That is, "we" Jews. (Rom_3:19-23). The passage might be thus paraphrased: If we Jews, in seeking to be justified by faith in Christ, take our places as mere sinners, like the Gentiles, is it therefore Christ who makes us sinners? By no means. It is by putting ourselves again under law after seeking justification through Christ, that we act as if we were still unjustified sinners, seeking to become righteous through law-works. (Gal_5:1-4).
(Darby)Themselves Jews by nature, and not poor sinners of the Gentiles, they had given up the law as a means of securing the favour of God, and had taken refuge in Christ. But if they sought to rebuild the edifice of legal obligations, in order to acquire righteousness, why had they overturned it? Thus acting, they made themselves transgressors in having overturned it. And more than that; since it was in order to come to Christ — in exchange for the efficacy which they had formerly supposed to exist in the law as a means of justification — that they had ceased to seek righteousness by the law, Christ was a minister of sin. His doctrine had made them transgressors! For in rebuilding the edifice of the law, they made it evident that they ought not to have overthrown it; and it was Christ who made them do so.
H.A. Ironside's comments:
"If," says Paul, "while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners"--if we who have trusted in Jesus are still sinners seeking a way of salvation--"is therefore Christ the minister of sin?" Moses was the mediator of the law, and it was to be used by God to make sin become exceeding sinful. Is that all Christ is for? Is it simply that His glorious example is to show me how deep is my sin, how lost my condition, and then am I to save myself by my own efforts? Surely not. That would be but to make Christ a minister of sin, but Christ is a minister of righteousness to all who believe. I think verse 17, and possibly verse 18, concludes what Paul says to Peter. "If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor." We do not have quotation marks in the ancient Greek text, so have no way of knowing exactly where Paul's words to Peter end, but probably he concluded his admonition to Peter with this word.
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." What does he mean by that? He means that the law condemned me to death, but Christ took my place and became my Substitute. I died in Him. "I through the law died to the law, that I might live unto God." Now I belong to a new creation altogether. And oh, the wonder of that new creation! The old creation fell in its head, Adam, and the new one stands eternally in its Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not trying to work for our salvation, we are saved through the work that He Himself accomplished We can look back to that cross upon which He hung, the bleeding Victim, in our stead, and we can say in faith, "I am crucified with Christ." It is as though my life had been taken, He took my place; "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live." As I was identified with Him in His death on the cross now I am linked with Him in resurrection life, for He has given me to be a partaker of His own glorious eternal life. "Nevertheless I live; yet not I." It is not the old I come back to life again, "but Christ liveth in me." He, the glorious One, is my real life, and that "life which I now live in the flesh," my experience down here as a Christian man in the body, "I live"--not by putting myself under rules and regulations and trying to keep the law of the Ten Commandments but--"by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." As I am occupied with Him, my life will be the kind of life which He approves...
... And so Paul concludes this section, "I do not set aside the grace of God" (or, I will not set it aside), "for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." But because righteousness could not be found through legality, through self-effort, Christ gave Himself in grace for needy sinners, and He is Himself the righteousness of all who put their trust in Him. -- H. A. Ironside
Paul's authority and gospel of grace was totally recognized and accepted by the other apostles. Gentiles were declared righteous by faith alone..with no need to live like Jews, or observe Jewish laws or traditions...it was by God's grace alone they received the Holy Spirit and were to live the Christian life. Paul did not for a moment give in to the fear of man but boldly contended for the purity of the gospel, that all would see clearly the truth and the gospel of grace would be preserved. As Christians we must be dead to the law and alive to Christ, living only by faith in His power in us to crucify the flesh and live righteous lives. Anything that adds to that actually voids or nullifies the death of Christ. Rom. 11:6..."And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work."
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