Friday, 11 March 2016
For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. Galatians 2:19
“For” is given as Paul’s continued thought on verse 17. He gave a hypothetical for the consideration of Peter and the other Jews who were falling back on the observance of the law in verse 18. Now he gives a true life example of what should be the reality of the situation for a true Christian. In his words, “I” is emphatic. In other words, after the hypothetical, he speaks of himself in the matter.
“I through the law died to the law.” There is much debate over the meaning of these words. Some scholars suppose that he is speaking of the new faith in Christ, and so in essence, “By the new law (or faith), I have died to the other.” In other words, “My adherence to Christianity has caused me to cast away my adherence to the law.” Other scholars see this as a consideration of the true nature of the Law of Moses. In contemplating its true nature and design, he had become dead to it. He had cast away any hope of being justified by it, knowing that by the law, no man could be justified in God’s sight.
However, the next verse actually explains what Paul is thinking about. One cannot arbitrarily cast away a law which is in effect. The covenant was made; the conditions were set; and there was no chance of bargaining one’s way out of that law. As a Jew, he was obligated to it; every precept of it. However, within the writings under the law, there was the promise of a Redeemer who would come. This is now what Paul is referring to. Christ fulfilled the law and died in fulfillment of it. Thus, all who call on Christ for their justification have “died to the law.” This is so that such a person “might live to God.”
Further, within the law itself, there is a provision which removes one from the law through the penalty of death. He will allude to this in the next verse and he will expand on it in Galatians 3:10-13. This act then is what Paul is speaking of.
Paul, and any other who is represented in the same case, has died to the law through the death of Christ. In that death, the law is annulled. It no longer has power over him. Instead, Christ has dominion over that soul from that point on. For this reason, through Christ, we might live to God. Paul’s words of the coming verse explain this exactingly.
Life application: Sometimes folks try so hard to analyze the meaning of a single verse that they simply fail to look at the surrounding context. Context is king when interpreting what a verse is trying to tell us. We need to know who is being spoken to, under what dispensation it is being spoken, and what the words around the verse(s) that we are looking at are directed to. Keep things in context and make all evaluations of this precious word with careful, thoughtful, and proper consideration.
Heavenly Father! I am overwhelmed by Your goodness to us. How can we not look at the magnificent world which you have created and not see wisdom, care, and love? Puppies give us love when we are down; squirrels give us a smile as they twirl around the trees; birds flitter about and delight our minds with their skillful ability. We can see wisdom in the spider’s web, and we can find enjoyment in how the kitty cat musingly ponders the world around it. Thank You for the wonderful delight and variety of life around us! Your wisdom is on display; Your care is evident; and Your love surrounds us! Thank You, O God, Amen.