The Real Meaning of Galatians 3:28
By Marcus Lind
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." The last clause in this much disputed verse is a repetition of what the writer has stated previously in verse 26, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Emphasis is on inclusiveness, that all are one in Christ Jesus.
That the Greek (Gentile) is just as much in Christ Jesus as the Jew.
That the slave is just as much in Christ Jesus as the free man.
That the female is just as much in Christ Jesus as the male.
The rating of these three couplets in Christ Jesus is the same. The same regardless of race, station, or sex. When we humans of any and every description come into Christ sincerely, we are equally and wholly in Him and are thereby saved irrespective of who we are, where we are, or what we are. There can be no high nor low of penitents who come to the Cross for salvation. The ground at Calvary's Cross is level, and those who come to the Cross are treated as equals by the Saviour. God's marvelous provision of salvation is complete, and it is freely and equally for all applicants.
In this Galatians setting the main thrust of the passage before us has to do with relations between Jew and Gentile. Is keeping of Jewish law and ordinances necessary to become saved? Paul amplifies his "emphatically no" answer to this bone of contention by paralleling it with the bond-free and male-female qualifications for becoming saved. The Jew-Gentile qualification is shown to be identical with the qualifications of the other two couplets. Not by keeping of the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus, sinners of all kind and caliber are saved. And the Gentile, the bond-slave, and the female are not one whit less saved through that adequate provision than are the Jew, the free man, and the male.
Also to be in Christ is by analogy to become the seed of Abraham, because Christ's Jewish lineage hails directly from Abraham. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). The connecting link between the believer and Abraham is "faith." Through faith the promise of God to Abraham gets through to both Jew and Gentile. "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles along with the Jews, by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Gal. 3:8, NW).
In this treatment of the equal status of Jew and Gentile, Paul does not speak about their role. Both will sense a need to change when they come into Christ. That is the true meaning of conversion. It is a change from darkness to light, from sinful living to righteous living, from a malicious attitude to a loving attitude, from promotion of self to the exaltation of God. That all has to do with change in their status, but the role of Jew and Gentile is not Paul's subject in this passage.
Also, in writing on equal status of bond and free, the Lord is not speaking about their role. Doubtless the slave and the free man will make many adjustments upon conversion. They will desire to live differently and behave differently upon receiving a change of heart, but that is not the subject of this passage.
The correct subject has to do with the relationship to God of the Gentile, the bondman, and the woman. To become a saved person is to become a part of the "faith line." And Abraham is father of that line. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God . . ." (Eph. 2:8). What is your standing with the God who saved your soul-not what is your work in the light of that standing. Who you are by faith in Christ Jesus, instead of what your role is in the program of His kingdom.
The above is from The Sword and Trumpet, PO Box 575, Harrisonburg, Va. 22803-0575. June 2001 issue.
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