I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
In Galatians 2:20 Paul lays out a core teaching for followers of Jesus. This verse is at the core of Christianity and is an important truth that we should lean into.
While “I have been crucified with Christ” is regularly quoted, we often miss the truth depth of what is being said in this verse. I want to take a closer look at that Galatians 2:20 meaning and how it applies to our life. I think that if you take a few minutes to look at this verse your life and your faith will be deepened.
Let’s jump in.
The Context Of Galatians 2:20
In Galatians Paul is countering a false teaching that snuck it’s way into the church in Galatia that you need faith in Jesus AND strict observance to the law to be saved. There was a prominent false teaching 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 I live. The proponents of still following the law thought that their adherence to the law would bring life. But Paul bases his hope for righteousness in Christ alone. (Galatians 2:19)
This is what leads us to one of the key passage 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.
What Galatians 2:20 Means
The concept of being crucified with Christ is found in several 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 for saying, I have been crucified with Christ.
Now, this is not a literal crucifixion. Rather Paul is illustrating a spiritual truth. When he says, “I have been crucified with Christ” he means 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.
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. 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.
This is the crux of Paul’s point in Galatians 2. He’s pushing back on those saying one needs adherence to a set of rules to be in right standing with God and to experience life. He’s says it’s in Christ alone.
Let’s break down the Galatians 2:20 meaning a little further.
1. I Have Been Crucified With Christ Meaning
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? To be crucified with Christ means 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.
We used to think that those things would bring life. But they never delivered. They brought death. They left us emptier and emptier.
In our new life we see that through Christ the real life is found. Therefore, we put to death our old life so that we can step into the life God created us for.
At first glance it might seem like a loss to put to death our old life. But when we see the life we gain the loss pails in comparison.
2. Christ Lives In Me Meaning
When we experience this spiritual death it is Christ who then lives in us. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Jesus promised that he would be with us throughout our life (Matthew 28:20). 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.
3. 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.
But followers of Jesus are called to live a life of faith in God, not the desires of our flesh. 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.
4. 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. What we do is in response to the love Jesus has shown 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.
For more check out: What John 3:16 REALLY Means
Applying The Galatians 2:20 Meaning To Your Life
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”?
To be crucified with Christ is not a one time event, rather a daily submission. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow him. Each day we need to refocus our life on Jesus.
Jesus submitted daily 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.
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.
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