1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery- 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
It is very remarkable that part of Paul’s account as he is defending himself against the false charges that have been levied against him is this request from the Apostles in Jerusalem that he remember the poor.
Paul’s purpose in writing the Galatians is to prove that the Gospel is salvation by grace through faith plus nothing. To add anything to the Gospel is to deny the whole Gospel and be eternally condemned. But this never means that we do nothing once we are saved.
The Gospel of grace always, always, always produces good works (See Ephesians 2:8-10). The striking thing here is that the only good work that Paul was encouraged to do was help the poor. Poverty is not one of a list of concerns that Christians are to make as some project in their lives. Helping the poor in the Bible is a top priority for all who are able to help in any way they can. Out of all the social concerns that the Apostles could have mentioned to Paul as needing his attention, the only one they mentioned was poverty relief.
It is a great, great encouragement that this comment is made in a Book of the Bible which has as its theme the Gospel of salvation plus nothing as a means of salvation. You cannot read the Book of Galatians and come away thinking that we contribute in any way to our own salvation. But neither can you read it and come away believing that there is nothing to do as Christians to help others and prove out the validity of our faith.
Are you truly saved by grace? It is going to show in how you live. It will show in good works. And be sure to remember the poor.