A Commentary by John Stott
It is impossible to miss the way in which Paul moves on from the negative to the positive, from the abolition of something old (the divisiveness of the law) to the creation of something new (a single, undivided humanity). In both senses which we have been considering the law had made a deep rift in humanity. Jews and Gentiles were alienated from one another and at enmity with one another. But once the divisive law had been set aside, there was nothing to keep the two parts of humanity apart. Instead Christ brought then together by a sovereign act of creation. Literally, he ‘created the two into one new man, so making peace’. ‘The new man here’, writes F.F.Bruce, ‘like the “full-grown man” of Ephesians 4:13, is the Christian community viewed corporately.’ What Paul is referring to, in fact, is not a ‘new man’ but a ‘new human race’, united by Jesus Christ *in himself*. For although potentially the single new humanity was created when Jesus abolished the divisive law on the cross, actually it comes into existence and grows only by personal union with himself.
This new unity through and in Christ does more than span the Jew-Gentile divide. In other passages Paul says that it also does away with sexual and social distinctions. ‘Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.’ Again, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free. there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Col.3:11; Gal.3:28). Not that the facts of human differentiation are removed. Men remain men and women women, Jews remain Jews and Gentiles Gentiles. But inequality before God is abolished. There is a new unity in Christ.