In the context of Galatians 2:1-14, what does Paul suggest by using the word "poor"? Is Paul only referring to the financially poor? Could Paul have also be referring to those who have No Christ-based Spiritual life?

Galatians 2 New American Standard Bible (NASB) The Council at Jerusalem

2 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 [a]It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. 6 But from those who [b]were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God [c]shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel [d]to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been [e]to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship [f]to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, [g]James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right [h]hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do. Peter (Cephas) Opposed by Paul

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he [i]stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from [j]James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing [k]the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not [l]straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? [m]

In the context of Galatians 2:1-14, what does Paul suggest by using the word "poor"? Is Paul only referring to the financially poor? Could Paul have also be referring to those who have No Christ-based Spiritual life?

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    I think if this was not the practically poor that Peter and John would have said 'the poor in spirit' or similar. Since this was after the Diaspora there would have been Jews scattered by persecution and (presumably) impoverished, thus the apostles may have been asking Paul to remember the poor among the scattered Jews whom he would see on his travels throughout the Mediterranean region.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


Paul speaks of the poor quite a lot in his writings, showing that he had a heart for those considered poor (materially). He also had a tremendous burden for those who were spiritually impoverished, both in the Christian Church and outside of it, and most of his writings are concerned about the latter. However, here are some verses that show what he did about financially poor people, which should help you see what category he speaks of in Galatians chapter 2.

Acts 11:29-30 & 24:17 – Gift aid was sent via Barnabas and Saul (he’s not called Paul till chapter 13). This was in response to the prophecy of Agabus about a coming famine, so it’s clearly material aid. Several years later Paul was in Jerusalem “to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.” Again, this reads as gifts of a material nature, for Jewish people. Romans 15:25-33 – Paul writes about going to Jerusalem “in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem”. Then he contrasts the spiritual blessings the givers received from those one, making it fitting that they “share with them their material blessings.” There’s no doubt Paul had a collection to deliver to believers (both Jewish and Gentile) in Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 & 15 – The collection for God’s people came from Christians who had set aside money on the first day of every week, in proportion to their income, saving it up till Paul could come and receive the financial collection. Paul would then write letters of introduction to the men they approved who would take that money to Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 – Paul encouraged the Corinthians to have the same generosity as their Macedonian brothers, who were generous despite severe trials and extreme poverty; giving beyond their ability to share in serving the saints. The following verses show this was material giving, even though Paul goes on to point to Christ’s giving of himself – “yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (vs. 9). That is an instance of switching from material poverty to spiritual richness, but that doesn’t seem to occur in the verses you ask about.

I hope this helps you as you study those verses for yourself and then compare them with Galatians 2:10.


Based on the context of Galatians 2 (and the rest of Galatians) the reference to the “poor” would mean physically poor and not spiritually poor. Remember the entire context of the Book of Galatians is "law/works" vs "faith/grace".

In Galatians 2, Paul is defending himself against accusations that he learned his gospel from the apostles and that they told him things that must be kept according to the Law of Moses. The main issue here was the practice of circumcision.

Paul states in verses 1-10, that when he finally went to Jerusalem (this is the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15) to address the issue of circumcision, that Peter, James and John (“pillars” of the Christian church) “added nothing to me”, meaning they did not instruct Paul to change anything about his grace message. He says this to make sure everyone understands that Paul never taught that circumcision was ever a New Testament requirement. The reason that this was even an issue was that Paul had allowed Timothy to be circumcised to appease the hard core Jewish believers. However, here in Galatians, Paul even states that during his Jerusalem trip, Titus who was a Gentile, was not compelled to be circumcised.

So, Paul concludes that the only other “work” or action that the apostles mentioned to him was to remember the physically poor, which he was already inclined to do. This was an encouragement and not a command.

I quoted the King James above; here is the text:

Galatians 2 King James Version (KJV)

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

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.

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