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Galatians 3:23-29 – Heirs according to Promise

Summary

Those who have been baptized into Christ's death no longer live under the law but have been clothed in Christ and made one in him as children and heirs of God's promise.

Analysis

Through Galatians 3-4, Paul further works out the implications of justification for the life of Christians in the world. Now that faith has come, Paul says, there is no more need for the law, because all have become children of God through faith. In language of both promise and imaginative vision, he describes the effects of that new life. To be baptized into Christ is like putting on new clothes that have the power to transform the lives of those wearing them.

There is hardly anywhere in Paul's writings a more forceful or dramatic image of the power and the possibilities of this new life and its implications for community. "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (verse 28). Perhaps no words in all of Paul's letters have so disappointed Christians in their failure to be realized and yet have so inspired Christians with the possibility and promise for new visions of human community that is ours in our oneness in Christ through the gift of God's grace in baptism.

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,* heirs according to the promise.

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10 February 2011

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