Galatians 4 Reading Guide
v1-7 - In Greek culture, the son of a wealthy man was constantly accompanied by guardians with strict rules. So, as it says in v1, even though the boy owned the whole estate, the boy was enslaved to his guardian until he grew up. You've been promised a massive inheritance (we read last week in Hebrews 12:28 that you're receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken), but that inheritance is only possible because you've been "adopted to sonship (v6)." This adoption is, of course, a total gift of God's grace, but yet we all have a strong, sinful instinct to try to earn what has already been freely given. For the Galatians, this instinct manifested itself in a desire to earn their inheritance by sliding back into Old Testament customs and religious duties which were rendered obsolete by Christ's perfect atonement (this is what Paul means when he uses the word 'law'). Today we're not so tempted to follow Jewish ceremonies, but we do have the same recurring tendency to want to base our inheritance on our own actions, not God's grace. Doing so, Paul says, leads to slavery (v7).
v8-20 - These Galatian people were under tremendous pressure. Before becoming Christians, they were pressured by their society to be zealous for the pagan pantheon of Greek gods and to perform all the associated rituals. Unfortunately, after they had become Christians, they began to be pressured by Jews to be zealous for all of the Jewish rituals and customs, and they were caving to this pressure rather than fully trusting in Jesus for their salvation. That's why Paul's writing them this letter. As time goes on, you are also going to come under increasing pressure to conform to the ever changing values of the day invoked by our 'woke' society. "Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good (v17)." Reading and understanding the issues dealt with in this letter to the Galatians will help keep you free from that slavery as you stand on Christ alone.
v21-31 - Paul drops a huge bomb in the final segment of this chapter. He compares Hagar & Sarah, the mothers of Abraham's sons Ishmael and Isaac. To this very day, massive tensions exist between Ishmael's descendents (Arabic nations (which are now Islamic)) and Isaac's (Israel). But Paul tells the Galatians that if they persist in clinging to the obsolete Jewish laws, they are actually heirs of Ismael, not Isaac! I'll bet this passage really ruffled feathers when it was first read!
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Although we've gone back to Genesis 15 already this year, read it once again today since it is the foundation of your salvation in so many ways. Concentrate on v6, remembering that the one thing you need more than anything else is perfect righteousness.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Paul says that because we are God’s children, God sent His Spirit into our hearts. Paul also talks about what the Spirit “calls out" within us. What does He call out? (See verse 6.)
Look again at verses 8–10. How does truly knowing God—and being known by God—take away any need for legalistic rules and principles?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God in control of all things, who uses even illness for His good purposes (v13), and who knows you (v9).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: You are God's child and are filled with His Spirit (v6-7). Pray that you will follow the Spirit's leading, and not the 'forces of this world' (v3).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
MONDAY: First, let everyone carefully consider their sins and ungodliness, that they may hate their sins and humble themselves before God...
TUESDAY: Second, let everyone examine their heart to see whether they also believe the sure promise of God that all their sins are forgiven only because of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and that the complete righteousness of Christ is imputed and freely given to them as their own—indeed, so completely as if they had personally satisfied for all their sins and fulfilled all righteousness.