‘There Is No Difference Between Jews and Gentiles’:
There are some teachings out there that try to make all believing Jews into non-Jews, usually by employing out of context one or more of three passages having a phrase to the effect that there is neither Jew nor Greek. But a careful study of the very same passages in their context will show that the distinction between Jews and Gentiles is erased only in certain areas and not in all. Furthermore, a study of the text in the light of related passages clearly indicates that in other areas the distinction is still very much in effect, even within the body of believers.
The Passages Used.
The first of the three passages used is I Corinthians 12:12-13.
For as the body is one, and has many members; and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Messiah. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.
The clear teaching of this passage is that entrance into the Body is by Spirit baptism. This is the only way and it is true for all, Jew and Gentile. There is no difference. This is all that can be deduced from this passage and no more.
The second passage is Galatians 3:28:
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 MessiahYeshua/Jesus.
The context of this passage deals with the matter of justification by faith. This is the only way anyone can be justified, whether Jew or Gentile. So in justification there is no distinction between the two. That alone can be deduced from this passage and no more.
The third passage is Colossians 3:11:
Where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Messiah is all, and in all.
Again the context is the key to understanding this passage. Verses 5-11 are concerned with putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature. This is the true and only way toward maturity and spirituality for any believer, Jew or Gentile. Again, no more than that can be deduced from this passage.
The conclusion we are drawing is obvious. In the areas of justification, membership in the Body, and growth toward maturity, the procedure is the same for Jew and Gentile without distinction. However, this does not mean that in every area the distinctions are forever erased between the two.
The Evidence for Distinctions.
As stated earlier, the study of these very same passages in the light of related passages will show that instead of teaching against all distinctions, the reverse is true. When critics of the Messianic Jewish distinction refer to these three passages, often only the “Jew and Greek” statement is cited and the rest is ignored. My homiletics teacher used this technique. But these verses not only state that there is no difference between Jews and Greeks, but they further state that there is no difference between bond and free, male and female. Yet the custom is often to avoid quoting the latter portion for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed. Now let us consider what the Bible has to say about the two latter groups and see if indeed the three passages teach that all distinctions are erased.
Bond and Free:
There are five passages dealing with the bond and the free – Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22 – 4:1; I Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; I Peter 2:18.
In all these passages, the believing slave is to be in subjection to his master, even when the master is himself a believer. The believing master is never commanded to release his believing slaves, which would be the practical outcome if all distinctions have indeed been erased. But the believing freeman is still a freeman and the believing slave is still a slave. How then are these passages consistent with the three verses cited earlier? Consistency is no problem. As far as membership in the Body, justification, and spirituality are concerned, the way is the same for the freeman and the slave. But once in the Body, these distinctions still exist.
Male and Female:
Seven passages of Scripture clearly show that all distinctions between male and female certainly have not been erased. Subjection is the keynote to them all, as seen in position and function.
I Corinthians 11:3-10 points out that the woman should keep her head covered in the assembly:
In I Corinthians 14:34-35, women are forbidden to speak in the church. This is to the extent that if a woman has any questions at all, she is to seek answers from her husband at home.
Ephesians 5:22-25 points out the key idea of subjection:
In Colossians 3:18-19 we again have the idea of subjection. The husband is admonished to love his wife as the means of subjecting her.
In I Timothy 2:11-12, women are forbidden to teach men, for in so doing they are exercising authority and overstepping their place of subjection.
In Titus 2:1, 3-5, the teaching of younger women to be in subjection to their own husbands is part of sound doctrine, and violation results in the word of God being blasphemed:
First Peter 3:1 and 7 again point to subjection.
Now if all distinctions between male and female are erased, there would be no need for all these separate rules and injunctions. Do these passages then contradict the others which indicate no distinction between the male and female? Obviously not. Again, in the areas of membership in the Body of Messiah, justification, and spiritual maturity, the formula is the same for both. There is not one way of salvation for the man and another for the woman. Spiritual maturity does not have separate systems, one for the male and another for the female. Both have entered the Body in the same way. But once in the Body, the man is still a man, and the woman is still a woman, and they differ in position and function. Even if one believes that some of these laws do not apply today, it does not change the fact that the author clearly shows that distinctions between males and females still exist.
The Bible does not say that all distinctions between Jew and Gentile are erased when they believe. While it is very true that the way of salvation is the same for both, this does not mean that all other distinctions have been eradicated as well, anymore than all distinctions between bond and free and male and female have ceased to exist. The way of salvation, Body membership, and spiritual maturity are the same for both Jews and Gentiles. But in other areas distinctions remain.