March 18, 2021 – Thursday
Galatians 2:4-5 NIV
4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Today we return to looking at verses with believe or belief and find ourselves in Galatians chapter 2. The non-scriptural title “Paul Accepted by the Apostles” which turns out to be accurate. But what is this talk about false believers, spies, and slavery? To get a better understanding via context we will look at the first three verses along with our two verses above: Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running 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 believers 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 be preserved for you.
This is Paul’s second trip to Jerusalem, His first trip was three years after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (described in Galatians 1:18-19). This, now, is fourteen years later. He has returned with Barnabas who was highly regarded among the apostles and others in leadership in Jerusalem. Also with him was Titus a loved and trusted brother in Christ. In his letter to Titus he addresses him as my true son in our common faith. Then when he said he went to Jerusalem it was in response to a revelation from God. This was to specify it not by any direction from the apostles nor to ask for instructions from them. He is there at God’s direction to share the Gospel he preached among the Gentiles.
Next, we have, Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek as part of his opening discussion with the apostles. Not even Titus was circumcised, unlike Timothy who was compelled to be circumcised, even though he played a major role in Paul’s work. This is the introduction to our verses for today where Paul says, This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. The false believers who spied upon them likely urged Paul to have Titus circumcised. These were men who were traitors in the Christian camp. Thought they called themselves Christian, they were in reality Jews at heart. They did not really believe in the new covenant Jesus had made with mankind. Paul knew Jesus was only interested in the circumcision of the heart as His Father said in Deuteronomy 10:16, Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Paul would write in Romans 2:29, to make the point as circumcision of the heart is from God, No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Thus, Paul says in verse 5, We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Paul simply knew circumcision of the flesh was not required for salvation. Instead, it was by believing Jesus had died on the cross for our sins, died and rose to life on the third day. He would not be budged from this knowledge. Nor should we ever be moved away from this either. Our salvation is never based upon works, but on our choosing to believe the wonderful truth of what our Heavenly Father did through Jesus for us out of His incredible love and mercy.
Prayer: Father God – Let us never forget what You did for us. Let us never think we did something to earn such love and mercy. Your love for us is an incredible miracle that we are so very thankful for. You have blessed us mightily through Your Son Jesus, our Lord and Savior. – In Jesus name. Amen.