I know I've written repeatedly on this passage and Acts 15, but I went through Galatians 2 with a class in Indy this morning again. Here were my main leadership observations:
1. Paul and Barnabas take Titus, an uncircumcised person, with them to Jerusalem when they are inquiring about whether Gentiles need to be circumcised to be saved. Brilliant! It's much easier to give easy, dismissive answers about a group that is far off somewhere than when they are right in front of you and you can see the real consequences of your ideas.
2. P and B go privately before the issue goes very live and very public. Brilliant! Groups can get in a frenzy. It's much easier to get something passed if you've already got the stakeholders on your side ahead of time.
3. Jerusalem wants something--"ok, just remember the poor." One thing a seasoned bureaucrat learns is that most committees feel like they need to change something. So the cynical might even put something obvious to fix in a proposal. That way the annoying person (you know who it is) gets to feel powerful and the proposal can move on.
4. James, Peter, and John probably still thought it was optimal for Titus to get circumcised, but they don't force him. Later on, James sends people up to Antioch to make sure the "give an inch, they'll take a mile" principle isn't in play, the slippery slope. James wants to make sure that, even though Gentiles can be saved, the Jews are still following the rules.
This is smart strategy on his part, although he turns out to be wrong on the issue...
5. ... which leads us to the realization that hindsight is 20/20. It would not have been clear at all who was right at the time. It's only because Paul's side of the story ended up in Scripture that we know he was in the right. At the time, most people probably thought he was wrong.
6. Even though Paul was in the right, he may not have gone about it the right way. He confronts Peter in front of everyone, calls him a hypocrite. Probably bad form. Barnabas' approach may have been better--submit now, move for change in the long term (one step back, two steps forward).
7. God uses the rift. Paul probably loses the argument (he would have told us if he had won). He and Barnabas agree to disagree and Paul ends up going to Greece. Win-win.