Paul keeps going with the backstory stuff. Fourteen years after he first visited the church in Jerusalem, God tells him to head back there again.
This time he takes his pals, Barnabas and Titus, with him. Gotta have the entourage.
In Jerusalem, he meets with the guys who have been declared the leaders of the church. Paul doesn't personally care who they are (neither does God), but obviously, they're well-respected folks in Jerusalem, so Paul's willing to humor them.
Basically, Paul is coming to get their support for his mission to the Gentiles. He's been all around the eastern half of the Roman Empire telling everyone that Gentile converts don't need to follow every single Jewish law. Maybe one or two, but not all 613 for sure.
It's important to note that Paul doesn't want their approval. He already knows his message is a-okay by God. He just needs to know they won't interfere with the work he's trying to do.
The leaders in Jerusalem are pretty much on board. No one says anything about Titus—who's Greek and not circumcised—so things are going pretty smoothly. So as long as Titus keeps it in his pants, things are gonna be fine.
That is, until some naysayers sneak into the mix. These are Jewish Christians who believe that all Christians should also be following Jewish law. That means Titus and other Gentile dudes are gonna have to go through the old snip-snip before they can officially join the fold.
But Paul stays strong and eventually the leaders of the church—including James, Cephas, and John—side with him. They recognize all the grace that God has given him as the apostle to the Gentiles and send Paul on his way.
Now he and Barnabas are in charge of spreading God's word to the Gentiles. The folks in Jerusalem will work on getting the Jews on board. Boo-ya.
Cephas Drops the Ball in Antioch
Later, when Cephas visits Paul in Antioch, these two apostles get into a teeny tiny disagreement.
As Paul tells it, Cephas made a habit while he was in Antioch of eating with both Jewish and Gentile-Christians and not worrying his pretty little head about making sure everything at the table was kosher.
However, when some friends of James come to town, Cephas backs off the whole eating-bacon-with-Gentiles thing.
So Paul gets all up in Cephas' face in front of everyone. He's like, Dude, you are such a hypocrite. Not cool.
Look, Paul might be a Jew by birth, but he knows that simply obeying Jewish law can never make a person right with God.
Only having faith in Jesus can do that.
If a Christian is faithful, but he still has foreskin and enjoys a ham sandwich every once in a while, well, God still thinks he's aces.
After all, God sent Jesus to earth to die. If the law alone could make us besties with God, then what the heck did Jesus go through that whole crucifixion thing for?