“It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run, in vain.” (Gal. 2:2)
Paul makes it clear that his trip to Jerusalem to speak to the leaders of the church was not due to the leaders having invited him or demanded his presence. He went because of a revelation from God. His subsequent explanation of the gospel he preached in Gentile cities is not then a response of any teaching or commission of the Apostles but by the authority, he received from the Lord.
It appears that the revelation to go must somehow have something to do with the gospel Paul was preaching to Gentiles that differed from what the Jews were teaching. When we read verse three we are inclined to believe that Paul’s gospel contained no reference to fleshly circumcision. Before Paul spoke publicly he talked to the church leaders and explained what he was teaching. The apostles were satisfied with what Paul told them and so gave him the right hand of fellowship.
Paul’s point here is that the gospel he explained to the Jewish brethren was the same gospel that he had given to the Galatian believers. Paul described his teaching to the leaders in Jerusalem and they in turn “added nothing to it.” It was approved by God and by the apostles and for that reason should not have been forsaken by the churches in Galatia.
We do not know the exact variance of the gospel being espoused by the churches of Galatia but we do know that it was different to the extent that it violated some principle dealing with Jesus as Lord. Perhaps someone was teaching that circumcision was required of the Gentile believers in these churches. As we shall see in the following verses Paul has an important teaching about that and the reason for Titus’s accompanying him to the Jewish capital is revealed.
There are some who say that Paul’s language here implies that he might have been afraid that he was teaching the wrong gospel and in so doing would be running in vain. This, of course, cannot be the case. First, Paul says he received what he taught directly from Jesus. Apostles, leaders or elders could not change what Jesus told Paul. Second, Paul is using this to convince the Galatians that the gospel he taught them is the one he received and all others are wrong. Not too convincing to claim you weren’t too sure about it yourself. Paul was afraid of a rift between Jews and Gentile believers as that would destroy the work he had been doing where Jews and Gentiles worshiped together.
Task for Today: This is just one more place to emphasize the importance of comparing what God teaches with what men teach. The Galatians had not done this. They listened to men even though they had originally heard from the voice of God’s appointed representative. I urge you again and again not to be misled by the teaching of men. The Galatians had Paul’s words and so do we only we have many more and we can read them over and over to ourselves. There is no excuse to be led astray and follow a gospel that isn’t really the good news. Study (the word) to be approved by God.