A Question I Was Asked:

Does Galatians 5:4 Show That We Can Lose Our Salvation?

I know that you support the teaching of Eternal grace and security, that we cannot now fail, but what about Galatians 5:4?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this:

Galatians 5:4, You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

There are two quick points we must pick up here immediately:

1. Such people who become "severed from Christ" cannot be shown to have had salvation in the first place. True, Paul does say "severed from Christ" but he may have meant the expression simply in the way that certain people have appeared converted and assembled with Christians for a while. In short, Paul could have used the expression "severed from Christ" as well as "fallen from grace" in a socially religious sense, but not in an ontological sense.

2. It is also possible that some of these people actually remained part of the body of Christ and Paul was giving a very stern warning to bring them to a place of repentance as quickly as possible. In short, they were in a 'backsliding' phase but in their case this may not have been a moral backsliding as much as an arrogance and vanity in theological matters. While they remained in their arrogance they were indeed "severed from Christ," and "fallen from grace."

WE must remember that all of us believers are also described as "...separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world," (Ephesians 2:12) before being called and chosen! Therefore such dramatic terms can be used in more ways than one.

Galatians 5:4 does not teach that a truly converted person could lose his/her salvation because this would contradict what Jesus said in John 6:39 plus many other Bible verses - see the link below to our 'Once Saved, Always Saved' article which goes into this matter at much greater depth.

Another point is the verse is talking about those who are seeking to be saved by their works. Anyone who might be "seeking to be justified by law" presumably can't have been a Christian in the first place because salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ, not by works; such a lack of understanding on such a central point of Christianity would be a very serious matter. The cults and sects are full of people who strive to be justified by their adherence to various laws, but this is not true Christianity.

"They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us," (1 John 2:19).

In conclusion, we need to take a look at the full context of our considered passage:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness," (Galatians 5:1-5).

Notice very carefully that this is addressed to the entire congregation at Galatia where we know that legalizing Judaizers were at work. Finally, he (Paul) effectively divides the church at Galatia into two sections:

1. UNBELIEVING JUDAIZERS: "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Verse 4).

2. TRUE CHRISTIANS: "For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope." (Verse 5).

We cannot be sure but the likelihood would appear to be that the Judaizers never really understood Christ in the first place and they were not truly called at that time. Nevertheless they had come into the church at Galatia, had probably mixed socially with Galatian believers for a while, but then tried to push their legalism. In this they were probably "severed from Christ" and "fallen from grace," but probably in a socially religious sense, not in an ontological sense. However, If a few among them were currently backsliding, having given way to a dreadful spiritual arrogance (despite being true believers), they were getting a severe warning from Paul to get back on track as quickly as possible.

Nothing here shows that truly called and chosen believers who become part of the Body of Christ can later completely fall.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27-29).

Those having real doubts about Eternal Security should go through this: Once Saved, Always Saved?

Robin A. Brace. September 12th, 2015.