The Letter to the Galatians

Chapter 2

Blaine Robison, M.A.

15 October 2019; Revised 8 March 2021

Chapter  1  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Scripture Text: The Scripture text of used in this chapter commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison based the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Other Scripture quotations may be taken from different Bible versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, MW, OJB, & TLV. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of this chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Links to other ancient Jewish literature may be found at The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at Explanation of Greek grammatical forms and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).

Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.

See the article Introduction to Galatians for background information on the letter.


Paul's Story, Part 3, 2:1-10

Paul's Story, Part 4, 2:11-21


Chapter Two continues the autobiographical narrative begun in 1:13, which is a clever method for emphasizing the true content of the good news of salvation. The narrative in this chapter divides into two parts. In the first part Paul reviews the apostolic conference in Jerusalem (AD 49) to address the circumcision controversy that had arisen in Syrian Antioch (Acts 15:1-5), and the reason for his attendance and participation in it. In the second part Paul looks a little farther back in time when Peter had visited Syrian Antioch earlier in that year after Paul's return from his first Diaspora journey, followed closely by the visit of a delegation of Messianic Pharisees from Jerusalem that taught circumcision of Gentiles for salvation. The advocates of this heretical doctrine are called "Judaizers," a term drawn from the verb Ioudaizō in verse 16 of this chapter. Paul employs the historical narrative to illustrate the danger of the Judaizers and how ardently he opposed them.

Paul's Story, Part 3, 2:1-10

1 Then after fourteen years again I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, having taken along also Titus.

Paul's narrative continues from the previous chapter. Then: Grk. epeita, adv. with the idea of addition as a component; thereupon, then. after: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here, in the sense of time elapsed, and which has been passed through. fourteen: Grk. dekatessares (from deka, ten, and tessares, four), the number fourteen. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. The start point for the time reference is Paul's visit to Jerusalem three years after his ordination as an apostle (AD 35), so fourteen years would mean the year 49.

again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. I went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. The verb graphically illustrates the change in elevation from the starting point in Antioch to the final destination in hilly terrain. to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit.

Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim (SH-3389), which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). Hierosoluma is one of two forms of Jerusalem in Greek, the other being Ierousalēm. The spelling of Hierosoluma used for the city in the Roman province of Judea is found in the secular writings of Strabo and Dio Cassius and the Jewish writings of Philo and Josephus (BAG). Situated in the Judean hill country 2500 feet above sea level the city covered seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twentyfive to thirty thousand (252).

with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark (1) association or accompaniment, with; or (2) sequence or position, after. The first meaning is intended here. Barnabas: Grk. Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (ר)-Naba (נָבָא) (Thayer), which means "Son of Exhortation," a name having been given to him by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Scholars assume the name is Aramaic, because of the Aramaic prefix "bar," but Jews often used this prefix in Hebrew names. The Hebrew prefix "ben" also occurs in Aramaic names (Hamp 19). Naba is derived from the Heb. word for prophet, nabi. Barnabas was a relative of John Mark, probably a cousin (Col 4:10). He was a Levite and native of Cyprus with the birth name of Joseph.

Barnabas is first noted for having sold his property and giving the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37), perhaps as an act of Torah obedience since Levites were forbidden to own property. Luke characterized Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faithfulness" (Acts 11:24). Little considered by commentators is that Barnabas is included in the list of the seventy along with Luke whom Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1: Hippolytus (170-235), On the Seventy Apostles). Barnabas was in Antioch because of having been sent several years earlier to investigate the evangelism taking place among Hellenistic Jews there (Acts 11:20-21). He became the leader in the work and oversaw the development of the congregation there (Acts 11:22) and recruited Paul to assist him (Acts 11:25-26).

The background of this trip was that Paul and Barnabas had returned to Syrian Antioch from their first evangelistic journey into the Diaspora and were ministering there (Acts 14:6-28). Then one day some members of the Circumcision Party arrived from Jerusalem and declared, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you are not able to be saved" (Acts 15:1 BR). The false doctrine caused great debate and after a time the Antioch elders determined that a delegation should go to Jerusalem and bring the matter before the apostles and elders there. Paul and Barnabas were chosen as the delegates for this important mission. "Some others" were also chosen to go along (Acts 15:2), and Paul identifies here one of those "others," whom he probably chose himself.

having taken along: Grk. sumparalambanō, aor. part., to take along together with or take along as a companion. also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative and, also, even; (2) adversative and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.

Titus: Grk. Titos, a Roman praenomen, or first name, of unknown meaning, possibly related to Latin titulus "title of honour" ( The name of Titus appears twelve times in the Besekh, all in Paul's letters, but no biographical information is provided, and his point of origin is nowhere mentioned. He was apparently won to Yeshua by Paul, perhaps on his first Diaspora journey (Titus 1:4). As events transpired Titus became a trusted associate of Paul who gave important ministry assignments to him, first in Corinth (2Cor 2:1-4; 7:13-15), then later on the island of Crete (Titus 1:5) and finally in Dalmatia (2Tim 4:10).

2 Now I went up according to a revelation, and set before them the good news that I proclaim in the nations, but apart privately, to those esteemed, lest somehow I might not be running, or have run, in vain.

Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. I went up: Grk. anabainō, aor. See the previous verse. according to: Grk. kata, prep. that generally expresses measure and the idea of something associated with or lining up with something else in terms of manner, direction, reference, position, or the like; down, against, according to.

a revelation: Grk. apokalupsis, making fully known, uncovering, disclosure or revelation. In the Besekh the term is implicitly linked with divine plan, purpose or action. Metaphorically apokalupsis is a disclosure of truth or instruction concerning divine things previously unknown. The noun occurs in the LXX only in 1Samuel 20:30 for Heb. ervah (SH-6172), nakedness, and a further three times without Hebrew equivalent in Sirach 11:27; 22:22; 41:23 where the term is used for revealing things about someone others did not know. Paul declares that after considerable debate with the Judaizers (and probably not a little frustration), he had a "revelation." We should not confuse this "revelation" with the first revelation he experienced in AD 32 (Acts 9:4-5) or the one he experienced in AD 41/42 (2Cor 12:1).

In the Besekh a "revelation" has a heavenly source, whether by a vision, the Spirit or an angel. Inspired prophets can provide "revelations" (cf. 1Cor 14:6, 26; Acts 11:27-28; 13:1; 15:32; 21:10-11), but God was most likely the direct source in this situation. The content of the revelation was probably three-fold. First, Paul realized that the Judaizer heresy was a grave threat to the body of Messiah. Second, the apostles of Yeshua must be united in confronting and eliminating this threat. Third, a trip to Jerusalem was necessary to meet with the chief apostles to address this crisis. Paul shared this "word of knowledge" with the Antioch elders and they concurred, determining that others should go with him (Acts 15:2).

and: Grk. kai, conj. set before: Grk. anatithēmi, aor. mid., to lay something before someone for consideration, set forth, lay before. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. the good news: Grk. ho euangelion, good news and more specifically the good news of the Messiah. Christian versions translate the term as "gospel," which many Jews regard as distinctively Christian. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22). In the Besekh the noun refers to the message of the deeds, death and resurrection of Yeshua that accomplished salvation for Israel and the nations.

that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. I proclaim: Grk. kērussō, pres., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald, to proclaim. in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, but it governs other categories, such as means, agency, cause and associated aspects. In context the preposition may be translated "among, at, by, in, on, near, with." Here the preposition marks position with the sense of "among" or "in the presence of" (Thayer). the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group distinguished by language and culture. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "nation, people" (DNTT 2:790).

The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1; cf. Acts 10:22). In the Besekh the plural form of ethnos is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples or Gentiles (e.g., Matt 6:32; Luke 12:30; Acts 4:25; 13:48; 22:21). The plural form also includes those nations identified by names and borders in which Jews also dwelled (cf. Matt 28:19; Luke 24:47; Acts 14:16; 17:26). On his first evangelistic journey into the Diaspora Paul went to the provinces of Cyprus, Pamphylia, and Galatia.

The phrase "in the nations" is synonymous with the Diaspora. Paul appears to make a distinction between the good news he proclaimed in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28-29) and the good news he proclaimed outside the Land of Israel. He does not mean that the content of his message amounted to a "different gospel" (cf. 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6), but rather he presented the good news of the Messiah in a manner appropriate to the audience, whether traditional Jew, non-traditional Jew, Gentile proselyte, Gentile God-fearer or heathen Gentile. For the content of the good news as contextualized for the audience see my article The Original Gospel.

but: Grk. de. apart: Grk. kata, prep., used here to emphasize a separation from what normally might be done. privately: Grk. idios, adj., normally means belonging to oneself, but here the adjective has a special meaning of being apart from others. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. esteemed: Grk. dokeō, pl. pres. part., may mean (1) to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard; or (2) with the focus on that which leads to entertainment of an opinion; seemed good, esteemed, reputed. The second meaning applies here in the sense of those who make an impression and so are held in regard. Paul alludes to the apostles and elders in the Jerusalem conference before whom he and Barnabas gave a report of their Diaspora ministry (Acts 15:6, 12).

lest: Grk. , adv. somehow: Grk. pōs, a particle conveying indefiniteness of manner; "somehow," "if possibly," "by any means" or "perhaps." I might run: Grk. trechō, pres. subj., move forward rapidly, generally of physical motion of running. The present tense is futuristic, and the subjunctive mood makes this a hypothetical statement. In Greek culture the verb was associated with athletic activity, especially of running a race. The verb is used here in a metaphorical sense of living in such a way to receive the victor's crown from God at the end of life or when we stand before him at the judgment of Messiah (cf. Rom 14:10; 1Cor 9:24-26; 2Cor 5:10; Php 2:16; Heb 12:1). or: Grk. ē, conj. introducing an alternative. have run: Grk. trechō, aor. The aorist tense looks back at Paul's following Yeshua from the time of his commission.

in: Grk. eis, prep. vain: Grk. kenos, adj., devoid of contents, without result, in vain, for nothing, fruitless. The last clause of this verse is intended to convey the emotional and spiritual consequences to Paul personally if the Judaizer heresy should not be defeated. If the Judaizer doctrine was held to be right, then his whole ministry for Yeshua was for nothing.

3 But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Hellenistic Jew, was compelled to be circumcised.

But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. not even: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle, used here to make a strong negation with a view to affirmation. Titus: See verse 1 above. who: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. was with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. me: pronoun of the first person. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). A participle is a verbal adjective, so the following description characterizes the life of Titus.

a Hellenistic Jew: Grk. Hellēn, lit. "Hellene" or "Hellenist," and may mean (1) a person who spoke or wrote Hellenistic Greek; or (2) a person of Hellenistic culture as opposed to traditional Israelite culture (BAG). My translation of "Hellenistic Jew" is based on history and usage of the term in the Besekh. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to assimilate people in all the nations in the Greek way of life. All who spoke the Greek language and adopted or accommodated Greek culture in varying degrees were counted as Hellenist (DNTT 2:124). All the lexicons recognize that Hellēn is a cultural term and not restricted to persons born to ethnic Greek families or Gentiles in general.

The lexicons inexplicably exclude Jews from this definition and assume that Ioudaios is the only Greek word that can refer to Jews. This omission reflects a major blind spot in Christian scholarship. Almost all Bible versions translate the noun here as "Greek," although a few have "Gentile" (CJB, DRA, TLB, NLT). Hellēn literally means "Hellenist," and a Hellenist might be a Gentile or he might be a descendant of Jacob. There is no evidence that Titus was an ethnic Greek or from any Gentile nation. Of interest is that the CJB translates the plural form of the same noun (Hellēns) in John 7:35 and in John 12:20 as "Greek-speaking Jews." DHE has a marginal note on the latter passage that Hellēns may mean "Hellenistic Jews" (384). Why is that definition not applied here?

There were thousands of Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora. Hellenistic Jews had a tendency toward universalism and they tolerated religions around them. In some places Hellenistic Jews accepted mixed marriage, dropped circumcision, and adopted Greek cults (Tarn & Griffith 223-227; Skarsaune 34). Hellenistic Jews could be completely secular, ascetic like the Essenes, or devout worshippers as the Greek-speaking Jews that Luke describes in Acts 6:1. For a detailed discussion of the term Hellēn and the arguments for the usage of Hellēn in the Besekh representing "Hellenistic Jews" see my article Hellenism and the Jews.

Hellenistic Jews are mentioned as receiving the good news in the accounts of evangelistic ministry in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:20) and Iconium in southern Galatia (Acts 14:1). Titus could have originated from either location. The Jewishness of Titus could be inferred from Paul's later letter to him. The letter "Titus" is full of theological and technical terms that were part of Jewish vocabulary and Paul does not define a single one. Paul could use those terms because they were part of the vocabulary of Titus. Paul's letter to him has a characteristic Jewish perspective and Paul could relate to him as a fellow Jew.

was compelled: Grk. anagkazō, aor. pass., to compel or constrain, doing so with urgency as a pressing necessity (HELPS). to be circumcised: Grk. peritemnō, aor. pass. inf., the act of surgically removing the male foreskin by a knife. In the LXX peritemnō translates Heb. mul (SH-4135), circumcise. God commanded that circumcision be performed on the eighth day after birth for all male descendants of Isaac (Gen 17:12; Lev 12:3), regardless of the day of week. Adult circumcision was normally only done to proselytes (Ex 12:43-48), although there were two occasions in biblical history when God directed adult circumcision: (1) the initial circumcision of Abraham, his son Ishmael and the men in his household (Gen 17:10-27), and (2) the uncircumcised men among the nation of Israel born in the wilderness years (Josh 5:2-5). In Hellenistic culture circumcision was viewed as mutilation.

Additional Note: Titus vs. Timothy

Some commentators in the past accused Paul of inconsistency since he did not require Titus to be circumcised but later circumcised Timothy during his second Diaspora journey (Acts 16:3). Titus and Timothy are both supposed to have been Gentiles because of the common mistranslation of Hellēn. Commentators resolve the supposed conflict by asserting that Timothy was actually a Jew by virtue of his mother. See my rebuttal of this common viewpoint. We know nothing of the parents of Titus. Paul's comment here supposedly reflects his refusal to submit to the Judaizer demand that Titus be circumcised. However, I submit that Titus was in fact a Hellenistic Jew. See also my commentary on Titus 1:4.

Let's consider the actual wording of Paul's statement about Titus in this verse: "But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Hellēn, was compelled to be circumcised." If Paul had intended to label Titus as a Gentile he would have used the word ethnos, and if he had used ethnos the statement would make no sense. Paul would never have compelled a bona fide Gentile to be circumcised, since adult circumcision of Gentiles was thoroughly repugnant to him (cf. Acts 15:1-2; 1Cor 7:18; Gal 5:2, 12; Php 3:2-3). The negative adverb "not even" (Grk. oude) points to an exception to a rule. In other words, Paul did not insist that a rule that might normally be applied (i.e. of a proselyte or a Jewish baby) would be required of Titus. Therefore, Titus was a Hellenistic Jew. He had not been circumcised as an infant, but Paul was not going to insist on the covenantal sign be required in his case. Why?

Paul made decisions based on spiritual expediency, which is the quality of being appropriate to the goal of the decision consistent with biblical values. The duty for circumcision belongs to Jewish parents and there is no command in the Torah for Jewish adults to circumcise themselves (cf. Rom 4:15). Luke explains that the circumcision of Timothy was done for practical reasons, not because Timothy was in a state of sin while uncircumcised. Titus was likely much older than the youthful Timothy, who may have only been in his teens when Paul circumcised him.

In the case of Titus there was also no compelling reason for circumcision. Titus was a descendant of Jacob who was raised in a Hellenistic home. As Paul will later argue in his letter to the congregation in Rome, Jewish identity is really a matter of circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:29), which Titus had experienced (cf. Deut 30:6). Salvation is not based on genetics or physical appearance (cf. John 1:12-13). Being physically circumcised is not even a guarantee of salvation for Jews. By virtue of the new birth Titus was equal to circumcised Messianic Jews (cf. Gal 5:6; 6:15; Col 3:11) and being a recipient of God's grace made him a co-heir with them (Titus 3:7).

4 But because of the surreptitious false brothers, who sneaked in to spy out our freedom which we have in Yeshua the Messiah in order that they will enslave us,

Paul continues his explanation in verse 3 of why he went up to Jerusalem, which he interrupted in the previous verse. But: Grk. de, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. the surreptitious: pl. of Grk. ho pareisaktos, adj., introduced alongside, what is "smuggled in" by subterfuge and deceit (HELPS). The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. false brothers: pl. of Grk. pseudadelphos, one who misrepresents an associate status in a closely knit group; false or counterfeit brother. Paul uses the noun to declare the truth about the Judaizers. See the additional note below. who: pl. of Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. sneaked in: Grk. pareiserchomai, aor., to come in from the side, enter secretly. to spy out: Grk. kataskopeō, aor. inf., view closely, inspect, spy out. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.

our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. freedom: Grk. ho eleutheria, freedom or liberty and in the secular culture referred to being freed from slavery. The lexicons and commentators typically mischaracterize eleutheria as freedom from the yoke of the Mosaic law. By this prejudicial view the commands and instruction that God gave to Israel on Mt. Sinai apparently enslaved the nation to an unreasonable code and Christians must not be bound by divine slavery. Thus, the God of the "Old Testament" is a bad God, but the God of the "New Testament" is a good God who freed us from any obligation to keep those "old" commands. It is no wonder that far too many Christians have a flexible and relative ethical system not unlike the Israelites during the time of the Judges who did what was right in their own eyes (Jdg 17:6).

which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. we have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos (from chriō, to anoint), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. Christian versions translate the title as if it were a last name. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), Anointed One, and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century. Thus, "Messiah" has special meaning as the hope of Israel, the One who would deliver his people and establish his kingdom. The word "Christ" used by Christians has an alien and even negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2). For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.

Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Yhoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his Jewish identity, and his principal titles see my web article Who is Yeshua?

in order that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. they will enslave: Grk. katadouloō, fut., to impose abject bondage. us: Grk. hēmeis. By "us" Paul means followers of Yeshua. In the background is the reality is that sinning makes one a slave of sin (John 8:34; Rom 6:6). The atoning death of Yeshua provided the means to be freed from this slavery (Rom 6:6-7, 23; 8:2; Gal 5:1). The Judaizers required Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the legalistic traditions of the Pharisees in order to be saved (cf. Matt 23:4, 15; Acts 15:1, 5). Paul recognized that the doctrine of the Judaizers contradicted the substitutionary nature of the atonement of Yeshua and put Gentiles in the position of having to please the Judaizers instead of pleasing God.

5 to whom we yielded in submission not even for a moment, in order that the truth of the good news might continue with you.

to whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun; used of the false brothers. we yielded: Grk. eikō, aor., 1p-pl., give way, yield, submit. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The first person verb probably includes Titus mentioned in verse 2 above. in submission: Grk. hupotagē, subjection, submission, obedience. The noun is used here in reference to demand for submission to a position. not even: Grk. oude, adv. for: Grk. pros, prep. used generally to mark a goal with implication of a relationship, used here in the sense of pertaining to a space of time. a moment: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event. The third usage applies here, although many versions translate the noun with "hour."

Gill notes the expression "not even for an hour" was used by Jews in reference to the least space of time for adherence to any principle or practice, which may then be dropped. The expression was used in particular by Paul's mentor Gamaliel who said, "I will not listen to you to remove from myself the kingship of heaven even for a moment" (Berachot 2:4). Paul categorically refused to countenance or compromise with the Judaizer position for even a second. He did not hesitate to openly confront their lies to their faces (cf. Acts 15:2).

in order that: Grk. hina, conj. the truth: Grk. alētheia, that which is really so, and may refer to (1) dependability in thought and deed, (2) truth as opposed to what is false, or (3) reality as opposed to mere appearance (BAG). The second meaning is primarily in focus. In the LXX alētheia regularly translates the Heb. emet (SH-571), "firmness, faithfulness, truth" (BDB 54; DNTT 3:877). of the good news: Grk. ho euangelion, glad tidings or good news. Christian versions translate the term as "gospel," a term that originated in Old English ("gōd-spell"). In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22). Paul summarizes the truth of the good news in verse 16 below.

might continue: Grk. diamenō, aor. subj., remain or stay with focus on the durative aspect. with: Grk. pros, prep. used here as a marker of association. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Paul wanted the message of the Messiah as proclaimed by the apostles from the time of Pentecost to persist and be defended without modification by Judaizer heresy.

6 But from those seeming to be something (whatever formerly they were makes no difference to me; God does not receive the outward appearance of a man), for the "esteemed" imparted nothing to me.

But: Grk. de, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep., from, away from, and here denotes origin. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. seeming: Grk. dokeō, pl. pres. part. See verse 2 above. The verb is used here of evaluation based on outward appearance. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. something: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. whatever: pl. of Grk. hopoios, adj., correlative pronoun, of what kind or manner, of what sort. The adjective introduces a parenthetical comment. formerly: Grk. pote, particle, at one time or other, at some time, formerly. they were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above.

makes no: Grk. oudeis, adj., no one, none, nothing. The adjective strongly negates the verb. A derisive hand gesture would probably be included. difference: Grk. diapherō, pres., has two kinds of meaning (1) to carry through as in carrying a bowl, spreading a teaching, or driving about of a ship; (2) to differ, be different, from someone or something; differ to one's advantage from someone or something. The second meaning applies here. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Paul was so radically devoted to Yeshua that no one could impress or influence him on the basis of how esteemed one might be in Jewish society. The credentials of the Judaizers were totally irrelevant and immaterial.

God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe as described in Scripture (Gen 1─3; John 1:1-3; Rom 1:25). In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.

does not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. receive: Grk. lambanō, pres., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered (HELPS), to take or receive. the outward appearance: Grk. prosōpon, lit. "the face." Thayer says the noun is used here Hebraistically of the appearance one presents by his wealth or poverty, his rank or low condition; outward circumstances, external condition; so used in expressions which denote to regard the person in one's judgment and treatment of men. of a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, a human male (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Paul's statement echoes the message of God to the prophet Samuel, "man looks at the outward appearance, but ADONAI looks into the heart" (1Sam 16:7 TLV).

for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. the esteemed: Grk. ho dokeō, pl. pres. part. Paul uses the verb of those well regarded by their peers, but are no so regarded by God. imparted: Grk. prosanatithēmi, aor. mid., may mean (1) to put oneself upon another by going to him, i.e. to commit; (2) to betake oneself to another for the purpose of consulting him, hence, to consult, to take one into counsel; or (3) to add from one's store, to communicate, impart. The third meaning applies here (Thayer).

nothing: Grk. oudeis. to me: Grk. egō. Paul is not discounting the benefit of his rabbinic education but reiterates his assertion from 1:12 that those considered "esteemed," whether in Pharisee society or the Judaizer community, contributed nothing to his apostleship, his knowledge of the Messianic mystery or the truth of the good news. The same claim could be made in reference to the chief apostles with whom Paul had no interaction until after his commission from Yeshua and his initial years of ministry.

7 But on the contrary, having seen that I had been entrusted with the good news of the uncircumcision just as Peter of the circumcision

But: Grk. alla, conj. on the contrary: Grk. tounantion, adv., on the contrary, on the other hand. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here.

I had been entrusted with: Grk. pisteuō, perf. pass., to have confidence in the trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), to confirm or support, and in application may mean, believe, trust, be true, reliable or faithful (BDB 52; DNTT 1:595). The verb here carries the sense of being entrusted with something as a form of stewardship. the good news: Grk. ho euangelion. See verse 2 above. Paul recounts his divine commission first recorded in Acts 9:15 of presenting the good news of the Messiah to the nations, to kings and to the sons of Israel (Jacob), which was later summarized as "all people" (Acts 22:15).

of the uncircumcision: Grk. ho akrobustia, to have a prepuce or foreskin and therefore never circumcised. The genitive case of the noun is objective, meaning that it denotes those with a foreskin as the recipients of the good news. In the LXX akrobustia renders Heb. orlah (SH-6190), foreskin, first in Genesis 17:11. The singular noun intends a class of persons, and was used especially by traditional Jews as a slang term for Gentiles (Acts 11:3), but akrobustia is not a term of ethnicity. It only defines a physical characteristic. The term included many Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora that did not circumcise their children (cf. Acts 16:1-3).

The term can also define a spiritual or religious characteristic (Rom 2:25). Traditional Jews regarded Jews that did not keep the traditions of the Pharisees as no better than Gentiles. Christian scholarship has unfortunately used Paul's statement here to propagate the myth that Paul was only an apostle to Gentiles. However, his mission from Yeshua was to take the good news to the descendants of Jacob (Acts 9:15; 26:17-18; Rom 1:16).

just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Hebrew name Kpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495), which was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was unquestionably the leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle.

of the circumcision: Grk. ho peritomē, the surgical removal of male foreskin. The genitive case of the noun is objective, meaning that it denotes those without a foreskin as the recipients of the good news. In the LXX peritomē occurs only two times: in Genesis 17:13 without Heb. equivalent regarding the circumcision of males in Abraham's household, and in Exodus 4:25 to render Heb. mulah, circumcision, regarding the circumcision of Moses' firstborn son. The requirement of circumcision was included as an important element in the covenant with Israel (Lev 12:3).

The contrast of ministry among the two groups is not intended as a rigid separation in the respective ministries of the two apostles. This would be like saying that Paul was called to proclaim the good news only to libertine Hellenists and Peter was called to proclaim the good news only to legalistic Pharisees. The contrast may point to the beginning of their ministries with Peter in Jerusalem and Paul in the Diaspora (Damascus and Arabia). However, over the course of their ministries both Peter and Paul proclaimed the good news to both circumcised and uncircumcised as the record of Acts shows.

8 for the One having worked in Peter for an apostleship of the circumcision worked also in me for the nations,

for: Grk. gar, conj. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here a circumlocution for God. having worked: Grk. energeō, aor. part., to be operative, to be at work, put forth power. The verb is used here of spiritual empowerment, perhaps in reference to Pentecost. in Peter: See the previous verse. for: Grk. eis, prep. an apostleship: Grk. apostolē, "a sending away," office or duty of one sent as a messenger or agent; office of an apostle, apostleship (Mounce). of the circumcision: Grk. peritomē. See the previous verse. worked: Grk. energeō, aor. also: Grk. kai, conj. in me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Paul was also empowered by the Holy Spirit for ministry (Acts 9:17). for: Grk. eis. the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 2 above. Paul was sent to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

9 and having recognized the grace having been given to me, Jacob and Kefa and John, those esteemed to be pillars, gave the right hands of fellowship to me and Barnabas, so that we should go into the nations and they to the circumcision.

and: Grk. kai, conj. having recognized: Grk. ginōskō, aor. part., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. The third meaning applies there. the grace: Grk. ho charis may mean (1) disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; favor, grace; or (2) a benefit conferred freely as an expression of good will; favor, grace, beneficence, blessing. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent. Of those charin primarily translates Heb. hn (SH-2580), favor, grace or acceptance (DNTT 2:116).

From a theological point of view hn denotes the stronger coming to the help of the weaker who stands in need of help by reason of circumstances or natural weakness. The stronger acts voluntarily, though he is moved by the dependence or the request of the weaker party. Hn also denotes God's unilateral gift of favor toward selected individuals, such as Noah (Gen 6:8), Abraham (Gen 18:3), Lot (Gen 19:19), Moses (Ex 33:12-13; 34:9), Israel (Ex 33:16-17) and Paul (2Th 2:16). Both Grk. charis and Heb. hn refer to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them. The core idea of favor-grace is "extension-towards" (HELPS, Biblos).

having been given: Grk. ho didōmi, aor. pass. part., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan (SH-5414; Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The typical definition of grace as "unmerited favor" certainly applies to Paul, who had been guilty of capital crimes before Yeshua had mercy on him and even commissioned him as an apostle.

Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos, the Grecized form of Grk. Iakōb, which is used in the LXX to transliterate the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob," Gen 25:26), "James" in Christian versions (BAG). Josephus often uses the spelling of Iakōbos for the patriarch Jacob (Ant., I, 18:1). Of all the Christian versions only the NASB has a marginal note "or Jacob." The transition from Jacob to James took hundreds of years. First, the Latin Vulgate (405) translated the Greek Iakōbos as Latin Iacobus and then the Wycliffe Bible (1395) translated the Latin Iacobus as English "James," although at the time the letter "J" was a vowel. By the time of the KJV the letter "J" had become a consonant. The adoption if the English spelling of "James" can only be explained by the longstanding prejudice within Christianity against the patriarch Jacob.

Five different Jewish men bear this name in the Besekh and this Jacob is one of four half-brothers of Yeshua (Matt 13:55). According to Hippolytus (170-236, On the Seventy Apostles), Jacob of Nazareth was one of the seventy men Yeshua sent out to announce the Kingdom of God (Luke 10:1-11). Yeshua made a personal appearance after his resurrection to Jacob (1Cor 15:7) and then Jacob was among the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Eventually Jacob assumed oversight of the Jerusalem congregation and became a prominent leader of the Body of Messiah (Acts 12:17; 21:18; Gal 2:9). He also wrote a letter of exhortation to Messianic Jews in the Diaspora, which is included in the Besekh. For more on the background and life of Jacob, son of Joseph and Miriam, see my article The Letter of Jacob: Introduction.

and: Grk. kai, conj. Kefa: Grk. Kēphas ("rock"), a transliteration of the Hebrew name Kfa ("kay-fah," "rock"), the name given Simon son of Zebedee by Yeshua. See verse 7 above. The name is given as "Cephas" in Christian versions. The Greek name Kēphas appears only 9 times in the Besekh, all but one in two letters of Paul (1Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14). See the note on Peter in verse 7 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. John: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan and means "the Lord is gracious." In the Besekh there are five men with the name Iōannēs and this John was the son of Zebedee (Matt 4:21). He and had a brother Jacob (aka "James") who was martyred by King Herod (Acts 1:2).

John was a fisherman when first called by Yeshua to discipleship (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-19). John had a close working relationship with Simon Peter in fishing (Luke 5:10). It is generally thought that Salome was John's mother (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40). John was "the disciple whom Yeshua loved" and who reclined next to Yeshua during the last supper (John 13:23-26). John was the only apostle to stand by Yeshua at his crucifixion and then accepted responsibility for Yeshua's mother (John 19:27). John had been a partner with Peter in ministry from the time of Pentecost (Acts 3:1, 3, 4, 11; 4:13, 19; 8:14), but Luke does not mention his presence again after the mission to Samaria. For more on the background of John see my article Witnesses of the Good News.

those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. esteemed: Grk. dokeō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. pillars: pl. of Grk. stulos, supporting medium, for a structure, pillar or column, used here fig. of a valued leader of the Messianic congregation. This is a high compliment to pay the three apostles. gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. the right hands: pl. of Grk. dexios, adj., right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios renders Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand," first in Genesis 13:9. of fellowship: Grk. koinōnia, a close association in shared interest or shared community life. Giving the "right hand of fellowship" denotes welcoming into the community of Yeshua followers as a fellow disciple.

to me: Grk. egō. and: Grk. kai, conj. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. Paul alludes to his trip to Jerusalem in A.D. 35, but neglects to mention that it was Barnabas who facilitated the introduction to the esteemed pillars, because initially all the disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of him (Acts 9:26-27). so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. should go to: Grk. eis, prep. the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. de, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to: Grk. eis, prep. the circumcision: Grk. ho peritomē. See verse 7 above. The chief apostles recognized and validated the call and commission Yeshua gave to Paul and to Barnabas.

Textual Note

The change to Kefa after using "Peter" in the two previous verses is inexplicable. A number of Greek witnesses, chiefly Western, replace the Grk. Kēphas with the more familiar Grk. Petros (Metzger 523). About a dozen MS give prominence to the name of Peter by placing his name first in the series of three apostles, followed by "James and John." This led to confusion since the Jacob in this verse is the brother of Yeshua, not the brother of John who was martyred by King Herod (Acts 12:2).

10 Only that we should remember the poor, that also I was eager to do the same thing.

Only: Grk. monon, adv., marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. we should remember: Grk. mnēmoneuō, pres. subj., call to mind, make mention of. the poor: Grk. ho ptōchos (from ptōssō, "to crouch or cower like a beggar"), lit. "bent over" and used here figuratively of being deeply destitute, completely lacking resources or earthly wealth (HELPS). that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. A number of versions insert "they asked" either before or after "only" to stress that remembering the poor was a request made by the chief apostles of Paul. In particular the poor they had in mind were followers of Yeshua in Judea.

also: Grk. kai, conj. I was eager: Grk. spoudazō, aor., make a strong effort, having a sense of eagerness to carry out an obligation or achieve an objective; eager, zealous. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity.

the same: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. thing: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The "same thing" alludes to providing tangible charity to the poor. Paul kept his word and helped to raise charitable support for the poor (Acts 11:29-30; 24:17; Rom 15:26; 1Cor 8:1-4; 9:1-5). It is noteworthy that the only recorded "compassionate ministry" carried out by the apostles was for the benefit of Jewish disciples in the land of Israel. Paul enunciated the principle clearly: "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Gal 6:10; cf. 1Jn 3:17). Since the apostles provided an example for all followers of Yeshua, we should rightly consider how we may provide practical assistance to Jewish believers in Israel today.

Paul's Story, Part 4, 2:11-21

11 Now when Kefa came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was condemned.

Paul takes his narrative to a time before he left for the Jerusalem conference, perhaps early in the year 49. The events Paul describes here could not have taken place after the Jerusalem conference considering Peter's passionate speech on that occasion (Acts 15:7-11).

Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., at which time. Kefa: See verse 9 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor., to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to: Grk. eis, prep. Antioch: Grk. Antiocheia, the name of two cities: (a) the capital of the Roman province of Syria; (b) a city in the Roman province of Galatia. Syrian Antioch is intended. See the map here. Antioch was founded around 300 B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the three successors to Alexander the Great. He named it for his father Antiochus the Great (OCB 32). Antioch became the capital of the Seleucid Empire (Josephus, Against Apion, 2:4). From the beginning it was a bustling maritime city with its own seaport. The city proper lay about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean and 300 miles north of Jerusalem.

Josephus calls Antioch the metropolis of Syria (Wars III, 2:4). Indeed, at this time Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria having a population of more than 500,000. The cosmopolitan city had a large number of Jewish inhabitants. By the first century their numbers have been estimated at between forty-five thousand and sixty thousand (Polhill 71). The Jewish population, being generally loyal to the Gentile governors, engaged in commerce and enjoyed the rights of citizenship in a free city (Ant. XII, 3:1; Wars VII, 3:3).

The congregation in Antioch had originally been started by disciples that were scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 11:19-20). Barnabas was then sent to Antioch to provide leadership (11:22), but then Barnabas decided he needed help and recruited Paul to assist in the ministry of discipleship. They labored together for a full year and the congregation grew significantly (11:26). Syrian Antioch thus became a base for Paul's Diaspora ministry.

I opposed: Grk. anthistēmi, aor., to set against, withstand. The verb was a military term in classical Greek meaning to battle and strongly resist an opponent (LSJ). The verb depicts Paul forcefully declaring his personal conviction and where he unswervingly stood (HELPS). him to: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "against." his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. face: Grk. prosōpon. See verse 6 above. As the modern expression says, Paul literally got in his face with a verbal "two-by-four." because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 7 above. The conjunction is used here to indicate causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. condemned: Grk. kataginōskō, perf. mid. part., find blameworthy, condemn. Paul proclaimed his judgment based on incontrovertible evidence.

12 For before certain ones from Jacob came, he was eating with the Gentiles. But when they came, he was drawing-back and was separating himself, fearing those of the circumcision.

Parallel Passage: Acts 15:1

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 6 above. before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The second usage applies here. certain ones: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 6 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. Jacob: See verse 9 above. The Judaizers claimed they spoke with the authority of Jacob, but at the Jerusalem conference Jacob categorically refuted this lie (Acts 15:24). came: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf. See the previous verse. he was eating: Grk. sunesthiō, impf., to share a meal with, to eat with. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 1 above. the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 2 above. The noun is used here of Gentiles, but given the end the verse, the noun could include uncircumcised Hellenistic Jews whom the Judaizers would consider no better than Gentiles.

But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hote, adv. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl. he was drawing back: Grk. hupostellō, impf., have misgivings about being involved; withdraw, avoid association. and: Grk. kai, conj. was separating: Grk. aphorizō, impf., to mark off by boundaries, separate or set apart. The verb would have the functional meaning of putting distance from. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person. fearing: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. part., be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. of the circumcision: Grk. ho peritomē. See verse 7 above. "The Circumcision" is a code name for the Judaizer faction of Messianic Pharisees (cf. Acts 15:5).

The narrative contains a certain irony. Peter had been taken to task previously by the Circumcision Party for going to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea and even accused Peter of eating with Gentiles there (Acts 11:3). Peter explained the reason for going to Caesarea, but never answered the charge of eating with Gentiles. There is no implication that on either occasion while eating with Gentiles Peter violated his kosher diet. The objection was based on the Jewish law that prohibited Jews from entering the houses of Gentiles (Acts 10:28). On that earlier occasion the Judaizers were willing to grant that God had granted forgiveness of sins to Gentiles (Acts 11:18), but now Gentiles were expected to be circumcised in order to obtain salvation.

Why Peter feared the Judaizers is a mystery. The Judaizers were contradicting the good news proclaimed by Yeshua and his chief apostles. Peter could have asserted his apostolic authority and threatened them with the judgment of God. (Remember Ananias and Sapphira?) It is not unlike the reaction of Elijah to the threat of Jezebel. Apparently, Peter valued the social acceptance of those in the Circumcision Party.

13 And the rest of the traditional Jews also acted hypocritically with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

And: Grk. kai, conj. the rest: pl. of Grk. loipos, adj., remaining of what's left, other, rest of. of the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish "devout" (= Hebrew-speaking Torah/tradition-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Saul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310).

Moreover, the tenets of their religion were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8). The congregation in Syrian Antioch was thoroughly Jewish, especially Hellenistic Jews (Acts 11:20).

also: Grk. kai. acted hypocritically with: sunupokrinomai, aor. pass., dissemble with, maintain a pretense, play a part with. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used of Peter. so that: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result; so that, therefore, so then, so as to. even: Grk. kai. Barnabas: See verse 1 above. was carried away: Grk. sunapagō, aor., to carry off or away together with, either in a good or bad sense as determined by the context; here the latter. The verb conveys being caught up by momentum. by their: pl. of Grk. autos. The plural pronoun alludes to Peter and other traditional Jews in the congregation. hypocrisy: Grk. hupokrisis, playing a role as in a theatrical production and used as a figure of speech for pretense or duplicity. Though a follower of Yeshua, Barnabas was a devout orthodox Jew. Paul will describe the nature of the hypocrisy in the next verse.

14 But when I saw that they were not walking uprightly according to the truth of the good news, I said to Kefa in front of everyone, "If you, a traditional Jew, are living as a Gentile, and not as a traditional Jew, why compel the Gentiles to Judaize?"

But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 3 above. when: Grk. hote, adv. See verse 11 above. I saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 7 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 7 above. they were not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 6 above. walking uprightly: Grk. orthopodeō, pres., walk in a straight course, walk uprightly. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. according to: Grk. pros, prep. the truth: Grk. alētheia. See verse 5 above. of the good news: Grk. euangelion. See verse 5 above. I said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. to Kefa: Grk. Kēpha. See verse 9 above. in front of: Grk. emprosthen, adv., expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of.

everyone: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. The plural adjective implies a meeting of the congregation. If: Grk. ei, conj., a conditional conjunction (followed by any verb) expresses a condition, thought of as real, or to denote assumptions, i.e. viewed as factual for the sake of argument (HELPS). you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. a traditional Jew: Grk. Ioudaios. See the previous verse. Paul declared what Peter was in reality, a traditional orthodox Jew. Peter had always been an observant Jew. are living: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance; to be or exist. The present tense denotes the action as current while staying in Antioch. The force of the verb in this context is to point out an existence different from his previous life as an observant Jew.

as a Gentile: Grk. ethnikos, adv., in the manner of foreigners or Gentiles. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. Living or existing as a Gentile might allude to matters of cleanliness or simply visiting homes of uncircumcised people for meals. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou. as a traditional Jew: Grk. Ioudaikos, adv., in the manner of traditional Jews. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. why: Grk. pōs, interrogative adv. See verse 2 above. compel: Grk. anagkazō, pres., to compel someone and doing so with urgency; compel, constrain, force, urge. the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 2 above.

to Judaize: Grk. Ioudaizō, pres. inf., live as a traditional Jew, i.e., live according to the precepts of Judaism as defined by the Pharisees. (See Paul's use of Ioudaismos in the previous verse). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The nature of Peter's hypocrisy was that while living his daily life he had abandoned the strict rules of the Pharisees (cf. Acts 15:10), he went along with the Judaizer demand that adult Gentile believers be circumcised for salvation.

15 We, traditional Jews by birth, and not sinners from the nations,

Most versions translate this verse as a complete statement, but it is actually a preparatory comment to the next verse. We: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person; i.e., Paul and Peter. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 13 above. by birth: Grk. phusis, a fundamental state of being and used here to denote birth and physical origin of those who share a common ethnic descent. Paul notes that he and Peter had something important in common. They were both born into families of traditional Jews. Because of this shared experience they had a sense of belonging to a special people chosen by God. Some versions translate phusis as "nature," which can be misleading. Considering the rest of the verse he is not saying that Jews have a sinless nature (soul/spirit). Rather, Paul and Peter had the privilege of being born into a people that had received the revelation of the true God and His laws.

and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos, adj., one who fails to meet religious or legal standards; sinful, sinner; also an outsider relative to the "in-group." In the LXX hamartōlos usually translates Heb. rasha (SH-7563; BDB 957), wicked, criminal (2Chr 19:2; Ps 3:7), but also Heb. chatta (SH-2400; BDB 308), sinful, sinners (Gen 13:13; Num 16:38) (DNTT 3:577). Generally in the Tanakh a "sinner" was someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. Among the Pharisees, the ultimate "in-group," the category of "sinner" included persons of low reputation, Sabbath violators and tax collectors because they worked for the Roman government. Zacchaeus was considered a sinner but Yeshua called him a "son of Abraham." (Luke 19:7-9).

Habitual violation of traditions the Pharisees considered important was enough to consider a person as a "sinner." Yeshua was labeled a sinner because he healed on the Sabbath (John 9:16). When one begins to call light dark, then the meaning of "sinner" loses its force. Man-made rules can not actually determine whether someone is a "sinner." The standard of a "sinner" can only be based on what will prevent someone from inheriting eternal life as defined in the various catalogues of sins in the Besekh (Rom 1:18-32; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Rev 22:15).

from: Grk. ek, prep. the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 2 above. Non-Israelite peoples had no revelation of the true God or His expectations, although they had been exposed to natural revelation (Ps 14:1; 19:1-6; 43:1; Rom 1:20). The "nations" could include Hellenistic Jews, whom the Pharisees regarded as sinners because of their accommodation of Gentile culture.

16 and knowing that a man is acquitted not by works of legalism, but rather through the faithfulness of Messiah Yeshua, even we trusted into Messiah Yeshua, in order that we might be acquitted from the faithfulness of Messiah and not from works of legalism, because by works of legalism not any flesh will be acquitted.

Paul completes the thought begun in the previous verse and summarizes the content of the good news in this verse. Unfortunately, the translation of standard Bible versions tends to obscure if not contradict Paul's argument.

and: Grk. de, conj. knowing: Grk. eidō, pl. perf. part., derived from oida, to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge, whether (1) to know about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with someone; (3) to understand how to do something; and (4) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). The perfect tense points to a time in the past of gaining such knowledge. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 7 above. The conjunction is used here to here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of the verb "knowing."

a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, a human male (e.g., Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Some versions opt for a gender neutral translation with "person" (CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, MSG, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV), but the majority of versions have "man." Paul's mention of "man" is not sexist. Torah commandments were addressed to the male adults of Israel, but those standards also applied to women.

is acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, pres. pass. Danker defines the verb with two essential meanings (1) verify to be in the right; or (2) put into a condition or state of uprightness. Mounce defines the verb as primarily (1) to make or render right or just; but also (2) to act with justice, especially to avouch to be good and true, to vindicate, to set forth as good and just; (3) to hold as guiltless, to accept as righteous, to justify; to be held acquitted, to be cleared; and (4) to be approved, to stand approved, to stand accepted. The great majority of Bible versions translate the verb dikaioō here with "justified," which can be misleading to modern readers. Other versions have "declared righteous" (AMPC, CJB, EXB, YLT), "made righteous" (CEB), "receive God's approval" (GW, NOG) and "set right" (MSG, TLV).

The verb occurs 39 times in the Besekh, 29 of which are in the works of Paul. In the LXX dikaioō renders Heb. tsadaq (SH-6663), a verb with two categories of meaning: (1) as a condition or character quality, to have a just cause, be in the right, be just or righteous (Gen 38:26; Job 33:12; Ps 51:6; Isa 43:26), and (2) in the administration of justice, to declare right, to vindicate, or prove right, to acquit or be acquitted, or to be cleared of wrongdoing (e.g., Ex 23:7; Deut 5:21; 2Sam 15:4; Ps 51:4; Isa 5:23) (DNTT 3:355).

The Hebrew and Greek verbs function as a word picture of a trial with a heavenly Judge and a righteous standard against which people are evaluated. One case before the court is an innocent person wrongly accused. The outcome of that trial vindicates the person's character and he is acquitted. Throughout the Tanakh the verb tsadaq occurs only in this vindication scenario. In other words the person is actually righteous and the verb describes the defense of that person's character. The same usage of dikaioō may also be found in the Besekh (Matt 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29; 16:15; Rom 3:4; 4:2; 1Cor 4:4; 1Tim 3:16).

However, in most instances in the Besekh dikaioō is used to depict a different trial in which the accused is guilty. The defendant before the bar of God is definitely a sinner, a law-breaker. No witnesses and no evidence can be presented to demonstrate innocence. Acquittal is not deserving, but yet in response to humble confession and repentance God, the Supreme Judge, offers mercy and forgiveness, and then grants pardon, release from condemnation and cancellation of the deserved punishment, thereby creating a relationship of favor with God (Rom 4:5; 5:1; 8:1-2; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7). The story of the humble tax collector is a case in point (Luke 18:13-14).

Paul does not confuse dikaioō with the terms that describe the spiritual birth and regeneration (John 3:5-7; 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 1:5; Col 2:13) and sanctification of the heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1Cor 6:11; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 2:13; Titus 3:5). However, the judicial act of God to cancel the sin debt admits the believer into the company of the righteous and calls the redeemed person to a life of righteousness. Consider Paul's words elsewhere,

"who was delivered on account of our trespasses and was resurrected for the sake of our righteousification" (Rom 4:25 BR)

"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, now you have become obedient from the heart into the form of teaching to which you were delivered, 18 and having been set free from Sin, you have become servants of Righteousness." (Rom 6:17-18 BR) (from Satan to Yeshua)

"if you confess in your mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in your heart that God resurrected him from death, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart is trusting into righteousness, and with the mouth is confessing into salvation." (Rom 10:9-10 BR)

"The One not having known sin He made a sin offering for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2Cor 5:21 BR)

"For we through the Spirit, from faithfulness, eagerly await the hope of righteousness" (Gal 5:5 BR)

What might be described as the first work of grace is not complete and final, but the entry point of a new relationship. God desires His people to be holy (Eph 5:27; Col 1:22). A new heart provides the motivation for becoming righteous, but the divine work to make someone fully righteous does not occur in a moment of time. Righteousness is something to be pursued (1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 2:22; cf. Matt 5:6). See my note on the doctrine of justification in relation to Paul's sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:38-39).

not: Grk. ou, adv. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 12 above. works: pl. of Grk. ergon may mean (1) task assignment; (2) deed, action or (3) a work or product. The second meaning applies here. of legalism: Grk. nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but torah does not mean simply "law" or "laws" as the English word conveys. Torah means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" and comes from the root yarah, which means to throw, to shoot (as in arrows), or to cast (as in lots) (BDB 435f).

In the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Moses, but also custom or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. In normal Jewish usage in the first century the term Torah could mean the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab (Matt 12:5; John 8:5) or the entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Matt 22:40; John 1:45).

Interpreting nomos to mean the Torah in this verse presents a conundrum, because Paul clearly uses nomos in a negative sense. Christian versions translate nomos as "the law" or "the Law," even though there is no definite article, by which they intend the Torah. The phrase "works of the Law" is generally treated in Christian interpretation as performing commandments set forth in the Torah. Perfect obedience of all 613 commands would be required to considered righteous, which is impossible to achieve. So, Yeshua eliminated the requirement by canceling the Torah and Christian scholars quote Romans 10:4 as support. However, the Christian paradigm ignores Yeshua's own statement that he did not come to abolish the Torah (Matt 5:17). In fact, Yeshua rebuked anyone who would even venture such a false proposition (Matt 5:19).

Paul's negative use of nomos is not an indictment of the commandments God gave to Israel through Moses. In later writings Paul demonstrates a very high view of the Torah and its continuing authority (Rom 7:12, 14; 8:4; 15:4; 1Tim 1:8; 2Tim 3:16-17). The phrase ergōn nomou is in the genitive case, which hints at Paul's intention. In Greek the genitive case is the case of definition or description and is adjectival in function (DM 72). The genitive qualifies the meaning of an associated noun and would ordinarily be translated literally with "of." For example, in English we might say "a beautiful flower" but the Greek genitive case would be "a flower of beauty." The genitive case may be objective, meaning that nomos receives the action or subjective, nomos performs the action.

Thus, Paul could be personifying nomos as a separate personality, much as he will later do with hamartia (sin) in Romans (5:12; 6:2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22; 7:11, 17, 25; 8:2, 10). A personification is the attribution of human characteristics to a thing or abstraction. Personifications are common in Hebraic-Jewish literature. The first personification in Scripture is of sin when God says to Cain, "sin [chata, a feminine noun] is crouching at the door; and its [her] desire is for you, but you must master it [her]" (Gen 4:7). As a personification Nomos is an oppressive master as indicated by Paul's use of hupo nomon ("under Nomos") (cf. Matt 23:4; Rom 6:14-15; 1Cor 9:20; Gal 3:23; 4:4-5; 5:18). With personification Nomos performs inadequate "works," and contrasts sharply with the singular act of Yeshua that Paul will exalt.

Given the heresy that sparked the controversy, Paul also uses nomos here to mean customs of the Pharisees, especially those actions of which one would boast (Luke 18:11-12). These Pharisee expectations created unreasonable burdens on people (Matt 23:4; Acts 15:10). A perfect example is the thirty-nine categories of work prohibited on the Sabbath (Shabbath 73a). The CJB translates the phrase ergōn nomou as "legalistic observances of Torah commands" and the TLV has "deeds based on Torah." I have sought to simplify the meaning of nomos here with "legalism." For a detailed discussion of Pharisaic legalism see my article Law vs. Legalism.

but rather: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." Stern points out that ean mē is used several times in the LXX to translate the Hebrew phrase ki-im, which generally means "but rather." This translation is appropriate to this context. through: Grk. dia, prep. the faithfulness: Grk. pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning, first that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and second, trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). In the LXX pistis is used two times to render Heb. emun, 'faithfulness' (SH-529; BDB 53; Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17). Over 20 times pistis renders Heb. emunah, firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity (SH-530; BDB 53), mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness.

of Messiah: Grk. Christos. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. For the meaning of the title and name see verse 4 above. The entire phrase pisteōs Christou Iēsou is in the genitive case. Christian versions fail to recognize pistis as meaning "faithfulness" and translate the phrase here as objective genitive, "faith in Messiah Yeshua," even though there is no preposition "in" (Grk. en or eis). Yeshua receives the action. It doesn't make sense in Christian thought to say "faith of Yeshua." Yet, the subjective genitive is really intended, "faithfulness of." As a subjective genitive Messiah Yeshua performs the action. Paul uses the same grammatical construction in other passages to affirm the faithfulness of Yeshua (Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:20; 3:22, 26; Eph 3:12; Php 3:9). The faithfulness of Yeshua was manifested by his obedience to the Father's will of serving as an atoning sacrifice (Rom 4:25; 8:3; 2Cor 5:21).

The problem with man's faith is that it wanes, it rises and falls, it may sometimes be strong and then sometimes weak because of the weakness of flesh. God on the other hand does not vacillate (1Sam 15:29; Mal 3:6; Jas 1:17), but is constant in faithfulness. Because of His faithfulness we are not destroyed (2Cor 4:9). Therefore, the righteous man will live because of the faithfulness of God (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17). Paul was not alone in how he viewed the faithfulness of God in salvation. The Qumran community seems to have been deeply aware that freedom from the penalty of sin comes from the righteousness of God (DNTT 3:359). Consider this quotation from the Qumran Charter of a Sectarian Association (generally referred to as the "Community Rule"):

"2 As for me, my justification lies with God. In His hand are the perfection of my walk and the virtue of my heart. 3 By His righteousness is my transgression blotted out. 5 From His righteous fount comes my justification, the light of my heart from His wondrous mysteries. 12 if I stumble God's loving-kindness forever shall save me. If through sin of the flesh I fall, my justification will be by the righteousness of God which endures for all time." (1QS 11:2,3,5,12; TDSS 134).

So, in the final analysis we are not "acquitted" by our faith, but by God's faithfulness.

even: Grk. kai, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul uses the plural pronoun to refer to himself and Peter, but by extension the pronoun could allude generally to followers of Yeshua. trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 7 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. The preposition emphasizes entry into a relationship. Messiah: Grk. Christos. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. in order that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. we might be acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, aor. pass. subj. from: Grk. ek, prep. the faithfulness: Grk. pistis, genitive case. of Messiah: Grk. Christos, genitive case. The faithfulness of Yeshua produced an atonement that is greatly superior to that provided in the Torah.

A sin offering (Heb. chatta'ah), including that of Yom Kippur, could only provide atonement for sins that were unintentional, committed accidentally or from simple negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6; Heb 9:7). And for every sin for which there was a prescribed punishment, a sin offering could not relieve the sinner of that punishment. There was no atonement for serious offenses, such as blasphemy, idolatry, immorality and murder. In fact, there are thirty-six specific transgressions that required the sinner to be cut off from Israel, usually by death (K'ritot 1:1; cf. Ex 30:33; 31:14; Lev 7:25-27). The effect of sin in the nation polluted the holy sanctuary, and thus the purpose of atonement was to cleanse the sanctuary (Lev 16:16).

On Yom Kippur the high priest was to offer one goat to purify the holy place and to send a second goat into the wilderness carrying the sins of the nation away from the presence of God (Lev 16:21-22). The weakness of Torah atonement was the necessity for annual repetition of the offerings (Heb 9:25). Moreover, the sin offering of Yom Kippur was only for Israel and it did not provide personal cleansing of the conscience for individual Israelites (cf. Heb 9:9). The faithfulness of Yeshua produced these significant benefits: First, Yeshua provided atonement for all sins, including those for which there was no atonement in the Torah (Acts 13:38-39). Second, Yeshua's sacrificial death meant the end of animal offerings for atonement (Heb 9:28). Third, the merit of Yeshua's sacrifice accrued to all the nations of the world (Rom 5:15; 6:10; 2Cor 5:15; 1Tim 1:15; 2:6; Heb 9:12; 10:10; 1Jn 2:2).

and: Grk. kai. not: Grk. ou. from: Grk. ek. works: pl. of Grk. nomos. of legalism: Grk. nomos. Paul's redundancy of categorical denial is typical of Hebrew writing. because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 7 above. The conjunction is used here to emphasize causality. from: Grk. ek. works: pl. of Grk. nomos. of legalism: Grk. nomos. not: Grk. ou. any: Grk. pas, adj. flesh: Grk. sarx, often of the tissue that covers the skeleton, but also has a variety of figurative uses, including (1) man of flesh and blood in contrast to God and supernatural beings; (2) human or mortal nature, with its limitations; (3) the external or outward side of life; and (4) theologically the willing instrument of sin that stands in opposition to the Spirit. The first meaning is intended here, encompassing Jews and Gentiles.

will be acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, fut. pass. Commentators suggest that the last clause of this verse is a quotation from the Tanakh but the exact source is uncertain. The clause could be a midrashic interpretation of David's petition:

"ADONAI, hear my prayer, give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness and in Your righteousness! 2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is acquitted [Heb. tsadaq]." (Ps 143:1-2)

Paul means that it is ludicrous to believe that a man shedding his own blood in circumcision can accomplish atonement in place of relying on the shed blood of Yeshua. The circumcision of Jewish babies never guaranteed their salvation (cf. Rom 9:6), so why should adult circumcision be any different?

17 But if seeking to be acquitted in Messiah, we ourselves also were found sinners. So Messiah is a minister of sin? Never may it be!

But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 14 above. Paul introduces a hypothetical situation, which functions as a rebuke of the Judaizer position. seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. part., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The second meaning applies here. to be acquitted: Grk. dikaioō, aor. pass. inf. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 4 above. The major premise of "seeking to be acquitted in Messiah" means without benefit of accompanying legalistic works.

we ourselves: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Paul means we who were by our birth Jews, as well as the Gentiles. also: Grk. kai, conj. were found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. pass., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing, whether by seeking or happenstance; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The second meaning applies here. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos, adj. See verse 15 above. Paul then poses a rhetorical question as an absurdity. According to Judaizer logic seeking salvation without legalistic works would be a sinful exercise.

Paul applies the natural conclusion of Judaizer logic. So: Grk. ara, conj., a marker of inference based on a preceding matter or statement; so, then. Commentators and Bible versions are unanimous in regarding the particle as having interrogative effect. I would point out that as the conclusion to his argument the statement works just as well as an inference. "What you're really saying, Judaizers, is that" Messiah: Grk. Christos. is a minister: Grk. diakonos, one who renders service to another, such as in a domestic or government context, but especially of one in the service of God. of sin: Grk. hamartia generally refers to a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness, although here it could be intended as a personification.

In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity (Gen 15:16). Sin as a behavior is a violation of commandments given by God and recorded in the Torah by Moses (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jas 2:9; 1Jn 3:4). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior. Indeed, the Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional, a sin of error, inadvertence or negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6). In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).

Never: Grk. , adv., negative particle used here with the force of an interjection. may it be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. opt., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, be. The third meaning applies here. The declaration is an emphatic denial of Judaizer theology.

18 For if I build again these things that I tore down, I prove myself a transgressor.

For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 6 above. The conjunction is used in an inferential sense. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 14 above. The conjunction introduces another hypothetical situation. I build: Grk. oikodomeō, pres., to erect a structure, which can be new construction, restoration of a structure or adding on to an existing structure, used here in a figurative sense of restoring a religious framework for living. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 1 above. these things: pl. Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. I tore down: Grk. kataluō, aor. (from kata, down and luō, loose), fut., to tear down, throw down, destroy or demolish; generally used of structures (Matt 24:2; LXX Ezra 5:12), but used here in a figurative sense. Paul is fond of metaphors taken from building.

I prove: Grk. sunistēmi, pres., may mean (1) mention for approval; (2) put beyond doubt; (3) be in close association with; or (4) be in existence. The second meaning applies here. myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive pronoun of the first person. a transgressor: Grk. parabatēs, a transgressor or violator. The term occurs five times in the Besekh (Rom 2:23, 27; Jas 2:9, 11). In secular Greek writings parabatēs referred primarily to a warrior beside the charioteer, or a certain kind of foot soldier, but also in poetical works of a transgressor, someone who disobeys laws of the country (LSJ). The term does not occur at all in the LXX, but the term would be familiar to the citizens of Galatia. In a religious sense the transgressor (parabatēs) is someone who fights against God.

Contrary to common Christian interpretation Paul does not mean that he had "torn down" the Torah or eliminated obedience to Torah commandments from his life as a believer. His lengthy treatment of Torah in Romans rebuts that interpretation. Rather, he suggests that if he were to go back to what he was before he met Yeshua and depend on the Pharisee code, it would be equivalent to backsliding and rejecting the mercy of God. Moreover, it would put him back under the Old Covenant, which would judge him a murderer for his persecution of Yeshua followers and subject him to the wrath of God. In his Roman letter, Paul clarifies the matter: "For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice Torah; but if you are a transgressor of Torah, your circumcision has become a foreskin" (Rom 2:25 BR).

19 For I, through legalism died to legalism in order that I might live to God.

For: Grk. gar, conj., used here in an explanatory sense. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The first person verbs of the previous verse could be taken generally, but now he makes a definite personal application. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 1 above. legalism: Grk. nomos. See verse 16 above. died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor., to cease to live, generally used of physical death, but used here in a figurative sense. to legalism: Grk. nomos. in order that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. I might live: Grk. zaō, aor. subj., be in the physical state of being alive, but used here in a figurative sense of spiritual life. to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 6 above.

No matter how nomos is translated Paul's statement of "through nomos died to nomos" sounds contradictory if not nonsensical. But, what he means is that his zealous legalism is what caused him to persecute disciples of Yeshua and it was that legalism that put him on the King's Highway headed toward Damascus. After his transformative encounter with the living Yeshua his former zeal for legalism died, because he received true life from the Holy Spirit.

20 I have been crucified with Messiah! And I live no longer, but Messiah lives in me. And what I now live in the flesh, I live in faithfulness, that of the Son of God, the One having loved me and having delivered himself for me.

I have been crucified with: Grk. sustauroō, perf. pass., to crucify together with. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 4 above. Paul uses a word picture drawn from the two thieves that were crucified next to Yeshua. The opening clause points back to the past when during his encounter with Yeshua he was convicted as a law-breaker and transgressor (Acts 9:4). In popular Christian interpretation the verb represents complete consecration, but the verb does not have that positive connotation. Rather, the verb represents Paul's awareness of being one of the greatest sinners in history (1Tim 1:15). His sin was as the sin of Korah who rebelled against God and suffered his wrath (Num 16:31).

And: Grk. de, conj. I live: Grk. zaō, pres. See the previous verse. no longer: Grk. ouketi, negative adv., no longer, no more. Paul knew that he deserved to be crucified for what he did to the disciples of Yeshua, and yet he was shown mercy. but: Grk. de, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos. lives: Grk. zaō, pres. in: Grk. en, prep. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Paul alludes to his being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). And: Grk. de. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. I now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. live: Grk. zaō, pres. in: Grk. en. the flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 16 above. The term is used here of ordinary human existence. I live: Grk. zaō, pres. in: Grk. en. faithfulness: Grk. pistis. See verse 16 above. The noun encompasses the spectrum of belief, trust and loyalty.

that: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. Paul means that he returns to Yeshua the same sort of faithfulness that was demonstrated by Yeshua on his behalf. of the Son: Grk. ho huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of, and this too applies here. of God: Grk. ho theos. The title "Son of God" occurs 43 times in the Besekh and all but one refer to Yeshua. This is the only mention of "Son of God" in this letter.

For Jews during this time "son of God" was used as a title for the promised human descendant of King David (2Sam 7:12), the Messiah, who would establish and rule over the Kingdom of God on earth (Luke 1:31-35; John 1:17, 41, 49; 11:27). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. Paul alludes to the fact that after his transformation he immediately began to proclaim Yeshua as the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus (Acts 9:20). Thus, he declared to the Jews that Yeshua was the Messiah and Davidic King of Israel. In contrast Christianity has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity, the second person of the Trinity. However, the title embraces the fullness of the incarnation (Php 2:5-8).

the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. "The One" is often used in Scripture as a circumlocution for the God of Israel. having loved: Grk. agapaō, aor. part., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used with a variety of applications. me: Grk. egō. and: Grk. kai, conj. having delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. part., may mean (1) to deliver, hand over, or entrust; (2) to deliver a person to a custodial procedure and judicial process; (3) to hand down, pass on, transmit or relate, and used of oral or written tradition (BAG). The second meaning applies here.

himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person. In point of fact, Yeshua allowed himself to be delivered, first by betrayal and then by arrest. for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the noun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. me: Grk. egō. Paul internalizes the redemption accomplished by Yeshua on the cross. The Messiah did not just die for the nation of Israel or the world, but for him personally.

21 I am not setting aside the grace of God! For if righteousness is through legalism, then Messiah died to no purpose!

I am not: Grk. ou, adv. setting aside: Grk. atheteō, pres., may mean (1) to set aside as unworthy of consideration, and in a legal sense to invalidate, nullify or set aside; or (2) in relation to a person to reject, not recognize or break faith (BAG). The first meaning applies here. the grace: Grk. ho charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Gen 43:14 (DNTT 2:116).

of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 6 above. For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē is used for a dozen different terms, normally Heb. tzedaqah (SH-6666), with the same meaning (DNTT 3:354). The term is first used of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24) (DNTT 3:354). In the Tanakh the concept of righteousness refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal relationship with God. Righteousness is more relational than legal.

The term also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice). Righteousness primarily has human relationships as its focus and therefore righteousness strengthens the community. So righteousness is not just abstaining from harmful behavior, but doing good for others.

is through: Grk. dia, prep. legalism: Grk. nomos. See verse 16 above. Paul does not confuse legalism for the good works that followers of Yeshua are expected to produce (Matt 5:16; Eph 2:10). then: Grk. ara, conj. See verse 17 above. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 4 above. died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. See verse 19 above. Scripture affirms that Yeshua actually died as a result of being crucified and that his death was substitutionary (Rom 5:6, 8; 6:10; 8:34; 2Cor 5:15; 1Th 4:14). to no purpose: Grk. dōrean, adv., may mean (1) being freely given or without charge; (2) being without purpose; or (3) being undeserved or without cause. The second meaning applies here. Paul insists that Yeshua did not die so people could live in bondage to Judaizer doctrine.

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DHE: The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels: A Hebrew/English Translation. Heb. trans. Franz Delitzsch; English trans. Aaron Eby & Robert Morris. Vine of David Publishers, 2011.

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at

Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online

Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.

Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.

Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.

Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn & G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), GreekEnglish Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.

TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.

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