“And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)…”
And this occurred because of false brethren
The words “and this” refer to Paul’s bringing Titus as a test case to the Jerusalem Council (Ga 2:3). The “false brethren” were fakers who claimed to be in the Christian family as “brothers.” They came to the Council to persuade them to circumcise Titus (Ga 2:3; Acts 15:1).
secretly brought in
Some of the representatives of the Jerusalem Council surreptitiously brought false teachers into the Council. They came to the Council under false pretense. They came in as traitors to grace. The Greek historian Strabo used “secretly brought in” for enemies secretly introduced into a city by traitors within the city. False teachers are like stealth bombers that silently destroy the gospel of grace; they are underhanded in their methods. This created a full-scale dispute at the Jerusalem Council.
(who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,
Christians are free from the law when it comes to salvation (as were the Jews, by the way). Our position in Christ gives us liberty from the law and all its requirements to attain salvation. Christ bore the penalty of the law (Ga 3:13). No one else needs to bear that penalty because the cross paid for sin completely. Christians should look for those who do reconnaissance for the law because they will destroy the grace of our freedom in Christ Jesus.
that they might bring us into bondage)
The purpose of the infiltration of false teachers into the Jerusalem Council was to make slaves of Christians. They wanted Christians to revert to the Mosaic Law. They wanted to impose circumcision on Titus. The words “bring us into bondage” are a very strong phrase for bringing people into slavery.
Christ plus something else for salvation or sanctification is heresy.
If we add a single work to salvation, we undercut grace. We destabilize the very essence of what it means to become a Christian. We should not be surprised that people in the 20th century try to impose legalism on the church because it is a battle that goes back to the first century. If “false brethren” could get into the apostolic church, they certainly can get into the 20th-century church.
The Christian life, by definition, is a life of liberty (John 8:36; Romans 7:6). Christian liberty is not license but freedom from sin and the penalty of sin (Galatians 5:13). Liberty frees the Christian soul from conditions to fellowship with God or acceptance by God. Any time a doctrine presents the idea of Christ and His cross plus something, it is heresy. Christ plus works or Christ, plus religion is heresy.