Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 1
I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure.
My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised,
although some wanted it done. Pretending to be believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us,
but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute.
But those who seemed to be the leaders - I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances - those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me. 2
On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews.
For by God's power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews.
James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews.
All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.
But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong.
Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them.
The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action.
When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?"
Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners," as they are called.
Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires. 3
If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners, as much as the Gentiles are - does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means!
If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law.
So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead - killed by the Law itself - in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,
so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.
I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!