Dead to the Law: Studies in Galatians – Lesson 8 (2:17-21)

Galatians 2:17-21

17 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. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  20 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.  21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.


  • Verse 17 follows the thought of the previous verse, that is: justification is by faith in Jesus Christ and not the works of the law.
  • So, in forsaking the law and seeking justification through Christ, we find that we are unworthy sinners.  This does not mean that Christ serves sin, rather the law reveals the sin in me that Christ takes away (vv. 18-19).
  • The old covenant of the law is dead and therefore believers are dead to it.  That is, it has no effect on them due to their new life in Christ (vs. 19).
  • The believer spiritually partakes in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in that he/she becomes dead to the condemning power of the law (vs. 20).
  • The believer is made alive in Jesus Christ because He lives within the believer (vs. 20).
  • The difficulty for the Christian is that he/she experiences new life in Christ while still subject to the desires of the flesh (vs. 20).  The only way to live this life is through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The greatest gift ever given was the gift of life through Jesus Christ which was given in love (vs. 20).
  • “Love” should be defined here as seeking the best for another person and which involves a personal sacrifice (vs. 20).  It is much more than an emotion.
  • Those who seek justification through the law frustrate God’s grace, because there would be no reason for Christ to have died (vs. 21)

Ideas for Teaching/Preaching/Personal Study

  • What are reasons why people seek to be justified by their own works?
  • A dead body cannot see, hear, feel, smell, or taste.  Apply this lack of sensations to the believer’s relationship to the Law.
  • Study Christ’s crucifixion in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.  Compare to Colossians 2:13-14 and other related passages.  How are we figuratively crucified with Christ?
  • Do a word study on the word “flesh” as it’s used in the New Testament.
  • List examples of God’s grace found in verse 20.  Use this to develop a sermon or teaching outline.
  • Give reasons why the love expressed by Christ in verse 20 is more related to actions than emotions.  Use a topical Bible, concordance, or other reference materials to find other passages to support your conclusions.
  • Use a concordance to do a word study on the Greek word translated “frustrate” in verse 21.