6 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: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 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. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
- Verse 6 is a continuation in thought referring to the “false brethren” from verse 4 who tried to bring the church into “bondage”.
- Paul makes it clear that he does not care what these false brethren want to be known as, he is not impressed with them (vs. 6).
- God is not impressed with what we think of ourselves (“God accepteth no man’s person”, vs. 6). What matters is what we think of Him.
- Peter primarily ministered to the Jews, although not exclusively (vv. 7-8; cf. Acts 10). Paul primarily ministered to the Gentiles, although not exclusively (cf. Romans 1:16).
- The phrase “of the circumcision” refers to the Jews (vv. 7-8).
- The word “apostleship” (vs. 8 ) refers to one who is specifically commissioned and sent by God.
- God extends His grace to all of mankind (vs. 8; cf. John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).
- The words “wrought effectually” and “was mighty” are translated from Greek words from the same root (vs. 8 ). It is the same Greek root from which we get the English word “energy” and refers to something that is effective or powerful.
- Paul, in using the phrase “seemed to be pillars” was not placing doubt upon the status of James, Peter, and John (vs. 9). Rather, it should be understood as “reputed to be pillars” or “esteemed to be pillars”. It could be translated as “thought to be pillars” (by the church in a very real sense). That is, they were recognized leaders in the church and as such, their recognition of Paul carried great weight.
- The word translated “fellowship” is from the Greek word koinonia and denotes participation with one another (vs. 9). It signaled that Paul was placed on an equal footing with the others, in spite of his past sins against the church.
- The word “heathen” (vs. 9) is from the same Greek word translated as “Gentiles” in verse 8.
- The “poor” (vs. 10) could be understood generally or specifically the Jews who were poor. This is debatable, but the context (“only” showing a contrast to the “heathen” in verse 9) argues favorably that it refers to the Jewish poor.
- The Greek verb translated “was forward” (vs. 10) is only used one other time in the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 2:17, it is translated “endeavored”. The word speaks of doing something with diligence.
Ideas for Teaching/Preaching/Personal Study
- Develop an illustration, object lesson, or other example to communicate the meaning of the words “God accepteth no man’s person”. This can be a powerful way of demonstrating that we are utterly bankrupt when we come before the God of creation.
- Why do you think Paul was primarily sent to the Gentiles and Peter was primarily sent to the Jews? You will have to do some additional study into their personalities, background, and education to formulate a good theory.
- Why was circumcision such a critical issue in the early church? Use a concordance to find other references to study. Acts 15 is a critical passage on this topic.
- Formulate a biblical definition for “apostle” (in the technical sense). A concordance or Bible dictionary will be helpful.
- Prepare a sermon or lesson using verse 9 for the outline. The points should revolve around Paul’s conversion. For example, a simple outline would be (1) Paul received grace, (2) Paul received fellowship, (3) Paul received a commission. The thrust should be that this is a pattern for all believers.
- Verse 10 is a reminder that Christians should minister not only to the spiritual needs of others, but to their physical needs as well. Take a piece of paper and make two columns. Label one “spiritual” and label the other “physical”. Look through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and list examples under the appropriate labels of how Jesus ministered to others.