Galatians 2:7-10 describes the outcome of a meeting between two groups of Christians who were working in different locations with different cultures. Paul and his companions were teaching the Gentiles, while James and those with him were teaching the Jews. Neither group was changing the doctrine of God. They recognized God had united them together through their obedience to the truth. The extension of the right hand of fellowship resulted from their shared obedience to the truth.
God designed the church to enjoy fellowship with Him and with each other. Jesus’ prayer for unity among believers (John 17:20-21) is preceded by His prayer for the disciples to be sanctified in the truth, the Word of God. Jesus intentionally connected the two. Unity, or fellowship, is the natural result of obedience to the truth. Galatians 2 shows the fulfillment of this prayer as obedience to the truth produced unity in believers.
Galatians 2 also teaches us to encourage continued obedience to God among our brethren. Listen to the example these early Christians provide:
“…seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised…James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” (Gal. 2:7-9)
Praise God for the preaching and teaching of the gospel in every place! In those days, all who were speaking the truth to any people enjoyed fellowship with each other. Let us follow their example by encouraging all our brethren who speak God’s truth to the people near them.