Gal. 3:28 shows that women can be in ministry as elders and pastors

by Matt Slick

"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." (Gal. 3:28).

The egalitarians often quote Galatians 3:28 in their arguments to justify that women can be pastors and elders.  Their reasoning is that since the verse says there is neither male nor female in Christ, then the offices of elder, bishop, pastor, etc. should not display gender differences--since there is neither male nor female.

The problem with this interpretation is that the context of Galatians 3:28 is dealing with salvation and not church office qualifications.  Contextually, Paul says in Galatians 3:24 that we are justified by faith, and that we have been clothed with Christ (v. 27).  In 3:29 he speaks about us belonging to Christ.  So, there is nothing in the context to signify that women can be elders or pastors.

A closer look at Galatians 3:28 will reveal that Paul is showing there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.  This is important because the Jewish people understood the Messiah was coming only for them (Matt. 15:24).  Paul negates the distinction of nationality regarding salvation as he also negates the distinction of slave and free, male and female.  He says, "you are all one in Christ Jesus."

In Christ

The phrase "in Christ" occurs 90 times in the New Testament.  It is used to designate those who are saved.  The Bible uses the phrase "in Christ" to tell us that we have redemption (Rom. 3:24), are all live to God (Rom. 6:23), have escaped condemnation (Rom. 8:1), are approved before God (Rom. 16:10), are sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2), are made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), are God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10), have been granted grace (2 Tim. 1:9), and have obtained salvation (2 Tim. 2:10).  There are many more, but this will demonstrate the point well.

As we see from the above paragraph, the phrase "in Christ" is a designation of our relationship with God through the person of Christ; we are in Christ.  Consider 1 Cor. 15:22 which says, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive."

So, Galatians 3:28 is not about women in ministry but about those who are "in Christ"--those who are saved.  Therefore, it does not support the idea of women elders were pastors.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.