Galatians 2v6 “those who seemed to be influential… added nothing to me.”
v6-9 are a bit awkward to divide up into neat points. Several times Paul starts a sentence but then interrupts himself with a side note: “From those who seemed influential (what they were makes no difference to me…)” I wish he would just make one point at a time.
I eventually decided the best way to work through these verses would be to look at the main overall point Paul’s making here, and then go back and pick up on the side notes afterwards.
So the main point is that Paul had set before the apostles the gospel that he had been proclaiming among the Gentiles (that gospel about grace and peace and deliverance from our sins, without us doing anything to earn any of it), and the apostles “added nothing” to him. “On the contrary… they saw that [Paul] had been entrusted with the gospel… and… gave (him) the right hand of fellowship”.
The false teachers in Galatia were saying that the gospel Paul preached was incomplete. “Yes, it’s great that you’ve turned to Jesus for forgiveness, but to be a real Christian, just relying on Christ is not enough, you need to obey certain rules as well.” But Paul got confirmation from the apostles in Jerusalem that that’s not the case. They saw that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised and he didn’t need to add anything to the gospel he was already preaching.
And I think the application for us is that we should not add anything to the gospel. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to believe that God is more pleased with us than he is with that other person because they don’t… (I thought of a few examples, but I wonder what first pops into your head at this point.) You think God isn’t as pleased with that person over there as he is with you because… (what?) (They don’t have the depth of theological understanding that you do, or they don’t spend as much time in prayer, or they don’t do as much evangelism? Obviously those are all good things for Christians to work at as we seek to grow in Christian maturity, but God is pleased with Christians because we’re in Christ and therefore we start to grow and produce good fruit, not the other way round.)
And I think another application is that we shouldn’t listen to anyone else who adds anything to the gospel of Christ either. If anyone teaches that we need to do certain things to earn God’s favour in addition to trusting Christ – if they try to convince us we need to behave in a certain way based on fear that if we don’t then we’re not saved – then they’re not preserving the truth of the gospel. And remember these false brothers were “secretly brought in” (v4), so don’t expect them to obviously stand out as false teachers.