Introductory note from the author: This paper was written in the winter and spring of 2001, and presented as an academic paper at the August 2001, Conservative Theological Society meeting held at Tyndale Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX. It has since been slightly revised based upon input from scholars and readers to help clarify some points. A slightly edited version has been published in the December, 2001 Conservative Theological Journal, available from the CTS ( or call Tyndale at 800-886-1415). The same edition will also be published on The Theological Journal Library CD from Galaxie Software (see, soon to be available for purchase through Tyndale as well. The CD also includes Bibliotheca Sacra, JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society), Westminster Theological Journal, etc.

After reading this paper I would highly recommend that you also read "Biblical Gynecology, Part I & II" by Dr. Dan Wallace located on the Biblical Studies Foundation website ( ). Dr. Wallace wrote his 2 articles (June 18, 2001) just a month  after the first draft of my paper was submitted to Tyndale. After reading both my paper and Dr. Wallace's someone facetiously remarked, "Hey, it looks like Dr. Wallace copied your paper!"

What is important about both Dr. Wallace's articles and my paper (other than the obvious fact the Dr. Wallace is a renowned scholar and academic author and one of the top Greek grammarians) is that two utterly independent students of the Scriptures came to virtually identical conclusions and interpretations, expressing the same concerns, without any knowledge of the other's work. This is a real ratification of a consistent, literal, grammatical historical hermeneutic. I have interacted briefly with Dr. Wallace on his work via e-mail.

Lastly, it is my intent to publish a booklet form of the paper in non-academic lingo for use in churches, Bible schools, etc, so that pastors, Sunday school teachers and the work-a-day Christian can be armed with the truth about Gal. 3:28 when confronted with claims about its meaning by the egalitarians or feminists in their churches.

I welcome your comments and feedback!

May the Lord richly bless your studies.

Eric Peterman, pastor/elder

CTS Online Editor


Galatians 3:28 and Evangelical Egalitarianism

Academic Version

As presented at the meeting of the

Conservative Theological Society

Summer 2001 Session, Aug. 5-7

Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tx.

Rev.1 - Aug-01

 Eric Peterman, Pastor/Elder - Valley Bible Fellowship

P.O. Box 433, Boonville, Calif.  95415

(707) 895-3212, e-mail:

This paper is also on the VBF website:

Your feedback and comments are invited and most welcome

Introductory Comments. 2

Theology Proper, The Doctrine of God: Ontology and Subordination in the Trinity. 2

Essential Equality and Functional Subordination in the Trinity: Orthodox or Heterodox?. 3

Purpose. 4

Limited Scope. 4

The Four Positions. 4

On a Personal Note. 5

What is at Stake. 6

Galatians 3:28, The Importance of Context. 6

The Epistle’s Context –Date and Destination.. 6

The Epistle’s General Context. 7

The Overall Passage Context. 8

The Immediate Context. 9

The Exegesis of v23-29. 9

Doctrinal: A defense of justification by faith by - The Purpose of the Mosaic Law.. 10

Verse 23. 10

Verse 24. 10

Verse 25. 11

Conclusion to Exegesis of Verses 23-25. 11

Doctrinal: A defense of justification by faith by - The Believer’s Position.. 12

Verse 26. 12

Verse 27. 13

Verse 28. 13

Verse 29. 15

Conclusion to Exegesis of Verses 26-29. 15

Exegetical Implications of Galatians 3:28 and Biblical Egalitarianism... 15

Positionally: 16

Experientially: 16

Test Proposition One. 16

Test Proposition Two. 16

Test Proposition Three. 16

Exegetical Summary. 17

Pastoral Implications of Galatians 3:28 and Biblical Egalitarianism... 17

Expository Comments. 17

Pastoral Counseling and Feminist Encounters. 19

Introductory Comments

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.      Galatians 3:28.[a]

In recent years this verse, Galatians 3:28, has been hoisted as the battle standard of feminists and Biblical egalitarians who count themselves as evangelical.[1]  They argue that this verse shows that the church has, in past generations, maintained unbiblical support of a paternalistic church and family order. This has kept Christian women from rising to their God-ordained place of equality of position and authority alongside men in the leadership of the church and in the family.

As Clark summarizes this view in Man and Woman in Christ,

Nowadays many assume that Gal 3:28 is the place in which we find the heart of the scriptural teaching about the roles of men and women. Moreover, many interpret Gal 3:28 to mean that ideally in Christ there are no role differences between men and women, an interpretation which opposes Gal 3:28 to all the other texts that assert such a difference. According to this line of interpretation, this tension should be resolved by giving a preference to Gal 3:28. This view sees Gal 3:28 as ‘the great breakthrough’ and regards the other passages as ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ passages that express something of limited value.”[2]

In short, the Biblical egalitarian generally believes:

1.       Gal. 3:28 to be concerned with, among other social issues, the functional roles of Christian men and women. As such it is the core or “heart” of the New Testament teaching to the church regarding that subject.

2.       Tension between this passage’s clear teaching (as socially and functionally determinative) and those passages apparently in opposition to it should be resolved by preferring Gal. 3:28.

Theology Proper, The Doctrine of God: Ontology and Subordination in the Trinity

Conservative scholars have generally held that Scripture teaches the true ontological[b] and spiritual equality and value of the genders (Gen. 1:27, 5:2). They also see no essential conflict between the Bible asserting ontological equality, and simultaneously asserting functional and positional subordination in the church and in marriage.

A comparison can be made with the doctrine of the Trinity: Christian orthodoxy asserts an ontological equality and value between the Father and Son (e.g. John 1:1, “and the word was God.” John 10:30, “I and the Father are one”). In the same breath orthodoxy asserts, indeed demands, an economic, functional subordination of the Son to the Father regarding some of his offices, for example, as the Son of Man and as the high priest in the order of Melchizedek, (e.g. Heb. 5:8-10,although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”).

Ray Ortlund, Jr. points out the apparent tension within the doctrine of the Trinity and its analog, the tension between the essential equality of both men and women, and the differentiation as to functional subordination:

We ought to be sufficiently agile intellectually and emotionally to accept this paradoxical truth. Christians, of all people, have a reason to live with paradox. After all, God exists as one Godhead in three Persons, equal in glory but unequal in role. Within the Holy Trinity the Father leads, the Son submits to Him, and the Spirit submits to both (the Economic Trinity). But it is also true that the three Persons are fully equal in divinity, power, and glory (the Ontological Trinity). The Son submits, but not because He is God, Jr., an inferior deity. The ranking within the Godhead is a part of the sublime beauty and logic of true deity. And if our Creator exists in this manner, should we be surprised and offended if His creaturely analog on earth exists in paradoxical form?[3]

Many evangelical feminists and egalitarians reject this tension with regard to men and women, holding that functional subordination in the home and church is a de facto assertion of ontological inferiority. Further, they would assert that ontological equality must be expressed in functional equality for “equality” to mean anything. They would point to Galatians 3:28 as the proof that the apostle Paul understood this “fact.”

Essential Equality and Functional Subordination in the Trinity: Orthodox or Heterodox?

A brief digression into a question of Theology Proper is in order at this point. Some (not all) in this camp go so far as to deny that this tension exists within the Trinity itself. Evangelical feminists Richard and Catherine Kroeger write in the article Subordinationism in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, asserting in the very first sentence of that article that subordinationism is:

“A doctrine which assigns an inferiority of being, status, or role to the Son or the Holy Spirit within the Trinity. Condemned by numerous church councils, this doctrine has continued in one form or another throughout the history of the church”[4]

When the Kroegers add inferiority of role to their definition, they condemn the Trinitarianism of historical Christianity! The reader should note with alarm that they have labeled as “condemned,” or heterodox, the universal teaching of the church: that there is equality of nature and essence within the Trinity, while there is willing subordination of roles. They even admit that functional subordination (as to role) has “continued in one form or another throughout the history of the church.” This should not come as a surprise to us since it is the church’s historical view!

Another example along this line of thinking is offered by Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, in her book, Equal to Serve:

“If we define head as ‘authority over,’ then 1 Corinthians 11:3 can mean that there is a dominant to subordinate hierarchy within the Trinity, a position that does violence to the equality of the Persons of the Godhead. Early in its history, orthodox Christianity took a firm stand against any teaching that would make Christ a subordinate figure. To say that God is somehow authoritative over Christ erodes the Savior’s full divinity and puts a Christian on dangerous theological ground”[5]

Katherine Kroeger says in her appendix to this same book by Hull, “The heretics would argue that although the Son is of the same substance as the Father, He is under subjection.”[6]

Kroeger has called historical, orthodox Christianity heresy, attacking catholicity itself. Hull also clearly misstates the church’s historical understanding of the functional roles of the members of the Trinity. Both the Kroegers’ and Hull’s statements are false.

This line of reasoning demonstrates either gross ignorance of Scripture, the early church councils, and the church’s historical teaching, or a deliberate and insidious attempt by these authors to pervert and redefine the historical record. In either case, such thinking itself warrants an examination for heresy and is clearly outside the pale of orthodoxy. It demonstrates a “win at all costs” mentality that indicates a deep a priori commitment to a Christianized feminism that is even willing to attack essential theology to have its way.

One would hope, and in Christian charity assume, that the greater body of evangelical feminism’s thinkers does not share these kinds of theological aberrations. However, a warning against just such a theological tendency among many evangelical feminists was seen in Robert Letham’s article, “The Man-Woman Debate: Theological Comment,” Westminster Theological Journal 52:1 [Spring 1990], pp. 65-78. Caveat emptor!


The purpose of this paper is to examine Galatians 3:28 in light of its context to determine if it can legitimately be seen to advocate Biblical gender egalitarianism. In short, is it as Paul King Jewett, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, says, the Magna Carta of Humanity?”[7] Does Galatians 3:28 indeed advocate functional equality in the church and home. These questions deserve a thoughtful, Biblical answer, for as someone has wisely said, “a text without a context, is merely a pretext.”

Limited Scope

The scope of this paper is necessarily limited. It cannot, in so brief a work, determine the larger issue of functional equality of men and women, an issue that is addressed by other Scriptures. This paper merely seeks to discover if, based on context and exegesis, Galatians 3:28 is to be allowed or disallowed as a support for the egalitarian, functional equality position. If it is disallowed, then it cannot be brought into any discussion to contradict any other texts asserting God-ordained male leadership in the home and church.

The Four Positions

It should be noted that there are at least four major positions within the evangelical church regarding the general issue of gender egalitarianism, and Gal. 3:28 in particular.

1.       Biblical Subordinationism: The Scriptures clearly affirm both ontological and spiritual equality and functional subordination. This functional subordination is only in the context of the husband/wife relationship and the church leadership/pastoral roles. This position generally holds that Gal. 3:28 does not speak of social/functional equality in the church and in the home. The Biblical Subordinationist acknowledges Scripture as authoritative and normative regarding the issue at hand. This position is arrived at inductively[c].

2.       Biblical Egalitarianism: The Scriptures clearly affirm both ontological and spiritual equality and functional equality. This position generally (although not with absolute uniformity) holds that Gal. 3:28 does indeed speak of social/functional equality in the church and in the home. The Biblical egalitarian acknowledges Scripture as authoritative and normative regarding the issue at hand. This position is arrived at inductively.

3.       Experiential Egalitarianism: Egalitarian experience and/or tradition determine the normative pattern for church and home. This group has seen “effective” female pastors and/or experienced functional equality in leadership of the home. This egalitarian pattern has become normative for them. There are basically two subgroups in this position:

a.       Gnostic[d]: These Christians know something of the Scriptures, including those that speak to the issue of gender roles. Because of their experiences (either past or ongoing) there is usually substantial emotional and/or social cost to dealing honestly with those Scriptures that teach functional subordination. Therefore these Christians respond in one of three ways: 1) subordinate the authority of Scripture to their experience, 2) continuously undergo internal struggles of conscience between Scripture and experience, and/or 3) choose to ignore this issue and hope it will go away. It is worth noting that many within this group may consider themselves, or are considered by others, to actually be in position two (Biblical Egalitarianism). This position is arrived at deductively[e]. In other words, there is an a priori commitment to egalitarianism.

b.       Agnostic[f]: These Christians don’t know the Scriptures dealing with the issues of gender roles. They therefore experience little internal conflict and consider gender roles solely from an experiential and/or traditional viewpoint.

4.       Experiential Authoritarianism: Authoritarian experience and/or tradition determine the normative pattern for church and home. This group has seen only male pastors and/or experienced male leadership in the home, (sometimes inappropriate, unloving or occasionally abusive). This experience pattern has become normative for them. As with the Experiential Egalitarians, there are basically two subgroups in this position:

a.       Gnostic: These Christians know something of the Scriptures, including those that speak to the issue of gender roles. Because of their experiences (either past or ongoing) there is usually substantial emotional and/or social cost to dealing honestly with those Scriptures that teach ontological equality of the genders and self-sacrificial, loving male leadership. Therefore these Christians respond in one of three ways: 1) subordinate the authority of Scripture to their experience, 2) continuously undergo internal struggles of conscience between Scripture and experience, and/or 3) choose to ignore this issue and hope it will go away. It is worth noting that many within this group may consider themselves, or are considered by others, to actually be in position one (Biblical Subordinationism). This position is arrived at deductively. In other words, there is an a priori commitment to male leadership or even inappropriate domination or abuse.

b.       Agnostic: These Christians don’t know the Scriptures dealing with the issues of gender roles. They therefore experience little internal conflict and consider gender roles solely from an experiential and/or traditional viewpoint.

Both Biblical Subordinationists and Biblical Egalitarians hold to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, but they differ in the interpretive result. It is the observation of this author that a large portion of the evangelical church is actually in position three (Experiential Egalitarianism), subcategory “a” (Gnostic) but they think of themselves as Biblical Egalitarians. Likewise, some are actually in position four (Experiential Authoritarianism), subcategory “a” (Gnostic) but they think of themselves as Biblical Subordinationists.

While it may be acknowledged that both Experiential Egalitarians and Experiential Authoritarians may be correct insofar as they have arrived at the proper conclusions, yet they both err in the process of attaining that conclusion. At best, both effectively deny the plenary[g] inspiration of Scripture; at worst, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, although this seems rarely a deliberate or intentional result. It is, rather the result of benign neglect, laziness or a desire to avoid conflict (Psalm 119:16, Proverbs 30:5, 2 Cor. 4:2). For the purpose of this paper the author will assume that the reader is honestly seeking to understand and obey the authority of the Scriptures, even if those Scriptures contradict the reader’s experiences or background.

On a Personal Note

A personal comment is in order at this point. The author of this paper has made a personal spiritual journey between several of these positions. He says, “I began my journey in the Experiential Egalitarian camp having had a grandmother who had been ordained (an amazing woman who had been a missionary to cannibals). Experiences later led me to be a somewhat puzzled Experiential Authoritarian, struggling and sometimes waffling back and forth between the two experiential camps. As a young adult I came into contact with Biblical Egalitarianism and tentatively took this position as my own. Over the years, however, as my exegetical abilities matured, specifically in the literal, historical, grammatical hermeneutic, and just as importantly, in my appreciation for the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures, I have arrived at the position of Biblical Subordinationism

 Personally, my preference would be for egalitarianism, and were I to design the universe it would certainly be thus. However, as I am (thankfully) not the Designer, I would describe myself as a fully convinced, but emotionally reluctant Biblical Subordinationist. It is my view that this is the best place from which to argue my position: having experienced most all the views, and emotionally preferring egalitarianism, yet being intellectually convinced by Scripture, and in my conscience convicted, that the opposite is true.

What is at Stake

This is a critical issue for our times. If the Biblical Egalitarians are correct, then at least three general areas of Christian life need to be addressed:

1.       Hermeneutical: This passage would be determinative in the interpretations of other seemingly conflicting passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15. In this case Galatians 3:28 would become the locus classicus[8], the super-doctrine, the single lens through which all other related passages would be seen and interpreted. It would become a kind of crux, or theological trump card.

2.       Ecclesiastical: The church would need to change its practices to not only allow, but proactively encourage and include the ordination of women to the pastorate

3.       Family order: There would be no basis for male leadership in the Christian home. The church would need to “modernize” its teaching regarding submission of wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22).

Galatians 3:28, The Importance of Context

A commitment to both the authority of Scripture and a normal, literal, historical, grammatical hermeneutic means, among other things, a commitment to a study of this passage in situ. A key to understanding this passage, and any other, lies in understanding the context. Ramm observes, “grammatical interpretation involves consideration of the context… entire Scripture… sets the general mood, gives the general perspective, governs the fundamental assumptions, or sets the possible limits of meaning for the interpreter.[9]” By lifting passages out of the context of history, authorial background, intended audience, intended purpose and the surrounding passages, various subjective and mistaken interpretations can arise.[h]

The Epistle’s Context –Date and Destination

Paul is writing ca. A.D. 48-49 from Syrian Antioch to the church in the area of southern Galatia in Asia Minor: Antioch (Pisidia), Iconium (Phrygia), Lystra, Derbe and vicinity. Paul and Barnabas had just planted these churches on their first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). This date would make the Galatian epistle Paul’s first grafh. - Scripture.[10] The significance of this being his first Scripture will become apparent in the following section.

The Epistle’s General Context

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson notes with regard to the overall purpose of Galatians that,

“The Epistle to the Galatians, most likely the first of Paul’s letters, centers the attention of the reader on two dominant themes: (1) the justification of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ apart from legal works, and (2) the ministry of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling energizer of the spiritual life in Christ.”[11]

Commentators and scholars universally acknowledge the close affinity of Paul’s Galatian epistle to that of his Roman one. As 19th century commentator Lightfoot asserts:

“The Epistle to the Galatians, stands in relation to the Roman letter as the rough model to the finished statue; or rather, if I may press the metaphor without misapprehension, it is the first study of a single figure, which is worked into a group in the later writing.”[12]

The first letter, Galatians, is written in Paul’s first indignant reaction to heresy, while the other, Romans, is written calmly and at leisure.[13] The purpose of Paul as he wrote Galatians (against heresies) should be kept in mind as one evaluates verse 3:28. Johnson recalls the statement of his professor at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1945, Dr. Everett Harrison, “Romans tells us what the gospel is; Galatians tells us what it is not.”[14]

Structurally, Paul’s letter is generally acknowledged to fall into three sections:

1.       The opening two chapters (1-2) are largely personal, containing a defense of his gospel and apostleship.

2.       The following section, also of two chapters (3-4), contains the exposition, in strongly argumentative form, of the heart of his gospel: the doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from legal works.

3.       The letter’s final two chapters (5-6) conclude with a hortatory[i] appeal to practice the principles and responsibilities of the Christian life through the energy of the indwelling Spirit of God.

The passage in question, 3:28, falls within the bounds of the doctrinal and theological argumentation portion, rather than the hortatory/exhortative portion, as noted above.

Paul’s purpose for writing, when seen in this light, takes on a particular importance in understanding the passage in question. Paul had, while he was with them, clearly taught them that the gospel of salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Yet Paul had received a report from Galatia that some of the Jewish converts to Christianity, the “Judaizers,” had been bringing a deadly admixture of salvation by grace, with salvation by obedience to the Mosaic Law. To add insult to injury these Jewish Christians were also forcing Gentile Christians to first become Jews, including the rite of circumcision, before they became Christians (or before they could consider themselves “real” Christians), and requiring them to keep the Mosaic Law at best as a way to improve their spiritual standing with God, and at worst as a means of preserving their salvation.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”       Gal 1:6-7

Thus, Paul was combating what might be considered an aggressive infection of heresy: salvation by grace through faith, plus reliance on the Mosaic Law.

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”       Galatians 3:1-5

In addition, these “Judaizers” wanted the Gentile converts to be circumcised.  One feels the emotional heat of Paul’s scathing reply:

“Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!”      Gal. 5:11-12

Once we understand Paul’s reason for writing and his overall argument, we can then, and not sooner, proceed to the interpretation of particular passages within the Galatian letter. Paul’s reason/purpose is to shame the Galatian Christians into returning to relying on Christ alone for their salvation, and to abandon their foolish attempts at earning or maintaining salvation through obedience to Mosaic Law. As Donald Campbell concludes his introductory comments in The Bible Knowledge Commentary,

“Galatians was written to remedy a desperate situation, to call early Christians back from the Mosaic Law to grace, from legalism to faith. It is an emphatic statement of salvation by faith apart from works and it is as relevant today as when it was originally penned.”[15]

This mindset, that of a corrective polemic[j], is to be the interpretive grid or “filter” through which we understand the Galatian letter in general, and 3:28 in particular.

The Overall Passage Context

With regard to chapters 3 and 4, the purpose of these chapters is to prove salvation by grace through faith alone. In fact, it was this very chapter (chapter 3) that helped to lead the 16th century German priest Martin Luther away from the Catholic doctrine of salvation by faith-plus-works (from which he suffered horrible guilt at his own failings) to a wonderful knowledge of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

Paul begins with chapter 3, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presenting a series of ascending arguments to prove his point. He reaches a thundering crescendo in v26-29! Verses 26-29 shine forth the ultimate eternal position and spiritual inheritance of the person who has placed their hope in Christ.

Following is an outline of chapter 3 in The Bible Knowledge Commentary that helps to illustrate his point.[16]

       Doctrinal: A defense of justification by faith (chaps. 3-4)

...... Vindication of the doctrine of justification by faith (ch. 3)

...... By the experience of the Galatians........... (3:1-5)

...... By the example of Abraham........... (3:6-9)

...... By the effect of the Law........... (3:10-12)

...... By the work of Christ........... (3:13-14)

...... By the permanence of faith........... (3:15-18)

...... By the purpose of the Law........... (3:19-25)

...... By the believer’s present position........... (3:26-29)

...... Illustration of the doctrine of justification by faith (ch. 4)

The Immediate Context

S. Lewis Johnson explains the Gal. 3:28 immediate contextual issues, “Galatians 3:28 falls within Paul’s exposition of the purpose of the law, that is, to be a slave-guardian on the path toward maturity and unrestricted enjoyment of sonship (cf.3:24; 4:1-7).”[17]

The immediate preceding context then is that of defining, explaining and illustrating the purpose of the Mosaic Law. Johnson continues to the current context, “With the sonship has come a glorious freedom before God releasing all the faithful, whether Gentiles, slaves, or women, from life under the Old Covenant’s bondage.”[18]

The new “sonship” of the body of Christ, including all believers is contrasted to the strictness of the Law’s bondage. Johnson concludes,

“The saints, enriched by the enjoyment of Abrahamic promises, are clothed with Christ in garments of freedom, family membership with heirship. This Paul now develops, negating any claim by the Judaizers that the Old Covenant life is a better life.”[19]

Thus, the immediate context of 3:28 speaks of maturation by the sons of God as a new corpus: the Jewish Christians having grown from restrictive pre-adolescent guardianship under the Law, and being organically joined with Gentile Christians in the freedom and legitimate inheritance commensurate with adulthood. This argument fits perfectly into Paul’s overall polemic for the true gospel and against the false gospel of the Judaizers.

The Exegesis of v23-29

       Having understood the overall context of Galatians to be a polemic against a false gospel, and having perceived the immediate context to be a contrast between the current freedom and joint sonship following a period of being under the restrictive guardianship of the Law, we can now proceed to the examination of the specific passage and the individual verses. We will be following the outline of the text provided by The Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Doctrinal: A defense of justification by faith by - The Purpose of the Mosaic Law

Verse 23

v23 Now before the appearance of The Faith [in Christ], we were being guarded, supervised and rigidly tutored by the Law, restrained until the destined faith should be disclosed.[k]

This verse provides the first part of an answer to the rhetorical question raised by Paul in verse 19 of chapter 3: “What, then, was the purpose of the law?” If God’s promise (which Paul has clearly endorsed), is as good as Paul says it is, then why was the Law ever given? Is there a good reason for its existence?

In Spiritual Graduation, a sermon delivered at Peninsula Bible Church, elder/pastor Steve Zeisler explains one of the main reasons,

“Before faith came in our experience the Law was operative, Paul declares. The Law applied to the history of Israel, and it applied to us as individuals in the same sense. The Law was operative, valuable and necessary in that period of time before we graduated, when we were immature children, when our rebellion was unfettered.”[20]

Zeisler continues,

“The apostle would perhaps agree with the analogy that our sinful human nature is rather like a vicious juvenile delinquent: it is wild, undisciplined, angry, prone to violence, and liable to do damage on every side.”[21]

Verse 24

The apostle Paul illustrates,

v24 So then the Law became our Pedagogue [education taskmaster], guiding, guarding and ruling over our [pre-adolescent] lives until [the appearance of] Christ.[l]

Paul says that “we” were under a “pedagogue,” a sort of tutor. There is no single word in Modern English that has complete correspondence with the original idea in the Greco-Roman world. A slave in upper and some middle-class homes, he was a sort of “learning enforcer,” tasked with the severest disciplinary measures to ensure that the son of the master behaved, and was trained and educated, especially in morals. In ancient drawings the pedagogue was often shown as harsh to the point of cruelty, and is depicted with a rod or cane in his hand.

With verses 23-24, Paul replies in essence, “Yes indeed, here was excellent reason for the Law. We were rotten, rebellious and self-willed pre-adolescents in need of control and strong discipline. We needed the rod of the Law to restrain us until maturity.”

Zeisler speaks of the good purpose of the Law, but of the greater purpose of God that his children grow into the full freedom and responsibilities of maturity as sons of God,

“Paul freely admits that the Law has a good purpose, but it was pain-filled and terrible to experience. Nobody in his right mind would ever go back to it. Once the process has been finished, once the intent has been met we were intended to be set free, to be grown up. When faith comes we ought to live as free and responsible and graduated sons and daughters of God. Only a fool would want to go back…”[22]

Paul now moves on to the transformation of position and status when the dispensation of grace finally arrived, when the mature faith in Christ came to be.

Verse 25

v25 But now, The Faith [in Christ] having appeared, we no longer live under [the supervision of] a pedagogue.[m]

Campbell in The Bible Knowledge Commentary concludes this argument of Paul, “Thus the reign of Law has ended for faith in Christ has delivered believers from the protective custody of the prison and the harsh discipline of the pedagogue.”[23]

One can imagine the Gentile members of the Galatian church as they read this portion of Paul’s letter. Many of them would ruefully smile and grimace in painful memory of the whippings, starving and other harsh treatment that they themselves had undergone when they had disobeyed or disappointed their own Pedagogue. Further, they would recall with joyful relief the day on which they had gained their majority, when they had grown past the oppressive authority of their Pedagogue. Paul’s purpose in using this illustration was to cause exactly this visceral response in the Gentile Christians in Galatia. He wanted them to be shocked and angry with the “Judaizers” for suggesting that they should regress to this kind of repressive religion under the guise of it being a “truer” Christianity. Paul unmasks the ugly face of asceticism behind the beautiful façade. It promises spirituality and freedom while delivering a painful earthbound slavery.

Special attention should be paid to Paul’s use of the personal pronouns, “we, us, our” reaching all the way back to verse 13. This is in contrast to the collective “you” beginning in verse 26. Bob Deffinbaugh, contributor to the Biblical Studies Foundation, in his commentary on Galatians makes this important distinction:

“Verses 23-25 deal with the Jewish people, including the Apostle Paul. The pronoun ‘we’ draws our attention to the Jewish application of Paul’s words. The critical terms are ‘before’ (v. 23) and ‘now’ (v. 25). While the Jews were once kept in custody under the Law (v. 23), they are no longer under the Law as a tutor (v. 25). The Law which the Judaizers sought to exalt, Paul said was abolished. It had performed its function prior to the coming of Christ. The Law’s task of restraining men until Christ and leading them to Christ has been accomplished. Therefore, the observance of the Law, as previously required of Old Testament saints, is now only an anachronism, no longer binding on the New Testament believer. Strongly implied in these verses is the foolishness of trying to ‘turn back the clock’ to once again live under the restrictions of the Law.”[24]

Deffinbaugh continues,

“Verses 26-29 focus on a different group of people, the Gentiles. This is signaled by the change in pronouns from ‘we’ in verses 23-25 to ‘you’ in verses 26-29. I believe that the Jewish Christians are included in the ‘you’ of the last verses, and they are not at all to be seen separately from the group of all true believers.”[25]

Conclusion to Exegesis of Verses 23-25

It should be especially noted what Paul’s argument and method have been:

1.       He is arguing doctrinally for reliance upon the true gospel of grace and against regression into domination by the Mosaic Law.

2.       He uses the illustration of pedagogy to present the severe rule of the Law over the Jews as immature in the “big picture”. The dispensations of Law and Grace are properly painted as the backdrop to the larger plan of God. The appearance of the faith in Christ is seen at once as the terminus ad quem of the dispensation of Law and the terminus a quo of the dispensation of Grace. Reversion from the adult status of Grace to the Jewish pre-adolescence of the Law is shown to be silly, oxymoronic and downright dangerous (“who has bewitched you?”).

3.        He here, from v26 on, deals with the Galatians as members in union with all believers under the dispensation of grace:

a.       As a corpus- as a body whole, members in union, yes. Piecemeal and individualistically, no.

b.       As Coram Deo: men before God. Foremost in Paul’s mind in this argument is spiritual standing and status before God, not social relationships between people.


Doctrinal: A defense of justification by faith by - The Believer’s Position

Paul enters now into the climax of his argument regarding justification sola fide – by faith alone. Paul points out three organic changes that occur to a believer in Christ, whether formerly a Jew under the Law, or a pagan Gentile.

Verse 26

v26 For you are, the whole group, sons of God through The Faith in Christ Jesus.

The first change is marked here and in verse 27, that believers become sons of God. S. Lewis Johnson marks the transition from legally unrecognized children to fully legitimate heirs, “The children have attained their majority and are sons, freemen of God, through a faith that has brought them into union with Christ.”[26]

Pantej gar ui`oi qeou/ evste: The second person plural of the subject, “evste - you (plural) are,” with the modifying adjective, “Pantej - all,” accentuates the participation of the Galatians as a whole group (regenerate Jew and Gentile alike) in this new status as freemen. The grammar reinforces what was pointed out earlier: Paul continues to deal with the Galatians in union with all believers as a corpus- as a body whole.

Further, the authors of A Biblical Theology of the Church explain that Paul is not being gender exclusive here,

“Are we to suppose that the ‘daughters’ are omitted? Certainly not! The term huioi (‘sons’) is a contrast to ‘tekna’ (‘children’) in Galatians 4:1 and refers to the huiothesian (‘son-placing’) in Galatians 4:5 which is the positioning of those already ‘born’ children as adults in the body of Christ. This is the egalitarianism of Galatians 3:28.”[27] (Emphasis in original)

This verse ought not to be understood to mean that there is now no social, functional or gender difference between us on this earth, in our relationships with one another, or in the church. This can be shown to be true in several ways. 

1.       It would be absurd, of course, to suggest that Paul is referring to all the Galatians as male offspring, in the physical gender sense, by calling them “sons of God”. Men, women and children are addressed as one.

2.       Paul’s point is the universal spiritual inheritance and privilege of sonship before God in the present dispensation of grace, attained through union with Christ. This universal position sets the tone of the context for interpreting verse twenty-eight. Paul’s emphasis is on spiritual, positional status in Christ, before God, “the spiritual privilege of being the sons of God.”[28]

3.       In v3:25 Paul is pointing out that when Israel was under the supervision of the Mosaic Law, they were like children under a legal guardianship, unable to inherit the father’s estate. Now that the faith in Christ has come, that guardianship is ended and those of the faith in Christ are full heirs, adult sons regardless of their previous religious or cultural heritage. Paul is asking, “Why, as adult sons (heirs), with all the attending rights and benefits, would you Galatians now want to return to being pre-adolescents under the harsh, pedagogical, guardianship of the Law? You’re acting like Esau who despised his birthright for a pot of lentils!

4.       Chapter 4:1-7, recapitulates, expands and explains v26-29. It is speaking of being an heir (a son) through Christ versus being a slave under Law (see 4:7).

Verse 27

v27, You see, those of you who were immersed into and identified with Christ, clothed yourselves with Christ.

Paul continues his explanation of the first change that happens to believers: that they become sons of God. He uses two metaphors here in v27 to illustrate what he meant in v26 when he referred to them becoming “sons of God.”

In the first, he draws on the illustration of baptism into Christ, which is by, and also into, the Holy Spirit (a thoroughly Trinitarian concept). This regenerative spiritual washing and immersion, symbolized by the outward ordinance, joins all believers into union with Christ and makes them intimate members of His body, the church universal (1 Cor. 12:12-13). This new position of membership and the associated state of being clean is part of the blessing of being “a son.”

It should be noted that this word, evbaptisqhte – “immersed and identified” is in the passive voice, indicating that this is a washing done to the recipient by an outside agent. Another point worthy of special notice is the fact that in baptism the individual is joined to the whole body, becoming a member of it, with a new identity. The importance of the individual is now in relation to their function within that body. Individualism and self-assertion are rightly seen as the enemy, a cancer of the body.

In the second metaphor, Paul draws on an illustration common enough to the Greco-Roman world. In Roman society when a young man reached the legal age he was given a new, special toga to wear. The child’s coat, the crimson-fringed toga praetexta, was cast aside for the adult toga virilis, the garment of manhood. Along with the toga praetexta was also cast aside the tyrannical rule and severe treatment of the Pedagogue. The Pedagogue was dismissed or assigned to other chores. The new garment, the toga virilis, admitted the wearer to the full rights of the family councils, the freedoms of adulthood, and legal acknowledgement by the state.  He was viewed and treated as grown up.

Again, special attention should be made here to the change in the voice of evnedusasqe – “clothed yourselves.” The middle voice indicates that the Galatians had themselves put on the clothes of the adult privilege, dignity and freedom of Christ.

In like manner, the Galatian believers had, in responding to God’s graciousness in salvation through Christ, cast aside the old garments of the Law and had themselves deliberately put on the status of adulthood in Christ, grantees of all spiritual rights and full acceptance before the Father. Why would they want to give up their adult status and put on the child’s garments again?

Again, this adult status is positional, Coram Deo: as before God. Paul’s argument is not with regard to a new social status or function. Being clothed with Christ does not take away the Galatians’ gender distinctions on this earth. Nor does it mean they are identical as to their spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:14-). Paul’s argument is that they, through faith, are spiritually positioned in Christ (justified, saved from the ultimate penalty for sins, seen by God as holy and perfect) while experientially they remain differentiated as to gifts, gender, functions, etc.

Verse 28

v28 Because you are all one in Christ Jesus, there exists neither Jew nor Gentile, there exists neither slave nor free, there exists not male and female.

The second change that happens to believers is they are all one in Christ Jesus. Now we come to a point of difficulty. The human distinctions as to race (Jew nor Gentile), social status (slave nor free), and gender (not male and female) are in some sense set aside or nullified in Christ. This point is patently obvious from the explanatory clause “because you are all one in Christ Jesus.” But in what sense is this nullification true?

Hans Betz in his commentary on Galatians boldly answers this implied question, “There can be no doubt that Paul’s statements have social and political implications of even a revolutionary dimension.”[29] However, as Johnson retorts in Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, “When a New Testament exegete uses the expression, ‘There can be no doubt,’ it often is a flag to the exegetical community that there is very good reason to doubt the statement.[30] Therefore, a careful analysis is called for.

 One notices that this verse contains three antitheses: Jew versus Gentile, slave versus freeman, and male versus female. As with Paul’s use of the Pedagogue in verses 24 and 25, an appeal to the historical context of Paul’s intended audience in the Galatian churches is in order. At issue in the larger context is Law versus Grace in the practice and theology of the Galatians. It is worth remembering that the goal of the exegete is to first exegete, not exposit. Paul is not writing to twenty first century Christians in North America. He is writing to first century Christians in Asia Minor who possess a substantially different view of the spiritual value of gender, social status and religious heritage. So first exegeting the text means asking “how” his Galatian readers would take what Paul wrote here, especially in light of the “Judaizing” influence being combated by Paul.

What seems to be foremost in Paul’s mind here, and the way they would have taken him, is the morning prayer of Jewish men of the time, “I thank God that Thou hast not made me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Lest this prayer shock the sensibilities of the modern reader, it should be stated that this prayer was offered in utter sincerity and without the least rancor. It was simply understood that there were spiritual privileges available to a Jewish male that were unavailable to these classes.[31]

With this historical perspective in mind, we can now analyze these three antitheses:

Antithesis 1) Jew versus Gentile should be understood in the religious rather than the ethnic sense. A Jewish man would have been thinking of the rite of circumcision as his participation in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Without such circumcision a Gentile could not participate in these blessings and would have been excluded from salvation. His sinful and depraved nature, made outwardly apparent by the existence of the male foreskin would stand between him and God.

A Gentile could participate in the Abrahamic blessings if he was circumcised, an exceedingly painful and sensitive proposition for an adult man! Truly, what a blessing to be born Jewish, so that there would be no memory of circumcision at one week of age!

But now Paul says that with regard to the spiritual blessings, because of faith in Christ there was no difference in one’s religious heritage. Circumcision and other Jewish rites were of no advantage in obtaining grace. Whether Jew or Gentile, all believers in Christ were now spiritually one, being joint heirs of the promised blessing. Importantly however, Paul maintains that there remains a distinction between Jew and Gentile in the world (1 Cor. 10:32) and in the church (Romans 9:1-11, Gal. 6:16).

Antithesis 2) Slave versus Free. The idea of spiritual equality for slaves, regarding the full riches of the heavenly inheritance through Christ, would have been a comfort to those born, indentured or captured into that institution. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls slaves the “Lord’s freedman” and freemen he calls “Christ’s slave” (1 Cor 7:22).

Significantly, the context of that passage regards the call of the Lord for each person (including the slaves of that time) to remain in the station (social status) that he was in when he was saved. First Corinthians was written after Paul’s Galatian letter, and if Paul intended to clarify any misunderstanding by emancipationists in Asia Minor regarding his teaching a new social status for Christian slaves in Gal. 3:28, surely the Corinthian letter would have been an ideal opportunity.

Antithesis 3) Male versus Female. In the Greco-Roman world where the view of women ranged from chattel to something approaching fully human the ministries of both Jesus and Paul came as a breath of fresh air, asserting the essential value and spiritual equality of women. Here Paul merely reaffirms the truth that the contemporary Jewish and Roman view of women was defective. Women were joint-heirs of the blessings, by faith, just as surely as the men were. Again, Paul elsewhere in Scripture (and later in time) speaks of the different roles that men and women have in the home and the church. Paul doesn’t confuse ontology with function.

Verse 29

v29, And since you are Christ's possessions, it follows that you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to [the] promises.

The third change that happens to believers is they are all Abraham’s seed. This verse is the triumphant victor’s wreath placed on the head of this entire victorious passage. As the possessions of Christ every Galatian Christian, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, man or woman, all are joint heirs of the spiritual blessings in Abraham! Johnson exults,

“Christ’s people are God’s sons, baptized by the Spirit into spiritual union with Him, the Son, Abraham’s Seed. And if believers belong to Abraham’s Seed, then they are heirs to the unconditional covenantal promises in their Representative. Thus, heirship is grounded in faith apart from the works of the Law. Those who would seek to be justified by the works of the Law are rejected. What a telling refutation of the Judaizers and their doctrine of justification and heirship by legal works!”[32]

Conclusion to Exegesis of Verses 26-29

Paul here points up the three changes that happened when a Galatian was converted to Christ.

1.       Verses 26-27 mark the first change, that they became sons of God. This aspect of joint-heirship is set in opposition to the Jews previously being not seen as sons, but as children under the training and discipline of the Law, the Pedagogue.

2.       Verse 28, marks the second, that they are all one in Christ Jesus. This unity is organic and is set in opposition to how the Jewish men saw themselves, as ordained by Yahweh to greater spiritual privilege than Gentiles, slaves and women.

3.       Verse 29, marks the third, that they all became Abraham’s seed with regard to the spiritual blessings and is set in opposition to how the Jewish men saw themselves as related to the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant through the rite of circumcision. This has echoes of Jesus’ conversation with the Jews in John 8:33. “They answered him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’”

Exegetical Implications of Galatians 3:28 and Biblical Egalitarianism

Should Galatians 3:28 be seen as the “crux” passage, as the hermeneutical filter through which other texts which certainly speak of gender roles, should be seen and evaluated? Clearly, this was not Paul’s intent and the honest exegete, egalitarian or not, who bows to the authority of the text and a literal, historical, grammatical method of interpretation will appreciate this. This verse and passage should not enter into the mix of one’s systematic theology as a gender role text. It is polemic in style, Christological, theological and soteriological in content, and positional in aspect. It is clearly not a social/relational text.

Is Galatians 3:28, and the surrounding text saying there is, in Christ, no difference between male and female? Yes and no.


That is with regard to our salvation by grace, through faith, the answer is a resounding, “yes”! All are of equal depravity in sin, and equally saved by grace. No one of any race, gender, or social status, is more nor are they less deserving of salvation or of spiritual blessing. The spiritual blessings and standing before God are identical. This alone is what this passage addresses. This passage speaks of the Galatians’ place in Christ as a redeemed people before their God, as sons and heirs before their Father.


This passage does not address the issues regarding the Galatians’ current earthly experience of the functions and relative authority of the gender, race, or slave versus free status to which they were born. It does not address the differentiations within the functions of the church or society. This passage is about the exciting and amazing change in their ontological being, their spiritual nature and identity, when they become Christ’s.

This contrast can be easily proven in the following ways. The viewpoint, which seeks to use this passage as justification for women in pastoral roles or as equals in the home, interprets this passage as removing or correcting differences in function and authority because of Christ. It makes the following statement using the familiar “since/if A is true, therefore conclusion B is true”:

Since we are in Christ, and there is ‘neither male nor female’. Therefore, either men or women may pastor God’s flock and there is to be no male headship in the home. This must be true since this passage is speaking about social roles of the genders.”

Let us apply some tests to this logic. We can test it by applying its conclusions to parallel circumstances. Let’s see if the results make sense or are acceptable to us as Christians.

Test Proposition One

Since we are in Christ, there is ‘neither male nor female’. Therefore, men may marry men or women may marry women.”

Notice that this uses exactly the same logic. It argues from the idea that Christ removes the differences of function. This is precisely the passage and the argument that homosexuals use to defend being Christians and continuing homosexual behavior.[33] Is this result acceptable to us?

Test Proposition Two

Since we are in Christ, there is ‘neither slave nor free’. Therefore, slaves ought to either run away or be disrespectful of their masters.”

Why then do both Peter and Paul instruct Christian slaves to be respectful and dutiful to their masters, even harsh ones? If there is no difference between slave and freeman, why do both Peter and Paul say for slaves to be extra diligent in serving their masters because of their witness for Christ?

The Bible does not say that slavery is good. It merely acknowledges it as an institution in existence at the time of writing. Slavery was one of the institutions that came about because of man’s evil nature. But even in that circumstance God left instructions for both Christian masters and Christian slaves. There was a difference in function and authority, even for Christians.

Test Proposition Three

Since we are in Christ, there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek. Therefore, God’s promises to the Israelites is null and void, or apply equally to Gentile Christians.”

This argument follows the same logic. This idea would make a confusing mess out of Biblical prophecy. God made distinct land promises to the Jewish nation and those promises will be kept. This is seen clearly in the future millennial kingdom and the New Covenant (Jer. 31). God has a distinct prophetic program for national Israel.

As can be seen, none of the three tests proves true, therefore the assumption regarding the social meanings of the antitheses must be flawed.

Exegetical Summary

Galatians 3:28 and the surrounding texts do not relate to a new social structure, therefore they do not support or even enter into a discussion of the idea of gender egalitarianism. This passage is about the nature of salvation (salvation is totally of God without regard to the status of those saved) and spiritual standing before God (equally blessed). Consequently, this passage should not enter into the discussion of egalitarianism except in the following way:

Those authoritarians who devalue or deprecate women as essentially (ontologically) inferior to men are simply wrong. The apostle in this passage demonstrates the joint-heirship of women in Christ.

The exegete is now left unencumbered to wrestle with the other texts on the topic of gender roles.

Pastoral Implications of Galatians 3:28 and Biblical Egalitarianism

To inject the feminist agenda into this passage, to socialize and relationalize the eternal promises in Christ, is to demean and bring low the powerful effect of this glorious passage. It may be likened to throwing a blanket over a chandelier in a palace ballroom. What was intended to be a royal room, resplendent with the shimmer of gold, artwork and precious jewels, becomes just a room with stuff in it. The dazzling light is dimmed, the sparkle diminished and the whole effect made gray and vulgar.

Expository Comments

The pastor should preach and teach the full, undiminished glory of Galatians chapter 3. It is the gospel in all its power and simplicity and eternal blessing. He should downplay the significance of the debate over v28 and let it fall naturally in the flow of Paul’s argument as one of the devices the apostle employs to attack justification by works. To overly discuss the feminist viewpoint would spoil and blunt the intended effect that Paul had in mind. Don’t “throw dust on the chandelier!”

The following is offered as an example of how this verse could be handled by the pastor to good effect after having taught his people the structure of the passage and of the verse.

The Christian, positioned and clothed in the luxuriant justification and blessings of Christ’s righteousness, observes not one bit of difference between himself and another Christian, Coram Deo, before God. Both trod the weary path of sin and alienation from God. Both stood condemned and in need of salvation and grace. Thus, the salvation of the Jewish Christian was identical in value, miraculous conversion and spiritual result, to that of the Greek (Gentile), a slave was just as valued spiritually as the freeman, men were of no greater value, nor more likely to be saved, than women. (This was a revolutionary concept in the ancient world, when women were often thought of more as property that as a full person).

Sin makes the playing field of life equally mucky and slippery. Sin has no favorites among gender, race or class. It is blindly and universally lethal. Correspondingly, religious rites (Judaism) are equally ineffective in their remedy of the sin condition of man. Worse yet, these rites appeal to the religious pride of their adherents, causing further offense to the very God they pretend to appease.

Salvation by grace is no respecter of persons. It is always a miracle of God’s character poured out on equally undeserving sinners. Just as sin levels the playing field for those playing in its field, so salvation that comes by grace levels the playing field. We are all equally undeserving of it and are equally saved and justified by it, infinitely elevated to the heavenlies. The glory of the Father is now revealed in the Excellencies of His Son. In heaven it will be revealed in the Excellencies of all His sons.

The one positioned in Christ is the heir of eternal life. Eternal life is not merely duration of time, but quality of existence, beginning at the point of conversion. Jesus said in John 10:10b, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This full and complete life is the possession of those who, regardless of gender, race or social status, have availed themselves of the mercies of Christ.

Pastoral Counseling and Feminist Encounters

The pastor should energetically encourage the proper understanding of Galatians 3:28 and strongly discourage its misuse (Titus 1:10-11) by those who appeal to it to defend egalitarian family relations and church leadership. The pastor who supports Biblical Egalitarianism should be particularly careful to honestly treat this passage as Paul intended it: as a polemic against justification by works and for glorious salvation by grace through faith. It is irresponsible to allow it to be misused by feminists or egalitarians within the church.

In short, the pastor can proceed with confidence to deal with and teach his convictions regarding the other gender role texts, (e.g. 1 Tim. 2, 1 Peter 3, etc) without fear of Galatians 3:28 being drawn as a trump card. Handled properly, Galatians 3 can serve as a powerful teaching tool to redirect the attention of the counselee or student of Scripture to the true glory of the gospel of grace.


[a] Unless otherwise noted English Scripture comes from the New International Version.

[b] Ontology: The science of the true nature and essence of being or existence. Ontology bypasses mere appearance, utility and function to study the essential being. For example, while Biblical Christians, along with Catholics (and many others) would admit that an unborn child has little functional value, they would simultaneously assert that the child, as a divine creation, has great intrinsic (ontological) value.

[c] Inductive interpretation: observations arise from the specifics of the text itself and result in the creation or observation of general principles, systematic theology and dogma.


[d] Gnostic – One having knowledge of a thing or matter. Gnosis-knowledge

[e]Deductive interpretation: begins with the general principles, dogmas, and larger observations of a systematic theology, life, tradition or experience which then act as the interpretive lens for the specifics of the Scriptural text.

[f]Agnostic – One not having knowledge of a thing or matter. Agnosis- don’t have knowledge, don’t know.

[g]Plenary inspiration: the doctrine that all portions of Holy Writ are equally inspired, and therefore equally authoritative.

[h] This is, in fact, how cultists run circles around Christians. They memorize “proof texts” out of context and spit them out faster than the Christian can respond.

[i] Hortatory: exhortative encouragemgalatians 3,28 and evangelical egalitarianism.htment or appeal.

[j] Polemics – The art or practice of disputation; especially the use of aggressive argument to refute errors of doctrine.

[k] Author’s amplified translation

[l] Author’s amplified translation

[m] Author’s amplified translationgalatians 3,28 and evangelical egalitarianism.htm


[1]Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus - EEWC and Christians for Biblical Equality – CBE, list Gal. 3:28 on their home page as their core values verse.

[2]Steven B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ: An Examination of the Roles of Men and Women in Light of Scripture and the Social Sciences. (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website,, Chapter 6, Para. 3.

[3]Raymond Ortlund, Jr., Male-Female Equality And Male Headship, Genesis 1-3, in Recovering Biblical Manhood And Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. John Piper and Wayne Grudem -Editors (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), 92.

[4]Richard and Catherine Kroeger, Subordinationism in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 1058

[5]Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Equal to Serve (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1987), 193-194

[6]Ibid, 283

[7]Paul King Jewett, Man As Male and Female: A Study in Sexual Relationships from a Theological Point of View (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975), 142.

[8]Mary Hayter, The New Eve in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 134.

[9]Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995), 138-139.

[10]Greg Herrick, Ph.D. The Date and Destination of Galatians (Biblical Studies Foundation website,

[11]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, in Recovering Biblical Manhood And Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. John Piper and Wayne Grudem -Editors (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), 150.

[12]J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London and New York: Macmillan, 1896), 49.


[14]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, 150.

[15]Donald K. Campbell, Galatians, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck-Editors (Chariot Victor Publications, 1983), 588.


[17]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, 150.



[20]Steve Zeisler, Spiritual Graduation catalog #: 3926 (Sermon delivered at Peninsula Bible Church. Palo Alto: Discovery Publishing, June 17, 1984),1.



[23]Donald K. Campbell, Galatians, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 600.

[24]Bob Deffinbaugh, Galatians: The Gospel of God’s Grace, (Biblical Studies Foundation, 1998,


[26]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, 150.

[27]A Biblical Theology of the Church, Chapter 15, Women in the Church, Mal Couch-Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999), 215-216.

[28]John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, trans. T. H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 68.

[29]Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 186-189.

[30]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, 151.

[31]F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 187.

[32]Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Role Distinctions in the Church, Galatians 3:28, 153.

[33]Inspiritus - A “gay Christian” website, and The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, a sexual preference neutral group, both list Gal. 3:28 as the banner verse.