MAIN POINT OF PASSAGE (in one sentence): The Gospel Paul and the Jewish Apostles proclaim is the same and there is no division.
APPLICATION FROM THE PASSAGE: Don’t confuse the Gospel with non-essentials
GETTING STARTED (115 words)
The popular football movie, Remember the Titans, is powerful because it’s a story of team unity forged out of racial tension. Black and white players crossed racial lines during the first year of high school desegregation and came together to win a high school state championship. The team’s pre-season camp was disastrous, until a white team leader congratulated the play of his black teammate. The resulting handshake became a long celebration, and the dividing lines disappeared. In today’s passage, any potential dividing lines between Paul and the other apostles also faded when Paul sought unity among those commissioned to share the gospel of Christ.
- When have you disagreed with friends or pastors about how things are done in the church? How did you respond?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 2:1-10 (ESV)
2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
- What motivated Paul to return to Jerusalem (vss. 1-2)?
- Why did Paul highlight that Titus, a Gentile, “was not forced to be circumcised” (vss. 3-5, 9)?
- Why would Paul assert that they did not submit to the “false brothers,” who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation (vss. 3-6)?
- What did the apostles’ ‘handshake’ validate about Paul’s ministry (vss. 6-9)?
- Who within the church are you tempted to judge, discredit, or ignore because they are different from you? To whom do you need to extend “the right hand of fellowship”?
RESPOND TO GOD (115 words)
Sharing a common dependence on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus unites the church, no matter our personal preferences or differences. Preferences in the church become divisive and hide the truth of the gospel when we demand that people agree that our preferences are essential to faith. Not only is it divisive, but it is tragic when people miss the truth of the gospel because of our self-absorption.
- Ask God to help you see any things you consider essential to your spiritual life that deny the sufficiency of the gospel and your freedom in Jesus Christ.
- Pray that God would reveal any oversensitivity or judgmental attitudes and actions that have divided your relationship with someone else.