What does it mean to 'fall from grace'?


Galatians 5:4

ESV - 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Galatians 5:4 and its reference to falling from grace is one of those "warning passages" pointed to by those who reject the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. But because of the bibl...

July 01 2013 7 responses Vote Up Share Report

Photo Anthony Clinton Teacher in China
Let’s take a proper look at the context of Galatians 5:4. If you note that in verse 1 of chapter 5 of Galatians Paul is warning the saints not to be enslaved again to the Yoke of Bondage. Now why would Paul even mention it if it were not possible? Of course if it were not possible his words would not be Inspired by the Holy Spirit, but they are inspired and the fact is, the true context is that Paul is warning genuine Christians not to nullify the effect of Christ in their lives by seeking to justify themselves by the law.

Those who had already done so had fallen from Grace. You cannot fall from grace that you never once had. 

This verse is the true context of the Chapter.

Gal 5:1.. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 
So we see Paul was seeking to make sure they remained in grace and that proves the serious error of Once Saved Always Saved.

Now how could, the apostle, be addressing some that were not even saved, that are not truly in grace, and say the above? Why would Paul implore the saints to stand fast in the liberty they had received if it was not possible to fail to do it? Paul would be making meaningless warnings about things that it was not possible to do. But of course studying the true context of the passage, we find him seriously warning them about the fact that they would lose everything they had if they were to move to another gospel and would indeed fall from grace as some of them had already done.

We must not cloud the truth because of a bias toward doctrines held and revered if the truth explained erodes them effectively, so then we won’t be led to build another context that doesn't exist in the passage.

December 05 2013 19 responses Vote Up Share Report

Picture Alfred Vella
We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8,9) but we can fall from grace (Gal. 5:2-4). 

We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) but our faith can become shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19,20) and cease to exist (Lk. 8:13; Rom. 11:19-23). 

We are not under the law (Rom. 6:14,15) but if you live according to the sinful nature you will die (Rom. 8:13). Paul taught against legalism (Gal. 5:3-4) but he also taught that no immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5-7). 

We are not saved by works (Eph. 2:8-9) but to reap eternal life and not destruction you must sow to please the Spirit and not the sinful nature (Gal. 6:8-9).

God is faithful to us (1 Jn 1:9; 1 Cor 10:13) but we must be faithful to him to the very end of our lives to escape the lake of fire or second death (Rev. 2:10,11). 

God surely loves us (Jn. 3:16; Mk. 10:21; Rom. 8:35-39) but those who inherit the kingdom of God love God (Jam 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:9) and to love God means to obey his commands (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 5:3).

We have freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:1) but this freedom is not to indulge the sinful nature (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet 2:16). God is to be obeyed and feared.

December 05 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Votc profilepic2 Joe Colling
Please see Galatians 5:4 - To fall from grace means to fall back into striving to keep the Mosaic law, which includes keeping 613 commandments without breaking ONE.....So 613 commands, plus the BIG ten (ten commandments).

December 05 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
The key to understanding this biblical statement is to appreciate the passage context in which Galatians 5:4 lies. Paul was advancing his argument against legalism and more specifically about the rite of circumcision which some Jewish Christians advocated as a requirement for Gentile believers to comply with. This argument mainly runs through 5:1-15 but other supporting passages can be identified throughout this letter. This topic of law verses grace also receives an extensive treatment in the letter to the Romans (cf. Romans 3-8).

The Greek verb indicative aorist passive tense used by Paul here for "fallen away from grace" suggests that the fall is first takes a spiritual dimension before it is physical. The decision to accept the law was the actual turning point and not when the physical rite was performed on the believer. The Clarke’s Commentary notes that the peace and love of God received from Jesus could no longer remain in those who had substituted Christ for the law. Running to the law is akin to falling away from grace and hence setting aside the saving grace of Christ from our reach. This fall is a fatal blow to a key sacrament of our faith. 
Some scholars have cited this verse as evidence that the Galatians had not actually submitted to the rite amidst the raging debate but were in danger of doing so. Others have suggested that some of the Galatians may have succumbed to the rite and this posed a serious danger to the Gentile church community. 
Internal evidence supports both suppositions but the former is stronger in this writer’s view because the passage tone suggests the imminence and not reality of the circumcision itself (cf. Galatians 5:2). A leading NT scholar Thomas Schreiner argues that grace and the law are mutually exclusive such that no believer can stand committed to both. We can surmise that we are either under Christ or under the law. 

Paul had earlier made it clear in Galatians 3:11 that no believer can achieve justification of righteousness on account of keeping the law and this reality must be maintained in the light of our analysis. Interestingly, one scholar Todd Wilson conceives that Paul had in fact used shorthand in his five time mention of the word "law" in Galatians, saying that the original phrase should read the “curse of the law”. This is certainly a debatable view because it does not appear to pass the litmus test of syntactical and grammatical exegesis given that the Greek text does not appear to convey this interpretation at the outset. Chrysostom adds that if one falls from grace, nothing remains but inexorable retribution. This is plausible indeed and certainly does agree with our passage context and the broader tenets of Scripture. If one is fallen from the grace of Christ, then his eternal security is lost and there can be nothing that the future holds than the judgment for sin and rebellion. In short, the offender is no longer a bona fide member of the body of Christ and therefore stands excommunicated from the commonwealth of spiritual saints who exclusively embrace the grace of Christ. 

In the age of grace, the law must be interpreted Christocentrically short of which its spiritual value doubtful. Sadly, legalism has spread its tentacles in the church through its ages and is conveyed in various dimensions including church liturgy. 

What is the fruit of legalism? It is the satisfaction that comes from doing or fulfilling the rules of men when the heart may be far from Christ. It is neither the intention of Christ nor of Scripture that we submit to legalism but that we should be freed from its toxic contamination on the purity of our faith. There is nothing we can do that can purchase the grace which is found exclusively in Christ's atoning blood. Anything we do after this transformation simply affirms what has already taken place inside us but will not earn us God's grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). True saints operate under the Spirit and not by the dictates and exigencies of the law (Romans 8:1). Why is this so? The law condemns but the Spirit justifies (Romans 3:30); the law demands but the spirit gives; the law only forbids but the Spirit gives discernment and power over sin; the law enslaves and binds but the Spirit loosens and liberates (Romans 8:15); the law is a shadow of things to come but the Spirit reveals the mind of God (Hebrews 10:1; 1 Cor.2:11-12); the law is static but the Spirit is dynamic, unfolding a fresh new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

July 02 2014 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Bennie Odiase
To fall from grace means to fall from where we are seated with Christ at the right-hand of the throne of God. It's a fall from our heavenly position with Christ. It's Jesus Christ - fullness of Grace & Truth that made it possible for us to attain that heavenly position and it can only be sustained by maintaining our walk with Him. A fall is a descent or drop from a higher position to a lower one. So a fall from Grace is a fall from our heavenly position in and with Christ. It's ceasing to live our lives by The Lord's instruction daily. 

Fall from Grace is total departure from absolute submission and surrender to The Lord. 

The emergence of Grace exposes the futility of the law. Recall that a follower of Christ is saved by faith through Grace......Eph.2:8. This is the grace that brings salvation and has appeared to all men....Titus 2:11. The free gift of salvation through Grace must be accepted, believed and embraced before the recipient can enjoy the full benefits or package. The redemptive package is ours when we live by the proceeding word from the mouth of God......Matt.4:4. 

In Gal. 5:1-4, Paul's message to the Galatians emphasized our need to continue our faith walk with The Lord. This is what will keep us from falling from Grace. Falling from Grace is separation from the True Vine and the Tree of Life. For every separation that occurs, there is an automatic joining or agreement to another that occurs. A fall from a height implies fall to a lower position or the ground.

In essence, Paul is saying yield and choose the way and the thoughts of God because your liberty comes and is sustained by His Word. Adherence to any thing short of His Word will bring you into bondage or captivity. Routine, traditions of men, rituals, philosophies, religion are some of the manifestations of the law that lead to bondage.

January 07 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Scan14 Michael Tinsley Retired Army veteran. Love my Bible (Jesus) and fishing.
The answer is in the verse itself, Galatians 5:4, 'you who would be justified by the law'. God's grace saved us because the law never could and there were Judaizers and other false prophets around trying to pervert the response to Jesus' finished work on the Cross.

Paul told them not to keep trying to keep the Law of Moses because doing that, you're not saved by grace, but by works, and have fallen from grace. You can't be under grace and works at the same time.

Legalism (trying to keep the law) is a big problem still today. No amount of work can save you as was proved countless times in the OT and works is part of the law.

Jesus freed us from that by fulfilling the law for us, for all time. Believing in His finished work is what saves us, Ephesians 2:8-9, _period, the end.
There is absolutely nothing we can do to 'earn' our salvation because its already been done.

Our response is to rest in His finished work, turn possession of _everything in our lives over to Him, and let His Holy Spirit guide us through every aspect of our lives.

We don't really own anything anyway, its all a gift from God, so why would someone think they can do a better job running things themselves?

Paul was telling them that in a concise way. If you try to follow OT law you are not just separated from Christ, you are completely severed from Him.
In no uncertainty he told them grace and the law won't mix.

March 13 2016 11 responses Vote Up Share Report

1515012380789778228527 RICK PORTER Chaplain [ Truckers Chapel ]-- Undeserving Child of God
To fall means to tip over off the platform one is standing on. So, to fall from grace is to go off the platform onto something else.

What writer was saying I believe, is leaving the totality of grace for justification, by adding ritual, is to fall from the platform of grace to works. The thing Judaizers were teaching to Gentiles was adding circumcision to please Jewish law.

Paul gave the solution in Ephesians2 and an admonition in Galations3.

Adding anything to grace through faith takes away from what Jesus Christ did. It's not what we physically do, but what Jesus did. We fall from grace if we add or take away from grace.

Does that mean we lose salvation? Well, I believe Bible teaches, salvation is eternal, since we in God's hand and nothing can take one from His hand.

July 15 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
A person who has accepted Jesus free offer of salvation by faith alone in what He did for us on the cross is given eternal life through the Holy Spirit when we first believed and we can never be cast out. John 6:37 But we can get off in our understanding. If we try to live under the law then we are in effect saying what Christ did for us is not good enough, and we can boast in the law. We lose the blessing of being under grace.

Galatians 2:21 I do not make void the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

We need to know that we are saved by grace plus nothing. Romans 11:6 It is all grace, (what Jesus did for us) not works, (what we do or do not do) if it was by works, then it is no longer grace, and if by grace, it is no longer work.

We know we can not be lost because it is all grace. Law and grace cannot mix. It can only be one or the other, it can not be both. We are saved by grace without the law. Jesus paid it all. 

That is why a believer can never be lost. Once we have trusted Jesus as our savior we are sealed by the Holy Spirit who is our righteousness before God. The Galatians were not in danger of losing their salvation which is all grace, (what Jesus did for us) but they were losing the blessing of trying to live under the law. And if we try to live under the law, then we are not living under grace. Under the law we could lose our salvation, but under grace it is impossible.

The law could not save us because no one can keep the law perfectly. That is why Christ had to die for us. We are all sinners, saved by grace. For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. We are justified by faith alone without the law. Since we are under grace we can not lose our salvation because all of our sins have been paid for. First Corinthians 15:1-4. If all of our sins have been paid for we can not go to hell because we have no sins to pay for. We are saved the same way Abraham was. Abraham was saved by faith 400 years before Moses gave the Law. If there is no law, sin cannot be imputed to us.

Then, two of the scariest verses in the bible are Matthew 7:21-23 People who never trust Jesus as their savior, and believe they can be saved by living a Holy Life or any other way than what Christ did for us on the cross, Or Jesus plus works, are not saved. We can only be saved by what Jesus did for us, not by any thing we do or do not do. WE can not save ourselves.

No one wants to hear Jesus say, Depart from me I never knew you. Jesus said their will be many. Why, because they trusted in their works to save them instead of what He did for them on the cross. We cannot be saved by keeping the law, or not sinning. We all sin. We can only be saved by what Jesus did for us plus nothing. Once have have accepted Him as our only savior, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and can never be lost.

After we are saved and given eternal life by faith alone without works, then the good things we do, our works, we will be rewarded in heaven. And the bad things we do we will suffer loss of rewards. And if we go off and live in sin, God will chasten us as His children, but never condemn us. John 3:18.

The good news of the bible is that Christ paid our sin debt in full. When we believe it we are saved forever, because their is no other way to be saved than what He did for us. It is Amazing grace. With nothing from us. Jesus paid it all not just part. We can not be lost because it is impossible to out sin grace. We may lose our rewards in heaven, and maybe cut our life short, but we can not lose the gift of salvation.

October 11 2017 8 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini mary h
To fall from Grace, is to fall from the favour of God by living our lives without him involved and pleasing ourselves first. Therefore making it impossible for him to come into our hearts. As the commandments Jesus gave said. Love the lord thy God with all your heart, soul strength and mind and your neighbour as yourself. If you do the first commandment right, then you will do the second naturally as you will want to please God and therefore be in his Grace.

November 07 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
The verb ἐκπίπτω is used as in 2 Peter 3:17, "Lest - ye fall from (ἐκτέσητε) your own steadfastness." "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness."

Ye are fallen from grace (τῆς χἁριτος ἐξεπέσατε)

For a similar phrase see 2 Peter 3:17. 

I like how J.B. Phillips has it: "If you try to be justified by the Law you automatically cut yourself off from the power of Christ, you put yourself outside the range of his grace."
I.e. you fall from "the sphere of grace" (Wiersbe).

It can't mean that you lose your salvation because 7-9 times Paul, the author of Galatians, uses the term "brethren" in the book of Galatians and he also used the pronoun "we" (Gal. 4:28, 31). 

Grace and legal righteousness cannot co-exist (Ro 4:4, 5:11-16). You can't mix them. It would be like trying to mix oil and water and all one gets is a mess!

ye are fallen] Probably, ‘ye are cast forth’ (like Hagar and her son), banished from grace, or better, cast out of the favor of Sarah... But it does not mean that Hagar ceased being Abraham's concubine or that Ishmael ceased being Abraham's son. Those Galatian Christians fell out of God's favor, but it did not make them non-Christians or unsaved. If we sin like this, it does not mean that we are no longer God's children. Neither they nor we Christians can lose our salvation.

June 12 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

I'm glad you asked. We see in Galatians 5:4 (Life Application Bible Notes), foul language or talking about shameful things is so common that we begin to take it for granted. Paul cautions, however, that vulgar speech should have no place in the Christian's conversation because it does not reflect God's gracious presence in us. How can we praise God and remind others of his goodness when we are speaking coarsely? (Just can't do it).

October 10 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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