We Will Not Yield the Gospel
Paul insists that not only was the gospel he preached by revelation from God but that it was not until fourteen years after his conversion that he went up again to Jerusalem to meet with those who were apostles before him; that is, he had been preaching salvation by grace through faith and planting churches all of that time quite apart from any direction from the mother church in Jerusalem. But Paul relates here that God revealed to him that he should make a second visit to Jerusalem and so he did.
Two things mattered to Paul: First and foremost was the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby men are saved. We might even say that Paul had made this his reason for being. What happened to him on that road to Damascus completely destroyed and recreated him, and he would never be the same. But a strong second was Paul’s concern for the unity of the Church. There was obviously a breach forming in the Church and that breach centered around Paul’s understanding of the gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, an understanding that he was sure was correct based upon the Old Testament and God’s revelation in Christ. But Paul’s heart also longed for unity. And so when we read that he “set before [the leaders] the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain,” Paul did not mean that he was seeking their stamp of approval on his gospel as if he would have stopped preaching if they had disapproved of it. Indeed, he took Titus with him, a believing uncircumcised Greek to show that Gentiles could be Christians, too. But Paul was desperate for unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a rupture between the Jewish Church and the Gentile Church would hamper the proclamation of that gospel.
And so Paul never budged on the gospel, for when “false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you [Galatians].” Even unity must be sacrificed for the cause of truth. But bless the Lord that did not happen: The gospel preached by Paul and by the other apostles was the same, only they preached to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles.
And the gospel is still the same; it will never change. But men do change. Let us hold fast our profession and rejoice with those who do likewise.