For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26–28)
The meaning of this passage, written by Paul in a letter to the church at Galatians, is still very much at the center of controversy among biblical scholars today. Some scholars contend that Paul’s notion of equality here speaks of a spiritual or transcendental equality rather than a social equality. This interpretation diminishes the social implications of the texts. Others claim that Paul has in mind social or ecclesiastical equality with serious political implications. Biblical scholar Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza argues that among Christ’s followers, status differences are no longer valid. Statements such as Paul’s reflect an equality that many scholars claim was present in the vision and practice of the earliest Christian missionary movement. Currently, many feminist and other biblical scholars are reconstructing the early Christian community to find important traces of social egalitarianism. Many point to this passage as one of the most important indicators of the egalitarian ideals of the early Christian community.