Monday, September 14, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 3, verse 28

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This is one of the most oft quoted scriptures from the book of Galatians. It is, indeed, the ultimate conclusion of Paul’s arguments here in Chapter 3. The unity of the Body of Christ transcends all of the traditional barriers that exist in culture. This was an extremely radical statement for its day, and, despite “political correctness,” it’s still a radical concept in modern society. But we need to understand exactly what Paul means here. Paul is talking about salvation, and being acceptable to God through Jesus. His main point throughout this book so far has been that we don’t need to follow the Jewish law, and therefore don’t need to be ethnically Jewish, or be like a Jew, in order to be acceptable to God. Ethnicity doesn’t matter – that is Paul’s underlying thesis in the book of Galatians. Here in verse 28, he makes a point to expand and explain further.

Its not just the issue of ethnicity – the issue of social class is also irrelevant (“slave or free”). This was also radical for its time. The wealthy were given every consideration over the poor (things really haven’t changed much today). But social standing is also irrelevant. Paul also adds a distinction he really hasn’t mentioned yet – “male nor female.” In the ancient world, women were also relegated to second class citizenship, often having a status that was much like that of being a slave. Paul is saying that gender is also irrelevant as to the issue of being acceptable to God. Now, this verse is often mis-characterized on this last point. Paul says “you are all one in Christ.” He does not say “you are all the SAME in Christ.” Gender roles in the church and the question of spiritual authority are NOT being discussed here. Ephesians 2 discusses a similar concept, saying we are no longer aliens, but “fellow citizens.” The power of Christ, the totality of His sacrifice has torn down these societal boundaries, and made us ONE – made us a family. We are all in this together folks!

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