Verse 1 – Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
Verse 2 – And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
Verse 3 – Yet not even Titus who was with me, being Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Some were teaching that, upon conversion, one must be circumcised. so when Paul went to the leaders in Jerusalem he told them privately this was not necessary.
Verse 4 – But this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
Verse 5 – to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
When Paul took Titus, a Greek Christian, to Jerusalem, the Judaizers (false teachers) said that Titus should be circumcised. Paul adamantly refused their demands. Paul was basically telling them that Gentiles did not need to become a Jew before becoming Christians.
Verse 6 – But from those who seemed to be something – whatever they were, it makes no difference to me, God shows personal favoritism to no man – for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
Paul was not intimidated by those who seemed to be important. Whatever their rank, it did not affect Paul’s authority.
Verse 7 – But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter
Verse 8 – (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
Verse 9 – and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
The church leaders, James, Peter, and John, realized that God was using Paul to reach the Gentiles, just as Peter was being used to reach the Jews (the circumcised). After hearing Paul’s message, they gave Paul and Barnabas their approval (the right hand of fellowship).
Verse 10 – They desire only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
The need for believers to care for the poor are a constant theme in Scripture.
Verse 11 – But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
Verse 12 – for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
Verse 13 – And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
Before these Jews came to Antioch from Jerusalem, Peter was eating with the Gentiles. After these Jews came, he separated himself from them because he feared them. Paul rebuked Peter to his face. The Jews that came from Jerusalem believed the Gentiles converts needed to follow all Jewish rites.
Verse 14 – But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Verse 15 – “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Verse 16 – knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Paul was not saying that we shouldn’t obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws, he was saying that by keeping the law it would never be enough to make us acceptable to God. The law does not make us righteous.
Verse 17 – “But if , while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!
Verse 18 – “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
Verse 19 – “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
“I have died,” means being crucified with Christ, as if the believer died on the cross with Jesus. There the Christian lives by faith in Jesus Christ.
Verse 20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Verse 21 – “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Through the cross and Christ’s death, is the only way to salvation. None of us could ever be good enough to be justified. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for yours and my salvation. Believe in Him and you shall be saved.