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1: Then fourteen years after - My first journey thither.
I went up again to Jerusalem - This seems to be the journey
mentioned (Ac 15:2); several passages here referring to that
great council, wherein all the apostles showed that they were
of the same judgment with him.
2: I went up - Not by any command from them, but by
an express revelation from God. And laid before them - The
chief of the church in Jerusalem. The gospel which I preach
among the gentiles -(Ac 15:4), touching justification by faith alone; not that they
might confirm me therein, but that I might remove prejudice from
them. Yet not publicly at first, but severally to those of
eminence - Speaking to them one by one. Lest I should run, or
should have run, in vain - Lest I should lose the fruit either of
my present or past labours. For they might have greatly hindered
this, had they not been fully satisfied both of his mission and
doctrine. The word run beautifully expresses the swift progress
of the gospel.
3: But neither was Titus who was with me - When I
conversed with them. Compelled to be circumcised - A clear
proof that none of the apostles insisted on the circumcising
gentile believers. The sense is, And it is true, some of
those false brethren would fain have compelled Titus to be
circumcised; but I utterly refused it.
4: Because of false brethren - Who seem to have
urged it. Introduced unawares - Into some of those private
conferences at Jerusalem. Who had slipped in to spy out our
liberty - From the ceremonial law. That they might, if
possible, bring us into that bondage again.
5: To whom we did not yield by submission - Although
in love he would have yielded to any. With such wonderful
prudence did the apostle use his Christian liberty !
circumcising Timothy, (Ac 16:3), because of weak brethren,
but not Titus, because of false brethren. That the truth of the
gospel - That is, the true genuine gospel. Might continue with
you - With you gentiles. So we defend, for your sakes, the
privilege which you would give up.
6: And they who undoubtedly were something - Above
all others. What they were - How eminent soever. It is no
difference to me - So that I should alter either my doctrine
or my practice. God accepteth no man's person - For any
eminence in gifts or outward prerogatives. In that conference
added nothing to me - Neither as to doctrine nor mission.
7: But when they saw - By the effects which I laid
before them, (Ga 2:8,Ac 15:12).
That I was intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision - That
is, with the charge of preaching it to the uncircumcised heathens.
8: For he that wrought effectually in Peter for the
apostleship of the circumcision - To qualify him for, and
support him in, the discharge of that office to the Jews.
Wrought likewise effectually in and by me - For and in the
discharge of my office toward the gentiles.
9: And when James - Probably named first because
he was bishop of the church in Jerusalem. And Cephas
- Speaking of him at Jerusalem he calls him by his Hebrew
name. And John - Hence it appears that he also was at
the council, though he is not particularly named in the Acts.
Who undoubtedly were pillars - The principal supporters and
defenders of the gospel. Knew - After they had heard the
account I gave them. The grace - Of apostleship. Which was
given me, they - In the name of all. Gave to me and Barnabas
- My fellow - labourer. The right hands of fellowship - They gave
us their hands in token of receiving us as their fellow -
labourers, mutually agreeing that we - I and those in union
with me. Should go to the gentiles - Chiefly. And they - With
those that were in union with them, chiefly to the circumcision
- The Jews.
10: Of the poor - The poor Christians in Judea, who
had lost all they had for Christ's sake.
11: But - The argument here comes to the height.
Paul reproves Peter himself. So far was he from receiving
his doctrine from man, or from being inferior to the chief
of the apostles. When Peter - Afterwards, Came to Antioch
- Then the chief of all the Gentile churches. I withstood him
to the face, because he was to be blamed - For fear of man,
for dissimulation, and for not walking
13: And the other believing Jews - Who were at
Antioch. Dissembled with him, so that even Barnabas
was carried away with their dissimulation - Was borne away,
as with a torrent, into the same ill practice.
14: I said to Cephas before them all - See Paul single
against Peter and all the Jews! If thou being a Jew, yet
livest, in thy ordinary conversation, after the manner of
the gentiles - Not observing the ceremonial law, which thou
knowest to be now abolished. Why compellest thou the gentiles
- By withdrawing thyself and all the ministers from them; either
to judaize, to keep the ceremonial law, or to be excluded from
church communion ?
15: We - St. Paul, to spare St. Peter, drops the first
person singular, and speaks in the plural number. (Ga 2:18),
he speaks in the first person singular again by a figure; and
without a figure, (Ga 2:19), &c.
Who are Jews by nature - By birth, not proselytes only. And not
sinners of the gentiles - That is, not sinful Gentiles; not such
gross, enormous, abandoned sinners, as the heathens generally were.
16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works
of the law - Not even of the moral, much less the ceremonial,
law. But by the faith of Jesus Christ - That is, by faith in
him. The name Jesus was first known by the gentiles; the
name Christ by the Jews. And they are not always placed
promiscuously; but generally in a more solemn way of
speaking, the Apostle says, Christ Jesus; in a more familiar,
Jesus Christ. Even we - And how much more must the Gentiles,
who have still less pretence to depend on their own works!
Have believed - Knowing there is no other way. Because - Considering
the demands of the law, and the fate of human nature, it is
evident, that by the works of the law - By such an obedience as
it requires. Shall no flesh living - No human creature, Jew or
Gentile, be justified. Hitherto St. Paul had been considering
that single question, "Are Christians obliged to observe the
ceremonial law? But he here insensibly goes farther, and, by
citing this scripture, shows that what he spoke directly of the
ceremonial, included also the moral, law. For David undoubtedly
did so, when he said, (Ps 143:2), the place here referred
to, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified;" which the
Apostle likewise explains, (Ro 3:19,20), in such a manner as
can agree to none but the moral law.
17: But if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are
still found sinners - If we continue in sin, will it therefore follow, that
Christ is the minister or countenancer of sin?
18: By no means. For if I build again - By my sinful practice.
The things which I destroyed - By my preaching, I only make myself - Or
show myself, not Christ, to be a transgressor; the whole blame lies
on me, not him or his gospel. As if he had said, The objection were
just, if the gospel promised justification to men continuing in sin.
But it does not. Therefore if any who profess the gospel do not live
according to it, they are sinners, it is certain, but not justified,
and so the gospel is clear.
19: For I through the law - Applied by the Spirit to
my heart, and deeply convincing me of my utter sinfulness
and helplessness. Am dead to the law - To all hope of
justification from it. That I may live to God - Not continue
in sin. For this very end am I, in this sense, freed from the
law, that I may be freed from sin.
20: The Apostle goes on to describe how he is freed from sin;
how far he is from continuing therein. I am crucified with Christ - Made
conformable to his death; "the body of sin is destroyed." (Ro 6:6).
And I - As to my corrupt nature. Live no longer - Being dead to sin.
But Christ liveth in me - Is a fountain of life in my inmost soul, from
which all my tempers, words, and actions flow. And the life that I now
live in the flesh - Even in this mortal body, I live by faith in the
Son of God - I derive every moment from that supernatural principle;
from a divine evidence and conviction, that "he loved me, and delivered
up himself for me."
21: Meantime I do not make void - In seeking to be justified by my own
works. The grace of God - The free love of God in Christ Jesus. But they
do, who seek justification by the law. For if righteousness is by the
law - If men might be justified by their obedience to the law, moral or
ceremonial. Then Christ died in vain - Without any necessity for it, since
men might have been saved without his death; might by their own obedience
have been both discharged from condemnation, and entitled to eternal life.