1. Galatians 2:16 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What does it mean to be justified?

Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

The exact meaning of justified is not always the same and like any other word it must be determined from the context (1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 3:24; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:20).1 In this case, to be justified is to be declared righteous in God’s sight,2 to enjoy a status of being in a right relationship with God, accepted by him.3 Paul affirms that it is impossible for human beings to be made right in God’s sight by observing the law. This is not because the law itself has problems (Romans 7:7–13),4 but because we are unable to keep it perfectly in all its parts as a result of our sinful nature (Romans 3:10–20).5 Peter’s later speech in Jerusalem (Acts 15:7–11) attests that he agrees with Paul that no man is justified by doing what the law demands.6