Galatians 3:28 in its Context of 3:26-9https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3056461/3056461-6167560933175549952?trk=hb_ntf_COMMENTED_ON_GROUP_DISCUSSION_YOU_COMMENTED_ON#commentID_6171545433773461504
by Alison Rowan
I have often heard an Egalitarian trot out “there is neither male nor female in Christ”, only to hear it countered by a Complementarian with “It’s about redemption, or salvation.” But neither have explained quite what they mean by their catch-phrases. I am a treasure hunter and delight in unearthing gems from deep down, so I would now like to take a look at Gal 3:28 within the passage, 3:26-9 and in the context of the entire letter to see if it may shed better light on its meaning:
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:26-9)
What is the theme of Galatians?
A rather brief overview of the letter is that it is Paul’s rebuff to the zealous Judaizers who were trying to rob the new Christians of their freedom in Christ and put them back under the Jewish Law of Moses through circumcision. The entire letter is Paul contrasting the Natural, ‘flesh’ way of trying to ‘be a good christian’ by adherence to the letter of the Book, with the spiritual way of being ‘in Christ’ as a new spiritual being and bearing the fruit of his indwelling Spirit -- love, the fulfilling of the entire Law.
The letter, as ever with Paul, is an unfolding of the mystery of Christ, particularly in line with his definition of the gospel stated in Eph 3:4,6
“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ … This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
Explaining how this mutual inheritance by the previously excluded Gentiles is achieved, the letter to the Galatians is a treatise on the new birth and the difference it makes to living in the permissions and grace of God. Indeed, Paul sums this up himself at the very end of the book, confirming Jesus’ words in Jn 3:3,6 that what it born again of the Spirit from above, is spirit:
“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. … The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.” (Gal 6:15-6,18)
This theme of being now a born again “quickened spirit” in Christ versus the natural flesh or “living soul” in Adam, is an oft repeated theme throughout all Paul's writings. Here, it is woven through the entire book and traceable through a very brief outline.
Chapters 1-2 Paul is dismayed that they have ‘so soon turned aside to another gospel - which is not the GOOD news!’ He then goes on to explain where he got his revelation … and it is a revelation of the person of Christ within himself (1:24) and all believers as they mature ... into the first half of Chapter 2. He tells them that even an apostle like Peter can be wrongly influenced by the Judaizers and in retelling the rebuke he gave to Peter (2:15-21), he established the principle on which he then builds the rest of the letter. I will look in more detail at that soon.
Chapter 3 Receiving the Spirit and living in the promises and blessing of Abraham, all through faith, is not dependent on natural, fleshly observance of the Jewish (or any culture's moral) law … even of “Christian” rules according to the “God-breathed Scriptures”, but rather on what God does by placing us, whatever our natural heritage, together in Christ, thus effecting the new birth from which to live as equal inheritors.
Chapter 4 Contrasting the Old Covenant kept through natural, fleshly effort (using reason and the knowledge of good and evil) exemplified by Hagar’s son, with the New as Sarah’s son, a child of promise through faith and the action of the Spirit.
Chapter 5 The freedom of living through our spirit by faith in the new life with the law of love that fulfills the moral Law of God, written on our new hearts. He contrasts the fruit of this new life in our spirit with the sinful (or even apparently “good” - Phil 3:3-7) results of natural, fleshly effort.
Chapter 6 Invest in the spiritual life and reap everlasting life and good fruit or invest in the flesh (natural, old creation life, including religion) and reap corruption. He concludes with the essentiality of being a new creature.
Do you get the message? Is it not that spirit exercising faith versus flesh (natural man) exercising works - and failing - is the theme of the whole book? Paul tells is on Romans that we are “not on the flesh, but in the spirit” (Rom 8:9) since through the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11) the body of flesh in which sin dwells is separated (through its union with Christ crucified as the Last Adam), from our spirit as it is born again, united to Christ in resurrection. This circumcision of the heart constitutes all believers as true Jews (Rom 2:29). To this spirit, this inner man, has been granted the righteousness of Christ as a free gift, not through observing the Law. In Christ we have been made free indeed from Sin and from observance of Law.
The Believers Crucifixion with Christ
Paul’s pivotal argument is found in Gal 2:19-21 and I have included commentary including on his use of Greek verbs and tense.
“For I (as an offending member of Adam's race) through the law (its judicial sentence being execution) am dead (apothnesko, apo away from, thnesko, to be dying, the whole emphasising the separation that death brings) to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified (sustauroo, currently in a state of impalement on a cross) with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ (in my spirit) liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh (while nailed) I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead (apothnesko) in vain.” (KJV)
I believe that by use of the perfect tense - the present continuation from a completed past event - for sustauroo, to co-crucify, nail on a cross, Paul intended to distinguish between the judicial, actual dying apothnesko of Christ and us included with him (which he states in both verse 19 and 21), and the (metaphorically speaking) continual state of crucifixion, in which Christ voluntarily placed himself at his baptism. Here he suspended his right to live from his own perfect natural humanity (flesh), took up his cross, then daily followed only his Father's judgement, words and actions for all his ministering. This voluntary crucifixion is Paul’s explanation of how Christ was revealed in himself (Gal 1:24) just as the Father was revealed in Christ - who while on earth lived, but not him, but Father lived: and the life that he lived in the flesh, he lived by the faith of the Father who gave Himself for him, continually. Jesus stated that to be his disciples, we too, deny our natural selves (flesh) and take up our own cross to follow his voice discerned in our spirit, as he did his Father's. This is what Paul means in Gal 5:24 that WE, not God, but WE who are Christ’s (disciples) have crucified (ie that we have suspended our right for independent autonomy through) our flesh, (our natural humanity) with its passions and desires, (good and bad). The following verse 25 in the literal Greek exhorts “if we live by spirit, by spirit also we should walk” - rather than by flesh - human reason and the knowledge of right and wrong written on our hearts by nature (Rom 2:14). A similar illustration to crucifixion is likewise that of being a living sacrifice, our “flesh” immobilised, tied to the horns of the altar, but our spirit ablaze with the fire from heaven. We serve God by our spirit (Rom 1:9, Phil 3:3) not by even the advantageous (Phil 3:4-7) or disadvantageous (1 Cor 1:26-29) credentials of our flesh.
Paul further expands this in Rom 5, 6, 7 and 8. Indeed, Paul teaches that being in Christ and the Spirit of Christ in us, we are “not in the flesh, but in the spirit” (Rom 8:9) and “when we were in the flesh, we were subject to regulations” (Rom 7:5). But to summarise these chapters, he is speaking about what happened to us through our spirit’s removal from the corrupted old creation race of Adam, the Living Soul - for our inclusion into the new creation incorruptible race of Christ, the Quickening Spirit, at our new birth. He expands what freedoms result from that and then how to live from our spirit, not the flesh of our natural humanity.
You may have noticed that I have consistently (and successfully) used only one metaphorical definition of flesh as “natural humanity” in my exegesis. As a relevant aside, I wish to add here, that my extensive exegesis and research has led me to conclude that Paul could not possibly have ever heard of nor ever intended we understand sarx, flesh, as the fifth century doctrine of “sinful nature”. (To say that Shakespeare changed the meaning a commonly understood term in a couple of scenes to mean “string theory” is similarly an eisegesis with equivalent anachronism!) This arose from the tragic fusion which began in the third century AD, of Neoplatonic with ”Christian” philosophy. This and many other Greek Philosophical errors also became foundational for the traditions of the religion called “Christianity” that we ascribe to today! In my view, the incorporation of the vain babblings of the Greeks, the philosophies of men, the wisdom of this world brings bondage “according to the elemental principles” of religion (Gal 4:3). This approach is focused on improvement of behaviour for eligibility for blessing and seems to fit our experience. Therefore it was assumed to be what Paul meant, but I believe it contributed greatly to the reasons why Christianity became an earth-bound, man-made hierarchical institution - a moralistic religion with OT ceremonies, offices and regulations capable of tremendous abuse and without dunamis. Throughout succeeding centuries (excepting a few individuals) where was the vibrant heavenly characteristics of the kingdom of God being righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Rom 14:17) not a matter of talk but of power (1 Cor 4:20) - where the “gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess 1:5) and “by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God ... I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (Rom 15:19)?
This was not meant to have changed, but the church was deceived into reverting to relying on powerless, although well intentioned, human endeavour of “virtuous” flesh, not the Spirit of God operating by faith through their own born again spirit.
The root of the deception is the division of the soul in Greek philosophy into a “lower” lustful, emotional and “upper” reasonable, virtuous nature. There is no human spirit in Greek philosophy. Adopting these ideas from Plato, Plotinus developed Neoplatonism where to achieve henosis, oneness with the ‘Supreme Good’ or deity, bad human behaviour was to be put down by the good rational human nature. Adding to this, Augustine later surmised that the “bad” lower soul was what Paul meant by “flesh” and (creating a job description for the Holy Spirit that was never given by Jesus) that the virtuous human desire, was aided by the Holy Spirit against “the sinful nature”. Thence came the later capitalisation of pi in pneuma and the addition of the definite article to both pneuma and sarx, which in a very few selected verses became symbolic of only everything sinful and undesirable about us. He failed to see that ALL human nature, no matter how educated or rational or religious, is always corrupted and of the Old Creation, susceptible to deception and under the control of the Evil One. No human nature (flesh) can be “improved” to become Christ-like in behaviour (and is certainly bereft of supernatural power) - only the quickened spirit of man bears the image of Christ - not the flesh. This is the natural man as a living soul with all our legitimate passions and desires, but with the rebellious principle of Sin also resident. The flesh is therefore “weak” and “profits nothing”. It is designed to be an instrument presented not any more to Sin, but now to God, to be the earthen vessel to display the surpassing greatness of worth and power of the indwelling Christ. God's purpose for us is that we too, like his first-begotten Son should be the means by which his Word is manifest in human flesh. Flesh is not a subversive force that was crucified or we are to reckon ourselves dead to, since it is only from Sin, which indwells it that we as born again spirits have been emancipated through the death of Christ.
That was a rather condensed summary, but I hope it was comprehensible.
Our New Birth
To understand the New Birth is vital for us. It is what sets Christianity far above every other religion, including Judaism. Bear with me as I unfold my understanding of it here.
When Adam sinned, he was prohibited from partaking of the Tree of Life. In effect, he became orphaned, with his SPIRIT estranged from God. Without Father's care, in fear of death, there became an overriding, enslaving drive for self-preservation and proud promotion, from which fear grows all sin. He became a ‘huios son of disobedience’ (Eph 2:2)
His SOUL/mind became ‘futile, alienated from the life of God and darkened’ (Eph 4:17-8)
His BODY started to decay, leading to sickness and death.
I do not hold to the bipartite Greek philosophical understanding of man as a “body and rational soul” as adopted by the Church Fathers beginning from the Nicene Councils. As a trichotomist, I believe mankind made in God’s image, is essentially triune, being, like God, a spirit yet in flesh - our carnal constitution ie housed in a body with its associated soul - its psychological “operating system”. Natural humanity of body and soul together, along with all the physiological and psychological needs and desires, is what is termed flesh, none of which can ever be improved enough to be part of the new creation. The only way is through death and resurrection in Christ on the last day, but our spirit has already experienced it and now partakes of aonios eternal life.
A good illustration of our tripartite constitution, is that of an electric lamp. The filament can be likened to the spirit, the glass bulb to the soul and the lampshade and fittings to the body. There is no light unless the filament (spirit) is connected to the power source. The colour and cleanliness of the glass, (soul) affects how the light is emitted and ultimately seen through the lampshade - the Body. Elsewhere in more detail, I have explained this tripartite nature of man, his temptation, Fall, redemption, and its timings of outworking.
Exegeting Gal 3:26-9
Having laid that foundation, we will move on to the passage under consideration:
Galatians 3 verse 26 “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons huioi of God, through faith”.
Prior to this we were ”sons huioi of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). The choice of this word one of five which describes children, is significant, since in their culture, a huios Is a full grown male child who has undergone the ceremony which entitles him to inherit. This ceremony is called Adoption and can apply to a Father's own begotten children or to a favoured protégé of an entirely different family. In Christ, we are both begotten children teknia, (Jn 1:14) and huioi. Formerly, we were huioi inheritors of the consequences of Adam's disobedience, viz. corruption and condemnation unto death. In Christ, we are inheritors of his incorruptibility and righteousness unto Life … “Christ brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1;10).
Because God is Himself known as ‘the Father of spirits’ (Heb 12:9), he births a new spirit in us. The born again spirit grows from being a teknos, a begotten child (Jn 1:14) to a paidion, a little child in training (Luke 2:40, 1 Jn 2:13) to a pais, a reliable serving son or servant, (Luke 2:43 - here the boy Jesus was post Bar-mitzvah and had entered his “Father's business”, Matt 12:18) into a huios, a legally inheriting ‘SON’ of God (Gal 3:26, 4:7, Rom 8:14). God declared Jesus his huios Son at his anointing at his baptism (Lk 3:22) note fully matured and entrusted with ministry.
The matter of inheritance is intrinsic to the gospel. Justification by faith gives the ability to “inherit the promise” (Eph 3:6, Gal 3:29) - the “promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49) - the “promise of … the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5) to “be IN you” (John 14:17) because our born again spirit is of God’s incorruptible, perfect seed (1 Pet 1:23) and cannot sin (1 Jn 3:9) and is a fully compatible, holy sanctuary for the Spirit of God (1 Cor 3:16) to which we are united “one spirit” (1 Cor 6:17).
The promise to Abraham was that he should inherit the world (Rom 4:13). In Christ, “we are heirs according to the promise of eternal life” (Tit 3:7) and are also “heirs of the kingdom promised to those who love him” (Jas 2:5)
But Christ never violated the perfect Law of God given by Covenant to only the Jews. Hence, the genius of the new birth making any believer a “true Jew who is one inwardly through the circumcision of the heart”, thus incorporating the Gentiles into the promises, covenants and commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:11-18) It also qualifies another two categories of previously disqualified people: bondslaves, who were the property of the owner and were “items” in the inheritance given to the successor. The other was of course, the females since their sole contribution was to marry within any Israeli tribe to produce male Jewish heirs who alone inherited. (God graciously allowed the daughters with no male siblings to retain their father's property provided they married within their own tribe.) But I am running ahead of myself, here.
Verse 27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
An understanding of the different baptisms is necessary in order to keep with Paul's flow of thought.
This is our ‘Mikvah’ - ceremonial bath when getting betrothed. The mikvah, itself is a bath for ceremonial washings, often located for that purpose outside a synagogue, but also used during betrothal ceremonies. The newly betrothed, made a covenant or marriage contract, to be exclusive to each other, drank from a cup of wine and the groom gave gifts as dowry. They also both immerse themselves in the mikvah symbolising the irreversible covenantal passing from their old life of ‘singleness’ to a new life of ‘betrothed’ and entered a period of preparation for their marriage -- the groom went to prepare a home, the bride kept herself pure and made ready for her groom’s return. Maranatha!
Ezek 16 speaks of this mikvah during betrothal, especially verses 8-9 “Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD. “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. “ It continues with describing the gifts given as dowry. This is God’s betrothal to Israel. The Lord’s communion cup and New Covenant can also be understood in the light of the betrothal ceremony. The gifts our groom gave us his bride to help her to make herself ready, a body matured to the stature of Christ without spot or wrinkle or blemish, are the fivefold ministries and we are to await, living faithful to Him, expecting his return to take us to the marriage supper.
Whether in a Mikvah or a pool or river, the same ceremony was also used by rabbis to initiate their disciples into their ‘school’ of teaching. The disciples committed to leaving their old life in order to enter a new one, living with and receiving instruction from their Rabbi. -- hence “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …”
This is John’s water baptism of repentance and I believe the only reference to it in the epistles is in 2 Pet 3:21, “and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It is referring to Noah’s family being saved from the destruction of the ungodly. Note that the verse then goes on to speak of the resurrection of Christ being what actually saves us. Why? This is the ‘baptism into Christ’ -- the new birth. Peter explains it thus in Acts 13:33 “he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: "'You are my son; today I have begotten you.' “. Resurrection is the place of new birth. Jesus became ‘the firstborn from the dead’.
Our new birth happens on our repentance and confession of faith, when we are included into Christ - our reconnection to God. This is through the action of God’s Spirit described in 1 Cor 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, (male and female, too!) and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
Being ‘baptized into Christ’ is when our spirit is immersed/joined to Him and also placed into his history - there is no time limitation in the spirit realm. Our spirit is united to Him in His death.This is when God removes the heart (the Jews identified man’s spirit with the term ‘heart’ cf Ps 51:10,17) of stone (spiritually descended from the ‘old man’, Adam’s line) and gives us a new spirit/heart and His Spirit to walk in his ways (Ezek 36:25-7) and writes his law of love on our heart/spirit. (Jer 31:33) This corrupted spirit inherited from Adam who is the ‘old man’, is included in Christ’s crucifixion and burial. His resurrection is the place of new birth for Him, the new man and for us, (now of Christ’s lineage):
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old man was crucified with him” (Rom 6:3-6a)
We therefore have this new life through new birth by being placed into Jesus and his history -- death, burial, resurrection and ascension. The placing into Christ is itself likened to a marriage by sexual union:
“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”But whoever is united with the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Cor 6:14-17)
This ‘oneness’ is a divine reality immediately established in the realm of the spirit and a recurrent theme -- see it also in 1 Cor 12:13 and Col 3:11. It is only our spirits that are immediately created anew in his image (Col 3:10, Eph 4:24)) and glorified to become the Temple of the Holy Spirit in which he now dwells. Only our spirits our united with Him and hidden with Him in God, seated together with Him in the heavenly places right now. Only our spirits are born again, already possessing the likeness of Christ in holiness and true righteousness, but the rest of us - our soul expressed through our body - is being transformed into that image by the renewing of our mind to think according to the permissions and inheritance granted us in the new birth (2 Cor 3:18, Eph 4:23 and Rom 12:2-4)
This is the baptism with power, the promise of the Father, to enable us to be his witnesses and to minister in the anointing of God. Jesus had done no works of power to attest to his Father’s greatness until si hood baptism, the Holy Spirit came on Him and remained. He then affirmed that the “Spirit of the Lord has come on me because he has anointed me to……” (Luke 4:18) He “was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power and went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)
This is what happened in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out on ALL flesh, irrespective of race, social class and gender, all were “gathered together in one place” in the Court of the Gentiles (Luke 24:50-53) the one place where Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female were permitted together and were seen by the thousands of Jews and Gentile proselytes as they exited through that court after morning prayers. This is the anointing to minister and is not restricted by the type of flesh it falls on, since it rests upon Christ in whom we are and who by his Spirit is also resident in the spirit or inner man of the believer.
There is another important facet that needs to be included here. It is obvious, that ‘new birth’, as a single once-accomplished and perfected event, cannot be referring to the physical person, the body, neither the sin-tainted soul (mind, personality, will, emotions, still in process of renewal), but can only apply to the spirit. “Soul” is of the sin-corrupted Creation and can have no unity with deity, no matter how “good” or “righteous” it appears to be. Therefore being “baptized into (immersed into and saturated with) Christ” is the rebirth of an incorruptible, perfect spirit - our ‘inner man’ (Eph 3:16) or new creature (Gal 6:15). This is our essential connection and uniting by spirit with Christ, the ‘new man’ (Eph 2:15, Col 3:10) - and everything associated with the old, Adamic man ‘has passed away’ (2 Cor 5:17). The huios son is always male and a freeman with fully legal adoptive inheritance rights of sonship - not with the inferior rights of daughters or slaves:
“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, huios; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal 4:7).
Verse 28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
As mentioned earlier, in the Law of Moses, Gentiles, bondslaves and daughters were not allowed to inherit anything. Yet, EVERY believer has been made “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17). How can a female or bondslave inherit without breaking the Law? They can't and the Law of God is perfect and immutable. Since Jesus did not come to change or to annul the Law but to fulfil it, now in Christ, there can be no ‘daughters’ of God, only sons, neither slaves nor uncircumcised if indeed all are to be heirs. This elimination of natural gender through new birth to enable LEGAL inheriting by Christian women, is completely contradictory to the Complementarian insistence that gender is conflated with a person's identity in this life and into eternity. That is why in the original Greek, there is no gender distinction in the qualifications for ministry--God does not regard believing women in Christ, according to their flesh, neither should we any more:
“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, the new has emerged.” (2 Cor 5:16-7)
There are other places where this is clear.
“You (both male and female) laid aside the old man with its evil practices, and have put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— in which (ie the “one new man”) there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:9-11)
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)
These are the supporting scriptures by which to most clearly understand Gal 3:26-9. In our passage under consideration, Paul delighted to not only show that God’s ingenuity of new birth destroys the barrier to inheritance for the gentiles, but also for the other two categories of disqualified persons: slaves and females so that mankind can once again be perfectly and completely reunited with Himself all “one (and the same) in Christ” and qualified to inherit now, “all things” (1 Cor 3:21-3) and every Heavenly blessing in Christ:
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons (huioi) of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Maturing for ministry
I hope I have shown that Gal 3:28 is not speaking only of who might qualify for salvation, but in the context of the letter, it is speaking more of how the flesh with its natural attributes accounts for nothing, but what does have significance is what the new spirit man in each of us is like: All are equal huioi ‘sons’ of God, qualified to be “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17) - n.b. here, that the culmination of Paul's treatise of the gospel in Romans is also God's ingenuity of our rebirth into Christ giving ability for ALL to inherit). All are “one new man … through him we have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph 2:11-18) where, learning to receive his perfect love, casts out all the fear that causes sin. Our growth in character and ability to love develops from receiving revelation and experience of God's love. We mature, growing from needy, self-absorbed, petulant, carnal infants nepios (1 Cor 3:1) by experiencing God's love and practicing it. He freely supplies abundant living water of the Spirit for our individual spring of salvation which increases to become a river for the blessing of others.
Through living in the spirit and experiencing Father's love, security comes and diminishes the drive for that immature behaviour. Paul's exhortation to the carnal believers, was merely to crave the logikon, 'wordy’ milk and his prayers were for revelation of our Father's love and gifts in Christ in order to mature, not to resist a “sinful nature”! Mature sons, conformed to the image of His huios Son, “inherit the kingdom”, not yet for those nepoi, still caught in sin (1 Cor 6:9-11). There's nothing in this passage about sending such to Hell. Being not able to “inherit the kingdom” is saying that although entitled in Christ, experientially these immature wrongdoers can't yet be trusted coworkers in Christ’s kingly authority, “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, going about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil” (Acts 10:38). A few such huioi sons of God have been seen in practice through the ages, but now they are on the increase, equipping the glorious Bride for her Beloved’s return.
What is this new creature, this huios son, like? Jesus, the huios of God! It is the image of God, one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17), partaking of the divine nature. (2 Pet 1:4) Full of good fruit (Gal 5:22-3) perfected already in holiness and true righteousness (Eph 4:23-4). It is within this perfectly clean and holy new spirit man that the Holy Spirit resides. It is on this new spirit man, joined to God’s Spirit, that the anointing (symbolised by the holy anointing oil) to minister comes, not ever on the flesh, whether male or female etc.
“Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you” (Ex 30:32)
Paul describes his service in the gospel in this way:
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son” (Rom 1:9)
We are told in Phil 3:2-11 that we are the true circumcision who are to serve/minister by the Spirit of God, placing no confidence in flesh - all natural attributes of race, education, culture, status etc. What matters is that we know we are crucified with Christ, that we partake of his sufferings conforming to his death and operate in the power of His resurrection - the new life in the new man, anointed by the Holy Spirit to minister His aonios, age-like heavenly life. Gal 3:26-9 is the equivalent of this and shows that our 'service'/ministering/worship to Him is dependent on the new spirit man - the son of God - that all born again believers become. The 'ministry’ is spiritual - not natural - of the flesh since that counts for nothing - it is worthless and irrelevant in the outworkings of God's kingdom, apart from being the earthen vessel that contains the spiritual treasure.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us … we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in our bodies … our mortal flesh” (2 Cor 4:7, 10-12)
This all-surpassing power is the anointing of God (on the Word and in the Name of Jesus), which is neither diminished nor carries restricted authority if it is contained in Gentile, bondman's or female flesh. Therefore, male and female alike are equally qualified for the same ministries which are distributed according to God's sovereign choice. In this way, the call of God and enabling authority and power (anointing) to minister operates independently of the outer casing that houses the soul and born again spirit. In fact there are up to sixteen New Testament references where women teach and lead men, which indisputable fact is a complete refutation of the Complementarian interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12.
In God's permissions and grace, we are all one and the same in Christ Jesus. All God-given 'ministry’ is spiritual - not natural - of the flesh since that counts for nothing - it is worthless and irrelevant in the outworkings of God's kingdom, apart from being the earthen vessel that contains the spiritual treasure.
I would suggest what the Bible teaches about Gal 3:26-9 is all about the qualification for ALL to inherit, regardless of what they are naturally, according to the flesh. The Law forbade Gentiles, slaves and women to inherit. In Christ, through new birth of a person's spirit, God gives birth to a seed in the exact image of Christ. So a Christian is always a true Jew, a freeman and a male son, otherwise they are disqualified from inheritance. It is NOT POSSIBLE for God to make those distinctions between us now, without undermining the whole reason for our salvation and the nature of the "one new man" ... it is that we may be "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17)
This Truth is what the Holy Spirit endorses by producing good and lasting fruit through His ‘sons’ in female flesh. This is what is observable throughout the Biblical record and Church history where women were not forbidden and what countless others experience today, as well.
So, where in Christ, not in eisegetic misinterpretation through faulty hermeneutic, is there any justification for the patriarchal Complementarian paradigm that God treats females differently and gives them inferior rank to males in ministry?