Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Galatians 2:20 is a familiar verse. In this verse is one of the basic items of God’s New Testament economy: no longer I, but Christ living in me. According to God’s economy, we should no longer live; rather, Christ should live in us. This is a basic aspect of the truth of the gospel. However, most Christians do not have the proper and adequate understanding of what it means to say no longer I, but Christ living in me.
Because this has not been made clear, some Christians, including certain Christian teachers, think that 2:20 speaks of what has been called an exchanged life. According to this concept, we are replaced by Christ. Christ comes in, and we go out. According to the concept of an exchanged life, our life is pitiful, and the life of Christ is far better. Therefore, we should exchange our life for Christ’s life. As we shall see, this concept is wrong.
Galatians 2:20 does not speak of an exchanged life. Here Paul says, “No longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Then he goes on to say, “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.” On the one hand, Paul says, “It is no longer I who live”; on the other hand, he says, “I live.” If you consider this verse as a whole, you will see that there is no thought of an exchanged life. Here what is presented is not an exchange; rather, it is a profound mystery.
We have pointed out that the book of Galatians reveals the basic truths of God’s New Testament economy. Among these basic truths, the most basic one is found in 2:20. Because the truth of no longer I, but Christ living in me is so basic, it is also mysterious; and because it is mysterious, it has not been properly understood by Christians throughout the centuries. Therefore, we look to the Lord that He would make this basic truth clear to us.
We have pointed out that in this verse Paul says, on the one hand, “no longer I” and, on the other hand, “I live.” How can we reconcile this? Once again I wish to point out that this is not an exchange of life. The way to interpret the Bible properly is by the Bible itself. This means that other verses are needed if we are to understand this verse. Romans 6:6 tells us that our old man has been crucified with Christ. This verse helps us to see that the very I who has been crucified with Christ is the old “I,” the old man. As regenerated people, we have both an old “I” and a new “I.” The old “I” has been terminated, but the new “I” lives. In Galatians 2:20 we have both the old “I” and the new “I.” The old “I” has been crucified with Christ, terminated. Therefore, Paul can say, “no longer I.” However, the new “I” still lives. For this reason, Paul can say, “I live.”
Now we must go on to see the difference between the old “I” and the new “I.” Because we are so familiar with 2:20, we may take this verse for granted and assume that we understand it. But what is the difference between the old “I” and the new “I”? According to the natural understanding, some would say that the old “I” is evil, whereas the new “I” is good. This concept of the difference between the old “I” and the new “I” must be rejected. The old “I” had nothing of God in it, whereas the new “I” has received the divine life. The old “I” has become a new “I” because God as life has been added to it. The “I” that has been terminated is the “I” that was without divinity. The “I” who still lives is the “I” into which God has been added. There is a great difference here. The old “I,” the “I” without God, has been terminated. But the new “I” still lives, the “I” that came into being when the old “I” was resurrected and had God added to it. On the one hand, Paul has been terminated. But, on the other hand, a resurrected Paul, one with God as his life, still lives.
Because of their rejection of God’s light many Christians are blind to this understanding of 2:20. If they heard such a word about the old “I” and the new “I,” they would reject it. Their rejection, however, would be completely without ground. As genuine Christians, they have been regenerated. When a person is regenerated, he is not annihilated or destroyed. To be regenerated means to have God added into us. In regeneration, we who once did not have God in us now have Him added to us. The very “I” who did not have God in it is over. This is the old “I,” the old man, who has been crucified with Christ. But from the time that we began to appreciate the Lord Jesus and the operating faith began to work in us, this faith brought the processed Triune God into us and added Him to our being. From that time onward, we have had a new “I,” an “I” with God in it. Hence, the new “I” is the old “I” which has become an “I” resurrected with God added to it. Praise the Lord that the old “I” has been terminated and the new “I” now lives!
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