There is Neither Jew nor Greek
in the Body of Messiah
DIG: What is the one condition to being a part of God’s family? How did Paul counter the Judaizers claim that they needed to be circumcised and obey the 613 commandments of the Torah to be a part of God’s family? How does being “clothed with Messiah” in verse 27 eliminate major cultural barriers in verse 28? How do some people confuse oneness with sameness? In what sense are we all one in the Body of Messiah? What distinctions still exist? How can Jews and Gentiles all be children of Abraham?
REFLECT: How do you feel about being adopted into the family of God? In which area of your life do you most struggle to remember that you’re “clothed with Messiah?” Did you have a paidagogos, a harsh disciplinarian, or hard time in your life that led you to Yeshua? When were you immersed into the Body of Messiah? What nine things did God do for you at the moment of faith? Can you undo any of the nine? What does that mean to you? If you are Jewish, do you attend a Messianic synagogue or a church? If you are a Gentile, do you attend a Messianic synagogue or a church? Why would a Jew attend a church? Why would a Gentile attend a Messianic synagogue? When you inherited the promise of God, you inherited the promise that God wants to bless you, so that you can bless others. Who can you bless this week?
When Paul declares that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile in Messiah, he does not mean to imply that Jews and Gentiles forfeit their unique identities and roles.
Paul’s vindication of the doctrine of justification by faith reached a climax here as he contrasted the position of a justified sinner with what he had been under the Torah. Three changes are noted.
First, all who believe in Messiah become God’s children: It was very important for Paul to make sure the Galatians knew what it meant for the paidagogos to have led them to the Messiah (to see link click Bm – The Torah Became our Guardian to Lead Us to Messiah). The invitation to be part of God’s family is universal, but there is one condition: For you are all children (Greek: huios, meaning someone of full age, no longer under a guardian) of God through trusting in Messiah Yeshua (3:26).
The Judaizers in Galatia had emphasized ritual proselyte circumcision as being necessary for salvation. Paul, however, declared: For all of you who were immersed at the moment of belief in Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah (3:27). What Paul is talking about here is spirit immersion. This immersion into the Body of Messiah comes about not through getting wet, but through prayer to ADONAI in which one repents of one’s sinful ways of life and accepts Yeshua in Messiah’s atonement and Lordship: For in one Ruach we were all immersed into one body – whether Jewish or Greek, slave or free – and all were made to drink of one Ruach (First Corinthians 12:13).96 The simplest definition of a believer is a person who is clothed with Messiah. One Heart now beats in all. The pulsating life of the Lord gives us a purpose driven life. One mind now guides all, the mind of Messiah. One Life is lived by all, the life of Yeshua Messiah produced by the Ruach ha-Kodesh in our lives.97 At the moment of faith God does nine things for us (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Bw – What God Does For Us at the Moment of Faith) There is no such thing as a believer who has not been immersed by the Spirit. Speaking in tongues, nor anything else, is not a necessary addition for salvation because salvation is faith-plus-nothing.
Getting back to the illustration of a guardian, when a child reached the age of maturity, as decided by the father, he would symbolize the transition to adulthood by clothing his son with a special toga, a mark of his manhood. In the same way, by believing in Yeshua we have been clothed with Messiah. He is the toga of our spiritual maturity. To go back to the 613 commandments of Moshe, meant that the Galatians were throwing off their togas and reverting to a state of spiritual immaturity.
Second, believers in Yeshua are all one in Yeshua: As far as justification is concerned, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free (in today’s language, the “haves” and the “have-nots”), there is neither male nor female – for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-18). This was not true in the Dispensation of Torah. Only the Jews could go past the wall of separation in the Temple compound (see the commentary on Acts Cn – Paul’s Advice from Jacob and the Elders at Jerusalem). If a Gentile entered in, he could be executed. Furthermore, slaves did not offer sacrifices under the Torah but freedmen did. The females didn’t have to bring sacrifice (although many did voluntarily), but the males did. These are references to a prayer that every Jewish man prayed every morning of his life, “ADONAI I thank You that I am not a Gentile, or a slave, or a woman.” Now, Jews made those distinctions, but the gospel of Yeshua Messiah does not. All are justified the same way. Therefore, Jewish and Gentile believers must treat each other as equals before ADONAI, as equal worth as human beings. So must believing slaves and freemen, and likewise believing men and women. In the Body of Messiah, we should all be as one today also. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
However, this verse is sometimes misused as an attack against Messianic Judaism in the following way when Gentile Christians mistakenly insist, “You Messianic Jews should not separate yourselves from us Gentile Christians by having Messianic synagogues! When Jews are saved, they need to come to church! Don’t you know that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek?” So be like us, give up your Jewish distinctives, stop observing the Torah and the Jewish holidays, and put it all behind you. Worship with us and live our lifestyle.” But they mistake oneness with sameness. Ironically, the Christian insistence on sameness between Jews and Gentiles has actually put up a dividing wall between Judaism and Jewish community.
Within the Body of Messiah certain distinctions continue. Differences in cultural background and religious heritage, differences that God has promised to the Jews as a people, and differences in what they are commanded to do. There will even be a Jewish branch of government and a Gentile branch of government during the Messianic Kingdom (see the commentary on Revelation Fi – The Government of the Messianic Kingdom). Therefore, Gentiles should not try to prevent Jewish believers from recognizing those differences and building their lifestyles in a way that reflects them, so long as the lessons of Galatians are heeded. Which is that equality and fellowship in the Body of Messiah between Jews and Gentiles must be nurtured and preserved. Nothing in the B’rit Chadashah prevents a Jewish believer from choosing to worship with Gentile believers in church; likewise, nothing prevents a Gentile believer from choosing to worship with Jewish believers in a Messianic Jewish synagogue. In either situation what the B’rit Chadashah mandates is fellowship and equality between Jews and Gentiles in the Body.
Third, believers in Yeshua are Abraham’s seed of the promise: What is the promise that Paul writes about here? To find out we need to go all the way back to the beginning, when ADONAI said: I will bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Any discussion of the seed of Abraham must first take into account his natural seed, the descendants of Jacob in the twelve tribes of Isra’el. Within this natural seed there is a believing remnant of Jews in every age, the righteous of the TaNaKh, who will one day inherit the Abrahamic promises directed to them. Not all those who are descended from Isra’el are Isra’el, nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed . . . that is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God; rather, the children of the promise are counted as seed (Romans 9:6 and 8).98
But there is also the spiritual seed of Abraham who are not Jews. And in this one verse, Paul summarizes his whole argument to his Galatian disciples: And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed – heirs according to the promise (3:29). Are Gentiles full-fledged children of Abraham, or are they second-class children? Maimonides answered a comparable question from a Gentile convert to Judaism. In his, “Letter to Ovadyah the Proselyte,” he answered, “You are to say, ‘our God and God of our fathers,’ because Abraham is your father.” This letter is quoted at length in Romans 4:16. Paul is equally insistent on the full equality of Gentile believers in the Messiah.99
To suggest, as the Amillennialists mistakenly do (see Ak – The Hebrew Roots Movement: A Different Gospel), that Gentile believers inherit the national promises given to the believing Jewish remnant – that the Church thus supplants Isra’el or is the “New Isra’el” is to ignore the clear, literal, teaching of the Bible. Those who are a part of any such movement are in grave danger. For Yeshua declares: I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his share in the Tree of Life and the Holy City, which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).
The Judaizers taught that by becoming subjects to the 613 commandments of the Torah that the Gentile Galatians would become the seed, or the descendants, of Abraham. Paul asserts that this privilege comes to one by belief in Yeshua. In Romans 4, Paul shows that Abraham was justified by faith, and was therefore considered the spiritual father of all who put their faith in Messiah, whether they were circumcised or uncircumcised. ADONAI made salvation dependent upon trust in order that it might be available to both Jew and Gentile alike. Since Abraham is the spiritual father of all believers, this does away with the false belief of the Judaizers that becoming a Jew by Torah observance brings one into divine favor and gives one salvation. By belonging to Messiah, believers are also Abraham’s descendents, for Messiah is the Seed of Abraham. Since believers have entered into a relationship with Messiah, they are heirs of the promise and are likewise Abraham’s seed.100
In his vision on Patmos, Yochanan heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer, for the former things have passed away . . . and the one who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be My children (Revelation 21:3-4 and 7).
We cannot come to Messiah to be justified until we have first been to Moshe to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moshe, and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there. We must let Moshe send us to Messiah.101
Dear Awesome and Loving Father, How Great you are! Praise you that right from the beginning when You called Abraham, Your plan was to bless the whole world-and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3).
Praise You that the desire to bless all the families of the world continued with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, for he prayed: If your people Isra’el are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, yet when they return and confess Your Name, praying and making supplication before You in this House, then hear from heaven, forgive the sin of your people Isra’el and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and to their fathers (Second Chronicles 6:24-25).
Moreover, concerning the foreigner who is not of your people Israel but comes from a distant land for the sake of Your great Name and Your mighty hand and Your arm, when they come and pray towards this House, then may You hear from heaven, Your dwelling place and do whatever the foreigner asks of You. Then all the peoples of earth will acknowledge Your name and revere You, as your people Isra’el do, and they will know that this House which I have built is called by Your Name (Second Chronicles 6:32-33).
How awesome you revealed Your glory for when Solomon finished praying the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of ADONAI filled the House (Second Chronicles 7:1).
Praise God that Yeshua, He is our Shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility -the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom, and to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross – by which He put the hostility to death. And He came and proclaimed shalom to you who were far away and shalom to those who were near – for through Him we both have access to the Father by the same Rauch. So, then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:14-19).
We worship you and desire to give back all of ourselves to You in love. In the name of Your Holy Son and the power of His resurrection. Amen