Book Of Galations
The role of women in the Christian faith has always been matter of debate. Whether women are equal to men in the eyes of the church still presents itself as a major question as we move into the 21st century. Women are still not allowed to serve as priests or hold major positions in the church’s hierarchy. This inferiority is something that is seen as tradition and rarely do people question it. However, in Paul’s letters he alluded to a different role that women should take on. He presents the idea that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord as long as they have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Although he was not the first to ever express these beliefs, the idea that Paul presented was quite radical for his time and may not have been taken with the same authority as some of his other teachings. However, the basic formula that Paul used in some of his letters was also presented by subsequent writers years after he was finished with his ministry.
The most straightforward presentation of Paul’s view on the role of women is in Galatians 3:28, “…there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” This statement brought up the idea of baptism and the key role it plays in the life of a Christian. Paul states that when you are baptized in the name of Jesus all worldly distinctions are no longer important. A person is not to be viewed based on past religion, life before baptism, or gender, he or she will now be viewed simply as a follower of Christ. By following Christ a person is baptized into a single body, no divisions are to be made due to past traditions.
This formula for equality that Paul presents in Galatians 3:27-28 is echoed in many of his other letters. However, it is not presented as directly, there seem to be some omissions and changes. While writing to Corinth, Paul again expresses the idea of equality and togetherness through baptism in the name of Jesus. In 1 Cor 7:17-24 Paul gives much attention to the Jew and Gentile relationship, as well as the slave and free man. However, in dealing with gender Paul simply writes, “In whatever condition you were called, brother and sisters, there remain with God.” Paul is not being as explicit as he was in Galatians. Why he backs off the strong argument he made in Galatians is debatable. However, later in the first letter to Corinth Paul seems to retreat even more. In 1 Cor 12:13, Paul again presents the idea of everyone being baptized as one in Jesus. Nevertheless, he makes no effort to mention the gender issues directly. He does allude to it by writing, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13) but never addresses the male and female issue officially. Paul simply deals with the Jew or Gentile and the slave or free in this verse, these are the same two distinctions as he did in 1 Cor 7:17-24.
The effort Paul makes to have his teachings stay somewhat consistent from one letter to the next lends support to the idea that the formula Paul uses was an outline that predates his writings. It can be considered that this passage could have been a pre-Pauline baptismal formula that Paul cites. It could be that Paul simply adapted the formula by adding the “male/female” phrase as an effort to fully portray his own views. It is possible Christians at the time would know that formula this was used in baptisms. Thus, by manipulating the formula, Paul may have been attempting to show people that the church could change and adapt to meet the needs of the people. Paul was going beyond what predated him by incorporating male and females into the formula. It can even be seen that Paul was going against teachings that were presented in the Book of Genesis. Genesis 1:27 says that God made humanity as “male and female” and Genesis 1:31 states this creation was “very good.” By presenting a different idea than that of