New Testament Commentary - Galatians 2

by Don R. Hender

Not unlike the problems of the early restored church of the our day, which often found itself drawn back to traditional Christianity by the preference of those saints who were not truly converted and sought occassion against even Joseph Smith the prophet; the early Christian church in the time of the ancient apostles was also drawn back into the traditions of the 'Jews' and the 'bonds' of the Law of Moses, which Law had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul's experience with preaching the 'true gospel of Jesus Christ' had its challenges of being effected by the 'old bottles' of the Jewish church which was founded in the 'Letter of the Law of Moses' rather than upon the 'Atoning Grace of Jesus Christ' and the fulness of the gospel under the higher law of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
                 CHPATER 2

Paul goes to Jerusalem—He contends for the true gospel—Salvation comes through Christ.

  1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to aJerusalem with bBarnabas, and took Titus with me also.
  2 And I went up by arevelation, and bcommunicated 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.
  3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be acircumcised:
  4 aAnd that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our bliberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into cbondage:
  5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
  6 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:
  7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the agospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the bcircumcision was unto cPeter;
  8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
  9 And when James, aCephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the bgrace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of cfellowship; that we should go unto the dheathen, and they unto the circumcision.
  10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
  11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
  12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himselfa, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
  13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their adissimulation.
 12a he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself Long held traditions of the Jews die hard in the new open religion of Jesus Christ, which is unto all the world. The Jews had long held themselves apart from the Gentiles in their customs and would not eat with the Gentiles even after many of them had joined unto the Church of Christ. In the attempt to 'calm' the 'Jewish' traditions, even Peter would withdraw from the company of the Gentiles to associate with the presence of the Jewish members of the church who still held out their old traditional positions. This included as spoken of by Paul in this case, such practices as eating and socializing separate from the Gentiles and the still being circumcised though the new Church of Jesus Christ required it not.
  14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
  15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
  16 Knowing that a man is not ajustified by the works of the blaw, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the cfaith of Christ, and not by the dworks of the elaw: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be fjustified.
  17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
  18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
  19 For I through the law am adead to the law, that I might blive unto God.
  20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but aChrist bliveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the afaith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
  21 I do not frustrate the agrace of God: for if righteousness come by the blaw, then Christ is dead in vaina.

After All We Can Do 
Man cannot raise himself to heaven. He is in need of a redeemer, a savior, one who will take upon himself the sins of the world so than mankind might be raise up again unto immortality. It is by Grace that we are saved. Even after all be can do, we are still in need of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon plainly taught that principle. Yet the tradition of the Jew is that man can bring himself to heaven merely by his own works and by his own works alone. There is a joint relationship between 'works' and 'grace'. Man is to do all that he can. But even with all that he can do, he is still found short of the perfection of God. And it is at this point that the grace of Christ comes in. It is needful not only in the repentance and forgiveness phase, but it is also vital and essential in the daily living phase. By the Grace of God we can have His Spirit to be with us in order to aid us along our way. And by the grace of God, that is by the aid of God's strengthening of our temporal mortal beings, be can live more righteously day by day in the strength and power of the Lord. If we do not seek through prayer and suplication for and recognize this added influence and help in our lives, we will never obtain heaven. We much learn to recognize the presence and influence of the spirit of the Lord in our lives and be responsive to it. This is the process of living by the grace of God, after all we can do by our selves, we are still reliant and submisive to his mind and will as the spirit leads, guides and directs our daily walk amoung our fellow man.
 21a if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain The traditional position of the Jews was to stress compliance to the 'letter of the law' and living such traditional commandments and laws as had been built up to over some 613 such laws. The Jewish tradition was that man was justified by living the law alone. Of course, no man is perfect and lives the law perfectly while in this natural carnal state. Every man is carnal in his nature and is not without sin. Only the grace of Christ raises a man up to that righteous and purified sinless state. And only the the added influence of the spirit and the grace of God can man live according to the righteousness of the gospel. The Jews would still tend to profess their righteousness in and of themselves according to their own works without not only the recognition of the blessings of the grace of God but also even for the need of it, the atonement for the sins of the world as performed by Jesus Christ. We must come to the realization that we are so dependant upon Christ and His Grace for not only the removal of our sins through repentance and forgiveness, but also our need for His help and blessings of the spirit and His Grace, which aids us in our daily walk upon the path which leads to Eternal Life. Without recognizing our reliance upon Christ and the Atonement, we are not able to be included in the saving grace which is necessary to raise us up to the level of God.