Was the apostle Paul a great leader? I submit to you that he was! We see this in an incredible way in today’s text. To make sure you get a context for this proposition, lets refresh our memories for what we have seen already.
So far in our Galatians study we have seen that Paul was…
– …startled that they had so quickly walked away from the Gospel that they had received of the Lord via Paul. (1:6-7, 11-12). This “other gospel” that the Galatians had begun to receive is really summed up in Acts 15:1-2.
Acts 15:1-2 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Paul was also…
– …communicating that the adding anything else to the Gospel made it another gospel and should be rejected regardless of the messenger. (1:8-10)
– …communicating in the last couple of verses in Galatians 1 about the last time He had been in Judea (Southern Israel) and specifically near Jerusalem.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. (19) But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (20) Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. (21) Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; (22) And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: (23) But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. (24) And they glorified God in me.
Paul was communitating the Galatian believers, his readers, that He had virtually no personal (or political) relationship with the believers in Jerusalem.
– I spent around 15 days with Peter
– I saw no other apostles except for Jesus’ brother James (now a leader in the church at Jerusalem
– If the believers in Judea had seen me at the market they wouldn’t recognize me, although they did know my reputation as a persecuter of Christians turned missionary.
So now as we examine today’s text we see Paul elaborate on his further relationship with the churches in Jerusalem and we see why he is talking about this:
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
It had been 14 years of ministry among the gentiles since Paul had been to Jerusalem and he said he took 2 men with him:
– Barnabas- Paul’s partner in ministry who had been instrumental in the believers accepting and trusting Paul after his conversion.
– Titus- a product of Paul’s ministry among the gentiles, and at this time evidence that God was bringing gentiles to the Lord.
To get another narrative of this circumstance that Paul is talking about, check out Acts 15:1-35.
(2) And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
Paul states that he went “by revelation” meaning he was lead by God to go to Jerusalem to share the gospel message to the Jerusalem church that he was teaching to the gentiles. He also stated that he went first to some of the leaders of the church, “them which were of reputation”. Paul was talking to these apostles, Peter James and John, first so that he could make sure not to have a public problem with one of the apostles that could be avoided and impact the gospel ministry that was happening among the gentiles. It’s important to understand here that Paul was not looking for approval of the message to make sure that His message was correct. Rather, Paul was looking for support from the apostles so that His ministry of the gospel would be supported by the believers and not undermined by the false teachers who were teaching the false gospel that someone should believe in Jesus and practice Judaism to be right with God. This is his point in the last 3 verses of todays text:
(3) But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: (4) And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: (5) To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (Galatians 2:1-5)
Application from today’s text:
– Our commitment to the gospel should be greater than our commitment to popularity or public acceptance. Paul was not concerned about being accepted as an individual. His popularity among people who were teaching a false gospel was at the bottom of his priority list. In fact it wasn’t even on the list. Proclaiming the gospel won’t necessarily make you popular, especially with some crowds, but it should be our unwavering commitment.
– Our commitment to the gospel means that we seek alliances with people in the defense and promotion of gospel ministry. Paul sought to make sure that His relationship and message with Peter, James and John were supported privately before the public conversation about the gospel. Paul was shrewd in this circumstance. Private conversations lead to public support. What a great leadership model!
– What governed Paul’s actions was this statement: “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Paul’s focus was unwavering. It governed every decision, every interaction, like a compass to a sailor. Paul knew exactly what the wise actions were once he had made this priority. The gospel should be our priority as well.