“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 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 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.
They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do” (Galatians 2:7-10).
If God calls us to enter a particular area of service, others will often recognize, verify, and confirm that calling, Such was the case with the Apostle Paul and the leaders given to us in the passage quoted above. They recognized Paul’s God-ordained ministry to the Gentile population of that era just as they recognized the Apostle Peter’s calling to minister to the members of the Jewish community.
Thus, there was not one gospel for the Jewish people and a different gospel for others. Instead, there was one message and two individual callings to minister to these individual people groups. Jewish believers could choose to retain their Hebrew identity and cultural heritage as followers of Jesus. Conversely, non-Jewish converts were not asked to follow the Old Testament Law or take part in the ritual of circumcision.
One commentator quotes three different sources to illustrate this idea…
“Lightfoot says that these phrases denote ‘a distinction in the sphere in which the gospel was to be preached, not a difference in the type of gospel.’ Burton says that the context demonstrates that Paul regarded the distinction between the gospel entrusted to him and that entrusted to Peter as not one of content but of the persons addressed. Meyer says that this passage does not refer to two different gospels but to the same gospel to be given to two different groups of individuals, whose peculiarities demanded of the preacher a special adaptation to his distinctive audience.” (1)
So while Paul and his fellow apostles were equal to one another in terms of authority, God individually enabled them to fulfill their specific ministerial responsibilities. And the same God who worked in the lives of these first-century apostles continues to empower His people to fulfill His calling upon their lives today.
(1) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Galatians 2:7) Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.