Paul Explains the Reason for His Visit to Jerusalem (2:1-2)

  1. Then after fourteen years I went up again (once again) to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. Paul goes back to Jerusalem roughly fourteen years later (Acts 15:1-4) either from the time of his conversion (1:15—AD 33-36) or his first visit to Jerusalem (1:18). Barnabas—His name means “son of encouragement” or “one who encourages” (Ac. 4:37). In Acts 4:36, Luke lists his original name as Joseph and that he was a Levite from the island of Cyprus. Barnabas vouched for Paul before the apostles (Ac. 9:27) and traveled with him on his first missionary journey (Ac. 13:1-14:28). Titus—His name means “title of honor” and Paul referred to him as a ‘partner and fellow worker’ (2 Cor. 8:23). Titus was a delegate of Paul’s to Corinth (2 Cor. 8:23; 12:18).
  2. I went up because of a revelation (apokalypsis) and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim (kēryssō, preach truths while urging compliance without compromise) among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. Paul had many critics who disregarded his authority and message. Therefore, he felt compelled to respond to his critics by stating that his revelation that his gospel was not from man (1:13-24) but that God gave him a revelation and the apostles affirmed his calling to preach to the Gentiles. Set before them—Paul places himself in a vulnerable position by presenting his ministry and message before the apostles in Jerusalem to get their approval and support needed to minister to the Gentiles. Not run in vain—Paul uses a Greek athletic imagery of running a race to convey his point (see 5:7). He feared that many of his ministry efforts might be halted due to conflict with the Judaizers or possible compromise with the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem.

Paul Details His Defense Against False Teachers (2:3-5)

  1. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. For Paul to take Titus (an uncircumcised Jew) showed great boldness and established the fact that the gospel was not exclusive to the Jews. Circumcised—Some Judaizers allowed Gentiles to become Jews themselves only if circumcised and followed the Mosaic law (see Gen. 17:9-14).
  2. Yet because of false brothers (believers) secretly (having no business to be there)brought in—who slipped in (infiltrated) to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery (katadouloo, to enslave utterly; bring into bondage)The Legalizers wanted to trap Paul and the gang into following the Law of Moses and reject salvation by grace through faith. Slipped in to spy—These “false brothers” had simulated themselves in the church. Outwardly they seemed to be a part of the Christian faith and the community, but inwardly they were dead in their sins and were seeking ways to corrupt as well as disrupt Christianity. MacArthur unpacks the meaning of “spy” by stating, “This Gr. word pictures spies or traitors entering by stealth into an enemy’s camp. The Judaizers were Satan’s undercover agents sent into the midst of the church to sabotage the true gospel.” Jude 4, “For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” 2 Cor. 11:13, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” Bring us into slavery—Basically means to wage war with anything that opposes their religious system. The strategy of the “false brothers” was to convince the people to return to the Law and keep them in bondage to it. Gal. 4:3, 9, “In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world… But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
  3. to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Paul is saying he didn’t personally or willingly yield or give into the pressure of compromising the gospel message. Nor did he allow others to pressure him to “soften” or “conform” his ministry to what the world wanted him to teach.