Galatians 3:15-end

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday, the day that we remember that the God that we believe in is three persons in one God.  As know this is very tricky concept to get our heads around.  Over the years different visual aids have been used to help us.  You may have come across this fictional book called the Shack that in one scene personifies God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy having a conversation and this quote may be helpful to us.

“We are not three gods, and we are not talking about one god with three attitudes, like a man who is a husband, father, and worker. I am one God and I am three persons, and each of the three is fully and entirely the one.”

Or put more simply yet so powerfully in the children’s song we sing: “One plus one plus one is one!”  I love the Maths! 

Now I wouldn’t want you to get too hung up on this concept of the trinity because it is only that, a concept, a notion, an idea – in fact if you read the Bible cover to cover you wouldn’t ever read the word “trinity” – but it is also, one of the basic tenets of Christian faith and in several places it is made clear that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in all ways, and our Bible reading relating the story of Jesus’ baptism is an example of this.  ‘As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.”’

But the idea that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one is essential for our understanding of what Paul is trying to teach in his letter to the Galatians and is accentuated in our passage today.

Because Scripture paints the picture that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united and and in close harmony that echoes with the message that Paul is trying to convey to the Galatian church in our passage today.

Main message today is ‘We are all one in Christ!’  Remember the church at Galatia had been infiltrated by the Judaizers, a group of Jews who had converted to Christianity, and they were claiming that the Gentile Christians were second class Christians because they were not following the Jewish rituals of circumcision and following the teachings of Torah.

However, Paul counters this by suggesting that slavishly following the Torah or Law as did the religious leaders of the Jews like the Pharisees and Sadducees, only led to two things:

  1.  Imprisonment as in v 23, ‘Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law’ and the Greek word he uses here is ‘phroureo’ which indicates being ‘confined by military force’.  The other places it is used in the NT it suggests being ‘watched over’ or ‘guarded’ or ‘held in custody’ or ‘kept under restraint’ or ‘held captive’ as with Luke’s description of the miraculous catch of fish. 
  2.  So, the Law imprisons but it also, scalds with discipline, as in v 24 ‘The law was our guardian until Christ came’ and the Greek word here is ‘paidagogos’ literally meaning a guardian, tutor or guide.  You see in addition to receiving an education from a teacher well to do young men had a guardian, who was usually a slave who escorted or chaperoned the boy on their journeys and he was less of an educator and more of a disciplinarian, harsh to the point of cruelty which is why J.B.Phillips interprets this word as ‘a strict governess’.

Paul suggests the Law imprisoned and disciplined harshly those who were under its rule whereas, it is ‘in Christ’ that we are ‘justified by faith’ v 25 and he concludes ‘Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law.’  Hallelujah!  Remember if the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed!

But along with this ‘freedom in Christ’ comes responsibilities.  Main responsibility, which is also, a right and privilege, is that we become part of God’s great global multi-ethnic family of believers.  Let me read to you v 26-29.

‘And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true childrenof Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.’

Now there is a phrase here that needs some explanation.  Paul suggests that ‘in baptism’ all believers have ‘put on Christ’.  Please don’t misunderstand Paul’s argument here.  He is not saying that Christians have to substitute one ritual for another. You see access for Jews to their status as Jews was circumcision and you may think that Paul is saying access for Christians to their status as Christians is baptism.  But that’s not what he’s saying.  Rather, by being baptised into Christ, we put on Christ and all his qualities.  One of his qualities is oneness, unity and having a common mind with the Father and the Spirit.  Just as God is three persons, and each of the three is fully and entirely the one, so if we ‘put on Christ’ then we are separate people but we become one with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and old distinctions cease to be relevant in terms of a Christian’s status within the family of God.

Now Paul is not ignoring, status, ethnicity or gender.  He is still aware of some people being slaves and others free, of some people being male and others female, and that people derive from different ethnicities!  However… and this is the main point, all these differences are irrelevant for your status in Christ.  To Christ, all lives matter and everyone is loved by God, no more or no less.

As a father of two daughters, if anyone asked which is your favourite, I would, like any other good father say I love them both, they are both my favourites.

And so it is with Father God.  Remember there is nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make him love us less.

But this great proclamation ‘We are all one in Christ’ does not mean that racial, social and sexual distinctions are obliterated.  As John Stott declares ‘Christians are not literally colour-blind so that they do not notice whether a person’s skin is black, brown, yellow or white.  Nor are they unaware of the cultural and educational background from which people come.  Nor do they ignore a person’s sex, treating a woman as if she were a man or a man as if he were a woman.  When we say that Christ has abolished these distinctions, we mean not they do not exist, but that they don’t matter.  They are still there, but they no longer create barriers to fellowship.  We recognise each other as equals, brothers and sisters in Christ.’


Paul makes clear in this passage that we are all one in Christ.  This does not follow as a result of the teachings of the Judaizers and following the Law.  They, Paul suggests, have distorted the truth and created first- and second-class Christians by heaping extra burdens on the young Christians of Galatia.  Paul encourages the young Christians to understand that they are saved by faith and live in the Spirit, a life of ‘freedom in Christ’.  Over the next few weeks we will discover more about the practical outworking and implications of ‘living life guided by the Spirit’. 

Let’s pray.

Category: Sermons , The Bridge

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