Summary Galatians Chapter 2:1-10

Here we continue with Paul’s account of his conversion.

  • He preached 14 years before returning to Jerusalem
  • His preaching was the result of a revelation, and his decision was the result of another
  • His companion, Titus, was not required to be circumcised

Here we begin the discussion between the James Gang, the elders of the Jerusalem Assembly, and Paul, about the role of the Jewish Law.  How much, if any, would non-Jewish converts be required to follow?

Note that Paul has been on his own path for 14 years. In a sense, he has come to Jerusalem to get “official approval” of his method and his content.

  • The issue of Paul’s secretary/scribe
  • The Jerusalem Assembly actually (apparently) sent spies (of a sort) to see what Paul was up to, the intent being to make him toe the line
  • Paul brags about being a Pharisee
  • Paul claims not to have been impressed by those who seemed to be in power
  • Paul claims that he was entrusted by some agent, unspecified–but we can probably assume he means God, given all his revelations–with the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter–not James but Peter–was entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised
  • The point is that, after 14 years, Paul had been successful in creating assemblies of Jesus in various non-Jewish communities. At this point, we have to wonder if there were more Gentiles than Jews
  • We are told that Peter and John,  so prominent in the gospels, were indeed leaders of the community in Jerusalem. James, also named as one ‘seeming’ to be a ‘pillar of the community’, had little or no role in the gospels. It’s not even clear if he’s the James known as “James the Lesser”; that is, the James who is not Andrew’s brother and a son of Zebedee
  • James enjoins Paul to ‘remember the poor’, which has led some to see James as the leader of the sect/group called the “Ebionites”. More likely, this was the imposition of a requirement for Paul to collect the Temple Tax, which was to be sent to Jerusalem. This was a standard feature, apparently, of the Second Temple period.
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About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on September 30, 2012, in epistles, Galatians, Paul's Letters, Summary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It really sounds as if the James gang was very disruptive to Paul’s communities, but Paul was probably very disruptive to the James gang – even life-threatening – from his heretical preachings. Paul’s ministry was probably angering the conservative communities that James was probably trying to avoid public conflict with. The conference was probably very important to both sides, taken in political context in the years preceding the Jewish War and James’ death. Was Peter in a race to gain converts in competition with Paul? Did Peter go to Rome to get there before Paul’s ministry could take foothold there? Did Peter eventually use Paul’s template for theology and ministry to compete effectively?

  2. Somehow, I tend to suspect that Paul was angering James in particular. The comments about him seem a tad snarky, but that could just be me reading into the situation.

    The thing is, Paul never met the human Jesus. That he went out and started preaching–successfully–had to stick in the craw of James. Recall, James was not part of the whole movement when Jesus was alive; he sort of moved in after the fact. And so did Paul. So, human nature being what it is, I could see where James might not have been entirely pleased that Paul was thinking so far out of the box.

    The question, IMO, hinges on how successful Paul was. Were the groups of non-Jews that Paul started threatening to overwhelm the Jerusalem Assembly? Certainly, the latter had something of a limited range, whereas Paul was ranging all over the Eastern Mediterranean. So I can see where James might be inclined to see if he could ‘convert the converted’ to becoming full-fledged Jews.

    As for the agreement, such things don’t occur unless each party feels somehow threatened. Paul lacked ‘legitimacy’, not having known the human Jesus. James may have lacked numbers. So they each needed something the other had. After the agreement, James may seen the benefit of meddling.

    But this is all pure speculation. However, there was obviously tension, and Paul felt the need to justify himself and his mission, and to rebut the message of James’ envoys. That much seems very clear from the text.

    Great questions about Peter. Haven’t a clue. Not sure there’s anything like any real evidence to address any of them in any real sense. Probably would be a matter of stitching together a handful of oblique textual references and then trying to read the tea leaves. Failing that, it would be a matter of trying to read back from what happened later. In either case, we might be overstating the evidence for what you’re asking. IOW, they’re pretty much unanswerable.

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