The Other Golden Text of the Bible
1. John 3:16 is often referred to as “the Golden Text of the Bible”– and rightly so.
a. No other single sentence sums up so much of the message of Scripture in such a moving and memorable way.
b. It tells us in a few wonderful words what God saves us by, and from, and for, and why he is interested in doing it at all.
2. But the perfect answer to it – and the other Golden Text of the Bible – is Galatians 2:20.
a. It speaks in “a most tender and intimate way” of the new life God wants the world to have. (Johnson, R. 71)
b. It also is about divine loving and giving, and it expresses the belief in the Son of God that is called for in John 3:16.
c. But it turns from “the world” to “me,” and it is concerned with how “I” am to respond to having been so loved by him who gave himself up for “me.”
1. The outlook on life in this verse
a. Christ has been crucified.
i. This is the basic assumption of the gospel, the fact which had been publicly portrayed before the eyes of the Galatians (3:1).
ii. In a way, “Jesus Christ and him crucified” is all Paul knew (1 Cor. 2:2); what he delivered to people as of first importance is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3).
iii. But notice that here in our text he defines on a personal level what that means.
(1) “The Son of God...loved me and gave himself for me.”
(2) What took place at the cross was not merely a cold legal transaction nor an event to be left in the past.
(3) He did for me what he did for all of us: he gave himself for my sins to deliver me from the present evil age (Gal. 1:4).
b. I have been crucified with Christ.
i. Literally, this says with just two original words, “With Christ I have been co-crucified.”
ii. If his being crucified meant that he was loving me and giving himself up for me, then my being crucified with him will have to mean that I, in some manner, love him and give myself up for him.
iii. That is exactly the way the New Testament speaks of what it means to be a Christian.
(1) Romans 6:6 (cf. verses 2-4)
(2) Galatians 6:14
(3) Robert Johnson wrote, “He had gone over to Christ’s side. He took his stand with Christ even in his shame. He ventured everything on his Lord...He knows and has shared the motives, purposes, and the way of life that took Jesus to the cross. Paul’s pride and self-esteem were gone. The once proud Pharisee had died. He too had learned the meaning of ‘Thy will be done.’ He had consigned his life to God.” (71, 72).
c. I live more than ever, but it is no more I.
i. When he says “it is no longer I who live,” he doesn’t mean to indicate that he no longer lives in his body, or that now he has no personality, or that he no longer has a place to fill in human society.
ii. He means that his life is no longer driven by “ego”– it is no longer depends on what I have achieved or what I will get done, nor is it about what I think or what I want or what I like.
iii. “I live by the faith of the Son of God,” he says.
(1) This is the more literal translation, and it emphasizes that the faithfulness and obedience of Christ is the ground of his hope.
(2) One writer explains like this, “Christ is the sole meaning of life for him now; every moment is passed on conscious dependence on Him, to whom he looks for everything. This is Christian faith.” (A. Cole 83)
(3) Paul was living by giving himself up for the one he loved.
d. Christ now lives in me.
i. The peace and the freedom and the joy in the Christian life comes from this: the one who gave himself up for me will continue to love me.
ii. Romans 8:37 – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
iii. His living in us was the point of his giving himself up for us.
(1) John 17:26
(2) 2 Corinthians 5:15
(3) 1 Peter 4:2
2. The application of this verse to life
a. It has an application in personal life, Ephesians 5:2.
i. The fact that Christ loved us and gave himself up for us is used as the background against which moral judgments are to be made.
ii. The kinds of things mentioned in the paragraph before it illustrates the range of settings in which the principle must be applied, and the paragraph that follows reminds us of behaviors that are inconsistent with Christ’s living in us.
iii. Galatians 5:24
b. It has an application in family life, Ephesians 5:25.
i. Notice again that the Lord’s having loved the church and given himself up for her provides a basis for understanding life in a family.
ii. Home relationships are the ones where the “no longer I” principle are most obviously and urgently needed.
iii. They are also the places where we are most clearly dependent upon help beyond ourselves.
c. It has an application in church life, Galatians 2:20.
i. This verse is part of a response to a situation in which the truth of the gospel was at stake: is what Christ did for us good enough, or not?
ii. The NASB encloses the section in quotes, suggesting that our verse is part of what Paul said to Peter when he and others behaved as if Gentiles needed not only to be in Christ, but also to keep the law like Jews.
iii. Galatians 2:21 applies the fact that he loved us and gave himself up for us: the claim that something other than that gives life is to suggest that he died for nothing.
1. Galatians 2:20 is the other Golden Text not only because of what it says but also because of the beautiful difference it will make in life, both now and forever.
2. Writing about the impact of this verse, Burton Coffman said, “Therefore, if a man is able to answer two questions affirmatively, there is no way he can be lost. (1) Is he “in Christ”? (The only way one can be “in Christ” is to be baptized into him.) (2) Will he be “found in him’? (Phil. 3:9). This means, will he still be “in Christ” when life ends, or the Lord comes?” (Galatians 47)