Jerome, Commentary on Galatians, [J.P. Migne, Editor]. Patrologiae Tomus XXVI. Paris: D’Ambroise, Pres La Barriere D’Enfer, ou Petit-Montrouge, 1845. pp. 307-438.
Jerome’s comments on Galatians 2:1-2 make it clear that he thinks Paul’s history of trips to Jerusalem is important. The first time Paul went he stayed briefly and consulted with only Peter and James. It was an exploratory visit. Now, in chapter two, some fourteen years later, Paul goes again and consults with many people. At this time he wants to learn if he has understood Christ correctly or if he was in error. Jerome particularly notes that Paul is there to “confer” rather than to “learn.” Conferring happens between equals. This persuades Jerome that Paul is considering himself an apostle like all the others (Jerome, Galatians, 332). The outcome of the visit was confirmation. Paul had been teaching and preaching rightly (Jerome, Galatians, 333). Jerome notes that Paul would be unlikely to have continued in false teaching for 17 years (the three in Arabia plus the 14 before his trip to Jerusalem (Jerome, Galatians, 333). However, it was a valuable confirmation.
Jerome considers it important that, in Galatians 2:3-5, Titus was not compelled to be circumcised even when he came to Jerusalem (Jerome, Galatians, 333). Titus was accompanying Paul, who was a Pharisee, but Paul did not require Titus’ circumcision. The natural conclusion was that Gentile converts to Christ did not need to be subject to the Jewish Law (Jerome, Galatians, 334). The demands for circumcision came from “false brothers” who wished to compel the Christians into servitude. Paul saw this as antithetical to the Gospel.
Paul’s opinion of the “false brothers” is not high, as shown in verse six. Jerome points out that God does not follow our human ideas of popularity. He lists Moses, David, Peter, and Cornelius as examples. God didn’t honor their actions or heritage, but their faith in Him (Jerome, Galatians, 335).
In Galatians 2:7-8 Paul does recognize a difference in the calling which he and Peter have. Peter is called to care for “the circumcision” (i.e., Jews), while Paul is called to the Gentiles. Jerome is clear that the callings, though different, are within God’s will. The apostles recognized the variety of roles and the dignity of each (Jerome, Galatians, 336). The people to whom each is called need God’s redemption. In this they are no different. Jerome takes this to be a matter of God’s providence, in that he calls different people into different settings. He further observes that the boundaries are not fair. Peter brought the gospel to the gentile Cornelius and Paul regularly preached in synagogues (Jerome, Galatians, 337). The unifying factor Paul mentions is a concern for the poor (Gal. 2:10). Jerome points out that the “poor” may not be poor in every way. Some are blessed people such as the poor in Spirit or those who humble thiemselves (Jerome, Galatians, 338).