Thoughts on Galatians #4
Having received “his” gospel through revelation, the apostle Paul makes a point of stressing that it was “by revelation” that he went up to Jerusalem fourteen or so years later. He did not come to Jerusalem because the apostolic authorities in Jerusalem asked for it. The leaders of the Jerusalem church were not checking him out; he was checking them out to see whether they agreed that non-Jews could receive the grace of God without becoming members of the community defined by obedience to Old Testament law. He took Titus, an uncircumcised Christian with him to test the waters, firmly insisting that Christians are free from the bondage of the law. James, Cephas (Peter) and John agreed with Paul and Barnabas: they are all in the same “business” of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and non-Jews like Titus do not have to become Jews to be full members of the people of God.
It has been a long time since circumcision was a burning issue for the church but maybe the temptation remains to divide Christians into first-class citizens of heaven and “underperforming” Christians who could become full members of the people of God, if only they were more like us. Banish the thought!