1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even 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. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband."
28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30But what does the 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."31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Here in chapter 4, Paul carries on the thought that one is no longer under the Law. He points out that even an heir is still a child; that he may own all the land; he is still nothing more than a slave as he is subject to others. Interestingly, Paul states “guardians and trustees” which were most often slaves put in charge over the child. It was not until the father set the child free that the child then was over his guardian or trustee. We were under the Law until set free by the Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus was God, yet many seem to forget he was born of a woman and human like us. This is important. If Jesus was not born of a woman, then the promise would not have been kept; the promise of our salvation. Once we were slaves. Now, we are sons! Yet, more than just sons but an heir of all God has for us.
Before we were sons, we were slaves to many things as sin, worldly rulers and their rules, laws, observing holy days that seem to not have meaning… the list of things can go on and on. None of these were god… nor gods… but we were still subject to them. Often people look at sin as just bad, and it is bad. Yet, if one can look at our old way of life as something to learn from to propel us forward, we will see that sin in itself only shined the light of God’s loving kindness. Our only response should be humbly admitting our wrong and to be set free by the grace of God. Now having been set free, why would anyone want to go back to the ways of slavery? Why would anyone want to be subject to another when they can be free?
I was a biker for a time. I rode with some interesting characters. Some of my friends wanted to be Hell’s Angels… which was strange to me. I asked them why they rode and they always proudly stated, “Freedom baby.”… I would then ask them, “Why do you want to be part of a club that will either kill you or at the very least take your bike away if you decide to leave them? Why would you then want to be subject to rules such as being fined $100 a week if your bike is not running?” Most the time I received blank stares. They seemed to not grasp that they would not be free. They would have to do as the club told them and would not longer truly be their own man.
Often we forget that we are free. We desire the old way as it seems easier than having to depend on God and be subject to Him alone for it is His way that is best.
Paul pleads with the Galatians to understand this. He states, “Become like me, for I became like you.” Paul was once under the bondage of the Law and became free. His desire is that the Galatians return to the freedom Paul showed them.
Paul was truly humbled by the love of the Galatians. He apparently was ill at the time of his visit and they restored him to health. Paul was impressed by their sacrificial joy. Now it seems with the teaching of those who confused them, this joy was now lost. We only experience the joy of the Lord if we are free to love others. Remember Paul had once persecuted those of the Faith in Christ, yet the Galatians rejoiced in his conversion. We can lose our joy if we look to other things. Joy comes only from God and doing His will. His will is that we be free to love others and not be pressed by the Law or rules of man. The Law had requirements for separation. The Jew could not enter or eat in the house of a Gentile. Today we set up rules of separation that are not of God. True we need be separate from the world and not do as those do who are caught up in its clutches. Yet, we are freed from such rules that keep us from loving those the world deems unacceptable.
Paul speaks of two women. Sarah and Hagar both bore a child for Abraham yet only one was of the promise of God. How often do we do things that we think God is in while all along He promised nothing in that direction? How much time money and energy is wasted by us as we follow the way of Hagar? We devise our ways yet God has given us the way of freedom or the way of the Promise. Only though the Promise are we saved. Are you on still one Mount Sinai? Do you need to come down from the Mountain of the Law to the Life in the Lush valley of Grace?