Q: What Does ‘Crucified With Christ’ Mean?
Paul wrote, “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” (Gal. 2:20).
To correctly interpret this verse, it’s important to examine the context. There were people in the early church called Judaizers (v. 14) who taught it was not enough for Gentiles to believe in Jesus for salvation; they had to keep the Mosaic Law, especially circumcision (Acts 15:1; Gal. 2:14; 5:2; 6:12–13). The Judaizers taught a salvation by works, not by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul strongly denounced their teaching and practices (Gal. 4:17) and taught salvation by faith in Christ alone (Gal. 2:16, 21; Eph. 2:8–9).
The Old Testament Law was powerless to impart spiritual life and left people guilty in sin and condemned to eternal death. Paul said he died to the Law so he could live for God. That is, Christ’s death provided conclusive evidence to Paul that salvation does not come by keeping the Law. It comes only through faith in Jesus the Messiah.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ.” The Greek verb for “crucified” is in the perfect tense, emphasizing both the past, completed act of Christ’s physical crucifixion and its continuing effects on the lives of all who put faith in Him.
Jesus, who was sinless, died for our sins, satisfying God’s divine wrath against sin. In other words, Jesus Christ paid in full the redemptive price God required, making it possible for God to declare righteous everyone who puts his or her faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. This is something neither the Mosaic Law nor the Levitical system was designed to accomplish. (See Hebrews 10:4.)
Therefore, through Christ’s death and resurrection, all believers in Christ have been freed from the demands of the Mosaic Law because those demands were fulfilled in Christ.
Like Paul, all true believers can say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul not only was released from the Mosaic Law, but also from his sinful self. Although believers are still alive in the flesh and prone to sin while on Earth, we are new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We live by faith through the indwelling Holy Spirit, who guides and leads us through this pilgrim life.
The true Christian life involves Christ living through us as we yield to the Holy Spirit. Thus, all believers in Christ are forever united with Him in resurrection life, possessing all the eternal benefits salvation provides. Hallelujah, what a Savior!