In chapter 3 we saw that the blessing of Abraham referred to the promise of the Holy Spirit who was to be to be received by Gentiles who trusted in Christ. (3:13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. They would be seen as Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise, 3:29.
In Chapter 4 Paul shows what was the purpose of God in giving the law, and how Christ came to set people free from the Law as a means of getting right with God. Gentile believers were part of God’s family, children of God and heirs of the promise of the gift of the Spirit given to Abraham. He bids them to remember what God has done for them in Christ and not look for another way of being right with God. There was no other way. Jesus was the way.
1). REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST! Children of God not slaves to the law. 4:1-10
- Heirs might own everything but while children they are unable to appropriate all that is potentially theirs. 4:1) I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything
- Heirs need guidance as children until they are ready to inherit their blessing, their inheritance. (2) but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
- Heirs as children are subject to the same restrictions as slaves. (3) In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
- Heirs receive their inheritance at the time set by the father. God did the same for His children. He gave them a promise but it was to be released in His timing. Jesus came at the fullness of that time. (4) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
- Jesus came to enable believers to receive their inheritance. He died to release them to receive their inheritance, adoption into God’s family. (5) to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
- As heirs they received their inheritance. God gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. (6) And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
- Redemption by Jesus meant that they entered into the privilege of sonship (7) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
- Redemption by Jesus had set them free from other powers or principles in the world. (8) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved 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,
- To listen to false teachers would be to place themselves under bondage again. how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
- To return to legalism would render Paul’s ministry among them of no value. (10) You observe days and months and seasons and years! (11) I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
2). REMEMBER HOW GOD BLESSED YOU THROUGH ME
- Paul had come among them in weakness. (12) Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. (13) You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,
- They had responded to his message of Jesus. They saw Paul as a messenger from God. (14) and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
- What then has become of the blessing you felt? You would have done anything for me in your appreciation of receiving the message that set you free. 15 For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me.
- Friends always share the truth though it may not always be appreciated. (16) Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
3). REMEMBER MY MOTIVATION. IT WAS TO BUILD YOU UP, NOT TO USE YOU
Paul ministered to them out of a concern to bring them into the kingdom and to “build them up” in the Lord. By contrast the false teachers were trying to “butter them up” as a means of gaining advantage for themselves. (17) They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.
- Motivation was the key. Was ministry offered as coming from God or was it offered from selfish purposes as the false teachers were doing? (18) It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you,
- Paul would not give up on them. He wanted to help them to come to maturity in Christ. (19) my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
- Paul wanted them to know how genuinely concerned he was for them. (20) I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
4). REMEMBER WHAT THE LAW OF GOD ACTUALLY SAYS
It spoke of freedom and slavery. Notice the contrasts in the table below.
The Promise given to Abraham. Freedom
The promise of the Law. Slavery
|(22) For it is written that Abraham had two sons …….. and one by a free woman.||(22) For it is written that Abraham had two sons one by a slave woman……….|
|while the son of the free woman was born through promise. (A miraculous natural conception and birth through Sarah)||(23) But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, (A human arrangement using Hagar and not what God had planned for Abraham)|
|(24) Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. (One was a covenant based on law and the other a new covenant based on grace, and predicted in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Represented by Sarah.) (26) But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (Freedom for those in a heavenly or spiritual Jerusalem for those in the new covenant.)||One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. (25) Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.(The law was given on Mt Sinai. The law promised life and freedom but brought death and bondage because people could not fulfil it perfectly. )The Jews who rejected Jesus (represented by those in Jerusalem) were still under law, not grace, and in slavery to it.|
|The progeny of Sarah (the children of faith) would number all those who trusted in Christ throughout the world and throughout all generations. (27) For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”||The children of Hagar (those in slavery to the law), those Jews who would not believe in Jesus as their Messiah would be less in number than Sarah’s progeny.|
|Christian believers are the true sons of Abraham, of faith, and recipients of the promise of Abraham (the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit). (28) Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.||The Judaisers and those who relied on the law persecuted those living under the grace of God in Christ.). (29) But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.|
|Believers were the true children of Abraham and of Sarah, and of the freedom given by the Holy Spirit. (31) So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.||Those relying on the law as a means of getting and being right with God were in slavery to sin and to the law and were rejecting what God had done in Christ.God’s purpose was through Sarah and her son Isaac through whom God’s promises should come. Hagar and Ishmael were not in God’s purpose for the blessing to Abraham’s descendants. Those who relied on the law could not inherit the blessing promised to those who were meant to believe. (30) But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”|
5). REMEMBER THIS! “YOU ARE FREE IN CHRIST!” All believers including the Galatian believers were the children of the free woman Sarah though whom God’s promise would come, to be received by faith. (31) So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Blog No.092. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 17th September 2012