“And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” – Galatians 2:2
Why did Paul go to Jerusalem fourteen years after he was commissioned by Jesus to preach the gospel of grace? Why was he concerned about running in vain?
The answer lies in understanding the dissimilar nature of the message Paul was sent to proclaim among the Gentiles and the message Peter was preaching to Israel.
When Jesus commissioned Peter and the apostles to ‘preach the gospel unto every creature’ it was not a gospel containing the secret information later revealed to Paul.
Instead it was the gospel of Mark 1:14 that the promised glorified new covenant kingdom was at hand. Therefore, Israel was exhorted to ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’
By believing Jesus was the promised Messiah and observing all of the new covenant commandments that he required they would enter the kingdom and receive the grace of God.
However, Christ later revealed to Paul the gospel of deliverance from the law and ordinances. He taught God’s infinite grace bestowed upon us freely through faith in the blood of the crucified Lord.
Consequently, some of those within Peter’s group were subverting Paul’s students and his message by placing them back under the law out of their disregard of Christ’s subsequent message of grace given to Paul.
This forced a meeting between the two groups. By revelation Paul initiated the contact and went to Jerusalem to explain the message that he taught and the authority from God he had to teach it.
If this most important meeting had not occurred between Paul and the Jerusalem apostles then the preaching of the cross taught by Paul was at risk of having none affect.
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. “ – Gal 2:21
In the end the apostles recognized Paul’s divine apostleship and declared a restriction of their own message to the circumcision.
Today we are the fruit of Paul’s labor and the gospel of Jesus Christ because he had not run in vain.