|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 16
Meditation Title: Sons of God
Gal 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus
Paul has just been writing about what we were before Christ came – “prisoners … locked up” (v.23). Now, having made the point about the terrible position we had been in previously, he brings out the most amazing contrast. Previously we were prisoners but now we are sons of God! Imagine a common thief, say, in olden times, locked away in a dark dungeon with no hope. Then he is taken out and adopted by the King! What an incredible transformation. Many Christians struggle with this concept of being a son of God (especially women) so it needs some explanation.
Let's start back with a simpler concept – children of God. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12,13) That's our starting place; we are children of God because we have been ‘born again' which was an act of God. John has understood this concept: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! … Dear friends, now we are children of God.” (1 Jn 3:1,2). That is an easy concept – we are children of God.
But the New Testament speaks a lot about us being ‘sons':
So what is the significance of ‘sons' Well, ‘sons' in the Old Testament held a very special place. When you were a ‘son' you were an heir to the father's business (and Paul is about to go on and talk about heirs) and as you grew up you began to learn the father's business and, even more importantly, you learned the father's heart, the father's intentions, and gradually you took on more and more responsibility in the business, to serve him and the family . And we are now called ‘sons' of God!
So this is not a gender issue thing. It is about conveying truths about particular aspects of the relationship that the Father has brought us into. I have emphasised the description of a son in the paragraph above because it seems few of us understand the wonder of this concept. Please read it again. Now let's personalise that description and see it as a description of the life we have as Christians: as I grow up (in Christ) I begin to learn the father's business and, even more importantly, I learn the father's heart, the father's intentions, and gradually I take on more and more responsibility in the business, of serving Him and the family. How incredible! What a goal! What a privilege!
But let's see Paul's argument here. He starts, as we've seen, by declaring we are sons of God. Now he works that out more fully in terms of his general argument against turning Christians into Jews by following the law. Consider: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (v.27). Don't let the language put you off. ‘Baptism' in the original Greek meant to immerse in or submerge in. In secular senses it was used of dying a cloth or of a sinking ship. So here Paul is saying that we have been submerged or put into or immersed in Christ. The body of Christ, the church, is what it is because the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) has made us all one, each one being added when we were born again, and so in an experiential way we each one are part of this body that is energized by Christ and is the expression of Christ today. Another way of looking at this is to see us as being clothed with this body, clothed with Christ and so we take on the characteristics of Christ, one of which is being God's son.
We need to see the oneness that comes about as we are put in, by the Spirit, into this body. It is one body and so, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (v.28). There is no room now in this ONE body to speak about Jew or non-Jew; we are just all Christians whether we have a Jewish or Gentile background.
But there is also another slant on this: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (v.29) What Paul is saying here is that if we are part of Christ, being one in his body, then we are part of the ‘seed' – that is Christ, you remember we saw previously – and therefore we too are heirs through Christ of that promise of blessing made to Abraham. It doesn't matter whether our background is Jewish or Gentile, once we are believers we are ‘in Christ' and are therefore inheritors of that promise. It is about the whole issue of being inheritors that Paul now moves on to in the next chapter. Watch this space!