Joe Rigney sent along an unpublished paper on Galatians 2. He translates verses 15-16 this way: “We are Jews by nature and not ‘sinners’ from the Gentiles. Nevertheless, because we know that a ‘man of the works of the Law’ is not justified except through faith in Jesus Christ, even we Jews have believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law. For by works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

One of the fresh things here is his conclusion that “of the works of the law” in verse 15 modifies anthropos rather than dikaioo ; it is an adjective modifying “man” rather than an adverb modifying how one is justified. He points to various places where Paul uses similar phrases as adjective modifiers (Galatians 2:12, 15; Romans 4:16). These uses “combined with the word order in the verse, the normal exceptive force of ean me [except], the difficulty of other alternatives, and the logical movement in the passage, this reading clearly becomes the most probable.”

On Rigney’s reading, Paul is stating something known by Jewish Christians generally, namely, that even those who are of works of law have to seek justification in Jesus. And “The point of the confession then would simply be to establish that even Jews, even covenant insiders, by the common agreement of all Jewish Christians, must have faith in Christ in order to be justified. In other words, 2:16a grounds 2:16b by establishing the necessity of faith in Christ for justification.”