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Galatians 4 (ESV)
1 I mean that the heir,
as long as he is a child,
is no different from a slave,
though he is the owner of everything,
he is under guardians and managers
until the date set by his father.
3 In the same way we also,
when we were children,
were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
4 But when the fullness of time had come,
God sent forth
born of woman,
born under the law,
5 to redeem
those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons,
God has sent the Spirit
of his Son
into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
7 So you
are no longer a slave,
but a son,
and if a son,
then an heir through God.
did not know God,
you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
9 But now
that you have come
to know God,
or rather to be known by God,
how can you turn back again
to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world,
whose slaves you want to be once more?
10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!
11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
12 Brothers, I entreat you,
become as I am, for I also have become as you are.
You did me no wrong.
13 You know
it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,
14 and though my condition was a trial to you,
you did not scorn or despise me,
but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
15 What then has become of your blessedness?
For I testify to you that, if possible,
you would have gouged out your eyes
and given them to me.
16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose.
to shut you out,
that you may make much of them.
18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose,
and not only when I am present with you,
19 my little children,
I am again in the anguish of childbirth
until Christ is formed in you!
20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone,
for I am perplexed about you.
21 Tell me,
you who desire to be under the law,
do you not listen to the law?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by a slave woman
and one by a free woman.
the son of the slave was born according to the flesh,
while the son of the free woman was born through promise.
24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically:
these women are two covenants.
One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;
she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
30 But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the slave woman and her son,
for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”
31 So, brothers,
we are not children of the slave
but of the free woman.
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Galatians 4 Summary
Chapter four opens with a comparison of Christians to wealthy boys in ancient Rome who grew up under the care of a strict guardian, who treated these boys like slaves in order to build their character. Then at the appointed time, the grown boy would be released from the guardian and begin to exercise freedom over himself and the estate.
In the same way, God's people used to be under the strict guardianship of the Old Testament law. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son... so that we might receive adoption as sons (v4-5).
Yet these Galatian Christians display the universal tendency to want to conform to societal pressure. In their case, this pressure came from Jewish Christians forcing them to follow obsolete rules & regulations.
The purpose of this letter is to remind Christians (then & now) to stand strong in the freedom Christ has given to us, His sons.
They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them (v17).
You likely won't face much pressure to conform to obscure Old Testament laws, but you certainly will be pressured. Unfortunately, this pressure will come both from inside and outside of the church.
So whether it's pressure to not eat certain foods like it was then, or to conform to various political or social agendas like it can be today, the message of Galatians remains the same:
Your salvation does not depend upon your own external displays of fickle 'righteousness.' Rather you have been set free to serve God as one made fully acceptable because of the perfect righteousness given to you by Christ.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is your loving Father who knows you (v9)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will follow the Spirit's leading, and not the 'forces of this world' (v3).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: