“And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.”
And I went up by revelation,
Paul did not go to the Jerusalem Council because of pressure from the apostles in Jerusalem. He went there because God told him to go. Paul did not go to Jerusalem because the leaders had called him on the carpet. The church at Antioch had sent his delegation there.
Antioch was the third-largest city in the Roman Empire and 500 kilometers from Jerusalem. Going up (even though Jerusalem was south, the New Testament refers to it as “up”) to Jerusalem by revelation does not contradict the Antioch church sending his delegation to Jerusalem, for both can be true.
and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,
The word “communicated” means to set forth, to lay before. Paul laid his case of the gospel of grace before the leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 15:2; Galatians 2:9).
but privately to those who were of reputation,
Paul took the precaution to deal with the issue privately with leadership in Jerusalem, such as Peter, James, and John, because he did not want to surprise them by dealing with the issue in public first. If he had come in like a bolt from the blue, his mission to the Jerusalem Council would have been in vain.
lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain
Paul used discernment in handling the doctrinal crisis at the Jerusalem Council. He took the precaution to present the facts to the apostles privately before the issue came into public debate. He did not want to offend the leaders there unnecessarily and stir up opposition against his position before he could objectively present it to the Council.
The word “run” stresses strenuous running. Paul ran strenuously for his cause at the Jerusalem Council. He viewed his presentation as a footrace in a stadium. If the Judaizers had won, he would have lost a lot of territory in advancing the gospel.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Discernment is essential to deal successfully with people in ministry.
As Christians, we should use discernment in how we fight for doctrinal positions. If it requires going through private meetings, then so be it. It is not wise to embarrass publicly those we attempt to persuade.
A priority of Christian living is to keep our eye on what we want to accomplish. By using unwise approaches, we can undermine what we try to achieve.
“…holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:16).