1 Fourteen years later I went to Jerusalem with Barnabas. I also took along Titus. 2But I went there because God had told me to go, and I explained the good news I had been preaching to the Gentiles. Then I met privately with the ones who seemed to be the most important leaders. I wanted to make sure my work in the past and my future work would not be for nothing.
3Titus went to Jerusalem with me. He was a Greek, but still he wasn't forced to be circumcised. 4We went there because of those who pretended to be followers and had sneaked in among us as spies. They had come to take away the freedom Christ Jesus had given us, and they were trying to make us their slaves. 5But we wanted you to have the true message. This is why we didn't give in to them, not even for a second.
6 Some of them were supposed to be important leaders, but I didn't care who they were. God doesn't have any favorites! None of these so-called special leaders added anything to my message. 7They realized God had sent me with the good news for Gentiles, and he had sent Peter with the same message for Jews. 8God, who had sent Peter on a mission to the Jews, was now using me to preach to the Gentiles.
9James, Peter, and John realized that God had given me the message about his gift of undeserved grace. And these men are supposed to be the backbone of the church. They even gave Barnabas and me a friendly handshake. This was to show that we would work with Gentiles and that they would work with Jews. 10They only asked us to remember the poor, and this was something I had always been eager to do.
No one else had had the experience the apostle Paul had. An apocalypse, a breaking-through-from-hiddenness by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. And then, years alone with the risen and living Jesus in the desert, as Jesus further opened up the gospel to him. What a fortunate human being!
After those years, Paul goes up to Jerusalem to visit Peter and James. Peter had had the privilege of actually walking with and living with Jesus for three years during Jesus’ earthly ministry. James had known him even longer, as he is Jesus’ brother. Together the two knew a lot about the Master and Saviour. They rightly became “pillars” of the church. So rightly Paul goes to visit them.
He did so because of yet another apocalypse. “I went there because God had told me to go.” Literally it is, “I went up because of an apocalypse.” God opened the door again, and told Paul to go.
He goes to lay his gospel before “the pillars,” to receive their confirmation and blessing – which he was given. Yes, indeed, what Paul had learned in the desert is what they had learned in the city. Peter, James, and Paul were all preaching the same gospel!
And he goes to get to know the pillars, and learn from them. In Galatians 1:18, he says he went up to historēsai, or made inquiry of, Peter. (The English word “history” comes from the Greek word for “inquiry.”) Paul wants to know what his fellow apostles know. Jesus has taught him much. He has also taught them much. And Paul wants to learn all he can from others Jesus has taught, a sign of great wisdom and humility.
Dear God, you have in your grace taught each of us your gospel. May we, like Paul, seek to understand even more by laying what we know before others and then learning from them. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.