All Are ONE in Christ Jesus
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Paul implies that since Christ is all, and is in all, we are all one in Christ. The Jews were given the Law of God, and God chose them as His people. They were very proud of that. However, God was preparing them to spread His Good News to all people. But the Jews mostly kept it to themselves.
It is interesting to note that in this passage, Paul lists the Gentile before the Jew. He didn’t do this to give any special prominence to the Gentiles (for God does not show favoritism), but rather to remind the Jews that God wishes all people to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and to be in relationship with Himself. In that, God shows that He wants ALL to be one in Christ.
The Jews were especially proud to be identified with God through circumcision. This defining physical characteristic set them apart from everyone else. But salvation through Christ is a better covenant that what God had provided to the Jews. Being under grace is far more powerful than the law. The law shows us our sin; grace removes our sin. Regardless of whether a person is marked with circumcision or not, God looks for those hearts are circumcised. In that, all are one in Christ
An interesting note on the words used here. There are two additional classes of people mentioned:
- Barbarians (in the Greek, barbaros – of uncertain [cultural] origin) – We also tend to think of barbarians as uncivilized, and unable to integrate into other cultures because of their wildness.
- Scythians (in the Greek, skuthEs – [most likely] of unknown origin, and by implication, savages) – This again is referring as much towards their behavior as their lack of identifiable [cultural] origin.
Paul does not use the conjunction “or” between them, but rather includes them both. The word translated Gentile in the Greek is hellEn. It refers to an inhabitant of Hellas, and by implication, a Greek speaking person that was a non-Jew. Paul is being inclusive of all people of all ethnicity. We are, after all, descendants first from Adam and Eve, and secondly from Noah and his wife.
Regardless of a person’s position in life, they are to be seen as equal, as one in Christ. Slaves were often mistreated and were often looked down upon. But God indicates that we are to see them as equals in Christ. They are, after all, created in the Image of God. To look down upon someone because of their station in life is to denigrate the Image-Bearer of God, and by implication, God Himself.
We need to remember that it is God to raises up and tears down. God is able to exalt and to humble. And regardless of where a person is born, how much money/influence/power that family has, that person’s gifts and the ability to wield them to success (or failure), God is sovereign over all of us, and is able to place us into ANY position that He sees fit.
Do we look down upon Moses because he herded sheep for forty years? How about Job after the loss of all of his children, crops, animals, and every other worldly, material blessing that was taken from him? If we don’t look down on them for that, why would we look down on someone because they are a slave, or were born in a land where people have animus toward other people who were not born/raised where they came from (i.e., Northerner/Southerner, Nazarene, Ninevite, etc.)?
A Qualifying Question
So let’s ask ourselves a question: Do we look down upon others, or see them differently (with a negative aspect), if they aren’t like us in appearance, cultural values, land of birth, station in life, or any other reason whatsoever?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You show us that You are not a respecter of persons, but rather woo ALL of us to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said that if he was raised up, He would draw all people to Him. You have seen fit to draw me to You. Please examine my heart to see if I have any prejudice towards anyone for any reason. Help me to experience Your character in regards to seeing others. Let me not be like Jonah, wishing the destruction of the Ninevites, but rather rejoice as the angels do when anyone is saved. Remove any anger or hatred towards others in my heart, and replace it with love and compassion towards all people. Help me to be wise when dealing with people who are evil, but to love them as You love them. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.