For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither slave nor free. There is no male and female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
– Galatians 3:27–28
What an awesome reality this is. And how it changes our understanding of ourselves and of the church around us, and the church around the world.
Galatians 3:27–28 Pictures Our New Life in Christ
The picture here that Paul is painting well in all of Galatians three is just the glory of Christ and the new covenant and the grace that has come to us in the gospel that has made us all children of God. And so the language right before this in verse 26, “In Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, you have put on Christ.”
So first, just get that picture of your life you’ve put on Christ, put on Christ. He clothes you, he consumes you. He, Galatians 2:20, is your life. And that’s true for all of us who are in Christ, which puts us all on the same plane. Which leads into verse 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, no male and female. Now, this doesn’t mean that we have lost our distinctions as males and females. No.
We know from the beginning of the Bible that God has created us with beautiful, unique distinctions as men and women made in his image. And we know that God has given us different ethnic backgrounds. It’s not that, okay, you’re no longer Jewish or you’re no longer Greek. That’s not what Paul is saying here. And he’s certainly not even discounting like, “It’s not a big deal if you’re a slave or a free person.”
Galatians 3:27–28 Reminds Us of Our Unity in Christ
Oh, that’s a very significant thing with all kinds of implications for your life. So it’s not that these distinctions are not there anymore, but superseding all of them, you are one in Christ Jesus, Jews and Greeks, people who grew up learning to hate one another, to despise one another ethnically. Now to gather you’re one in Christ, Jew and Greek male and female. There’s no superior gender here, male and female, one in Christ. And you may be a slave, Paul says, and you may be free over here, you’re one in Christ.
So treat each other as Jews and Greeks, slaves and free male and female as one in Christ, as equal children of God with all that flows from that. And there’s a lot we can talk about that flows from that. But see, first and foremost what this passage says about you and me, that our identity is not fundamental in our gender, although that’s important, male or female or our ethnicity, which is also important or our status in a variety of different ways, which is also important, has implications for our lives.
But over and above all those things, we are in Christ. We’ve put on Christ. And we could list a variety of other things here that are not our primary identity. Our job is not our primary identity. Our political party or preferences are not our primary identity, our status and family as single or married as a son or daughter. That’s not our primary identity. We could go on and on.
This Verse Affirms Our Identity in Christ
Our primary identity is that we are in Christ, that we’ve put on Christ and as a result, when we look at one another in the church, we don’t divide according to these other things. And we don’t give preference to one person over another based on these other things. No, we’re a family that is one in Christ Jesus. And that changes the way we not only view our own lives, but view each other in the church and it changes the way we operate as the church.
So we pray, God help us to see ourselves today in this way. Ultimately, fundamentally is having put on Christ that this is who we are, that this is our fundamental identity today and tomorrow, and we’ll be every day for all of eternity for which we are so thankful that the jobs may come and go, though this or that in this world may change, that we will always be in Christ and that we will find our joy and security and peace and hope and this reality.
And then, oh God, please help us to see each other this way in Christ, to appreciate and value and respect the variety of differences we have between us that compliment us, differences that we can learn from. We are so thankful to be a part of a body that comprises many different ethnicities. God help us to value and respect and honor those differences.
God, as men and women, help us to value and respect and honor and in no way to denigrate or make anyone feel inferior in any way because of any of these differences. Help us to honor one another amidst our differences as one in Christ Jesus. And God, we pray for this oneness in your church, what you prayed for Jesus before you went to the cross. We pray for all and more. So in light of Galatians 3:28, help us to show the world what it looks like to be a people who across gender, ethnicity, who across all kinds of other differences and preferences are one in Christ Jesus.
Prayer for the Aïr Tuareg People
And God, we pray that you would bring in more ethnicities, more peoples. God, the Aïr Tuareg people of Niger, 500,000 of them, hardly any known followers of Jesus. God, we believe that you sent your son to die for them. That there are brothers and sisters among them who need to be brought into the family who you have died to bring into the family.
God, help us to get the gospel to them. Please cause the good news of your grace in Christ, to spread to the Aïr Tuareg people of Niger that they might put on Christ, that they might become one with us in Christ Jesus. God, bring all the nations in. We pray to be one in Christ Jesus. And help us to live in the time we have on this earth to see that come about. We pray all this in light of your word in Galatians 3:27–28, which we love. In Jesus’ name, amen.