Chapter 2:19 – 21
Galatians 2:17-18) [GNB] If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners, as much as the Gentiles are—does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means!
18) [GNB] If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law.
QUESTION: What is Paul talking about in verse 17?
ANSWER: Peter, and the others who followed his example, sought justification with God through coming to Christ. The very fact that they understood their need for salvation was a confession that they were sinners, just like the Gentile sinners.
QUESTION: As Jews they felt they were right with God, but when they came to God they discovered they were sinners in need of salvation. Does that somehow imply that Christ is in cahoots with sin?
ANSWER: Of course not!
QUESTION: What is Paul talking about in verse 18?
ANSWER: If we, as Jews, [or, we as Gentiles], “start to rebuild the system of Law” we’ve torn down/return to a performance mode, or, to put it another way, leave grace and turn again to Law, then the very Law we turn to will show us that we are Lawbreakers. There is no justification in any system that teaches if we keep the rules then we are right with God.
On To This Week’s Lesson:
Galatians 2:19) [GNB] So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead—killed by the Law itself—in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,
(GW) When I tried to obey the law’s standards, those laws killed me. As a result, I live in a relationship with God. I have been crucified with Christ.
(NLT) For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ.
(MSG) What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.
Regarding “So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead, killed by the Law itself,”
“So, how do we explain this concept, that it’s the Law itself that has pronounced us believers dead to it? Paul teaches that the jurisdiction of the Law lasts as long as one lives (Rom 7:1), but you and I are dead in Christ (Rom 6:3-4), and when we died in Him we were freed from the Law’s jurisdiction. Just as the married woman whose husband died is free from the Law of marriage (Rom 7:2-3), so too, are you and I free from the Law through our death in Christ. The Law, itself, acknowledges that its commands are for those who live (Lev 18:5). Therefore, through that Law of Moses, since we are dead in Christ, we have thus died to the Law of Moses.
In saying that he was dead to the Law Paul disowned that Law entirely. He was no longer living under its economy, but rather, under the economy of grace. You can’t say that you have died to the Law, if you continue to keep it as your standard of living” [Hannah] (page 46 of my Commentary on Galatians).
QUESTION: What does verse 19 imply?
ANSWER: We, as Christians, can’t truly live for God as long as we are alive to the Law. We must, through our union with Christ, die to the Law in order to live for God.
QUESTION: Does freedom from the Law indicate that we can live sinfully?
ANSWER: A RESOUNDING NO! Listen to this following note:
“He didn’t conclude that his death to the Law freed him to live carelessly, in sin, but rather, unto God. Basically, all evangelical churches agree on this: God’s people should live right! However, we disagree from evangelical church to evangelical church as to what, exactly, is living right. One church says women shouldn’t wear slacks, make-up, etc. Another says those things are fine. One church considers it a sin to go to movies, another doesn’t. We agree we should live right, but disagree on exactly what that is. But we have an even greater fundamental difference than that. How do we do it? How do we get from here to there? How does a Christian with an alcoholic problem quit drinking? How do pastors get their “flock” to straighten up? That’s the real issue at hand in what Paul is showing us here. Some churches believe the way to get people to straighten up is to beat them up from the pulpit, shame them into coming to the altar on a Sunday evening to make new promises to God that they’ll never do those things again, promises that, in most cases, they’ll break before the sun sets on Monday. The problem is, there’s no power in our promises to God! The power is in God’s promises to us (2 Peter 1:3-4).
What is the key to our spiritual victory? It’s resurrection life! Paul cried out that he wanted to know Jesus, and the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:10). He taught that just as surely as we have identified with His death, we have also identified with His resurrection, which empowers us to live right (Rom 6:4-5)” [Hannah] (page 47 of my Commentary on Galatians).
Galatians 2:19b) [GNB] I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,
Galatians 2:20-21) [GNB] so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.
Regarding “I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,”
“The perfect tense emphasizes both the past event and its continuing effects” [Wycliffe].
NOTE: It wasn’t simply that Paul was [past tense] crucified with Christ, but that he is [present tense] (at the time of his writing this Epistle) crucified with Christ. When it comes to the Law we are in the state of being crucified/dead with Christ.
“It’s this state of being “in Him” that allows us to be a beneficiary of every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3), such as being chosen before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4), being acceptable to a Holy God [KJV]/a recipient of His grace [NIV] (Eph 1:6), receiving redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), to name a few.
“In our union with Christ through the spiritual baptism of salvation (1 Cor 12:13; Rom 6:3-4), we have been united with Him in His death (Rom 6:5), the death of crucifixion, which satisfied the curse of the Law (Gal 3:10-14). When Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), He willingly faced the wrath of a Holy God that we had been living under (John 3:36), and took away our sins (John 1:29), purging us from them (Heb 1:3). In His life on earth, prior to the cross, He kept the Law perfectly (Heb 4:15; 1 John 3:4), because He was under the Law, being born a Jew. But after His death, He was free from the Law, because the Law has power over the living. We have been united with Him in His death, so we now walk in His freedom from the Law (Rom 6:14). As is Paul, because you and I are also crucified with Christ, through the Law we are dead to the Law” [Hannah] (page 47-48 of my Commentary on Galatians).
QUESTION: What’s the result of our dying with/in Christ?
ANSWER: If we’re dead than who is living in our stead, because we’re not buried yet? In a sense, it is Christ living in you and me. But wait, we’re still the ones getting out of bed in the morning. But, when it comes to our Christian walk, we now live, not by the dictates of the Law, but by believing in what was accomplished on the cross on our behalves, i.e., “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (GNB)
21) [GNB] I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!
(BBE) I do not make the grace of God of no effect:
(CEV) I don’t turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness.
(NIV) I do not set aside the grace of God,
(NASB) I do not nullify the grace of God;
(NLT) I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless.
QUESTION: What does this mean, “I refuse to reject the grace of God”?
ANSWER: If I return to the Law, or any legal system of justification, I AM WALKING AWAY FROM GRACE!
QUESTION: Why does a system of trying harder to gain acceptance with God nullify grace?
ANSWER: If I truly believe that I can be in an acceptable relationship with a Holy God by virtue of my keeping the commandments of the Law, then that belief is saying that Christ didn’t have to die; I just needed to try harder.
CLOSING NOTE: This isn’t only true for the Jews Paul was speaking to, or to the “legalists” that practice modern day law-keeping in hopes of pleasing God; this is also true for you and me. We often fall off the wagon of grace, and land back in the performance mode, which is the gutter of failed attempts to please God. We then try harder to please God. It’s so difficult to fully believe that the total conquest of Christ at Calvary was enough to satisfy God’s justice, so we keep returning to Law, which is rejecting grace. And, in doing so, we make it impossible to do the very thing we yearn to do, which is to truly live for God.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church