I’m convinced one of the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture is Galatians 3:28. Biblical feminists call this passage “The Magna Carta of Humanity.” And, they use it to argue that, in Christ, all gender distinctions are abolished. Yet, this interpretation of the verse is fundamentally flawed.
The verse states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Taken alone, I can see how someone might understand this verse to be advocating a social order in which race, class and gender cease to exist. But, taken in context, the verse clearly is addressing salvation, not social organization.
The Apostle Paul wrote Galatians to confront so-called “Judaizers,” who were teaching that faith in Christ is not sufficient for salvation; observing Jewish laws is also required. Before the verse in question, the Apostle Paul states that “all are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” And, immediately after the verse, Paul writes, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” Clearly, Paul penned Galatians 3:28 to show that salvation is available to all, regardless of earthly status.
But, some argue, Paul’s statement had a secondary meaning. In addition to teaching equal access to salvation, he was also removing racial, class and gender distinctions. Yet, this doesn’t jibe with other things Paul said and did. For example, Paul circumcised Timothy, who had a Jewish mother, so he wouldn’t offend other Jews. Clearly, he believed Timothy retained his Jewishness. Paul also gave gender-specific instructions to husbands and wives – as well as to men and women serving in the church.
But, these contradictions don’t deter biblical feminists. They simply negate them by elevating their dubious interpretation of Galatians 3:28 to supremacy over other Scriptures. So, biblical scholar F.F. Bruce writes that “if (gender) restrictions are found elsewhere in the Pauline corpus… they are to be understood in relation to Galatians 3:28, and not vice versa.”
This is absurd. There’s nothing within the text of Galatians 3 to suggest that Paul wanted to abolish sex roles. Plus, there’s ample evidence elsewhere indicating the exact opposite. So, I suggest we stop misquoting Galatians 3:28 and start being faithful to the author’s intent.