Neither Jew nor Greek: Theology of Race
by Daniel Scheiderer
In the beginning, God created Man and Woman in his image (Gen 1:26-30). The couple sinned, but the curse placed on their sin contained a promise for the future Son of the Woman who would destroy sin and the serpent through his own suffering (Gen 3:15). Adam, being observant and acting in faith, called the Woman Eve, “because she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20). In the ensuing historical account, Scripture records mankind’s degeneration until judgment by a global flood falls upon the earth and mankind restarts from Noah and his seven family members. Still, sin is not eradicated and the effects continue to spread.
This historical account differs radically from those proposed by other religions and large portions of the scientific community. Some religions promote the idea of mankind being the offspring of the gods, and much of the scientific community explains how man evolved from lesser beings to what we see today. Some will posit that each evolved in different regions, and in such a narrative it would perhaps make sense why one race would be counted greater than another.
However, our view of man’s demise, of our abandoning God and worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, lays to rest any form of pride. Consider the Tower of Babel, speeches made about idols (Isa. 44:9-20, Ezek. 20:32, Rom. 1:18ff), and all mankind’s condemnation for their sinfulness in Adam (Rom. 1-3, 5:12ff, Eph. 2:1-3). Pride is not welcome here since pride in this sense is glory in one’s shame (Philip. 3:19).
Are there no differences? Of course there are. But ultimately, we find those in Adam and those in Christ. Scripture shows two races of man, the old and the new, and the old is passing away while the new is passing from life to life (1 John 2:15-17).
Additionally, numerous nationalities exist. From one man, Abram/Abraham, God made the nation of Israel. Throughout Scripture, we see a sharp distinction between the Israelites/Jews and “everyone else,” generically referred to as Gentiles. In the New Covenant, the distinction remains, but it is identical to the “in Adam” “in Christ” distinction rather than nationalized. Christ is the true Israel, and the distinction lies between those in him, and therefore true seed of Abraham, and everyone else (Gal. 3, esp. vv.23-29).
We can also assume unity and equality do not obliterate distinctions between one nationality and another since Revelation refers to those from every tribe and tongue and nation. We also see it in the providential outworking of the kingdom’s spread on earth. Christ sent his people to the ends of the earth, and the gospel has created Christians and churches in the various far reaches of the globe. In each place, we wear the same clothes (Christ’s righteousness), eat the same food (bread and wine), and speak the same language (“holy is the Lamb”), even while diversity remains. Again, pride is inappropriate here since Christ has accomplished all.
As the world fights over one skin tone’s superiority over others, or skin tone diversity over monochromatic communities, Christians have a better message than both. Two races exist, one in the old Adam and one in the new. In each is diversity of secondary tastes, but one is guided ultimately by sinful desires (Eph 2:3) and one by the desire to taste and see that the Lord is good in all areas (Ps 34:8). May we unite in the Truth, for “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28).