Paul’s Encouragement to the Galatians

Google produces a list of Scripture passages when you ask, “Which 10 encouraging bible verses do I need to read each day?” The fifth passage on that list is Galatians 2:20. Today’s Daily Bread email message very briefly explains that Paul, in that verse, teaches of the hope and encouragement in the new life the believer lives in Christ. Galatians 2:20 is a typical Pauline verse in which the author expresses the absolute new identity of a Christian.

Paul learns that ”false brothers” in their midst are opposed to the gospel of God’s grace. After receiving official approval from Peter and the others. Paul shows, in Galatians 2, that the other apostles stand with him in teaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ. Paul later opposes Peter for publicly trying to distance himself from Gentile Christians out of fear of how others might respond. Paul declares that only faith in Christ can bring justification for any person in the eyes of God.

In Paul’s belief, a believer “dies to the law” through the crucifixion and death of Christ, and has the new life that is “no longer self-centered, but Christ-centered”, the resurrection life where the risen Christ lives.

Galatians 2:20

This much-loved verse is quoted, printed, and repeated often, most especially in the first half of this statement. This is Paul’s grandest declaration about what exactly happens when someone is saved or justified by placing their faith in Christ.

When Paul tried to justify himself before God by all his law-keeping, he was dead to God. But when he died to the law then he could live to God.

Paul anticipated a question from those who disagree with him. “Paul, when did you die to the law? You look alive to me!” Paul would answer, “I died to the law when Jesus died on the cross. He died in my place on the cross, so it is like it was me up on the cross. He died, and I died to the law when He died.”

Our Death to the Law

Since we died with Christ on the cross, we have a different life. Our old life lived under the law is dead. Now we are alive to Jesus Christ and Christ lives in me.

Gal 2:20 gave himself

In a very real sense, Paul argues that we become so closely attached to Christ that we die with Him and He begins to live in us. Paul has been emphasizing that faith, and faith alone, is what saves us—adding any requirement of good deeds or rituals is contrary to the gospel (Galatians 1:8–9; 2:16).

Christ was crucified for our sins. By faith, we trust that His death paid for our own personal sins. In that way, we are crucified with Him, our sins with Him on the cross.

So, what exactly did Paul mean by the statement “I have been crucified with Christ”? Romans 6:3 gives us the answer in Paul’s own words: “Or do you not know that as many of us [Christians] as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death [crucifixion]?”

When a truly repentant believer decides to be baptized, he or she is symbolically baptized into Christ’s death.

The Exchange on the Cross

The sinful “us” dies, replaced by the resurrected Christ “in us.” We continue to live in the flesh, of course, but our lives are now directed not by our sinful selves but by our faith in Christ. Paul expands on this great truth powerfully in Romans 6:1–6.

Paul realized that on the cross, a great exchange occurred. He gave Jesus his old, try-to-be-right-before-God-by-the-law life, and it was crucified on the cross. Then Jesus gave Paul His life as Christ came to live in him.

When a person is convicted of sin and makes a decision to submit to what Jesus did for him, he makes an exchange. He gives up doing things his way in favor of submitting by faith to the Lordship of his Sin Bearer. In verse 21, Paul says that he does not nullify, or make void the grace of God.

So, Paul’s life wasn’t his own anymore, it belonged to Jesus Christ! Paul didn’t own his own life (that life died); he simply managed the new life Jesus gave him.

The New Life Given By Faith

Paul can only manage the new life Jesus gave him by faith. You can’t live the new life Jesus gives on the foundation of law-keeping. You can only live it by faith.

When Paul said, “I now live in the flesh,” he didn’t mean that he lived a chronically sinful life. By the term ‘flesh’ he refers to sins such as adultery, fornication, etc. “Flesh” means the whole nature of man, inclusive of reason and instincts. This flesh is not justified by the works of the law.

We remain “in the flesh” even after repentance and baptism. That means we are still physical. We still have a life to live, things to do, and decisions to make—but we strive to walk by a different standard.

The focus of this verse isn’t the flesh, it is faith. Faith is central to all that Paul does.

Faith connects you so intimately with Christ, that He and you become as one person.

Before, Paul’s relationship with God was founded on what he could do for God – his faith was in himself. Now the foundation was what Jesus Christ had done for him – his faith was in Jesus.

Paul can confidently give himself to Jesus because of the love Jesus has demonstrated in the past.

Jesus’ Motive: Love

For the first time, Paul mentions Jesus’ motive for giving Himself for us: love. Christ died for us because He loves us. Unlike the unyielding system of the law, Christ is a person motivated by His love and concern for us.

Christ’s willingness to die for us was the ultimate expression of love, an act more moving and more powerful than anything ever captured in a Hollywood film.

Christ did that, in short, to fulfill God’s plan. John 3:16 explains, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

“Gave Himself for me” is very emphatic. It is not enough to regard Christ as having died for the salvation of the world; each man must claim the effect and possession of this grace for himself personally.

“But Christ lives in me”

This does not mean that Christ takes possession of us, controls us, and makes our decisions for us.

When Jesus walked the earth as a flesh-and-blood human being, He lived with His followers. But shortly before His death, He prophesied of a time when He would no longer live with them, but within themthrough the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18).

Gal 2:10 lives in me

True Christians are identified by the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, which can be obtained only after a person has repented. The Spirit of God is the means by which we can have the mind of Christ within us (1 Corinthians 2:16). That is how Christ literally lives in those who have His Spirit (Romans 8:9-10).

When we have His mind within us, we have access to His guidance, His leadership, and His direction. To the degree we yield to His Spirit—that is, obey and follow it—we will begin to walk as He walked. The more we walk as He walked, the more He lives His life in us.

Christ lives within us in order to change us from the inside out. We are transformed through His Spirit dwelling within us. The Bible refers to this process as conversion, and the end result is Christ being formed in us to the point where we think, act, and talk like Him (Galatians 4:19). Converted Christians are currently undergoing a metamorphosis to become like Christ (Romans 8:29).

______________Affiliate link – SHOP: _______________
_This ad is for my favorite version of The Bible _
_____but click on it to go to the whole store______

NASB Comfort Print Thinline Bible, Red Letter Edition–bonded leather, burgundy (click here)
By Zondervan

The beloved 1995 Edition of the New American Standard Bible is now easier to read with Zondervan’s exclusive NASB Comfort Print® typeface. This edition of the NASB Thinline Bibles is available in a variety of sophisticated designs in a portable, easy-to-read format.


  • The full text of the New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition
  • Exquisite, durable covers
  • Less than one inch thick
  • Double-column format
  • Presentation page
  • Two satin ribbon markers
  • Words of Christ in red
  • Exclusive Zondervan NASB Comfort Print 9 point type


Consider the Daily Bread email message sent on 8/14/2023 which says,

DB Gal 2:20

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me. (NASB)

Paul teaches about the hope and encouragement in the new life the believer lives in Christ. In Paul’s belief, a believer “dies to the law” through the crucifixion and death of Christ, and has a new life that is “no longer self-centered, but Christ-centered,” the resurrection life where the risen Christ lives.

You Can Receive The Daily Bread, for FREE.

To receive the Daily Bread email messages, free on Mon., Wed., and Fri., in your email inbox, just fill in the form below or send an email, and ask to be added, to  

bus card 2

1 thought on “Paul’s Encouragement to the Galatians”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *