Cephas in Antioch (Gal. 2:11)

“But when Cephas

Came to Antioch,

I opposed him

To his face,

Because he stood


Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν.

Paul said, “When Cephas came (Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς) to Antioch (εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν), I opposed him (ἀντέστην) to his face (κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ), because he stood condemned (ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν).”  This is a strange incident.  Paul indicated that Peter, or Cephas as he called him, came to Antioch.  There was a dispute between him and Paul.  This might have been after their meeting in Jerusalem.  Antioch was the capital of Syria and the place where the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians”, as in Acts, chapter 11:26.  This was a leading city for the gentile Christians and where Paul and Barnabas left from on their missionary journeys in Asia Minor in Acts, chapter 13, 1-3.  However, Paul said that Peter was condemned.  Definitely, Paul confronted Peter directly, while Acts was entirely silent about any confrontation between Peter and Paul.  Have you ever confronted a leader to his face?

Remember the poor (Gal. 2:10)

“They asked only one thing.

We should remember

The poor.

I actually was very eager

To do that.”

μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν, ὃ καὶ ἐσπούδασα αὐτὸ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι.

Paul said, “They asked only one thing, that we should remember the poor (μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν).  I actually was very eager (ὃ καὶ ἐσπούδασα) to do that (αὐτὸ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἐσπούδασα, that means to make haste, to give diligence, eager, or zealous.  Thus, Paul was careful to take up collections for the poor Jerusalem Jewish Christians in Asia Minor and Greece.  As Paul indicated, he was eager or zealous to help the poor Jewish Christians in Judea.  There was no mention of a paper document letter as in Acts, chapter 15, 22-35, only that they carry on the Jewish tradition of caring for the poor, especially those in Judea, the poor Jewish Christians.  The results were the same as in Acts.  Paul was able to have gentiles become Christians without any circumcision.  This was a big win for Paul and the gentiles, against some of the Jewish Christians who wanted the gentiles to be circumcised like them.  Do you remember the poor?

Fellowship (Gal. 2:9)

“When James,


And John,

Who were the acknowledged pillars,

Recognized the grace

That had been given

To me

And Barnabas,

They gave

To Barnabas

And me

The right hand of fellowship.

They agreed

That we should go

To the gentiles.

They would go

To the circumcised.”

καὶ γνόντες τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι, Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάνης, οἱ δοκοῦντες στῦλοι εἶναι, δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ καὶ Βαρνάβα κοινωνίας, ἵνα ἡμεῖς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη, αὐτοὶ δὲ εἰς τὴν περιτομήν·

Paul said, “When James (Ἰάκωβος), Cephas (καὶ Κηφᾶς), and John (καὶ Ἰωάνης), who were the acknowledged pillars (οἱ δοκοῦντες στῦλοι εἶναι), recognized the grace that had been given (καὶ γνόντες τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν) to me (ἐμοὶ) and Barnabas (καὶ Βαρνάβα), they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand (δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν) of fellowship (κοινωνίας).  They agreed that we should go to the gentiles (ἵνα ἡμεῖς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη).  They would go to the circumcised (αὐτοὶ δὲ εἰς τὴν περιτομήν).”  Paul and Barnabas seemed to have reached an agreement with James, Cephas, and John, the pillars of the Jerusalem Christian community.  James was the relative or brother of Jesus and the Jewish Christian leader in Jerusalem.  Peter or Cephas was the leader of the twelve, while John was one of the sons of Zebedee, who may have been the author of the Gospel of John.  James was mentioned first, which was unusual since Peter was considered the leader of the twelve.  However, with James, the more Jewish of the Christian leaders, Paul might have wanted to put an end to any rumors that the Jewish Christians had not accepted him.  The shaking of the right hand of fellowship was a Jewish custom that is also common among many people.  They had reached an agreement, so that the ending of chapter 15 in Acts has the same result.  Have you ever reached an agreement after some deliberations?

Peter was the apostle to the circumcised (Gal. 2:8)

“He who worked

Through Peter,

Making him

An apostle to the circumcised,

Worked through me

To the gentiles.”

ὁ γὰρ ἐνεργήσας Πέτρῳ εἰς ἀποστολὴν τῆς περιτομῆς ἐνήργησεν καὶ ἐμοὶ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη,

Paul said, “He who worked through Peter (ὁ γὰρ ἐνεργήσας Πέτρῳ), making him an apostle to the circumcised (εἰς ἀποστολὴν τῆς περιτομῆς), worked through me (ἐνήργησεν καὶ ἐμοὶ) to the gentiles (εἰς τὰ ἔθνη).”  Paul indicated that God worked through Peter with the Jewish circumcised Christians, while at the same time working through Paul with the gentile uncircumcised Christians.  Paul felt that he had the same direct authority from Jesus to be an apostle to the gentiles just like Peter had the divine authority to work with the circumcised Jews.  Both were bringing Jesus Christ and his message to the people, whether circumcised or not.  Would you rather be an apostle to the circumcised or the uncircumcised people?

Gospel to the uncircumcised (Gal. 2:7)

“On the contrary,

They saw

That I had been entrusted

With the gospel

To the uncircumcised,

Just as Peter had been entrusted

With the gospel

To the circumcised.”

ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον ἰδόντες ὅτι πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας καθὼς Πέτρος τῆς περιτομῆς,

Paul said, “On the contrary (ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον), they saw (ἰδόντες) that I had been entrusted (ὅτι πεπίστευμαι) with the gospel to the uncircumcised (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας), just as Peter (καθὼς Πέτρος) had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (τῆς περιτομῆς).”  Paul then made his big pitch for the problem of circumcision.  The uncircumcised were the gentiles.  Literally, they were the men with foreskins on their penis.  Paul said he had been entrusted with these gentiles while Peter would be in charge of the circumcised Jewish Christians.  Actually, according to Acts, chapter 10, Peter had gone to the gentile Cornelius in Caesarea, while Paul taught in the Jewish synagogues of the diaspora in Asia Minor in chapters 13 and 14.  Thus, there was not this absolute distinction between Peter and Paul.  However, there was a predominance of Peter with the Jewish Christians and Paul with the gentile Christians.  Were you aware of the distinction between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians?

These leaders did nothing for me (Gal. 2:6)

“They were supposed

To be the acknowledged leaders.

What they were

Makes no difference to me.

God shows no partiality.

Those leaders contributed

Nothing to me.”

ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκούντων εἶναί τι, —ὁποῖοί ποτε ἦσαν οὐδέν μοι διαφέρει· πρόσωπον ὁ Θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει— ἐμοὶ γὰρ οἱ δοκοῦντες οὐδὲν προσανέθεντο,

Paul said, “They were supposed to be the acknowledged leaders or esteemed to be something (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκούντων εἶναί τι).  What they were makes no difference to me (ὁποῖοί ποτε ἦσαν οὐδέν μοι διαφέρει).  God shows no partiality or God does not take the face of a person (πρόσωπον ὁ Θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει).  Those leaders contributed nothing to me (ἐμοὶ γὰρ οἱ δοκοῦντες οὐδὲν προσανέθεντο).”  Paul called these Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem esteemed to be something.  He sounded a little sarcastic here, but he was indifferent to who they were.  The Jerusalem apostles were generally held in high esteem.  Paul was careful here not to dishonor them, although his tone is distant and cool towards them.  He used a Hebrew biblical idiom that the ideal judge does not regard the face of a human person or man.  Thus, God was not going to show any partiality in his judgment.  However, as far as Paul was concerned, these Jewish Christian leaders contributed nothing to him.  This might be what the Acts, chapter 15,7 called “much debate”.  The author of Acts indicated that after there had been much debate, or discussion that had taken place (Πολλῆς δὲ ζητήσεως γενομένης), Peter (Πέτρος) rose up or got up (ἀναστὰς).  Certainly, there was a disagreement between Paul and some of these Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem.  However, Paul got what he wanted, no demand for circumcision of the gentiles.  Have you ever prevailed in a big discussion?

We did not submit to them (Gal. 2:5)

“We did not submit

To their obedience,

Even for a moment,

So that the truth

Of the gospel

Might be preserved

With you.”

οἷς οὐδὲ πρὸς ὥραν εἴξαμεν τῇ ὑποταγῇ, ἵνα ἡ ἀλήθεια τοῦ εὐαγγελίου διαμείνῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

Paul said, “We did not submit to their obedience, even for a moment or day (οἷς οὐδὲ πρὸς ὥραν εἴξαμεν τῇ ὑποταγῇ), so that the truth (ἵνα ἡ ἀλήθεια) of the gospel (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου) might be preserved with you (διαμείνῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς).”  Only this Galatian letter used this word εἴξαμεν, that means to yield, give way, or submit.  Only the Pauline letters used this word ὑποταγῇ, that means subjection, submission, or obedience.  Paul indicated that he did not obey these spying false brothers even for a day or a moment.  He wanted the gospel truth to be preserved.  Thus, Paul clearly rejected the concept of circumcision for the gentiles as was the conclusion in Acts, chapter 15, 28-29.  There was no mention of circumcision, only that it seemed good (ἔδοξεν γὰρ) to the Holy Spirit (τῷ Πνεύματι τῷ Ἁγίῳ) and to them (καὶ ἡμῖν) to impose (ἐπιτίθεσθαι) on them (ὑμῖν) no further (μηδὲν πλέον) burden (βάρος) except these (πλὴν τούτων) necessary or essential things (ἐπάναγκες).  These deliberations and this letter were guided by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus had promised to give them the Holy Spirit.  Here was the Holy Spirit in action with their discussions and their finished letter.  There were only a few necessary things that they had to do.  They had to abstain (ἀπέχεσθαι) from what had been sacrificed to the idols (εἰδωλοθύτων), from blood (καὶ αἵματος), and from what was strangled (καὶ πνικτῶν), as well as from fornication (καὶ πορνείας).  If they kept (διατηροῦντες) themselves (ἑαυτοὺς) from these things (ἐξ ὧν), they would do well (εὖ πράξετε).  They also had to abstain from unchastity or fornication (καὶ τῆς πορνείας).  This became a pastoral letter to the gentiles.  These were elements from their Jerusalem Judaic background, mostly pertaining to the Mosaic food laws.  Beside sexual immorality or fornication, they were not allowed to eat food presented at idol worship, meat with blood in it, or even blood itself.  These gentiles had to break away from their false idol pagan worship rituals.  They could not eat meat or food consecrated to the pagan idols.  They could not engage in sexual immorality like incest, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality.  However, there was no mention of circumcision, the heart of the problem with the gentiles, since circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham that made people Jewish.  Paul had won the day.  No new Christian would have to submit to circumcision.  Have you ever thought that circumcision was necessary to be a Christian?

False spying brothers (Gal. 2:4)

“There were false brothers

Secretly brought in.

They slipped in

To spy

On the freedom

We have in Christ Jesus,

So that they might

Enslave us.”

διὰ δὲ τοὺς παρεισάκτους ψευδαδέλφους, οἵτινες παρεισῆλθον κατασκοπῆσαι τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἡμῶν ἣν ἔχομεν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλώσουσιν·

Paul said that there were false brothers (ψευδαδέλφους) secretly brought in (παρεισάκτους).  They slipped in (παρεισῆλθον) to spy (κατασκοπῆσαι) on the freedom (τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἡμῶν) we have in Christ Jesus (ἣν ἔχομεν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ), so that they might enslave us (ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλώσουσιν).  Only this Galatian letter used this word παρεισάκτους, that means brought in secretly or surreptitiously, and the word κατασκοπῆσαι, that means to view closely or spy out.  Only the Pauline letters used this word ψευδαδέλφους that means a false brother or a pretend Christian, and the word παρεισῆλθον, that means to come in beside or enter secretly, as well as the word ἐλευθερίαν, that means liberty or freedom, as well as the word καταδουλώσουσιν, that means to enslave.  Paul, using unique words, was upset that there were some spies from the circumcision party spying on them, probably to see if they were circumcised.  Paul maintained that they wanted to enslave Paul and his companions back under the Jewish Torah.  Paul said that he was free from the Mosaic law because of Jesus Christ.  There had been a movement to make sure that all those men that were Jewish converts were circumcised.  Paul often referred to them as Judaizers or false brothers.  He did not like them because of their continual harassment of the converted Christian gentiles.  There was no mention of this dispute in Acts, chapter 15, although there was a discussion about the role of circumcision there.  Do you think that people are spying on you?

Titus was uncircumcised (Gal. 2:3)

“Even Titus,

Who was with me,

Was not compelled

To be circumcised,

Even though he was a Greek.”

ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ Τίτος ὁ σὺν ἐμοί, Ἕλλην ὤν, ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι

Paul said, “Even Titus (ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ Τίτος), who was with me (ὁ σὺν ἐμοί), was not compelled (ἠναγκάσθη) to be circumcised (περιτμηθῆναι), even though he was a Greek (Ἕλλην ὤν).”  In other words, although there was a strong circumcision faction among the early Jewish Christians, they did not force Titus to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek uncircumcised gentile Christian.  Therefore, Paul maintained that it was not necessary to have gentiles who became Christian to be circumcised.  Paul was very strong about no circumcision for gentile Christians.  Do you know an uncircumcised person?

The gospel of the gentiles (Gal. 2:2)

“I went up

In response

To a revelation.

Then I laid before them,

The gospel

That I proclaim

Among the gentiles.

This was only in a private meeting

With the acknowledged leaders.

I wanted to be sure

That I was not running,

Or had run

In vain.”

ἀνέβην δὲ κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν· καὶ ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ κηρύσσω ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, κατ’ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσιν, μή πως εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον.

Paul said that he went up to Jerusalem (ἀνέβην δὲ) in response to a revelation (κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν).  He laid before them (καὶ ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς) the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) that he proclaimed (ὃ κηρύσσω) among the gentiles (ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  This was only in a private meeting (κατ’ ἰδίαν) with the acknowledged leaders (δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσιν).  He wanted to be sure that he was not (μή πως) running (τρέχω), or had run (ἢ ἔδραμον) in vain (εἰς κενὸν).  Paul indicated that he went to Jerusalem because of a revelation that he had.  Whether this was the original revelation or another revelation from God is not clear.  He then laid before these esteemed Jewish Christian leaders in a private meeting what he had been preaching to the gentiles about Jesus Christ.  Paul had not asked these gentiles to become Jews before becoming followers of Jesus Christ.  The esteemed leaders are assumed to be Peter and James as well as the other Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem.  Paul was not summoned there but appeared freely to explain his position.  This is somewhat similar to Acts, chapter 15:1-6.  Paul wanted to make sure that what he was saying was in accord with the twelve apostles and other Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem.  He did not want to be part of any rupture within the emerging primitive Christian community.  Do you work in collaboration with others?