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The DEEP

Equal

but not that equal.

Galatians 3:26–29

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Paul is closing out his “sons of Abraham” logic here. He’s also closing out the possibility of a misunderstanding. The problem is that the whole sons of Abraham thing can sound sexist, classist, and racist.

So Paul explicitly rules that out by explicitly equating ethnicities, classes, and sexes. Curiously, he says, “neither Jew nor Greek,” instead of, “neither Jew nor Gentile.” Since the Galatians aren’t in Greece and may not identify with the Greeks, Paul obviously isn’t just speaking to them.

This is intentional. By using an “off axis” example, Paul forces it to be general.

The same goes for “slave nor free.” Paul doesn’t say, “rich nor poor,” “healthy nor sick,” or, “strong nor weak.” He doesn’t need to, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

But Paul’s strongest point is that being a son of God trumps being a son of Abraham. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. This makes being an ethnic son of Abraham seem insignificant.

Finally, Paul delivers the coup de grâce. They’re Abraham’s seed anyway, by virtue of being in Christ, and thus heirs according to the promise.

Imagine someone getting circumcised after reading this.


Paul’s declaration of equality in Galatians 3:28 might be history’s most radical statement. Even now, it’s impressive. Back then it was absurd.

But then Galatians 3:29 takes it to the next level. Paul goes beyond just making everyone equal; he makes them all heirs.

It’s like the line, “We’re all equals, but some are more equal than others.” Treating everyone with dignity and respect is nice, but treating then as co-heirs is another thing entirely. No one expects to share their inheritance with all their “equals.” The math-joke version of this would be, “We’re all equal, but not that equal.”

Of course, this isn’t about divvying up the family farm; it’s about the covenant promise to Abraham.

That’s serious only if you take it seriously, but that must be the case here.

Otherwise, one wouldn’t even be thinking of getting circumcised.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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