does galatians 2 7 indicate two gospels

Gal 2:7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter

Galatians 2:7 was written by Paul to distinguish his ministry from that of the apostles. To those who are covenant theologians or Acts 2 dispensationalists, they see this verse as distinguishing the audiences of both Peter and Paul. They say the same gospel is preached, but Peter brought it to the circumcision and Paul to the Gentiles. I assume they believe the word usage is generalized, because Paul definitely taught to Jews (before he consulted the Gentiles).

Here is Greek scholar C.R. Hume in Reading through Galatians:

The statement that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised and Peter with that to the circumcised is not a rigid demarcation but a recognition of their separate core responsibilities.

To an Acts 9 dispensationalist, who teaches that Paul’s gospel (salvation by faith alone) was different than that of the apostles (the Kingdom gospel), they seem to take Galatians 2:7 as indicating that there are two gospels (one of circumcision and one of uncircumcision).

The original Greek helps very little here. The meaning of the Genitive case (“gospel of circumcision”, “gospel of uncircumcision”), is always determined by context as noted in The Big Difference Between the Two Gospels, by Bob Hill:

Moulton states that the interpretation of this genitive is entirely a matter of exegesis and not of grammar. The immediate context and general usage must be called to decide the point.

So what does the context suggest? CR Hume (not an Acts 9 dispensationalist) points out that verses 6 through 10 are all one large sentence in the Greek:

In the original, the whole of the above passage is, syntactically speaking, one sentence. The omissions, sudden changes of direction, the condensed arguments, the interruptions and asides make it difficult to follow.

To understand the immediate context of the verse, the entire sentence should be read as a whole:

Gal 2:6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
Gal 2:7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter
Gal 2:8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
Gal 2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Paul had consulted James, Cephas, and John about his ministry. It is clear that James, Cephas, and John are the same people as “those of reputation”. They “added nothing” to him. CR Hume translates this literally as “added no further requirements” or added no “burden”. The phrase “added nothing to me” is Paul stating that his gospel remained unchanged. This is directly after saying Titus was not compelled to be circumcised.

And it is directly after this that Paul uses the phrases “gospel of the circumcision” and “gospel of the uncircumcision”. (As a disclaimer: the Greek word for Gospel is only used once, it is implied the second time. CR Hume translates the sentence as follows: “seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel of non-circumcision as Peter was with the one of circumcision.”)

So Titus is not compelled by the apostles to be circumcised, no further burdens are added to Paul, and then Paul talks about Peter’s gospel of circumcision. This seems like amazing contextual evidence that Galatians 2:7 is speaking of two separate gospels. Paul is shown resisting circumcision, the apostles are shown as encouraging circumcision, and then the statement is made that there is a “gospel of the circumcision” and a “gospel of the uncircumcision”. Both groups not only have different target groups, but are teaching different ministries.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Dispensationalism, Textual Criticism, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to does galatians 2 7 indicate two gospels

  1. Greg Perry says:

    Chris, I’m just stunned that you quoted my all-time favorite Pastor, Bob Hill. Anybody who knows about Bob Hill, retired Pastor of a tiny church in a tiny little town in Colorado has tons of street cred in my eyes!

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