Galatians 2:9
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) James, Cephas, and John.—In some few MSS. and patristic quotations the reading is Peter and James and John. This doubtless arose from the tendency to exalt St. Peter, though the reading (which is found in Tertullian and Origen, and therefore must run up into the second century) is too early to be directly connected with the pretensions of the Papacy. The way in which St. Paul speaks respectively of St. Peter and St. James is in strict accordance with the historical situation. When he is speaking of the general work of the Church (as in the last two verses) St. Peter is mentioned prominently; when the reference is to a public act of the Church of Jerusalem the precedence is given to St. James.

Who seemed to be pillars.—Rather, who are held (same word as reputed above) to be pillars. The metaphor is a natural one, and is found not unfrequently in classical writers. It was in common use among the Jews as a designation for the great Rabbinical teachers.

Right hands of fellowship.—The giving of the right hand is a symbol of friendship. Instances occur, both in the East and West (comp. Xen. Anab. ii. 4, 1; Tac. Hist. i. 54, ii. 8), in which images of clasped right hands were sent in suing for alliance.

Galatians 2:9-10. And when James — Probably named first because he. was bishop of the church in Jerusalem; and Cephas — Speaking of him at Jerusalem, he calls him by his Hebrew name; and John — Hence it appears that he also was at the council, though he be not particularly named in the Acts. Who seemed to be — Or, as in Galatians 2:6, who undoubtedly were; pillars — The principal supporters and defenders of the gospel; perceived — After they had heard the account I gave them; the grace of apostleship which was given to me, they in the name of all, gave me and Barnabas — My fellow-labourer; the right hands of fellowship — They gave us their hands, in token of receiving us as their fellow-labourers, mutually agreeing that I and those in union with me should go to the heathen chiefly — “Barnabas, equally with Paul, had preached salvation to the idolatrous Gentiles, without requiring them to obey the law of Moses: wherefore, by giving them the right hands of fellowship, the three apostles acknowledged them to be true ministers of the gospel, each according to the nature of his particular commission. Paul they acknowledged to be an apostle of equal authority with themselves; and Barnabas they acknowledged to be a minister sent forth by the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. This distinction it is necessary to make, because it doth not appear that Barnabas was an apostle, in the proper sense of the word. The candour which the apostles at Jerusalem showed on this occasion, in acknowledging Paul as a brother apostle, is remarkable, and deserves the imitation of all the ministers of the gospel in their behaviour toward one another.” And they — With those that were in union with them; chiefly to the circumcision — The Jews. “In pursuance of this agreement, the three apostles abode, for the most part, in Judea, till Jerusalem was destroyed. After which, Peter, as tradition informs us, went to Babylon, and other parts in the East, and John into the Lesser Asia, where he was confined some years in Patmos, for the testimony of Jesus, Revelation 1:9. But James was put to death at Jerusalem, in a popular tumult, before that city was destroyed.” — Macknight. Only desiring that we would remember the poor Christians in Judea — So as to make collections for them as we proceeded in our progress through the churches of the Gentiles; the same which I also was forward to do — Greek, ο και εσπουδασα αυτο τουτο ποιησαι, which very thing I was eager, or in haste to do. It is probable, that in so readily acceding to the proposal made by the apostles at Jerusalem, to collect money for the destitute saints in Judea, St. Paul was influenced by a more generous principle than that of merely relieving the necessities of the poor. For as the Jewish believers were extremely unwilling to associate with the converted Gentiles, Paul might hope that the kindness, which he doubted not the Gentiles would show in relieving their Jewish brethren, would have a happy influence in uniting the two into one harmonious body or church.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.And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars - That is, pillars or supports in the church. The word rendered "pillars" (στύλοι stuloi) means properly firm support; then persons of influence and authority, as in a church, or that support a church as a pillar or column does an edifice. In regard to James, see the note at Galatians 1:19; compare Acts 15:13. Cephas or Peter was the most aged of the apostles, and regarded as at the head of the apostolical college. John was the beloved disciple, and his influence in the church must of necessity have been great. Paul felt that if he had the countenance of these men, it would be an important proof to the churches of Galatia that he had a right to regard himself as an apostle. Their countenance was expressed in the most full and decisive manner.

Perceived the grace that was given unto me - That is, the favor that had been shown to me by the great Head of the church, in so abundantly blessing my labors among the Gentiles.

They gave unto me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship - The right-hand in token of fellowship or favor. They thus publicly acknowledged us as fellow-laborers, and expressed the utmost confidence in us. To give the right-hand with us is a token of friendly salutation, and it seems that it was a mode of salutation not unknown in the times of the apostles. They were thus recognised as associated with the apostles in the great work of spreading the gospel around the world. Whether this was done in a public manner is not certainly known; but it was probably in the presence of the church, or possibly at the close of the council referred to in Acts 15.

That we should go unto the heathen - To preach the gospel, and to establish churches. In this way the whole matter was settled, and settled as Paul desired it to be. A delightful harmony was produced between Paul and the apostles at Jerusalem; and the result showed the wisdom of the course which he had adopted. There had been no harsh contention or strife. No jealousies had been suffered to arise. Paul had sought an opportunity of a full statement of his views to them in private Galatians 2:2, and they had been entirely satisfied that God had called him and Barnabas to the work of making known the gospel among the pagan. Instead of being jealous at their success, they had rejoiced in it; and instead of throwing any obstacle in their way, they cordially gave them the right hand. How easy would it be always to prevent jealousies and strifes in the same way! If there was, on the one hand, the same readiness for a full and frank explanation; and if, on the other, the same freedom from envy at remarkable success, how many strifes that have disgraced the church might have been avoided! The true way to avoid strife is just that which is here proposed. Let there be on both sides perfect frankness; let there be a willingness to explain and state things just as they are; and let there be a disposition to rejoice in the talents, and zeal, and success of others, even though it should far outstrip our own, and contention in the church would cease, and every devoted and successful minister of the gospel would receive the right-hand of fellowship from all - however venerable by age or authority - who love the cause of true religion.

9. James—placed first in the oldest manuscripts, even before Peter, as being bishop of Jerusalem, and so presiding at the council (Ac 15:1-29). He was called "the Just," from his strict adherence to the law, and so was especially popular among the Jewish party though he did not fall into their extremes; whereas Peter was somewhat estranged from them through his intercourse with the Gentile Christians. To each apostle was assigned the sphere best suited to his temperament: to James, who was tenacious of the law, the Jerusalem Jews; to Peter, who had opened the door to the Gentiles but who was Judaically disposed, the Jews of the dispersion; to Paul, who, by the miraculous and overwhelming suddenness of his conversion, had the whole current of his early Jewish prejudices turned into an utterly opposite direction, the Gentiles. Not separately and individually, but collectively the apostles together represented Christ, the One Head, in the apostleship. The twelve foundation-stones of various colors are joined together to the one great foundation-stone on which they rest (1Co 3:11; Re 21:14, 19, 20). John had got an intimation in Jesus' lifetime of the admission of the Gentiles (Joh 12:20-24).

seemed—that is, were reputed to be (see on [2338]Ga 2:2 and [2339]Ga 2:6) pillars, that is, weighty supporters of the Church (compare Pr 9:1; Re 3:12).

perceived the grace … given unto me—(2Pe 3:15).

gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship—recognizing me as a colleague in the apostleship, and that the Gospel I preached by special revelation to the Gentiles was the same as theirs. Compare the phrase, La 5:6; Eze 17:18.

heathen—the Gentiles.

James, (called, the less), the son of Alpheus, before called

the Lord’s brother, as is thought, because he was the son of the virgin Mary’s sister; whose naming here in the first place spoileth the papists’ argument for Peter’s primacy, because in some other places he is first named.

Cephas; that is, Peter, called here Cephas in the Syriac, possibly because he is named with others who had Syriac names; in most places he is by this apostle called Peter.

John, the apostle and evangelist, who is also known by the name of the beloved disciple.

Who seemed to be pillars; Paul, in saying they

seemed to be pillars, doth not deny them to be so; being such as God made use of in the first founding and building of the gospel church; as also to bear it up, (in the same sense that the church is called the pillar

and ground of truth), and as by them the gospel was carried out into the world; but he useth the word seemed, because the false teachers had magnified their ministry, but disparaged his. When these, he saith, perceived the grace that was given to me; by which, he either understands his office of apostleship or the crown and seal of his office in the blessing which God had given to his labours amongst the Gentiles.

They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; they looked upon him and Barnabas as much pillars as themselves; and in token of it gave them their right hands, (a token of admitting into fellowship, 2 Kings 10:15 Jeremiah 1:15), and agreed that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision; that it should be their special work to go and preach to the Gentiles, as they (viz. James, and John, and Peter) would make it their special work to preach the gospel to the Jews. And when James, Cephas, and John,.... These are the persons all along designed, though not till now named. James was the brother of our Lord, the son of Alphaeus, who wrote the epistle that goes by his name, made that famous speech in the synod at Jerusalem, Acts 15:13, presided in that church, was a man of great holiness, and much esteemed of by the saints, and had a good report of them that were without. Cephas is Simon Peter. This name was given him by Christ, John 1:42 and in the Syriac language signifies a "stone", as Peter does in the Greek, to which our Lord alludes, Matthew 16:18. John was the evangelist, and the same that wrote the epistles, was the beloved disciple, and who outlived all the rest:

who seemed to be pillars; not as the Arabic version, "who thought themselves such", but were esteemed so by others, and very rightly. They were pillars among the apostles of the highest note and greatest eminence among them; they were the very chief of the apostles; for though they were all in the same office, and had the same commission, and were employed in the same work, yet there were some who made a greater figure than others, as these did, and are therefore called pillars; they were more conspicuous, and to be observed, and taken notice of, than the rest; they were pillars in the church, set in the highest place there, and the ornaments of it; see Proverbs 9:1. They are called so for their constancy and stability in preaching the Gospel, and suffering for the sake of Christ; they were steadfast and immoveable in his work, nor could they be shaken or deterred from it by the menaces, reproaches, and persecutions of men; and they were the means of supporting others that were feeble minded, and of defending and maintaining the truths of the Gospel; and were set, as Jeremiah was, as a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against all the enemies of Christ, and his Gospel; and were, as the church is said to be, "the pillar and ground of truth". The apostle may have respect to the titles of this kind which were bestowed on the Jewish doctors. It is said (d),

"when R. Jochanan ben Zaccai was sick, his disciples went in to visit him; and when he saw them, he began to weep; his disciples said to him, lamp of Israel, , "the right hand pillar", &c. why dost thou weep?''

So another of their Rabbins is said (e) to be

"one of the walls, "and pillars" of the school.''

The character better agrees with these eminent apostles, who when they

perceived the grace that was given unto me; meaning not so much the grace of the Spirit of God that was wrought in him, or the good work of grace upon his soul, with which the church at Jerusalem, and the apostles there, had been made acquainted some years before; but the grace and high favour of apostleship, which was conferred upon him, and all those extraordinary gifts of grace, whereby he was qualified for the discharge of it; and particularly the efficacy and success of his ministry through the grace of God which went along with it, and was so visible in it:

they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; as a token of a covenant or agreement between them; they took them, as it were, into partnership with them, admitted them as apostles into their society, and gave their full consent, particularly to this article,

that we, Paul and Barnabas,

should go unto the Heathen, preach among the Gentiles;

and they, Peter, and those that were with him,

unto the circumcision, and discharge their office among the Jews; and, to show their joint agreement, used the above rite; and which ceremony was used as among other nations (f), so with the Jews, when covenants were made, or partnership was entered into; see Leviticus 6:2 where the phrase, , "in putting of the hand", and which we render in fellowship, is, both by Onkelos, and Jonathan ben Uzziel, rendered , "in fellowship of the hand", or "by the right hand of fellowship"; that being given in token of their agreement and consent to be partners together, to which the allusion seems to be here; or to the making of proselytes, to whom they "stretch out the hand" to bring them under the wings of the Shekinah (g), or in token of their being proselytes.

(d) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 28. 2.((e) Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 46. 1.((f) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 19. Cormel. Nepos, l. 2. c. 8. Gale's Court of the Gentiles, part 2. book 2, c. 6. sect. 9. & c. 9. sect. 3.((g) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 147. 4.

And when James, Cephas, and John, who {g} seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right {h} hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

(g) Whom alone and only these men count for pillars of the Church, and whose name they abuse to deceive you.

(h) They gave us their hand to show that we agreed wholly in the doctrine of the Gospel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 2:9. Καὶ γνόντες] is connected, after the parenthesis, with ἰδόντες κ.τ.λ. in Galatians 2:7.[79]

τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι] is not arbitrarily to be limited either to the apostolic office (Piscator, Estius, and others; also Hofmann), or to the prosperos successus of the same (Morus, Koppe, Winer, Fritzsche; de Wette, both); but is to be left quite general: the grace which had been given me. They recognised that Paul was highly gifted with grace, and was—by the fact that God had so distinguished him by means of His grace and thereby legitimized him as His apostle—fully fitted and worthy to enter into the bond of collegiate fellowship with them. His apostolic mission, his apostolic endowments, the blessed results of his labour, are all included in the χάρις which they recognised,—a general term which embraces everything that presented itself in him as divinely-bestowed grace and working on behalf of his office.

ἸΆΚΩΒΟς] the same as in Galatians 1:19; not the brother of John (Augustine), who at that time had been long dead (Acts 12:2); also not the son of Alphaeus (Wieseler on Galatians 1:19, and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1842, p. 95 f.); but the brother of the Lord, as is obvious of itself after what has been remarked on Galatians 1:19. Comp. on Acts 12:17. See also Hilgenfeld, p. 158 ff.; and Ewald, Gesch. d. apost. Zeit. p. 221 ff. The mention of his name here before the other two is not in compliance with the view of the false teachers (Windischmann), but is quite in due form, as the apostle is relating an official act done in Jerusalem, where James stood at the head of the church (comp. Credner, Einl. I. 2, p. 571 ff). There is a certain decorum in this—the tact of a respectful consideration towards the mother-church and its highly-esteemed representative, who, as the Lord’s actual brother, sustained a more peculiar and unique relation to Him than any of the twelve. The higher rank possessed by Peter and the apostles proper generally as such, is surely enough established by Galatians 1:18 f. But James, just as the brother of the Lord, had already attained a certain archiepiscopal position in the Jewish-Christian mother-church, and consequently for Jewish Christianity generally, agreeably to the monarchic principle which was involved in the latter. If James had been precisely one of the twelve, Paul would not (comp. Galatians 1:18) have given him precedence over Peter; for, as mouthpiece of the twelve, Peter was the first for Jerusalem also and for the whole of the Jewish Christians (Galatians 2:7). The precedence, however, finds its explanation and its justification solely in the unique personal relation to Christ,—which belonged to none of the apostles. James, as the eldest of the brethren of the Lord (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), was, as it were, his legitimate hereditary successor κατὰ σάρκα in Israel.

ΟἹ ΔΟΚΟῦΝΤΕς ΣΤῦΛΟΙ ΕἾΝΑΙ] who pass (not passed, see Galatians 2:2; Galatians 2:6) as pillars, namely, of the Christian body, the continued existence of which, so far as it was conditioned by human agency (for Christ is the foundation), depended chiefly on them. The metaphor (comp. 1 Timothy 3:15; Revelation 3:12; Clem. Cor. I. 5) is current in all languages. Pind. Ol. ii. 146, Ἕκτορʼ ἔσφαλε Τροίας ἄμαχον ἀστραβῆ κίονα; Eur. Iph. T. 50. 67 (Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 120); Hor. Od. i. 35. 13, and Mitscherlich in loc. Comp. Maimonides, in More Nevoch. ii. 23, “accipe a prophetis, qui sunt columna generis humani;” also the passages in Schoettgen, Hor. p. 728 f.; and the Fathers in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1045 f. Looking at the frequent use of the figure, it cannot be maintained that Paul here thought of the body of Christians exactly as a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21), although he certainly regarded it as οἰκοδομή, 1 Corinthians 3:9. These ΔΟΚΟῦΝΤΕς ΣΤῦΛΟΙ[80] εἶναι, according to their high repute now, when the decisive final result is brought forward, designated with solemn precision and mentioned by name, are the very same who were characterized in Galatians 2:2 as οἱ δοκοῦντες, and in Galatians 2:6 as δοκοῦντες εἶναί τι, as is evident from the uniform term οἱ δοκοῦντες being used three times. Hofmann nevertheless understands the expression in Galatians 2:2; Galatians 2:6 more generally, so that what the three δοκοῦντες στῦλοι εἶναι did is supposed to be designated as that which was done for the sake of the false brethren on the part of those standing in special repute; but this view is based on the misinterpretation, by which an awkward grammatical connection with Galatians 2:9 is forced upon the anacoluthic ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκοῦντων in Galatians 2:6, and at the same time—in the interest of harmonizing (with Acts 15.)—a position in relation to the older apostles, unwarranted by the text, is invented to explain the notice διὰ δὲ τοὺς παρεισάκτ. ψευδαδέλφ. in Galatians 2:4.

δεξιὰςκοινωνίας] On the separation of the genitive from its governing noun (in this case, because the following clause of purpose, ἵνα ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ., gives the explanation of κοινωνίας), see Winer, p. 179 f. [E. T. 238]; Kühner, § 865. 1; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 330 f. Both words are without the article, because δεξιάς did not require it (1Ma 6:58; 1Ma 11:62, et al.; Krüger, § 50. 2. 13); and in κοινωνίας the qualitative element is to be made prominent: right hands of fellowship. For the giving of the right hand is the symbol of alliance (Dougt. Anal. p. 123), 1Ma 6:58, and Grimm in loc. In opposition to the idea of an alliance being concluded, the objection must not be made (with Hofmann, who finds merely a promise of fellowship) that the act took place on the part of the apostles only; for, as a matter of course, Paul and Barnabas clasped the proffered hands.

ἵνα ἡμεῖς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη κ.τ.λ.] The verb to be supplied must be furnished by the context, and must correspond with εἱς; see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 338. Therefore either πορευθῶμεν and πορευθῶσι (Bengel, Fritzsche, Wieseler), or apostolatu fungeremur, Galatians 2:8 (Erasmus, Schott, and many others), or εὐαγγελισώμεθα (Winer, Usteri, de Wette). The latter, in no way unsuitable to εἰς (see on 2 Corinthians 10:16), is to be preferred, because it is suggested immediately by the protasis in Galatians 2:7, from which, at the same time, it is evident that the recognition was not merely that of a συνεργός, but really amounted to an acknowledgment of apostolic equality (in opposition to Holsten). Moreover, as regards the partition here settled, the ethnographical bearing of which coincided on the whole with the local division of territory, we must not supply any such qualification as praecipue (Bengel, Schott, and others). On the contrary, the agreement was, “Ye shall be apostles to the Gentiles, and we to the Jews;” and nothing beyond this, except the appended clause in behalf of the poor, was thereby settled: so that the state of things hitherto existing in respect to the field of labour on both sides remained undisturbed. The modifications of this arrangement obviously and necessarily connected with its practical working, primarily occasioned by the existence of the Jewish διασπορά—in accordance with which the principle of the division of the spheres of labour could in fact be carried out merely relatively, and without exclusive geographical. or ethnographical limitation (comp. Lechler, p. 415)—were left an open question, and not discussed. The idea that the recognition of Paul on the part of the apostles was merely external—simply an outward concordat—and that they themselves would have wished to know nothing of the ministry among the Gentiles (Baur, Zeller), is not conveyed in the text, but is, on the contrary, inconsistent with the representation given Galatians 2:7-9. According to this, the apostles recognised the twofold divine call to apostleship, by which two nationally different spheres of labour were to be provided with the one gospel; but a merely external and forced agreement, without any acknowledgment or ratification of the principles and modes of procedure which had long regulated the action of Paul and Barnabas, would have been as little compatible with such a recognition as with the apostolic character generally. If, however, we take the κοινωνία in our passage to be true and heartfelt,[81] then the doubts thrown by Baur and his followers upon the truth of the account of the apostolic council in Acts fall in substance to the ground. How little Paul especially considered his apostolic call to the Gentiles as excluding the conversion of the Jews from his operations, may be gathered, even laying Acts out of view, from passages such as 1 Corinthians 9:20, Romans 1:16; Romans 9:1 ff; Romans 11:14.

[79] While ἰδόντες denotes the immediate impression of the phenomenon, γνόντες represents the knowledge of reflection. A further step in the description. Hofmann wrongly remarks, “It signifies nothing further than that they had heard of the occurrence of his calling.” But this they must have already known years before (Galatians 1:18 f.).

[80] The accentuation usual before Lachmann, στύλοι, is incorrect. See Lipsius, gramm. Unters. p. 43.

[81] Thiersch (Kirche im apost. Zeit. p. 129) well remarks: “When they bade farewell, it was not a parting like that when Luther in the castle at Marburg rejected the hand of Zwingli, or when Jacob Andreae at Montbeliard refused that of Theodore Beza.”Galatians 2:9. The name of James is placed before those of the Apostles Peter and John. This was probably because as permanent head of the local Church he presided at meetings (cf. Acts 21:18). The well-known strictness of his own legal observance gave special weight to his support of Greek freedom on this occasion. A comparison of his address with the subsequent resolution of the Council suggests that he took a leading part in drafting some part of it at least.—οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι. The habitual application to the Church of figures borrowed from a temple of God suggested the description of Apostles as pillars. It occurs also in Clement of Rome and Ignatius. The repetition of the phrase οἱ δοκοῦντες is apparently designed to contrast the high estimate formed of the Three with the unfounded and indefinite estimate of others who had proved to be mere names.—ἵνα … The mutual understanding between the two groups of Apostles obviously did not imply an absolute restriction of each to one section of the Church. All converts alike were members of a single united Church: circumstances of themselves forbade any definite division: Paul opened his ministry everywhere in the synagogue, and numbered Jews as well as Greeks amidst his converts. So Peter again is next found at Antioch.9. In the Greek the order is, ‘And when they perceived the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John &c.” James (see note Galatians 1:19) is named first, because the reference is to a special act of the Church in Jerusalem, of which he was president or Bishop. “When St Paul is speaking of the missionary office of the Church at large, St Peter holds the foremost place”. Lightfoot. Compare Galatians 2:7-8 with Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18.

seemed to be pillars] Better, ‘were in repute as pillars’. The metaphor by which the Church is compared to a house or temple is frequent both in the O. T. and N. T. See 2 Corinthians 6:16, and Revelation 3:12, ‘I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of my God’.

the right hands of fellowship] as a pledge of fidelity to the same truth, with a view to the adoption of distinct spheres of missionary labour.Galatians 2:9. Γνόντες, when James, etc., perceived) After having heard and seen me.—δοθεῖσαν, given) comp. respecting Paul, 2 Peter 3:15.—Ἰακωβος[9]) James. He is put here first, because he mostly remained at Jerusalem, or even because he took the principal lead in this matter, and Paul might have seemed to differ more from James than from Peter, more from Peter than from John. For many circumstances would lead us to conclude, that James and Paul, as well as Peter and Paul, etc., had that in their nature and in the feelings of their soul, which would demand that the one should exercise love and forbearance, along with self-denial, towards the other, without, however, any compromise of the truth recognized by all. Hence it happens, that one and the same man, or one and the same assembly cannot with equal facility comprehend both James and Paul. This is proved in the failure of Luther, who called the epistle of James “an epistle of straw;” but let those who violently arraign him on this account, look at the monstrous feelings which they themselves cherish against Paul. Christ is the only Head, the only Sun; the greatest apostles were only members; nor did these, as individuals, all equally receive the rays of that Sun, but the whole together represented Christ in the apostleship; comp. on their variety, Revelation 21:14; Revelation 21:19-20. And the affairs of the Church were so directed by its Divine Head, that James, who was more tenacious of the law, preached to the Jews; Paul, who did not copy others, and was more eager for faith and liberty, preached to the Gentiles; and that thus every one might bring a character and endowments as much adapted as possible to the province assigned to him.—Κηφᾶς, Cephas) In some way or other, I know not how, this word has the sound of greater veneration than Peter. If Peter had held that supremacy, which men afterwards attributed to him, Paul would have had the strongest reason for mentioning that supremacy on the present occasion, or at least of naming him as in an exalted position.—στύλοι) This word corresponds to the Hebrew term עמוד Proverbs 9:1, and wherever it occurs.—δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν) so, δῶμεν δεξιὰν, let us make peace, 1Ma 6:58, etc.—ΚΟΙΝΩΝΊΑς) fellowship, which refers to colleagues.—ἵνα, that) viz. we might go, viz. with the Gospel.—ΕἸς ΤᾺ ἜΘΝΗ, to the Gentiles) especially. For Paul also taught the Jews, Peter and John the Gentiles, but the former followed out his career beyond Judea, the latter had continued in Judea, so long as it continued to exist as a nation. If Peter came to Rome, he certainly had no fixed abode there.

[9] Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος, the marginal reading in this verse is equal in both Ed. to the reading Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς adopted both in the Germ. Vers. and in the Gnom: Galatians 2:11, the name Κηφᾶς, which had been left doubtful in the larger Ed., is openly preferred in 2d Ed. and Germ. Ver. to the other; finally, Galatians 2:14, the reading Κηφᾷ added to the genuine readings on the margin of the larger Ed. on the margin of the 2d Ed. is placed among those that are less certain, and in the Germ. Ver. is exchanged for the reading πέτρῳ.—E. B.

Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς is read by BC Orig. and Cod. Amiat. of Vulg. Πέτρος κ, Ἰάκωβος is read by D(Δ)Gfg Vulg. (Fuld. MS., etc.) Iren. A omits καὶ Κηφᾶς. In Galatians 2:11 ABCH Vulg. read Κηφᾶς. But D(Δ)Gfg Vulg. and Rec. Text have Πέτρος. In Galatians 2:14 ABC have Κηφᾷ. D(Δ)Gfg Vulg. and Rec. Text have Πέτρῳ.—ED.Verse 9. - And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me (καὶ γνόντες τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάννης οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εϊναι); and perceiving of a certainty the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, those reputed to be pillars (gave). This is the order in which the words stand in the Greek, in which the participle γνόντες ("perceiving of a certainty") stands co-ordinate with the participle ἰδόντες ("when they saw") of ver. 7, so that this latter participle has "James, Cephas, and John" for its subject equally with the former, and vers. 7 and 9 appear as forming one sentence. The expression, "the grace that was given unto me," occurs also 1 Corinthians 3:10; Romans 12:3; Romans 15:15; in which passages, as well as here, it is used with a definite reference to the office of apostle having been conferred upon him together with the qualification and aid for its efficient discharge. This definite reference to a heavenly gift connected with his official character is prominent in the apostle's use of the word "grace," also in Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9. The "grace that was given unto him," therefore, sums up the facts of his having been put in trust of the gospel of the uncircumcision, and of God's having wrought on his behalf in his discharge of that trust, which are presented in the two preceding verses. There is not much difference in the meaning of the participle γνόντες in this verse as compared with the participle ἰδόντες in ver. 7; for as we find the verb "seeing" used with reference to objects not discernible by the bodily sense but perceived only through the medium of evidencing facts, as in ver. 14 of this chapter, and in Luke 9:47; Luke 17:14; Matthew 9:2; Acts 11:23; Acts 14:9; Acts 16:19; so also the verb ἔγνων is sometimes used of perceiving, becoming apprised of, some fact, as Mark 6:38; Mark 8:17; Luke 9:11; John 12:9, when there is no clear intention of emphasizing the idea of certain knowledge. Sometimes, however, it seems as if the writer had such intention, as in Mark 8:17; Mark 15:45; Luke 8:46; Philippians 2:19; and probably it was in this more emphatic sense that the apostle here substituted "knowing" for the foregoing "seeing." "James, and Cephas, and John." This James is, no doubt, the same James as appears in Acts 15. holding so prominent and apparently presidential a position in the great meeting of vers. 6-21. The "James" of the old triumvirate of the Gospels, "Peter, James, and John," was now no more. This James, whose personality has been discussed above in note on Galatians 1:19, is named first, before even Cephas and John, though not an apostle, as being the leading "elder" (bishop, as such a functionary soon got to be designated) of the Church of Jerusalem; for in the classification of the component members of that meeting in Acts 15:6, "the apostles and the elders," James must be assigned to the latter category. The twelve had no distinctive official connection with this particular Church more than with other Churches; and, therefore, in meetings held at Jerusalem, the presidential position would naturally be conceded, not to any one of the apostles, but to the man who was statedly recognized as the superior "elder" of this particular community. St. John's name is not mentioned in Acts 15; but in other places in St. Luke's history "Peter and John" are found acting in conjunction, and this in such a manner as to betoken their holding a very prominent place among the apostles (Acts 3:1; Acts 4:13; Acts 8:14). The reason why these three are named, and none but these, is probably that on the occasion referred to these three alone - James as on behalf of the Church of Jerusalem, and Peter and John as on behalf of the twelve - stepped forward at the general request before the meeting, and formally all three clasped hands with Paul and Barnabas in token of their recognizing and ratifying their doctrine and ministry. In reference to the name "Cephas,' it may be observed that St. Paul finds occasion to name this apostle nine times; in seven of these he writes, according to the best manuscripts, "Cephas' (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:9, 14); in two, "Peter" (Galatians 2:7, 8). The Judaizers in the Church, whether at Corinth or in Galatia, in their morbid hankering after whatever was distinctively Jewish, were sure to affect the use of the Hebraic form; on which account, probably, St. Paul, in dealing with these men, is seen so frequently using this form himself. Those reputed to be pillars. The apostle's object in adding this clause is apparently, to indicate why these three, rather than any others, represented the rest in this act of formal proceeding, and at the same time to intimate to his Galatian readers the supreme character of the attestation thus afforded, both to that gospel of his which certain among the Galatians were now tampering with, and to his official character which those same persons were beginning to disparage. "Pillars." The apostle, years after, in writing to Timothy, speaks of its being the proper function of "the Church of the living God" that she should be "a pillar and settled basis (ἑδραίωμα) of the truth," i.e. upholding the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). This suggests to us his meaning in using the same figure here. Those three men were by general consent looked up to as especially steadfast upholders of the truth of the gospel or of the Christian cause. In Revelation 3:12 the "pillar" seems thought of, not so much as upholding a superstructure as of something itself stationary, and also, perhaps, beautiful and glorious. Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians (§ 5), borrows the phrase with a more extensive application. The idea couched in the word "Cephas," rock, is so nearly identical with that of "settled basis," that the like affinity of ideas as led the apostle to connect "pillar" with the latter term in 1 Timothy 3:15 may be supposed to have led him now to connect "pillar" with "Cephas" and his two illustrious brethren. They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship (δεξίας ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ καὶ Βαρνάβα κοινωνίας); they each of them clasped each of us by the right hand, in token that they both did then, and would thereafter continue to, regard us, and we also them, as partners with one another in a common work. We meet with the phrases, "give right hands," "receive right hands," in 1 Macc. 11:50, 52 1 Macc. 13:50, with reference, apparently, to the victor conceding, and the vanquished accepting, terms of peace to be ratified by the mutual clasp of right hands. This, however, is not precisely what is meant in the present case; there is no room here for the notion of reconciliation. Neither seems there intended a signification of love, such as the "kiss of love" would have afforded. This hand-clasp simply ratified by a palpable gesture the formal assurance between the two parties that they regarded each other as friendly partners in a common undertaking. That the use of this gesture in ratifying compact has been very common in all ages, is shown by the instances in Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon' (Δεξία), and in Facciolati ("Dextra"), as well as by Bishop Light feet's note on the present passage. Its use among the Jews is attested, not only by the very phrase employed here and in the Maccabees, but by the phrases, "strike hands" and "give one's hand," in Job 17:3; Proverbs 6:1; Ezekiel 17:18. Josephus's remark in 'Ant.,' 18. 9:3, on the unique inviolability which the Persians, Parthians, and other Oriental nations felt to attach to engagements thus ratified, by no means precludes the supposition that Jews used this gesture of guarantee, but only shows that it was not with them the most sacred of all forms of covenanting: they would, of course, regard an oath by the Name of God as affording a higher sanction. In the case now under consideration there was no "strife" between James, Cephas, and John, and Paul and Barnabas, which needed to be "ended" by "an oath:" the solemn and cordial mutual pressure of the right hand seems just the kind and measure of form appropriate to the circumstances. That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision (ἵνα ἡμεῖς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη αὐτοὶ δὲ εἰς τὴν περιτομήν); literally, that we unto (or, for) the Gentiles, and themselves unto (or, for) the circumcision, without any verb. We have a very similar ellipsis of the verb in a carefully balanced antithesis, and before the same preposition εἰς, in Romans 5:16 (comp. also 2 Corinthians 8:14). We may read it either thus, "should go unto," as in both the Authorized and the Revised Versions; or, "should be ministers for," taking the εἰς with the like shade of meaning, as in ver. 8. This distribution of the several provinces of work is shown by the subsequent practice on both sides (see note on ver. 7, subfin.) to have been intended to be geographical rather than national; which understanding is also indicated by the mention in the next verse of "the poor" whom Paul and Barnabas were, notwithstanding this distribution, to bear in mind; they were the poor in Judaea, the province of James, Cephas, and John. Who seemed to be pillars (οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι)

Better, who are in repute as pillars. The metaphor of pillars, applied to the great representatives and supporters of an institution, is old, and common in all languages.

The grace (τὴν χάριν)

Including all the manifestations of divine grace in Paul - his mission, special endowment, success in preaching the gospel - all showing that he was worthy of their fellowship. He is careful to speak of it as a gift of God, δοθεῖσαν.

They gave the right hands of fellowship (δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν κοινωνίας)

The phrase only here in N.T. A token of alliance in the apostolic office of preaching and teaching. The giving of the right hand in pledge was not a distinctively Jewish custom. It appears as early as Homer. Deissmann cites an inscription from Pergamum, 98 B. C., in which the Pergamenes offer to adjust the strife between Sardes and Ephesus, and send a mediator δοῦναι τὰς χεῖρας εἰς σύλλυσιν to give hands for a treaty. See δεξιὰν or δεξιὰς διδόναι 1 Macc. 6:58; 11:50, 62; 2 Macc. 11:26; 12:11; 13:22; and δεξ. λαμβάνειν to receive right hand or hands, 1 Macc. 11:66; 13:50; 2 Macc. 12:12; 14:19. The custom prevailed among the Persians, from whom it may have passed to the Jews. See Joseph. Antiq. 18:9, 3. Images of right hands clasped were sometimes exchanged in token of friendship (see Xen. Anab. ii. 4, 1). Tacitus (Hist. i. 54) says: "The state of the Lingones had sent, according to an ancient institution, right hands, as gifts to the legions, a signal token of good will." On Roman coins often appear two hands joined, with various inscriptions, as Exercituum Fides; Concordia; Consensus. To give the hand in confirmation of a promise occurs Ezekiel 10:19. In Isaiah 62:8, God swears by his right hand.

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