Galatians 2* The apostle declares his being owned as an apostle of theGentiles. (1-10) He had publicly opposed Peter for judaizing.(11-14) And from thence he enters upon the doctrine ofjustification by faith in Christ, without the works of the law.(15-21)1-10 Observe the apostle's faithfulness in giving a fullaccount of the doctrine he had preached among the Gentiles, andwas still resolved to preach, that of Christianity, free fromall mixture of Judaism. This doctrine would be ungrateful tomany, yet he was not afraid to own it. His care was, lest thesuccess of his past labours should be lessened, or his futureusefulness be hindered. While we simply depend upon God forsuccess to our labours, we should use every proper caution toremove mistakes, and against opposers. There are things whichmay lawfully be complied with, yet, when they cannot be donewithout betraying the truth, they ought to be refused. We mustnot give place to any conduct, whereby the truth of the gospelwould be reflected upon. Though Paul conversed with the otherapostles, yet he did not receive any addition to his knowledge,or authority, from them. Perceiving the grace given to him, theygave unto him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, wherebythey acknowledged that he was designed to the honour and officeof an apostle as well as themselves. They agreed that these twoshould go to the heathen, while they continued to preach to theJews; judging it agreeable to the mind of Christ, so to dividetheir work. Here we learn that the gospel is not ours, butGod's; and that men are but the keepers of it; for this we areto 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 theconverted Gentiles; but mere difference of opinion was no reasonto him why he should not help them. Herein is a pattern ofChristian charity, which we should extend to all the disciplesof Christ. 11-14 Notwithstanding Peter's character, yet, when Paul saw himacting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace ofthe church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw thatPeter and the others did not live up to that principle which thegospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by thedeath of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile wastaken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longerin force; as Peter's offence was public, he publicly reprovedhim. There is a very great difference between the prudence ofSt. Paul, who bore with, and used for a time, the ceremonies ofthe law as not sinful, and the timid conduct of St. Peter, who,by withdrawing from the Gentiles, led others to think that theseceremonies were necessary. 15-19 Paul, having thus shown he was not inferior to anyapostle, not to Peter himself, speaks of the great foundationdoctrine of the gospel. For what did we believe in Christ? Wasit 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 bejustified by the merit of moral works, or sacrifices, orceremonies? The occasion of this declaration doubtless arosefrom the ceremonial law; but the argument is quite as strongagainst all dependence upon the works of the moral law, asrespects justification. To give the greater weight to this, itis added, But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, weourselves also are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin?This would be very dishonourable to Christ, and also veryhurtful to them. By considering the law itself, he saw thatjustification was not to be expected by the works of it, andthat there was now no further need of the sacrifices andcleansings of it, since they were done away in Christ, by hisoffering up himself a sacrifice for us. He did not hope or fearany thing from it; any more than a dead man from enemies. Butthe effect was not a careless, lawless life. It was necessary,that he might live to God, and be devoted to him through themotives and grace of the gospel. It is no new prejudice, thougha most unjust one, that the doctrine of justification by faithalone, tends to encourage people in sin. Not so, for to takeoccasion 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 ofwhich all Christian hearts would shudder. 20,21 Here, in his own person, the apostle describes thespiritual or hidden life of a believer. The old man iscrucified, #Ro 6:6|, but the new man is living; sin ismortified, and grace is quickened. He has the comforts and thetriumphs of grace; yet that grace is not from himself, but fromanother. Believers see themselves living in a state ofdependence on Christ. Hence it is, that though he lives in theflesh, yet he does not live after the flesh. Those who have truefaith, live by that faith; and faith fastens upon Christ'sgiving himself for us. He loved me, and gave himself for me. Asif the apostle said, The Lord saw me fleeing from him more andmore. Such wickedness, error, and ignorance were in my will andunderstanding, that it was not possible for me to be ransomed byany other means than by such a price. Consider well this price.Here notice the false faith of many. And their profession isaccordingly; they have the form of godliness without the powerof it. They think they believe the articles of faith aright, butthey are deceived. For to believe in Christ crucified, is notonly to believe that he was crucified, but also to believe thatI am crucified with him. And this is to know Christ crucified.Hence we learn what is the nature of grace. God's grace cannotstand with man's merit. Grace is no grace unless it is freelygiven every way. The more simply the believer relies on Christfor every thing, the more devotedly does he walk before Him inall his ordinances and commandments. Christ lives and reigns inhim, and he lives here on earth by faith in the Son of God,which works by love, causes obedience, and changes into his holyimage. Thus he neither abuses the grace of God, nor makes it invain.
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