“There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
It’s important, I think, to read the Bible almost as if you’ve never read it before, and so to let its truth come fresh, rather than through a filter of ideas that you already possess. It’s like making coffee in an old pot. The filter get clogged up with old residue that prevents you tasting things as they should be.
So here comes this verse, hot and fresh and very strong. Paul is writing to a young church that had been birthed in the Spirit but was now tempted to add a few old rules and regulations to the mix – rules drawn from the old Jewish covenant (such as circumcision and food restrictions). Paul rolled his eyes at this, and dubs such things “flesh.”
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? …Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3).
He draws a line in the sand between all that old stuff as “works of the law” and the new as the supply of the Spirit and the working of “miracles among you“! And in verse 28, he comes to three powerful conclusions. The old way makes distinctions between races and religions, but the new does not. The old way makes distinctions between classes and socio-economic rank, but the new does not. The old way makes gender differentiation, but the new does not.
If you are part of the growing band of people who follow Jesus, then your “citizenship is in in heaven” and your earthly nationality is of no consequence. Patriotism is excluded from the terms of your new nationality which is “in Christ Jesus“.
Neither can you be defined by religion. “Jew” or “Buddhist” or “Muslim” are religious markers. But you have moved past such things. (And, as someone said, ” ‘Christian’ makes a darn poor adjective”).
Your status in society (or lack of it) is of no importance at all. Rich or poor, east or west, oppressed or oppressor. Your new status is “in Christ Jesus.”
You can no longer be defined by your gender. In the first century, of course, that meant a great deal. A woman couldn’t vote, hold public office or property, or give testimony in a Court of Law. But “there can [now] be no male nor female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.”
I think it’s safe to say that the Church of Jesus is still working on this one.