YOU FALL OUT OF GRACE
THE BLESSINGS of Pauls evangel, which are our allotment in
grace, are blessings which the God of all grace, Who does not lie, promises
before times eonian (Titus 1:2b). Even as, if a blessing is out of works, it
is no longer grace (Rom.11:6b), thus also, if the enjoyment of an allotment is out
of law, it is no longer out of promise (Gal.3:18a).
Since God has
graciously granted Abraham his allotment through promise (Gal.3:18b), and since, in the
gracious blessings of the evangel, we, in principle, are of Abrahams
seed, we too, like Abrahams seed, are enjoyers of an allotment
according to promise (cf Gal.3:29). Hence, Paul further joyously declares:
you brethren, as Isaac, are children of promise (4:28; cp
The Galatians did
not realize that the law is not of faith
(Gal.3:12a). That is, they failed to recognize that law-obedience and resultant blessing,
is not of the nature merely of faith, of that in which one simply trusts in Gods
promise. The law, rather, in ones obedience to its precepts, is of the principle
that the one who does them shall be living [i.e., finding life and blessing] in
them (3:12b; cit. Lev.18:5).
Since the law is not
of faith, neither does it accord with grace (cp Rom.4:16). It has no place in
relation to the evangel brought by Paul, which bestows the transcendent grace of
justification apart from law, on all who are believing (Acts 13:39;
Christ frees us! (5:1a)
In Christ Jesus, Who
has become to us wisdom from God, besides righteousness and holiness and deliverance
(1 Cor.1:30,31), we are complete (Col.2:10). Therefore, in Him, in the
benefits afforded us through His sacrificial death, we are free from any need to be
justified in law (cf Gal.5:4). Christ is the consummation
of law for righteousness (Rom.10:4). Obeying law in order to become righteous,
is something which is quite impossible for mortals (Rom.3:9,10; 8:3,7). In spirit,
law for righteousness must ever point to Christ, in Whom alone its goal is
realized (cp Rom.8:3,4). Only in Him is that which the law sought actually
achieved. Through the one just award of Christ, lifes justifying comes into all
mankind (Rom.5:18). Through Him alone, this entire vast company shall be constituted just
While eventually, allwhether
those in the heavens or those on the earthwill be headed up in the Christ
(Eph.1:10), the Galatians were already in Christ and blessed according to the revelations
of Pauls evangel. Therefore, since the blessing of being righteous in Christ had
already been bestowed upon them, they had been liberated from any need for following
law for righteousness.
Strictly (since the
dative case is used, together with the definite article), it is, Into this
freedom Christ frees us! (5:1). This freedom, allegorically speaking, is the freedom
of being not the children of the maid, but of the free woman (4:31), which is
to say, the freedom of Isaac; the freedom of being children of promise (4:28), according
It is the freedom
of, At this season I shall come and there will be for Sarah a
son as in the case of Rebecca also [who] is having her bed of one,
Isaac, our father. For, not as yet being born or putting into practice anything good or
bad, that the purpose of God may be remaining as a choice, not out of acts, but of
Him Who is calling, it was declared to her that The greater shall be slaving
for the inferior (Rom.9:9-12).
Stand firm, then,
and be not again enthralled with the yoke of slavery. (5:1b)
In the Greek,
it is simply TO-YOKE-OF-SLAVERY. That is, we must not
become enthralled (spellbound or enslaved) by any yoke of
slavery. Yet any Christian teaching or ministry which takes the position
that the believers righteousness or at least the benefits which this righteousness
entails, are granted to him, in the last analysis, not because of what Christ has done but
because of what he himself has done, is both a deception and a yoke of slavery.
then, of which Paul speaks, for which Christ frees us, is freedom from any need even to
attempt to become righteous by works of law. We enjoy the blessings of the untraceable
riches of Christ (Eph.3:8). We are not participants in the economy of the law, and are by
no means subject to its curses. Christ reclaims us from the curse of the law,
becoming a curse for our sakes (Gal.3:13). Consequently, since God is for us, who is
against us (Rom.8:31)?
conciliated to God not through our faith in Gods Son or through our faith in His
death, but through the death of Gods Son (Rom.5:10). God did not,
reciprocally, take us to Himself consequent to our acceptance of Christ. That would
not have been a choice (cf Rom.9:11), but an obligation. Instead, He
actually chose us in Christ, even before the disruption of the world
(Eph.1:4). God graciously grants faith to all His chosen ones (cp
1 Cor.1:24-29; Rom.12:3; Phil.1:29). Therefore, the believers faith does not
constitute an entitlement to salvation, but a surety of salvation, a surety to the
believer that he (or she), indeed, is one of Gods chosen ones. 1
DEBTORS TO THE LAW
question to the Galatians, who wanted to be under law, had been whether they had indeed
heard the law itself, in its testimony to those who presume that they are able
to keep it, and that thus, by their own obedience, gain its proffered blessing (Gal.4:21; cp
Ex.19:8). If the Galatians truly wished to hear the law, that is, act in
accordance with its testimony, then they were to cast out this maid and her
son (4:30), which, in Pauls allegory of the free woman and the maid, is
identified as the covenant from mount Sinai with all its legal precepts (4:24,25).
Lo! I, Paul, am
saying to you that if you should be circumcising, Christ will benefit you nothing. Now I
am attesting again to every man who is circumcising, that he is a debtor to do the whole
law. Exempted from Christ were you who are being justified in law. (5:2-4a)
Note the emphasis of
the apostles declaration here: Lo! I Paul am saying to
you . . . . Still, the words if you should be
circumcising, Christ will benefit you nothing, must not be wrenched from their
context; much less are they to be understood categorically, for this would contradict not
only the entire tenor of the epistle, but the very evangel itself. Paul speaks relatively,
in relation to justification in law. The sense is, If you should be circumcising (in the
interests of justification), Christ will benefit you nothing (in justification).
Thus, Christor Circumcision: which shall it be?
circumcising, one is only fulfilling a single point of law, not the entirety of the law.
This one point of law by no means stands in isolation, as if nothing more need be done. To
the contrary, the situation is rather that every man who is
circumcising . . . is a debtor to do the whole law. This accords
with Romans 2:25: For circumcision, indeed, is benefiting if you should be putting
the law into practice, yet if you should be a transgressor of law, your circumcision has
become uncircumcision; as well as with James 2:10: For anyone who should be
keeping the whole law, yet should be tripping in one thing, has become liable for
Exempted from Christ, like the words if you should be circumcising
is to be understood in connection with justification. Those who saw themselves as being
justified in law were, as far as their appreciation was concerned, exempted from
being justified in Christ. That is simply to say that if we hold the position that
we are justified in law, we are saying we are not justified in Christ. One
precludes the other. Thus, in ones own perception, one nullifies or
makes unproductive (as the Greek word translated here exempted is
elsewhere rendered) the work of Christ in justification. Hence, in nullifying the true
benefits of Christ, the Galatians repudiated the grace of God (cp 2:21).
Any teaching, then,
that represents justification as being granted on the basis of obedience to law, is false
teaching. This includes the teaching that represents faith in Christ as a lawful
requirement of salvation. The essential error consists not in the advocacy of any
particular law for justification, but of any law whatsoever for justification.
You fall out of
Indeed, this is just
what one does who seeks a right standing before God by means of law, even if he should
freely acknowledge the sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of his sins. In ones
own recognition, one falls out of grace, not by practicing sin, but by falling into
law. In truth, however, simply because it is grace, it is impossible for one to
remove himself from its blessing, even by the darkest of deeds.
from a real relation to the Saviour, the Galatians fall away from grace.
The verb fall out (ekpiptõ) is applied, in Acts
27:17, 26, 29, 32, to the course of a ship driven out
from her course. The image of a drifting vessel is reinforced in verse seven, by the
figure of a race. These racers made a fine start, but they have stumbled (3:3; 5:7); the
vessel set out from the harbor in splendid style, but has been caught and set adrift by
the winds of doctrine.
falling out bears no resemblance to the falling away doctrine. It
is rather the exact opposite of stand firm in 5:1. In terms of theology to
fall away means final and eternal loss. This theological fiction is a positive
hindrance to the understanding and enjoyment of truth. True, Scripture speaks of
loss; but that loss is temporary, strictly confined to the creatures
experience, and, like Israels loss, becomes the riches of the world, in
the good providence of God. 2
from grace, is not, as usually supposed, a loss of the benefits of Christs
salvation through breaking the law, but is rather a loss of a realization of those
benefits through attempting to keep the law. He who falls into sin does not forfeit
the grace of God. Blessed to relate, grace abounds in such a case (cf Rom.6:1). But
he who seeks to establish his own salvation by works has no need of the grace of
God . . . . He thus repudiates grace. He falls out of the sphere
where grace operates. 3
ENTREATY FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE
For we, in spirit, are awaiting the expectation of righteousness by faith.
Until the day of
Christs advent, we, in spirit, as if present (cp 1 Cor.5:3),
are awaiting the expectation of righteousness [i.e., of justification], and we are
doing so by faith. We await that expectation which relates to righteousness, that is to
say, which relates to our conformation to the image of Christ together with the
transfiguration of the body of our humiliation, to conform it to the body of Christs
own glory. Even as, though we are already sons of God yet are awaiting the sonship, the
deliverance of our body (Rom.8:23b), thus also, though we are already justified, we are
awaiting the expectation of righteousness, that glory which God has appointed for
us in coming eons and beyond. Thus, proleptically speaking (i.e., in a spirit of
anticipation), we are justified; for, literally speaking, we will be
justified, in that day.
For in Christ
Jesus neither circumcision is availing anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith, operating
through love. (5:6)
through love, alone is that which avails. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcisionnor
any other human deed either of obeying or of omitting to obey lawavails anything at
all, in Christ Jesus. It is in Christ Jesus alone that all aspects of salvation are
achieved, through the blood of His cross. Law obedience, as such, with
necessarily attendant curses for violation thereof, simply has no place in our salvation.
allowed me, says Paul, but not all is expedient. All is
allowed me, but I will not be put under its authority by anything (1 Cor.6:12).
All is allowed me, but not all is edifying (1 Cor.10:23). The
words which immediately follow, then, Let no one be seeking the welfare of himself,
but that of another (1 Cor.10:24), are not to be understood as a legal
requirement under pains of the repeated violation of which one will lose his
salvation, or any other blessing in Christ.
What is achieved in
Christ, cannot be forfeited by man. Hence all such entreaties, such as that of
1 Corinthians 10:24, should simply be understood as that which is expedient or
edifying, pleasing to God and beneficial to man. Though all such words of entreaty of our
apostle have a vital place in our service (even as the counsel of all necessarily
universally-applicable words of wisdom throughout all Scripture), even so, no scriptural
entreaty of uprightness at all, however important, has any place whatsoever in our
justification, in which we are complete in Christ.
ideally! Who hinders you not to be persuaded by the truth? (5:7)
These words are
reminiscent of Pauls previous fulmination, O foolish Galatians! Who bewitches
you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was graphically crucified? (3:1). How painful it
must have been for Paul to see his own little children in faith (4:19), so
misapprehend the evangel of their salvation, especially when they had once raced
ideally (cf 4:13-15; Acts 18:23). As with the Corinthians, it was true of the
Galatians as well in relation to Paul: If you should be having ten thousand escorts
in Christ, nevertheless not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus, through the evangel, I
beget you. I am entreating you, then, become imitators of me (1 Cor.4:15,16).
recognizes that his opposers have hindered the Galatians from being persuaded by the
truth, and this softens the edge of his repeatedly piercing words.
is not of Him Who is calling you. (5:8)
ultimately speaking, all is not only out of God, but through and for Him as well
(Rom.11:36), relatively speaking, there is much that is not of God. Such is
the case at hand. Faithfully speaking, this persuasion which the Galatians had mistakenly
embraced was not of God; Pauls teaching was of God; for he had
received it directly through a revelation of Jesus Christ (1:12).
A little leaven
is leavening the whole kneading. (5:9)
The Galatians were
stark proof of the truth of this saying. Under the law, leaven was a type of sin (e.g.,
Ex.13:5-7; Matt.16:12). Leaven, such as yeast, may only be a small entity in itself, but
it soon permeates and affects the whole kneading, from which many loaves may be made.
Similarly, the leaven of the misplaced truth of circumcision, a small thing in
itself, had given rise to a wider desire among the Galatians to be under law in general.
Accordingly, as Paul was informed, they were now scrutinizing days and months
and seasons and years, all in a sedulous effort to observe the holy times of the law in
their precise appointed seasons (cf Gal.4:10).
I have confidence
in you in the Lord that in nothing you will be disposed otherwise. (5:10a)
Pauls confidence here, was certainly not in the Galatians themselves. It
was rather into (eis) them. That is, they were the objects of
Pauls confidence, which was in the Lord, Pauls confidence
that in nothing you will be disposed otherwise. Specifically when this
would be so, Paul could not say. He simply knew that the infirm in the faith will be made
to stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand (Rom.14:4). In the meantime, he could
only wait, seeing whether God may be giving them repentance to come into a realization of
the truth (2 Tim.2:25b).
Now he who is
disturbing you shall be bearing his judgment, whosoever he may be. (5:10b)
These words remind
us of those of 2 Timothy 2:14, 15: Alexander the coppersmith
displayed to me much evil: the Lord will be paying him in accord with his actswhom
you also guard against, for very much has he withstood words of ours. Such
disservice to the saints will surely call forth corresponding requital upon all such bad
works when considered at the dais of Christ, and will mean the forfeiture of wages in the
case of many in that day (1 Cor.3:14,15; 2 Cor.5:10).
Now I, brethren,
if I am still heralding circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? (5:11a)
It is evident that
Paul was faced with opposition on all sides. From certain appearances, some may have
inferred the mistaken impression that the apostle, effectually at least, was still
heralding circumcision (cf Acts 21:20-26). These or others, through jealousy
and gossip, may have led still others to suppose that this was actually so. Pauls
logic, however, is unassailable: If I am still heralding circumcision, why am I
still being persecuted? Many knew well that Paul was not heralding
circumcision, and were most displeased that this was so (cf Acts 15:1,2a,5). If he
had only continued to do so, all corresponding persecution would have ceased.
snare of the cross of Christ has been nullified. (5:11b)
if Paul had continued to herald circumcision, the snare of the cross of Christ
would have been nullified. A snare (skandalon) is a means of
tripping or a cause of falling (Keyword Concordance, p.275). The glorious truth
associated with Christs cross becomes just this to many, by means of which they
trip, and fall into opposing error. That truth is the revelation that salvation is in
grace and through Christ alone. This scandalizes both human pride and fleshly ethics, by
which most are enslaved.
The evangel is
simply unacceptable to those who wish to boast in something of themselvessomething
that they have done. In most circles today, accepting Christ (or
alternatively, obeying Him as Lord) has supplanted first- century circumcision as the
fancied requirement for salvation. Among the exponents of such views today,
just as surely as among the circumcisionists of Galatia, thus the snare of the
cross 4 is
nullified. By denying its truth, they remove its offense.
Would that those
who are raising you to insurrection struck themselves off also! (5:12)
Out of exasperation,
Paul resorts to sarcasm. In his ebullient hyperbole and irony, he wishes that those who
had roused the Galatians to insurrection, might finish their work of mutilation of the
flesh by striking themselves off also. Then they could no longer deceive the saints. On
the principle that a little cutting is good, surely a lot of cutting is better still.
FREEDOM AND FAITHFULNESS
For you were called for freedom, brethren, only use not the freedom for an
incentive to the flesh . . . . (5:13a)
The literal reading
is, [You were called] on freedom. It is on a basis of freedom from
needing to seek law for righteousness that we are called. And, into such
freedom Christ frees us (5:1)! Far from denying this truth, Paul would only add, use
not [this] freedom for an incentive to the flesh.
Left to ourselves,
the flesh, that is, we ourselves, considered in our own foolishness and
weakness, would misuse this very truth, if not through abject abandonment, at least in
careless neglect or apathy. In consideration of this tendency, as a complement to the
truth of the evangel itself, we need to be reminded that there are still many
foolish and harmful desires which are swamping men [believers not excepted] in
extermination and destruction (1 Tim.6:9).
Though only certain
such injurious desires, in some cases, may lead to bodily extermination and destruction,
many such fleshly foibles regularly lead to the quenching of the spirit even as to the
diminution if not destruction of a life of faithfulness. So that, let him who is
supposing he stands beware that he should not be falling (1 Cor.10:12).
. . . but
through love be slaving for one another. For the entire law is fulfilled in one word, in
this: You shall love your associate as yourself. (5:13b,14)
Truly, love is the
greatest thing, for apart from it we are nothing. Of all the sagacities of wisdom, walking
in love heads the list. To no one owe anything, except to be loving one another, for
he who is loving another has fulfilled law (Rom.13:8); and
. . . if there is any other precept, it is summed up in this saying,
in this: You shall love your associate as yourself (Rom.13:9b).
It is not enough for
us to be loving only those loving us. As the Lord declared, What thanks [or
grace] is it to be doing that (Luke 6:32)? His entreaty was rather,
Be loving your enemies . . . (Luke 6:35a), even as Paul further
confirms in Romans 12:20, 21, adding, Be not conquered by evil; but
conquer evil with good.
the Pauline writings. According to him, it is love that imparts to freedom, as to all
else, virtue and meaning. It derives from love the element of preciousness. He says,
through love be slaving for one another . . . .
transcends and glorifies all things because it is absolutely disinterested. It is the only
thing in all the universe that seeketh not its own. Everything else seeks
something, because though other things may be self-sufficient [i.e., they may
afford sufficiency to themselves], they are not all-sufficient [i.e., sufficient
for all else as well]. Faith seeks an object to rest on; hope, an object to look to. Love
alone seeks naught else but to giveto bestow itself. It is the rest of faith and the
goal of hope. 5
Now if you are
biting and devouring one another, beware that you may not be consumed by one another.
O the injury to the
cause of Christ even as impediment to the furtherance of the evangel, that results from a
failure to give heed to this warning! Indeed, being consumed is that unto
which biting and devouring leads. Through anger, bitterness, envy, gossip, and
faction, even as disrespect, ingratitude, pride, selfishness, and implacableness, greater
evil is repeatedly done from within than the aggregate evil that accrues from without. May
God give us grace to spare us from such declension, or cause us to cease and desist
therefrom where we have had a part.
1. Unsearchable Riches, For Freedom
Christ Frees Us! vol.81, pp.227,228.
2. Vladimir Gelesnoff, PAULS EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS, p.121.
3. A. E. Knoch, THE CONCORDANT COMMENTARY, p.284.
4. For an extended consideration of this subject, see the
article, The Snare of the Cross, Unsearchable Riches, vol.81,
5. Vladimir Gelesnoff, PAULS EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS, p.128.
Copyright © Concordant Publishing Concern
P.O. Box 449, Almont, MI 48003 810-798-3563
This publication may be reproduced for personal use
(all other rights reserved by copyright holder).