Can a Christian fall from grace? Please refer to the verse below and shed some light.

Galatians 5:4 “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

  • possible duplicate of Can a Christian walk away from his or her salvation? – David Stratton May 12 '13 at 15:14
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    I don't think this is a duplicate since it seems to be specifically asking about how one verse should be interpreted. – Paul A. Clayton May 12 '13 at 22:54
  • The answer to this depends largely on your theological background. For example the Calvinist perspective would say that anyone who "turns away" from Christ was never truly a Christian as it contradicts the Perseverance of Saints (see the P in TULIP), while an Armenian perspective would see it simply as evidence against the Perseverance of Saints. – Walter May 13 '13 at 7:28
  • The question reminds me of a self-fulfilling trap. One could ask, "Do I have to worry about doing enough things so that I may continue to deserve salvation and not fall from grace?" If you ask that, you are trying to put your trust into a deed of your own, instead of the work of Christ on the cross. And THAT is what Gal 5:4 is warning about. – pterandon May 15 '13 at 11:48

As with many things in scripture, the first thing to do is zoom out and grab some context.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)

First, Paul is talking about the circumcision party of the Jews and how they are making the grace of God meaningless by their adherence to the old law. You can see that in the previous sentence he is using hyperbole to make a point, so it makes sense to take this phrase as well in that tone.

Second, the greek word εκπιπτω (ekpipto) which here is translated as "to fall away" is also used in the phrase "to run aground" (as in a ship at sea) (Acts 27:26) or "lose your balance" (2 Peter 3:17). The idea is that you are falling away from the vertical line you once held, not that you are being severed from something.

This is just a cursory examination of this particular verse and it's context. The arguments for and against the preservation of salvation are many and varied.

For a more in depth answer, I recommend wikipedia: Perseverance of the Saints


The problem is what does "keep the Law" mean. Luther says, in his Commentary on Galatians :

Those who seek to be justified by the Law are fallen from grace and are in grave danger of eternal death.


Paul in this verse discloses that he is not speaking so much of circumcision as the trust which men repose in the outward act. We can hear him say: “I do not condemn the Law in itself; what I condemn is that men seek to be justified by the Law, as if Christ were still to come, or as if He alone were unable to justify sinners. It is this that I condemn, because it makes Christ of no effect. ... For if Christ is in your heart He neither condemns you, nor does He ever bid you to trust in your own good works. If you know Christ at all, you know that good works do not serve unto righteousness, nor evil works unto condemnation. I do not want to withhold from good works their due praise, nor do I wish to encourage evil works. But when it comes to justification, I say, we must concentrate upon Christ alone, or else we make Him non-effective. You must choose between Christ and the righteousness of the Law. If you choose Christ you are righteous before God. If you stick to the Law, Christ is of no use to you.

The passage says those who fall from grace have put faith in their own goodness or works either to be saved, or to stay saved.


First to understand Grace.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)

Notice he said "to fulfill them".

Now the evils and lawbreaking of revenge, God has reserved for himself.

For under the time of the law it is said:

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. (Genesis 9:6 NIV)

For those under grace it is said:

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." (Deuteronomy 32:35 NIV)

So since God finds glory in fulfilling the law. There is even more reason to fear him. For in the days when the completion of the law was given as a responsibility to man, men then did fail when Gods word is perfect, he had to step in to finish the balance.

He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. (Isaiah 59:16)

Since his satisfaction then is determined by his effort in fulfilling the law, and he has decided to fulfill all of it instead of abolishing it.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)

The Son in seeing his father is given glory by doing that of the work of the father.

Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19)

Therefore in trusting the righteous judgement of the Father, the Son walked allowing the offense to occur without compensating the law. Knowing full well the Father's love for him.

"What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. (Mark 12:9)

In Psychology we have learned the it is "the decision to fix the threatening behavior that causes anger". Therefore by faith that God will fulfill the law, we no longer become angry, and our spirit becomes pure, in the same faith that the Son gave us as an example to follow.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

So we fall from grace by attempting to fulfill the law.

...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)

For as soon as you try to fulfill the law you are in the "Image of the Father" and no longer in the "Image of the Son". For the decision to fulfill the law is no longer an expression of Faith in the Father, but instead an expression of self reliance. In self reliance pride manages to grow, yet in Faith humility remains clean from pride.

So know that when pride enters your heart, you oppose grace and are God's adversary. SO yes by a lack of faith you can fall from grace.

For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. (Romans 11:21)

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