Last time Paul explained that he, Barnabas and Titus went to Jerusalem because God instructed him to. The Judaizers had questioned Paul’s authority, and tried to infiltrate the churches with their false doctrine. Paul went to Jerusalem, not to confirm his message, but to get agreement with the other apostles in Jerusalem so that the Judaizers will be discredited.
What are you willing to tell others?
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
So Paul continues his story concerning his visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. Remember that the Judaizers had visited various churches and tried to convince people that they needed to be circumcised and observe the law in order to be a Christian. Apparently they acted like they had authority to do so from Jerusalem. So Paul goes to Jerusalem to solve this issue once and for all. Paul wants to make sure that everyone understands that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus and not by keeping the law.
Paul apparently met with some of the people who seemed to be a big deal and he said they added nothing to him. In other words, they didn’t give Paul the Gospel or the apostolic authority. God gave him both. They had nothing to add to what Paul had been doing or saying. Paul then confirmed that they understood how the mission to go to the gentiles was given to him by God. The mission to go to the Jews was given to Peter. This isn’t saying that they can’t cross lines, but this is simply saying this is their main mission.
Paul then mentions James, Peter and John met with him and they all agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the gentiles and the others go to the Jews. Remember Paul’s intent. He wasn’t looking for confirmation from these guys that he had been preaching and teaching the right message. He knew that he had been preaching the Gospel of Christ properly. He went to Jerusalem to make sure everyone was on the same page so that the Judaizers couldn’t say that they had authority to preach their false doctrine from those in Jerusalem.
So what can we learn from this passage. Well I think one major lesson is don’t compromise the Gospel. Paul knew that God gave him the Gospel, not man. Paul knew what had changed his life and what was changing other’s lives. He didn’t need an important person to confirm what he was doing. He wasn’t going to let anyone change his mind about what his mission was when he went to Jerusalem. His quest was to get everyone on the same page. We also have the truth. The truth of the Gospel of Christ is contained in God’s word. We shouldn’t ever compromise the message. We shouldn’t try to get man to approve the message or any church to approve the message. God approved the message and told us to proclaim it without compromise. When you water down the Gospel you are doing your friends, coworkers and family any good. When churches water down the Gospel and say that there are many ways to God and many ways to heaven they aren’t doing anyone any good. I wish there were more Paul’s preaching in the pulpits of America today.
Are you willing to tell others that they can’t do anything to work their way to heaven? Are you willing to tell others that the only way to heaven is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to make sure others know that our sin keeps us from being in the presence of a Holy God? Are you willing to tell others that only one man, Jesus, gave himself that we could be saved. Are you willing to tell others that Jesus and only Jesus could pay for our sins? What are you willing to tell others?