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FRAMEWORKS: Paul's letter to the Galatians

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Frameworks: Galatians 4


v.1-7 Sons and heirs

v.8-20 Paul's Concern for the Galatians

v.21-31 Comparisons of Hagar and Sarah


[Chapter Synopsis: Now we are heirs of the promise, no longer ‘minors', we are freed from the guardianship of the Law, enabled by the Spirit to enter into our sonship. Sadly, the Galatians have reverted to being enslaved by rules, special days etc., and need to remember their first experiences with Paul. The symbolic pictures of Hagar and Sarah contrast living under the Law with living by the Promise.]



v.1-7 Sons and heirs


[Passage Synopsis: A child who is a minor awaiting his inheritance is in many ways no better than a slave. When we received Christ we received mature sonship and his Spirit and thus his freedom.]


v.1 (think about a child who is an heir; he doesn't get it until he comes of age, he's really no better than a slave) What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

v.2 (he's still under the eye of his guardians) The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

v.3 (similarly when we were ‘minors' we were just pushed around by the requirements of the Law) So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.

v.4,5 (but when Christ came and we received him, we were adopted) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

v.6 (and so because we are now proper ‘sons' He put His Spirit in us) Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba , [daddy] Father.”

v.7 (so now, as a ‘come-of-age' son we are inheritors (receivers)) So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.



v.8-20 Paul's Concern for the Galatians


[Passage Synopsis: Paul expresses his concern for how the Galatians have gone back to be governed by superstitions and special days and pleads for them to regain their freedom in Christ, following his example.]


v.8 (before this you were pushed around by spirits of the enemy) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

v.9 (but now that has changed – so why are you letting them back to push you around again?) But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

v.10 (see you've allowed yourselves to be governed but having to observe special days) You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

v.11 (it seems you've gone right back) I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

v.12 (please, become free like me) I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong.

v.13,14 (when I came, even though I was ill, you welcomed me and blessed me by the way you received me) As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

v.15 (you would have done anything for me then, but how about now?) Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.

v.16 (because I speak the truth do you consider me your enemy?) Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

v.17 (those circumcisers want to win you back, but for what point?) Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.

v.18 (don't be zealous for God only when I'm with you) It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.

v.19,20 (dear ones, I'm in anguish for you until you come to maturity) My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!



v.21-31 Comparisons of Hagar and Sarah


[Passage Synopsis: The symbolism of the two women who bore Abraham's children is clear: one a slave mother, the other a receiver of the divine promise, one following the Law, the other the grace of God. We are children of the latter.]


v.21 (if you want to be under the Law, do you know what it says?) Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

v.22 (remember, Abraham had two sons, one by Hagar, one by Sarah) For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

v.23 (the son by Hagar was by human effort, but Sarah's by God's promise) His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

v.24 (if we can take these as two pictures. Hagar's son represents the Law, and was a slave) These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

v.25 (she also represent the present Jerusalem, a slave to the Law) Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

v.26 (but the city of God in heaven, that is our inheritance, represents freedom) But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

v.27 (Isaiah prophesied about barren Sarai who felt desolate but who would have many children) For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” [Isa 54:1]

v.28 (you and I are children simply promised by God like Isaac) Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.

v29 (the slave persecuted the free son, just like now ) At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

v.30 (but the scripture tells us to get rid of the slave who can't share in our inheritance) But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.” [Gen. 21:10]

v. 31 (so, in this picture, we are free children of Sarah) Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.



Continue to Chapter 5