Sunday, 10 April 2016
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. Galatians 3:28
These words are so simple and so clear that the obvious nature of them is often overlooked. Paul has just stated that “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The words now only apply to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” For those who have put on Christ and are called by His name, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female.”
Paul uses the present tense to show that there are absolutely no exceptions. Further, he uses the most extreme categories imaginable to the minds of the people of his time to show this –
Jew nor Greek – this is where the greatest distinction of all lay in the mind of the Jews. They were on one side; the Gentiles were on the other. The term “Greek” here is being applied to any non-Jew. Because of the conquests of Alexander, the Greek culture, influence, and language had permeated the known world. Within that sphere, the Jews remained Jews though. In order to then show that this distinction was now void, he states this first. To the Galatians, it was an admonishment that they were not to look to the Jews for their doctrine, but to God. They were not to insert the false teachings of the Judaizers, but to submerse themselves in the truth of the gospel.
Slave nor free – The free people of the Roman Empire were considered on a completely different level than the slaves. This distinction was so great that Paul’s words here could hardly be imagined by either class when considering the other. But once in Christ, the distinctions were removed. The letter of Philemon gives important insights into this.
Male nor female – It is obvious what sex a person is from the moment he or she is born. This never changes and each person’s gender remains an identifying part of who they are until the day of their death. The modern perversion of transgenderism doesn’t change the fact that males are males and females are females. However, this most basic distinction between the two is no longer considered a limiting or dividing factor when in Christ.
Despite these markedly different categories within the world itself, in Christ they are not considered as affecting one’s standing, for “all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Having said this, Paul’s words here actually imply that these distinctions still exist in the world in which we live. When naming categories, it shows that the categories are there to name. No one reading his words would look around at their fellow Christians and say, “Well, there are no males and females anymore.” The same is true with those who are slaves and those who are free. The differences exist in the world to this day. And yet, those who believe the church has replaced Israel ignore the categories that Paul mentions first – Jew and Gentile.
To state the names implies there is a difference. Though there is now no distinction between them “in Christ,” there is a difference between them “in the world.” The church is not comprised of only Jews. But this is the ludicrous claim of replacement theologians such as RC Sproul. In his monthly magazine, published by Ligonier Ministries, he stated this –
“We’re not dispensationalists here….We believe that the church is essentially Israel. We believe that the answer to, “What about the Jews?” is, “Here we are.” We deny that the church is God’s “plan B.” We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis.”
It is absolute malarkey to think this way. He would never claim there are no women because “all are one in Christ,” but the differences between Jews and Gentiles are brushed over, or the title of “Jew” is co-opted by those who are not Jews. Let us use common sense when we read passages such as this.
Life application: If you are a Jew in Christ, you remain a Jew. If you are a Gentile in Christ, you remain a Gentile. There is no distinction between the two, but the differences remain. Don’t call yourself what you are not!
Thank You, Lord God, for many differences that You have placed in Your creation for us to enjoy. There are men and there are women. There are apples, oranges, and pomegranates. We have cold days and then come hot days. And the days are ended by the coming of the nights. Each thing that You have given us serves a wonderful purpose and provides us with beautiful diversity which we can enjoy and revel in. Thank You for such kindness to us! Amen.