Paul has jumped ahead 14 years in his summary of his life as we start this next chapter. Paul chose to meet with the leaders in the faith to present to them the gospel he was sharing with the Gentiles to make sure he was doing it properly.
This was 14 years after the end of events in the previous chapter, and if you look back, that was 3 years (and sometime) after his conversion. After 17+ years of being in the faith, Paul, whose words we read in our study of Scripture, still asked those with more experience than he if he was on the right path. What a good reminder for us! Sometimes I think it can be easy to assume that for as long as you have been a part of the church (especially if you are someone like me who was raised in the church), that we have it all right. But it is wise to continually seek counsel to ensure we have not strayed from the truth or are missing anything.
In Paul’s case, the leaders had nothing to add to what he was sharing. “7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,[a]just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[b] 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.”
Paul’s message may have looked a little different than Peter’s because of who he was presenting to, but these leaders still agreed that it was true and wasn’t lacking anything. I like this. It is a reminder to me that not everyone is going to receive the Good News the same way. If we tried to present it to everyone identically, it just wouldn’t click. But by having different ways of sharing, and different people doing the sharing, we have the opportunity to reach more people.
As Paul continues to talk of his journey, he comes upon the argument that he had with Peter regarding forcing Gentiles to follow the Jewish law. He reminds Peter that they and we are not justified by works, but by faith in Jesus Christ. But that doesn’t mean that we can return or remain in our sinful lifestyle. We must get out of that pattern.
The chapter ends with this:
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[e]
As Christians today, we are not bound by the law, but we are to live for God just like Paul. We should be grateful for the grace God has given and the sacrifice of Jesus and strive to live a life worthy of that honor.