Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (NIV)
1. When Paul next went to Jerusalem (after 14 years of preaching) he went "in response to a revelation." What had transpired that made it necessary for Paul to tell the church leaders in Jerusalem exactly what he was teaching the Gentiles?
2. To whom in Jerusalem did Paul hold himself accountable? Paul made it clear that a person's title or position meant nothing to him, and yet, after 14 years of independent evangelism, he submitted to the Jerusalem leaders' evaluation. Why did he submit to that, and what was the result of that act of humility?
3. Paul says that the Jerusalem leaders added nothing to his message. He also says that not even Titus, who was a Greek, "was compelled to be circumcised." What do these statements imply about the Jerusalem leaders' understanding of the gospel? Of what significance is that understanding given the fact that the church in Jerusalem was ministering primarily to Jewish Christians, and Paul was ministering to Gentiles? Were the Jews expected to incorporate their laws and traditions into their practice of Christianity? What benefit, if any, was the law to the Jewish Christians?
4. Paul tells the Galatians that he and Barnabas and Titus "did not give in" to the false brothers who spied on their freedom. He said their steadfastness was to ensure that the "truth of the gospel" would remain with the Galatians. In what ways do people infiltrate your ranks to "spy" on your freedom in Christ? Does this "spying" tempt you to compromise your freedom? How? How would such compromise affect you? How would it affect the people in your life?
5. Why do you think remembering the poor was so important to Peter, James, John, and Paul?
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