Galatians 2

Galatians 2:1 I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also

The background for this second visit to Jerusalem is found in Acts 15. Apparently, certain Jewish members had come from Judea to Antioch. When they saw all the Gentile converts, they started teaching that these Gentiles should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. Paul, of course, disagreed, 'When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question' (Acts 15:2). This issue is of prime importance to the Galatian saints because false teachers among them had taught the same thing-that they should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.

For the journey, Barnabas came along as Paul's companion. Robert J. Matthews tells us why Paul brought Titus, "Paul apparently saw in Titus living evidence that an uncircumcised Greek could be a model of faith and virtue, strong in the Spirit; in him, Jewish members might see an example of the grace of God given to the Gentiles without the encumbrance of the law of Moses." ("A Crisis, a Council, and Inspired Leadership," Ensign, Oct. 1995, 59)

Dean L. Larsen

"The account of this conference, which can be found in Acts 15, is most revealing. It discloses the intense loyalty that many Church leaders still felt toward the programs and procedures of the old law. This loyalty was obviously an outgrowth of a deep-set conviction on the part of some Church leaders that the 'works of the law' were essential to salvation and that individual progress and perfection could not occur without a strict observance of the rituals. After 'much disputing' at this conference, Peter made an attempt at a compromise that would free the gentile converts from adherence to the provisions of the law, but which would apparently allow the Jewish Christians to continue their old practices if they chose to do so. While Peter's recommendation was accepted by this conference, it is apparent that the issue was not settled. Adherents to the practices within the law of Moses continued to press for an acceptance of their position. Many years later, when Paul visited Jerusalem once again, he encountered the same controversy (see Acts 21:17-24)." ("Some Thoughts on Goal-Setting," Ensign, Feb. 1981, 64)

Galatians 2:2 privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain

Paul had been preaching the gospel for fourteen years without meeting with any other apostles. For fourteen years, there were no general conferences, no telephone calls, and no e-mail messages. The only communication may have been a few letters from Jerusalem. Yet, without as much as a general handbook of instructions, Paul had been preaching the gospel as he knew it. He had been setting up branches of the church, ordaining all the officers and teachers. He may have wondered if he was doing everything as the First Presidency had wanted. Therefore, when he came to Jerusalem he had a private conference with the apostles to make sure he had done things right. The result was that "the leading apostles gave Paul 'the right hands of fellowship' (Gal. 2:9), meaning specifically that they agreed with his procedure on his Gentile missions." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 155.)

Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised

"Out of many inevitable conflicts over the gospel, Titus's trial at the Jerusalem Council stood out. Jewish brethren teaching circumcision insisted that Titus become a full Jewish proselyte in addition to becoming a Christian. But Paul would not even consider such a compromise for a Gentile (Gal. 2:3), and Titus was not 'compelled to be circumcised' (Gal. 2:3)." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 342.)

JST Galatians 2:4-9 Notwithstanding, there were some brought in by false brethren

In the Jerusalem Council, Paul describes three different groups of brethren. First, Paul describes those who were brought in by false brethren who taught that the Gentiles must be circumcised. These were "converted" Pharisees who taught 'That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses' (Acts 15:5). Paul seems to indicate that if he were in charge of the council, he would have kicked these men out. But he rather gave them place because he was subject to Peter's authority (v. 5).

Second, Paul describes a group which most likely represents the elders described in Acts 15:6. Paul's language in describing this group is obscure and confusing (v. 6). Therefore, we will take the liberty to rewrite this verse as follows: "But of these were some elders who seemed to be somewhat deserving of a good reputation, (whether they were or not, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed faithful to the cause in the conference added nothing to me." Of this group, Bruce R. McConkie noted, "Paul was not impressed with the rank and status of the leading brethren who in fact added nothing to his knowledge and understanding of the gospel." (DNTC 2:462)

The third group were the apostles, of whom, at least Peter, John, and James the Lord's brother were present. (James, the brother of John, has already been killed by Herod-see Acts 12:1-2). Paul thought highly of these brethren, for they 'seemed to be pillars' and 'perceived the grace that was given to me' (v. 9).

Galatians 2:9 James, Cephas, and John

This is the only mention of Peter, James, and John acting as a group after the Ascension of Christ. Furthermore, this James is the Lord's brother not the son of Zebedee. Nevertheless, the evidence indicates that these three apostles constituted the First Presidency of the Church.

David O. McKay

"In the light of the organization of the Church today, we know that Peter, James, and John were the men who presided at that time, although it was James who rendered the decision that was made effective throughout all the provinces." (Ancient Apostles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 133.)

Galatians 2:11 when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed

Bruce R. McConkie

"Peter and Paul-both of whom were apostles, both of whom received revelations, saw angels, and were approved of the Lord, and both of whom shall inherit the fulness of the Father's kingdom-these same righteous and mighty preachers disagreed on a basic matter of church policy. Peter was the President of the Church; Paul, an apostle and Peter's junior in the church hierarchy, was subject to the direction of the chief apostle. But Paul was right and Peter was wrong...

"The issue was not whether the Gentiles should receive the gospel. Peter himself had received the revelation that God was no respecter of persons, and that those of all lineages were now to be heirs of salvation along with the Jews. (Acts 10:21-35) Further, the heads of the Church, in council assembled, with the Holy Ghost guiding their minds and directing their decisions, had determined that the Gentiles who received the gospel should not be subject to the law of Moses. (Acts 15:1-35) The Jewish members of the Church, however, had not been able to accept this decision without reservation. They themselves continued to conform to Mosaic performances, and they expected Gentile converts to do likewise. Peter sided with them; Paul publicly withstood the chief apostle and won the debate, as could not otherwise have been the case. Without question, if we had the full account, we would find Peter reversing himself and doing all in his power to get the Jewish saints to believe that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and no longer applied to anyone either Jew or Gentile." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:463-64.)

Galatians 2:12-13 he did eat with the Gentiles

"No pious Jew would of course have sat down at the table of a Gentile (Acts 11:3, Gal. 2:12). If a heathen were invited to a Jewish house, he might not be left alone in the room, else every article of food or drink on the table was henceforth to be regarded as unclean. If cooking utensils were bought of them, they had to be purified by fire or by water; knives to be ground anew...." (Edersheim, Alfred, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, chap. 2)

In spite of the exclusive attitude of the Jews, Peter went to Cornelius, offered him the gospel, baptized him, and ate with him (Acts 10:1-11:18). This monumental event offended the Jewish Christians, who complained, 'thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning' (Acts 11:2-3). The Jerusalem Council verified the principle that Gentiles and Jews should be welcomed on equal ground, without the encumbrances of rabbinical observance. Accordingly, when Peter first came to Antioch, he again dined with Gentile converts.

B. H. Roberts

"After the settlement of this very question of circumcision by the council at Jerusalem, Peter went down to Antioch and at first mingled unreservedly with both Gentile and Jewish converts without distinction, accepting both Jew and Gentile in perfect fellowship, departing entirely from the restraints placed on a Jew by the law of Moses, which rendered it unlawful for one who was a Jew to have such unrestricted fellowship with the Gentiles. But when certain ones came down from James, who resided at Jerusalem, then Peter, fearful of offending 'them which were of the circumcision,' suddenly withdrew his social fellowship from the Gentile converts. Other Jewish brethren did the same; Barnabas, the friend of Paul, being among the number. Whereupon Paul, as he himself testified, withstood Peter to the face, directly charging him before all the brethren with dissimulation, saying: 'If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?'" (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: xlii.)

Joseph Smith

"Paul [was] contending with Peter face to face, with sound and irresistible arguments." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 173.)

Galatians 2:14 why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

After the Jerusalem Council, there is no evidence that Peter actually compelled the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses. However, by observing the Jewish mealtime rituals, Peter's example gave support to those brethren who did want to compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews.

"Peter's influence and example had such weight that Paul recognized if his action were to go unchallenged, it would have repercussions all over the Church and undo most of what the Jerusalem Conference had sought to correct. Righteously indignant at Peter, Barnabas, and the other Jews for their bad example, for 'they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel,' Paul said unto Peter before the entire assemblage, 'If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?' (Gal. 2: 14) This criticism of Paul's must have been very painful to Peter, but he doubtless recognized the justice and moral rightness of the fiery Tarsian's reproof." (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], 63.)

Galatians 2:16 a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ

One can never be justified before God without the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Atonement. You can never attend enough church meetings, keep enough commandments, attend enough temple sessions, do enough home teaching, donate enough to the poor, do enough missionary work, or do enough family history work to qualify yourself for the celestial kingdom. Benjamin said, 'if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants' (Mosiah 2:21).

"Paul preached salvation by grace because he learned that Jesus, out of his infinite love for the entire human family, had made it possible for man to conquer the forces that would bring upon him death and unhappiness. In the scriptural sense, what man does is called 'works,' and what Jesus does for us is called 'grace.' Thus, Jesus does for us what we could not do for ourselves, and we are able to obtain salvation because of his grace." (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 285.)

"Jesus Christ is the one who redeems us from the curse of the law-from the demand for perfect performance-by offering a new means of justification, not by law (keeping all the rules all the time), but by faith in Christ. Although it seems that many naively attempt justification by works, or self-justification, such an attempt constitutes a false trail. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon insist that justification cannot be gained in this way:

'Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of [in] Jesus Christ, . . . that we might be justified by the faith of [in] Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.' (Gal. 2:16.)

'And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. . . . There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.' (2 Ne. 2:5-8.)

"To summarize then-we can't justify ourselves on our own. We can't earn our way into the celestial kingdom by keeping all the commandments. We could in theory, but we can't in practice-because neither you nor I nor anybody else has kept all the commandments. This is so incredibly self-evident and simple that some people can't see it. Think about it. We have already broken some commandment somewhere, so we cannot claim righteousness on the grounds that we keep the commandments. We are already disqualified! Can anyone besides the Savior keep all the commandments all the time? If our only hope of inheriting the celestial kingdom lies in keeping all the rules, obeying all the commandments, and living all the principles perfectly, then you and I blew our chances long ago. It is true that the gospel provides repentance, forgiveness, and atonement, but these are remedies for disobedience rather than rewards for obedience.

"Many members of the Church confuse the long-term goal of individual perfection with the short-term necessity of perfection-in-Christ, mistakenly concluding that they must perfect themselves by their own efforts before they have hope of receiving the kingdom of God. Elder Bruce R. McConkie referred to this idea as one of the deadly heresies of the modern Church. If it were possible to perfect ourselves, to make ourselves worthy of the kingdom of God by our own efforts, we wouldn't need Jesus Christ at all: 'I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by [keeping] the law, then Christ is dead in vain.' (Gal. 2:21.) If we could be justified by our own efforts, then we wouldn't need a savior at all, and Christ's infinite sacrifice would have been all for nothing." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 42.)

Gerald N. Lund

"...remember that Paul said we are justified through and by faith (see Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:28), which is the first principle of the gospel. In other words, faith is the principle that activates the power of the Atonement in our lives, and we are put back into a proper relationship with God (justification) as faith activates that power. There are marvelous implications in this concept, and perhaps another analogy can help us see more clearly the role faith and works play in achieving salvation:

"We are like a powerhouse on a mighty river. The powerhouse has no power residing in itself; the potential power rests in the energy of the river. When that source of power flows through the generators of the power plant, power is transferred from the river to the power plant and sent out into the homes (lives) of others. So it is with faith. The power to achieve justification does not reside in man. Man requires the power of the atonement of Christ flowing into him. If no power is being generated, one does not-indeed, cannot-turn the generators by hand (justification by works); but rather, an effort is made to remove those things which have blocked the power from flowing into the generators (working righteousness as a result of faith). With this background then, one can understand why the scriptures clearly stress that faith includes works (see James 2:17-26); that is, obedience, commitment, and repentance-these are the works of faith that open up the channels so that the power of the atoning sacrifice of Christ can flow into us, redeem us from sin, and bring us back into the presence of God. Disobedience and wickedness dam those channels. (How literal is the word damnation!) The righteous works in themselves do not save us. The atoning power of God saves us. But our righteous works, activated by our faith in the Savior, are the condition for the operation of that power. Thus, each of us has something to say about whether he will be able to seek the gift and power of the Atonement in his behalf." ("Salvation: By Grace or by Works?" Ensign, Apr. 1981, 23)

Galatians 2:18 Paul Paraphrased

Bruce R. McConkie

"'If I should build again the law of Moses, which I have already helped destroy, I would be a transgressor.' Or: 'If I should attempt to strengthen and sustain sectarian doctrines, which I have already refuted, I would be a sinner.'" (DNTC, 2:464)

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live

"Paul wrote: 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2:20). That is, Paul acknowledged that he had died as to the old man of sin. But he was alive spiritually, not of himself, but of and through his Lord and Master. Paul probably did not have to psych himself up for every meeting, push himself to visit every branch of the church, grit his teeth and hold to the iron rod with white knuckles until a given task was completed. His motivation was not of himself alone. It was the Lord Jesus, through his Holy Spirit, who provided life and light and additional motivation for Paul's good works." (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 22.)

"Thus the death of the natural man is followed by the birth of the spiritual man and the rise to a newness of life. 'Our old man is crucified with him,' Paul said, 'that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin' (Rom. 6:6). To the Galatians Paul likewise taught: 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. 2:20). From the Christian perspective, then, our earthly stains were affixed (with our Savior) to Golgotha's cross (see Col. 2:14). President Joseph F. Smith thus reminded us that 'having been born anew, which is the putting away of the old man sin, and putting on of the man Christ Jesus, we have become soldiers of the Cross, having enlisted under the banner of Jehovah for time and for eternity'" (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 38.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"This wondrous concept is one about which the apostles of old had much to say. 'I am crucified with Christ' (Gal. 2:20), Paul said, meaning that he had 'crucified' the 'old man, . . . the body of sin,' that henceforth he 'should not serve sin' (Rom. 6:6). As a result-that is, because he had forsaken the world to 'walk in newness of life' (Rom. 6:4), and had 'put on Christ' (Gal. 3:27)-he was able to say: 'Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God' (Gal. 2:20).

"As taught by the inspired men of old, this doctrine is that the true saints turn from all evil and cleave unto all good 'until Christ be formed' in them. (Gal. 4:19.) They are then able to say: We shall triumph over all the trials of mortality because we go forth, 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.' Their pledge then is: We shall so live 'that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.' (2 Cor. 4:10-11.)

"Paul said to his Ephesian brethren: I pray to the Father that you shall 'be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith,' until through knowledge, obedience, and righteousness 'ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.' (Eph. 3:14-19.)

"'The fulness of God'! What is it? It is to be one with the Father. Jesus spoke of gaining 'all power . . . in heaven and in earth.' (Matt. 28:18.) Such is the reward for all those who 'pass by the angels, and the gods, . . . to their exaltation and glory in all things, . . . which glory shall be a fulness. . . . Then shall they be gods.' (D&C 132:19-20.)" (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 125.)

Galatians 2:20 the Son of God...loved me, and gave himself for me

James E. Faust

"...our Heavenly Father has given us many wonderful gifts not knowing if they would be accepted. He has offered us his peace, his comfort, his love. All we have to do to accept his gifts is to be obedient and follow him.

"Many problems face each one of us. Yet I have the simple faith that many, if not all, of the questions and answers can be measured against Paul's sublime message to the Galatians: 'Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' (Galatians 2:20.)" (The Greatest Gift [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 6.)