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GALATIANS

CHAPTER  FOUR 

4:1 - 6     Illustration  and   Interpretation

A.    (1 -)    The child
         B.    (- 1)     The Bond-servant
                C.     (2 -)    Tutors, & etc
                         D.     (- 2 -)    The Appointed Time
                                E.     (- 2)    The Father

A.    (3 -)    The Children
        B.    (- 3 -)    Bondage
                 C.     (- 3)    The Elements
                        D.     (4 -)    The Appointed Time
                                E.     (-4 - 6)    The Father   (God)

Vs. 1 - THE HEIR, AS LONG AS HE IS A CHILD

In order to understand this statement, we must understand the technical terms which are used:

1. The first word is CHILD = "nepios" this word is made up of two words that together mean "one that does not speak." It refers to an immature person, an

intellectual and moral infant. It is used here to describe the person under the Law. A child must have restraints put upon him. So in the spiritual world, Israel under law was treated as a minor.

2. The next word is SERVANT = "doulos"   in the Greek speaking of the bondslave. It is the term used of a slave in a servile condition. The minor was legally in much the same position as a slave. He could not perform any act except through his legal representative. This person was the guardian in the case of a minor, whose sanction was necessary for the validity of any contract undertaken in his behalf.

THE LAW WAS A LEGAL TRUSTEE
It had power of attorney over us
But was unable to release any benefits

 

Immaturity
=
Slavery

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 3 - THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD          [NIV: Basic principles of the world]

A Jewish phrase (yesodey olam hazzeh) which literally means "the principles of this world" = the "rudiments" or "principles" of the Jewish Religion to which the Judaizers were trying to subject the Galatian Christians. The apostle intimates that the law was not the science of salvation, it was only the elements or alphabet of it; and in the Gospel this alphabet is composed into a most glorious system of Divine knowledge. But as the alphabet is nothing of itself, unless formed into syllables, words, sentences, and discourses; so the law, taken by itself, gives no salvation. It contains the OUTLINES of the Gospel, but IT IS THE GOSPEL ALONE THAT FILLS UP THESE OUTLINES.

THE LAW WAS AN OUTLINE
It portrayed to us a future salvation
But was unable to help us take possession of it

 

Salvation
is not a
Science

.

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 5 - THE ADOPTION OF SONS

Are we "adopted" into the family of God?
- OR -
Are we BORN into the family of God?

ADOPTION"huiothesian"    [NIV: Full rights]

This does not mean being born again and becoming a child of God through an "adoption" process as we know adoption. The Greek word used here is literally, "to place as sons." Once again speaking of maturity.

In a Roman family, a child continued under the care of parents and tutors until he became of age, when he was vested with the rights that went along with maturity. The ceremony by which he received those rights was called the "placing as a son," and the term is translated, here, "adoption." He was now an adult son, and ruled in the household along with his father. He was now the master of the servant who used to be his guardian, or schoolmaster.

Instead of being children (immature ones - "nepios") under law, we became adult sons ("huios") under Grace. This expression in the Greek is literally: "in order that we might be placed as adult sons."

Under Law = treated like a minor
Under Grace = treated like an adult

 

Placed
As
Sons

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.


Vs. 6 - BECAUSE YE ARE SONS

The reason for the bestowal of the Holy Spirit = not to become sons = but because you ARE sons. Instead of looking upon God as a Judge, they could now look upon Him as their Father with Whom they have the privilege of living as His mature, adult sons.

Thus, the Galatians are reminded that it is not through coming under law, but in maintaining their freedom from it that they will be able to obtain the blessing of Abraham, which comes only through Faith.

Paul appeals to them to retain the status of adult sons under Grace which they already possessed, rather than go back to the position of a minor and a slave under law.

THE LAW PORTRAYED GOD AS JUDGE
It put us in opposition to God, or totally at His mercy
It could not allow us to experience God as Father, with the benefits of such a relationship.

NOTE: For a good reading on Galatians 4:6,7 - refer to the Amplified New Testament.

 

Faith
=
Freedom

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 9 - AFTER YE HAVE KNOWN GOD

It is clear from the context that the apostle is not speaking of the Jewish race alone, but of the heathen world also. Not of the Mosaic law only, but of all forms of law which might be subservient to the same purpose.

Nor are they to have passed through a stage of Jewish proselytism on their way to Christianity. Paul distinctly refers to their previous idolatrous worship (vs. 8), and no less distinctly and emphatically describes their adoption of Jewish ritualism as a return to the weak and beggarly discipline of childhood, from which they had been liberated.

WEAK - Powerless to Justify
In contrast to the justifying power of faith (ch. 3:24; Heb. 7:18)

BEGGARLY - Spiritually Bankrupt -
Contrasted with the riches of the inheritance of the       [NIV: Miserable] believers in Christ (Eph. 1:18).

ELEMENTS - "Rudiments" -
It is as if a professor should go back to leaning the ABC’s.      [NIV: Principles]

AGAIN - A Turning Back
There are two Greek words here translated by the one English word "again". The Greek sentence structure emphasizes the resumption of an original bondage:   "Ye desire again, beginning afresh, to be in bondage."

 

Law
=
Bondage

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 10 - YE OBSERVE . . .

OBSERVE - this denotes careful, scrupulous observance, an intent watching lest any of the prescribed seasons be overlooked. A merely legal or ritualistic system of religion always develops such scrupulousness. Paul, a former Pharisee, was well acquainted with the meticulous care with which the Pharisees kept all the appointed feasts and fasts. It hurt him to see these Gentile Christians being drawn into the net of the Judaizers, and enslaved by a mere formal, lifeless ritual.

A
Lifeless
Ritual

.

.

DAYS the Sabbath days and feasts which were observed just for a day.
MONTHS the monthly recurring events (Isaiah 66:23).
TIMES the celebrations not limited to a single day, such as the Passover, Feast of
[NIV: Seasons]    Tabernacles, and to the feasts of the fourth, fifth, and seventh months.
(II Chron. 8:13)
YEARS the year of Jubilee and/or the Sabbatical Year.
Futile
Observation

.

 

.


Vs. 12 - BE AS I AM

BE = (ginesthe) from ginomai, which literally means "to become."

He is exhorting them: "Become as I am, free from the bondage of the law. I became as you are, as a Gentile."

He tells them that he gave up all those time-honored Jewish customs and associations of race to become like them. He pleads with them not to abandon him when he has abandoned all for them.

The Galatian Christians could not fail to remember the occasion when at the close of Paul’s address at Pisidian Antioch, the Jews departed from the synagogue, but the Gentiles besought him to repeat to them the words of life on the next Sabbath. They could not fail to remember how the Jews had expelled Paul from the city. They, the Galatian Gentile Christians, had been suitors to Paul to maintain the freedom of the gospel. Now, he in turn is appealing to THEM to maintain the freedom of that same gospel.
A
Conforming

.

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 17 - THEY WOULD EXCLUDE YOU          [NIV: To alienate you]

The Judaizers were paying court to the Galatians, but not in an honorable way.

The context suggests that the Judaizers were attempting to shut the Galatians out, either from -

The benefits of the Gospel of Grace,
                       - OR -
From fellowship with Paul and his companions,

who maintained that the Gentiles are accepted by God on the basis of faith without works.

Clark offers this paraphrase: "They wish to shut you out from the affection of your apostle, that you might affect them, that you might love them alone, hear them alone, abide by their directions only, and totally abandon him who called you into the grace of the Gospel of Christ."

 

An
Alienation

.

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 18 - IT IS GOOD TO BE ZEALOUS ... IN A GOOD THING

The fact that someone else pays them court, and that they court the favor of others, is not wrong in itself. Paul himself admits that he is not insensible to such attachments. He remembers how warm were the feelings of the Galatians toward him when he was with them, and he yearns for their continued cordiality towards himself. Paul courted the Galatians, not to attach them to himself, but that he might join them to the Lord Jesus. He was glad that they should be courted at all times, even by others in his absence, if it is done in a right spirit and in connection with the Truth of the Gospel, and in the Love of the Grace of Christ.

We need to check our motives when we witness to people:

Do we attempt to convince them of our Personal Doctrinal Persuasion
                                 - OR -
Do we truly point them to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Vs. 19 - CHRIST BE FORMED IN YOU

That we may live nothing but Christ
That we may think nothing but Christ (ch. 2:20)
That we may glory in nothing but Christ (Phil. 3:8-10; Col. 1:27)

 Vs. 21 - DO YE NOT HEAR?

Here is echoed the often repeated phrase of Jesus:

              HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR - LET HIM HEAR!

We have the ability to hear, but do we have the willingness to hear?

 

Check
Your
Motive

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 25 - HAGAR IS MOUNT SINAI

Haraut, the traveler, says that to this day the Arabians call Sinai "Hadschar," i.e. "Hagar," meaning a ROCK or a STONE. Hagar twice fled into the desert of Arabia (Gen. 16 & 21); from her the mountain and city took its name, and the people were called Hagarenes. Sinai, with its rugged rocks, far removed from the promised land, was well suited to represent the law which inspires with terror, and the spirit of bondage.

HAGAR = JERUSALEM WHICH NOW IS -

This Hagar or Sinai corresponds, Paul says, to the then existent city of Jerusalem - the center of the apostate observance of Judaism. Just as Hagar, as slave, bore children that by birth became slaves, so the followers of legalistic Judaism are in bondage to law.

 

Law
=
Slavery

.

 

 

 

.

Vs. 26 - BUT JERUSALEM WHICH IS ABOVE

The apostle still follows the Jewish allegory, showing not only how the story of Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac, was allegorized, but pointing out also that even Jerusalem was the subject of allegory; for it was a maxim among the rabbins, that "whatsoever was in the earth, the same was also found in heaven; for there is no matter, howsoever small, in this world, that has not something similar to it in the spiritual world." On this maxim, the Jews believe that every earthly thing has its representative in heaven; and especially whatever concerns Jerusalem, the law, and its ordinances. Rabbi Kimchi, speaking of Melchizedec, king of Salem, says: "This is the Jerusalem that is from above." And Hebrews 5:6 & 10 twice states that Christ was to be high priest, not after the order of Moses or Sinai, but after the order of Melchisedec.

Vs. 30 - CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN

Paul, in interpreting the allegory, says that the rejection of Ishmael points to a rejection of the children of Abraham after the flesh in favor of those who become children of Abraham by Faith.

Vs. 31 - SO THEN ... WE ARE ... OF THE FREE

This verse brings to a climax the argument that believers are not a community or nation in bondage to legal statutes, but members of the community of believers whose relation to God is that of sons, and who have not the spirit of bondage but the Spirit of Sonship.

 

Spiritual
Jerusalem
Begat
Free Sons

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

THE  ALLEGORY

Natural

Spiritual

Abraham

Abraham

Hagar Moses Sarah Christ
Ishmael Sinai Isaac Calvary
According to
Custom
According to
Law
According to
Promise
According to
Faith
Child of
Bondwoman
Child of
Works
Child of
Freewoman
Child of
Faith
Slave Servant Heir Son
Natural Jerusalem Spiritual Jerusalem
...

 

Back to Chapter 3         Forward to Chapter 5

 


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