2:1 Fourteen years later [from the time of his conversion in about AD 32] I went [from the regions of Syria and Cilicia (cf. Gal. 1:21)] up [likely describes land elevation] again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas [helped Paul when others doubted his conversion (cf. Acts 9:27); gave Paul opportunity to minister with him in Antioch (cf. Acts 11:22-26)]. I took Titus [a Greek; probably led to faith in Christ by Paul (cf. Titus 1:4)] along also.
2:2 I [voluntarily] went [to Jerusalem] in response to a revelation [from God; possibly Agabus’ prophecy (Acts 11:28) which led to Paul and Barnabas being sent to Jerusalem] and set before them [church leaders: Peter, James, and John (cf. Gal. 2:8-9)] the gospel [salvation by grace through faith in Christ apart from the law] that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately [Paul handled this difficult issue with great care and wisdom] to those who seemed to be [some Judaizers were present; cf. Acts 15:1 re: Judaizer’s teaching] leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race [refers to the work he had been doing for years among the Gentiles] in vain.
2:3 Yet not even Titus [a young Greek convert], who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
2:4 This matter [controversy that arose because of the Judaizers’ insistence that Gentiles (like Titus) be circumcised] arose because some [the Judaizers] false brothers [Gr. “pseudadelphoi”] had infiltrated [“sneaked in to spy out” (with the purpose of disrupting and destroying)] our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
2:5 We [Paul, Barnabas, Titus] did not give in to them for a moment [Paul and his companions stood their ground and did not compromise], so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you [Galatian Christians and all Gentiles].
2:6 As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing [such as need for circumcision; thus declared the Judaizers to be wrong] to my message [Jews and Gentiles saved the same way: through faith in Jesus Christ].
2:7 On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted [“we are trustees of the gospel and in no sense sole proprietors” (J.R. Mott)] with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles [this did not preclude Paul from preaching to the Jews], just as Peter had been to the Jews [this did not preclude Peter from preaching to the Gentiles; Paul and Peter preached same message to two different audiences].
2:8 [note that Paul and Peter called by God to particular ministries] For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.
2:9 James [Jesus’ half-brother; became believer after Resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15:7); leader of Jerusalem church; James the disciple already dead (cf. Acts 12:2)], Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship [indication that they approved/endorsed their ministry to Gentiles] when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles [international missions], and they to the Jews [home missions].
2:10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor [the poor saints in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Cor. 8:1)], the very thing I was eager to do.
2:11 When [sometime after the meeting in Gal. 2:1-10] Peter came to Antioch [third largest city in Roman Empire; Christianity was thriving there at this time; believers in Christ first called Christians there (Acts 11:26)], I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
2:12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat [indication that issues about food and its preparation did not hinder fellowship] with the Gentiles. But when they [Jewish Christians from Jerusalem] arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
2:13 [Peter’s behavior negatively influenced others…] The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy [Peter’s actions were inconsistent with his beliefs], so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Note: What hypocritical actions on your part might be leading others astray?
2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line [Gr. “orthopodeo” literally means “to be straight footed”] with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet [when no one is looking] you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that [when the Judaizers are present] you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
2:15 “We who are Jews by birth [those who had a knowledge of the law and tried to live by it] and not ‘Gentile sinners [this was not meant to be an insult but rather was a typical Jewish way of describing Gentiles]’
2:16 know that a man is not justified [first use of this word in Galatians; legal word which means “to declare righteous or innocent”; Wiersbe notes that justification is an act and not a process; justification is an act of God (cf. Rom. 8:33)] by observing the law [describes effort to win God’s favor by keeping Mosaic law (included circumcision, dietary laws, Sabbath observance, etc.)], but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
2:17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin [if Judaizers were right and Paul wrong about salvation, then Christ promoted sin because He taught that external ritual does not justify a person]? Absolutely not! [Jesus taught that faith in God’s grace is sufficient to save a person (John 3:16)]
2:18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker [it would be sinful to return to a method of trying to gain salvation by religious works because…].
2:19 For through the law I died [we can never earn God’s favor by keeping the law] to the law [makes us aware of sin but does not give us strength to overcome it] so that I might live for God.
Note: The “law” says “do” — but “grace” says “done!”
2:20 I have been crucified [acknowledgement that Christ died in our place on the cross] with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me [confidence for salvation is in Christ rather than the law].
2:21 I do not set aside [nullify or reject] the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law [those who try to win God’s favor through works are rejecting His grace and are, in essence, saying to God, “You should not have sent your Son to die on the cross. His death was a meaningless waste of life.”], Christ died for nothing [any dependence upon works for salvation would mean that Christ’s death on the cross was incomplete and unnecessary]!”