I was reading Gal. 2:1-2 and I was confused about the meaning of “But I
did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was
running or had run my race in vain”. I was thinking… can this possibly
mean that Paul was insecure about his dotrine/relationship with God? The
reading in The Living Bible is very different. My questions are 1) What
is really the meaning of Gal 2:1-2? and 2) What would be the best
translation of the Bible to study it (That you will recommed)?
Here is another translation, from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
…among the Gentiles–but privately to those recognized [as leaders]–so
that I might not be running, or have run, in vain. I looked this passage
up in my Greek interlinear. The Greek, literally is, “privately but to
the ones seeming lest in vain I run or I ran” The key Greek word is
dokeo, which means to be thought, considered, or regarded as. To be
honest, I do not see a big difference between this and the translations.
In any case, what I see is that Paul was concerned that his efforts to
bring the Gentiles the gospel was threatened. His “gospel” included the
idea that we could be saved apart from having to obey the Law of Moses.
This teaching was under attack by certain Jewish Christians. Here, Paul
was concerned to be a wise politician. There are cases which call for us
to not only be righteous, but also to excercise wisdom, even in dealing
with people who are Christians. In my opinion, Paul was not at all
wondering if he was right, but he was not sure what would be the best
policy to pursue in order to keep the gospel free, but also to not
alienate the Jews to such an extent as to divide the church. A lot was at
stake. Fortunately, Paul’s wisdom allowed the freedom from Jewish
legalism to be applied in the Gentile churches. Like Paul says in
Galatians, “We did not give in to them for a moment.” (v. 5). This was
not a crisis of confidence in what was true, but a crisis in the direction
the church was to take. Paul was extremely confident on this issue. Look
what he said earlier in Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be
eternally condemned!” This passage is a direct reference to those who
would pervert the gospel, requiring obeying the law for salvation. The
take-home lesson is that if we are in a situation in which the truth of
the gospel is at stake in our church, our Bible group or whatever
situation, we need to confront the issue head-on, but we need to do it
with a level of sensitivity and wisdom which is most likely to not only
protect the gospel, but also to convert those who are opposed to it.
As to the translation I recommend, my recommendation on difficult passages
is to use several translations. If you have three or four good
translations available, reading them together will usually give you a
pretty good feel for the sense in the original. I do not recommend a
single translation, but the use of more than one to determine the sense of
the original writings. I also recommend that you get a Greek interlinear
translation. This can sometimes clear up uncertainties.