Epistle of Paul to the Galatians 3: 26 – 4: 7 (NIV)
26 You are all (children) of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” What a remarkable statement from the Apostle Paul!
Paul, trained as a Pharisee, would have known thoroughly the Torah, the Law, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. He would have been very familiar with God’s dealings with Abram/Abraham in the first of those books: Genesis.
In Genesis 17: 19-21, we read:
Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful … But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”
So it was to be through Isaac, not through any other of Abraham’s progeny, that God would establish his covenant. This is reinforced in Genesis 21: 12:
The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son (Ishmael, born of Hagar who was Sarah’s maid). But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”
God has expanded and extended this promise in the New Covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this was anticipated prophetically by John the Baptiser (Luke 3: 7-8):
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
Suddenly it was no longer only the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were to be heirs of the covenant God established with his chosen people. From the time of Jesus, all who put their full trust in him have become inheritors of the promises of God. This includes us.
Paul’s removal of distinctions between Jew and Greek can be read as “regardless of nationality or ethnicity”. Paul’s removal of distinctions between slave and free can be read as “regardless of your status as an employer, employed or somebody seeking employment”. Paul’s removal of the distinction between male and female can be read as “regardless of your gender or age or ability to contribute to the family or the community”.
In the context of the first day of a new Parliamentary year in Australia, Paul’s statement could be, “It matters not whether you are of the Government or the Opposition or the ‘crossbench’, whether you are wealthy or financially constrained, whether you are male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Let us pray for a unity of spirit through 2016 among all in Federal Parliament who belong to Christ.