a commonplace book
Paul’s letters make very stark demands about social relationships; Paul’s readers/hearers are instructed ‘to liberate themselves from habits of servility and ethnic prejudice by creating an alternative community characterized by equality.’ They need to be freed from ‘solipsistic introversion,’ false spiritualism and elitism, insensitivity to the poverty or suffering of others. In a nutshell, they are being told that they must show the world around them a model of belonging together in which no one either suffers alone or succeeds alone: well-being is always, uncompromisingly, a mutual and corporate affair.
Rowan Williams (quoting Karen Armstrong), “Patriarchal Villains? It’s Time to Re-Think St. Paul and St. Augustine,” New Statesman, Nov. 10, 2015
While perhaps contestable in nuance on the basis of a broader exegetical reading of the Bible as a whole, I find the passage a compelling summary of Paul’s arguments concerning the collapsing of society under the new covenant, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free–all becoming spiritual equals and spiritually interdependent. Unfortunately, such a radical reconceptualization of society is impeded within church circles by entrenched forces of ideology or nationalism–much as it was, I suppose, in the first century.