A little Greek…
Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ Θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
My translation: “For you are all now SONS of God because of faith in Christ Jesus. After all, everyone baptized into Christ has put on Christ like a garment. There is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female — for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This passage is often used to deconstruct masculinity and femininity, but look what it says. We are all SONS. People who translate this “children of God” are missing the point. The Son was made complete/perfect through what he suffered. Just so, when we put on Christ, we are completed and brought to maturity only when we lay down our lives. This is something that we do AS Jew or Greek, slave or free, woman or man — but the fundamental reality behind it is the reality of SONSHIP.
We botch this in English, because “son”, for us, means merely “male child”. For the Greeks, though, “son” strongly implied “heir”. The Greeks would never call a “child” an heir, only a son. When people mistake this passage as a deconstruction of gender, they miss the radical nature of the passage: that women, slaves, and Greeks were invited to inherit the kingdom. There isn’t the slightest notion that, once a slave has been baptized into Christ, they can abandon their master, or that, once a Greek is baptized into Christ, they equivalent to a Jew.
There is, however, a sense that these sub-identities (like male or female) are subsumed to our central New Covenant identity: the identity of a son. My daughter is a daughter of Eve, but a “son” — which is to say, an heir — of the living God. The power of this language is phenomenal, and yet it has become ordinary and casual in our ears, especially when we water it down and say that we are all “children” of God.
Children, schmildren. We are sons.
So what is a son — aside from someone who receives the inheritance? I’ll leave that question for my next post…