Online Bible Commentary
Heirs According to the Promise
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to believers in southern Galatia likely from his home city of Antioch, Syria in 49 A.D, prior to attending the Jerusalem Council meeting which occurred that same year. Paul has just completed his first missionary journey in which he and Barnabas planted churches in southern Galatia at Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. This letter is the first of Paul’s letters.
The churches in Galatia, influenced by Judaizers, have already turned from Paul’s Gospel to a false gospel of a mix of works and grace instead of grace alone. Judaizers claimed that Christians must also follow the Old Testament law, including circumcision. So Paul is writing to the Galatian believers to direct them back to the true Gospel of salvation by grace and not a combination of grace and works.
In this passage Paul begins by writing that all believers are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 26). This means that all Christians are children of God because of salvation by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are all one big family and we should treat all of our brothers and sisters in Christ with kindness.
Christians are recognized as children of God because they have “put on Christ” through baptism (v. 27). The Christian baptism by submersion has no saving qualities. We are saved and become Christians by our belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Instead, baptism is the public announcement of the decision we have made to follow Christ. Paul likens baptism to putting “on Christ” like soldiers put on a uniform to show that they identify with a certain branch of the service. Baptism is a public identification with Christ.
Additionally, Christ makes no distinction between those in His army. All Christians are equal in the eyes of God no matter their race, status in life, or gender (v. 28a). All Christians are “one in Christ Jesus” (v. 28b).
This does not mean that there are no distinctions in the roles that we play in life and the ministry. The Bible clearly makes distinctions and gives instructions to us as to the roles of men and women and slaves and masters. Distinctions still occur regarding God’s roles for us, but all of God’s children are equal in His eyes.
Christians, those who belong to Christ, are also “Abraham's seed” (v. 29a). This was a reminder to the Galatian Jews that they did not have to keep the law, the commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament, in order to be Abraham’s seed. All Christians are Abraham’s seed because they are children of God, and Christ is Abraham’s Seed (Mt. 1:1). The Galatian Jews were no longer under the law. They were under grace. They were under the Gospel of grace only, not the gospel of a combination of grace and works.
Christians are also “heirs according to the promise” (v. 29b). As children of God they inherited eternal life in Heaven because of the promise God made in the Abrahamic Covenant. That promise was to bless all the “nations of the earth” (Gen. 12:3, 22:18). And that blessing was salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
So we become Christians through faith and not works. We can not do enough good things to earn eternal life in Heaven. All we have to do is accept God’s unconditional promise. All we have to do is just believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.