Lesson 7: Things Aren’t Always What They Seem – Galatians 2:6-10

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 7 from the sermon series "Galatians" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



“Somewhat” (v.6) in this context means an important person. Paul is done speaking about the unbelievers at the Jerusalem Council (3-5), so “these” who seemed to be somewhat must mean those “of reputation” (2:2), i.e., the 12 apostles.

But how could Paul say the 12 only “seemed” to be important? The answer is: he was objecting to an importance men were giving them that went beyond what God gave them, a religious tradition that had risen in those days that made them into mystical men a tradition still found in the Catholic Church. Rome always portrays them wearing haloes.

If you think this tradition didn’t go back that far, we know Rome’s tradition of making the bread and cup into the actual body and blood of the Lord did. If it didn’t, Paul wouldn’t have to have said they were “the communion” of His body and blood (I Cor.10:16). So it shouldn’t be surprising that Rome’s tradition of venerating the 12 goes back that far too.

The accepting of persons here (Gal.2:6) means the same as it does in Job 32:21, i.e., to give them flattering titles. Rome calls the 12 “the pillars of the church,” and later in Chapter 2, we’ll see they were being called that even in Paul’s day.

“In conference” (Gal.2:6) means Paul had the Bible conference with the 12 that the Lord told him not to have earlier (Gal.1:15-17), lest anyone say he got his message from them. But now it was time for him to confer with the 12 in a conference to  communicate” his message to them (Gal.2:1).

Paul’s conference with the 12 was one-sided though, for they could “add” (2:6) nothing to his understanding of the law or the kingdom program the Lord taught them to preach. He knew the law from Gamaliel, and he knew the kingdom pro-gram from Barnabas. But “contrariwise” (2:7), i.e., oppositely (cf. IPet.3:8,9), he could add the grace message to them.

Paul preached the gospel “of” the uncircumcision (Gal.2:7), not the gospel “to” or “for” them, as new Bible versions translate that verse. That makes it sound like he preached the same gospel Peter preached “to” or “for” the circumcision, and he didn’t. No one before Paul had any gospel or good news for the uncircumcision (Eph.2:11,12).

“Wrought” (Gal.2:8) is the past tense of work (cf.Neh.6:16). Paul is saying the working of miracles (cf.ICor.12:10) authenticated Peter’s ministry (Mark 16:20) and his (Acts 14:3). God worked special miracles by Peter to indicate he was head apostle of the 12 (Gal.5:15,16), and by Paul (Acts19: 11) to indicate he was a head apostle on the same level as Peter. That convinced the 12 of this (Gal.2:9). They only “seemed” to be the “pillars” that religion was making them into. Cephas and John constituted the quorum of “two” of the 12 needed to “loose” their ministry to the Gentiles to Paul, and “bind” themselves to minister to “the circumcision” (Mt.18: 18,19 cf. Mt.28:19) when they perceived” God sent Paul to “all nations” with “grace” (Rom.1:5).

We know the 12 kept their word. You never see them going to Gentiles in the Book of Acts, but Paul seemed to break his when he went to synagogues (Acts17:1,2,10,etc.). But he vowed to go to “the heathen” (Gal.2:9), and heathen now included unsaved Gentiles and Jews. God just told him to go to “the Jew first” (Rom.1:16) during Acts while God reached out to individual Jews. The 12 meanwhile ministered to the true circumcision, i.e., saved Jews (Rom.2:29).

The Jerusalem Council’s only stipulation in recognizing Paul’s new message was that he “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10), i.e., the Jews who became poor when the temporary communal living at Pentecost went beyond the short time God intended for it and they became “poor” (Rom.15:26). Jews helped each other to get saved (James 2:14-17), but Paul was “forward” to do it by taking up a “collection” (ICor.16:1), and taught us to as well (IICor.8:8,10; 9:1,2).


A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Related Files: