Galatians 2:17-18 Commentary


A proper Galatians 2:17-18 commentary must take into account the context of the surrounding verses. Therefore, in this commentary, Galatians 2:16-19 is examined:

Knowing that a man is not 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 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 justified.

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.

For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

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.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:16-21

Paul says that a person is only declared righteous by God, through faith in Christ Jesus [Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:28]. A person is not declared righteous by trying to keep the Law.

He then deals with the following question:

If a person trusts God that they are righteous by faith, and whilst doing so breaks the Law, does that mean Christ has encouraged them to sin?

Paul’s answer to this question is: No! [Galatians 2:17]

He says that if Christ built (encouraged you to sin) after coming to destroy sin, then Christ would be a sinner – which is obviously false [Galatians 2:18].

Then Paul explains how it can be that you can break the Law when trusting Christ for your righteousness, while at same time Christ has not encouraged you to sin.

His explanation is that you died to the Law when you died with Christ, through baptism into Christ [Galatians 2:19, Colossians 2:11-12]. Consequently, you are not under the Law [Romans 6:14].

Since sin is the breaking of the Law [1 John 3:4], and you are not under the Law, you are therefore not able to break the Law before God

So legally, you can’t sin before God [Romans 6:1-2].

That is why Paul says that Christ does not encourage you to sin, when you trust in Him for your righteousness and leave the Law behind.


Galatians 2:17-18 Commentary: Legally, Christians can’t sin before God, because they are dead to the Law.

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