Posts Tagged With: Gentiles

Biblical Equality

john McKee

I just finished a short ebook by J.K. McKee of Outreach Israel Ministries and TNN Online called “Biblical Equality and Today’s Messianic Movement”. It is fantastic and I highly urge you to forgo a $3 coffee to buy this informative document. You will be glad you did. This post will explore some of Mr. McKee’s insights and some of my thoughts that he helped tie together.

Mr. McKee focuses on Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

Notice that there are three categories of people mentioned in this verse. Most people understand that this verse is emphasizing the equality and freedom we have in Messiah. And, this is true. However, there is more to the story, as explained below.

For now, consider some of our most outspoken disagreements within the whole of Messianic circles. Number one centers on the identity and separation/inclusion of Jews and Gentiles (Greeks). Some Messianic Jewish leaders just released a scathing treatise against those that are for inclusion and equality between these groups back in January 2014. One of their most notable battle cries was IDENTITY markers for Jews, which (they believe) Gentiles should not infringe upon. In their mind, Sabbath, dietary laws, and the moedim (feast days), are those markers. (For a response to this treatise, click here)

They have an unwarranted and unholy fear of Gentiles actually being obedient to the Covenant. In their mind, if there isn’t a line drawn in the sand to separate these racial groups, the Jewish people will cease to exist or be overrun by Gentiles. Thus, they claim that followers of the God of Israel that come from Gentile backgrounds should not seek to keep the Creator’s calendar and Torah, lest they become vile practitioners of supersessionism. What they fail to realize, is that by demanding such, they have placed themselves as the overlords and gate keepers of the covenant. You can’t be the light, draw people in, to only turn them away.

Ungodly fear is at the root of this type of thinking. To lose (perceived) control can be a very compelling goad. Their scare tactics have succeeded somewhat and they have managed to persuade some into their hypocrisy. Sadly, if they would only open a genuine dialogue with those that “see” differently, their fears would be alleviated. In over ten years, I haven’t met one single person from a Gentile background that desires to keep the Torah and cling to the God of Israel that has any notions of usurping Judah, overtaking Israel, or replacing Jews in any form or fashion. Instead, I see a people that would pick up a sword any day of the week to defend Judah, Jews, and the Land. This, even when their name and faith is continually slandered, rebuked, and denied legitimacy by the former.

Mr. McKee posits a poignant question in his book:

What happens in a religious culture that emphasizes distinctions first, rather than common faith and belief in the Lord Yeshua? What will commonly be manifest in such an environment are rivalry, suspicion, self-superiority, factionalism, and division, to be then followed by resentment and bitterness.[1]

Do we not see these things happening right now in those returning to the Torah and their Jewish roots? While non-Jewish believers have been crying out for acceptance and equality in the Body, many have forgotten the last third of Galatians… there is neither male nor female.

Restoring women is a missing key to this equation. Those bent on complementarianism rather than equality or egalitarianism among the sexes are denying the complete restoration and a full return to Edenic values. Mr. McKee puts it this way:

“The LORD God of Israel is not going to honor the request of a Messianic non-Jewish man, to be treated as a welcomed equal in Messianic Judaism, if such a man’s wife might not be treated as an equal, co-leader of the family along with him.”

Mr. McKee observes that the three groups mentioned in Galatians 3:28 are all interconnected. We can’t isolate one group and that be one’s only focus of restoration, for they actually reflect one another. They are each a picture of the other two. Thus, if we desire to seek true freedom and equality, there are three categories that must be simultaneously considered.

Many of my readers are aware that when I began to diligently seek out the biblical role of women, the Father dropped a hidden bombshell on my lap, by revealing the issues of modern day slavery (trafficking). I grasped the connection immediately; and I believed I was seeing the other side of the coin. But, I now realize that what He was actually showing me is more akin to a wicked tripod that supports and gives strength to oppression and domination in all forms. Isn’t it written somewhere that a threefold cord is not quickly broken? (Ecc. 4:12)


© Christianm

In light of Galatians 3:28, where there are issues of race, there will be issues of slavery and domination. Where there are issues of slavery, there will issues of gender equality and repression. One begets the other. Do you think it is a coincidence that Woman Suffrage, Equal rights, and the abolition of slavery are all intertwined in (recent) United States history? I think Paul saw this link a long time ago.

This is why now more than ever, those returning to the Torah and keeping the Testimony of Yeshua should be breaking the legs of this wicked tripod and uplifting and restoring the marginalized groups back to the original state: Eden.

But how can we accomplish such a feat? Where do we begin? How does a society and a Body entrapped in the dogma of authority, dominance, and control shift gears and do a 180 degree turn?

What many fail to elucidate when examining the issues of race, slavery, and gender equality, is our world’s proclivity toward male oriented authority, dominance, and control. Which are all, by the way, traits that the Creator especially endowed in the masculine side of His Creation. When these characteristics are tempered by the Holy Spirit and the feminine side of Creation, they bring balance and security.

But what happens if these masculine qualities dominate without the opposite, yet complimentary, traits of the feminine? We would expect to see a world entrenched in a power grab for dominance, authority, and control. Is that not the world we live in? On a smaller scale, we see the same thing happening within the Body of Messiah. The scales are tipped too far in the direction of the hard masculine. The Jewish sages, particularly the Chassidic sect, see this unjust scale and foresee a transition coming.

As with the general scheme of the cosmos, so with man and woman and the human consciousness. The history of humankind can be seen this way: A transition from male to female values, from authority to dialogue, from dominance to persuasion, from control to nurture.[2]

Do you hear the heart of this rabbi? He can clearly see the problem… and the solution. Dialogue, persuasion, and nurture are needed for reform. All of these qualities are feminine. But if we continue to deny females to operate in their God given abilities; or worse, deny their legitimacy to minister to the Body altogether, we can expect a continual struggle with race, slavery, and gender. What a vicious cycle!

I have great hope that we are on the cusp of real restoration. It has taken us a long, long time to get to where we are today. There is still much struggle and resistance to change (restoration). But I cannot help but to also recognize another connection to the three groups mentioned in Galatians 3:28.

With the reestablishment of the state of Israel in 1948, came also a theological paradigm shift. Israel and the Jewish people have a God given right to exist and flourish. For many Christians, seeing this took a sincere desire to reexamine the Scriptures in light of current events. Old traditions, dogma, and pride had to be laid on the altar of Truth.

Do you believe that it is a coincidence that the Civil rights movement quickly came on the heels of this restoration? And with that, the beginnings of a return of both believing Jews and Gentiles to the Torah of YHWH? Like it or not, all these happenings are CONNECTED.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is also another spirit that likes to work contemporarily with the Truth and offer the naïve a counterfeit. Sometimes core truths are twisted into a tree that no longer resembles the seed from which it sprang in ideologies such as liberal progressivism and secular feminism. Nevertheless, each started with “good intentions.” If only we could step back and look at the bigger picture of what is happening. We have a problem that begins with IDENTITY.

Identity Crisis

Let’s back up for a minute and reexamine Galatians 3:28.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

Mr. McKee pointed out something else in his paper that hadn’t resonated with me before. Was Paul refuting traditions found both in 1st century Judaism and other surrounding cultures on some pretty ingrained social norms in Galatians 3:28?

There is a morning blessing in the orthodox siddur (prayer book) that seems a little offensive without understanding its true background. The prayers in question are in the shacharit.[3]

 “Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile.”

“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave.”

“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman.”

Before I address the traditional justification for these prayers, I’d first like you to notice that these prayers are not only the exact same “social” classes mentioned by Paul in Gal. 3:28, but they are also in the same order. Is this a coincidence?

I don’t believe Paul’s declaration in Galatians 3:28 was countering these three blessings in the Jewish siddur. As a matter of fact, Judaism wasn’t the only religion or society that held social class views on these subgroups in the first century. The language of the three blessings echoes Greek prayers. In his later years, Plato is reported to have said, “I thank God that I was born Greek and not barbarian, free and not slave, male and not female, but above all that I was born in the age of Socrates.”[4]

Again, is the striking similarity of this proclamation to the Jewish prayer and Paul’s declaration just a coincidence?

It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. We encounter the good and bad results of this in today’s world just as much as they did in the 1st century. Social psychology has developed a theory called social comparison that attempts to explain this tendency. Social comparison centers on the belief that there is a drive within individuals to gain accurate self-evaluations. The theory explains how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty in these domains, and learn how to define the self.[5] In other words, we compare and distinguish ourselves from others to determine our own IDENTITY. Pay close attention to that last sentence, for it is at the root of much of our quarreling and division.

The common apologetic for the three “blessings” mentioned above from the Siddur is that these three classes of people – gentile, slave, and woman – are not sociological classes, but mitzvah classes. The apologetic insists that the prayer has nothing to do with the equality of these individuals. Instead, they are meant to be expressions of gratitude for the mitzvot (commandments), and each of the people mentioned in each blessing has more mitzvot to fulfill than the one preceding.

While this explanation is compelling, it still stands to reason that this section of the Siddur could have been influenced by the Greek culture of the first century. I am not alone in this assumption. Many Jewish scholars conclude the same thing.

I believe Paul was calling the people to recognize that in a redeemed or restored state, we must forgo our old social comparisons. Our identity is not found in comparing ourselves to others, but in the finished work of the Messiah. Our destiny and proper “social” status is not found in modern society, not in the Middle Ages, not in the first century, and not even in the age of the patriarchs. We must seek to return to our first estate and that place is most akin to the Garden of Eden, before the fall. For it is there where we have no Jew or Greek, no slave or freeman, no male or female; we have perfect oneness and unity!

If we could grasp the Hebraic concept of the cyclical nature of time, seasons, and restoration, instead of a progressive linear view of supersessionism, then the social comparison tendency would have to fall to the wayside. While our propensity remains to be a preoccupation with authority and patriarchalism, Yeshua tried to steer us BACK toward the beginning, to the place of mutual submission, sacrificial love, and servanthood.

Mat. 20:25-28  But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  (26)  “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,  (27)  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;  (28)  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

There should be mutual equality, respect, and submission between men and women in the Body based upon the gifts that the Spirit gives to each (male and female) believer. (Acts 2:15-21; Gal. 3:28) Likewise, there should be a mutual equality, respect, and submission within the home between husband and wife. (Eph. 5:21-33)

Mr. Mckee persuasively pointed out WHY the Edenic model is not only powerful, but so desperately needed in the Body of Messiah today. His proposition not only resonated with my heart, but baffled me as to why we have such a hard time seeing this, for it is pure simplicity.

In order to fully realize this, let’s look at the Galatians 3:28 one more time:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

Until we jump down from our high horse of social comparison and pick up the lens of the Messiah, we are doomed to repeat the millennia of mistakes of all those that have gone before us. We must exchange our desire for dominance and control with a heart for service, servanthood, and sacrificial love; or we are not fulfilling the law of our King.

Perhaps this is why FLESH was a daily offering. We cannot look out for numero uno (number one) and win the race of the Kingdom. All of God’s children of every race, tribe, and tongue, both genders, are equal and one in the Kingdom of Heaven. What are we waiting for? Why don’t we start living out this principle now?

[1] McKee, John Kimball Biblical Equality and Today’s Messianic Movement, 2014. Kindle file.


[3] Shacharit = Morning Prayers. The name is derived from the Temple service offerings:


See also the classical work: Vitae Philosophorum 1.33


Categories: Messianic Issues, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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