Greek Words Translated to "Except" and "Save" Compared

Galatians 2:16
I do not think the smallest doubt can rest on the sense of Gal. 2:1616Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16).* We have only to read the rest of the verse to make the meaning of the apostle perfectly clear, and more than clear if possible, earnestly contradicting such a sense: ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐργων νόμου. That makes his meaning incontrovertible. But he adds as anxious to insist on the point, διότι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ. How this can be an explanation that we shall be justified by works of law by the faith of Christ, I am at a loss to understand. But it is a mistake as to the force of εἰ μή or εἰ δὲ μή. Not that it is not used as "unless" or "except." But its connection with the main idea of the previous phrase, and opposition to the manner there stated, is common: it is really stronger than ἀλλά having the force of only, or but only. Compare Rom. 14:1414I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Romans 14:14), where the δἰ αὑτοῦ; must be left out, and the "unclean," or main idea taken by itself. Only in that case a thing is unclean, and the point is the opposition to the way or manner. It is exactly so here. There κοινός & is the common idea, justifying here-δἰ αὐτοῦ the special case hypothetically put and denied. Introduce δἰ αὑτοῦ; into the second member of the sentence and you make nonsense of the whole. And so you do here if we read what follows. So Matt. 12:44How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (Matthew 12:4). It was not lawful for him to eat nor those with him, but only for the priests. So Luke 4:26, 2726But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:26‑27), but (or but only) to Sarepta, which was not in Israel: so as to Naaman. There is always the contradiction of, or opposition to, something in εἰ μή The question is to what? In the first case it is of priests to common Jews; in Luke it is to "in Israel;" in Romans "by nature" or to him who so esteems it; in Galatians law and Christ; and there is always a common idea too, as in Matthew, lawfulness to eat; in Luke, widows or lepers; in Romans uncleanness; in Galatians, justifying. Hence the common idea is not uncommonly left out, and only εἰ δὲ μή put in, and the contradicting matter only stated. Meyer, Ellicott, De Wette, Hammond, Fritzsche on Rom. 14:1414I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Romans 14:14), all take it as "but," or "but only" in Gal. 2:1616Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16). The difference of ἀλλά seems to me to be that there is not necessarily a common point or subject as well as contrast, but simply contrast (not this, but that); with εἰ μή there is always a common point about which the contrast takes place. But it is a great mistake to think that it makes the whole antecedent clause the common point, which is what the question would do, so that the clause following it is a condition simply of the whole. You may see the grammatical statements in Klotz's Devarius, Hoogeveen, or Viger, Bose Ellipses, and Winer 654 (sec. 66), the rest under el and the Commentaries in loco. In both, passages from the classics will be found. The point of the difference of ἀλλά and εἰ μή, has not been noticed that I am aware of; but I think it will be found just. There does not seem to me to be the smallest doubt as to the sense of the passage; at any rate, that it means what the question supposes by the grammatical force of the words is a mistake. Passages such as Rom. 14:1414I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Romans 14:14) demonstrate it, and others, too, as Mark 13:3232But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32); Rev. 9:44And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. (Revelation 9:4). In 1 Cor. 7:1717But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. (1 Corinthians 7:17) it stands elliptically by itself for "only." Rom. 3:2727Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27) fully confirms what I have said of the difference of ἀλλά,. When the supposed common point is set as to be, and a condition or way of it is negatived, what follows εἰ μή is exclusive and contradictory of the condition or way. Thus οὐδέ τις ἄλλος αἴτιος ἀθανάτων εἰ μή νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς. A cause is supposed, ἄλλος negatived, εἰ μή exclusive and contradictory of ἄλλος; when there is no negative and the case supposed, the εἰ μή negatives the supposition and says why. Μιλτιάδην δὲ τὸν ἐν Μαραθῶνι εἰς τὸ βάραθρον ἐμβαλεῖν ἐψηφίσαντο, καὶ εἰ μὴ διά τὸν πρύτανιν ἑιέπεσεν ἄν: "if it had not been for the Prytanis, he would have fallen into it." There are cases where μή is left out, and εἰ δέ put with a possible substitution. It answers in the cases of exclusion to אפס; in Hebrew. See Wolff's Curæ in loco. When the whole sentence is negative, the εἰ μή becomes a positive affirmation of what follows, as 1 Cor. 10:1313There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13), Mark 8:1414Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. (Mark 8:14), and others. Schiitz's Hoogeveen gives a pretty full explanation under the words εἰ μή. In result, the negation of works, or faith in Christ to the contradiction or exclusion, of works of law, is clearly the sense of the passage.
(*It has been lately asserted on the strength of ἐαν μή in this verse that, since it is by faith of Him who is the end and fulfilling of the law that men are justified, it involves in itself the full virtue of a legal righteousness. The apostle does not say, as he often does elsewhere, that man is not justified by works but by faith simply; but that he is not justified by works of law, " except through faith of Jesus Christ," etc. Is this just? Is it true that this is the natural force of the words here as contrasted with ἐκ πἰστεως χριστοὺ, and that it would be possible to justify the authorized verse only on the assumption of a large ellipsis, " man is not justified by works of law (and therefore not justified at all), except by faith of Jesus Christ "?)