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Gal 2:1 WEB Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.

First question: is this the same time as recorded in the book of Acts 15:2 Or Acts 19:21?

If it is the same recorded events at Acts 15:2

Then there would be an issue From verses of Galatians 2.

7 but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcised, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcised—

8 for he who worked through Peter in the apostleship with the circumcised also worked through me with the Gentiles—

9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, those who were reputed to be pillars, gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision.

10 They only asked us to remember the poor—which very thing I was also zealous to do

Here Paul states that James, Peter, and John were to preach to the Circumcision, while he was given to the Gentiles.

Then he ends by saying They only asked us to remember the poor"

This would not be true in the light of The account in Acts

Acts 15:25 it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (xref-2)

27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth.

28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things:

29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell.”

30 So, when they were sent off, they came to Antioch. Having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. place

In Acts the things that was told the gentiles church from James and the Apostles were

  • Things sacrificed to idols
  • Blood and things strangled
  • Sexual Immorality.

If in Galatians Paul was retelling this event, then he must have left the major things told him to tell the gentile converts.

How do we reconcile this accounts

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    When I recount an incident in a narrative, I don't necessarily give all the details, but only those that are pertinent to the context of my narrative and which support the flow of my argument in the narrative.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 17, 2021 at 8:43

3 Answers 3

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The key to answering this question is to reconstruct the sequence of events early in the life of Paul. See appendix below. From this we conclude that:

  1. The trip to Jerusalem and the 14 years occurred before the Jerusalem council
  2. The Jerusalem council was another trip
  3. The journey in Acts 19:2 was yet another apart from those above.

Thus, there is no conflict at all in the records we have.

APPENDIX - Chronology of the Apostle Paul

As best I can work out, based on the record we have in Acts 9-15 and Gal 1 & 2, the sequence of events following Paul's conversion goes something like this. (The record in Acts is not continuous).

  • Saul receives his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:1-19
  • Immediately afterward Saul preached Jesus in the synagogues, Acts 9:20-22
  • How long he remained in Damascus preaching in the synagogues in unknown but it was probably a few months(??). He then went to Arabia for an unknown time, presumably to clarify his thinking. Gal 1:17
  • Saul then returned to Damascus. Acts 1:17. It is not clear whether the events of Acts 9:23-25 (the plot to kill Saul) was before or after the trip Arabia. I am inclined to the latter because it was after "many days" (Acts 9:23). In any case, at this point, Paul has thus far confined himself to synagogues. It was at this point that he decided to leave for Jerusalem.
  • Paul goes to Jerusalem 3 years after his conversion (Gal 1:18, Acts 1:26-29) to meet Cephas/Peter and other leaders. Saul is still only dealing with Jews and not gentiles. Acts 9:29.
  • Paul then travels to Syria and Cilicia via Tarsus. Gal 1:21-24, Acts 9:30.
  • The Church enjoyed a time of peace. Acts 9:31. During this next period, Acts is silent about the activities of Saul.
  • Peter miraculously heals Aeneas and resurrects Tabitha at Lydda. Acts 9:32-43 Peter is called to Cornelius and baptises the first gentile at Caesarea. Acts 10. Peter is called to Jerusalem to explain why he had entered a gentile's house and then baptised a gentile. After explaining about the action of the Holy Spirit, the leaders had no further objection. Acts 11:1-18. There is no further record of Peter ever preaching to gentiles after this incident.
  • Attention then shifts to Antioch and the developing tension over the role, if any, gentiles should have in the Gospel message. Acts 11:19-26. It was during this time that Barnabas went to get Saul in Tarsus (v25) and brought him to Antioch. It was at this time that Saul and Barnabas began preaching to gentiles.
  • Because of a famine, Saul and Barnabas are sent with gifts to Jerusalem. Acts 11:27-30. It is probable that this was the trip to Jerusalem referred to in Gal 2:1, fourteen years after Paul's conversion. It was at this Jerusalem meeting that Paul agreed with Peter an amicable division of labour - Paul would preach to the gentiles while Peter would preach to the Jews, Gal 2:9.
  • Saul returns from Jerusalem to Antioch. Acts 12:25
  • Saul/Paul and Barnabas are sent off on their first missionary journey Acts 13:2 - 14:28, preaching to gentiles, returning to Antioch.
  • The Jerusalem council is called to debate circumcision. Acts 15.
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    I agree with you chronology but you might want to fit when Galatians was written into this chronology. Your chronology is based on the early date for Galatians, right after Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and before the Jerusalem Council. That is why the chronology in Galatians 2 does not include the Jerusalem council. The late date for Galatians has a very different chronology. I agree with your early date for Galatians
    – Ken Banks
    Nov 29, 2021 at 14:50
  • +1, but if it was me, I'd put the "Appendix" first and then make the three bullet points the conclusion. Good timelines of Paul are surprisingly hard to come by in most Bible Study materials.
    – Robert
    Aug 21, 2022 at 23:48
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If they refer to the same event, the verb "re-telling" is better applied to Acts than Paul, because Paul told the story first. When Paul tells the story, perhaps a generation before it was told again by Luke in Acts, he told it with no holds barred. In Acts 2 he refers to his opponents in Jerusalem as "false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage." These were no doubt the "circumcision party," but their views did not prevail.

A popular idea among NT critical scholars is that the author of Acts downplayed the divisions between Peter and Paul, also between the Jerusalem Church and the Pauline tradition. One example of this exegesis is Bart Ehrman, who writes "it appears that the author of Acts has confused some of Paul’s itinerary – possibly intentionally, for his own purposes.”

Whether Acts' version intentionally misremembers is beside the point here. But if we accept that they are two version of the same event, then the "retelling" is done by Acts, not Paul. In the NT, of course, Acts comes before the letters of Paul but it was Paul who actually wrote his letters earlier.

One way to deal with the apparent discrepancy the questioner mentions is to accept that Paul, a participant in the actual meeting who wrote his version of events earlier in time, was in a better position to remember. That he apparently left out the issue of sexual immorality is explained by the fact that it was not a controversial issue at the Council; all parties agreed. About food sacrificed to idols and kosher rules about meat preparation, there are two possibilities. 1) he was so focused on circumcision in Galatians that he simply didn't mention these stipulations, or he didn't consider that these rules changed ["added"] anything to the gospel that he preached. (Gal. 2:6)

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The question on hand at the council meeting: Acts 15:1 Concerning Gentiles… ”Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”

The covenant of circumcision was the covenant of Abraham, not Moses. The covenant with Moses was the Law, so: the circumcision of Moses = the Law. While there are similarities, circumcision is separate from the Law.

Acts 15:13-14

And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

James declares that Simeon has made the winning argument. God visited the Gentiles and called out of them a people. The Gentile he called was Abram. Filling in the rest of the argument for him… Abram of course is an ancestor of Moses. But Abraham predates Moses by +/- 700 years, therefore also predating the Law. Abraham couldn’t have followed the Law if wanted to, it didn’t exist yet.

For the Jews to claim that a Gentile who doesn’t follow Mosaic Law can’t enter Heaven, they have in effect condemned Abraham. But! Galatians 3:6 “…Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

We are saved by Faith, the Law still fills a schoolmaster's role of teaching, but we follow God in spirit, by faith, not with a scroll.

The Israelites are a race designated by God as his chosen people, and circumcision is the sign of that covenant.

Timothy was circumcised as a sign of respect to his Israelite heritage through his mother (Acts 16:3 “Him (Timothy) would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.”).

Titus was not circumcised because he was born a gentile (Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised..)

As for whether the Jews are still bound by Mosaic Law, I say no, but that wasn’t the question of the day. Paul was in Jerusalem defending his ministry to the Gentiles, the question of the Law in regards to the Jewish believers was not his burden, that was given to the 12.

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