Galatians 2:16-21
 
Gal 2:16 (KJB)
Knowing that a man is not (1) justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be (2) justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be (3) justified.
 
Knowing - Know fully or understand
(1) Justified - This word “justified” in this first usage is in the middle voice which means that man would have a part in his justification.
(2) Justified - The second “justified” is in the passive voice which means that justification would come from an outside source and man
      would receive justification without any effort or works on his part.
(3) Justified - The third usage is in the future tense and passive voice. Here it speaks of the fact that no one will ever be justified by the
      works of the law, even in the future because justification is passive, in which man only receives it.
 
(Phil 3:9 KJV) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: The first part of Galatians 2:16 deals with the fact that no person on earth will ever be able to be justified in the sight of God by attempting to keep the works of the law. In Philippians 3:9 we read the same principle being taught. There it states that those who try to keep the law are doing it out of their own righteousness and, of course, no one will be able to keep the law perfectly for salvation since we are all tainted with sin. Then, both Galatians 2:16 and Philippians 3:9 goes on to state that we are justified by the faith of Christ.
The modern versions have changed this to a man centered faith:
 
(NIV) know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
 
(ESV) yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
 
(HCSB) yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.
 
These three modern versions basically represent all the modern man-centered versions. They show that a person must put faith in Christ for their justification. However, that would not fit in well with the second and third usage of justification in this verse, since it is in the passive voice, which means man has no input at all into his salvation except to receive it. Let us look at the word in the Greek:
 
Textus Receptus
eidoteV oti ou dikaioutai anqrwpoV ex ergwn nomou ean mh dia pistewV ihsou cristou kai hmeiV eiV criston ihsoun episteusamen ina dikaiwqwmen ek pistewV cristou kai ouk ex ergwn nomou dioti ou dikaiwqhsetai ex ergwn nomou pasa sarx
 
Hort-Westcott
eidoteV de oti ou dikaioutai anqrwpoV ex ergwn nomou ean mh dia pistewV cristou ihsou kai hmeiV eiV criston ihsoun episteusamen ina dikaiwqwmen ek pistewV cristou kai ouk ex ergwn nomou oti ex ergwn nomou ou dikaiwqhsetai pasa sarx
 
I have emboldened the word for Christ in both texts. The King James Bible follows the Textus Receptus and the modern versions follow the Hort-Westcott text. If you look you will see that both words are identical. (cristou) Let me write it out in English. (Christou) The word ends with “u.” In the Greek this is called the “genitive case” which is the case of possession. You will see that the word is spelled alike in both texts, yet the modern versions deny the fact of the genitive case. Instead, they make it a dative which makes Christ the object of our faith. This is not taught in this Scripture portion. The modern version translators either made a big blunder or they intentionally changed it to make man the initiator of salvation.
Now to the phrase “faith of Christ.” We know that the Bible does teach that we do have faith in Christ but there is an order here. (Col 2:5 KJV) For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. We cannot have faith in Christ until we are given the faith of Christ. What is the faith of Christ? (Heb 12:2 KJV) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. In Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus is both the author and finisher of our faith. The faith of Christ encompasses all aspects of salvation from the beginning to the end as He is the beginning and finisher of faith. The faith of Christ is imputed to the believer and then the believer has the ability to make Christ the object of his faith. Before a person is saved, they are spiritually dead and are not able to create regenerating faith of any kind.
A person must be given salvation from God which means they are now made alive and with that salvation, comes the fruit of the Spirit and one of those fruits is faith. (Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, We are justified by the faith of Christ because Christ was the end of the law to all those who believe. (Rom 10:4 KJV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. When we speak of the faith of Christ we are speaking about the all encompassing salvation which the true believers receive from God. When looking at the “faith of Christ” it is also important to note that the faith of Christ is not the type of faith where Christ is believing something or else it would be a verb. It is a noun which means it is a person, place, or thing. The faith of Christ is the thing which brings about salvation in the believer and once that faith of Christ is planted in the believer, they will then have the ability to believe, which would be the verb form.
 
Gal 2:17 (KJB)
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.
 
Now Paul reverts back to the situation at hand concerning law versus faith. The Jews no doubt were wondering that if they were no longer required to keep the law of Moses, would not that cause sin? They then went on to ask that if the law was now abandoned, would that make Christ the minister or servant of sin? Paul gives an emphatic no, because Christ is not the minister of sin, He is the destroyer of sin. These Jews were wondering if they lived without the law does that mean basically anything goes? Paul stopped that belief in its tracks. This is because these Jews were fighting against or they did not fully understand justification by grace alone. It was probably a mixture of both.
 
Gal 2:18 (KJB)
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
 
Destroyed - Do away with or bring to an end
Transgressor - Violator in line with self-righteousness
 
Paul now makes another significant statement in that if he builds again on what he destroyed, then he too would be a sinner or transgressor. What he is saying here is that the law cannot save anyone and no one can be justified by the law. If Paul tries to be righteous according to the law and not according to free grace, then he too, will be like the unsaved Jews who still cling to their own righteousness under the law. This would mean he would have no justified standing before God but would still be subject to eternal damnation. Notice how Paul states that he would make himself a transgressor. This goes back to the reality that one who tries to keep the law is attempting to exercise their own righteousness, which unsaved man does not have. A person becomes righteous only through the grace of God.
 
Gal 2:19 (KJB)
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
 
Here is a verse which looks like a mystery verse. Paul is stating that through the law he is dead to the law. Well, what law would cause Paul to be dead to the law. (Gal 6:2 KJV) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. In Galatians 6:2, we are told of the law of Christ which has to do with loving our neighbor and helping. One can only engage in the law of Christ if they are truly saved. So Paul is stating that through the law of Christ, he is dead to the law of Moses for the purpose of justification. In the law of Moses there were laws which gave help to people but Paul is stating that helping people from a Mosaic background will not yield salvation. Helping people from a grace salvation footing is a fruit of salvation. We can only live unto God when we are spiritually regenerated, otherwise known as saved and that by grace alone. The law has its own righteousness and grace has its own righteousness.
 
Gal 2:20 (KJB)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; 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 here speaks about being crucified with Christ. He is speaking in terms of the law being at an end for those who believe. (Rom 10:4 KJV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. When Christ went to the cross, he nailed all our sins and trespasses to the cross. (Col 2:13-14 KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; Now Paul is stating that being crucified with Christ, he suffered death but that death had caused him to live. Why? It was the death to the law of Moses for salvation. Then he goes on to say that he is living, yet it is not his life he is living but Christ who is living in him. While he is living in the flesh in this world, he lives it through the power of the faith of the Son of God. This means that Paul’s life is not his own. Remember, the faith of Christ is the all encompassing salvation that God bestows upon His Elect. So this is how Paul is living, by justification through grace alone. The Holy Spirit indwells every true believer and this is how Christ lives in every true believer as He lived in Paul. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us so He could grant us eternal salvation. Every true believer lives on the footing of grace which is imputed to the believer.
 
Gal 2:21 (KJB)
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
 
Frustrate - Nullify, disregard, or make void
Vain - Without cause or without reason
 
The actions of Peter and Barnabas along with the other Jewish believers had nullified the truth of God’s grace. If one can attain salvation by keeping the law, then Christ died without reason. Why would He give His life if it were possible to attain salvation some other way? The truth of the matter is that salvation cannot be attained except through Christ by free grace. Paul is warning people not to try and amalgamate the law of Moses with justification by grace alone. Christ died for the reason that no one could keep the law perfectly so Christ had to come from heaven and die for His Elect which would have been the fulfilling of God’s Holy Law for whomever Christ imputed that righteousness to. Nothing in the kingdom of God is ever done without reason.

Back