Gill on Galatians 2:16; difficulty understanding Gills discourse on justification by faith

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Puritan Board Freshman
but by the faith of Jesus Christ;
not by that faith, which Christ, as man, had in God, who promised him help, succour, and assistance, and for which he, as man, trusted in him, and exercised faith upon him; but that faith of which he is the object, author, and finisher; and not by that as a cause, for faith has no causal influence on the justification of a sinner; it is not the efficient cause, for it is God that justifies; nor the moving cause, or which induces God to justify any, for that is his own free grace and good will; nor the meritorious or procuring cause, for that is the obedience and bloodshed of Christ; nor is faith the matter of justification; it is not a justifying righteousness; it is a part of sanctification; it is imperfect; as an act it is a man's own, and will not continue for ever in its present form, nature, and use; and is always distinguished from the righteousness of God, by which we are justified, which is perfect, is another's, and will last for ever. Men are not justified by faith, either as an habit, or an act; not by it as an habit or principle, this would be to confound justification and sanctification; nor as an act, for as such it is a man's own, and then justification would be by a man's works, contrary to the Scripture: but faith is to be taken either objectively, as it relates to Christ, the object of it, and his justifying righteousness; or as it is a means of receiving and apprehending Christ's righteousness; the discovery of it is made to faith; that grace discerns the excellency and suitableness of it, approves of it, rejects a man's own, lays hold on this, and rejoices in it:

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
You must bear in mind, Gill was of the opinion that justification is an immanent and transient act of God done in eternity. He believed this to be the logical conclusion of the covenant of redemption seeing that Christ was slain for us from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 KJV) This controversy is known as the doctrine of eternal justification, and some of his points I can get behind insofar as conscience allows; howbeit, some would argue (and I think rightfully so) that such a view is not in line with the Scriptures, nor the confessions.

So you have to be careful here. In one sense Gill is saying that faith, is ultimately not of ourselves. He explains what he meant when he said men are not justified by faith, just above that he said it is God that justifies. Gill does not teach a works based salvation, if he does, I'm not sure how he stood in the same pulpit as Keach and Spurgeon at New Park Street lol.


Puritan Board Doctor
Gill, "as before observed, as God’s will to elect, is the election of his people, so his will to justify them, is the justification of them; as it is an immanent act in God, it is an act of his grace towards them, is wholly without them, entirely resides in the divine mind, and lies in his estimating, accounting, and constituting them righteous, through the righteousness of his Son; and, as such, did not first commence in time, but from eternity."

And, "Faith is not the cause, but an effect of justification; it is not the cause of it in any sense; it is not the moving cause, that is the free grace of God; “Being justified freely by his grace”, #Ro 3:24 nor the efficient cause of it; “It is God that justifies”, #Ro 8:33 nor the meritorious cause, as some express it; or the matter of it, that is the obedience and blood of Christ, #Ro 5:9,19 or the righteousness of Christ, consisting of his active and passive obedience; nor even the instrumental cause;"

Yours in the Lord,


Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It's a crazy-long sentence.

I don't know that there's anything particularly controversial about the statement.

He is saying that we're justified by the faith of Jesus Christ but then goes on the qualify:

1. He distinguishes first between the objective and subjective genetive. It is not Christ's faith that is in view in the text but the faith that we exercise in Christ. It is our faith that is exercised in Christ.
2. Faith itself is not what justifies us. It is God.
3. Faith is not what moves God to justify us.
4. Faith is not something that God find meritorious in us and so rewards us.
5. Faith is not a habit of acting righteously by which we are actually righteous by our fidelity.
6. Faith is the instrument by which we lay hold of Christ's righteousness despairing our own.

I probably missed a point or two but that's the gist of it.
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