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Women's Ministry: Galatians 3:28 • Sonja Hanke • (PPSS 3)

Women's Ministry: Galatians 3:28 • Sonja Hanke • (PPSS 3)



Women's Ministry & the Formation of Gender Identity in Galatians 3:28


Preface: Introductory Study
This paper searches to demonstrate that the sub-cultural biblical principle of gender is a community’s pursue of peace by the Holy Spirit, which does not, first and foremost, define male and female roles and characteristics, but rather it defines the principle of equality incarnated within a culture with its definition of male and female gender roles. This quest for peace by the Spirit leads eventually, in the best case, to a reformation of society-structures (Gen 1–2; Gal 3:28; Rom 16:1–2 [Φοίβη]; 7 [Ἰουνιᾶς]), in the normal case to equal conduct such as prophesying and teaching in the service, while demonstrating a cultural, gender-bound sign of respect (e.g. head-covering, 1 Cor 11; respect for the household-codes, Eph 5), and in the worst case to a strict call for order; men and women with destructive attitudes must conform to the gender-roles defined by the surrounding society until they matured enough to benefit the church-community through their leadership (e.g. 1 Tim 2:12–15; 1 Cor 14:32–35).

Book: Main content
Galatians 3:28 is not merely a baptismal formula that incorporates believers into one church-body regardless of ethnic, social or gender barriers (‘getting in’) and thus securing them ‘equality in salvific standing before God’ in distinction to ‘functional equality’ (‘staying in’) only. Reading baptism and ‘being clothed with Christ’ in light of Galatians 2:14-21 (διὰ/ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν), which stands in continuation with the OT faith/righteousness-tradition and pictures the OT relationship between Isaiah’s Messianic King and His kingdom’s inhabitants as ideal, this thesis finds that salvation in Galatians is the product of an imitative identification with God, or of a ‘walk of becoming’ (as different emphasis on the same reality that is usually described with terms of ‘getting in’/‘staying in’), which is shaped around Christ’s example as paradigm, having God’s monotheistic character and Edenic revelation as anchor and the Spirit’s work as identity-shaping force. As much as salvation is the effect of the Spirit’s identity-shaping force, authority-bestowing for ministry regardless the individual’s condition in the flesh (ethnicity, social class or gender) is its expression.
A unifying relational substructure of both distinct Testaments is the best explanation for the flexibility of Pauline vocabulary (e.g., the law contextualised as both bad and good): peaceable oneness with God is the all-embracing purpose of humanity. Galatians 3:28 stands at the crux of Paul’s most flexible vocabulary (νόμος, σάρξ, πνεῦμα, ἔργον and καύχημα6 plus derivatives), expressing Paul’s blunt summary of what he perceives as ‘flesh’ with its structures. This flesh stands in aggressive rivalry to the Spirit as identity-shaping force if used with the same function. The Spirit forms Christian gender-identity using flesh and its structures, but the truly righteous are not subject to them, unless the structures are linked to relational agreements leading to devoted commitment in service of people and people-groups.
Thus, female gender roles in marriage and ministry are fashioned by the Spirit (as anchored in Christ’s example, God’s monotheistic character and the Edenic revelation) and are not pre-written or limited by a code in the flesh. Both complementarian and egalitarian models in marriage and church ministry can function, but are optional, depending on the individual’s character and gifts, as well as on the social contexts given.



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