There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There are two distinct thoughts in these most wonderful words. St. Paul affirms, first, that the greatest natural differences between men are, as we see them, only temporary, provisional, preparatory.
2. This transformation of the circumstances of human existence has found already a pledge of its accomplishment. Deeper than all which divides you, stronger than all which comes from trine, and place, and circumstance, is this bond of one underlying life which has now been made known in the Son of Man, the Son of God.
3. We are to regard believers not as a family inspired by common affections and with common aims, but as one man, one body quickened by one Spirit, through which the one Lord is manifested to the world. But this doctrine that we men are one man, this doctrine, as it is called, of the solidarity of humanity, is no novelty to the Christian teacher. He finds in it part of the truth which the Incarnation proclaims. "Ye all are one man in Christ Jesus." This truth, as we reflect upon it, reveals to us the fulness of life, the promise of life, the motive of life.
I. THE FULNESS OF LIFE. When St. Paul declared the impossibility of distinctions between peoples and classes, he did not look to their destruction, but to their perfect use — to their consecration. Again and again it has happened in times of great conflict or peril that the thought of education, and rank, and sex, has passed away, and each one who has had to face the struggle has remembered only that he is an Englishman, or a man. All that he had, all that he was before, remained unchanged; every gift and every power was made to serve the immediate end; but larger interests asserted their supremacy, and the soul acknowledged the claim. So it is with the nobler conflict to which we are called as believers in Christ. We all bring to it the fullest offering of individual service; we keep back nothing, and we rest in nothing. Whatsoever we have that is special is the sign whereby God has revealed His purpose for us. But this is the common thought which hallows every effort, which nerves us for concentrated labour, which bears us beyond the narrow limits of personal aim, which binds together with the strength of their manifold energies the scholar, and the artist, and the craftsman, "I am a Christian." By that confession we know the vastness, the fulness of life in its unity in Christ.
II. THE PROMISE OF LIFE. The unseen life is greater than we know; now and then the veil is lifted from some dark scene, and-through sordid and repulsive surroundings, light and tenderness and self-sacrifice flash out; revealed, not created, by the circumstances through which it is seen. A time of wide distress shows us what the heart of the vast masses of the people is — beating with the one life, and loyal beyond hope to truth and righteousness. Then, when the deep foundations are being laid open; then, when we remember how the Son of Man has fulfilled man's destiny — we are sure that there shall never be one lost virtue, sure that the one life with its purifying energy will not fail, sure that it is life and not death which is the seal of humanity.
III. THE MOTIVE OF LIFE. To work for ourselves is a necessity. If then, we can be enabled to feel that our true self is in Christ, who has taken humanity to Himself, the whole aspect of the world is changed. Can we imagine any motive for labour more inexhaustible or more inspiring than this conviction that the well-being of the whole is imperilled in the least member; that subtle influences pass ever over each one of us at every moment which must work for all time; that at every moment we are all entering on the inheritance of the one life, marred or made richer, as it may be, by the action of our fellows? "Ye all are one man in Christ Jesus." It is through us that Christ works. He is the vine, we are the branches; but where, without the branches, is the manifold fertility of the vine? He is the head, we are the members; but where without the members is the prevailing energy of the body? "Ye all are one man in Christ Jesus." As we ponder the words and follow them beyond this region of conflict and succession, they disclose a prospect in which our souls can rest.
Parallel VersesKJV: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.