What is it about?

Historically, Galatians 3:28 has been read as a statement about 1. equal access to salvation alone or 2. the removal of distinction and difference between different groups within the church (e.g., men and women). (The view which this article adopts is also well-represented.) However, when one reads 3:28 within the context Paul's argument regarding the Spirit, one finds that 3:28 is a statement about a new identity shared by all Christians which, in turn, establishes an equality of value among all believers. Although many distinctions remain (ethnic, gender, etc.) no one is valued over anyone else because of those distinctions. Rather, those distinctions lose their power to forge a value hierarchy because of the new shared identity.

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Why is it important?

For years, scholars only read Gal 3:28 as an announcement about salvation. In the 20th and 21st centuries, scholars began to note the social significance of 3:28. However, some scholars have argued that 3:28 amounts to the dissolution of distinctions. This article contextualizes Gal 3:28 within Paul's pneumatology in Galatians. By doing so, it establishes that both the aforementioned views are mistaken: although Paul understands that gender distinction remains, the new identity granted by the Spirit affords all believers equal value within the Christian community. Thus, this article contributes to ongoing conversations about gender, equality, and identity in Christ.

Perspectives

The influence of popular currents in Western society has led some scholars to project notions of sexual libertinism and the abolition of gender distinction onto various scriptures. Galatians 3:28 is certainly one of those scriptures. Such attempts to conform the NT to popular trends is, I believe, harmful to churches, pulpits, and Christian academies. I hope that this article helps (even if in a small way) to counter those trends.

Matthew Robinson
Asbury Theological Seminary

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This page is a summary of: According to the Promise, Evangelical Quarterly An International Review of Bible and Theology, December 2021, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/27725472-09204001.
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