“For I through the Law died unto the Law” (Gal. 2:19).
This may be viewed in two ways; it is either the law of grace of which he speaks.
For he is wont to call this a law, as in the words, “For the law of the Spirit of life made me free.” (Rom. 8:2).
Or it is the old Law, of which he says, that by the Law itself he has become dead to the Law.
That is to say, the Law itself has taught me no longer to obey itself, and therefore if I do so, I shall be transgressing even its teaching.
How, in what way has it so taught? Moses says, speaking of Christ, “The Lord God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him shall ye hearken” (Deut. 18:15).
Therefore they who do not obey Him, transgress the Law.
Again, the expression, “I through the Law died unto the Law,” may be understood in another sense.
The Law commands all its precepts to be performed, and punishes the transgressor; therefore we are all dead to it, for no man has fulfilled it.
Here observe how guardedly he assails it; he says not, “the Law is dead to me,” but, “I am dead to the Law.”
The meaning of this is, that, as it is impossible for a dead corpse to obey the commands of the Law, so also is it for me who have perished by its curse, for by its word am I slain.
Let it not therefore lay commands on the dead, dead by its own act, dead not in body only, but in soul, which has involved the death of the body.
This he shows in what follows: “That I might live unto God, I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:19-20).
Having said, “I am dead,” lest it should be objected how “then dost thou live?” he adds the cause of his living, and shows that when alive the Law slew him, but that when dead Christ through death restored him to life.
He shows the wonder to be twofold; that by Christ both the dead was begotten into life, and that this happened by means of death.
He here means the immortal life, for this is the meaning of the words, “That I might live unto God I am crucified with Christ.”
How, it is asked, can a man now living and breathing have been crucified? That Christ hath been crucified is manifest, but how can you have been crucified, and yet live? He explains it thus: “Yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.”
John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, (on Galatians 2:19-20); slightly adapted).