Galatians 2:3
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
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(3) But neither Titus . . .—This and the two following verses are parenthetical. The result of the private conference with the Judaic Apostles is not given till Galatians 2:7; but without waiting for this, the Apostle turns aside to give one emphatic piece of evidence that his practice in regard to the Gentile converts was not interfered with. The question of principle was raised in the case of Titus, and there he stood his ground, in spite of the pressure that was put upon him.

In addition to its bearing upon the main argument, there is probably a special reason for this mention of the case of Titus. At the beginning of his second missionary journey, on taking with him his youthful convert Timothy, St. Paul made so much of a concession to Jewish prejudices as to have him circumcised (Acts 16:3). We shall see later that this gave rise to a charge of inconsistency, which the Judaising party in Galatia were not slow to make use of. (See Galatians 5:11, and Notes there.) There was indeed some real inconsistency, but not more than any one who is engaged in the struggles of active life will constantly find himself drawn into. The meeting at Jerusalem was a crisis in the history of the Church. The question of principle was at stake. Concession herein would have been ruinous and fatal, and the Apostle stood firm. On the other hand, the circumcision of Timothy was merely a practical compromise to smooth the way for the preaching of the gospel in new regions. The Apostle was too wise to incur needless opposition, which would bar the way to essential truths on a point which, though in some of its aspects involving principle, was yet in others of quite minor importance. Besides, there is this to be noticed, that whereas Titus was by descent wholly a Gentile, Timothy was, on his mother’s side, a Jew.

Turning to the phraseology of the passage, we may observe that the opening clause would be better translated, But not even was Titus . . . compelled to be circumcised. “Not even” refers to the prominence which Titus assumed as being associated with St. Paul in his ministry. This was a special reason for insisting upon his circumcision; and yet he was not circumcised.

Being a Greek.—Rather, a Gentile. It is observed that the Peshito version translated the word here rendered “Greek” by “Aramæan” or “Syrian.” All idea of pure Hellenic descent has dropped out of it.

Galatians 2:3. But neither Titus, &c. — As if he had said, That the apostles, to whom I communicated the doctrine which I preach, acknowledged it to be the true gospel of Christ, is evident from this, that not even Titus, who was with, me, though a Greek, or converted Gentile, was compelled to be circumcised — In order to his being received as a true member of the Christian Church; a clear proof that none of the apostles insisted on circumcising the Gentile believers. The sense seems to be, It is true, some of those false brethren would gladly have compelled Titus to be circumcised, but I utterly refused it. And that because of false brethren — That is, I was averse to, and opposed the circumcision of Titus, because the Jews, who professed the Christian religion, yet urged the observation of the ceremonial law as necessary to salvation, (Acts 15:1,) and so were real enemies to the gospel. Or, the sense may be, that Titus was not compelled, by the apostles and elders of Jerusalem, to be circumcised, on account even of the false brethren, who, when they found that Titus was not circumcised, complained of Paul to his brethren apostles on that account. Unawares brought in — Made members of the church at Jerusalem upon their great pretences to piety, without due consideration and trial; who came in privily — To our meetings at Jerusalem; to spy, &c. — To find out and condemn our freedom from the law of Moses, which we Gentiles have obtained by Christ Jesus’s gospel. Or, as some explain the clause, these false brethren had got themselves introduced secretly, that is, by persons that did not know their real character, into the meetings which Paul had with the apostles, to observe whether he would stand to the defence of that liberty from the ceremonial law before the apostles, which he preached among the Gentiles. That they might bring us into bondage — That in case I had not maintained our liberty, they might thence take occasion to bring back the Christian Gentiles, and whole church, under the yoke of the ceremonial law. To whom we gave place, no, not for an hour — Yielded to them in allowing the ceremonies, in no degree. With such wonderful prudence did the apostle use his Christian liberty; circumcising Timothy, (Acts 16:3,) because of weak brethren, but not Titus, because of false brethren; that the truth of the gospel — The true genuine gospel, or the purity of gospel doctrine; might continue with you — And other churches of the Gentiles. So that, as if he had said, we defend for your sakes the privileges which you would give up.2:1-10 Observe the apostle's faithfulness in giving a full account of the doctrine he had preached among the Gentiles, and was still resolved to preach, that of Christianity, free from all mixture of Judaism. This doctrine would be ungrateful to many, yet he was not afraid to own it. His care was, lest the success of his past labours should be lessened, or his future usefulness be hindered. While we simply depend upon God for success to our labours, we should use every proper caution to remove mistakes, and against opposers. There are things which may lawfully be complied with, yet, when they cannot be done without betraying the truth, they ought to be refused. We must not give place to any conduct, whereby the truth of the gospel would be reflected upon. Though Paul conversed with the other apostles, yet he did not receive any addition to his knowledge, or authority, from them. Perceiving the grace given to him, they gave unto him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, whereby they acknowledged that he was designed to the honour and office of an apostle as well as themselves. They agreed that these two should go to the heathen, while they continued to preach to the Jews; judging it agreeable to the mind of Christ, so to divide their work. Here we learn that the gospel is not ours, but God's; and that men are but the keepers of it; for this we are to praise God. The apostle showed his charitable disposition, and how ready he was to own the Jewish converts as brethren, though many would scarcely allow the like favour to the converted Gentiles; but mere difference of opinion was no reason to him why he should not help them. Herein is a pattern of Christian charity, which we should extend to all the disciples of Christ.But neither Titus, who was with me - Paul introduces this case of Titus undoubtedly to show that circumcision was not necessary for salvation. It was a case just in point. He had gone up to Jerusalem with the express reference to this question. Here was a man whom he had admitted to the Christian church without circumcising him. He claimed that he had a right to do so; and that circumcision was not necessary in order for salvation. If it were necessary, it would have been proper that Titus should have been compelled to submit to it. But Paul that says this was not demanded; or if demanded by anyone, the point was yielded, and he was not compelled to be circumcised. It is to be remembered that this was at Jerusalem; that it was a case submitted to the apostles there; and that consequently the determination of this case settled the whole controversy about the obligation of the Mosaic laws on the Gentile converts.

It is quite evident from the whole statement here that Paul did not intend that Titus should be circumcised; that he maintained that it was not necessary; and that he resisted it when it was demanded; Galatians 2:4-5. Yet on another occasion he himself performed the act of circumcision upon Timothy; Acts 16:3. But there is no inconsistency in Paul's conduct. In the case of Titus, it was demanded as a matter of right and as obligatory upon him, and Paul resisted the principle as dangerous. In the case of Timothy, it was a voluntary compliance on his part with the usual customs of the Jews, where it was not pressed as a matter of obligation, and where it would not be understood as indispensable to salvation. No danger would follow from compliance with the custom, and it might do much to conciliate the favor of the Jews, and he therefore submitted to it. Paul would not have hesitated to have circumcised Titus in the same circumstances in which it was done to Timothy; but the circumstances were different; and when it was insisted upon as a matter of principle and of obligation, it became a matter of principle and of obligation with him to oppose it.

Being a Greek - Born of Gentile parents, of course he had not been circumcised. Probably both his parents were Greeks. The case with Timothy was somewhat different. His mother was a Jewess, but his father was a Greek Acts 16:3.

Was compelled to be circumcised - I think it is implied here that this was demanded and insisted on by some that he should be circumcised. It is also implied that Paul resisted it, and the point was yielded, thus settling the great and important principle that it was not necessary in order for salvation; see Galatians 2:5.

3. But—So far were they from regarding me as running in vain, that "not even Titus who was with me, who was a Greek (and therefore uncircumcised), was compelled to be circumcised." So the Greek should be translated. The "false brethren," Ga 2:4 ("certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed," Ac 15:5), demanded his circumcision. The apostles, however, constrained by the firmness of Paul and Barnabas (Ga 2:5), did not compel or insist on his being circumcised. Thus they virtually sanctioned Paul's course among the Gentiles and admitted his independence as an apostle: the point he desires to set forth to the Galatians. Timothy, on the other hand, as being a proselyte of the gate, and son of a Jewess (Ac 16:1), he circumcised (Ac 16:3). Christianity did not interfere with Jewish usages, regarded merely as social ordinances, though no longer having their religious significance, in the case of Jews and proselytes, while the Jewish polity and temple still stood; after the overthrow of the latter, those usages naturally ceased. To have insisted on Jewish usages for Gentile converts, would have been to make them essential parts of Christianity. To have rudely violated them at first in the case of Jews, would have been inconsistent with that charity which (in matters indifferent) is made all things to all men, that by all means it may win some (1Co 9:22; compare Ro 14:1-7, 13-23). Paul brought Titus about with him as a living example of the power of the Gospel upon the uncircumcised heathen. The apostle brings this as an instance of the apostles at Jerusalem agreeing with him in his doctrine, as to the non-necessity of circumcision; for though Titus was with him, who was a native Gentile, being a Greek, and a minister of the gospel, (and possibly Paul carried him with him for an instance), yet the apostles at Jerusalem did not think fit to impose upon him circumcision; no, not upon a solemn debate of that question. If any shall object that Paul himself circumcised Timothy, who was a Greek, Acts 16:1,3; the answer is easy, the same text letting us know that his mother was a Jewess, and that he did it because of the Jews in those quarters. As to the Jews, it was matter of liberty at this time, they might or might not be circumcised. Now in matters of this nature, where men have a liberty, they ought to have regard to circumstances, and to do that which they, from a view of circumstances, judge will be most for the glory of God, the good of others, and give least offence, 1 Corinthians 10:28-31. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek,.... There was such an agreement between the apostle, and his fellow apostles at Jerusalem, even about this article of the necessity of circumcision, and other rituals of the law of Moses, to salvation; that Titus, whom he brought along with him, an intimate companion of his in his travels, a fellow labourer with him in the ministry, and now upon the spot, though he was a Gentile, an uncircumcised person, yet even not he

was compelled to be circumcised: the elders did not urge it, or insist upon it, as proper and necessary; they looked upon it as a thing indifferent, left him to his liberty, and made use of no forcible methods to oblige him to it; yea, were of opinion, as Peter and James in the synod declared, that such a yoke ought not to be put upon the necks of the disciples, and that those who turned to God from among the Gentiles, should not be troubled with these things.

But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
Galatians 2:3. Observe, that Paul does not pass on to the result of his discussions with the δοκοῦσι until Galatians 2:6, and consequently it is Galatians 2:6 ff. which corresponds to the κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ δοκοῦσι in Galatians 2:2; so that Galatians 2:3-5 have reference to the result of the laying his gospel to the Gentiles before the Christians in Jerusalem generally, and correspond with the first part of Galatians 2:2 (ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς τὸ εὐαγγ. ὃ κηρ. ἐν τ. ἔθν.).

But so little had that exposition of my gospel to the church at Jerusalem a result counteracting it and implying the εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον, that, on the contrary, not even Titus, etc. Thus ἀλλʼ οὐδέ (comp. Luke 23:15; Acts 19:2) introduces a fact which—in contrast to the idea of “running in vain,” which had just been brought forward as the point for inquiry in that exposition of his gospel—serves as the surest palpable proof how triumphantly the Gentile gospel of the apostle (which rejected the necessity of circumcision for the Hellenes) maintained its ground then before the church of Jerusalem, and how very far people were from ascribing to the apostle a running, or having run, in vain. For otherwise it would have been absurd, if the church had not pleaded for, and carried out, the circumcision at least of Titus.[61] “But not even this was done, to say nothing of its being a duty of the church to reject my gospel which was altogether opposed to the circumcision of Gentiles, and to decide that I εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον!” This line of argument involves a syllogism, of which ἀλλʼ οὐδὲπεριτμηθῆναι is the minor.

Ἕλλην ὤν] Although a Hellene, a Gentile.[62] We have no further details as to his descent.

ἠναγκάσθη] From Galatians 2:4-5 it follows that, on the part of certain Christians at Jerusalem (not of the apostles also, who are not referred to until Galatians 2:6, where the κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκ. is resumed), the circumcision of Titus had been urged, but had not been complied with on the part of Paul, Barnabas, and Titus, and this resistance was respected by the church;[63] hence the οὐκ ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι, there was not imposed on him the necessity of submitting to be circumcised. Most expositors, however, adopt the common opinion that οὐδὲἠναγκάσθη περιτ. implies that the circumcision of Titus had not been demanded, which is adduced by Paul as a proof of his agreement with the apostles. See Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, and many others, including Winer, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, de Wette, Hofmann. This view is decisively set aside by the sequel (see on Galatians 2:4), apart from the fact that here the relation to the apostles is not yet under discussion. Moreover, if the circumcision of Titus had not been demanded, there would have been no occasion for the expression ἠναγκάσθη. Certain individuals in the church, no doubt instigated by the false brethren (Galatians 2:4), had really come forward with the demand that Titus must submit to be circumcised. Comp. the subsequent case of Timothy, who under different circumstances was circumcised by Paul himself (Acts 16:3). To look upon the false brethren themselves as those who demanded the circumcision of Titus (Bleek, Wieseler, and others) does not suit Galatians 2:4, in which they appear only as the more remote cause of the demand; they kept in the background.[64]

[61] The latter, as associated with the apostle in teaching, must, in his uncircumcised Gentile condition, have been specially offensive to those who had Judaistic views.

[62] This “although a Hellene” refers to ὁ σὺν ἐμοί. Paul is conscious of the boldness, nay, of the defiance (comp. Jerome on ver. 1, “ausus sit”), which was involved in bringing the Hellene with him to the council at Jerusalem, the seat of Judaism. In the sense of my official colleague (Reiche, Wieseler), the simple ὁ σὺν ἐμοί is not in harmony with the context.

[63] For the ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι, if it had occurred, could only have occurred through the church—and indeed possibly even the apostolic college (as the Tübingen criticism asserts)—joining in the demand made on Titus, and adopting it as their own.

[64] Holsten wrongly reverses the relation, when he holds that behind the false brethren Paul saw the Christians of Jerusalem and the δοκοῦντες.


An inconsistency with Acts 15, in which the argument and decision are against the necessity of circumcision, would only emerge in Galatians 2:3, if the matter in question here had been the principal transactions of the council itself, and if those who required the circumcision of Titus had been the apostles (or had at least included the apostles), as Fritzsche, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Holsten, and others assume. But as neither of these is the case, and as, indeed, it does not even follow from our passage that the apostles had so much as merely advised the circumcision of Titus (Wieseler’s earlier opinion, which he has now rightly abandoned), this passage cannot furnish arguments either against the identity of the journey Galatians 2 with that of Acts 15 (Fritzsche, p. 224), or against the historical character of Acts 15 (Baur and his followers).Galatians 2:3. Howbeit even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, had not been compelled to be circumcised. The last verse related the steps taken by Paul to disarm opposition. He was, however, no less resolute in his resistance to any encroachment on Christian freedom. The presence of Titus with him attested his determination; for the circumcision of Titus had been demanded, and resisted evidently by Paul himself. It is a strange misconception of critics to argue as if this struggle over Titus took place at Jerusalem. The demand for the circumcision of all converts was made at Antioch and pressed against the authority of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 20:2): the express object of the deputation was to protest against this demand, which they did with entire success. The Greek aorist ἠναγκάσθη answers here to the English pluperfect, as often elsewhere (cf. Winer, xl., 5).3. neither Titus] Better, not even Titus, who, as Paul’s colleague, might have thus had more ready access to the Jews.

being a Greek] unlike Timothy, Acts 16:1-3.

was compelled] Scholefield renders, “was under any necessity to be circumcised, but only because, &c.” i.e. there was no necessity for his being circumcised, except that pretended necessity which was set up by these false brethren. (Hints for an improved Translation of the N. T.)

“Paul might have suffered Titus to be circumcised; but because he saw they would compel him thereunto, he would not. For if they had prevailed therein, by-and-by they would have gathered that it had been necessary to justification, and so through this sufferance would have triumphed against Paul.” Luther.

3–5. The construction of this passage is irregular and uncertain, and the meaning of several words and phrases obscure. But the general argument would seem to be as follows:—‘I conferred indeed with the Apostles at Jerusalem, but though I was quite ready to treat them with courtesy and respect, I was not prepared to make to them any concession of principle. That would have been to allow their authority as superior to my own, and would also have been a betrayal of the Gospel. An attempt was made to assert the necessity of obedience to the ceremonial law, as a condition of justification. This attempt took a practical shape, when certain false brethren with sinister motives demanded that Titus, a Gentile, should submit to circumcision. The Apostles were for temporising, in the hope of conciliating these intruders, who were really spies, feigning themselves to be true men and zealous for the law. The question in itself might seem indifferent. [St Paul had himself taken Timothy “and circumcised him on account of the Jews”, Acts 16:3. But then Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother.] But when they tried compulsion, I at once made a stand and refused compliance. What I might perhaps have conceded to love, was resisted when it involved subjection to these false brethren: that the Gospel in its purity and fulness might be preserved for you Gentiles. Of that Gospel the observance of the ceremonial law is no condition. To insist upon it, is to pervert the truth of the Gospel, and send men back for salvation to the “weak and beggarly elements” from which Christ by His death hath for ever set us free’.Galatians 2:3. Οὐδὲ, not even) We did not even allow the necessity of circumcising Titus, who was with me, to be laid upon us.Verse 3. - But (ἀλλ); and yet. "Though I explicitly stated to the leading men in the Church of Jerusalem what I taught respecting the relation of Gentile converts to circumcision and the Mosaic Law, yet in the end they, by their support, enabled us to withstand the pressure which was for a while applied for getting Titus circumcised." Neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised (οὐδὲ Τίτος ὁ σὺν ἐμοί Ἕλλην ω}ν ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι); not even was Titus who was with me, being a Greek, compelled to be circumcised. This, St. Paul intimates, was a crucial case. Titus was a Gentile pure; not (like Timothy) having one parent of Jewish extraction and therefore capable of being identified with the Jewish people, but Gentile-born of both parents. The clause, '"who was with me," after ver. 1, was quite unnecessary for mere definition; in fact, it is not added for definition, but to mark the close association with an uncircumcised Gentile which the apostle openly displayed at Jerusalem. He took him with him, we may suppose, when he came before the Church at its public assemblies; when he appeared before the select meeting of the apostles and elders; when he joined the brethren in the agapae and the Lord's Supper - occasions of fraternal communion, in which the presence of a "dog," "an uncircumcised Greek," would be tenfold obnoxious. We cannot, by the way, but marvel at St. Paul's great courage in thus acting. Not only was this paraded fellowship with Titus sure to give deep offence to the vast majority of his Christian brethren, but it might also well expose him to serious personal risks among the highly inflammable populace of the city. At Jerusalem his "soul was among lions." The two clauses, "who was with me, being a Greek," illustrate the "not even." Openly displayed as was Titus's companionship with St. Paul before the eyes of all the Jews, both believers and unbelievers,and Gentile as he was known to be, yet not even in his case was circumcision persistently insisted upon. The aorist tense of ἠναγκάσθη is significant of the ultimate result; it implies that an attempt was made to get Titus to submit to the rite, but failed. We must observe that St. Paul does not write,"I was not compelled to circumcise Titus," but "Titus was not compelled to be circumcised." This appears to make a material difference. By putting it as he has done, the apostle intimates that it was to Titus himself that the pressure was applied. Titus was plied, we may suppose, with theological argument, with appeals to his brotherly sympathies, with appeals to his prudent care for public peace, with threats of social and religious excommunication, and with stern, indignant remonstrance. But sustained, as he all through knew himself to be, by at least St, Paul, if not also by his fellow-deputies, he through it all maintained his firm stand upon his liberty. The "we" of the εἴχαμεν in ver. 5, no doubt, includes at least Titus. The question, however, arises - Who were they that for a while endeavoured to force circumcision upon Titus? The converts from the sect of the Pharisees, mentioned by St. Luke (Acts 15:5), are naturally the first to occur to our minds. But the moulding of the sentence in the next verse discountenances this solution. We cannot help identifying the "false brethren" there spoken of with just those very Pharisean converts - men who had simply thrown the cloak of professed Christian discipleship over the old Pharisean legalism still wholly clung to. But if we suppose this, we cannot imagine that the writer would have said that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised "by reason of those false brethren," if these had been the very persons alluded to as having tried to compel him. It is more probable that the persons alluded to were certain influential members of the Jewish Church, with a strong body, perhaps, of the elders of that Church, having possibly the concurrence even of James and of Cephas. James and the elders, on a later occasion (Acts 21:18-26), urged Paul himself to undertake the performance of certain Mosaical observances, with the view of conciliating the believers of Jerusalem. It is, therefore, quite supposable, at this earlier and as yet immature stage in the development of the practical application of the evangelical doctrine, that Titus was now being dealt with in a somewhat similar manner. But whoever they were that were doing it, it is plain that, in effect, they were working towards the same practical result as the most eager of the Mosaist legalists, only by a different mode of approach. Titus in particular was fastened upon for this assault, apparently because St. Paul had brought him with him as a crucial instance whereupon to try the general question. Neither (οὐδὲ)

More correctly, not even. So far were they from pronouncing my labor in vain, that not even Titus was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. Though approving Paul's preaching, the apostles might, for the sake of conciliation, have insisted on the circumcision of his Gentile companion.

Being a Greek (Ἕλλην ὤν)

Or, although he was a Greek. Const. closely with σὺν ἐμοι, with me. It was a bold proceeding for Paul to take an uncircumcised Gentile with him to the conference at Jerusalem.

Was compelled to be circumcised (ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι)

That is. no constraint was applied by the Jerusalem church and its authorities for the circumcision of Titus. The statement is not that such an attempt was pressed but successfully resisted, but that circumcision was not insisted on by the church. The pressure in that direction came from "the false brethren" described in the next verse.

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