Paul Was Accepted as an Apostle by the Leaders in Jerusalem
2 Then 14 years later I went to Jerusalem again with Barnabas. I also took Titus along. 2 I went in response to a revelation from God. I showed them the way I spread the Good News among people who are not Jewish. I did this in a private meeting with those recognized as important people to see whether all my efforts had been wasted.
3 Titus was with me, and although he is Greek, no one forced him to be circumcised.
4 False Christians were brought in. They slipped in as spies to learn about the freedom Christ Jesus gives us. They hoped to find a way to control us. 5 But we did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the Good News would always be yours.
6 Those who were recognized as important people didn’t add a single thing to my message. (What sort of people they were makes no difference to me, since God doesn’t play favorites.) 7 In fact, they saw that I had been entrusted with telling the Good News to people who are not circumcised as Peter had been entrusted to tell it to those who are circumcised. 8 The one who made Peter an apostle to Jewish people also made me an apostle to people who are not Jewish. 9 James, Cephas, and John (who were recognized as the most important people) acknowledged that God had given me this special gift.[a] So they shook hands with Barnabas and me, agreeing to be our partners. It was understood that we would work among the people who are not Jewish and they would work among Jewish people. 10 The only thing they asked us to do was to remember the poor, the very thing which I was eager to do.
Paul Shows How Cephas Was Wrong
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I had to openly oppose him because he was completely wrong. 12 He ate with people who were not Jewish until some men James had sent from Jerusalem arrived. Then Cephas drew back and would not associate with people who were not Jewish. He was afraid of those who insisted that circumcision was necessary. 13 The other Jewish Christians also joined him in this hypocrisy. Even Barnabas was swept along with them.
14 But I saw that they were not properly following the truth of the Good News. So I told Cephas in front of everyone, “You’re Jewish, but you live like a person who is not Jewish. So how can you insist that people who are not Jewish must live like Jews?”
15 We are Jewish by birth, not sinners from other nations. 16 Yet, we know that people don’t receive God’s approval by any effort to follow the laws in the Scriptures, but only by believing in Jesus Christ. So we also believed in Jesus Christ in order to receive God’s approval by faith in Christ and not by our own efforts. People won’t receive God’s approval by their own efforts.
17 If we, the same people who are searching for God’s approval in Christ, are still sinners, does that mean that Christ encourages us to sin? That’s unthinkable! 18 If I rebuild something that I’ve torn down, I admit that I was wrong to tear it down. 19 When I tried to obey the laws in the Scriptures, those laws killed me. As a result, I live in a relationship with God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by believing in God’s Son, who loved me and took the punishment for my sins. 21 I don’t reject God’s kindness.[b] If we receive God’s approval by obeying the laws in the Scriptures, then Christ’s death was pointless.
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