Galatians 4 – Growing Up vs. Going Back

Galatians 4 Bible with Endangered Species Forest Mint Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s Passage: Galatians 4

Tick off another verse for the Sara Groves Watch. When I read Galatians 4:7, I could instantly hear the line from the bridge of her song “The Word,” “We are no longer slaves, we are daughters and sons.” And if I had to pick a summary statement for this chapter, it’d be verse seven here: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” It’s about being children of God.

Paul’s developing an idea he introduced in the last chapter. The Law is like a tutor, intended to lead us into faith in Christ; in a manner of speaking, faith is graduation from the Law. In this chapter, he goes on to explain that until the child comes into adulthood and receives , he or she is just like a slave: “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, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father” (1-2). Paul mixes his metaphors a bit, as suddenly those under the Law are not children or students, but actual slaves getting bought out of slavery by Christ: “God sent forth His Son…so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (4-5). And not to jump too far ahead in our trip through All the Paul, but in Ephesians 2, he describes our state before entering into faith as dead men walking and children of wrath. Which is it, Paul? There’s a big difference between an heir, a slave, and a dang zombie!

Paul uses his metaphors to prove a particular point to his audience. Writing to the Galatians here, his point is a simple one: why would you want to go back to the Law? The Jewish legalists pushing adherence to the Torah as a prerequisite for salvation have an agenda: “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them” (17). They’re trying to establish an elitist movement that everyone’s clamoring to join, putting themselves on a pedestal so that the masses can scramble to . They want to shut people out of God’s family, not bring in more adopted children. You go down that road, Paul says, you’re not just slaves to the Law again–you’re slaves to these guys. If you want to trade in faith for following the rules again, you’ve got to be out of your mind!

To finish his argument in this chapter, Paul appeals to the same Torah that the Judaizers love. However, he uses the narrative portion as an allegory. Abraham had two sons: Isaac, whom God promised to Abraham’s wife Sarah, and Ishmael, whom Abraham had with Sarah’s Egyptian handmaid Hagar in order to ensure the continuation of his line. It’s a detailed argument, and I encourage you to read through it and follow it for yourself, but here’s Paul’s point: “We are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman” (31). Living by the Law is slavery. Living by faith in Jesus Christ is freedom. Galatians, take your pick.


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