Moses and Jesus Christ; The law and the promise; Doing and believing;
Works and faith; Wages and the gift; The curse and the blessing--are
represented as diametrically opposed" [BENGEL].
The moral law is, in respect to justification, more legal than
the ceremonial, which was an elementary and preliminary Gospel: So
which is more famed for the Decalogue than for the ceremonial law, is
made pre-eminently the type of legal bondage. Thus, justification by
the law, whether the moral or ceremonial, is excluded
17. Greek, "But if, seeking to be justified
IN (that is, in believing union with)
Christ (who has in the Gospel theory fulfilled the law for us),
we (you and I) ourselves also were found
(in your and my former communion with Gentiles) sinners
(such as from the Jewish standpoint that now we resume, we should be regarded,
since we have cast aside the law, thus having put ourselves in the same
category as the Gentiles, who, being without the law, are, in the Jewish
is therefore Christ, the minister of sin?" (Are we to admit the
conclusion, in this case inevitable, that Christ having failed to
justify us by faith, so has become to us the minister of sin, by
putting us in the position of "sinners," as the Judaic theory, if
correct, would make us, along with all others who are "without the
and with whom, by eating with them, we have identified ourselves?) The
Christian mind revolts from so shocking a conclusion, and so, from the
theory which would result in it. The whole sin lies, not with Christ,
but with him who would necessitate such a blasphemous inference. But
his false theory, though "seeking" from Christ, we have not
"found" salvation (in contradiction to Christ's own words,
but "have been ourselves also (like the Gentiles) found" to be
"sinners," by having entered into communion with Gentiles
18. Greek, "For if the things which I overthrew
(by the faith of Christ),
those very things I build up again (namely, legal
righteousness, by subjecting myself to the law), I prove myself
(literally, 'I commend myself') a transgressor." Instead of commending
yourself as you sought to do
end), you merely commend yourself as a transgressor. The "I" is
intended by Paul for Peter to take to himself, as it is
his case, not Paul's own, that is described. A "transgressor" is
another word for "sinner" (in
for "sin is the transgression of the law." You, Peter, by now
asserting the law to be obligatory, are proving yourself a "sinner," or
"transgressor," in your having set it aside by living as the Gentiles,
and with them. Thus you are debarred by transgression from
justification by the law, and you debar yourself from justification by
Christ, since in your theory He becomes a minister of sin.
19. Here Paul seems to pass from his exact words to Peter, to the
general purport of his argument on the question. However, his direct
address to the Galatians seems not to be resumed till
"O foolish Galatians," &c.
For--But I am not a "transgressor" by forsaking the law. "For," &c.
Proving his indignant denial of the consequence that "Christ is the
minister of sin"
and of the premises from which it would follow. Christ, so far from
being the minister of sin and death, is the establisher of
righteousness and life. I am entirely in Him [BENGEL].
I--here emphatical. Paul himself, not Peter, as in
through the law--which was my "schoolmaster to bring me to Christ"
both by its terrors
driving me to Christ, as the refuge from God's wrath against sin, and,
when spiritually understood, teaching that itself is not permanent, but
must give place to Christ, whom it prefigures as its scope and end
and drawing me to Him by its promises (in the prophecies which form
part of the Old Testament law) of a better righteousness, and of God's
law written in the heart
am dead to the law--literally, "I died to the law," and so am dead
to it, that is, am passed from under its power, in respect to
non-justification or condemnation
Ro 6:14; 7:4, 6);
just as a woman, once married and bound to a husband, ceases to be so
bound to him when death interposes, and may be lawfully married to
another husband. So by believing union to Christ in His death, we,
being considered dead with Him, are severed from the law's past power
over us (compare
live unto God--
1Pe 4:1, 2).
20. I am crucified--literally, "I have been crucified with Christ."
This more particularizes the foregoing. "I am dead"
nevertheless I live; yet not I--Greek, "nevertheless I live, no
longer (indeed) I." Though crucified I live; (and this) no longer that
old man such as I once was (compare
No longer Saul the Jew
but "another man"; compare
ELLICOTT and others translate, "And it is
no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me." But the plain
antithesis between "crucified" and "live," requires the translation,
the life which I now live--as contrasted with my life before
in the flesh--My life seems to be a mere animal life "in the flesh,"
but this is not my true life; "it is but the mask of life under which
lives another, namely, Christ, who is my true life" [LUTHER].
I live by the faith, &c.--Greek, "IN faith (namely), that of
(that is, which rests on) the Son of God." "In faith," answers by
contrast to "in the flesh." Faith, not the flesh, is the real
element in which I live. The phrase, "the Son of God," reminds us that
His Divine Sonship is the source of His life-giving power.
loved me--His eternal gratuitous love is the link that unites me to
the Son of God, and His "giving Himself for me," is the strongest proof
of that love.
21. I do not frustrate the grace of God--I do not make it void, as thou, Peter, art doing by Judaizing.
for--justifying the strong expression "frustrate," or "make void."
is dead in vain--Greek, "Christ died needlessly," or "without just
cause." Christ's having died, shows that the law has no power to justify
us; for if the law can justify or make us righteous, the death of Christ
is superfluous [CHRYSOSTOM].