The Council at Jerusalem
1Then after a period of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem, [this time] with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a [divine] revelation, and I put before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so in private before those of [a]reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run [the course of my ministry] in vain. 3 But [all went well, for] not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, despite the fact that he was a Greek. 4 My concern was because of the [b]false brothers [those people masquerading as Christians] who had been secretly smuggled in [to the community of believers]. They had slipped in to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us back into bondage [under the Law of Moses]. 5 But we did not yield to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would continue to remain with you [in its purity]. 6 But from those who were of high reputation (whatever they were—in terms of individual importance—makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality—He is not impressed with the positions that people hold nor does He recognize distinctions such as fame or power)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me [that is, they had nothing to add to my gospel message nor did they impose any new requirements on me]. 7 But on the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles), just as Peter had been [entrusted to proclaim the gospel] to the circumcised (Jews); 8 (for He who worked effectively for Peter and empowered him in his ministry to the Jews also worked effectively for me and empowered me in my ministry to the Gentiles). 9 And recognizing the grace [that God had] bestowed on me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars [of the Jerusalem church], gave to me and Barnabas the [c]right hand of fellowship, so that we could go to the Gentiles [with their blessing] and they to the circumcised (Jews). 10 They asked only [one thing], that we remember the poor, the very thing I was also eager to do.
Peter (Cephas) Opposed by Paul
11 Now when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him face to face [about his conduct there], because he stood condemned [by his own actions]. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat [his meals] with the Gentiles; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he began to withdraw and separate himself [from the Gentile believers], because he was afraid of those from the [d]circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in this hypocrisy [ignoring their knowledge that Jewish and Gentile Christians were united, under the new covenant, into one faith], with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas (Peter) in front of everyone, “If you, being a Jew, live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how is it that you are [now virtually] forcing the Gentiles to live like Jews [if they want to eat with you]?”
15 [I went on to say] “We are Jews by birth and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 yet we know that a man is not [e]justified [and placed in right standing with God] by works of the Law, but [only] through faith in [God’s beloved Son,] Christ Jesus. And even we [as Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law. By observing the Law no one will ever be justified [declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty]. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ [by faith], we ourselves are found to be sinners, does that make Christ an advocate or promoter of our sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I [or anyone else should] rebuild [through word or by practice] what I once tore down [the belief that observing the Law is essential for salvation], I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.]”