Galatians 2:1-5

Sunday Evening Service

April 17, 2005


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called “Judaizers” who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn’t really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew.

They taught that after a person came to Jesus, they would have to then be circumcised, and begin to follow the Law of Moses.

To those who would teach a perversion of the gospel, Paul did not mince his words:

(Gal 1:9 NKJV) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

We saw Paul begin to describe His conversion, and how it was totally a work of the Lord, no human hands involved.

After coming to the Lord, Paul didn’t begin by enrolling in seminary, but went off to be with the Lord:

(Gal 1:17 NKJV) nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Last week we talked about how Paul’s testimony had been bringing glory to God. People all around had been blown away when they found out how God had been at work in Paul.


In Loving God, Charles Colson tells of a quiet act of forgiveness that began a chain of events that still survives. Deep in one of Siberia’s prison camps a Jew by the name of Dr. Boris Kornfeld was imprisoned. As a medical doctor he worked in surgery and otherwise helped both the staff and the prisoners. He met a Christian, whose name is unknown, whose quiet faith and his frequent reciting of the Lord’s Prayer moved Dr. Kornfeld.

One day, while repairing a guard’s artery which had been cut in a knifing, he seriously considered suturing it in such a way that he would bleed to death a little while later. Then, appalled by the hatred and violence he saw in his own heart, he found himself repeating the words of the nameless prisoner: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

Shortly after that prayer Dr. Kornfeld began to refuse to go along with some of the standard practices of the prison camp, including one day turning in an orderly who had stolen food from a dying patient. After that he knew his life was in danger, so he began to spend as much time as possible in the relative safety of the hospital.

One afternoon he examined a patient who had just been operated on for cancer of the intestines, a man whose eyes and face reflected a depth of spiritual misery and emptiness that moved Kornfeld. So the doctor began to talk to the patient, telling him the entire story, an incredible confession of secret faith.

That night someone snuck in and smashed Dr. Kornfeld’s head while he was asleep—he died a few hours later. But Kornfeld’s testimony did not die. For the patient who had heard his confession, became, as a result, a Christian. And he survived that prison camp and went on to tell the world what he had learned there. The patient was the great writer—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 222-223.

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic testimony. I used to think that I didn’t have a “testimony” because I never used drugs or did bad things. But God is honored and God works through the simple telling of what God has done in your life.

Galatians 2

:1-2 Checking with Jerusalem

:1 Then after fourteen years

Apparently Paul means fourteen years after his conversion.

This is going to be an event that was held in A.D. 50, and hence Paul's conversion was somewhere around A.D. 36.

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

This is going to for the first church "conference" that would ever take place, described in Acts 15.

:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation,

went up – going to Jerusalem.

revelationapokalupsis – laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth, instruction; concerning things before unknown

The way it appears in Acts:

(Acts 15:1-4 NKJV) And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." {2} Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. {3} So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. {4} And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

The church at Antioch became aware of this whole conflict with the Judaizers and apparently decided for Paul and Barnabas to go to Jerusalem to get some guidance.
But Paul clarifies it here, that the way that the church decided what to do, was by revelation.
God had specifically spoken to their hearts and directed them.
It wasn’t done by brainstorming and human problem-solving.
It was done by God speaking.


Let God speak!

God has a wonderful promise:
(Jer 33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
If we will call on Him, He promises to answer us.
You won’t get stuck with God’s answer machine, like …

“The answering machine is on vacation. This is the refrigerator speaking. If you leave a message slowly and clearly, I will write it down and stick it on myself with one of these little magnets. Thank you!”

“Hi. This is John. If you are the phone company, I already sent the money. If you are my parents, please send money. If you are my financial aid institution, you didn't lend me enough money. If you are my friends, you owe me money. If you are a female, don't worry, I have plenty of money.”

“You're growing tired. Your eyelids are getting heavy. You feel very sleepy now. You are gradually losing your willpower and your ability to resist suggestions. When you hear the tone you will feel helplessly compelled to leave your name, number, and a message.”

“I can’t come to the phone now because I have amnesia and I feel stupid talking to people I don’t remember. I’d appreciate it if you could help me out by leaving my name and telling me something about myself. Thanks.”

God will hear our prayers.  He picks up the phone.

Be willing to accept God's answer.

Before God speaks, there is one issue to get out of the way: Are you willing to do what God says?
Jesus said:

(John 7:17 NKJV) "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

In Jeremiah’s life, after the Babylonians had wiped out the nation of Judah, the few remaining people were organized and appointed a governor by the Babylonians. When the governor was assassinated, the people became afraid that the Babylonians were going to punish them.
The few remaining Jews came to Jeremiah to ask God for advice. They said:

(Jer 42:5-6 NKJV) So they said to Jeremiah, "Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the LORD your God sends us by you. {6} "Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God."

They said they were willing to do whatever God says.

Wait for the answer

If God promises to answer, He will.
So wait for it.
With Jeremiah and the people:
(Jer 42:7 NKJV) And it happened after ten days that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah.

Obey God's answer

Everything seemed to be going great up to this point.
Until Jeremiah came back with his answer.

He told them to stay put, and God would take care of them.

Their reply:
(Jer 43:2 NKJV) that Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men spoke, saying to Jeremiah, "You speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, 'Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.'
Wrong response!

:2 lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.

Paul wanted to make sure that he was correct in his doctrine.

Here’s where the cults make their mistakes.


If it’s of the Lord, there will be confirmation

It’s easy to come up with a new teaching.
But it’s another to be correct!
Anybody can claim to have a revelation from God, just as Paul did.
But if it’s really from God, there will be confirmation from several other areas:
Confirmation from God’s Word.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 NLT)  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. {17} It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

Confirmation among the believers.

(1 Cor 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

This is where people like Joseph Smith get off base.
He claimed to have a new revelation from God.
But none of the other church leaders recognized it.

Only the ignorant people willing to be duped followed it.

:3-5 Paul challenged in Jerusalem

:3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Titus was one of Paul’s companions. He was not a Jew. He would later be the pastor over the church on Crete, where Paul would write to him, the letter of Titus.

As Paul was having his doctrine checked out by the other apostles, Titus became a sort of “test case”. But the other apostles never asked Titus to become circumcised.

:4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),

false brethrenpseudadelphos – a false brother; one who ostentatiously professes to be a Christian, but isn’t

(Gal 2:4 NLT) Even that question wouldn't have come up except for some so-called Christians there--false ones, really--who came to spy on us and see our freedom in Christ Jesus. They wanted to force us, like slaves, to follow their Jewish regulations.

Apparently Titus wouldn’t have even been on the radar except that the Judaizers had snuck into some of Paul’s meetings and were trying to force Paul to get Titus circumcised.

bring into bondagekatadouloo – to bring into bondage, enslave

The bondage was a bondage to the Law of Moses. Once Titus becomes circumcised with the Jewish ritual, he is obligated to live according to the Mosaic Law.

:5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Paul never wavered on his convictions over this.

To him he was fighting a battle, a battle for Gentile Christians, a battle over what was right.

He didn't want them to be able to write in their newsletters that the apostle Paul agreed completely with their positions.


Keep it clear.

Sometimes we can try to “keep the peace” with people.
We let them go on and on about their ideas, and we don’t say much in return but just nod.
We give them the idea that they’re beginning to influence us, while we’re just not wanting to make waves.
Remember that the rulers of the Jews got themselves misunderstood by the people when they hesitated to speak out about Jesus:
(John 7:26 NKJV) “But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?
Paul wanted to make it clear to these men that he didn’t hold to their position at all.
They weren’t going to be able to come back and say that Paul was on their side.
Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) was famous for his camp-meeting exploits even before he wrote his 1857 Autobiography—but afterward, even more so. He was the Billy Graham of his day.

“It fell to my lot to become acquainted with Joe Smith personally,” Cartwright says, speaking of the Mormon founder. He then recounts their meeting.

It’s fascinating to see all these earmarks of a cult in his discussion with Joseph Smith. You see how Joseph Smith wasn’t willing to allow others to “judge” his doctrine. You see how flattery is involved. You see the use of fear and threats.

Great debate

In the first place, he made his onset on me by flattery, and he laid on the soft sodder thick and fast. He expressed great and almost unbounded pleasure in the high privilege of becoming acquainted with me, one of whom he had heard so many great and good things. And he had no doubt I was one among God’s noblest creatures, an honest man.

I found him to be a very illiterate and impudent desperado in morals, but, at the same time, he had a vast fund of low cunning.

He believed that among all the churches in the world the Methodist was the nearest right, and that, as far as they went, they were right. But they had stopped short by not claiming the gift of tongues, of prophecy, and of miracles, and then quoted a batch of Scripture to prove his positions correct.

Upon the whole, he did pretty well for clumsy Joe. I gave him rope, as the sailors say, and, indeed, I seemed to lay this plattering unction pleasurably to my soul.

“Indeed,” said Joe, “if the Methodists would only advance a step or two further, they would take the world. And if you would come in and go with us, we could sweep not only the Methodist church, but all others, and you would be looked up to as one of the Lord’s greatest prophets. You would be honored by countless thousands, and have of the good things of this world all that heart could wish.”

I then began to inquire into some of the tenets of the Latter-Day Saints. He explained. I criticized his explanations till, unfortunately, we got into high debate.

The next pass he made at me was to move upon my fears. He said that in all ages of the world, the good and right way was evil spoken of, and that it was an awful thing to fight against God.

“Now,” said he, “if you will go with me to Nauvoo, I will show you many living witnesses that will testify that they were, by the saints, cured of blindness, lameness, deafness, dumbness, and all the diseases that human flesh is heir to. And I will show you,” said he, “that we have the gift of tongues, and can speak in unknown languages, and that the saints can drink any deadly poison, and it will not hurt them.” [He] closed by saying, “The idle stories you hear about us are nothing but sheer persecution.”

“This is my camp meeting”

I then gave him the following history of an encounter I had at a camp meeting in Morgan County, some time before, with some of his Mormons, and assured him I could prove all I said by thousands that were present.

The camp meeting was numerously attended, and we had a good and gracious work of religion going on among the people. On Saturday there came some 20 or 30 Mormons to the meeting. During the intermission after the 11:00 sermon, they collected in one corner of the encampment and began to sing, and they sang well. As fast as the people rose from their dinners, they drew up to hear the singing, until a large company surrounded them.

At length (according, I have no doubt, to a preconcerted plan) an old lady Mormon began to shout, and after shouting a while, she swooned away and fell into the arms of her husband. The old man proclaimed that his wife had gone into a trance, and that when she came to, she would speak in an unknown tongue and he would interpret. This proclamation produced considerable excitement, and the multitude crowded thick around. Presently the old lady arose and began to speak in an unknown tongue, sure enough.

Just then my attention was called to the matter. I saw in one moment that the whole maneuver was intended to bring the Mormons into notice and break up the good of our meeting.

I advanced instantly toward the crowd and asked the people to give way and let me in to this old lady, who was then being held in the arms of her husband. I came right up to them and took hold of her arm, and ordered her peremptorily to hush that gibberish, that I would have no more of it, that it was presumptuous and blasphemous nonsense. I stopped very suddenly her unknown tongue.

She opened her eyes, took me by the hand, and said, “My dear friend, I have a message directly from God to you.”

I stopped her short and said, “I will have none of your message. If God can speak through no better medium than on old, hypocritical, lying woman, I will hear nothing of it!”

Her husband, who was to be the interpreter of her message, flew into a mighty rage, and said, “Sir, this is my wife, and I will defend her at the risk of my life!” I replied, “Sir, this is my camp meeting, and I will maintain the good order of it at the risk of my life. If this is your wife, take her off from here, and clear yourselves in five minutes, or I will have you under guard.”

The old lady slipped out and was off quickly. The old man stayed a little and began to pour a tirade of abuse on me. I stopped him short and said, “Not another word of abuse from you, sir. I have no doubt you are an old thief, and if your back was examined, no doubt you carry the marks of the cowhide for your villainy.”

And sure enough, as if I had spoken by inspiration, he, in some of the old states, had been lashed to the whipping post for stealing. To cap the climax, a young gentleman stepped up and said he had no doubt all I said of this old man was true, and much more, for he had caught him stealing corn out of his father’s crib.

By this time, such was the old man’s excitement that great drops of sweat ran down his face, and he called out, “Don’t crowd me, gentlemen; it is mighty warm.”

Said I, “Open the way, gentlemen, and let him out.” When the way was opened, I cried, “Now start, and don’t show your face here again, nor one of the Mormons. If you do, you will get Lynch’s law.”

They all disappeared, and our meeting went on prosperously; a great many were converted to God.

Wrath boiled over

My friend Joe Smith became very restive before I got through with my narrative. And when I closed, his wrath boiled over, and he cursed me in the name of his God and said, “I will show you, sir, that I will raise up a government in these United States which will overturn the present government, and I will raise up a new religion that will overturn every other form of religion in this country!”

“Yes,” said I, “Uncle Joe; but my Bible tells me ‘the bloody and deceitful man shall not live out half his days,’ and I expect the Lord will send the Devil after you some of these days and take you out of the way.”

“No, sir,” said he; “I shall live and prosper, while you will die in your sins.”

“Well, sir,” said I, “if you live and prosper, you must quit your stealing and abominable whoredoms!”

Thus we parted, to meet no more on earth; for in a few years after this, an outraged and deeply injured people took the law into their own hands and killed him, and drove the Mormons from the state.

Classic cult stuff. Nothing is really very new.