Galatians 3:28 -- By: Faith McBurney Martin
PP 9:1 (Winter 1995) p. 1
Faith Martin is Executive Director of the Reformed Presbyterian Women s Association and Co-Editor of Cornerstones. She is author of Call Me. Messed (Eerdmans, 198 7) and was a founding Board member of CBE.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28 is quite clear. There is little doubt about the point Paul is making: In Christ we are all the same — we are equal with one another.
Yet for all its clarity, this verse is the source of great debate. Controversy centers on how far the principle of believer equality is to be applied. In other words, in what way are we the same? This question is particularly acute when men and women are under discussion.
Some say that equality is limited to the spiritual realm; men and women are “equal in Christ,” however, in the church equality between believers “coexists” with divinely mandated hierarchy.1
Others believe differently. They agree that equality is a spiritual truth, but being spiritual does not alter its impact for this present life. Proof is seen in the fact that Paul is offering that spiritual truth as the solution to a very down-to-earth problem.2 How, these people ask, can the implementation of any spiritual truth be limited or withheld from our present life? Paul himself is quite emphatic in rejecting such a notion. Spiritual truths are for today. His entire letter to the Galatians is an eloquent rebuke to believers who are “not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel.”3 Paul even calls this spiritual truth a “rule” and promises peace and mercy if they follow it!
Probably no other teaching of Paul has such a clear narrative leading up to its proclamation. The Book of Acts tells how the new church was begun in Jerusalem, how the Christians loved one another and held everything in common.4 As the church grew, persecution began and the Christians were scattered. With their scattering the gospel was spread, eventually reaching the Gentiles. Conversion of Gentiles posed a problem for believers from the Jewish heritage. Were the promises of God for the Gentiles also?
The Book of Acts tells a fascinating story. While traveling from city to city meeting with new believers, Peter reached the city of Joppa. There he had a vision from God ins...
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