Confirmation of Paul’s leadership
1Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, and I took Titus along also. 2I went there because of a revelation, and I laid out the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles for them. But I did it privately with the influential leaders to make sure that I wouldn’t be working or that I hadn’t worked for nothing. 3However, not even Titus, who was with me and who was a Greek, was required to be circumcised. 4But false brothers and sisters, who were brought in secretly, slipped in to spy on our freedom, which we have in Christ Jesus, and to make us slaves. 5We didn’t give in and submit to them for a single moment, so that the truth of the gospel would continue to be with you.
6The influential leaders didn’t add anything to what I was preaching—and whatever they were makes no difference to me, because God doesn’t show favoritism. 7But on the contrary, they saw that I had been given the responsibility to preach the gospel to the people who aren’t circumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8The one who empowered Peter to become an apostle to the circumcised empowered me also to be one to the Gentiles. 9James, Cephas, and John, who are considered to be key leaders, shook hands with me and Barnabas as equals when they recognized the grace that was given to me. So it was agreed that we would go to the Gentiles, while they continue to go to the people who were circumcised. 10They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do.
The Jewish-Gentile controversy
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was wrong. 12He had been eating with the Gentiles before certain people came from James. But when they came, he began to back out and separate himself, because he was afraid of the people who promoted circumcision. 13And the rest of the Jews also joined him in this hypocrisy so that even Barnabas got carried away with them in their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they weren’t acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, though you’re a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you require the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
15We are born Jews—we’re not Gentile sinners. 16However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. 17But if it is discovered that we ourselves are sinners while we are trying to be made righteous in Christ, then is Christ a servant of sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild the very things that I tore down, I show that I myself am breaking the Law. 19I died to the Law through the Law, so that I could live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose.