The false teachers are most likely telling the Galatians that Paul is a self-appointed, upstart, apostle who has changed the gospel to make it less Jewish – ‘Don’t listen to him, Jesus was Jewish, you need faith in Jesus plus the Law.’
Paul argues that he has not made up the gospel he preaches, it came from Jesus. He went to Jerusalem to meet with those of the 12 Apostles there to share what he was doing and get their blessing – although from his tone, he was to bothered whether they bless him or not!
So in these two chapters Paul gives a timeline:
- Paul’s conversion (Galatians 1:12-17; Acts 9)
- Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18-24; Acts 9:26-30)
- Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-10; Acts 11:27-30)
- Paul’s confrontation with Peter in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14; not recorded in Acts). This occurs sometime between Acts 14:26 (Paul’s return to Antioch) and 15:2 (the Jerusalem council). That means Paul wrote this letter around AD48. Finally the Jerusalem Council, recorded in Acts 15:1-35, occurring after Paul wrote the letter. This council officially resolved the question at issue in Galatians.
The answer is that Jesus’ Gospel and Paul’s are the same! (John Piper spoke on this at Together for the Gospel in 2010 – well worth a watch, listen or read.)
The Jerusalem apostles affirmed what Paul was doing and only asked him to remember the poor!
Too long has the liberal church been concerned with social justice but not the gospel, while the evangelical church has been concerned with the gospel but not social justice. We must contend for the gospel and remember the poor! Jesus said we would always have the poor among us. I remember being at the Brighton conference years ago, when the late Simon Pettitt preached a movement-shaping message titled ‘Remember the Poor!’. Now our churches are known for being well involved in serving the poor.
We are heavily involved with:
- Kings Lynn Foodbank – see Andy King, Sarah Vonk or Maarten Klem to help out;
- A CAP Job Club – see Mike Ikwuagwu, Paul Amos or Bob Eardley for more information.
Love the gospel and remember the poor!