Galatians 2

* The apostle declares his being owned as an apostle of the

Gentiles. (1-10) He had publicly opposed Peter for judaizing.

(11-14) And from thence he enters upon the doctrine of

justification by faith in Christ, without the works of the law.

(15-21)

1-10 Observe the apostle's faithfulness in giving a full

account of the doctrine he had preached among the Gentiles, and

was still resolved to preach, that of Christianity, free from

all mixture of Judaism. This doctrine would be ungrateful to

many, yet he was not afraid to own it. His care was, lest the

success of his past labours should be lessened, or his future

usefulness be hindered. While we simply depend upon God for

success to our labours, we should use every proper caution to

remove mistakes, and against opposers. There are things which

may lawfully be complied with, yet, when they cannot be done

without betraying the truth, they ought to be refused. We must

not give place to any conduct, whereby the truth of the gospel

would be reflected upon. Though Paul conversed with the other

apostles, yet he did not receive any addition to his knowledge,

or authority, from them. Perceiving the grace given to him, they

gave unto him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, whereby

they acknowledged that he was designed to the honour and office

of an apostle as well as themselves. They agreed that these two

should go to the heathen, while they continued to preach to the

Jews; judging it agreeable to the mind of Christ, so to divide

their work. Here we learn that the gospel is not ours, but

God's; and that men are but the keepers of it; for this we are

to praise God. The apostle showed his charitable disposition,

and how ready he was to own the Jewish converts as brethren,

though many would scarcely allow the like favour to the

converted Gentiles; but mere difference of opinion was no reason

to him why he should not help them. Herein is a pattern of

Christian charity, which we should extend to all the disciples

of Christ.
11-14 Notwithstanding Peter's character, yet, when Paul saw him

acting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace of

the church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw that

Peter and the others did not live up to that principle which the

gospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by the

death of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was

taken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longer

in force; as Peter's offence was public, he publicly reproved

him. There is a very great difference between the prudence of

St. Paul, who bore with, and used for a time, the ceremonies of

the law as not sinful, and the timid conduct of St. Peter, who,

by withdrawing from the Gentiles, led others to think that these

ceremonies were necessary.
15-19 Paul, having thus shown he was not inferior to any

apostle, not to Peter himself, speaks of the great foundation

doctrine of the gospel. For what did we believe in Christ? Was

it not that we might be justified by the faith of Christ? If so,

is it not foolish to go back to the law, and to expect to be

justified by the merit of moral works, or sacrifices, or

ceremonies? The occasion of this declaration doubtless arose

from the ceremonial law; but the argument is quite as strong

against all dependence upon the works of the moral law, as

respects justification. To give the greater weight to this, it

is added, But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we

ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin?

This would be very dishonourable to Christ, and also very

hurtful to them. By considering the law itself, he saw that

justification was not to be expected by the works of it, and

that there was now no further need of the sacrifices and

cleansings of it, since they were done away in Christ, by his

offering up himself a sacrifice for us. He did not hope or fear

any thing from it; any more than a dead man from enemies. But

the effect was not a careless, lawless life. It was necessary,

that he might live to God, and be devoted to him through the

motives and grace of the gospel. It is no new prejudice, though

a most unjust one, that the doctrine of justification by faith

alone, tends to encourage people in sin. Not so, for to take

occasion from free grace, or the doctrine of it, to live in sin,

is to try to make Christ the minister of sin, at any thought of

which all Christian hearts would shudder.
20,21 Here, in his own person, the apostle describes the

spiritual or hidden life of a believer. The old man is

crucified, #Ro 6:6|, but the new man is living; sin is

mortified, and grace is quickened. He has the comforts and the

triumphs of grace; yet that grace is not from himself, but from

another. Believers see themselves living in a state of

dependence on Christ. Hence it is, that though he lives in the

flesh, yet he does not live after the flesh. Those who have true

faith, live by that faith; and faith fastens upon Christ's

giving himself for us. He loved me, and gave himself for me. As

if the apostle said, The Lord saw me fleeing from him more and

more. Such wickedness, error, and ignorance were in my will and

understanding, that it was not possible for me to be ransomed by

any other means than by such a price. Consider well this price.

Here notice the false faith of many. And their profession is

accordingly; they have the form of godliness without the power

of it. They think they believe the articles of faith aright, but

they are deceived. For to believe in Christ crucified, is not

only to believe that he was crucified, but also to believe that

I am crucified with him. And this is to know Christ crucified.

Hence we learn what is the nature of grace. God's grace cannot

stand with man's merit. Grace is no grace unless it is freely

given every way. The more simply the believer relies on Christ

for every thing, the more devotedly does he walk before Him in

all his ordinances and commandments. Christ lives and reigns in

him, and he lives here on earth by faith in the Son of God,

which works by love, causes obedience, and changes into his holy

image. Thus he neither abuses the grace of God, nor makes it in

vain.
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