A Commentary by John Stott
Galatians. 3:28. b). In Christ we are all one.
Literally, ‘You are all one person in Christ Jesus’ (NEB). In Christ we belong not only to God (as His sons) but to each other (as brothers and sisters). And we belong to each other in such a way as to render of no account the things which normally distinguish us, namely race, rank and sex.
First, *there is no distinction of race*. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek’ (verse 28). God called Abraham and his descendants (the Jewish race) in order to entrust to them His unique self-revelation. But when Christ came, God’s promise was fulfilled that in Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. This includes all nations of every race, colour and language. We are equal, equal in our need of salvation, equal in our inability to earn or deserve it, and equal in the fact that God offers it to us freely in Christ. Once we have received it, our equality is transformed into a fellowship, the brotherhood which only Christ can create.
Secondly, *there is no distinction of rank*. ‘There is neither slave nor free.’ Nearly every society in the history of the world has developed its class or caste system. Circumstances of birth, wealth, privilege and education have divided men and women from one another. But in Christ snobbery is prohibited and class distinctions are rendered void.
Thirdly, *there is no distinction of sex*. ‘There is neither male nor female.’ This remarkable assertion of the equality of the sexes was made centuries in advance of the times. Women were nearly always despised in the ancient world, even in Judaism, and not infrequently exploited and ill-treated as well. But here the assertion is made that in Christ male and female are one and equal – and made by Paul, who is ignorantly supposed by many to have been an anti-feminist.
A word of caution must be added. This great statement of verse 28 does not mean that racial, social and sexual distinctions are actually obliterated. Christians are not literally ‘colour-blind’, so that they do not notice whether a person’s skin is black, brown, yellow or white. Nor are they unaware of the cultural and educational background from which people come. Nor do they ignore a person’s sex, treating a woman as if she were a man or a man as if he were a woman. Of course every person belongs to a certain race and nation, has been nurtured in a particular culture, and is either male or female. When we say that Christ has abolished these distinctions, we mean not that they do not exist, but that they do not matter. They are still there, but they no longer create any barriers to fellowship. We recognise each other as equals, brothers and sisters in Christ. By the grace of God we would resist the temptation to despise one another or patronise one another, for we know ourselves to be ‘all one person in Christ Jesus’ (NEB).
Tomorrow: Galatians 3:29. c). In Christ we are Abraham’s seed.