“But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
(Galatians 3:22–29 NIV)
These verses from Galatians 3 are I believe to be one most important in this letter. Paul began this chapter by rebuking the Galatians to forget who they were and allowing the enemy to spread a powerful.
They believed that a faithful follower of Jesus needed now to follow the letter of the law to become the real people of God. Issues about circumcision, observance of the Sabbath and food laws. It is in this last distinction, food laws, is where Paul rebukes Peter.
Paul is not very soft in his pastoral approach, he calls Peter hypocrite, and now he calls the Galatians “Foolish” and “Bewitched”. He rebukes them telling that the Gospel he preached was and still is the “Gospel of Grace, believed by Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”.
The sad spiritual direction that the Galatians took was for Paul a great worry and a matter of great urgency. From being saved and justified, and made righteous, a people that started with the Spirit of God, to now living, and believing that observance to the Law was the way in to be justified by God. Jesus + Law = Children of God = NO
Throughout this letter, Paul is saying NO, that it is not the way God purposed it. This was never God’s intention; it was never God’s plan.
Paul says that before the Law given to Moses, who was a mediator between God and God’s people, the way to become right with God was by Faith Alone, by an act of God’s Grace and through a Promise that God made to Abraham. This promise is based upon the Seed (of Abraham) who is Jesus and God the Mediator because God is One.
As Paul says here, the purpose of the Law is to show us that we cannot save ourselves, revealing who we are, sinners and point us into the right direction, to the direction of our True Mediator, Jesus Christ.
In his commentary on Galatians, John Stott says “That God had to make things worse before He could make it better”. The Law exposed sin, for what it is and the Law points to the Gospel. Stott says “that it is only against the dark background of sin and judgement that the Gospel shines forth”.
“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our Guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:22–24 ESV)
According to Paul, the Law has two crucial applications.
First, we have already seen it, that is, Paul says that one of the Law’s functions is that it imprisoned everything under sin. We are a prisoner under the curse and power of the law. We are only released from that prison by believing in Faith in the “Promise”, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can set us free from the “law of sin and death” as Paul says in Romans 8:2.
The Law’s Second function is that of a “Guardian“, or a Tutor implies that the Law as such was to correct and protect. That is what a Tutor or a Guardian does, and its function is to teach and therefore bring correction while it protects or acts as a supervisor. (So that those who follow the Law are different from Gentiles, Pagans and Heathens).
Now the context tells us that a Guardian was a slave to a young student for instruction and protection will he came of age!! Implicit in the text is the notion of children of the need of a Guardian.
What is Paul saying? Paul is saying that the Law as a Guardian stopped when Jesus Christ came, so now we are free from the law of sin and death, and we have come to age in Christ Jesus. In Jesus, we are now Justified!
“Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
(Galatians 3:25–27 NIV11-GKE)
The theme of Children of God runs so profoundly in this passage, and this theme has been challenged to its core.
We are Sons and Daughters of God, by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, it is by faith and no by the works of the Law.
This is not just Paul’s theology; it is Biblical Theology.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13 ESV)
We have been adopted into the family of God, that adoption is by Faith in Christ. We have come to age, we are no longer under the Guardian, but we under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Paul will develop this idea of adoption in the following chapter!
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons and daughters. Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!”” (Galatians 4:4–6 NAS20)
Paul refers to one essential aspect of this adoption which is by faith, he says “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 NAS20)
To enter into Christ’s baptism means that we have died and risen with Christ. Romans 6 says “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3–4 NIV11-GKE)
Coming into this baptism with Christ means that we clothe ourselves with Christ.
What does he mean? It means that we have taken the identity of Jesus. The Old ragged self has been buried under baptism and now as we come under the waters, we have a new wardrobe, we have new garments.
I love the way the Message puts this, because I think, encapsulate the spirit of which Paul is speaking us!
“Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfilment of God’s original promise.” (Galatians 3:27 MESSAGE)
I love the way he says “it also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe! You see, we are no longer children guided or tutored under the law, we are now in Christ.
This is what Paul meant in 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV11-GKE)
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28–29 NIV11-GKE)
I believe this is one of the most important verses in the whole of the Bible. It is about who we are and what we have in Christ Jesus.
Because we are Abraham’s seed, we have inherited Abraham’s Blessings, which is an overwhelming one. It speaks of nations, peace, wellbeing, prosperity, and above all, we are in Christ because of Faith in Him, it is all about Grace.
Yet, this verse has been interpreted in different ways, and today this is one of the central texts to defend gender equality, and I want to tell you it does not speak of gender equality in the way that it is understood today.
Let me put it into context.
What if I tell you that this morning I prayed:
“Lord, I thank you, that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.”
How would you react? I tell you what will happen, my phone will not stop ringing, and probably I will have every elder, leader and friends calling me!!
If I tell you that this prayer is not new, this prayer has been prayed for centuries and even it was popular at the time of Jesus and Paul. It is a real prayer, and you can find it online or buy the Book Standard Prayer Book, which is a collection of Jewish prayers.
I want you to see how revolutionary the teaching of the Gospel is and how dangerous it can be! The Gospel has social implications. Tim Keller explains this graciously.
The Gospel has this incredible power, capacity to elevate us to our right place.
- The Gospel breaks Cultural Barriers. Cultural divisions have no place in the church of Christ. People of one culture do not need to become like another culture to be accepted by God. There is neither Jew nor Gentile.
- The Gospel breaks Class Barriers. Neither slave nor free.
- The Gospel breaks the Gender Barrier. This revolutionary. Jesus and here, Paul are saying that Women are equal in Christ before God. Why? Because in their time this was not the case. They were believed inferior to men and hence the Prayer!!!
It does not speak of Gender equality as we understand this now, Paul and Jesus are putting the record straight for all to see.
Friends following Jesus is a radical thing! When we are clothed in Christ, we take in his lifestyle, mind, ethics, morality, and revolutionary approach to love and forgiveness. His generosity, his peace, his abundance, his patience, his endurance, his kindness, his self-control, his goodness, his joy and his faithfulness. Paul says that against all this, there is no law! This is our inheritance! It is for you and me, and it is a now inheritance! It is there for the taking, and we need to believe.
The sad thing is that I have experienced within the body of Christ persecution, misunderstandings because I do not fit in. I have heard people saying and even praying: “Thank God, that I am not a Catholic, Muslim, Eastern European, Asian, African, South America, working-class, living on benefits, thank you that I am white and no other! Thank you that I am not like you!!! If we believe that we do not have the Gospel.
Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God’s presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).