I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
In this verse Paul lays out a core teaching for followers of Jesus. This verse is at the center of what it means to follow Jesus. The Galatians 2:20 meaning shows us how we should be living in light of what Jesus has done for us.
When we say “I am crucified with Christ” we are making a statement of our commitment to Christ. In this blog post we are going to look at these powerful words and see how we can live them out in our daily lives.
The Context Of Galatians 2:20
Before we can dive into the meaning of Galatians 2:20 we need to understand the context of these words. The book of Galatians is part of a section of Scripture called the Epistles. And these aren’t books as much as they are letters. Paul wrote these letters to 1st century churches to encourage them and challenge them to live in light of the Gospel.
The book of Galatians was written to the church in Galatia. Throughout this letter Paul is countering a false teaching that has snuck its way into the church that you need faith in Jesus AND strict observance to the law to be saved. Proponents of this teaching said that salvation only came to the Jews, and that one needed to be circumcised to have right standing with God.
In Galatians 2 Paul is countering this belief and showing how a follower of Jesus is made right with God. He’s arguing that faith in Jesus alone is where salvation is found (Galatians 2:15-16).
Paul continues to build off this by saying it’s through God that he lives. The false teachers were arguing that adherence to the law was what justified us before God and brought life. But Paul bases his hope for righteousness in Christ alone (Galatians 2:19). This is how Paul now lives, by faith in God. And he’s encouraging his readers to do the same.
This is what leads us to one of the key passages of Galatians. Paul is going to show us how we can be made right in Christ. Let’s jump into the Galatians 2:20 meaning to find out what he says.
The Galatians 2:20 Meaning
As we look at the meaning of Galatians 2:20 we are going to see what it means to be crucified with Christ. The concept is found in several other places in the New Testament (Colossians 2:20, 3:3, 2 Timothy 2:11, and Romans 6:3-14). But Galatians 2:20 is one of the most known.
To help you better see what this verse means we are going to break this verse down into four sections.
I Have Been Crucified With Christ
“I have been crucified with Christ.” This is a potent picture that Paul is painting. Now, this is not a literal crucifixion, rather Paul is illustrating a spiritual truth. What he’s saying is that he is no longer under the penalty of the law. When Jesus was crucified it was as if we were crucified with him. The penalty was paid in full and we are free.
But it doesn’t end there. When Christ rose from the dead, we too are brought back to life. We find this life not on our strength, but in his.
Now whoever trusts in Jesus can experience this life. They don’t have to do anything to earn it, they simply accept it. When they do, God identifies him/her with Christ. When Jesus died, they died. When he rose, they rose. Their old self-centered life died and a new life began.
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? It means that our old self dies and in its place a new life emerges. We are new creations. The things we used to be about, the desires of the flesh, the loves of this world, the self-centeredness most are enveloped in, are dead. Nailed to the cross.
This is brought about not by our adherence to the law or our own righteousness, but by living by faith in God.
I No Longer Live, But Christ Lives In Me
Paul is saying that once we are crucified with Christ, we no longer live, but rather Christ lives in us. This is a spiritual death of our old self that brings about a new life.
So, what is this new life? The first thing we often think of is salvation, and that’s certainly part of what Paul is talking about. But it also has an impact on our life here and now. The beauty of what Jesus did on the cross isn’t just that we gain salvation, but also that we gain Jesus. He lives with us, in us. We can have an intimate relationship with the creator of the universe.
We do not have to go through life on our own or with our own power. We have Christ living in us. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
The Life I Now Live In The Body I Live By Faith In The Son Of God
Oftentimes we are tempted to return to our old life. We are quick to forget that the desires of the flesh entangled us and brought death. We think this time they will fulfill us. Often, Christians return to the things that Jesus freed us from.
Followers of Jesus are called to live a life of faith in God, not the desires of our flesh. That’s part of being crucified with Christ. We put to death our old desires so that we can experience the life that God has for us.
That’s not always easy, but we can trust that his ways are better because he loves us and gave himself up for us. He’s proven his love, and now he’s showing us a better way to live.
Because of what Jesus has done we should not return to those dead things. Instead we should follow what he says is best for us.
Who Loved Me And Gave Himself For Me
You can hear Paul’s appreciation in this text for God’s love. He says God loved “me” and gave himself up for “me.” This is an important principle of the Christian life. We pursue a life of righteous living not to earn anything from God, but because of what God has given us.
All too often we feel we have to do all that God asks to earn his love. We have to clean ourselves up so that we can be acceptable to God. For many this is the message they have been taught in the church. But this message doesn’t free us, it entraps us. The reality is we are incapable of fixing ourselves or earning God’s love.
But we got it backwards. Jesus gave his life for us. Not because we earned it, we could never earn it. Rather, because he loves us.
This is the message of freedom that Jesus came to bring. He’s done the heavy lifting for us. We don’t have to earn his love, he gives it freely. This allows us to come to him and find healing and restoration. Together with Christ we can step into the life he has for us.
What Does It Mean To Be Crucified With Christ?
So, how can we live out the Galatians 2:20 meaning in our daily lives? How can we say, “I have been crucified with Christ”?
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells us that we need to pick up our cross and follow him. This isn’t a one time act, rather a daily surrender. Each day we need to place our focus on Christ.
Jesus showed us what this looked liked; each day he submitted to the will of his father. Though he only picked up the physical cross once, he lived his entire life as the one crucified. This is the call for all followers of Jesus. To live our life not by what our desires are, but by what God says is best.
This means that we set aside time to pour into our relationship with God. It means that we listen to God’s wisdom and not the world’s. It means that we strive to live out the calling God has placed on our lives. And it means that we follow what the Bible says.
And again, this is not to earn anything. But in response to what Jesus has done for us. He’s proven his love, he’s shown us he cares. Those other things we desire will never fulfill us. They will only leave us empty. But when we submit to Christ we can experience life as it is intended to be lived.
Jesus’ kingdom is upside-down. It’s when we give up our lives that we find it. It’s when we pick up our cross and deny ourselves that we can experience the rich life that Jesus promised.
Looking for a way to grow your faith? A great resource to help you do that is Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15-minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there are kids/teen versions as well!
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