A Study of Galatians 2:6-10
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter; (For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. [Gal 2:6-10]
The Pharisees that believed likely had a well-respected position in the Jerusalem assembly. The Lord said of the Pharisees that did not believe:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. [Mat 23:2-3]
Now, in the conference in Jerusalem:
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. [Act 15:5]
Add to this that the apostles and elders were all there considering this matter. That is THE APOSTLES. The twelve that the Lord Himself commissioned were all there, except for John’s brother James who was killed by Herod. But when the Word of God is on your side, you need fear no one. Paul knew the gospel that the Lord gave him, and he knew what defined him and his ministry. He was an apostle not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father that raised Him from the dead. (Gal. 1:1) He preached a gospel that was not after man nor received from man or taught by man, but it was taught to him by Jesus Christ.(Gal. 1:11-12) Even these who seemed to be somewhat cannot overrule the Lord, and Paul was on the Lord’s side in this matter, and he knew it. That is how he could say concerning this group:
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) (vs. 6)
In conference, or in the meeting, the Pharisees, apostles, and elders added nothing to Paul, but he added unto them. What did he add unto them? Knowledge of what God is now doing! Knowledge of the gospel that he preached among the gentiles. Peter got it! That which previously had astonished him (Acts 10:45-48) now made perfect sense. Peter stood up here, on Paul’s side, because he saw that Paul was on the Lord’s side. Re-read Acts 15:6-11 again:
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as [He did] unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. [Act 15:6-11]
They were all now seeing what God is doing and they saw that Paul was indeed the apostle of the gentiles. Not only that, the scripture says here that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto him. The Lord Himself committed it unto him just as He had committed to Peter that of the circumcision, and they all knew it.
So what is the gospel of the uncircumcision, as opposed to that of the circumcision? Are they the same, or are they different? Is it just a matter of the audience, or does this difference in audience make a difference? For the present, we will simply let a representative passage from Paul, and one from Peter speak and let the reader meditate on what the scripture says.
The gospel of the uncircumcision:
Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [Eph 2:11-22]
Of the circumcision:
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [Him] go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, Whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And His Name through faith in His Name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did [it], as [did] also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, [that] every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. [Act 3:13-26]
Note from from verse 8: For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles. The same Lord that sent Peter, and the same Holy Spirit that empowered Peter’s ministry to the nation of Israel to call them to repentance after they rejected and crucified God’s Christ was now working mightily in Paul’s ministry to the gentiles. The apostles knew it, they “perceived” it, because they were given the gift of knowledge, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; [1Co 12:8]
Note Peter’s use of that knowledge in Acts 5 regarding Ananias and Sapphira to know that they were not being honest in their dealings. Now these apostles, by the same Spirit perceived that God is now working through Paul for the apostleship of the gentiles. Notice that it was James, Cephas, and John who perceived of the grace that was given unto Paul. This brings to mind again Paul’s letter to the Ephesians immediately following that which is quoted earlier:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: [Eph 3:1-11]
Just notice how it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, and that is exactly why they perceived of the grace that was given to Paul. This is why the “pillars” could offer to Paul and to Barnabas the “right hands of fellowship” and that they would go to the circumcision, while agreeing with the Spirit that Paul would go to the “heathen” or the gentiles. So what happened to the commission from the mount in Galilee?
The command to
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: [Mat 28:19-20]
has been temporarily interrupted while the Lord administers His government of this world in grace. He is not taking over the government of the world yet, but He will in the future when the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ (Rev 11:15). He is now dealing with mankind, Jew and gentile alike in grace, and calling out “the Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him which filleth all in all”. (Eph 1:22-23) The Twelve would go to the circumcision and Paul would go to the gentiles. These believers would come together in one body until this present dispensation of the grace of God comes to a close. The Jewish believers will be instructed to “go forth therefore unto [Christ] without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13), but as the council in Jerusalem comes to a close, one thing would be certain: a yoke that not even the Jews or their fathers were able to bear (Acts 15:10) would not be put on the gentile believers, and that they would not be troubled (Acts 15:19) with Jewish things. The Jews’ religion would continue to be practiced even among believing Jews for some time to follow, as evidenced in Acts 21:18-26, but believing Jews would be called out of it, as the Epistle to the Hebrews does. Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed, as we learn from history, and the people scattered throughout the world. They will again be regathered, but until that time, those who believe are known, just as we gentiles who believe, as Christians.
One more thing before we close this study: the “pillars” said that the the gentile believers should remember the poor. The poor could easily be identified as those that had sold everything and followed the Lord in anticipation of His Kingdom. (Luke 12:31-34, Mat 19:27, Acts 4:32-37) The Lord still provided for them, through the gentile saints. Paul and Barnabas had been forward to do this, and would continue. See Acts 11:27-30, and Romans 15:25-33
In closing, let us remember from this passage how the apostle of the gentiles and the apostles of the Circumcision came to an agreement by the working of the Holy Spirit to understand what God is truly doing in this present dispensation of grace.