ESV - 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
If we were unable to fall from grace why would Paul instruct us to place the armor of Christ on? We as believers have this warning from Paul to protect what was received. If we are onced saved always saved the divine instruction would not have been spoken by God as too be given this wisdom of protection. Ephesians 6: 10-18
2 Timothy 4:7
Paul said he fought a good fight over coming temptation of the world. Why would he mention this if Grace was never loss or there was no fear in losing faith in Jesus? When proverbs first teaches us to fear The Lord is the beginning of wisdom I believe this divine teaching is the aquired wisdom of fear that we are easily tempted which results in the Holy Spirit leaving us. Even typing this places fear in me thinking it is possible, though it is a good fear which drawls me to read how to protect myself from this happening. God bless
There are a few differing ways to approach this passage. Solid hermeneutics suggest that the historical, socio-religious approach should yield the most tenable explanation. Before I start, I must say that I hold with a conviction that any attempt to gain salvation outside of faith in Yeshua (Jesus) is essentially a “fall from grace.” What is more, once a person becomes a genuine believer, there is nothing we can do to earn “brownie points” with God. We are saved by grace (Eph 2:8, 9) and Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2).
What does it mean to “fall from grace”?
Given the context of the book as a whole, and of this immediate chapter, I understand the term “fall from grace” in this verse to describe those Gentiles who were abandoning the gracious offer of genuine salvation extended by God when they initially (perhaps intellectually, but earnestly) professed faith in Yeshua, and instead began supporting the lie that genuine covenant membership into Isra'el (i.e., salvation) is secured by changing one’s legal ethnic status from Gentile to Jew. I do not believe Paul is warning these professing believers about possibly losing their genuine salvation—if indeed they have graduated to full assurance (Heb 10:22).
I don't hold to a theology that teaches one can lose their salvation, provided they are genuinely saved to begin with (as opposed to mere intellectual interest in the notion of being saved like many people sometimes are). Also, I don't believe Paul is discouraging Torah in any way, since the dangerous path these professing believers are embarking down is NOT Torah observance for the ostensible goal of salvation, but conversion to legal Jewish status for the ostensible goal of salvation. Practically, speaking, neither Torah observance, nor Jewish ethnicity will save a person. ONLY unwavering faith in the blood of Yeshua will save a person.
There exist two schools of thought on what Paul means by “works” in his letter to Galatians: 1) Luther's Perspective (LP), and 2) New Paul Perspective (NPP). Luther's Perspective sees “works of the Law,” “works,” “under the Law,” and “circumcision” in Paul's letters as essentially referring to Merit Theology, which is the belief that one is attempting to earn their salvation or sanctification through keeping the commandments of the Torah. By comparison, New Paul Perspective (NPP) sees these same Pauline terms as describing a school of thought in the 1st century Judaisms that espoused to a Jewish-only Isra'el, a Jewish-only Torah, and thus Jewish-only covenant membership—complete with blessings in this world and the world to come, all for Jews and only Jews. In a word, LP and NPP differ on the type of legalism described in Paul's letters. I hold to the NPP view.
So how could Paul say that they have been “alienated from Christ,” and that they have “fallen from grace”? Within the mystery of God’s spiritual attraction on and calling of a person or a community, there seems to exist circles of graduated mercy and grace—revelation, if you will—so that as God sometimes gradually brings you to surrendering your life completely into the loving arms of Jesus the more light and revelation you are shown until the moment of salvation is finally “formed” within you (Gal 4:19) and you call upon the name of the LORD for personal deliverance (Gal 3:23-4:7).
To join oneself to a believing community and then intellectually confess faith in Yeshua but then shrink back (Heb 10:35-39), reject Jesus, and pursue another intellectual interest (Luke 10:16) is indeed to alienate yourself from Christ and to fall from grace. It is not as if you had genuine salvation and then lost it. It is that by leaving Christ so cavalierly, you prove that you were never truly genuinely saved to begin with! (1 Jn 2:19) This is truly a dangerous game to play with God considering the sober warnings in Heb. 6:4-8.
In the throes of sorrow one seeks to cast blame. God is the object of my faith.. My faith wasn’t good enough. Now all I hear and read is that there is no hope for one like me. We are in the thousands. We are those who no longer accept that for humans there is a
respite, but God is exonerated at every turn because He made us and our domain of living. We die and we rot. Why is it that Paul hears from God, but saints today do not? It is a legimate question. Have I fallen from Grace?. I admit that like Job I cannot understand.
Paul and the other Apostles were chosen for a critical ministry - the be the foundations of the gospel, built upon Christ the cornerstone, that would underlie the church. Their relationship with Christ was special, as they were taught by Christ personally or (in the case of Paul) given a direct vision by Christ.
It isn't that saints today do not hear from God, but that we hear in a less 'obvious' way. Christ is no longer physically among us - but He left a helper, the Holy Spirit, so all believers can still talk to God. In countries where the gospel has already spread, there is no need for miracles or physical 'proof' of God's power - that has already been made. And further miracles would doubtfully convince anyone (Lk 10:13, Lk 16:31.)
As for prayer, God doesn't speak (usually) in an audible voice but more often speaks to our hearts through the Spirit. Plus we have His written word to guide us.
And humans do have a respite - in God. "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest...“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." Heb 4:1-7