Galatians ~ Chapter 4
Chapter 4 continues Paul’s discourse on Justification by Grace. It has three sections which we will note:
Section 1, Vs. 1-11, Paul uses the object lesson of a slave and young child in comparison to the adoption of an adult son to show the difference between the Age of Israel that was under the Law and the Age of the Church that is under the law of Grace. It shows us Grace from a “positional” standpoint.
Section 2, Vs. 12-20, Paul uses a personal appeal to wake up the Galatians from the bondage of the Judaizers’ false doctrines. It shows us the permanency of Grace.
Section 3, Vs. 21-31, Paul uses an allegory for Grace with the bondwoman Hagar and the free woman Sarah to explain the difference between the Law and Grace.
Section 1, Vs. 1-11, Paul uses the object lesson of a slave and young child in comparison to the adoption of an adult son to show the difference between the Age of Israel that was under the Law and Age of the Church that is under the law of Grace. It shows us Grace from a “positional” standpoint.
Gal 4:1, “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,”
In vs. 1, Paul begins a sub discussion regarding the application of adoption in Roman times. In this verse he speaks of the “heir,” KLERONOMOS, as a “young child,” NEPIOS νηπιος that is an Adjective that means, “Infant, minor, child, childlike, etc.” Here it stands for a minor, someone not of age; an immature child.
In comparison to this NEPIOS is the “slave,” DOULOS. Paul says that there is no difference between the two of them even though the young child is the “owner of everything.” Interestingly, “owner” here is KURIOS. So he is a Lord in waiting, with no authority over anything at this time.
In this verse Paul is explaining that there is no difference from an authoritative stand point between a slave and a young child who is the heir apparent. This young child is representative of the Jews under the Law, which had no authority for salvation or the spiritual life.
Gal 4:2, “but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.”
In vs. 2, Paul reminds them of the “tutelage” of the Law for the young child as simply a “guardian” and “manager”, but nothing more.
“Guardian” is the Greek Noun EPITROPOS, επιτροπος that means, “manager, foreman, steward, or guardian.” In a family context, it denotes a “guardian.” In the papyri it is used most frequently in this sense as a guardian of children. It is used just three times in the N.T., Mat 20:8; Luke 8:3; and here. It is synonymous with our next word for “manager.”
“Manger” is the Greek noun OIKONOMOS, οικονομος. It means a manager of a household or steward, a position most often held by a slave, but sometimes by a freedman. It is used only 10 times in the N.T. This manager was entrusted with the management of a house, the control of its cash receipts and expenditures, Luke 16:1-8, and the administration and appropriate care of slaves/servants, Luke 12:42. He is the one in charge of separate branches of a household such as the inspector of goods, chief cook, porter, accountant, etc. Such managers even assumed responsibility for the children of the household who were not yet come of age, as in our verse. OIKONOMOS is made up of OIKOS for “house” and NOMOS for “assigned or law.” So this person was the “law of the house” for the young children, which is another of Paul’s play on words for the comparison to the Law given to Israel.
Then we have “until the date set by the father.” This brings us to the topic of Roman adoption.
“Adoption” means one thing today but back in Roman times, when the N.T. was written, it meant something else. Adoption today means placing someone outside of the blood line legally into a family. A child who is not a natural child of the family, someone else’s child, is placed into the family. That is not what adoption meant in the Bible.
The word for “adoption,” that we will see in vs. 5, is HUIOTHESIA υιοθεσια and means, “adoption or adoption as sons.” It is a compound word made up of HUIOS, “a son,” and TITHEMI, “a placing,” which means to place someone in the family who is already in the family, in order to recognize them as an adult son. That is what the phrase “until the date set by the father” alludes to.
You see a boy in a Roman family was no better off than a slave until he became fourteen. Until then he was a NEPIOS, which meant that he was under tutors, administrators, managers, guardians, pedagogues, etc. Sometime after the fourteenth birthday of the boy there was a ceremony in the home. The father gathered all of the family together and said that his son was no longer a NEPIOS but was now a HUIOS, an adult son. He then put on his son a special Roman robe which was usually white and trimmed in purple or crimson. It was called the robe of manhood. The moment the father placed this robe around the boys shoulders this boy could now administer his own funds, choose his own wife, serve in military life, or serve in the senate. He had all of the responsibilities of an adult.
“When you accept Christ as Savior positionally, you are an adult son immediately. This is positionally; you are in union with Christ. This is the doctrine of adoption. Entering into union with Christ you share His sonship, and Christ is an adult son, a mature son. That is why the believer is not under the law. The law is the tutor, the administrator, the pedagogue, all of whom were slaves and the child is under the slaves. So in the doctrine of adoption, the unbeliever is said to be a NEPIOS, a child. He is under the law, and the unbeliever should be under the law. The law restrains him; the law teaches him; the law keeps him in order. But the believer is not under the law, he is no longer under the slaves, the believer positionally becomes a HUIOS, an adult son. This happens at the moment of salvation. Positionally, as of the moment of salvation, we receive the robe of manhood. We are adult sons and therefore not under the law. The Galatian believers were trying to get rid of the robe of manhood and put on a child’s robe.” R.B. Thieme Jr.
Gal 4:3, “So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.”
In vs. 3, Paul reminds the Galatian believers that at one time he, as well as they, were like the NEPIOS, held under authority of a guardian, here using the more harsh term, “bondage” DOULOO in regard to “enslavement.” What were they enslaved to; the “elemental things of the world.” This is another type of reference to the Law and sin.
“Elemental” is the Greek Noun STOICHEION, στοιχειον that means, “elements, rudiments, or fundamental principles.” In other words, it is the basics of the world, KOSMOS, meaning sin and Satan’s cosmic system. By being under the basics of the Law, they were placing themselves in bondage to sin and Satan’s cosmic system once again; the very thing that faith in Christ freed them from. So by going back to the Law, they placed themselves under slavery to sin once again, because it is a system of works in regard to your sins. As we will also see this word in vs. 9, for the Gentiles, the previous enslavement was to the false pagan gods they worshiped. For the Judaizers, it was the legalistic interpretation and application of the Law. Both false systems are the result of demonic influence inside of Satan’s cosmic system – the KOSMOS.
Remember that as a child your parents used to tell you the basics of what was right and what was wrong. They closely guided you in your daily life, as you were under their authority telling you what to do and what not to do. Then when you became an adult, your parents no longer determined your day to day activities and you were free to make your own decisions. That is the difference between the Age of Israel and the Law, and the Age of the Church and Grace.
Israel, as the young child, was under constant instruction, care, and tutelage from the Law as to how to live life, while the Church, as the adult son, is free to make decisions for their spiritual life under the grace of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age. The Law tells us how to live as young children, while the New Testament tells us how to live in the freedom of adulthood.
In fact, it is very interesting what the Holy Spirit has been teaching our church. As you know, we have been studying the book of Proverbs, and now we are taking a quick break to study the book of Galatians. What is the purpose of the book of Proverbs? It was Solomon teaching his “young son” how to be an “adult son.” It was written during the age of the Law. So in essence, Proverbs is the “new testament” like doctrine for the Old Testament saints, to move them from infancy under the Law to adulthood under Proverbs. And as we now are studying the book of Galatians, we are being reminded that we are no longer to be like young/immature children who need constant reminders and reprimands from our parents on how to live life. But we are now adult sons who are free to make mature decisions about what to do and what not to do in the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
That is why many people gravitate back to the Law and legalistic religions and denominations like the Catholics, Baptists, and Pentecostals. They like a rigid system of do’s and don’ts. They want to be told what to do in their spiritual life, because they like being little babies who mommy and daddy take care of and tell them what to do and what not to do, and when to do it. They do not want the freedom and accountability of making their own adult decisions in the spiritual life. In fact, they will attack the doctrines of freedom and grace, because it provides too much opportunity for sin. But the adult takes on the responsibilities and accountabilities of making their own decisions in life, and love; the freedom they have to receive the instructions of our Lord, and apply them under grace to His glory.
Gal 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,”
In vs. 4, “but when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son.” This is another allusion to Roman adoption and celebration of the young son becoming an adult son. Jesus Christ was sent by the Father in the “fullness of time”, the time to become a man. Therefore, Paul explains to us why we are now “adult sons,” because Christ has come at the right time in the right place. This topic is voluminous but in context here, Christ came during the time of Roman societal rule of the known world. He came at a time when adoption meant something unique. He came at a time when capital punishment was dealt with in a unique way; crucifixion. He came at a time in the height of apostasy among the Jews. He came at a time when the Law was still in application, “born under the Law.”
This verse also speaks to the humanity of Christ’s hypostatic union, in the phrase, “born of a woman.” This is as close as Paul gets in his writings to saying anything about the virgin birth.
Gal 4:5, “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
In order to be the redeemer, as vs. 5 tells us, the Christ had to be like us and submit to being under the same predicaments as us. That is, take on humanity, born of a woman), and be in subjection to the same system as they were, born under the Law), especially in a time when it was highly perverted into legalism.
In vs. 5, we see the purpose of Christ’s birth, “to redeem those who were under the Law.” Notice the past tense of “who were.” In other words, they are no longer since faith, Jesus Christ, has come. Also “redeem” is in the Subjunctive Mood of potential of EXAGORAZO, εξαγοραζω meaning, “to take out of the market place,” that is, “to redeem, deliver, buy back, or rescue.” In other words, to purchase them from the slave market of sin; to purchase them out from the Law! With the subjunctive mood the potential of purchase is there, and the potential depends on each individual’s volition to choose for or reject Jesus Christ.
Christ purchased our sins by paying for them on the Cross so that we “might receive the adoptions as adult sons,” which is also in the Subjunctive Mood of potential. Therefore our redemption makes way for our adoption as adult sons. The Subjunctive Mood tells us that our redemption and adoption are conditional; based on our free will decision to choose Christ as our Savior. If we do, then we are redeemed from the Law and slavery to sin, and are adopted into the Royal Family of God as adult sons.
Gal 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
In vs. 6, we are reminded of Gal 3:27 and our baptism, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that placed us in union with Jesus Christ. This verse also reminds of Gal 3:29 and our sonship in Abraham as a result of the sealing and pledge of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. So this verse tells us that we are in fact HUIOS, adult sons, of God being entered into His Royal and Holy Family.
Rom 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…”
And with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we realize in our heart, KARDIA, right lobe of the soul), that God is our true “Abba!, Father,” which trumps Abraham as our spiritual father, who trumped the Law as our spiritual tutor.
Gal 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
In vs. 7, Paul brings it back to the slave analogy, the one who had no authority. We “are no longer slaves,” DOULOS, means we are no longer under the Law and its tutelage. “But we are adult sons”, HUIOS, free to make decisions under God’s grace plan for the Church Age. “and if a son, then an heir through God.” This is the trumping of Abraham once again. God gave a promise to Abraham, and in Abraham we are heirs to that promise. But more importantly we are not just Abraham’s son, but God’s sons and therefore heirs to the riches and blessings of God Himself, which is far superior to the blessing in Abraham. And remember, this is all made possible because of our position in, union with, the Lord Jesus Christ; THE adult Son of God.
Now, going back to vs. 5, we noted an important topic, the “Adoption” of the Church Age believer into the Royal Family of God as an adult son. This is noted by the Greek word HUIOTHESIA that means, “to place a son.” As a result, we will now note the Doctrine of Adoption and see the many images and symbols Paul used in Galatians 3 & 4, as well as in Romans and Ephesians to convey the understanding of the Church Age believer’s adoption into the Royal Family of God. In addition, we will see allusion to adoption by John in Revelation 2 & 3, and by our Lord in Luke 15. These all relate to the ancient Roman system of adoption.
Doctrine of Adoption
Of first mention is that Scriptures teach that God has adopted two groups of people in history:
- Israel as a people and nation in Deut 7:6; Rom 9:1-5.
- The Church Age believer, Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5.
For the Church Age believer at the moment of positive volition towards the person and work of Jesus Christ, the exercise of faith alone in Christ alone, Eph 2:8-9, that believer is adopted Roman style into the royal family of God through the baptism of God the Holy Spirit. As a result, that believer receives the position of being an “adult son of God,” Gal 3:25-26; 4:5; 1 John 3:1-2, and is made an heir of God, becoming spiritual aristocracy.
The New Testament teaches that the church, the body of Christ, has been adopted into the Royal Family of God as adult sons conferring upon them all the privileges and responsibilities that go along with this new relationship with God.
In Gal 4:6, the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit guarantees the believer’s position of adoption, making him an heir of God, Rom 8:15-17, Gal 4:7, while the filling of the Spirit enables the believer to experience his adoption. At the resurrection of the Church, also called the Rapture of the Church, the believer will obtain the full manifestation of his sonship, called the “redemption of the body,” Rom 8:23; 1 Thes 4:14-17; Eph 1:14; Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2.
The significance of our adoption into the family of God is that the Church Age believer has been removed from the cosmic system as a child of the devil, and has been placed as an adult son into the Royal Family of God, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head, Col 1:13. Adoption means that the Church Age believer is spiritual aristocracy now and is intimately related to all three members of the Trinity.
The adoption of the Church Age believer means:
- Privileges as an adult son of God.
- Responsibility to grow to spiritual maturity.
Definition from Isagogics of Roman Aristocracy.
The Biblical connotation of adoption is based on Roman aristocratic function, which is not the same as our practice today. The Latin term ADOPTIA is the exact equivalent of the Greek HUIOTHESIA, meaning to adopt as an adult son. HUIOTHESIA means “to place an adult son,” which means the adopted child is recognized as an adult son. This was usually done when the son reached the age of fourteen.
Adoption was designed to train a child in the recognition of authority. It was a system of selectivity for heirship KLERONOMOS), in which a capable person would succeed another capable person. Therefore, a Roman custom for aristocracy was to place an adult son in the family as an heir to the family’s business and fortune, who was capable of handling the authority necessary to continue the family’s heritage.
In the Roman system, adoption conferred adulthood on a natural child, or on a child outside the family, who would be adopted as the heir. This correlates to God the Son being an heir to the Father, as well as the stranger, the Church Age believer. A wise Roman aristocrat could adopt as his heir anyone he deemed worthy. So just being the son of an aristocrat did not mean you would inherit your father’s land, wealth, or title; you had to be adopted and adoption was the ceremony of proclaiming the heir to the estate. The actual ceremony was called ADROGATIO.
Also of interest is that this was not just a custom but Roman law, and under Roman law it could not be reversed. So as long as you were alive, you were the heir. Just as the believer who has eternal life given to him will always be God’s heir that can never be reversed. This is part of the believer’s eternal security.
Adoption meant selection to special privilege. Therefore, adoption refers to our equal privilege and equal opportunity under predestination to walk in the Plan of God for our lives, Eph 1:5f.
It also meant rank and aristocracy; not necessarily based on physical birth. You see, the lowest person in Roman society could be adopted, and therefore have the greatest of opportunities. This tells us that all members of the human race who believe during the Church Age are adopted into God’s family giving them great privileges and opportunity.
Adoption was the ceremony of opportunity; it is the ceremony of aristocracy. For the Church Age believer, at the moment of their salvation, in fulfillment of the Father’s plan, He appoints them as a legal adult son. Therefore, however you have failed, whatever your handicaps from birth, environment, or bad decisions from a position of weakness, all of that was set aside when you were adopted at salvation.
Adoption anticipates great blessing and responsibility from the integrity of God. It connotes responsibility, purpose, authority, and a planned life. It means being given the rights, power, privileges and authority of someone who is truly great and has all the power. This speaks to our POLITEUMA privileges being citizens of heaven, Eph 2:19; Phil 3:20.
Eph 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”
In recognition of our adoption as adult sons into the Royal Family of God, we are to advance to spiritual maturity, receive blessings, and glorify God in time and eternity
The Roman Ceremony:
In Roman society there was a great ceremony for adoption called the ADROGATIO, where the entire family was assembled, including everyone who might have been the heir. The father had ready on a table a beautiful white linen robe with a purple border, called the “Toga Virilus”, and a signet ring. During the ceremony the father would recognize the adopted son by announcing his new name and declaring him to be his new heir. He would then give him the “Toga Virilus” and put the signet ring of heirship on his finger. These two gifts sealed his heirship; it was final!
Since the scripture uses adoption to explain how great our Church Age status is, the actual ceremony of adoption provides analogies to what the Church Age believer receives at salvation.
- First you were selected by God to be adopted as an adult son, based on the grace of God and your non-meritorious faith in Jesus Christ, Gal 3:26 with Eph 1:5.
- Then the Holy Spirit entered you into union with Christ, Gal 3:27a.
- At that time, the Holy Spirit placed the ceremonial robe on you, having “clothed” you with Jesus Christ, Gal 3:27b.
- Then God the Father gave you the signet ring, which represents your Portfolio of Invisible Assets included in the “sealing ministry of the Spirit,” Gal 4:6; Eph 1:13.
Note that this was the process for the repentant Prodigal Son, in Luke 15:22, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.”
Therefore, at salvation you are placed in union with Jesus Christ, entered into the Royal Family of God, and given permanent and eternal aristocracy, as you in turn recognize God as your true Father, Gal 4:6b.
The manifestation of our adoption will occur at the Rapture of the Church when we also receive our rewards and blessings for the eternal state in, 1 Cor 3:10-15. This is also seen in the description of rewards we can receive in (Rev 2:17, given a new name; 3:5, clothed in white garments and confession of your name; 3:21, sitting on the throne with Christ). And as the other awards also allude to, we can have authority in the aristocracy of the eternal state.
So I hope by studying the history of adoption in Rome, you realize this was a very big deal and important thing. And you can see that when a Christian in the first or second century discovered that he had been adopted by God the Father, this meant a great deal and was extremely significant to Him, as it should be to you today too. Also astonishing to the early Church Age believer was that both male and female believers were adopted by God, Gal 3:28. In the Roman custom only men could be adopted as heirs.
In conclusion, all Church Age believers are adopted into the Royal Family of God, as adult sons, at the moment of salvation. This adoption is made possible because we are placed in union with Jesus Christ by the baptism of God the Holy Spirit, and therefore we become joint heirs with Christ, which no one can take away. The imputations we receive at salvation are made as part of God’s ceremony for adoption, recognizing that we now have a plan and purpose in life. And our adoption will be manifested at the Rapture of the Church when we receive our final resurrection bodies and eternal rewards.
Rom 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the manifestation of our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
In vs. 7, we “are no longer slaves,” meaning we are no longer without authority in our spiritual lives being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, as Israel was under the Law. But now we are adult “sons”, through adoption, who have been given tremendous authority, wealth, and riches. You see when the young child was adopted, he became an adult son with privileges and a large portfolio of the family’s wealth and riches that he was now responsible to manage. We too, as adult sons of God, have been given a portfolio to use at our discretion. This speaks of the Portfolio of Invisible Assets God our Father has given to us to manage, so that we can execute and succeed in the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
This portfolio is part of our three POLITEUMA privileges now that we are citizens of heaven as adopted members of the Royal Family of God.
The Three Privileges Include:
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit that places the Church Age believer into union with Jesus Christ.
- The Predesigned Protocol Plan of God sets forth the royal way of life that God expects of the Christian, because of his exalted position in Christ.
- The Mystery Doctrine that unveils the Church Age with all of its Divine assets and mandates which define the Christian’s way of life.
These three tremendous benefits of our heavenly citizenship are part of a larger picture. They belong to the Portfolio of Invisible Assets that God the Father has designed in eternity past for every Church Age believer.
“Portfolio” is a term for the holdings of an investor, a synonym for his riches. And as you know, God has lavished upon the Church Age believer the “riches of His grace,” Eph 1:6-8, 18; Phil 4:19; Col 1:27; 2:2. Therefore, every Church Age believer is fabulously wealthy, Eph 1:3, and has equal privilege and equal opportunity, Gal 3:28, to be successful in the application of their spiritual walk.
Not only is the Church Age believer a citizen of heaven, but that citizenship implies extreme wealth. “Our POLITEUMA is in heaven,” Phil 3:20, and our portfolio is described as including “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” Eph 1:3. Eph 1:3 emphasizes the source of these blessings, God the Father, and the mechanics of receiving them from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The believer’s portfolio of invisible assets can be categorized. Eph 1:3-6 identifies the Primary Assets; the Secondary and Personnel assets are identified in Scripture as well.
- Escrow blessings for time and eternity, Eph 1:3
- Election, Eph 1:4, and Predestination, Eph 1:5
- Volitional Assets
- Production Assets, Residence in the P3G, Fruit of the Spirit
- Assets for Undeserved Suffering – Suffering for blessing
- Assets Invisible impact blessings
1) Personal impact – Blessing by association.
2) Historical impact – National blessing Pivot.
3) International impact – Association with Client Nation to God.
4) Angelic impact – Witness to the angels.
The Secondary Assets are tangible and real and we must become “doers of the Word and not merely hearers who delude themselves,” James 1:22.
- Volitional Assets are good decisions from a position of strength with a true desire to know God.
- Production Assets are concerned with Christian Service and develop when the believer reaches spiritual adulthood since true production comes from spiritual growth, Eph 2:10; Phil 2:13-16; Titus 2:14.
- Undeserved Suffering Assets are designed to teach the all sufficiency of God’s grace to the growing believer.
- Invisible Impact means assets for maximum production as an invisible hero inside God’s Plan for your life that results in blessings for you that others in your periphery receive as well.
- Spiritual gifts
The Personal Assets are your spiritual gifts) that are the God-given talents or abilities related to the function of the Royal Family of God on earth. Every believer has at least one gift, 1 Cor 12:7.
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Pre-designed Protocol Plan of God (P3G)
- Equal Privilege and Equal Opportunity
- Unique Royal Commissions
- Unique Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age
- Indwelling of the Trinity
- 100% Availability of Divine Power.
Then vs. 7 tells us, “and if a son, then an heir through God,” which leads us to understanding several points regarding our heirship to God.
- Heirship is based on sonship, Rom 8:16-17.
- Heirship is based on election, Heb 9:15.
- Heirship is based on the concept of grace; we do not earn or deserve it, Gal 3:29; 4:7.
- Heirship demands eternal life, Titus 3:7.
- Heirship means eternal security, 1 Peter 1:4-5.
- Christ is the heir of all things, Heb 1:2.
- Heirship means to share the destiny of Christ, Eph 1:11.
- The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, Eph 1:14; Gal 4:6.
Gal 4:8, “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.”
Then beginning in vs. 8, and running through vs. 11, Paul tries to tell them, given all the privileges that come with adoption; Why are you going back to your life as a slave? Here he reminds them of their former manner of life as unbelievers and how it is similar to the life they would lead by living according to the Law.
In vs. 8, when Paul says, “however at that time,” he is speaking of the time when these Galatians were unbelievers. As unbelievers, they “did not know God.” It is not until you accept Christ as Savior that you have the ability to know God, because you are not equipped to know spiritual phenomena until you believe, 1 Cor 2:13-16.
“You were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” This is a reference to the heathen gods which were worshipped in ancient days. Prior to learning about Christ and the true God, they had no information with regard to Him, but they had a lot of information about Jupiter, or Zeus, or the god of the sun, the god of the moon, the god of the trees, the god of the harvest, and all the other various pagan gods of ancient Greece, Rome and the Gallic’s. They knew a lot about the pantheon of heathenism, and Satan himself was behind all of this idolatry. Behind every idol is demonism, 1 Cor 10:16-21; 2 Cor 11:13-15.
Satan is a master of disguise and used many of the principles and precepts found in the Law and applied them to the false god worship in those days. The purpose of these heathen religions was to blind the minds of the human race with regard to the person of Christ. That is why Paul states “by nature are no gods,” it tells us that in essence they are just idols, cf. Hab 2:18-19, they are figments of the imagination, they are the result of demon activity, and certainly they are not the Christ who is the Son of God.
Gal 4:9, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”
In vs. 9, now that these Galatians have accepted Christ as Savior and are under the teaching of the Apostle Paul, they had broken free from the heathenism which had entangled them previously. They were no longer in bondage, DOULEUO, to heathenism, to these false gods.
Now that they are saved, they can know the spiritual phenomenon of who God is, and as it says, “rather to be known by God,” which speaks to the grace God gave them, having predestined them for adoption as adult sons from eternity past.
But now, they are “turning back” in reversionism to the comfort zone of Satan’s cosmic system and false religions. Unfortunately they did what most religious types do; they leave one form of religious bondage and go right into some other form of bondage, because it is comfortable to those who are little babies. The Galatians left one form of enslavement, polytheism, and now have fallen right into another form of bondage, the religion of Judaism. Legalism under the Torah is the enslavement they fell into. They just went from one kind of false religion to another.
And as God says here through Paul, the thing they are turning back to is “weak,” ASTHENES, ασθενης meaning “without strength, weak, or helpless,” and “worthless,” the Adjective PTOCHOS, πτωχός meaning, “reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms, helpless, destitute of wealth, influence, position, or honor; powerless to accomplish an end, etc.” And that is what religion does and is!!!! In reality these things have no power to save, just as the Law cannot save. The word “worthless” means no power to provide capital, no power to provide riches, no power to provide wealth. This is a description of Judaism, legalism under the Mosaic Law; it could not provide any inheritance, never mind the eternal inheritance that the promise of God provides. So Judaism is called weak because it cannot save; it is called worthless because it cannot produce blessing in time or eternity. All false religions do, is beg for allegiance with the desire to rob you of your time, talent, and treasure.
Paul also calls the “things” of these religions, “elemental,” our word STOICHEION from vs. 3 once again, referring to the basics of the world, KOSMOS, meaning sin and Satan’s cosmic system, of which they “desire to be enslaved (DOULEUO) all over again.” In other words, these two forms of religion, though thought of as being drastically opposite from one another, are in essence the same thing, but with different dressing. This tells us that keeping the Law, or any portion of it, is the same in God’s eyes as the false and pagan ancient religions, just as any form of legalistic religion is today. The desire to be enslaved all over again also tells us that “the dog returns to its own vomit and the pig after washing returns to wallow in the mire,” 2 Peter 2:22. And that is what these Galatians have done.
Gal 4:10, “You observe days and months and seasons and years.”
In vs. 10, Paul points out some of the forms of legalism they would be following by entering into Judaism. This is their four-fold bondage: “observing days and months and seasons and years.”
“Days” refers to the SHABBAT, the Sabbath. They have become Sabbath keepers now.
“Months” refers primarily to Rosh-Chodesh, “the head of the month”, the new moon celebrations, observed at the beginning of every month, Num 28:11-15. But this may also refer to the four fasts of the seventy-year captivity. When the Jews went into Babylon they observed four particular fasts / holy days, including:
- The fast of the fourth month recalled the capture of Jerusalem in the reign of Zedekiah, Jer 39:2.
- The fast of the fifth month recalled the destruction of Jerusalem by fire, Jer 52:12-13.
- The fast of the seventh month recalled the murder of Gedeliah, the governor of the remnant, Jer 41:1.
- The fast of the tenth month recalled Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem, Jer 39:1.
“Seasons or Times” refers to the Seven Feasts of Israel and probably included the Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, Purim, and other minor festivals or feasts. The Seven Feasts in the Old Testament had a very important purpose and they were a bona fide function in the days of Israel. The first four spoke of Christ’s First Advent and the last three spoke of His Second Coming, which we have noted.
“Years” refers to the sabbatical year, every seventh year, and the year of Jubilee, the 50th year, etc.
As Calvin noted, “The Jewish Sabbath, new moons, and other festivals, were earnestly pressed by the false apostles, because they had been appointed by the law.” Calvin’s Commentaries.
All of these were of utmost importance in the thinking of the Judaizers. But unfortunately, even though they all had significance and were very important in telling the story of Christ, they had been taken over by religion and had lost all their significance by simply observing them for spirituality or, in some cases, even for salvation.
Gal 4:11, “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”
And finally, in vs. 11, Paul concludes this section with a heart-felt warning, “I fear for you,” along with a potential for disappointment, “I have labored over you in vain.” In other words, given your adoption as adult sons to God and the Portfolio of Invisible Assets you have received, along with the inheritance waiting for you, why are you going back to that which brings about death? I hope I have not wasted my time!
When Paul states he is afraid for them, he also indicates that they are not fearful as they should be. The reason is, they are too dumb to be afraid, too ignorant of the right doctrine to know that they have been and are being deceived, and losing out on many rewards and blessings for time and eternity.
And as we will see in the next section, Paul exhorts and encourages them to wake up and get back to the truth!
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Section 2, Vs. 12-20, Paul uses a personal appeal to wake up the Galatians from the bondage of the Judaizers’ false doctrines. It shows us the permanency of Grace.
In this section Paul makes a personal plea with the Galatians to recall the love they once had for him and his doctrine as he exhorts them to return to the truth.
Gal 4:12, “I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong;”
In vs. 12, Paul pleads with them to get back to the doctrine he taught them. “Become as I am” is the Present Middle Imperative of GINOMAI that is an exhortation or plea to, “keep on becoming as I am.” That is, Paul started in grace, 1 Tim 1:12-16, and he continues in grace, 1 Cor 15:7-10, and they should do the same too. So he is saying get back to doctrine; get back to the principle of grace.
1 Cor 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
“You have done me no wrong” indicates that this is not a personal issue between them and Paul and their relationship with him, but instead the issue is God’s Word. What Paul is saying, as all Pastors need to realize as well, is that they are not rejecting you personally, but in reality are rejecting Bible Doctrine / God’s Word and God Himself. So Paul exhorts them to get back to the truth and the doctrine he taught, and stop listening to those false teachers who are leading them away from their relationship with God.
Gal 4:13, “but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;”
Vs. 13, is a reference to some form of chronic physical ailment, SARX ASTHENEIA, Paul suffered. In 2 Cor 12:7, he called it “a thorn in the flesh.” This may have been the result of malaria or even chronic eye trouble, alluded to in Gal 6:11. Nevertheless, this handicap made Paul realize that he was dependent on the grace of God rather than his human ability.
It also represents the Divine providence of God, because it caused Paul to pause in his travels, giving him the opportunity to present the gospel to the Galatians, which he did.
Never question or complain about why certain things happen in your life, be it illnesses or various tragedies or disasters, just look at every situation as an opportunity given to you to present the gospel and God’s truth to those in your periphery. Look at them as an opportunity to serve the Lord!
Gal 4:14, “and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.”
In vs. 14, we see that this ailment most likely made him look grotesque, because they could have “despised” and “loathed” him as a result of it, and it became a “trial,” PEIRASMOS, or better “temptation” to them to reject him and his teaching.
“Despised” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the verb EXOUTHENEO, εξουθενεω meaning, “to despise, treat with contempt, or disdain.”
“Loathed” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the verb EKPTUO, εκπτυω meaning, “to spit out, to spurn, to loathe.”
Yet, even with the temptation of his infirmity, they accepted him and received his gospel of grace, as an “angel”, AGGELOS, “messenger, envoy, or angel, “of God,” THEOS, and “as Christ Jesus Himself,” CHRISTOS IESOUS.
Paul is saying that the love they have for God and Jesus Christ is the same type of love they showed him.
Gal 4:15, “Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.”
In vs. 15, Paul reminds them of the grace and love they showed him earlier, “where is that sense of blessing you had?” as he questions why they are now rejecting his message. He says, “you would have plucked out your eyes….” Which is a common idiom of that time meaning, “you would have given up everything for me.” So he asks, “what has happened to you!” This is similar to what he said in Gal 3:1, “who bewitched you?”
It also reminds us of the principle: “to not leave our first love” as noted in Rev 2:4-5, that means do not turn from the truth of God’s grace that saved you in the person of Jesus Christ and turn to a system of works for salvation or the spiritual life.
Gal 4:16, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Then in vs. 16, we have that great statement, “Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?” This is a sad commentary. Those who once showed tremendous love and affection towards Paul are now treating him like he has the plague, one who they loath and disdain, one who they hate.
The key point in this statement is “I keep on telling you the truth.” So once again Paul is not taking it personally but putting it right where it lies, with the truth of God’s Word being the thing that they have vilified and now hate as they are steeped in the false doctrines of the Judaizers.
Unfortunately many Christians get all caught up in the personality and oration style of the teacher rather than the message he is proclaiming. In fact, the message is the last thing they are there to listen too. Here we see Paul as a grotesque looking man who was not a good speaker, yet the message was spot on. They accepted it at the first, but when the real eloquent and good looking orators came walking by, called the Judaizers, they were easily led astray.
Dr. Daniel Wallace in a similar vein recently wrote “Even with the proliferation of Bibles today, Christians are reading their Bibles less and less. I believe the evangelical church has only 50 years of life left. 50 years left of evangelicalism because of marginalization of the Word of God. We need another Reformation! The enemy of the gospel now is not religious hierarchy but moral anarchy, not tradition but entertainment. The enemy of the gospel is Protestantism run amuck; it is an anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge, feel-good faith that has no content and no convictions. Part of the communal repentance that is needed is a repentance about the text. And even more importantly, there must be a repentance with regard to Christ our Lord. Just as the Bible has been marginalized, Jesus Christ has been ‘buddy-ized.’ His transcendence and majesty are only winked at, as we turn Him into the genie in the bottle, beseeching God for more conveniences, more luxury, less hassle, and a life without worries or lack of comfort. He no longer wears the face that the apostles recognized. Or, as Erasmus remarked, ‘When you read the Greek New Testament, you can see the face of Jesus more clearly than if you were one of his disciples’! A bit of hyperbole, but the point is worth underscoring: The God we worship today no longer resembles the God of the Bible. Unless we return to Him through a reading and digesting of the scriptures—through a commitment to the text, the evangelical church will become irrelevant, useless, dead.”
The point Paul is making is that when people and even pastors turn to false doctrines, they many times vilify those who have or are teaching the truth.
Likewise, as you represent God and His Word, many times people will see you as, and treat you like, the enemy in their lives or blame you for the bad things that are happening to them. And sometimes they will not even realize what they are doing, as they are controlled by their sin nature.
Gal 4:17, “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.”
Now in vs. 17, we see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
When Paul states, “they eagerly seek you (are courting you but), not commendably,” he is showing the true colors of these Judaizers. These legalistic Judaizers seek the place of Paul among the Galatians. They lust after the allegiance of others. They want to be number one with the Galatians. So they use flattery to puff them up. They say all the right things and tell you how wonderful you are, and how much they appreciate you, and how much you mean to them, and how much they need you, but it is all just a big fat lie. All they really care about is your allegiance to them. All they really want is a big church with a big offering.
This is a current phenomenon today as well. Their tactics also include tearing down others to build themselves up. As I say about these false teachers, “to be the king, you have to kill the king.” So they tear down men like Paul and flatter the congregation into following them.
In the second half of the verse Paul explains their deceptive tactics. Once they win you over, to ensure your continued allegiance to them, they start to play hard to get. In other words, if you do not do exactly as they tell you, you cannot play with them any longer. They do so to entice you to beg and crawl back to them. They use the exclusionary tactic on you, because no one wants to be alone. So they make you beg, crawl, and jump through hoops in order for you to receive what they have to offer, and they make you think that they have the best thing of all to offer you, when in fact they have the worst thing of all – religion and legalism.
Therefore, once the false teacher has your allegiance, in order to maintain it, they play hard to get and create an “exclusives” only club. So the Judaizers wanted the Christians in Galatia to actively court their favor, to shut themselves off from fellowship with Paul and the belief in the certainty of salvation by grace alone.
Acts 13 gives us the history of how this all went down.
Acts 13:16-43 records the response of the hearers in Galatia when Paul and Barnabas presented the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Old Testament prophecies. They heard the good news of the fulfillment in Christ. They kept on pleading with Paul that on the next Sabbath he would speak to them again. Luke notes that many Jews and Gentiles followed Paul and Barnabas, who instructed them and urged them to continue to believe in salvation by grace alone.
Then in Acts 13:44-52 we see the reaction of the Jews to the presence of many Gentiles in the church. Filled with envy, they vigorously contradicted and reviled Paul. Paul and Barnabas told them that they had brought the gospel of the fulfillment of the prophecies in Christ first to them as being ethnically God’s covenant people. But now they would turn to the Gentiles. As a result, the Jews were able to force Paul and Barnabas to leave, having worked through devout Gentile women, the wives of the prominent men of Antioch. When Paul and Barnabas left at the end of the first missionary journey to return to Antioch, Syria, the Judaizers courted the Christians in Galatia with dishonorable intentions to seek to persuade them not to follow the way of grace but that of Law.
Gal 4:18, “But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you.”
In vs. 18, Paul states that it is “good to be sought out” but for commendable reasons. This means to be sought out by others because you are living inside the plan of God and have some wisdom from Bible Doctrine in your soul to share with others and they seek you out for it, as we have recently studied in the book of Proverbs.
“And not only when I am with you,” Here Paul reminds them that the “courting” He and Barnabas did in presenting the Gospel of Grace was done in an honorable fashion; not to win them over to themselves, but to win them over to Christ. It was the gospel that did the courting, not them!, i.e., the calling of God. And that should continue even after they leave. In other words, the Galatians need to stick to the truth of God’s Word even when Paul is not with them. They need to stick with those who are teaching the truth, and not be swayed by the Judaizers and false teachers when he is absent.
Gal 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you __”
In vs. 19, Paul tells them that he is not abandoning them but continues to work diligently to give them the doctrine that they need.
Even though people may reject your word, do not give up on them! Keep operating in Impersonal and Unconditional Love, praying for them diligently in the hopes that they recover and see the light – truth!
“My children” is a new word for child or son in this book; it is TEKNON in the Vocative Plural, that is used here as a term of endearment between a teacher and his students. Calling them “children” also reminds them that Paul led them to the Lord, yet they have not advanced much since that time; they are still immature.
“I am again in labor” means to be in birth pangs, or as we say today, “labor pains,” due to giving birth. It means that Paul is under extreme pressure; he is in great agony over this situation.
“Until Christ is formed in you,” introduces a future temporal clause in the Greek, it has not happened yet, but Paul will keep on working and teaching until it does.
“Christ formed in you” has two synonymous phrases in the N.T.:
- Eph 3:16-17, “Christ may dwell in your heart”
- Phil 1:20, “Christ is exalted / glorified in your body.”
Eph 3:16-18, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, (Portfolio of Invisible Assets), to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
All of those verses reference the results of your Occupation with the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ and maximum application of your Portfolio of Invisible Assets, under the Filling of God the Holy Spirit, as you exercise your POLITEUMA privileges in spiritual adulthood, having built up your Edification Complex of the Soul with the Word of God.
So the question is, “how is Christ formed in you?” Well it goes back to the prototype for our spiritual life which is Jesus Christ in His First Advent. At that time, the Holy Spirit sustained the humanity of Christ during His earthly ministry and formed in the humanity of Christ specific characteristics based on God’s Word resident within His soul. These specific characteristics will be covered in Chapter 5. Only the Holy Spirit can produce these characteristics in them.
“Formed” is the verb MORPHOO in the Aorist, Passive, and Subjunctive. It is only used here in the N.T. It has an interesting etymology which comes to mean, “a form which expresses itself in a likeness or in an essence,” and is where we get our word morphology from.
The Aorist tense means a snapshot of time when they are filled with the Spirit.
The Passive voice tells us they receive this formation, they do not work for it, earn it, or deserve it; it is received by the grace of God.
The Subjunctive mood is potential. It depends on whether they are filled with the Spirit or not.
Ultimately it is the essence of Christ formed in us. This means that the Holy Spirit facilitates the Christian way of life under grace in our daily walk with God.
Christ Being Formed in You:
- Christ fulfilled the Law. He fulfilled Codex #1 by living a perfect life; Codex #2 by dying on the cross; Codex #3 by observing it perfectly. He fulfilled it in the power of the Spirit.
Codex I: The Moral Code, also known as the Commandments, is composed of over one hundred and twenty commandments and includes the Decalogue, Ex 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-21. It defines morality and proves that man is a sinner and needs a Savior. Furthermore, this section provides the basis for the Divine Institutions and Divine Laws of Establishment.
Codex II: The Spiritual Code, the Ordinances. This is a complete shadow Christology and Soteriology, Heb 10:1. It includes the Tabernacle, Holy Days, Levitical Offerings, dress and modus operandi of the Levitical Priesthood, and the believer’s worship in the Age of the Jews.
Codex III: The Social Code, the Judgments. Presents Divine Laws of Establishment designed to provide freedom and privacy for the human race during the course of the Angelic Conflict. This section delineates the perfect standard for the function of a national entity as well as dietary laws, laws of sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, military service, marriage, divorce, etc. The punishments for nonobservance were also stated.
As noted above, Christ fulfilled all three aspects of the Law during His First Advent, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Therefore, Christ is the end of the Law for believers. Believers are not under the Mosaic Law, Rom 10:4.
- But we are not lawless, we have a new law, a higher law, a supernatural law, Rom 8:2-4.
- The new law is accompanied by a new commandment, Eph 5:18, “Be habitually filled with the Spirit.”
- The purpose of this new law is to glorify Christ and to produce His character in believers by means of the Holy Spirit, Gal 4:19.
- The Holy Spirit is the one who glorifies Christ in phase two, John 16:14; 7:39. Therefore, the only One who can glorify Christ is the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, we glorify Christ because of the One who controls us.
- Operation glorification takes place inside of the believer, 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20, because you are the Temple of God.
Gal 4:20, “but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.”
Then in vs. 20, Paul states that he desires to be with them, so that they would not be negatively influenced by the Judaizers and he would not have to chew them out through letters like this one.
Sometimes you have to chew people out, either in person or by letter / email, etc., in order to straighten them out with the truth.
“For I am perplexed about you” is APOREO, απορεω that means, “to be at a loss, perplexed, be in doubt.” In other words, Paul was deeply troubled by this news of their reversionism into legalistic Judaism and was at a loss as to how this happened to them, having left them in such good spirit and strength in the Lord. But as Satan does, the wolf sneaks in with sheep’s clothing and devours its prey. That is why in Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss it with the elders there, which led them to write the following response.
Acts 15:24-27, “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, 25it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.”
The cavalry was sent in to rescue these misguided wanders!
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Section 3, Vs. 21-31, Paul uses an allegory of the bondwoman – Hagar, and the free woman – Sarah, to explain the difference between the Law and Grace.
Genesis Chapters 15 – 17 give the account of God’s promise to Abram regarding his heir and his human attempt to secure that promise through his bondservant resulting in his son Ishmael. Then in Gen 21:1-21, we have the account of God keeping His promise to Abraham giving him his heir Isaac through his wife Sarah. Rom 4:16-25 also sheds light on this scene.
Gal 4:21, “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?”
In vs. 21, Paul uses the Galatian’s own current belief system, the Law, to prove his point. The Judaizers had been teaching them about Abraham, so he is going to take advantage of that fact and tells them something about Abraham. He takes these things that literally and historically actually happened, and uses them symbolically to create this allegory to explain the difference between the Law and Grace.
To “listen” AKOUO, ακουω means more than just hearing, but also learning, understanding, and perceiving.
Paul begins by saying, do you not understand that what you now believe in is completely contrary to what the Law really teaches? It is absolutely contrary to all that is involved in the concept of grace. Can you not understand the difference? Do you not understand that you are getting into something that is contrary to the Word of God?
This is the problem with most believers. They understand very little about what the Bible has to say and teach, and instead will listen to any fool who comes along and tells them something. We have to back up everything we believe about God and the spiritual life with the Word of God. Otherwise, it is just human speculation and nonsense.
Gal 4:22-23, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.”
In vs. 22-23, both Ishmael and Isaac were sons of Abraham, but one was born under human power, Ishmael, and the other by the power of God, Isaac.
Remember that bondage or slavery means no power and no authority. Freedom, on the other hand, means tremendous power and authority.
Ishmael was born technically a slave because his mother is a slave, even though he is the son of Abraham. Ishmael, in the allegory, represents the human solutions to man’s problems, i.e. legalism and works for salvation, which is what the Judaizers had been teaching; that man can do it himself by his own works. This is contrary to the Word of God.
Isaac, on the other hand, was born of a free woman, Sarah. Therefore, he was born into freedom. In the allegory, by means of the promise, Isaac represents the grace of God for our salvation and spirituality. He represents the truth of God’s Word.
Gal 4:24, “This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.”
In vs. 24, we have two covenants or promises, Law and Grace in comparison. Mt. Sinai, presumably in southern Saudi Arabia, is where Moses and the Israelites received the Law. Notice that God equates the Law with bondage and slavery. Because that is what it produces, “gives birth to”, GENNAO, slavery to sin. Hagar was a slave; Hagar produced a slave, just as the Law produces those who are under bondage to it.
Gal 4:25, “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.”
In vs. 25, God takes the analogy even further by calling the Jerusalem of Paul’s day Mt. Sinai, equating it to the Law and bondage and slavery. In other words, Jerusalem, the epicenter of Judaism was producing slavery to sin in their legalistic interpretation of the Law, rather than as freedom through salvation. Likewise, the early church was being negatively affected by those in Jerusalem who misunderstood the Law of Israel.
Therefore, they had taken Sinai and transferred it into Jerusalem. Now Jerusalem is in bondage, shackled by Sinai, the Law and sin, and her “children,” TEKNON, too. That is, those who follow the teaching of the Judaizers are also in slavery to sin.
Gal 4:26, “But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.”
Then in vs. 26, we see the analogy of the freewoman, Sarah, who bore the heir of promise. She is equated with a heavenly Jerusalem that produces freedom and heir-ship to God. Since the Law has taken over “earthly Jerusalem” there is NO freedom and heir-ship produced from her, as in Hagar. But from the “heavenly Jerusalem,” as in Sarah and grace, freedom and heir-ship are produced in the adult sons of God.
The “earthly Jerusalem” is referring to the Jews and Gentiles in bondage to legalism and the Mosaic Law.
The “heavenly Jerusalem” is referring to the Church, those who were born again, those who appropriated grace at the Cross, who are under freedom and the blessings of God’s grace.
The word “mother,” METER, here means “mother city,” the place where the believer has his heavenly citizenship, POLITEUMA.
Gal 4:27, “For it is written,
“REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR;
BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR;
FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE
THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
Vs. 27 quotes Isa 54:1 telling us that Sarah, the barren woman, the heavenly Jerusalem, will produce more sons than Hagar, the earthly Jerusalem, the Law, will ever produce. It takes the promise given to Abraham and relates it to Sarah and what she will produce, as an analogy for what the Cross of grace produces. Cf. Rom 9:30-32.
Gal 4:28, “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.”
Then in vs. 28, Paul reminds the Galatians, “brethren,” ADELPHOS, that they are adult sons of Abraham, sons of promise, heirs to God. It tells us that “once saved, always saved.” Even though these previously believing Galatians turned to the Law, they remain forever “children of promise,” TEKNON EPAGGELIA. In other words, they still had their salvation because you can never lose it. Keep in mind that at this time, they did not rebound and recover from their Judaizing ways. They were still steeped in the legalism of the Judaizers, yet they still had their salvation as “children of promise.” Therefore, we see another verse that tells us, “once saved, always saved.” You cannot lose your heir-ship in God or Abraham; you cannot lose your salvation.
Gal 4:29, “But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.”
Vs. 29 reflects what Genesis 12:9-14 is telling us about Ishmael’s attitude regarding Isaac. It shows us the arrogance of legalism. Ishmael thought himself to be superior because of his birth right, being the eldest son. So he “lord” it over Isaac. Just as those who kept the Law and practiced legalism in Paul’s day, “so it is now also”, thought that they were better than everyone else, looking down their noses at them. Just as many religious types do also today.
Throughout history those steeped in religious legalism, due to their arrogance, have persecuted those who were of true faith. It was true in Paul’s day, being a persecutor himself. It was true during the “dark ages,” when the Church of Rome and later the Church of England persecuted those who did not follow their legalistic ways. And it is true today, as we see legalistic Islam persecuting Christians throughout the world.
Gal 4:30, “But what does the Scripture say?
“CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,
FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”
Vs. 30 continues that narrative quoting Gen 21:10, 12. More importantly it tells us that no one can become an heir of God by keeping the Law. No one can come to salvation by keeping the Law. Anyone who believes that their salvation is based on keeping the Law will be “cast out,” meaning cast into the Lake of Fire without salvation, Rev 20:11-14.
On the other hand, “the son of the free woman” will be an heir. That is, those who accept the grace gift of the Cross of Jesus Christ for their salvation will be an heir to God. In other words, the only way to salvation is through the Cross of Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12.
Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Gal 4:30 also tells us that the two, Law and Grace, cannot coexist. Those under grace need to completely separate themselves from, “cast out,” the Law of the Judaizers and never regard it as being a legitimate or necessary aspect for salvation or spirituality.
Gal 4:31, “So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.”
Vs. 31, Paul concludes by including himself with the Galatians, “we” stating that they both are from the free woman, meaning salvation by Grace, and are not of the bondwoman, meaning those who believe salvation is based on keeping the Law. And just as their salvation was by grace, so too is their spiritual walk.
That is why Paul states in the next verse, Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
In conclusion: The birth of Isaac depended upon the grace and promise of God rather than on man’s works. The birth of Isaac depended on who and what God was. On the other hand, the birth of Ishmael depended on who and what Abraham and Hagar were, representing our human works. So the contrast is clear regarding our salvation. That which is done by the grace and power of God produces freedom and the spiritual life. That which is done by the power of man, i.e., the flesh, produces bondage to sin, and the two cannot coexist. Grace brings freedom and salvation, while the Law brings bondage and eternal condemnation.