Justification Byfaith In verse 15, Paul writes, We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners” Paul seems to be telling his gentile reader that the Torah has no bearing on their salvation. I feel that he purposely or inadvertently gives the law merit more merit than intended by suggesting that Jews are not sinners because they received the law. He draws a distinction between himself and “the gentile sinners” yet he is telling his audience that the ways, some of which are still a part of his own way of life, are irrelevant. He seems to almost make a separation of culture and religion. He seems to be saying that the rectitude of the Jews dates from birth, because the Jewish religion is a part of their culture.
Peter claims to live up to the requirements of the Law. He had circumcision, the covenant, the promises, the apostleship. But in spite of his advantages as a Jew he still lets readers know that the law alone cannot save them. Verse 16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” this is one of the clearest definitions in Scripture regarding the way in which we can become justified. Here in Galatians 2:16, justification deals with the fact that we cannot be justified – or given good standing before God – through our obedience to the Law of Moses.
According to Paul, it must be given to us by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ. Verse 16 “Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by doing the works of the law.” The later part of verse 16 shows how much Paul has dedicated his work to the concept of justification by faith. Some would say that the reason for his adamant insistance of faith in Christ is related to his vision on the way to Damascus. It was such an incredible experience that he felt that every one needed to know that it was by faith alone that they could be justified. As a devout Jew he had followed the Law his entire life and felt it important that people know that in spite of his doing all the works of the Torah he was not justified before his vision. Verse 17.” But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners; is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” Some critics of this passage would argue that there are two sets of behavior standards given for Christian and Jews.
In order to obtain salvation in Jewish faith one must follow the rule of like and ceremony. In order that a Christian obtain salvation they must only believe in Christ. Some were worried that this new religion would be saturated by people who wanted to commit acts against the law and still be saved because they professed to believe in Christ. The concept of grace and mercy was a foreign one and harsh judgment was a reality of the day. The other part of this verse was, is Christ a master of sin? Paul knew that some would argue that if all Christian had to do was believe that Christ must be a proponent of sin because he didn’t threaten any penalty comparable to that of the old testament. Paul inserted that Christ was certainly not a master of sin.
The Martin Luther commentary of Galatians states ” All who say that faith alone in Christ does not justify a person, convert Christ into a minister of sin, a teacher of the Law, and a cruel tyrant who requires the impossible. All merit-seekers take Christ for a new lawgiver. ” Martin Luther is saying that if Christ had required more than belief he would be a Minister of sin because that much pressure on people is cruelty. He also wrote in is commentary; “The Law drives us away from God, but Christ reconciles God unto us, for He is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. Now if the sin of the world is taken away, it is taken away from me.
If sin is taken away, the wrath of God and His condemnation are also taken away. Let us practice this blessed conviction. ” The concept of God’s wrath being taken away is interesting and beautiful. This notion of Agape being practiced by God is important to me as a Christian because then I in turn seek to practice the same type of forgiveness in my life. Verse 18.
“For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” Paul’s reiteration of Grace and Mercy is especially pronounced in this passage. Paul is saying that he is not simply repackaging the law. He wants us to know that this is truly a new “covenant with Gods people. This is an all-encompassing love for all people that would believe in him. No string attached. Paul is saying that if he were to simply re-present the law that he would be wasting his time.
He is also saying that he himself would be guilty of some sin if those were his intentions. Verse 19. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” “Here Paul plays the Law against the Law, as if to say the Law of Moses condemns me; but I have another law, the law of grace and liberty which condemns the accusing Law of Moses. On first sight Paul seems to be advancing a strange and ugly heresy. He says, I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. The false apostles said the very opposite.
They said, If you do not live to the law, you are dead unto God. Paul imparts upon his readers the importance of being fully committed to this covenant by going so far as to “die” to the law. He wants Christians to view the law as a prison of old. His writing would indicate that if followers of Christ leave the old covenant in the past and embrace the new system of justification implemented by Christ, the will experience a new level of freedom. Verse 20. “I am crucified with Christ.” Paul is saying that we as Christians must recognize and embrace the entire experience of Christ.
If we are to be resurrected and given new life through Christ we must also be crucified with Christ. This crucifixion may be could be any type of discomfort that we may suffer as a result of our belief in Christ. “Paul does not here speak of crucifying the flesh, but he speaks of that higher crucifying wherein sin, devil, and death are crucified in Christ and in me. By my faith in Christ I am crucified with Christ. Hence these evils are crucified and dead unto me.” Verse 20.
“Nevertheless I live.” Some scholars say would say that in this portion of Paul’s writing that the Law is crucified and dead to us because we have died to the law. As a result we live although we have died to the law. Verse 20. “Yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me” Paul talks about how he lives but Christ lives in him. I feel Paul is trying to say that although all living people can say that they live, not all of them can say that Christ lives in them.
In being a Christian if we are doing Gods will then we are allowing Christ to live in and through us. Paul also discusses Christ love for him. This love that Paul discusses is not an easy concept to comprehend. He has total faith in the Son of God who gave his life for him. When a reader examines that concept it does seem reasonable that Christians not have total trust in Christ after him having given his life for each of us individually.
Again Paul presents his concept of justification by faith to his readers. Verse 21. ” I do not frustrate the grace of God for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” This passage would lead readers to believe that to not believe in Christ is to purposefully give of an opportunity for salvation. “Paul is now getting ready for the second argument of his Epistle, to the effect that to seek justification by works of the Law, is to reject the grace of God. I ask you, what sin can be more horrible than to reject the grace of God, and to refuse the righteousness of Christ? It is bad enough that we are wicked sinners and transgressors of all the commandments of God; on top of that to refuse the grace of God and the remission of sins offered unto us by Christ, is the worst sin of all, the sin of sins. ” Religion Essays.