Galatians 2:19-20


2:19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

These verses teach a mysterious unity between Christ and the believer:

  • I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20)
  • Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)

Please refer to the “In Christ” page for a discussion of this mysterious unity.  The conclusion on that page is that Christ is the Vehicle through which we are saved.  He “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (1:4).  Without Christ there would not have been any rescue.

2:19-20 use death and new life as metaphors to explain the radical change in Paul’s life.  He previously lived a life subject to the Law, but he has now “died to the Law” (2:19).  He was “crucified with Christ” (2:20).  “Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live … I live by faith in the Son of God”.

Paul also uses the metaphor “died to the Law” in Romans 7:4, where it is explained as:

released from the Law … so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (7:6).

To die to the Law therefore means not to have to serve the “in oldness of the letter”.  In other words, obedience to the Law is no longer required.  This is consistent with the veiled implications in the two preceding verses that the Law is no longer applicable.  Both the references to Christ as “a minister of sin” and the reference to something which Paul “destroyed” (2:18) are interpreted above as referring to the fact that Gentile Christians do not have to obey the Law of Moses.

Paul died “through the Law” to the law.  This means that the Law itself predicted the death of the Law, and is a point that Paul often makes to support his teachings:

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets” (Rom. 3:21).

… the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1-2).

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU” (Gal. 3:8, quoting Gen. 12:3).

The “Law” is not limited to the law of commandments, but refers to the Old Testament in general or the five books of Moses more specifically.  For instance, Romans 3:21 refers to the “Law and the Prophets”.  In that case the Law is the five books of Moses.  And in 4:21 and following Paul recalls the story of Abraham and his two wives from the “Law”.

Paul also claims that “Christ lives in me” (2:20).  We are “in Christ”, but Christ is also “in me”.  These are two different concepts.  To “have the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9) means that “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9). This means to be “led by the Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18).  Created beings do not exist independently from their Creator.  We need God to continually sustain us.  Sin has severed out link with God, but God wants repair it.

In the “new heaven and … new earth” (Rev. 21:1) “God … will dwell among them (men), and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (Rev. 21:3).  Perhaps that will be literally true, but perhaps it means that the invisible bond between the Creator and His creatures will be completely repaired, guiding man’s every thought and motive for good, because God is good.

The Son of God … loved me and gave Himself up for me” (2:20).  Some people seem to think that Jesus loves His creatures, but the Father needs to be convinced by the death of His Son to forgive our sins.  However, 1:3-4 also says that that “Jesus Christ … gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age”, but then adds “according to the will of our God and Father” (1:3-4).  John 3:16 is a well-known verse that says that the Father is the Driving Force of Love behind the Cross.  We should not think of Christ and the Father as separate or different.  Christ said: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  That God was willing to become a human being and even to allow His creatures to kill Him, because that was the only way that He could “rescue us from this present evil age”, indicates how much God loves the people He made.

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