Galatians III:27-28 Questions for Students (Tuesday, July 17, 2012 — Saturday, July 21, 2012)

Galatians 3:26-27

Seventh Week

Tuesday

July 17, 2012

We’re going to take a week to focus on these verses because they raise challenging questions about the role of women and baptism.

Of course, in one week, we can hardly do justice to these topics. But we can at least try to fairly assess what these key verses say on the topic — recognizing that there are other passages that must be considered.

In other words, this is not the end of the study, but the beginning. But there’s no better place to begin than Galatians.

(Gal 3:25-28 ESV)  25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,  26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  28 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.

Baptism

The classic question raised by Galatians and Romans regarding baptism is how to reconcile baptism with Paul’s insistence that we’re saved by faith, not by works. Some argue that baptism is a work and therefore not connected with our salvation. Others argue that baptism is absolutely essential but not a “work.” Others argue that baptism is absolutely essential and a “work,” but just not a work of the Law of Moses.

Galatians 2:27 thus gives us the opportunity to understand our baptism much more deeply — and hopefully to get away from merely asserting positions back and forth. Perhaps there are some answers here.

1. Verse 26 says that we are sons of God “through faith.” Verse 27 says that those who’ve been baptized have put on Christ. Is this a contradiction? Why or why not?

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2. Since baptism is a physical act — often argued to be even an act of obedience — how is it not a work? And if it’s work, how can it be essential to salvation? And yet, Paul certainly has no problem tying baptism to salvation in v. 27. How can that be true?

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Wednesday

July 18, 2012

3. Beasley-Murray (in his excellent Baptism in the New Testament) seeks to reconcile the seeming conflict between verses  26 and 27 as  follows:

If Paul were pressed to define the relationship of the  two statements in vv. 26-27, I cannot see how he could preserve the  force of both sentences apart from affirming that baptism is the moment  of faith in which the adoption is realized — in the dual sense of  effected by God and grasped by man — which is the same as saying that  in baptism faith receives the Christ in whom the adoption is effected.

And although Beasley-Murray is a Baptist, here he sounds very much  like a member of the Churches of Christ. But why is it okay for baptism  to be the moment when salvation is effected and not okay for  circumcision to be that moment? Paul isn’t saying, “The Jews got it  wrong — God made a rule and the rule is baptism, not circumcision.” No,  Paul repeatedly argues that circumcision can’t be essential because it’s not faith. But neither is baptism, is it?

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4. Would it be consistent with Paul’s argument in Galatians to say that baptism is an “act of faith” or the “obedience of faith” and so not objectionable as a “work” but circumcision cannot be an act or obedience of faith?

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5. Martin Luther resolves the apparent conflict by suggesting that baptism should be seen as a gift given to those with faith, rather than a work done by the convert. In effect, he sees baptism as what God does for the convert, through the church, rather than what the convert does for himself.

Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of  no avail for salvation; what then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our  works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God’s (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a  bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are saving and necessary  for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith  they could not be apprehended. For by suffering the water to be poured  upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it  benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have  yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God’s  command and ordinance, and besides in God’s name, in order that you may  receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot  do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.

Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a  treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord  Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended  in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do  us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith;  while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it  nothing can be received nor enjoyed.

Does Luther make sense?

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Thursday

July 19, 2012

6. Recall that normally the Spirit is received at the same time as water baptism. Both events are referred to as “baptism” — baptism of the Spirit and water baptism — occurring at once and so properly referred to together as “baptism.”

The receipt of the Spirit is a gift from God. Is it a “work”?

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7. Is water baptism a gift from God? Or is it a work done by the person being baptized?

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8. Why does Paul say that baptism “clothes” us (NIV; equals “put on” in ESV) with Christ Jesus? (Isa 61:10; Zec 3:4)

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Friday

July 20, 2012

Women

1. There are several passages that parallel v. 28 –

(Col 3:11 ESV)  11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

(1Co 12:13 ESV)  13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

– but Gal 3:28 is the only similar passage that says “no male and female.” What about the context in Galatians makes “male and female” particularly relevant to Paul’s presentation?

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2. Many translations, such as the NASB miss it, but Paul’s pairing of “male and female” differs from his pairing of “neither Jew nor Greek” and “neither slave nor free.” Compare –

(Gal 3:28 KJV) 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.

– with –

(Gal 3:28 ESV) here 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.

The ESV translation is in fact what the Greek says. Where else in the Bible do we find the phrase “male and female”?

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3. In fact, the language is word-for-word, letter-for-letter the same as in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament used by Paul and his readers) as –

(Gal 3:28 BGT) ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ
(Gen 1:27 BGT) ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ

Given that Paul was a Jewish rabbi, trained by Gamaliel, considered one of the greatest Jewish rabbis ever, and surely had memorized Genesis 1, could this be a coincidence?

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4. Why do you suppose Paul varied from his earlier “neither … nor” pattern to copy the language from Genesis 1:27? (It’s just as obvious in the Greek as in the ESV. The third pair is not parallel with the first two pairs.)

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Saturday

July 21, 2012

5. Consider –

(Gal 3:26 ESV) 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Why say “sons” and not “children” or “offspring” as in several other verses? Consider Numbers 36, which shows that normally only sons inherit under the Law of Moses.

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6. A classic argument, made by many people, is that Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:28 speaks only to eligibility to be justified, the idea being that men and women have equal access to salvation (which no one disputes today) but that does not mean they were in any sense entitled to the same roles after being saved.

Do Paul’s arguments in Galatians 3 really relate solely to entry into salvation? Or does he also speak about life as a Christian after salvation?

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7. Why does Paul say “neither Jew nor Greek”? What conclusions does he expect us to draw about their relationship within the church? Is he speaking solely to eligibility to become saved?

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8. Why does Paul say “neither slave nor free”? What conclusions does he expect us to draw about their relationship within the church? Is he speaking solely to eligibility to become saved?

It’s hard to imagine a reason for “neither slave nor free” related to circumcision, as the Jews circumcised slaves and free alike (Gen 17:12-13). Why do you suppose Paul brought up that pairing at this place in the discussion?

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9. Why “no male and female”?

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One Response to Galatians III:27-28 Questions for Students (Tuesday, July 17, 2012 — Saturday, July 21, 2012)

  1. Jenny says:

    What I don’t understand is why the “neither…nor” phrases are interpreted differently. It seems as though there is “neither male nor female” in the exact same sense that there’s “neither Jew nor Greek” or “neither slave nor free.” Instead most people take the most liberal interpretation for race and political status (e.g., there’s nothing different from the Christian perspective; they are equal in every sense of the term; they are equal in every earthly sense and also with respect to salvation) but the most conservative interpretation for sex (e.g., they are only equal with respect to salvation). Why the inconsistency? Shouldn’t all three be interpreted to the same degree?

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