Why did Paul mean in Galatians 3:27-28 when he says that all of the Galatians were one in Christ? Does this contradict what Paul had taught elsewhere about the role of women in the ekklēsia (church)?

Galatians 3:27-28 (NASB) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

KJV 1 Cor: 14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  1Co 14:35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


4 Answers 4


Galatians 3:27-28 (NASB) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

St. Paul's point in this passage is that the Law, as unique to the Jews, in itself, does not offer to the Jews a 'more excellent' salvation not available to non-Jews, but in fact it is those who share the same trust and faith in God who recieve the promises made to him—not those who (it's true) were obliged to keep the Law as God's people: the purpose for their reception of the Law was, we might say, threefold: to show forth the impossibility of keeping God's Law, so that it might be demonstrated that it is something other than, even if then unseparable from as part of faith in Him, which was the salvific agent in their salvation—which the New Testament identifies as faith. God wouldn't really accept a burned animal as an exact repayment for sinning against Him: it was the act of faith and obedience which, as the channel of grace, allowed them to recieve the mercy of God and avoid His just wrath (and in fact, this included all falling short of the Law—another proof that the Law itself did not earn forgiveness as such, since breaking it itself demands mercy). And secondly, to sanctify them, (Cf. Joshua 3:5; Joel 1:13-14 etc. Mt 6:18-19) that is, make them able to recieve better rewards in the world to come. And thirdly, to show an example as God's holy nation, to the nations, especially as this foreshadows the role of the church of God as 'the light of the world,' (Mt 5:14; Acts 13:41) which according to the New Testament, is actuallyl a continuation of Israel, since it teaches Israel was always a nation of God spiritually, and that not everyone who happened to be born with Jewish DNA were actually pleasing to God—truly the 'Israel of God' (Gal 6:16; Rom 9:6).

Galatians 3:1-9 (NASB) You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU." So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NASB) The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

The abovementioned lack of discrimination between races and sexes and such in salvation (it's ability, fruitfulness, power, reward, excellence), doesn't imply no discrimination of roles within the plan of salvation. For example, children aren't allowed to be ministers, men can't be virgin-women, obviously. Likewise, women, according to the New Law, even, are to respect the symbolic significance of man over woman, and God over man. There is also the controversial issue of the plain old differences between men and women phisiologically and psychologically, and such, God's infinite wisdom might be such that He has reasons for ordaining men to such roles as He has, and elected to have women remain silent in church. The seeming arbitrary nature of the rules is not the issue: it is, 'Did God ordain it?' In our case, this command is in Scripture, and even ties it in with an unchangable law of God which is defined for us as still in force in this sense.


I believe you have misunderstood the context of what Paul is talking about in Gal 3:27-28. Taking the verse in context we see Paul has just been speaking of faith and the law and the verse before draws this out in that it speaks to all that believe, that they are "sons" through faith. He does not mention "daughters" but does endorse this concept and it is "understood", by the verse you are asking about. In fact he goes further to ensure it is understood there is neither distinction nations, the Gentiles are accepted by faith, the Jew and there is no distinction by class or gender. This in context is not speaking of the "role" of men or women in church, this is addressing believers "position" in Christ by faith. As always context context context should be considered. LoveInJesus

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    Jul 26, 2014 at 0:34
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    Your answer was good, but you could have embellished it more with textual reference to make your case. You might want to consider some of the suggestions on what constitutes a good answer, found here(meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/653/…).
    – Tau
    Jul 26, 2014 at 0:47
  • Can you please elaborate on "position"? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 1, 2018 at 22:45

The context of Gal 3:28 is the covenant (cf 2:15-17). Those who are baptized (v27) are members of the covenant just as those who were circumcised in the Old Testament (OT) were members of the covenant. Compare 2:16 (Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made) with 2:29 (If you are in Christ you are Abraham's seed and heir of the promise.)

In saying that there is neither Jew nor Greek, 2:28 is saying that the covenant does not distinguish between Jews and Gentiles. There is no distinction with respect to the covenant as there used to be (cf Acts 10:13-15, 45; 11:7-9, 17-18; Eph 3:5-6). Likewise, with respect to the covenant there is no class distinction between men and women - in the NT women receive the covenant signs of baptism and the Lord's Supper unlike the OT where they did not receive the covenant seals of circumcision and Passover. It is not saying that anatomical differences or differences in calling or roles have been obliterated. Women are still anatomically different then men and still have different callings than men (cf Titus 2:4 with 2:6-8).

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. While all agree with your comments and quoted verses, this does not answer the question of the apparent contradiction between Gal 3:27, 28 and 1 Cor 14:34, 35.
    – user25930
    Oct 29, 2018 at 21:40

Galatians 3:27-28 is an allusion to Genesis 27:1-29. Isaac's eldest son Esau (representing the Jewish people) was entitled to the birthright (the inheritance) but Jakob (representing the believing gentiles) was not. His mother (probably for godly reasons) secured the inheritance for her youngest, Jakob by dressing him up as Esau!:

Gen 27:1  And it came to pass after Isaac was old, that his eyes were dimmed so that he could not see; and he called Esau, his elder son, and said to him, My son; and he said, Behold, I am here.  Gen 27:2  And he said, Behold, I am grown old, and know not the day of my death.  Gen 27:3  Now then take the weapons, both thy quiver and thy bow, and go into the plain, and get me venison,  Gen 27:4  and make me meats, as I like them, and bring them to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless thee, before I die.  Gen 27:5  And Rebecca heard Isaac speaking to Esau his son; and Esau went to the plain to procure venison for his father.  Gen 27:6  And Rebecca said to Jacob her younger son, Behold, I heard thy father speaking to Esau thy brother, saying,  Gen 27:7  Bring me venison, and prepare me meats, that I may eat and bless thee before the Lord before I die.  Gen 27:8  Now then, my son, hearken to me, as I command thee.  Gen 27:9  And go to the cattle and take for me thence two kids, tender and good, and I will make them meats for thy father, as he likes.  Gen 27:10  And thou shalt bring them in to thy father, and he shall eat, that thy father may bless thee before he dies.  Gen 27:11  And Jacob said to his mother Rebecca, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I a smooth man.  Gen 27:12  Peradventure my father may feel me, and I shall be before him as one ill-intentioned, and I shall bring upon me a curse, and not a blessing.  Gen 27:13  And his mother said to him, On me be thy curse, son; only hearken to my voice, and go and bring them me.  Gen 27:14  So he went and took and brought them to his mother; and his mother made meats, as his father liked them.  Gen 27:15  And Rebecca having taken the fine raiment of her elder son Esau which was with her in the house, put it on [same word as in Galatians 3:27-28!] Jacob her younger son.  Gen 27:16  And she put on [same word as in Galatians 3:27-28!] his arms the skins of the kids, and on the bare parts of his neck.  Gen 27:17  And she gave the meats, and the loaves which she had prepared, into the hands of Jacob her son.  Gen 27:18  And he brought them to his father, and said, Father; and he said, Behold I am here; who art thou, son?  Gen 27:19  And Jacob said to his father, I, Esau thy first-born, have done as thou toldest me; rise, sit, and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.  Gen 27:20  And Isaac said to his son, What is this which thou hast quickly found? And he said, That which the Lord thy God presented before me.  Gen 27:21  And Isaac said to Jacob, Draw night to me, and I will feel thee, son, if thou art my son Esau or not.  Gen 27:22  And Jacob drew night to his father Isaac, and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.  Gen 27:23  And he knew him not, for his hands were as the hands of his brother Esau, hairy; and he blessed him,  Gen 27:24  and he said, Art thou my son Esau? and he said, I am.  Gen 27:25  And he said, Bring hither, and I will eat of thy venison, son, that my soul may bless thee; and he brought it near to him, and he ate, and he brought him wine, and he drank.  Gen 27:26  And Isaac his father said to him, Draw nigh to me, and kiss me, son.  Gen 27:27  And he drew nigh and kissed him, and smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, Behold, the smell of my son is as the smell of an abundant field, which the Lord has blessed.  Gen 27:28  And may God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and abundance of corn and wine.  Gen 27:29  And let nations serve thee, and princes bow down to thee, and be thou lord of thy brother, and the sons of thy father shall do thee reverence; accursed is he that curses thee, and blessed is he that blesses thee.

Paul's theology mostly derives from the law, the writings and the prophets but most importantly from 7 mysteries that Jesus personally directly revealed to him. These are extremely foundational teachings. One of them is found here:

ASV 1Ti 3:16  And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

This teaches, I believe that Paul is saying that godliness in the Church Age is not religious activity but Christ. Christ is the very life of the believer:

Gal_2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Col 3:1  If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.  Col 3:2  Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.  Col 3:3  For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  Col 3:4  When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.  Col 3:5  Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;  Col 3:6  for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience:  Col 3:7  wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things;  Col 3:8  but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth:  Col 3:9  lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings,  Col 3:10  and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Col 3:11  where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.

1Co 1:30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption:  1Co 1:31  that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Paul's "exchanged life" does not mitigate Paul's abhorrence of the idea of women in authority in the home or assembly:

1Ti_2:12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

KJV unless otherwise noted

  • 1
    -1. No need for so long quotations. No need for full verse references everywhere. If you don't use any other translations besides KJV you don't need to say "unless otherwise noted". All this just testifies to a lack of attention...
    – user2672
    Aug 1, 2018 at 18:30
  • My comment is more general than just this answer. Your overall contribution on this site classifies as noise.
    – user2672
    Aug 1, 2018 at 18:53
  • I have raised concerns before; you continue to post low quality content. I don't need your belittling comments.
    – user2672
    Aug 1, 2018 at 19:15

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