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Galatians 4

God’s adopted children
But I mean so long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a slave, though he is lord of all. 2 But the child is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed by the father. 3 So we also! When we were children, we were held in bondage under the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 that He might redeem those that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
   6 And because you are sons, God 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 of God through Christ.
   8 However at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage 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 laboured over you in vain.

Paul’s personal appeal
12 Brothers, I urge you to become as I am, for I also have become as you. 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 a messenger of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 Where then is that satisfaction you felt? For I testify, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So then have I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?
   17 They zealously seek you for no good purpose. On the other hand, they desire to exclude you- so you might go running after them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good matter at all times, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, of whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ be formed in you: 20 I so wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am in doubt about you.

The allegory of Abraham’s two sons
21 Tell me, you that want to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons. One by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. 23 However the son by the handmaid was born after the flesh, but the son by the freewoman was born through the promise. 24 Such things contain an allegory. For these women are two covenants. One from mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar represents mount Sinai in Arabia, she corresponds to the Jerusalem that now is; for she is in bondage with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother. 27 For it is written: Rejoice, O barren one who did not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who were not in labour! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than those of the one who has a husband.
   28 Brothers: We, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 However, what does the scripture say? Cast out the handmaid and her son, for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. 31 Therefore brothers, we are not children of the handmaid but of the freewoman.


4:4 If Jesus was “born [Greek: ‘made’] of a woman”, He therefore didn’t physically exist before His birth of Mary.

4:6 Abba- The Aramaic word for “daddy”. This is how close we can come to God Almighty.

4:10,11 If we are justified by keeping the Law of Moses, then the work of the Gospel is in vain for us.

4:13 God often uses our weakness as an opportunity for preaching the Gospel- this may be a reference to Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7), which Paul asked three times to be taken from him. But in fact God used this weakness in order for the Gospel to spread.

4:19 Pains of childbirth- Paul took such responsibility for the people he preached to. We are “born again” by baptism and response to the Gospel (Jn. 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:23); but it can happen as with the Galatians that people go so far away from the Gospel that they have to go through the birth process again.

4:29 Conflict with the world of unbelievers is inevitable, as predicted in Gen. 3:15.

4:30 The scripture- Paul is here quoting the angry words of Sarah as she cast our her slave girl Hagar (Gen. 21:10). Even in flashes of failure and anger like this, God’s Spirit may still be working through the whole situation to inspire later generations.