We will be talking about more than one subject in this chapter and to different audiences as when have seen in our study on Romans and is the case in elsewhere in the epistles of Paul. Some are not aware of this fact and mix topics at their own peril, not picking up on clues and context throughout the chapter.
To the Jews
Galatians 4:1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave [doulos; servant], though he is master of all,
Galatians 4:2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
When a child is born and for a considerable time after that, even though he will eventually not need a guardian
Steward ‘economy’ (from Greek oikonomos = household manager)
Secular statement. While the heir is a child he is not much different than the slave in the short term due to his immaturity
Basic principles of the world learned under temporary supervision when we were very young
Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
1) the heavenly bodies, either as parts of the heavens or (as others think) because in them the elements of man, life and destiny were supposed to reside (2 Peter 3:10)
2) the elements, rudiments, primary and fundamental principles of any art, science, or discipline
Can be physical matter or philosophical concepts, principles or beliefs
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Colossians 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—
Paul is not saying that the Ten Commandments keep us in bondage.
He is not talking about any Old Testament laws here, but that we are in bondage in this present evil age (Galatians 1:4)
Paul is talking about the way they used to live before receiving God’s Holy Spirit and being able to understanding and live by the truth – that time when we were subject to the God of this world (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Because of this, the sacrificial system was implemented to teach them certain principles and point them to Christ:
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Galatians 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
KJV: Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under law,
Jesus Christ came and was subject to the law and subject to the penalty of it but He did not sin so He did not deserve death. But He willingly came under or made Himself subject to the death penalty for us so that He could redeem
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
He did this to redeem us. He bought us back! Jesus Christ paid the penalty and ransom for us. This is why He was made under law, made under the death penalty for breaking the law
Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
We are not bound by or to the flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:19 [we] are not your own. [we] were bought at a price [So now our debt is to Him and what do we owe]; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Paul continues this train of thought in:
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
put to death the deeds of the body: Works still necessary, there are things that we still have to do – ie stop sinning – these are accomplished by and through the power of God in us.
Jesus Christ was made subject to death for us. Christ kept the law perfectly. Not so that we would not have to keep it, but to set the right example. Because he kept it perfectly and then died for us, HE paid the penalty for everyone’s sin allowing for forgiveness of our sins (breaking the law) through FAITH in and of Him!
Now here is the incredibly awesome part! Why did He do this? As the end of Galatians 4:5 puts it: that we might receive Sonship!
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
spirit of bondage [slavery] this is what we came out of as Paul was saying in Galatians 4:3
But rather it is a Spirit that leads to “sonship”
the placing as a son, that is, (figuratively Christian sonship in respect to God)
Apparently a primary word; a “son”
A prolonged form of a primary word θέω theō
Adoption = sonship, the placing as a son but with all the rights and privileges that go with it
We become sons and daughters in the Family
Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Since we have the Holy Spirit we are NOW begotten sons and we can have a very intimate relationship with God
Galatians 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
We are no longer a slave to sin.
Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
It is not a spirt of bondage (Romans 8:15)
To the Gentiles
Galatians 4:8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. [polytheistic/can’t be Jews who were monotheistic] Not only that they were simply not gods, by nature
Galatians 4:9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
Galatians 4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
Some use these verses to say that the law and/or the 10 Commandments and/or the Sabbath and Holy Days are being done away with – but nothing could be further from the truth.
Paul says “turn again” – now that we have established that Paul is now addressing the Gentiles this is pointing to their previously pagan and Gnostic ways. The gentiles never kept the holy days so there is no way for them to “turn again” to them.
Also, the weak and beggarly elements cannot possibly be talking about the law and/or the holy days after all that Paul has said about that and how he holds it in such high regard. Plus it would be heretical to say that anything God created was weak and beggarly.
What were the weak and beggarly elements that the Gentiles turned back to?
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
It has nothing to do with the holy days of God, but rather pagan days and observances that the Gnostics were involved in based on times and seasons. They looked for revelation and extra knowlege from the stars and planets (ie astrology).
Galatians 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
So, at best this was a counterfeit of the truth which Satan was trying pass off and deceive people with. The gentiles of Galatians had worshipped their false gods based on days months and years and THIS is what Paul admonishing them about.
Like we said from the beginning Paul is having to combat these ideas that there was something beyond the truth that was delivered to them that would make righteous. And because they were heading down this path Paul said in verse 11:
Galatians 4:11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
So he begins to admonish them some more
Galatians 4:12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.
(KJV) Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: (or I am as ye should be)
You have not injured me at all. Like so many others had (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), but rather they accepted him and the message that he brought
Galatians 4:13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
It seems like for some health reason he had to hold up in the region of Galatia
Galatians 4:14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
(Paul’s own words about himself) 2 Corinthians 10:10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
Thorn in the flesh?
Galatians 4:15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.
Galatians 6:11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
Also, he had the thorn in the flesh
Galatians 4:16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
Paul said it like it was and of course this was not his intention, but he did it because of necessity – for their spiritual salvation.
Galatians 4:17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you [from me], that you may be zealous for them.
Their motive for saying all the things that they have been saying to you. And of course Paul stood in their way
Galatians 4:18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
In the truth / In the right way zealousness is good
Galatians 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
Galatians 4:20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
Hard words for them to hear, but necessary
And he does change his tone:
Example of Hagar and Sarah
Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
Why would any want this? Now back to what he has been addressing. They thought/felt that they could be justified by keeping the law as OPPOSED to faith. One way puts you under the law and it’s penalty – death. The other life through Christ.
So Paul is asking them why would you want to be under the law and it’s penalty as a means of justification, do you not hear the pronouncement of death calling you?
He is saying that those that had bewitched them (Galatians 3:1) are leading them down the wrong path ,one that does not lead to salvation
He is not saying that the law is done away with as we have said, shown and proven so many times, but he is saying why would you want that which will kill you for your first mistake as opposed that which can forgive those same mistakes?
Galatians 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
Galatians 4:24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
Galatians 4:25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—
Hagar’s son Ishmael was born according to the flesh.
Isaac was born to Sara according to promise
In this analogy that Paul is making, two covenants here symbolized the bound and the free – one to death and one to life through the Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the Holy Spirit made available to us.
Paul could not have talked here about the Old Covenant, because at the time of Hagar, the Old Covenant under Moses was not even made and not only that but Jerusalem was not specifically a part of the Old Covenant “which now is”
Galatians 4:26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
This is the city that the faithful wait for
Hebrews 11:9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
Hebrews 11:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
In this way Jerusalem above signifies life and Jerusalem below death
Galatians 4:27 For it is written: “REJOICE, O BARREN, YOU WHO DO NOT BEAR! BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR! FOR THE DESOLATE HAS MANY MORE CHILDREN THAN SHE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
The Jerusalem above is currently barren but eventually it will produce more spiritual children than a physical woman can produce.
End the end it will be life that overcomes death
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
They were being persecuted
Think about it – Paul was making much of the religious body of his time obsolete. No longer could the people be told that the Scribes and Pharisees were the adjudicators of righteousness nor were the Levitical priesthood necessary for the sacrificial system and etc.
How do you think then that they would react to Paul’s and the other Apostles’ preaching? In exactly the way that they did. They came into Galatia and other areas and undermined what Paul had taught them originally. These Judaizers were telling them that these laws made them righteous [justified them] and of course they completely dismissed Christ in the process.
Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREEWOMAN.”
Galatians 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Paul’s point all along has been that if we look to the law to make us righteous or justify us then we will continue to be in bondage to the penalty of death for sinning. But, if we have the faith of/in Christ then we can be made free from the penalty of death by forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Christ.