Fourteen years after that first visit, Barnabas and I went up to Jerusalem and took Titus with us.
I went to clarify with them what had been revealed to me. At that time I placed before them exactly what I was preaching to the non-Jews. I did this in private with the leaders, those held in esteem by the church, so that our concern would not become a controversial public issue, marred by ethnic tensions, exposing my years of work to denigration and endangering my present ministry.
Significantly, Titus, non-Jewish though he was, was not required to be circumcised.
While we were in conference we were infiltrated by spies pretending to be Christians, who slipped in to find out just how free true Christians are. Their ulterior motive was to reduce us to their brand of servitude.
We didn't give them the time of day. We were determined to preserve the truth of the Message for you.
As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn't concern me. God isn't impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.
It was soon evident that God had entrusted me with the same message to the non-Jews as Peter had been preaching to the Jews.
Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John - the pillars of the church - shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews.
The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.
Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line.
Here's the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That's how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that's been pushing the old system of circumcision.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.
But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: "If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you're not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?"
We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over "non-Jewish sinners."