2 Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along too. 2 I went there with definite orders from God to confer with the brothers there about the message I was preaching to the Gentiles. I talked privately to the leaders of the church so that they would all understand just what I had been teaching and, I hoped, agree that it was right. 3 And they did agree; they did not even demand that Titus, my companion, should be circumcised, though he was a Gentile.
4 Even that question wouldn’t have come up except for some so-called “Christians” there—false ones, really—who came to spy on us and see what freedom we enjoyed in Christ Jesus, as to whether we obeyed the Jewish laws or not. They tried to get us all tied up in their rules, like slaves in chains. 5 But we did not listen to them for a single moment, for we did not want to confuse you into thinking that salvation can be earned by being circumcised and by obeying Jewish laws.
6 And the great leaders of the church who were there had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their being great leaders made no difference to me, for all are the same to God.) 7-9 In fact, when Peter, James, and John, who were known as the pillars of the church, saw how greatly God had used me in winning the Gentiles, just as Peter had been blessed so greatly in his preaching to the Jews—for the same God gave us each our special gifts—they shook hands with Barnabas and me and encouraged us to keep right on with our preaching to the Gentiles while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 The only thing they did suggest was that we must always remember to help the poor, and I, too, was eager for that.
11 But when Peter came to Antioch I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. 12 For when he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians who don’t bother with circumcision and the many other Jewish laws.[a] But afterwards, when some Jewish friends of James came, he wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore because he was afraid of what these Jewish legalists, who insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation, would say; 13 and then all the other Jewish Christians and even Barnabas became hypocrites too, following Peter’s example, though they certainly knew better. 14 When I saw what was happening and that they weren’t being honest about what they really believed and weren’t following the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Though you are a Jew by birth, you have long since discarded the Jewish laws; so why, all of a sudden, are you trying to make these Gentiles obey them? 15 You and I are Jews by birth, not mere Gentile sinners, 16 and yet we Jewish Christians know very well that we cannot become right with God by obeying our Jewish laws but only by faith in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And so we, too, have trusted Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of faith—and not because we have obeyed the Jewish laws. For no one will ever be saved by obeying them.”
17 But what if we trust Christ to save us and then find that we are wrong and that we cannot be saved without being circumcised and obeying all the other Jewish laws? Wouldn’t we need to say that faith in Christ had ruined us? God forbid that anyone should dare to think such things about our Lord. 18 Rather, we are sinners if we start rebuilding the old systems I have been destroying of trying to be saved by keeping Jewish laws, 19 for it was through reading the Scripture that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favor by trying—and failing—to obey the laws. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.[b]
20 I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I am not one of those who treats Christ’s death as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping Jewish laws, then there was no need for Christ to die.