Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 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 no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
I don’t think I can calculate the gravity of these words and what they must have meant to the Galatians hearing them. I took a few Judaic studies classes back in college and remember learning about the complete immersive legalistic culture of the Jews. The Word was law. Law was a way of life. It was memorized, recited, lived, breathed. There was no separation between Synagogue and State. The Synagogue was at times a welfare program for widows and orphans. The family was ruled by Law through the male figure head. Even neighbor relations were dictated through the Law.
When I try to understand what hearing the words “justified by faith” must have meant to these people, I can’t draw a comparison in my own life. All I’ve known is the freedom of knowing Christ and being raised among fellow believers. I’m sure I take for granted the difficulty the Jews would have experienced transitioning to this “new life” from their old ways.
I like how Paul ties everything together for all audiences reading this letter. New believers are one in Christ and if you are a Jew, a child of Abraham, you are also one in Christ according to promise. What a wonderful promise! Made one in Christ.