One in Christ: when night ends and day begins
Let’s recap as to where we are on our journey through Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Two thousand years ago, Galatia was a Roman territory in the country we know as Turkey. People had come to Galatia, who were wanting the Galatian believers to obey the Jewish laws like eating only certain foods, being circumcised and keeping the Sabbath. The Apostle Paul would have absolutely none of it. Not a bar of it!
As a young man, Paul had really loved the Old Testament law. But Paul discovered that the law he loved so much was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, now his Lord and Saviour.
Now the centre of Paul’s life was Jesus and not the law.
The people who wanted to bring in obedience to the law wanted to do it as a sign of the purity of the Christian community, so they could know who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. Those who obey the law are ‘in’; those who disobey are ‘out’. You can see that under the law, Jesus himself would be ‘out’. Why? He died a criminal’s death as a law-breaker.
Law brings clear division; the gospel brings a new people into being, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, law-keepers and law-breakers.
Greek philosophy was good at making divisions too. Greek philosophers such as Socrates and Plato used to give thanks
that I was born a human being, not a beast;
a man and not a woman;
thirdly, a Greek and not barbarian.
Not to be outdone, in the Jewish cycle of morning prayers the men prayed:
Blessed be He that He did not make me a Gentile;
blessed be He that He did not make me a slave;
blessed be He that He did not make me a woman.
All this would have been the very air that Paul breathed as he was growing up. Saying the daily prayers, reading the philosophers, he was reminded of his privileged position as a Jew; as a man; and as a Roman citizen who breathed the fresh air of freedom.
But since his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul’s theme is unity in Jesus Christ.