The book of Galatians, like all Scripture, is composed in “Covenant cycles.” Identifying the placement of words and phrases in relation to each other is often the only means of perceiving their full meaning. The location of Paul’s mention of “no male and female” in Galatians 3:28 is a perfect example.
The ninth Cycle (Galatians 3:26-4:7) can be summarised as follows:
Christ is the new beginning. In baptism, light shines upon the deep
In Christ, all Physical and Social distinctions are washed away
The time of Isaac, the firstborn, is over
The sacrificial bondage of Israel is over
The time of Christ, the true Isaac, is here
The fatherhood of God is revealed
The heirs are those freed from bondage
The mention of “no male and female” occurs within the Division step of this major Cycle, which at once hints that it has something to do with circumcision. Since Galatians is “crystalline,” or in other words, a fractal,1Galatians is in fact a “ziggurat” shaped fractal, which is also significant for its placement within the New Testament canon. See DNA of the New Testament, and the diagram of the epistle at the end of The Shape of Galatians., the Division step itself follows the same format. Here, however, the “matrix” thread which shines is the order of the first seven books of the Old Testament, those which describe the giving and fulfilment of the promises of Abraham in Israel.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
(Genesis – Call of Abraham)
there is neither slave nor free,
(Exodus – Call of Moses)
there is no male and female,
(Leviticus – Call of Aaron)
(Numbers – Death of Israel)
(Deuteronomy – A new Israel)
then you are Abraham’s seed,
(Joshua – A new inheritance)
heirs according to promise.
(Judges – New rulers)
Genesis records the establishment of the circumcision in Abraham, Exodus the emancipation of Israel from Egypt, and Leviticus the institution of the Aaronic priesthood. The themes of sex and death feature prominently in Leviticus, because while circumcision and oppression are sins of the Land, sex and death are related to the promises and curses to Adam in the Garden, the original sanctuary. Although women did serve at the Tabernacle, they did not serve in the Tabernacle. The reason is that the Sanctuary was not a safe place for either Eve or Greater Eve, the people of God, until the serpent was crushed.
How does this relate, in Paul’s mind, to the New Covenant Israel? The meaning of “sons of God” was redefined under the New Covenant. Paul was still a male Jew, but his authority was from heaven. The heavenly identity of the regenerate exposes the secondary and temporary nature of all earthly sacred and secular distinctions. Of course, these are not instantly removed but transcended. Though the Gospel eventually redeems a culture from the divisions of its “childhood,” these carnal classifications now serve as targets for ministry rather than its sources or boundaries. A believing Jew ministers to Jews, a Greek to Greeks, a slave to slaves, a man to men, a woman to women, etc., but all Social demarcations become redundant by a union of faith. This Cycle is about a Succession whose distinction is not seed but fruit.
For further reading, see my book, The Shape of Galatians: A Covenant-literary Analysis.
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