To the Galatians 2:1-21

2  Then after 14 years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barʹna·bas,+ also taking Titus along with me.+  I went up as a result of a revelation, and I presented to them the good news that I am preaching among the nations. This was done privately, however, before the men who were highly regarded, to make sure that I was not running or had not run in vain.  Nevertheless, not even Titus,+ who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised,+ although he was a Greek.  But that matter came up because of the false brothers brought in quietly,+ who slipped in to spy on the freedom+ we enjoy in union with Christ Jesus, so that they might completely enslave us;+  we did not yield in submission to them,+ no, not for a moment,* so that the truth of the good news might continue with you.  But regarding those who seemed to be important+—whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God does not go by a man’s outward appearance—those highly regarded men imparted nothing new to me.  On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the good news for those who are uncircumcised,+ just as Peter had been for those who are circumcised—  for the one who empowered Peter for an apostleship to those who are circumcised also empowered me for those who are of the nations+  and when they recognized the undeserved kindness that was given me,+ James+ and Ceʹphas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave Barʹna·bas and me+ the right hand of fellowship, so that we should go to the nations but they to those who are circumcised. 10  They asked only that we keep the poor in mind, and this I have also earnestly endeavored to do.+ 11  However, when Ceʹphas+ came to Antioch,+ I resisted him face-to-face, because he was clearly in the wrong.* 12  For before certain men from James+ arrived, he used to eat with people of the nations;+ but when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcised class.+ 13  The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barʹna·bas was led along with them in their pretense. 14  But when I saw that they were not walking in step with the truth of the good news,+ I said to Ceʹphas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do and not as Jews do, how can you compel people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?”+ 15  We who are Jews by birth, and not sinners from the nations, 16  recognize that a man is declared righteous, not by works of law, but only through faith+ in Jesus Christ.+ So we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, so that we may be declared righteous by faith in Christ and not by works of law, for no one will be declared righteous by works of law.+ 17  Now if we have also been found sinners while seeking to be declared righteous by means of Christ, is Christ then sin’s minister? Certainly not! 18  If the very things that I once tore down I build up again, I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.+ 19  For through law I died toward law,+ so that I might become alive toward God. 20  I am nailed to the stake along with Christ.+ It is no longer I who live,+ but it is Christ who is living in union with me. Indeed, the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,+ who loved me and handed himself over for me.+ 21  I do not reject* the undeserved kindness of God,+ for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing.+

Footnotes

Lit., “an hour.”
Or “he stood condemned.”
Or “shove aside.”

Study Notes

Then three years later: Paul may mean that after his conversion, parts of three years elapsed; he may have arrived in Jerusalem in 36 C.E. That visit was likely the first time that Paul was in Jerusalem as a Christian.

Then after 14 years: Some scholars suggest that Paul may mean “in the 14th year,” that is, a partial year followed by 12 full years and then another partial year. (Compare 1Ki 12:5, 12; see study note on Ga 1:18.) The period likely ran from 36 C.E. when Paul first visited Jerusalem as a Christian to 49 C.E. when he came to Jerusalem with Titus and Barnabas to discuss the circumcision issue with the apostles and elders there.​—Ac 15:2.

preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.

as a result of a revelation: Paul here adds a detail not found in Luke’s account in the book of Acts. (Ac 15:1, 2) Christ, as head of the Christian congregation, apparently used a revelation to direct Paul to bring the important issue of circumcision to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. (Eph 5:23) That historic meeting took place about 49 C.E. By mentioning this revelation, Paul further countered the Judaizers, who insisted that he was no true apostle. Jesus himself not only commissioned Paul but also gave him directions by means of revelations, proving that Paul was indeed a true apostle.​—Ga 1:1, 15, 16.

I am preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation, usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.​—See study note on Mt 3:1.

circumcised him: Paul well knew that circumcision was not a Christian requirement. (Ac 15:6-29) Timothy, whose father was an unbeliever, had not been circumcised. Paul knew that this might stumble some of the Jews whom they would visit together on their preaching tour. Instead of allowing this obstacle to impede their work, Paul asked Timothy to submit to this painful surgery. Both men thus exemplified what Paul himself later wrote to the Corinthians: “To the Jews I became as a Jew in order to gain Jews.”​—1Co 9:20.

the Greek: In the first century C.E., the Greek word Helʹlen (meaning “Greek”) did not necessarily refer only to natives of Greece or people of Greek origin. When Paul here talks about everyone having faith and mentions “the Greek” together with “the Jew,” he is apparently using the term “Greek” in a broader sense to represent all non-Jewish peoples. (Ro 2:9, 10; 3:9; 10:12; 1Co 10:32; 12:13) This was doubtless due to the prominence and preeminence of the Greek language and culture throughout the Roman Empire.

not even Titus . . . was compelled to be circumcised: When the circumcision issue arose in Antioch (c. 49 C.E.), Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem. (Ac 15:1, 2; Ga 2:1) He was “a Greek,” an uncircumcised Gentile. (See study note on a Greek in this verse.) The use of the verb “to compel” in this verse may suggest that some Judaizers, or Christians who advocated following Jewish beliefs and customs, tried to pressure Titus to get circumcised. However, at the meeting in Jerusalem, the apostles and elders ruled that Gentile Christians did not need to get circumcised. (Ac 15:23-29) Paul refers to Titus’ case here because it added weight to his argument that converts to Christianity are not under the Mosaic Law. Titus performed his ministry primarily among uncircumcised people of the nations, so his uncircumcised state did not create an issue. (2Co 8:6; 2Ti 4:10; Tit 1:4, 5) Thus, his case differed from that of Timothy, whom Paul had circumcised.​—See study note on Ac 16:3.

a Greek: Titus is described as a Greek (Helʹlen). This may simply mean that he was of Greek descent. However, some first-century writers used the plural form (Helʹle·nes) in referring to non-Greeks who had adopted the Greek language and culture. It is possible that Titus was Greek in that broader sense.​—See study note on Ro 1:16.

you are so quickly turning away: Paul here pinpoints an important reason for writing this letter. Though it had not been long since Paul visited the region, some in the Galatian congregations were already turning away from Christian truths. The “evil influence” that Paul talks about in this letter (Ga 3:1) includes those whom he calls “false brothers,” who had “slipped in” to the congregations. (See study notes on Ga 2:4; 3:1.) Some of these false brothers were Judaizers, who insisted that Christians abide by the Mosaic Law. (See study note on Ga 1:13.) The Judaizers persisted even though the apostles and elders in Jerusalem had already directed that Gentiles were not obligated to obey the Mosaic Law. (Ac 15:1, 2, 23-29; Ga 5:2-4) Paul indicates that the Judaizers feared persecution and wanted to appease Jewish opposers. (Ga 6:12, 13) These false brothers may also have claimed that Paul was no real apostle, and they sought to alienate the congregations from him. (Ga 1:11, 12; 4:17) Some of the Galatians may have been inclined toward immorality, strife, and egotism. These fleshly tendencies that Paul addresses in the latter part of his letter would cause them to turn away from God.​—Ga 5:13–6:10.

false brothers: The Greek word for “false brother” (pseu·daʹdel·phos) is found only here and at 2Co 11:26. One lexicon defines the word as “a Christian in name only.” The Judaizers in the Galatian congregations posed as spiritual men, while in reality, they sought to direct the congregation back to strict adherence to the Mosaic Law. (See study note on Ga 1:6.) Paul said that such men were “brought in quietly” and that they “slipped in to spy” on Christian freedom, showing that these men used subtle tactics to spread their dangerous teachings.​—Compare 2Co 11:13-15.

the truth of the good news: This expression, which also occurs in verse 14, refers to the whole body of Christian teachings in God’s Word.

God: Greek manuscripts read “God” here, but a few translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew and other languages use the divine name.

the right hand of fellowship: Or “the right hand of partnership.” A handshake or the grasping of another’s hand denoted joint participation, fellowship, or partnership. (2Ki 10:15) About 49 C.E., the apostle Paul visited Jerusalem to take part in the discussion by the first-century governing body on the matter of circumcision. (Ac 15:6-29) During this visit, he apparently met with James, Peter, and John to discuss the commission that Paul had received from the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the good news. (Ac 9:15; 13:2; 1Ti 1:12) Paul here recalls the spirit of unity and cooperation evident in that meeting and afterward. The brothers saw clearly that they all shared the same work. They agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the nations, or the Gentiles, in their preaching work, while James, Peter, and John would focus on preaching to those who [were] circumcised, or the Jews.

those who are uncircumcised: Lit., “those who are of the uncircumcision,” that is, the non-Jews.

just as Peter: Paul here shows that those taking the lead in the congregation cooperated with one another. (See study note on Ga 2:9.) The governing body in Jerusalem agreed that Paul had been entrusted with a ministry focusing on non-Jews, while Peter’s focus was primarily on preaching to the Jews. However, neither Paul’s assignment nor Peter’s was exclusive. It was Peter who had first opened up the work of preaching to Gentiles. (Ac 10:44-48; 11:18) And Paul witnessed to a great many Jews, as his commission from Christ included preaching “to the nations as well as to . . . the sons of Israel.” (Ac 9:15) Both men obediently carried out their respective commissions. For example, Peter later traveled E to serve in Babylon, which had a sizable Jewish population and was renowned as a center of Jewish learning. (1Pe 5:13) Paul carried out missionary journeys that extended far to the W, perhaps as far as Spain.

those who are circumcised: Lit., “those who are of the circumcision,” that is, the Jews.

empowered Peter for an apostleship . . . empowered me: The Greek verb e·ner·geʹo is here rendered “empowered.” In some of its other occurrences, the verb has been rendered “to be at work,” “to operate,” or “to energize.” (Eph 2:2; 3:20; Php 2:13; Col 1:29) In this context, it seems to convey the idea that God gave Peter and Paul not only the authority to act as apostles but also the capability to carry out their responsibilities.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Simon Peter. Upon meeting Simon for the first time, Jesus gave him the Semitic name Cephas (in Greek, Ke·phasʹ). The name may be related to the Hebrew noun ke·phimʹ (rocks) used at Job 30:6 and Jer 4:29. At Joh 1:42, John explains that the name “is translated ‘Peter’” (Peʹtros, a Greek name that similarly means “A Piece of Rock”). The name Cephas is used only at Joh 1:42 and in two of Paul’s letters, namely, 1 Corinthians and Galatians.​—1Co 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Ga 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14; see study notes on Mt 10:2; Joh 1:42.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Peter.​—See study note on 1Co 1:12.

pillars: Just as a literal pillar provides support to a structure, so the men here described as figurative pillars were a source of support and strength to the congregation. The same word is used to call the Christian congregation “a pillar and support of the truth” (1Ti 3:15) and to describe the fiery legs of an angel (Re 10:1-3). James, Cephas, and John were known to be like pillars​—solidly fixed, spiritually strong, and reliable in their support of the congregation.

the right hand of fellowship: Or “the right hand of partnership.” A handshake or the grasping of another’s hand denoted joint participation, fellowship, or partnership. (2Ki 10:15) About 49 C.E., the apostle Paul visited Jerusalem to take part in the discussion by the first-century governing body on the matter of circumcision. (Ac 15:6-29) During this visit, he apparently met with James, Peter, and John to discuss the commission that Paul had received from the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the good news. (Ac 9:15; 13:2; 1Ti 1:12) Paul here recalls the spirit of unity and cooperation evident in that meeting and afterward. The brothers saw clearly that they all shared the same work. They agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the nations, or the Gentiles, in their preaching work, while James, Peter, and John would focus on preaching to those who [were] circumcised, or the Jews.

the collection: The Greek word lo·giʹa, rendered “collection,” occurs only twice in the Bible, at 1Co 16:1, 2. The context and Paul’s choice of words indicate that the collection likely involved money, not food or clothing. In saying “the collection,” he suggests that this was a special collection, one already known to the Corinthians. It appears that this collection was taken especially in behalf of the Judean Christians, who were hard-pressed at the time.​—1Co 16:3; Ga 2:10.

I will send the men . . . to take your kind gift to Jerusalem: About 55 C.E., the Christians in Judea had fallen into poverty, so Paul supervised the collection of relief funds from the congregations in Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia. (1Co 16:1, 2; 2Co 8:1, 4; 9:1, 2) When he set out on the long journey to Jerusalem in 56 C.E. to deliver the contribution, Paul was accompanied by a number of men. The group were carrying money entrusted to them by several congregations, each of which may have supplied men to accompany Paul. (Ac 20:3, 4; Ro 15:25, 26) Such a large company may have been needed for security because robbers posed a threat to safe passage. (2Co 11:26) Since only approved men would be delivering the collected funds along with Paul, there would not be any reason to suspect these men of misusing the funds. Those giving the contributions could be confident that the money would be used properly.​—2Co 8:20.

made the riches of their generosity abound: Or “made . . . overflow.” Paul seeks to motivate the Christians in Corinth to complete the relief ministry for the needy Christians in Judea. So he tells them about “the congregations of Macedonia,” such as those in Philippi and Thessalonica, that were outstanding examples of generous giving. (Ro 15:26; 2Co 8:1-4; 9:1-7; Php 4:14-16) Their cheerful generosity was all the more remarkable, since they themselves were in “deep poverty” and were experiencing a great test under affliction. It is possible that those Christians in Macedonia were being accused of practicing customs considered unlawful for Romans, as happened to Paul himself in Philippi. (Ac 16:20, 21) Some suggest that the test was connected with their poverty. Such tests, or trials, might explain why the Macedonians felt empathy for their Judean brothers, who were suffering similar hardships. (Ac 17:5-9; 1Th 2:14) Therefore, the Macedonian Christians wanted to help them and joyfully gave “beyond their means.”​—2Co 8:3.

keep the poor in mind: About 49 C.E., Peter, James, and John gave Paul and his fellow worker Barnabas a commission. (Ga 2:9) They were to keep the material needs of impoverished Christians in mind as they preached to the nations. Here Paul reports that he earnestly endeavored to do so. When the Christians in Judea later came into need, Paul encouraged the congregations in other locations to share material things with their needy brothers in Jerusalem. Paul’s letters reveal the attention that he gave to this matter. In both of his inspired letters to the Corinthian Christians (c. 55 C.E.), he wrote about the collection; he said that he had already given directions on this matter “to the congregations of Galatia.” (1Co 16:1-3; 2Co 8:1-8; 9:1-5; see study notes on 1Co 16:1, 3; 2Co 8:2.) About 56 C.E. when Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, the collection was almost complete. (Ro 15:25, 26) Paul fulfilled his commission shortly thereafter, for later at his trial in Jerusalem, he told Roman Governor Felix: “I arrived to bring gifts of mercy to my nation.” (Ac 24:17) Such loving concern for the needs of fellow Christians was one of the identifying marks of first-century Christianity.​—Joh 13:35.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Simon Peter. Upon meeting Simon for the first time, Jesus gave him the Semitic name Cephas (in Greek, Ke·phasʹ). The name may be related to the Hebrew noun ke·phimʹ (rocks) used at Job 30:6 and Jer 4:29. At Joh 1:42, John explains that the name “is translated ‘Peter’” (Peʹtros, a Greek name that similarly means “A Piece of Rock”). The name Cephas is used only at Joh 1:42 and in two of Paul’s letters, namely, 1 Corinthians and Galatians.​—1Co 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Ga 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14; see study notes on Mt 10:2; Joh 1:42.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Peter.​—See study note on 1Co 1:12.

resisted: Or “confronted.” After noticing that the apostle Peter refused to associate with non-Jewish brothers because of fear of man, Paul took the initiative and “resisted him face-to-face,” reproving him before all who were present. The Greek word translated “resisted” literally means “stood against.”​—Ga 2:11-14.

keys of the Kingdom of the heavens: In the Bible, those who were given certain keys, whether literal or figurative, were entrusted with a degree of authority. (1Ch 9:26, 27; Isa 22:20-22) So the term “key” came to symbolize authority and responsibility. Peter used these “keys” entrusted to him to open up for Jews (Ac 2:22-41), Samaritans (Ac 8:14-17), and Gentiles (Ac 10:34-38) the opportunity to receive God’s spirit with a view to their entering the heavenly Kingdom.

James: Likely referring to Jesus’ half brother and the James mentioned at Ac 12:17. (See study notes on Mt 13:55; Ac 12:17.) It appears that when the circumcision issue came before “the apostles and elders in Jerusalem,” James presided over the discussion. (Ac 15:1, 2) Apparently referring to that occasion, Paul mentions that James, Cephas (Peter), and John were “the ones who seemed to be pillars” of the Jerusalem congregation.​—Ga 2:1-9.

how unlawful it is for a Jew: The Jewish religious leaders in Peter’s day taught that anyone who entered a Gentile’s home would become ceremonially unclean. (Joh 18:28) However, the Law given through Moses made no specific injunction against this type of association. In addition, the wall separating Jews from Gentiles was removed when Jesus gave his life as a ransom and the new covenant was established. In doing so, Jesus made “the two groups one.” (Eph 2:11-16) Yet, even after Pentecost 33 C.E., the early disciples were slow to grasp the significance of what Jesus had done. In fact, Jewish Christians took many years to free themselves of the attitudes that were promoted by their former religious leaders and that were embedded in their culture.

eat with people of the nations: Meals were occasions for fellowship that customarily included prayers, so it is understandable that the Jews generally did not share meals with Gentiles. In fact, the Israelites were commanded never to mingle with the nations that remained in the Promised Land, not even mentioning their gods. (Jos 23:6, 7) By the first century C.E., Jewish religious leaders had added their own restrictions, insisting that entering a Gentile home led to ceremonial uncleanness.​—Joh 18:28.

he stopped doing this and separated himself: In 36 C.E., Peter, who was a Jewish Christian, used the third of “the keys of the Kingdom” to open up the opportunity for Cornelius and his household to become the first Christians who were not Jews or Jewish proselytes. (See study note on Mt 16:19.) Peter stayed in Cornelius’ home for days, no doubt sharing a number of meals with his Gentile hosts. (Ac 10:48; 11:1-17) He rightly continued the practice of eating with Gentile Christians. However, some 13 years later, while in Syrian Antioch, Peter suddenly “stopped doing this.” He feared the reaction of some Jewish Christians who had come from Jerusalem. These men had come from James, apparently meaning that they had associated with James, who was in Jerusalem. (See study note on Ac 15:13.) These men were slow to accept change and still insisted on strict adherence to the Mosaic Law and certain Jewish customs. (See study note on Ac 10:28.) Peter’s conduct could have undermined a decision that the governing body made in the same year as Peter’s visit, about 49 C.E. That decision had confirmed that Gentile Christians were not required to obey the Mosaic Law. (Ac 15:23-29) Paul here reviews the incident at Antioch, not to embarrass Peter, but to adjust a wrong view held among the Galatians.

those of the circumcised class: Lit., “the (ones) out of circumcision,” that is, some circumcised Jewish Christians who were visiting from the congregation in Jerusalem. In other occurrences, the same Greek expression is translated “the supporters of circumcision,” “those circumcised,” and “those who adhere to the circumcision.”​—Ac 11:2; Col 4:11; Tit 1:10.

hypocrites: The Greek word hy·po·kri·tesʹ originally referred to Greek (and later Roman) stage actors who wore large masks designed to amplify the voice. The term came to be used in a metaphoric sense to apply to anyone hiding his real intentions or personality by playing false or putting on a pretense. Jesus here calls the Jewish religious leaders “hypocrites.”​—Mt 6:5, 16.

Hypocrite!: The Greek word hy·po·kri·tesʹ originally referred to Greek (and later Roman) stage actors who wore large masks designed to disguise the identity of the actor and to amplify the voice. The term came to be used in a metaphoric sense. It was applied to someone who hid his real intentions or personality by putting on a pretense. At Mt 6:5, 16, Jesus refers to the Jewish religious leaders as “hypocrites.” Here (Lu 6:42) he uses the term to address any disciple who focuses on another’s faults while ignoring his own.

joined him in putting on this pretense . . . in their pretense: Two related Greek expressions occur here, a verb (sy·ny·po·kriʹno·mai) and a noun (hy·poʹkri·sis). Both were originally used to refer to Greek stage actors who wore masks when playing their parts. The second occurrence of “pretense” in this verse is rendered from the noun. That noun occurs six times in the Christian Greek Scriptures and is rendered “hypocrisy” elsewhere. (Mt 23:28; Mr 12:15; Lu 12:1; 1Ti 4:2; 1Pe 2:1; on the related word “hypocrite,” see study notes on Mt 6:2; Lu 6:42.) According to some lexicons, the Greek verb rendered “joined . . . in putting on this pretense” is here used figuratively, meaning “to join in playing a part or pretending” or “to join in hypocrisy.”

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Simon Peter. Upon meeting Simon for the first time, Jesus gave him the Semitic name Cephas (in Greek, Ke·phasʹ). The name may be related to the Hebrew noun ke·phimʹ (rocks) used at Job 30:6 and Jer 4:29. At Joh 1:42, John explains that the name “is translated ‘Peter’” (Peʹtros, a Greek name that similarly means “A Piece of Rock”). The name Cephas is used only at Joh 1:42 and in two of Paul’s letters, namely, 1 Corinthians and Galatians.​—1Co 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Ga 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14; see study notes on Mt 10:2; Joh 1:42.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Peter.​—See study note on 1Co 1:12.

being declared righteous: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek verb di·kai·oʹo and the related nouns di·kaiʹo·ma and di·kaiʹo·sis, traditionally rendered “to justify” and “justification,” carry the basic idea of clearing of any charge, holding as guiltless, and therefore pronouncing and treating as righteous. For example, the apostle Paul wrote that the person who has died has been “acquitted [form of di·kai·oʹo] from his sin,” having paid the penalty, death. (Ro 6:7, 23) In addition to such usage, these Greek words are used in a special sense in the Scriptures. They refer to God’s viewing as guiltless an imperfect person who exercises faith.​—Ac 13:38, 39; Ro 8:33.

you are so quickly turning away: Paul here pinpoints an important reason for writing this letter. Though it had not been long since Paul visited the region, some in the Galatian congregations were already turning away from Christian truths. The “evil influence” that Paul talks about in this letter (Ga 3:1) includes those whom he calls “false brothers,” who had “slipped in” to the congregations. (See study notes on Ga 2:4; 3:1.) Some of these false brothers were Judaizers, who insisted that Christians abide by the Mosaic Law. (See study note on Ga 1:13.) The Judaizers persisted even though the apostles and elders in Jerusalem had already directed that Gentiles were not obligated to obey the Mosaic Law. (Ac 15:1, 2, 23-29; Ga 5:2-4) Paul indicates that the Judaizers feared persecution and wanted to appease Jewish opposers. (Ga 6:12, 13) These false brothers may also have claimed that Paul was no real apostle, and they sought to alienate the congregations from him. (Ga 1:11, 12; 4:17) Some of the Galatians may have been inclined toward immorality, strife, and egotism. These fleshly tendencies that Paul addresses in the latter part of his letter would cause them to turn away from God.​—Ga 5:13–6:10.

is declared righteous: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the verb di·kai·oʹo and the related nouns di·kaiʹo·ma and di·kaiʹo·sis, traditionally rendered “to justify” and “justification,” carry the basic idea of a person being cleared of any charge, held as guiltless, and therefore pronounced righteous and treated as such. (See study note on Ro 3:24.) Some in the Galatian congregations were being influenced by Judaizers, who were attempting to establish their own righteousness by works of the law of Moses. (Ga 5:4; see study note on Ga 1:6.) However, Paul stressed that only through faith in Jesus Christ would it be possible to gain a righteous standing with God. Jesus sacrificed his perfect life, providing the basis for God to declare righteous those exercising faith in Christ.​—Ro 3:19-24; 10:3, 4; Ga 3:10-12, 24.

Judaism: The religious system that was prevalent among the Jewish people in Paul’s day. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, this word occurs only at Ga 1:13, 14. While adherents claimed to follow the Hebrew Scriptures closely, first-century Judaism focused great attention on “the traditions of [the] fathers.” (See study note on Ga 1:14.) Jesus denounced the traditions and the men who made God’s Word invalid.​—Mr 7:8, 13.

to make transgressions manifest: Paul shows that a major purpose of the Mosaic Law was “to make transgressions manifest,” exposing Israel and all mankind as imperfect sinners before God. (For a comment on the Greek word for “transgression,” see study note on Ro 4:15.) The Law clearly spelled out the full range and scope of sin. Paul could therefore say that it caused trespassing and sin to “increase” in that so many acts and even attitudes were now identified as sinful. (Ro 5:20; 7:7-11; see study note on 1Co 15:56; compare Ps 40:12.) All those who tried to follow the Law found themselves legally convicted by it because it showed up their sinfulness. Its sacrifices continually served to remind them of their sinful state. (Heb 10:1-4, 11) All men needed a perfect sacrifice that could completely atone for their sins.​—Ro 10:4; see study note on the offspring in this verse.

the very things that I once tore down: Paul at one time was zealous for Judaism, believing that he could gain a righteous standing with God by works of the Mosaic Law. (See study note on Ga 1:13.) But he figuratively tore down that belief when he became a Christian. (Ga 2:15, 16) His opposers claimed that Christians could gain salvation only by strictly following the Law. (Ga 1:9; 5:2-12) Paul explains here that if he put himself​—or if any of the other Jewish Christians put themselves​—back under the Mosaic Law, the result would be to build up again those “very things.” He would also again make himself a transgressor of that Law, subject to its condemnation.​—See study note on Ga 3:19.

our guardian leading to Christ: The Greek word for “guardian” (pai·da·go·gosʹ) that Paul used in this illustration literally means “child leader” and may also be rendered “tutor.” The word is used only at Ga 3:24, 25 and 1Co 4:15, where Paul compared Christian ministers to such guardians. (See study note on 1Co 4:15.) With this beautiful metaphor, Paul likens the Mosaic Law to a guardian, or tutor, who would daily accompany a young boy to school. Such a guardian was not the actual teacher; rather, he was responsible for protecting the boy, for helping him to adhere to the standards of the family, and for administering discipline. Similarly, the Mosaic Law strictly upheld God’s standards and helped the Israelites to see that they were sinful, incapable of keeping the Law perfectly. Humble ones who accepted the guidance of this “guardian” understood that they were in need of the Messiah, or Christ, God’s only means of salvation.​—Ac 4:12.

now that the faith has arrived: Jesus is the only person who fulfilled the Law perfectly. So Paul could say that the faith​—that is, perfect faith​—had arrived. By fulfilling the Law, Jesus gave his followers the opportunity to have an approved standing with Jehovah God. He thus became the “Perfecter of our faith.” (Heb 12:2) Christ would be with his disciples “all the days until the conclusion of the system of things” (Mt 28:20), so there is no need to go back to the care of the guardian. (See study note on Ga 3:24.) Using this reasoning, Paul makes the point that the Mosaic Law became obsolete with the arrival of this perfected faith based on Jesus Christ.

through law I died toward law: Paul’s words form part of an argument showing that he could not attain a righteous standing before God through “works of law.” (Ga 2:16) The Mosaic Law condemned Paul as a sinner deserving of death, since he could not keep the Law perfectly. (Ro 7:7-11) However, Paul says that he “died toward law” in the sense that he had been freed from the Law. That Law covenant was legally terminated on the basis of Jesus’ death on the torture stake. (Col 2:13, 14) That is why Paul could write to the Christians in Rome that they were “made dead to the Law through the body of the Christ.” (Ro 7:4) When Christians exercised faith in Christ’s sacrifice, they “died toward law.” Because the Law was what led Paul to Christ, Paul could say that it was “through law” that he “died toward law.”​—See study notes on Ga 3:24 and 3:25.

was nailed to the stake along with him: The Gospels use the Greek verb syn·stau·roʹo of those who were literally executed alongside Jesus. (Mt 27:44; Mr 15:32; Joh 19:32) A number of times in his letters, Paul mentions Jesus’ execution on the stake (1Co 1:13, 23; 2:2; 2Co 13:4), but here he uses the term in a figurative sense. He shows that Christians have put their old personality to death through faith in the executed Christ. Paul used this term in a similar way in his letter to the Galatians, where he wrote: “I am nailed to the stake along with Christ.”​—Ga 2:20.

through law I died toward law: Paul’s words form part of an argument showing that he could not attain a righteous standing before God through “works of law.” (Ga 2:16) The Mosaic Law condemned Paul as a sinner deserving of death, since he could not keep the Law perfectly. (Ro 7:7-11) However, Paul says that he “died toward law” in the sense that he had been freed from the Law. That Law covenant was legally terminated on the basis of Jesus’ death on the torture stake. (Col 2:13, 14) That is why Paul could write to the Christians in Rome that they were “made dead to the Law through the body of the Christ.” (Ro 7:4) When Christians exercised faith in Christ’s sacrifice, they “died toward law.” Because the Law was what led Paul to Christ, Paul could say that it was “through law” that he “died toward law.”​—See study notes on Ga 3:24 and 3:25.

exercising faith in him: Lit., “believing into him.” The Greek verb pi·steuʹo (related to the noun piʹstis, generally rendered “faith”) has the basic meaning “to believe; to have faith,” but it can express different shades of meaning, depending on context and grammatical constructions. The meaning of this term often goes beyond mere belief or recognition that someone exists. (Jas 2:19) It includes the idea of faith and trust that lead to obedient action. At Joh 3:16, the Greek verb pi·steuʹo is used together with the preposition eis, “into.” Regarding this Greek phrase, one scholar noted: “Faith is thought of as an activity, as something men do, i.e. putting faith into someone.” (An Introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek, Paul L. Kaufman, 1982, p. 46) Jesus obviously refers to a life characterized by faith, not just a single act of faith. At Joh 3:36, the similar expression “the one who exercises faith in the Son” is contrasted with “the one who disobeys the Son.” Therefore, in that context, “to exercise faith” includes the idea of demonstrating one’s strong beliefs or faith through obedience.

compels us: This Greek verb literally means “to hold together” and may convey the meaning “to exercise continuous control over someone or something”; “to urge”; “to impel strongly.” The love Christ showed in laying down his life in our behalf is so outstanding that as a Christian’s appreciation grows, his heart is deeply moved. In this manner, Christ’s love controlled Paul. It moved him to reject selfish pursuits and to confine his objectives to serving God and his fellow man inside and outside the congregation.​—Compare study note on 1Co 9:16.

I am nailed to the stake along with Christ: The Gospels use the Greek verb syn·stau·roʹo of those who were literally put on stakes alongside Jesus. (Mt 27:44; Mr 15:32; Joh 19:32; see study note on Ro 6:6.) Like other Christians, Paul lives by faith in the Son of God. (Ga 3:13; Col 2:14) By showing faith in the executed Christ, a Jewish Christian lives as a follower of Christ, not of the Law.​—Ro 10:4; 2Co 5:15; see study note on Ga 2:19.

in the flesh: That is, as a human.

who loved me and handed himself over for me: Here Paul’s use of the pronoun “me” focuses on the benefits of Christ’s gift to each individual who chooses to exercise faith in Jesus. (See study note on Joh 3:16.) Paul understood and accepted Christ’s great love for him as an individual, so he was motivated to be loving and warm and generous to others. (See study note on 2Co 5:14; compare 2Co 6:11-13; 12:15.) He appreciated that Jesus had called him to be a disciple even though he had opposed Christ’s followers. Paul understood that Jesus, as an expression of love, gave up his life not only for righteous people but also for those who were weighed down with sin. (Compare Mt 9:12, 13.) While highlighting that Christ’s sacrifice applied to him personally, Paul clearly knew that the ransom would benefit an untold number of people.

Christ actually died for nothing: Paul emphasizes that if a person could be declared righteous through law, that is, by performing works of the Mosaic Law, Christ’s death would have been unnecessary. In this verse, Paul also explains that anyone who tries to earn the gift of life is, in effect, rejecting the undeserved kindness of God.​—Ro 11:5, 6; Ga 5:4.

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