1. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. The twelve apostles weren’t more privileged than Paul. Their commissioning came from Jesus who shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11). Paul was more concerned with obedience than he was with external appearances and credentials. He was more determined to earn God’s approval than he was gaining the approval of man. Paul’s witness for Christ meant more to him than building up his reputation among human authority.
  2. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), The term “they saw” implies the apostles didn’t believe Paul’s calling by Christ at first. But then, the apostles had a change of mind. Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “Historically the picture one gets is this. The apostles at Jerusalem were wavering on neutral ground, tending to advise compliance to the law on Paul’s part, but they finally came out for Paul by declaring openly for freedom from the law. This wavering attitude is suggested in the following verses, both in the attitude of reserve Paul seems to have encountered at Jerusalem (vv. 6, 9) and in the related wavering of Peter at Antioch (vv. 11-14). Moreover, this fits in with what is most clear in this passage, namely, that the conflict was primarily between the false brothers and Paul and that in the end (whether wavering before that time or not) the apostles stood solidly with Paul and Barnabas.” I have been entrusted—Paul acknowledges that he preached the same gospel message as Peter did to the Jews. The only difference was Paul was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
  3. and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars (supported the church), perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. By placing James first in the order of the names, Paul is identifying the prominence of James’s role in leading the Jerusalem Council (Ac. 15:12-21). James is the half-brother of Jesus. Peter and John (son of Zebedee) were in the inner circle of Jesus (Mk. 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). Seemed to be pillars—Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament, “Pillars” (styloi) was a metaphor commonly used by the Jews in speaking of the great teachers of the law. The church is here regarded as the house or temple of God held up and supported by pillars, that is, these key apostolic leaders (James, Peter, and John).” Right hand of fellowship—Offering your hand to someone signified acceptance and a pledge of friendship. The apostles and James extended their approval and accepted Paul and Barnabas as an extinction of the ministry of Christ. That we should go to the Gentiles—Paul describes his unworthiness to be an apostle but recognizes the power of God’s grace on his life: “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:9-11).
  4. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. In Acts 11:29-30, Luke records Paul’s efforts to minister to the poor: “So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.” Ministering to the poor was a powerful example of God’s love. Pro. 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”