a private meeting,
publicly acknowledged Paul’s work—
Pressured by False Brethren
3But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
(2: 1) took Titus] The same word is used over the disagreement about Mark. Barnabas wanted to take him on the second missionary journey, but Paul thought it unwise (Acts 15:37, 38).
(2: 2) I preach] Iterative Present with emphasis on repeated action. The gospel which I formerly preached and still am preaching. Neither the gospel nor Paul’s approach had changed. Compare: “which I am accustomed to preached” (NEB).
those held in esteem] lit. “the one seeming” used as an idiom in classical Greek to describe people who are well respected— people of renown. The words can, of course, be used in a caustic sense, but that is not the throught here. James, Cephas, and John are later named as those esteemed as pillars (2:9).
(2: 4) stealthy brought in] A word used of foreign enemies insidiously entering a walled city. The false brethren were enemies of the gospel.
who, being what the are] The relative pronoun of quality (hostis), characteristic (but sometimes used as a simple relative. The strong tone of the sentence suggests an emphasis on quality rather than description. they were false brethren and acted the part. Compare: “A wise man who (hostis, or who being what he is) built his house on a rock” (Matt. 7:24).
(2: 6) what they formerly were] The adverb is better understood as temporal rather than intensive. Compare the ASV footnote: “what they once were.” Even though these had personally known Christ, that did not place them above Paul. His apostleship was equal to theirs.
Directed by God,
Asked Paul for help
A compromise certainly would have been much easier. Yet, if Titus had been circumcised, then the gospel would have been distorted. The question was not over circumcision, but over the implications. The gospel simply had not commanded men to circumcised, and therefore Paul refused to yield even for a moment. And the pressure applied behind the scenes by those brethren favoring circumcision unmasked them for what they actually were — false brethren.
Questions for Further Study
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