Gal 2:6-10 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.”
Paul tells us earlier in this chapter that he first went and spoke privately to those of reputation in Jerusalem. Notice that Paul did not go seeking any type of permission from them: his confidence was in the Lord of glory who had called him to preach the gospel. He obviously wanted peace and fellowship between the Jew and Gentile brethren. His statement in the sixth verse is a further assurance to the Gentile churches that Paul did not go to Jerusalem to sell them out.
Being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, I have no doubt that Paul loved the brothers at Jerusalem. However, since they seemed to be having some influence on the liberty of the churches of Galatia, Paul wanted these churches to know that those at Jerusalem were not more vital to the cause of Christ than he was. Paul was not speaking disdainfully of these brethren when he said it didn’t matter to him what they seemed to be or not be: he was simply pointing out to the Galatian brethren that they were not more favored of God because of who they were.
He went to see the brethren of reputation in Jerusalem, but as one ministering servant to other ministering servants, not as someone lesser. Paul was not in awe of their reputation because he was in awe of the living God. He says that those who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to him. This statement indicates that these brethren appeared to be working together in preparation to give Paul some instruction (see the definition of conference in Webster’s Dictionary, 1828). However, Paul quickly pointed out that their instruction did not increase his ability in, or understanding of, his calling by God.
Paul goes on to tell us that instead of them persuading him by their counsel, they were persuaded by the testimony of Paul concerning the Gentile churches. God blessed them to see that Paul was sent by God to preach Jesus Christ among the Gentiles just as Peter was sent to preach it to the Jews, and that God was working mightily in both of them. The fact that James, Peter, and John were able to see this is evidence that God was working in the matter: men do not abandon their “conferences” easily of their own accord.
I find a great comfort in seeing these brethren taking the right hand of fellowship together. They understood that their ministries were not on the same path, but they were commissioned by the same Authority. The brethren in Jerusalem asked only that Paul, Barnabas, and the Gentile churches remember those that were publicly destitute (see Strong’s definition for poor), and this is something that Paul was also diligent to do.
I believe that a lot of the differences in the church today could be resolved if we would follow the example of these scriptures. God’s ministering servants need to always be able to sit down together. We should not come together with the notion that one side is going to instruct the other, but rather with a sincere desire to understand each other and to seek the will and purpose of God. Ultimately, we should always be mindful of those who find themselves destitute of hope and begging for a crumb of mercy. We should never be so involved with our differences that we would allow those who feel their need of a Savior to be ignored.
May God who accepts no man’s person be our guide and our anchor as we serve His church!