COMMENTARY ON GALATIANS
LESSON NUMBER 32
Gal 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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." (Gal 3:26-28)
CHILDREN WITH EQUAL STATUS
The Gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6-9,11; 2:2,5,14; 3:8; 4:13), justification by faith (Gal 2:16-17; Gal 3:11,24; 5:4), the New Covenant (Gal 3:15-17), and what a person accepts as the truth (Gal 3:1; 5:7) are not simply subjects to be discussed. These are all matters that touch on being children of God, being freed from the guilt and power of sin, and being accepted by God. No person who has failed to live by faith is seen in heaven as being among the children of God. Few professing Christians would deny that statement, yet numberless multitudes are obviously not living in accord with it. They are like the Galatians, being removed from the One who called them into the grace of Christ. If we could have met the Galatian churches personally, they would probably have appeared very devoted, and even with considerable zeal. This could probably be said about the Laodicean church as well, to say nothing of the church in Corinth. However, both the tone and the content of this epistle make clear that the condition of the Galatians was totally unacceptable. If left uncorrected, there was no possibility of them finally landing in heaven. They had removed themselves from God (1:6). The doctrine they had adopted, if not abandoned, voided the labors of Paul among them (Gal 2:2). It means that any suffering they had experienced in the past for Jesus was pointless (Gal 3:4). Unchecked, their theological posture would cause them to fall from grace (Gal 5:4). In their present mind set, they were not obeying the truth (Gal 5:7). They had adopted a view of salvation that was loosing the flesh to express its condemning works (Gal 5:19-21). That reflects the absolute seriousness of the condition in which they now found themselves.
Now Paul addresses the matter of being the children of God. He will affirm that this relationship depends upon faith - something that is not possible to have while under the dominion of law (Gal 3:12). In our day, this a strange word, but it must be accepted without any kind of qualification. Without any shame, I acknowledge that church leaders who do no make this word clear to the people stand in danger of being rejected themselves (1 Cor 3:17).
CHILDREN OF GOD BY FAITH
Gal 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Other versions read, "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus," NKJV "in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness," CJB and "in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith." AMPLIFIED
CHILDREN OF GOD. What is it that makes a body of people "the children of God?" That is the matter before us. Immediately, you will recognize that this is not the manner of speech among, what I will call, church folk. People often prefer to ask, ""Are you a Christian?" Or, "Where do you go to church?" The average conservative congregation does not hear this kind of language very much. Jesus said "peacemakers" would be called "the children of God" (Matt 5:9). Speaking of the saved He referred to those who "are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection" (Lk 20:36). He referred to non-Jewish believers as "the children of God that were scattered abroad" (John 11:52). Paul taught that "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom 8:16), and that the whole creation is waiting to participate in "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21). With holy dogmatism he affirmed, "the children of the flesh . . . are not the children of God" (Rom 9:8). John wrote that "the children of God" are manifested by their conduct - doing righteousness (1 John 3:10). He also said, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His
commandments" (1 John 5:2).
In all honesty, how often does the average church member hear language like this? How common are such marvelous affirmations? How is it that they do not fit in with many of the current theological emphases?
"The children of God" are those who are begotten by God - that is, they were supernaturally conceived, and are not the result of a series of steps, an earthly procedure, or anything else performed by men. This particularly has to do with pre-birth life, which parallels the initiation and forming of a person within the mothers womb - prenatal. Peter said of God that "His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet 1:3). John wrote of the person who is "begotten of God," and how he "keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 5:19). He also affirmed that the person who has been "begotten of Him" loves the others who are also begotten, or conceived, by God (1 John 5:1).
In the Kingdom, life that is conceived must be birthed, or ushered into the realm where that life can be brought to maturity and productivity. Thus we read of being "born of God." John says of this birth, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God"(John 1:13). Accenting that this was a different kind of birth, Jesus declared, "Ye MUST be born again" (John 3:7), also associating the birth with "water" (John 3:5). John refers to this birth five times. He affirms that whatever is "born of God doth not commit sin" (1 John 3:9). He also declares that those who are "born of God" love the other children and knows God (1 John 4:7; 5:1). He further states that such a one "overcomes the world," that he does not sin, and that the wicked one cannot touch him (1 John 5:4,18).
"The children of God" are those who have been conceived and born by God.
THE RELATION OF THE GOSPEL TO SONSHIP. The Gospel plays a vital role in the begetting process. As Paul said, we are "begotten through the Gospel" (1 Cor 4:15). When Paul says he beget the people, he means that the Gospel he preached was the means God used to commence spiritual life. Referring to the Gospel, Peter said we are "born again . . . by the word of God" (1 Pet 1:23). Where the Gospel is not preached, there is neither begetting nor birth.
WHAT IS "FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS?" This is a summary statement. It presumes the preaching of the Gospel, as well as obedience to it (Rom 10:16). "Faith in Jesus Christ" begins when the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is embraced (John 16:8-10). It is made known when "the form of the doctrine" is obeyed from the heart (Rom 6:17), and one is raised from baptism to walk in the newness of life (Rom 6:4). Because faith is "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (Heb 11:1), faith in Christ Jesus removes any questions about His Person, work, and salvation. Such a person yields to Christ, rejects competing influences, picks up his cross, and follows the Lamb wherever He goes. There is a complete reliance upon Christ. Life is not lived for self, but is rather lived "unto Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor 5:15). Such a faith becomes the victory through which the one possessing it overcomes the world (1 John 5:4-5).
This is the faith through which we are "the children of God." In this sense, God has no children who do not have faith in Jesus Christ. None of His children are fundamentally disobedient, or place their own interests above those of His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. We conclude from this that a propensity to Law, or being subverted by teaching that moves people to depend upon Law, actually diminishes faith, and may cause it to be altogether absent.
BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST AND PUT ON CHRIST
3:26 "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Other versions read, "baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ," NASB and " as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ." AMPLIFIED
Paul makes a statement here that is not received by a considerable segment of the Christian community. For that matter, some in Galatia did not believe this, for they were seeking to be justified by the Law (Gal 2:17). Yet, this does not deter Paul from stating the truth, or going into a lengthy argument seeking to make it more apparent. He simply makes the affirmation, then builds upon it. Remember, the power of the truth is in its affirmation, not its explanation.
AS MANY. Other versions read, "all of you who were," NASB "everyone of you that has," NJB This expression has to do with limitation as well as inclusion. From the limitation point of view it means, ONLY those who have been. From the inclusive point of view, it means ALL of you who have been. Noone failing to meet the condition will be included in the affirmation, and no one meeting the condition will be excluded. Although that is rather simplistic, it is difficult for some.
BEEN BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST. Romans 6:3 speaks of being "baptized into Jesus Christ." In Matthews 28:19, The Amplified Bible reads, "baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Precisely what does this mean? Some feel this refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, the Scriptures do not speak of being baptized into the Spirit. They rather speak of being baptized "with" the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). Neither, indeed, is there any apostolic doctrine that points believers back to the time with they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
This baptism refers to a point in time that was associated with obedience (Rom 6:17) - a time when the people had faith in the operation of God (Col 2:12). Also, this baptism is associated with being "buried" (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12), while being baptized with the Holy Spirit is associated with an outpouring (Acts 2:17-18), and a shedding forth (Acts 2:33; Tit 3:5). Too, baptism with water is "commanded" (Acts 10:47), while being baptized with the Spirit is promised (Acts 1:4-5). This baptism, then, is referring to being baptized with water.
But there is a fine distinction here. The baptism of reference is common to all believers, and is an act of obedience. However the "into Christ" refers to the action of God, or "the operation of God" (Col 2:12). It is God who raised Jesus from the dead, and it is God who raised us from being baptized into Christ's death (Rom 6:4). Baptism is an act of obedience, yet it is more than that. It is an occasion in which God Himself works, putting us into Christ. It is written that, "by His doing you are in Christ Jesus" NASB (1 Cor 1:30).
It must be noted that every valid response from men is also an occasion in which the Lord works. This refers to conviction (John 16:8-10), believing (Phil 1:29), repenting (Acts 5:31), confessing that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:3), and walking in newness of life (Rom 6:4). Those who have been truly "baptized into Christ" are those whose obedience was accompanied by Divine working. In the case of the Galatians, it was their baptism into Christ that was the appointed place in which they were joined to the Lord, NOT circumcision, as their Jewish teachers had said.
HAVE PUT ON CHRIST. This is a most intriguing expression. This is the foundation of several doctrinal expressions: i.e. "newness of life" (Rom 6:4), "the new man" (Col 3:10). It is this putting on, or clothing. that allows us to "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom 13:14), and "put on the new man" (Eph 4:24). Walking in the newness of life (Rom 6:4), cleansing ourselves of all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2 Cor 7:1), and adding to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-8) are really the outgrowth of that initial putting on of Christ. Putting on Christ is like assuming a new identity, where God sees Christ, not you. But that initial clothing is not the end of the matter. We are not to attempt to wear Jesus like a casual and open coat. He is to be tightly wrapped around our lives, so that "the life of Jesus" is made manifest "in our body" (2 Cor 4:10). Where this does not occur, the life of Jesus has been stifled - just as it was in the Galatian churches.
The people in Galatia were not the last ones to revert to a system of law, where Jesus is not emphasized because He is not needed. After a person is in Jesus Christ for many years, Jesus is as surely needed as when the individual was baptized into Christ. There is no point in the Christian life, as some are wont to call it, where Jesus can cease to be all in all. At the very first God made Jesus to be to us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Who would dare to say there can possibly be a time when we cen do without those things, and yet be acceptable to God. And yet, there are multitudes that are persuaded they can live without Christ, merely adhering to a set of rules, and trying their purported best to do good and be better. Such a posture is as surely a delusion as it was to the Galatians. Well ought we to thank God this epistle is in the Scripture. It is an indication of the fragility of spiritual life apart from growth and maturity in Christ. It also reveals the extreme danger of erroneous teaching.
NO FLESHLY DISTINCTIONS IN CHRIST
3:28 "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."
Why does Paul make this salient statement? What has this to do with justification by faith, and not by the works of the Law? It has particular relevance in this epistle because such distinctions invariably arise when people are seeking to be justified by the Law. Some who were living under certain restrictions, like being a Greek, a slave, or a female, might conclude they were exempt from the various requirements addressed to believers. Perhaps they would conclude they were mentally and spiritually incompetent, and that they were really under the care of someone else who could do their thinking for them. Make no mistake about this, many still reason in this manner. Thus people speak of the man being the high priest of the family, telling us how difficult it is to raise godly children without the leadership of a father - even though Timothy is a glaring contradiction of this imagination (2 Tim 1:5). Jesus said that some people would even be required to abandon earthly relations to walk with Him (Lk 14:26). How, then, can anyone's spiritual condition be limited to dependence on earthly relationships?
NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK. Other versions read, "Jew nor Gentile," CJB "Jew nor Grecian," GENEVA Here, the word "Greek" is the proper one. The word "Gentile"refers to ethnicity, or people considered from the standpoint of their progenitor or religion. It refers to anyone and all who are not Jews. "Greek" addresses the same people from the standpoint of language, which was universally Greek at the time. The Jews had their own language - "the Jews' language" (2 Kgs 18:26; Neh 13:24).
There is no ethnicity in Christ, whether by race, color, language, or geography. There is no such thing as a "Christian nation," or some in Christ that are "chosen," and some who are not. Eventually, those who are under a system of Law assert that such distinctions do exist, and they proclaim certain people to be superior to others by nature. However, they lie, and do not the truth.
NEITHER BOND NOR FREE. Other versions read, "slave nor free," NKJV "slave nor free man," NASB and "slave nor freeman." CJB In Christ - and this is a circumstance that is only in Him - there is no one who is born again into bondage. There is no person in the body of Christ who is innately superior to others, or is obliged to always dictate what they do. Everyone in Christ is freeborn. They have been made free to occupy liberty (Gal 5:1-2). They are under absolutely no obligation to obey anyone who calls upon them to violate their conscience, or live as though they had no understanding. These are relations that exist only in the flesh. Onesimus was a slave in the flesh, but a freeman in Christ (Col 4:9; Phile 1:10-11).
NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE. Other versions read, "no longer male and female," NRSV and "not male and female." AMPLIFIED This is in stark contrast with the natural creation: "male and female created He them" (Gen 1:27; 5:2). Even in the flesh, women are subject only to their husbands, not to every man (1 Cor 7:2; Eph 5:24). No husband is over his wife in the Lord, else Timothy's mother, Lois, would have been at a decided disadvantage. No wife is obliged to displease the Lord in order to please her husband. Her life is to be lived directly for the One who died for her and rose again. If God gives her a spiritual gift, she is to use it, and not imagine that because she is a woman she is to subdue it. The only texts in all of the Bible that limit the involvement of a wife (and it always deals with wives), are First Corinthians 14:34-35 and First Tim 2:12. The first text is dealing with interrupting interrogations, and the second with trumping her husband. Both texts are dealing with learning, not with speaking unto edification. In the body of Christ, the value of what is declared is not determined by whether the person is a male or a female. Those distinctions do not even exist in Christ Jesus.
YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. This does not mean that there are no responsibilities for believing spouses and children, or servants and masters - and who would contend for such nonsense. What this verse is saying is that when flesh-and-blood relationships are something less than ideal, the believer is not put at a disadvantage. The body of Christ is so arranged that those who lack holy associations within the domestic family setting can find proper relationships in the body. Jesus said,"Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30). To be sure, it will not go well to those who did not use their position in this world to advance in Christ those under their care. But if they do not, someone else will, and they will be judged as unfaithful stewards.
We are all "one in Christ," freeborn and qualified to be "meet for the Master's use" (2 Tim 2:21). There is not an ethnic group, domestic group, or social group that is excluded from edifying the body (Eph 4:12-16). Nothing in the Word of God suggests that "spiritual gifts" - which are for the whole body (1 Cor 12:7) - are withheld from any of the groups mentioned.