The word of the day is “saw.” Today in our reading of Galatians 2:6-10, St. Paul recounts the turning point of the acceptance of Gentiles into the Church. He reports that when he met with the apostles in Jerusalem, they accepted his missionary work among Gentiles. The Lord had entrusted the mission to the Jews to the apostles in Jerusalem. Likewise, these church leaders “saw” that the Lord had committed the outreach to the non-Jews to St. Paul (vs. 7). Consequently, he writes, “they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (vs. 7).
What the Leaders in Jerusalem Saw
To “see” here means to discern mentally (Strong’s #3708, 181). The church leaders in Jerusalem discerned that the Lord had “entrusted” (Strong’s #4110 202) the Apostle with the mission to the Gentiles. How did they “see” that? Paul’s short answer was that they “perceived the grace that had been given to me” (vs. 9).
Note that the discernment that the Lord had commissioned St. Paul to go to the Gentiles was a conclusion. It was based on what the apostles “saw” in his ministry. And the perception that God had given His grace to St. Paul was also an insight based on their observation. What was the evidence for this discernment and this perception? St. Paul says that God worked just as effectively in him as He did in Peter (vs. 8).
God’s Will Seen in Paul’s Effectiveness
How was Paul’s effectiveness seen? To answer, we must turn back to the Book of Acts. First, the Holy Spirit inspired and directed the mission to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48; Acts 13:2). Second, the Gentiles believed the message of salvation and turned to the Lord in faith (Acts 11:21; Acts 13:48). Third, the Gentiles had received the gift of the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish Christians had (Acts 15:8). Fourth, at the Jerusalem Council St. Paul recounted, “how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles” (Acts 15:12). The unmistakable conclusion was that St. Paul’s work among the Gentiles was as much the will of God as the apostles’ work among the Jews (vs. 8).
To be sure, the gift of faith that entrusts itself to the God of grace is internal and personal. But we learn from our reading that it is not invisible. It manifests itself in the works of love and mercy, hope and peace. It is a light in the heart that shines outward in what we say and do and how we live. Indeed, the Lord confirms His gift of faith in us by the fruit that it bears. Those with spiritual discernment can “see” these good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).