Galatians

2:15-21

3. The central proposition of the letter, 2:15-21

The gospel, of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ

Argument

Paul now outlines the argument he used against Peter at Antioch. Peter had withdrawn from his fellow Gentile believers over purity issues, and as far as Paul was concerned, his behavior struck at the very heart of the gospel. So, Paul makes his argument, namely, that the gospel, of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ. This argument serves as a defining statement which guides the rest of the letter.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-11. We are unsure where Paul leaves off his confrontation with Peter and where he moves into his doctrinal dissertation. Most commentators opt for 2:15/16 as the commencement of the doctrinal dissertation. Yet, it is more likely that in 2:15-21 Paul outlines the gist of his argument against Peter, although with an eye to those in Galatia who, like Peter, have adopted the theological standpoint of the judaizers, cf. Bruce.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-10.

 

iii] Structure: The thesis of Paul's dissertation presents as follows:

Proposition:

The gospel of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ.

Explanation:

a person is set right before God / justified on the basis of faith in the faith / faithfulness of Christ, v15-16;

faith in the faithfulness of Christ may give the impression that it ignores license, v17,

but license is a product of the law, not faith, v18;

the law leads to Christ and the new life found in him, v19,

a new life lived out in him by faith, v20;

the law was never designed to facilitate the new life of the justified, v21.

 

Note: When Paul speaks of the zwh, "life", a believer lives by faith, he is using the word "life" to encapsulate the promised blessings of the covenant. This new life in Christ entails both "soteriology as well as ethics", Betz.

 

iv] Interpretation:

Having spoken sternly to Peter in the previous passage, Paul now gently identifies himself with Peter, drawing on their shared Jewish-Christian faith; "both of us are, after all, believing Jews ....." The "we" soon includes all Jewish Christians, and this with an eye to the Galatian audience which will include many Gentiles who have similarly taken up the nomist heresy. Paul finally moves to an autobiographical "I".

 

In 2:15-21, "the central affirmation of the letter", Longenecker, Paul outlines the theological argument appropriate to Peter's actions, an argument which similarly applies to the judaizers and those in Galatia who have adopted their false teachings. First, Paul identifies with his combatants, stating a doctrine that all Jewish believers hold to be true, namely, that a person is justified (set right with God) on the basis of Christ's obedient sacrifice ("faith of Christ" = Christ's perfect reliance on the will of God = the faithfulness of Christ), appropriated by trusting Jesus rather than obeying the law, v15-16. The trouble is, when a believer applies this doctrine in their Christian life, living under grace rather than law, it can seem that they disregard the law of God ("are sinners") and implicate Christ in their supposed apostasy, v17. For Paul, the opposite is the case. The nomists' dependence on law-obedience to promote the riches of God's promised blessings actually leads to rebellion and death, v18. In the law we die, in Christ we live. To "live", to access the fullness of new life in Christ, to appropriate "the unsearchable riches of Christ", Eph.3:8, is ours in Christ apart from the law. A believer lives "in faith", that is, we experience this new life by resting on the faithfulness ("faith") of the Son of God, his death on our behalf, v19-20. In v21 Paul rounds off his argument by categorically stating that his gospel does not set aside God's kindness in his gift of the law. The reason being that the law was never intended as a mechanism for justification (God's program of setting everything right in Christ); the law does not have the power to restrain sin and progress holiness.

 

The "Law" in Galatians: What does Paul mean by "the law"? "Law", nomoV, for Paul, probably means "the law of Moses", "the Torah", while erga nomou, "works of the law", used six times in Galatians, probably means "observance of God's Law." A more general sense is certainly possible, "God's law in general". Such would include "the law of Christ" and NT law in general. Of course, nothing is simple, so other suggested interpretations have emerged over the years, eg. Paul is only referring to cultic law, not the moral law, or the new perspective line that Paul is speaking of "Jewish exclusivism", Dunn...... See Galatians Introduction.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 2:15

The Proposition: The gospel, of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ, v15-21. i] The gospel, as accepted by all parties in this dispute, states that a person is set right before God [justified] on the basis of Christ's faithfulness [Christ's atoning sacrifice], appropriated through faith and not by obedience to the law of Moses, v15-16.

In verses 15 and 16, Paul aligns himself with Peter, and by implication the judaizers, and details a doctrine that all believers, including Jewish believers, hold to be true, namely, that a person's justification rests on the faithful obedience of Christ ("faith of Jesus Christ", not "faith in Jesus Christ"). So, when it comes to the issue of salvation, Peter, the apostles, the judaizers, Jewish believers , all believers, would accept, as a principle of belief, that their salvation rests on (faith in) the faithfulness of Jesus and not works of the law.

If this suggested interpretation is correct than whatever is troubling the Galatians, it is not legalism, it is not about getting saved, even though most commentators argue that it is. The issue concerns accessing the benefits of salvation, apart from forgiveness. Paul is arguing against a limited atonement, as if we get in on the basis of what Jesus has done for us, ie. we are forgiven, but must go on by obedience. For Paul, getting in and going on is wholly dependent on what Christ has done for us, appropriated through faith. To bring law-obedience into the equation is to undermine a believer's standing before God which is eternally dependent on God's grace (covenant mercy) appropriated through faith (Christ's faith/faithfulness [evident in the atonement] and our faith response toward his faith/faithfulness).

 

hJmeiV pro. "we ...." - Nominative subject of the verb "to believe", so serving as the subject of the sentence covering v15, 16. "We" = "we apostles", or "we believing Jews."

fusei (iV ewV) dat. "by birth" - by nature. Instrumental dative, "we ourselves are Jews by birth", ESV, or reference / respect, "with respect to our birth."

ex + gen. "[and not]" - [and not] from. Possibly expressing source/origin, Jews don't find their heritage from among sinful Gentiles, but also possibly taking the place of a partitive genitive, "not sinners of the Gentiles."

eqnwn (oV) gen. "Gentile [sinners]" - [sinners] of Gentiles, nations. "Gentiles" is anarthrous (without an article), but none-the-less the specific sense "Gentile" is most likely intended. The phrase ek eqnwn aJmartwloi is possibly a common Jewish descriptor for the Gentiles which Lightfoot suggests it is a touch ironical (or worse!).

 
v16

The Gk. sentence covering v15-16 is somewhat complex. The main verb is episteusamen, "we believed", a punctiliar aorist. The verse can be arranged to emphasize this fact: "We Jewish believers [not Gentile believers, Jewish believers], we have believed in Jesus Christ so that our justification might rest on Christ's faithfulness rather than our own [by works of the law one one will be justified], because even we know that a person is not justified by observance of the law, but rather by the faithfulness of Christ (the atonement)"

de "-" - but, and. Variant. If read, not adversative as ESV, "yet we know", but coordinative, "and we know", or better ascensive, "and even we know."

eidoteV (oida) perf. part. "know" - knowing. The participle is adverbial, probably causal, "because we know that ....... we too have trusted Jesus", Williams, cf. Moffatt.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception, expressing what Jewish believers know to be true.

ou dikaioutai (dikaiow) pres. pas. "is not justified" - is not put in the right, set right / judged right [by works of law]. It essential to understand the implied action of this verb; see sub notes for Galatians 2:16. "We are not set right with God by rule-keeping", Peterson.

ex + Gen. "by" - out of, from. In NT Greek this preposition with the genitive is a common way to express the ablative - of separation from, origin of = source. "By means of" certainly captures something of the intention of the phrase, and is adopted by most translations and commentators, but had Paul wanted to express means, as he does in the following dia + gen., "by means of", then he surely would have used an instrumental preposition, cf. 2:19. So, the actual meaning is "a person is not set / judged right before before God out of, from / on the basis of works of the law". Bruce has "through", instrumental, and Berkeley has "due to", causal, but source-identification, "out of", may well be intended. Note the similar commonly used phrase ek pistewV, "out of faith", and in particular oiJ ek pitewV, "those out of faith" = "those whose justification is drawn from the faithfulness of Christ", cf. 3:6, see below.

nomou (oV) gen. "[observing] the law" - [works] of law. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "works" = "law works", these are the works Paul has in mind. See sub notes for Galatians 2:16. "By doing what the law (of Moses) commands", Moffatt.

ean mh "but" - if not, except. Technically introducing an exceptive clause, expressing a contrast by designating an exception, but an adversative sense is possible, "but rather", "but only", REB, etc., so Zerwick. Yet, exception is surely intended and is certainly how it would be heard by a reader. The argument would run as follows: Even a Jewish believer, who loves the law, knows that a child of God cannot be set right before God on the basis of law-obedience. The only exception to this is when right-standing is appropriated on the basis of the faithfulness of Christ. So, that's why we believing Jews have put our trust in Christ and his faithful sacrifice on our behalf rather than on works of the law.

dia + gen. "by" - through, by means of. Taking an instrumental sense indicating the means of justification.

pistewV Ihsou Cristou "faith in Jesus Christ" - For an understanding of this crucial phrase see sub-notes for Galatians 2:16. "Jesus Christ's faithfulness [to God]".

kai "so [we], too" - and [we]. Ascensive, "even"; "even we who are Jews by birth", Bruce, although better "Jewish believers."

episteusamen (pisteuw) aor. "we [too], have put our faith" - believed. Belief/faith/trust in the sense of "committal of oneself to Christ on the basis of the acceptance of the message concerning him", Burton. The aorist is probably constative where the action as a whole is in mind rather than duration (punctiliar or otherwise), although ingressive also works where there is a slight emphasis on the beginning of the action without excluding its continuance, so NIV in translating it as a perfect tense. "So, we put our faith in Christ Jesus", CEV. Of course, we do face confusion with "faith of Christ" and "faith into Christ" and to distinguish the two we may be better served with "trust/belief in Christ". Note a similar technical term used in 3:2, "the hearing of faith" which similarly describes believing in the gospel, although it can be argued that it is a hearing which leads to faith.

eiV + acc. "in [Christ Jesus]" - into. The idea of believing "in / into" Jesus is also expressed at times with the preposition en. This spacial use is metaphorical.

iJna + subj. "that [we may be justified]" - Usually taken as expressing purpose, "in order that", but result may well be indended, "with the result that / so that", eg., Cassirer.

ek "by [faith in Christ]" - of, out of, from [faith of Christ]. As noted above, it is possible that this preposition is interchangeable with dia + gen. = "by means of", thus instrumental, expressing means, but it is more likely being used to express source / basis, "the source / basis of our right-standing before God (our having been set/judged right before God) by faith of Christ". As noted above, the "faith" here is probably Christ's faith = his faithfulness. See sub notes for Galatians 2:16.

oJti "because [by works of the law no one will be justified]" - because [from works of law all flesh will not be justified]. Here serving to introduce a causal clause, as NIV. Psalm 143:2b, "no mortal man shall be justified [before you]." In Paul's quote of this Psalm he drops the "before you" and adds "by works of the law". The point of the Psalm is that no person can stand approved in God's court-room and therefore the willingness of God to answer the psalmist's prayer, and so provide the blessings of the covenant, must rest on his mercy, and not the psalmist's righteousness. In simple terms, the benefits of new life in Christ stem from God's grace (his covenant mercy realized in the faithfulness of Christ), and therefore, by implication, not works of the law. It is at this point that Paul and his opponents separate. His opponents obviously accept that their justification rests on God's grace and not their faithful attention to the law, but when it comes to accessing the blessings that flow from their right-standing before God, obedience has a part to play. For Paul, justification is not just where you start in the Christian life, but is the whole of the Christian life, and that "whole" rests on Christ's faithfulness, not our faithfulness.

 
v17

ii] It is also accepted that a reliance on the faithfulness of Christ, rather than on works of the law, does give the impression that it promotes licence. Yet, it is obedience to the law of Moses for the promotion of new life in Christ [nomism - law-obedience to restrain sin and progress holiness] that actually promotes licence, v17-18

In verse 17 Paul alludes to the charge made against him by the judaizers. Paul still has in mind the breaking of table fellowship with Gentile believers by Peter and the other believing Jews in response to the arrival in Antioch of the instructions from the Jerusalem Council. Since Peter and Paul, in fact all believing Jews ("we"), hold to the truth of the gospel, as outline in v16 ("seek to be justified in Christ"), then inevitably the law returns to its proper role in the life of a child of God. Having led us to Christ, the law functions as nothing more than a guide to Christian living. From the perspective of a nomist believer (a judaizer) this approach toward the strict requirements of the Mosaic law would be perceived ("it becomes evident") as apostasy ("that we are sinners"). Obviously it was this perception that prompted Peter to withdraw fellowship from the "unclean" Gentile believers. In identifying the charge against him, Paul is making the argument that the perception of sin does not necessarily make for sin, and certainly perceived sin does not, by implication, pollute Jesus, make him a servant of sin ("that Christ promotes sin"). "Absolutely not", says Paul, v17. For Paul, the opposite is the case; nomism promotes sin: A believer who returns to the Mosaic law to facilitate the blessings of the Christian life, ends up putting themselves again in the position of a law-breaker and thus under the curse of the law, under divine judgment, because the prime function of the law is to make sin more sinful, v18.

The charge made against Paul by the judaizers is best viewed in three parts: i] Paul's stress on justification apart from works of the law, is antinomian, a devaluation of the law and by implication, promotes libertarianism, ie. Paul has removed the sin-restraining influence, as well as the sanctifying influence, of the law; ii] Due to his theological stance, Paul has ignored Gentile impurity (to up his evangelistic success rate!!!), and worse, has associated himself in their sin by joining them in their disregard for the strict adherence of the Mosaic law; iii] As a recognized apostle of the Christian church Paul has included Christ/the messiah in this sinfulness.

 

de "-" - but. Adversative. The proposition detailed in v16 is accepted by all Jewish believers, including Paul and Peter, but not so the central proposition in this verse. "But, if ....."

ei ...... ara "if ....... does that mean that" - if ........ then. Introducing a conditional sentence, 1st class, where the condition stated in the protasis is assumed to be true. The grammar in this verse is difficult, but what we seem to have is a protasis consisting of two clauses (the "if" clause"), the combined statement of which is true, followed by an interrogative apodosis introduced by ara, "does that mean that / then is it true that .....?", which is assumed not to be true, ie. the question expects a negative answer, so Martyn. "If, as is the case, that those who rest only on the faithfulness of Christ for their standing before God are often perceived to be sinners when their life is viewed by the strict standards of the Mosaic law, does that mean then that their liberty in Christ similarly makes Christ a sinner? God forbid!" Of course, there are other possible interpretations, eg. the first clause is true, the second false, with an inferential conclusion which is false, so Betz. The "absolutely not", is usually a response to a provocative question. It is possible, although unlikely, that the "absolutely not" is not Paul's response, but the response of an imagined interlocutor, here obviously Peter. "You may repudiate the position with a mh genoito, but that is the position you logically place yourself in by your action, for if I rebuild what I destroy ..." Moule IB.

zhtounteV (zhtew) pres. part. "while we seek" - seeking . The participle is adverbial, possibly forming a temporal clause, as NIV, but is also possibly causal, "since / because." "Seek", possibly in the sense of "desire / hope"; "while seeking / desiring (eternally) to be set right in the faithfulness of Christ rather than works of the law."

dikaiwqhnai (diaiow) aor. pas. inf. "to be justified" - to be set right / judged right [before God]. Complementary infinitive to the main verb "seek". See Gal.2:16.

en + dat. "in [Christ]" - Local, space / sphere, incorporative union; "in union with Christ." By means of which union we die with Christ (our sins are covered by his sacrifice) and rise to new life with Christ.

euJreqhmen (euJriskw) aor. pas. "it becomes evident that / we Jews find" - we were found [also ourselves to be sinners]. "To speak of intellectual discovery based on observation", BAGD. The passive needs to be noted, as does the punctiliar action (rather than past tense) of the aorist, so "we ourselves are perceived to be sinners". The "we" is in transition, since Paul moves to the autobiographical "I" in v18. None-the-less, the "we" can still include Peter, as well as the judaizers. All believing Jews would accept the doctrinal truth of v17, and if they happen to apply it, their piety may well be viewed with suspicion. Mind you, those doing the viewing / perceiving would obviously be the judaizers. Of the statement itself, it is difficult to determine whether it is of fact, or contra to fact. Most commentators take it as a factual statement - a believer who is grace orientated will be lax when it comes to the law, certainly with regard ritual regulations - circumcision, .... = "sinners" in name only, and this particularly so for Gentile believers. Yet, it is more likely that the statement is contra to fact, as far as Paul is concerned, although not as far as the judaizers are concerned.

autoi pro. "ourselves" - Serving as an emphatic intensifier.

aJmartwloi (oV) "sinners" - Nominative complement of autoi, "selves = ourselves"; "we find ourselves sinners." Here in the particular sense of "neglecting the strict regulations of the Mosaic law."

ara "does that mean that" - then. A marker of a negative response to questions, usually implying anxiety or impatience - 'indeed, then, ever.' "how, then, could Christ ever be a servant of sin?"* Not all commentators read this particle as interrogative, but rather inferential, so Moule IB; "it follows that Christ has acted as the servant of Sin!", Bligh. An interrogative (question) sense seems best.

aJmartiaV (a) gen. "[does this mean that Christ] promotes sin?" - [is Christ a servant] of sin? The genitive is possible adjectival, attributed, "a sinful servant", although usually taken as verbal, objective, as NIV. As with this verse as a whole, interpretations of this clause are legion. As stated above, the clause probably reflects the charge against Paul that by preaching an antinomian gospel and living himself as a "Gentile sinner" (ritually impure), he has, because of his position as an apostle, implicated Christ in his sin; "he has, in effect, turned Christ into one who condones and even facilitates sin, rather than combating it!", Martyn. As such, the clause evidences the charge against Paul that having "abandoned the covenant" he had become "a promoter of apostasy - a scandalous idea to those who believed that the Messiah was to be sinless. Proof positive was Paul's willingness to allow Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles to partake of the same (non-kosher) food!", Garlington. Betz suggests the following line: If, as the judaizers claim that "Gentile Christians are .... still sinners until they come under the Torah, then Christ has in fact become a servant of sin", see above.

mh genoito (ginomai) opt. "Absolutely not!" - The optative usually expresses a wish, "may it not be so" = "God forbid!" Serving as a response to a rhetorical question.

 
v18

"For, as the incident in Antioch reveals, the way in which I show myself to be a transgressor would be to rebuild the walls of the Law that I have torn down", Martyn.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining the reason why it is "absolutely" not true that Paul's antinomist gospel promotes sin. The truth is, nomism promotes sin. Look at the Antioch situation. "Absolutely not! For [as the incident in Antioch reveals] the way in which I would show myself to be a transgressor ......"

ei "if" - Introducing a conditional sentence, 1st class, where the stated condition is assumed to be true; "if, as the case is, I were to rebuild ..... then ....."

palin oikodomw (oikodomew) 1st. sing. pres. "I rebuild" - again I build up. Both "rebuild" and "destroy" are words related to the construction of a structure, here possibly of an enclosure. The first person is often regarded as inclusive (a rhetorical feature), but it is likely Paul has himself in mind since he is the one whose application of justification is being criticized. Possibly a tendential present expressing a contemplated action; "if I start building up again .....", REB.

aJ pro. "what [I destroyed]" - that which. Accusative direct object of the verb "to destroy." Namely, the law as a means of maintaining and progressing God's work of setting things right. "If I try to rebuild again the whole structure of justification by the law", Phillips.

katelusa (kataluw) aor. "I destroyed" - I annulled, annihilated, destroyed. The aorist serves to underline the punctiliar nature of the action. Better to take the sense "dismantled", obviously referring to the law/Torah. See below, "died to the law", for the possible ways the law is "annulled" for Paul. "The law that I have torn down", Martyn.

sunistanw (sunisthmi) pres. "I prove / then I really would be" - I demonstrate, show, present [myself]. Possibly "show myself to be a sinner", but probably stronger, "constitute myself a transgressor", Weymouth; "make myself a sinner", Phillips; "then indeed I do put myself in the position of a law-beaker", Bruce.

parabathn (hV) "a lawbreaker" - a transgressor, one who disobeys the law. Complement of the object emauton, "myself", serving in a double accusative construction; "I show myself a transgressor." Equivalent to "sinner", being outside God's grace, a state caused by a reliance on the law, which reliance serves to inculcate the curse of the law and thus undermine God's work of setting all things right. "The way in which I would really prove myself a sinner would be by rebuilding .....", Barclay.

 
v19

iii] In the law we die, in Christ we live. God's promised blessing of new life, which is part of his setting all things right, is fully realized in us through our identification with the faithful obedience of Christ on the cross, and this apart from the law, v19-20.

Paul has answered the charge against him that in preaching an antinomian gospel and living as "a Gentile sinner", he has, because of his standing as an apostle, implicated Christ in his apostasy. As far as Paul is concerned, he has done the opposite, he has glorified Christ through his "apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles", Rom.1:5. The nomists' approach to the law actually undermines new life in Christ by promoting sinful living, while his approach to the law promotes the realization of the Abrahamic promises. Now, in v19, Paul outlines the central element of his thesis, namely, that justification, of itself, promotes the Christian life. A believer, who is dead to the law and now rests on the righteousness that is theirs in Christ, slowly becomes the person they are in Christ, they begin to live for God and experience the fullness of new life in the kingdom - "the unsearchable riches of Christ", v19. In v20 Paul explains this truth, how it is that a believer, who is no longer under the law, ends up living the new life in Christ. A believer who rests wholly ("by faith") on the righteousness they possess in Christ, has died with Christ and risen with Christ. Their old life of sin is covered by Christ's sacrificial death, and in the power of the risen and indwelling Christ they begin to "live" as the righteous person they are in Christ, v20 (note Paul's autobiographical approach).

At this point Paul demonstrates his understanding of Biblical theology. God's covenant with Abraham, the promise of a people, a place and a blessing to the world, is the promise of a kingdom, the kingdom of God. Israel's error was to assume that for a person to maintain and progress their covenant compliant status (right, justified) it was necessary for them to obey the law of Moses, but in fact, a person's appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant rest on God's covenant mercy (grace), his faithfulness toward his promises, appropriated, as it was for Abraham, by faith. The fulfillment of the promise, of a kingdom "at hand", is realized in Christ, in whose life the believer stands, dying with Christ and rising with Christ. So, a believer, having been judged covenant compliant on the basis of the faithfulness of Christ, now freely shares in the promised blessings of kingdom membership (eg. a new heart within, Jer.31:33), all of which rests on God's covenant mercy facilitated in the faithfulness of Christ and appropriated through faith and not works of the law.

 

gar "for" - for. Here more reason than cause, teasing out v18.

dia + gen. "through [the law]" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means. Referring to the intention and function of the law to expose our loss before God and thus drive us to him for mercy, 3:19-25. Possibly causal, "because of the law", although instrumental is more likely.

egw "I [died]" - The personal pronoun takes an emphatic position in the sentence. Paul continues the personal defense of his theological position, although the situation he describes is obviously inclusive of all believing Jews.

apeqanon (apoqnhskw) aor. "I died [to the law]" - Used figuratively of ending contact with something and thus being rescued or released from its dominion and control. The possible meanings offered below indicate the difficulty we face in trying to resolve Paul's intended sense. All options reflect Biblical truth, although with qualifications, eg. option [v], it should be noted that even the most legalist Jew would reject the notion that obedience to the law gains salvation. God's election of Israel is wholly of his grace; keeping in with that grace is another matter; and option [iv], the law always remains a guide to the Christian life. Option [i] has the most going for it given Paul's argument in 3:19-24, ie. "for by the law I was condemned to death":

  i] Released from the condemnation of the law by identification with Christ who, by his acceptance of the punishment due our sin, exhausted its penalty, cf. Tannehill. "The law released me from its servitude by condemning Christ, making itself guilty, and so losing the right to condemn", Bligh.

  ii] Released from the curse of the law in the sense of Israel's exile; cf. 3:10-14. The new perspective approach. With this argument, Paul doesn't devalue the Law/Torah, rather he makes the distinction that for the covenant people of Israel, their disobedience of the Torah has enacted the curse of exile, thus the Jews are lost before God, lost to the blessings promised to Abraham. When Christ, the messiah of Israel took upon himself the curse of the law, the covenant was renewed and the curse lifted. Those children of Abraham who take up the faith of Abraham and rely on Jesus the messiah are released from the curse of the law and so share in the promised blessing of life.

  iii] Released from the law's purpose to expose sin. "The law condemned me [in order to lead me to Christ for mercy] so that I might live for God." The law enlivens sin and thus condemnation, that we might access mercy. "The law showed him his need of redemption and referred him to faith", Zahn / Bruce.

  iv] Released from the control of the law. "Freedom from the jurisdiction of the Mosaic law for the living of our lives", Longenecker. "In obedience to the law I set the law aside", Bligh. Replaced by a life lived "in Christ", Bruce. "My very attempt to obey the law compelled me in the end to live a life in which the law has for me become a dead letter", Barclay;

  v] Released from "the law as a valid instrument through which one is put right with God", TH. "Died to the law as a way of salvation and turned to Christ", Hunter.

nomw/ (oV) dat. "to the law" - to law. Dative of reference, "I died in relation to / with respect to the Mosaic law", or sphere, or even interest, disadvantage.

iJna + subj. "that [I might live]" - Usually translated as introducing a purpose clause; "in order that .." Ridderbos opts for a consecutive clause (result) and this does seem more likely, so, we die to the one and as a result we live to the other. Moule notes that there is a rational link between "died to law / sin / world" and "live to God". This link is developed in v20. It seems likely then, taking v19 and 20 together, that Paul is saying something like "in the law we are condemned, but in Christ we live." There is a rational link between the two ideas, but it is not actually final/telic, or causal.

zhsw (zaw) subj. "I might live" - "Live" in what sense? Certainly live in the sense of "living for God", so ethical, but also referring to the spiritual state of "new life in Christ", even life in the sense of "eternal life". Betz suggests that both ideas are contained in Paul's "live" - expressing "soteriology as well as ethics". In Paul's later letters he describes this gift of life in the terms of "the unsearchable riches of Christ", Eph.3:8, cf. Eph.1:18, 2:7, Phil.4:19, Col.1:27. "That we might live a God-consecrated life", Ridderbos.

qew/ (oV) dat. "for God" - to God. Dative of interest, advantage.

 
v20

"It is no longer I who live, but rather Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith, that is to say in the faith (thus "faithfulness") of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up to death for me", Martyn.

sunestaurwmai (sustaurow) perf. pas. "I have been crucified with [Christ]" - The prefix sun giving the sense of "in association with / in company with." The perfect tense indicating a completed past event with ongoing ramifications. As noted above, the "I" serves to personalize the debate, but is inclusive of believing Jews, and by extension, ingrafted Gentile believers (not so Sanders, Dunn...!). It does seem likely that the phrase exegetes "I died to the law", as if a parallel statement, so see above for possible interpretations. "We share Christ's death to the old order under the law."

Cristw/ dat. "Christ" - Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to be crucified with."

de "-" - but, and. Used three times in the opening section of this verse probably indicating steps in the argument rather than as an adversative "but".

zw (zaw) pres. "I [no longer] live" - Again we have the problem of what "life" is intended; is it "alive", NJB, or is an ethical sense intended, referring to the manner in which we live? Probably all aspects of the new life in Christ is intended. Ethics is certainly included, so Paul's life was once controlled by the law, now by the indwelling compelling of the Spirit of Christ.

en + dat. "[Christ lives] in [me]" - Local, expressing space/sphere, incorporative union.

oJ acc. rel. pro. "the life [I live]" - [and] that which [now I live]. Accusative of content / introducing a relative clause object of the verb "to live." Probably Lightfoot is to be followed; Paul is speaking of the particular life a believer lives in their day-to-day life through the power of the indwelling Spirit, a life that is lived by a reliance on the transforming power of Christ. "This life I now live (driven by the indwelling compelling of the Spirit of Christ), though still in the flesh,", cf. Bligh.

en + dat. "in [the body]" - in [flesh]. Expressing space/sphere.

en + dat. "[I live] by [faith]" - [I live] in [faith]. Here usually regarded as instrumental, as NIV, but local seems better; "in the faithfulness [of Christ]"

th/ fem. dat. article. "-" - that [of the Son of God, the one having loved me ........]. The article serves as an adjectivizer introducing a relative clause limiting "faith / faithfulness"; "I live ("the new life" that is God's putting all things right) in my identification with (local dative) the faithfulness [of Christ]" that of the Son of God ......"

tou uiJou (oV) gen. "in the Son" - of the Son. The NIV takes the genitive as verbal, objective, but if "that faithfulness of the Son of God", then either subjective, or possessive, as above.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. "Son of God" serves as a title of Christ, so "I rest on Christ's faithfulness, the Son of God, who ....."

tou agaphsantoV (agapaw) aor. part. "who loved [me]" - the one having loved. The participle, as with "having given himself", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Son of God", as NIV.

uJper + gen. "for [me]" - The preposition here takes the sense representation / advantage, "on behalf of", possibly substitution, "in place of."

 
v21

iv] The law was never intended to facilitate the new life of a person set right with God. If that were the case, Christ died for nothing. v21.

Paul now rounds off his argument by categorically stating that his gospel, with its limited role for the law, does not set aside the "grace of God", ie. God's kindness in giving his people the blessing of covenant law. The simple reason being that the law was never intended as the mechanism for maintaining or advancing covenant standing, nor accessing the totality of the covenant promises. Such is attained by faith, a faith like Abraham's, faith in the promised mercy of God realized in the faithful obedience of Christ. To claim otherwise implies that "Christ died for nothing!"

 

ouk aqetw pres. "I do not set aside" - I do not set aside, reject, nullify, despise, declare invalid. For example, used of an inspector rejecting grain that is not fit for human consumption. Paul is possibly making the point that in devaluing the law he doesn't set aside the kindness ("grace") of God in his provision of the law, for the law was never given to facilitate justification. If it were, then Christ's crucifixion was pointless.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the grace] of God. The genitive is probably ablative, expressing source / origin; the grace / favor that comes from God.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul does not set aside the grace of God by devaluing covenant law.

ei + ind. "if" -The verb is assumed, "could be gained." Paul again uses a 1st class form of conditional clause, where the stated condition in the protasis (the "if" clause") is assumed to be true; "if, as the case is ...... then ....." Of course its not true, although it was thought to be true by the nomists, so the function of the conditional clause is that of a 2nd. class condition / contrary to fact. "If the totality of being set right could be maintained and advanced through obedience to the law, then ..."

dikaiosunh "righteousness" - Nominative subject of a verbless clause. We see again the ease with which Paul assimilates the idea of being "right before God" and of possessing "life" before God ("live to God", "Christ who lives in me", .... v20), such that new life in Christ encapsulates the totality of being set right before God - the act of setting right and its product are one. Of course, this is not so for the judaizers who see the product earned by law-obedience.

dia + gen. "through [the law]" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means. Obviously in the sense of by works of the law, so "through obedience to the law."

ara "-" - then. Inferential / introducing a logical conclusion; "then, as a result, ....

dwrean adv. "for nothing" - freely = in vain. Adverb of manner. Here a once only use in the NT.. of the meaning, "to no purpose / for nothing / gratuitously." "Christ might well not have died", Barclay.

 

Galatians Introduction.

Exposition

 

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