Galatians 2:15-19



A quote to Peter and the church begins here.

Jews have an advantage:  Rm. 3:1,2    9:4,5

Even this advantage can not save the Jews

John the Baptist dealt with this attitude in Luke 3:8,

      “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’  For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.’”

It is pointless and hopeless to establish Judaism as the foundation for Christianity.



Key verse in Galatians.  This verse is a short outline of the rest of the book.

First use of the words:

            - Justify

            - Law

            - Faith

“Justify” is “dikaioo” and is a word from the court system.

            -  It means to “declare righteous or innocent”           

            -  It is the opposite of being declared guilty or be condemned

 In Western courts of law the sentence must be in accord with the facts in a case.  No judge can clear the guilty and condemn the innocent.  This is justice.  This principle is found in Deuteronomy 15:1,        

            “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and    the judges will decide the case, acquitting (justify) the innocent and condemn the            guilty.” 


Romans 3:25-26, “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,   through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his            forbearance he had left the sin committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”


Basis for our justification:

            1)  We are New Creatures                   2 Cor. 5:17

            2)  We are the righteousness of God  1 Cor.1:30; 2 Cor.5:21

            3)  We are perfected                           Heb. 10:14

            4)  We have received the fullness of Christ  Jn.1:16; Col.1:19; Col. 2:9, 10

2:16 (continued)

The standard on which justification is won or lost is righteousness and that righteousness has to be equal to  God’s.

All men fall short of the glory (character) of God.  Rm. 3:23

God imputes divine righteousness to those who believe


Imputation means to “reckon over to one” or “to set down to one’s account.”  It is illustrated in Philemon 17,18 when Paul tells his friend Philemon to charge Paul’s account for the things the slave Onesumus had stolen.

There are three imputations in scripture:

            1)  Man is charge with sin when Adam sinned Rom. 5:11

            2)  Jesus Christ was charged with sin and all of our sins. (“sin” is our position or nature.  “Sins” are our acts from that sinful position.)Isaiah 53:4,6

            3)  The righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers 2 Cor. 5:21; Rm. 1:16,17


It is not an ethical change but a judicial action of God apart from human merit

God justifies but only as he unites people to Christ.  Union with Christ can only occur through faith.

Faith is the method (means) of justification, not the source

Faith must be based in knowledge so it is not blind

Faith is built on facts, so it is not speculation

Faith place s the hope of life on its decision, so it is not impractical


“We, too, have put our faith in Christ”  Faith is more than knowledge.  Faith is the result of trusting the knowledge on a personal level.  The example is the chair.


Faith in Christ means abandoning faith in law

      Ou     dikaioutai    anqrwpuV    ex      ergwn     nomou

       not     justified             man           by      works      of law


POINT:  There is no article “the” in the Greek so it is not talking about “The Law of Moses” but any work of law.


This verse uses justified three times:  

            General:  A man is not justified by law

            Personal: We (Paul, Peter) have put faith in Christ to be justified.

            Universal:  No one will be justified by observing law.



“If”  (“ei”) is in the first class condition

Paul had to deal with arguments against Saved by Faith or as it is called here, “Justified by faith.”  This stands in direct contrast to the “Justified by law.”   

If a person sins after being justified. . .

            1)  Does that mean Christ is OK with sin?

            2)  People can sin because they are saved?

            3)  Sinning helps prove the power of our salvation?

Paul’s answer: “Absolutely not”


This topic comes up again in 5:13-16:

            “You, my brothers were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather,. Serve one another in love.  The           entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”


Paul addresses this in Romans 6:1 and 6:15:

            “What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?. . .What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under         grace?  By no  means!”


True justification occurs with “faith in Christ.”  This is a phrase used often by Paul and indicates a union between the person and Christ.  The believer is said to be “in Christ.”


If a person accepts “justification by faith in Christ” and rejects “justification by law”, Paul writes, “does that mean Christ promotes sin?”  Meaning, if Christ does not emphasize obedience to the law is he not just saying sin does not matter?  A false conclusion is obvious to many people at first when they understand that Christ made a way for us to be justified with out our being obedient to laws.  The false conclusion is that “Christ promotes sin.”  The word “promote” is the word “diakonos” where we get our word “deacon”.  It means “servant; minister; deacon.”


When Paul writes, “it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners” he is referring to “we” Jews. 


In verse 15 Paul broke people into two classes: 

1)  Jews by birth,   

 2)  Gentile sinners.  


Now Paul is rejecting any power in the law to save and encouraging the Jews to forsake obedience to the law and run to Christ.  Paul is saying the law can not save Jews from sin and even thought they have the Law of Moses they are still sinners.  As they turn to Christ for justification they are exposing their sinful condition by rejecting the law and thus admitting their hypocrisy. 


Legalistic justification is fiction

Justification (in the court room use) by faith in Christ is a real decision by the judge (GOD)


People are accepted by God as righteous because God has joined them to Christ.  They are in Christ and so they have been transformed in position.


Verse 18 “If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a law breaker.”


“If” is in the third class which is the hypothetical case.


“Rebuild” means “to declare valid.”


Destroy” means “to deprive of force; to tear down; to destroy, to annul.”


“lawbreaker” is not “hamartolos” for “one who is disobedient to the letter of the law, but is “parabates and speaks of one who      disregards the ethical spirit of the law and emphasizes the person who is legalistically obedient to the law but misses             the meaning and purpose of the law.


Paul is saying “If, hypothetically, I Paul, choose to return  (“rebuild”)  to a system of law I have already declared is worthless ( “destroy”) I simply prove that I am one who disregards the spirit or the ultimate purpose of the law.”


Peter has done this very thing.  Peter admitted he needed Christ to be saved, which means the law had not previously saved him.  Then Peter after having been saved by faith in Christ returned to rebuild the law as necessary for salvation.  Peter then became a “lawbreaker” by acting in obedience to salvation through faith in Christ, but then rejecting that truth and returning to justification through the law.


Verse 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”


Paul continues in the personal tone using the personal pronoun “I” or “ego” on the Greek.

died to the law” means to have loss all relationship with the law.  Paul is no longer concerned with what law says and law no longer has any claim on Paul or power over him.  Law is not the basis of Paul’s spiritual motivation.  (When speaking of “law” it is in reference to religious ritual, and not to “the law of the land”.  Paul still sees himself as required to obey the government.”


Verse 20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”


Paul’s death to the law occurred when he entered Christ.  Paul did not go through a “death” process or ritual.  To accept Christ means to have severed all relationship with legalistic law.


POINT:  When Jews become “sinners” by rejecting a legalistic righteousness from a law they have died to the law.  The result is that they now can embrace Jesus work and be justified by faith in Christ.  They do not reject the law and embrace sin.


Concepts One:

            1.  Reject the law as a means of salvation (“become sinner”0

            2.  You are free to embrace Christ for salvation.

            3.  Result:  You are dead to law but alive to Christ


Concept Two:

            1.  Reject the law as means of salvation.

            2.  You are free from the law so there are no rules.

            3.  Result:  You can sin freely.


Verse 20  “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”





Verse 21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”