Galatians 2:17
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
"But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn't that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

New Living Translation
But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!

English Standard Version
But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!

Berean Study Bible
But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners, does that make Christ a minister of sin? Absolutely not!

Berean Literal Bible
But if seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also have been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Never may it be!

New American Standard Bible
"But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But if we ourselves are also found to be "sinners" while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not!

International Standard Version
Now if we, while trying to be justified by the Messiah, have been found to be sinners, does that mean that the Messiah is serving the interests of sin? Of course not!

NET Bible
But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, is Christ then one who encourages sin? Absolutely not!

New Heart English Bible
But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But if when we seek to be made right by The Messiah, we are found to be sinners, is then Yeshua the Minister of sin? God forbid!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
If we, the same people who are searching for God's approval in Christ, are still sinners, does that mean that Christ encourages us to sin? That's unthinkable!

New American Standard 1977
“But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!

Jubilee Bible 2000
But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of our sin? No, in no wise.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
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.

American Standard Version
But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But if while we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners; is Christ then the minister of sin? God forbid.

Darby Bible Translation
Now if in seeking to be justified in Christ we also have been found sinners, then [is] Christ minister of sin? Far be the thought.

English Revised Version
But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid.

Webster's Bible Translation
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? By no means.

Weymouth New Testament
But if while we are seeking in Christ acquittal from guilt we ourselves are convicted of sin, Christ then encourages us to sin! No, indeed.

World English Bible
But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not!

Young's Literal Translation
And if, seeking to be declared righteous in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is then Christ a ministrant of sin? let it not be!
Study Bible
Paul Confronts Cephas
16know that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law, because by works of the Law no one will be justified. 17But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners does that make Christ a minister of sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I have already torn down, I prove myself to be a lawbreaker.…
Cross References
Luke 20:16
He will come and kill those tenants, and will give the vineyard to others." And when the people heard this, they said, "May such a thing never happen!"

Galatians 2:15
We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile 'sinners'

Galatians 3:21
Is the Law, then, opposed to the promises of God? Not at all! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come from the Law.

Galatians 6:14
But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Treasury of Scripture

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.

while.

Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after …

Romans 11:7 What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the …

are found.

Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, …

Romans 6:1,2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound…

1 John 3:8-10 He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the …

is.

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: …

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for …

2 Corinthians 3:7-9 But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, …

Hebrews 7:24-28 But this man, because he continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood…

Hebrews 8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the …

1 John 3:5 And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

God. See on

Romans 3:4,6 God forbid: yes, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is …

(17) We sought justification in Christ. But if, with all our seeking, something more was needed: viz., a rigid performance of the Law--that Law which we had abandoned--then there was still something wanting to our justification. We were sinners on a par with the Gentiles, and all that Christianity seemed to have done for us was to lead us deeper into sin. A profane thought!

By Christ.--Strictly, in Christ--i.e., by the relation into which we are brought with Him. The reference is here, however, not exactly to the mystical union with Christ, which is regarded by the Apostle rather in connection with sanctification (the actual growth in holiness) than with justification (the judicial absolution from guilt). In the present instance the Apostle is speaking of justification; and when he says that "we are justified in Christ," he means practically through faith in Him, or through that circle of forces within which we are brought by faith.

We ourselves also.--We who were by our birth Jews, as well as the Gentiles.

Are found.--Strictly, were found--i.e., at a time subsequent to our embracing Christianity, if the only result of our Christianity was that we were still sinners.

Sinners.--Sinners actually, through our positive transgressions, and sinners theoretically or judicially (in the eyes of God), through the fact that we have lost the old Jewish justification through the fulfilment of the Law; while, according to this Judaising theory which St. Paul is combating, our new Christian justification is insufficient.

Is therefore Christ the minister of sin?--Our English version is probably right in making this a question. It is put ironically, and as a sort of reductio ad absurdum of the Judaising position. The Judaisers maintained the necessity of a strict fulfilment of the Mosaic law. They, however, still called themselves Christians; and here St. Paul had a hold upon them. "You call yourselves Christians," he says, "and yet you insist upon the Mosaic law. You say that a man cannot be justified without it: it follows that we, who have exchanged the service of the Law for the service of Christ, are not justified. In other words, our relation to Christ has made us, not better, but worse--a thought which no Christian can entertain."

No doubt St. Paul used some such argument as this in his controversy with St. Peter at Antioch, but it would probably be stated in a simpler and less speculative form: "If you still fall back upon the separatist Jewish observances, what is the good of being a Christian?" Here, in writing to the Galatians, the Apostle paraphrases what he had said in language more suited to a theological treatise and to the natural speculative bias of his own mind.

God forbid.--The Judaising theory was quite sufficiently condemned by showing the consequences to which it would lead. It makes Christ Himself a minister of sin--a suggestion which the Apostle puts away with pious horror.

Verse 17. - But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ (εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν Ξριστῷ); but if while seeking to be justified in Christ. The present participle, "while seeking," that is," while we sought," is referred back to the time indicated in the words, "we believed," of the preceding verse - the time, that is, when, made aware that works of the Law could not justify, they, Cephas and Paul, severally set themselves to find righteousness in Christ. At that time they in heart utterly renounced the notion that "works of the Law" had any effect upon a man's standing before God; they saw that his doing them could not make him righteous, as well as that his not doing them would not make him a sinner (see Matthew 15:10-20). This was an essential feature of their state of mind in seeking righteousness in Christ. They distinguished Levitical purity and pollution from spiritual and real. And the principle was not only embraced in their hearts, but, in course of time, it embodied itself also, as occasion served, in outward deed. They, both Paul and Cephas himself, were bold to "live after the manner of Gentiles" (ver. 14), and with Gentiles to freely associate. If this was wrong, it was most heinously wrong; for it would be nothing short of a presumptuous setting at nought of God's own Law by which they flagrantly proved themselves to be, in a fatal and damning sense, sinners. But it was by the gospel that they had been led to think thus and to act thus; in other words, by Christ himself. Would it not, then, follow that Christ was a minister to them, not of righteousness, but of sin, of damning guilt? The participle "seeking" does not merely mark the time at which they were found to be sinners, but also and indeed much more, the course of conduct by which they proved themselves such. The words, "in Christ," are not equivalent to "through Christ," though the former idea includes the latter; the preposition is used in the same sense as in the sentences, "In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:1); "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30); "Sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:2). It denotes a state of intimate association, union, with Christ, involving justification by necessary consequence. Comp. Philippians 3:9, "That I may be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ." We ourselves also are found sinners (εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμάρτωλοι); we ourselves also were found sinners. The word "found" hints a certain measure of surprise (comp. Matthew 1:18; Acts 8:40; Romans 7:21; 2 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:20). Cephas was behaving now as if to his painful surprise he had found himself to have been previously acting m a most guilty manner. The word "sinners" appears to denote more than the state of ceremonial uncleanness incurred by violating the prescriptions of Levitical purity; indeed, it meant more even as used by thorough-going ceremonialists (as in ver. 15); it points to the gross outrage which would in the case supposed have been put upon the majesty of God's Law. In the next verse "transgressor" is used as a convertible term. "Ourselves also" - as truly as any Gentile of them all. There is a touch of sarcasm in the clause, having a covert reference to St. Peter having turned his back upon his Gentile brethren as unfit for him to associate with; he thereby was treating them as "sinners." Is therefore Christ the minister of sin? (α΅ρα Ξριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος;); is Christ a minister of sin? Αρα is found in the New Testament besides only in Luke 18:8 and Acts 8:30, in both which passages it simply propounds a question, without indicating whether the answer is expected to be negative or affirmative. So Soph., ' (Ed. T.,' α΅ρ ἔφυν κακός; α΅ρ οὐχὶ πᾶς ἄναγνος; The inference here is so shocking that the apostle is unwilling to put it forward except as a question that might fairly be asked upon such premisses. This gives the sentence a less repulsive tone than the reading, which without an interrogative puts it thus: Ἄρα Ξριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος. God forbid (μὴ γένοιτο). "Abhorred be the thought!" we both say; but (the apostle means his interlocutor to understand) since it cannot without horrid impiety be said that Christ was a minister to us of sin and not of righteousness, it follows of necessity that we did not sin against God when we set the works of the Law aside and sought righteousness in Christ alone without any respect had to them. The Greek phrase is one of several renderings which the Septuagint gives to the Hebrew word chali'lah, ad profana, which is frequently used interjectionally to relegate some thought to the category of what is utterly abhorrent and polluted. The Hebrew word is discussed fully in Gesenius's 'Thesaurus,' in verb. St. Paul uses the Greek phrase twice again in this Epistle (once absolutely, Galatians 3:21, and once inweaved in a sentence, Galatians 6:14); ten times absolutely in his Epistle to the Romans (3, 4, 6, etc.). It occurs also Luke 20:16. It is impossible to mend the vigorous rendering of our Authorized Version. But if while we seek to be justified by Christ,.... As they did, and not only sought for, but obtained what they sought for, because they sought for it at the hands of Christ, and not as it were by works, but by faith, even a justifying righteousness in him.

We ourselves also are found sinners; that is, either we should be so, were we not to rest here, but seek to join our own works with Christ's righteousness for our justification, and so make Christ the minister of sin, of an imperfect righteousness, which cannot justify, which God forbid should ever be done by us; or we are reckoned sinners by you, judaizing Christians, for leaving the law, and going to Christ for righteousness; and if so, Christ must be the minister of sin, for he has directed and taught us so to do; but God forbid that any such thing should be said of him: or if we are still sinners, and unjustified persons, notwithstanding we seek to Christ to be justified by him, but need the law, and the works of it to justify us, then Christ, instead of being a minister of righteousness, is a minister of the law, the strength of sin, which accuses for it, and is the ministration of condemnation and death on account of it, which God forbid should ever be: or this is an objection of the adversary to the doctrine of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, as if it made void the law, discouraged the performance of good works, opened a door to licentiousness that men might continue sinners, and live as they wish, being under no restraints of the law, or under obligation to obedience it, and by such doctrine make

Christ the minister of sin; who hereby teaches men to live in sin, and in the neglect of duty; to which the apostle answers,

God forbid; as holding such consequences in the utmost abhorrence and detestation; see Romans 6:1. 17. Greek, "But if, seeking to be justified IN (that is, in believing union with) Christ (who has in the Gospel theory fulfilled the law for us), we (you and I) ourselves also were found (in your and my former communion with Gentiles) sinners (such as from the Jewish standpoint that now we resume, we should be regarded, since we have cast aside the law, thus having put ourselves in the same category as the Gentiles, who, being without the law, are, in the Jewish view, "sinners," Ga 2:15), is therefore Christ, the minister of sin?" (Are we to admit the conclusion, in this case inevitable, that Christ having failed to justify us by faith, so has become to us the minister of sin, by putting us in the position of "sinners," as the Judaic theory, if correct, would make us, along with all others who are "without the law," Ro 2:14; 1Co 9:21; and with whom, by eating with them, we have identified ourselves?) The Christian mind revolts from so shocking a conclusion, and so, from the theory which would result in it. The whole sin lies, not with Christ, but with him who would necessitate such a blasphemous inference. But his false theory, though "seeking" from Christ, we have not "found" salvation (in contradiction to Christ's own words, Mt 7:7), but "have been ourselves also (like the Gentiles) found" to be "sinners," by having entered into communion with Gentiles (Ga 2:12).2:15-19 Paul, having thus shown he was not inferior to any apostle, not to Peter himself, speaks of the great foundation doctrine of the gospel. For what did we believe in Christ? Was it not that we might be justified by the faith of Christ? If so, is it not foolish to go back to the law, and to expect to be justified by the merit of moral works, or sacrifices, or ceremonies? The occasion of this declaration doubtless arose from the ceremonial law; but the argument is quite as strong against all dependence upon the works of the moral law, as respects justification. To give the greater weight to this, it is added, But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin? This would be very dishonourable to Christ, and also very hurtful to them. By considering the law itself, he saw that justification was not to be expected by the works of it, and that there was now no further need of the sacrifices and cleansings of it, since they were done away in Christ, by his offering up himself a sacrifice for us. He did not hope or fear any thing from it; any more than a dead man from enemies. But the effect was not a careless, lawless life. It was necessary, that he might live to God, and be devoted to him through the motives and grace of the gospel. It is no new prejudice, though a most unjust one, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, tends to encourage people in sin. Not so, for to take occasion from free grace, or the doctrine of it, to live in sin, is to try to make Christ the minister of sin, at any thought of which all Christian hearts would shudder.
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