After fourteen years I went to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas. I also took Titus with me.
I went because God showed me I should go. I met with the believers there, and in private I told their leaders the Good News that I preach to the non-Jewish people. I did not want my past work and the work I am now doing to be wasted.
Titus was with me, but he was not forced to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
We talked about this problem because some false believers had come into our group secretly. They came in like spies to overturn the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to make us slaves.
But we did not give in to those false believers for a minute. We wanted the truth of the Good News to continue for you.
Those leaders who seemed to be important did not change the Good News that I preach. (It doesn't matter to me if they were "important" or not. To God everyone is the same.)
But these leaders saw that I had been given the work of telling the Good News to those who are not Jewish, just as Peter had the work of telling the Jews.
God gave Peter the power to work as an apostle for the Jewish people. But he also gave me the power to work as an apostle for those who are not Jews.
James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, understood that God had given me this special grace, so they accepted Barnabas and me. They agreed that they would go to the Jewish people and that we should go to those who are not Jewish.
The only thing they asked us was to remember to help the poor -- something I really wanted to do.
When Peter came to Antioch, I challenged him to his face, because he was wrong.
Peter ate with the non-Jewish people until some Jewish people sent from James came to Antioch. When they arrived, Peter stopped eating with those who weren't Jewish, and he separated himself from them. He was afraid of the Jews.
So Peter was a hypocrite, as were the other Jewish believers who joined with him. Even Barnabas was influenced by what these Jewish believers did.
When I saw they were not following the truth of the Good News, I spoke to Peter in front of them all. I said, "Peter, you are a Jew, but you are not living like a Jew. You are living like those who are not Jewish. So why do you now try to force those who are not Jewish to live like Jews?"
We were not born as non-Jewish "sinners," but as Jews.
Yet we know that a person is made right with God not by following the law, but by trusting in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we might be made right with God because we trusted in Christ. It is not because we followed the law, because no one can be made right with God by following the law.
We Jews came to Christ, trying to be made right with God, and it became clear that we are sinners, too. Does this mean that Christ encourages sin? No!
But I would really be wrong to begin teaching again those things that I gave up.
It was the law that put me to death, and I died to the law so that I can now live for God.
I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore -- it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me.
By saying these things I am not going against God's grace. Just the opposite, if the law could make us right with God, then Christ's death would be useless.