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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Christ is become of no effect unto you. You will derive no advantage from Christ. His work in regard to you is needless and vain. If you can be justified in any other way than by him, then of course you do not need him, and your adoption of the other mode is, in fact, a renunciation of him. Tindal renders this, "Ye are gone quite from Christ." The word here used katargew means, properly, to render inactive, idle, useless; to do away, to put an end to; and here it means that they had withdrawn from Christ, if they attempted to be justified by the law. They would not need him if they could be thus justified; and they could derive no benefit from him. A man who can be justified by his own obedience, does not need the aid or the merit of another; and ff it was true, as they seemed to suppose, that they could be justified by the law, it followed that the work of Christ was in vain so far as they were concerned.

Whosoever of you are justified by the law. On the supposition that any of you are justified by the law; or if, as you seem to suppose, any are justified by the law. The apostle does not say that this had in fact ever occurred; but he merely makes a supposition. If such a thing should or could occur, it would follow that you had fallen from grace.

Ye are fallen from grace. That is, this would mount to apostasy from the religion of the Redeemer, and would be in fact a rejection of the grace of the gospel. That this had ever in fact occurred among true Christians the apostle does not affirm, unless he affirmed that men can in fact be justified by the law, since he makes the falling from grace a consequence of that. But did Paul mean to teach that? Did he mean to affirm that any man in fact had been, or could be, justified by his own obedience to the law? Let his own writings answer. See especially Ro 3:20. But unless he held that, then this passage does not prove that any one who has ever been a true Christian has fallen away. The fair interpretation of the passage does not demand that. Its simple and obvious meaning is, that if a man who had been a professed Christian should be justified by his own conformity to the law, and adopt that mode of justification, then that would amount to a rejection of the mode of salvation by Christ, and would be a renouncing of the plan of justification by grace. The two systems cannot be united. The adoption of the one is, in fact, a rejection of the other. Christ will be "a whole Saviour," or none. This passage, therefore, cannot be adduced to prove that any true Christian has in fact fallen away from grace, unless it proves also that man may be justified by the deeds of the law, contrary to the repeated declarations of Paul himself. The word "grace," here, does not mean grace in the sense of personal religion; it means the system of salvation by grace, in contradistinction from that by merit or by works—the system of the gospel.

{a} "no effect" Ro 9:31,32 {b} "fallen from grace" Heb 12:15

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