Study 24: Gal. 4:1-7
Position of sons
say, That the heir,
as long as he is a child [=infants]
, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the
father. Even so we, when we were children [=infants],
were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the
fulness of the time was come, God
sent forth his Son, made of a woman,
made under the law, To redeem them that were
we might receive the adoption[=postion]
sons. And because ye are sons,
God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying,
Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a
and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
chapter and verse, divisions can interrupt the flow and sense of a
scripture; and here is one such example. In the verses from Gal. 3:13
Paul introduced us directly to the Mosaic Law and
relation to God's purposes. And this theme continues in these opening
of chapter 4. Also the preceding verses of Ch. 4 we have the
topic of new birth discussed, and this theme is also continued here. So
it would be good to ignore the chapter divisions at this point and
continue the thoughts already introduced.
One further point that needs to be made: Paul has been talking of the
giving of the Law, and we know it was to the nation of Israel, and not
the Gentile nations; so we need to bare in mind that when Paul talks of
being under the Law it is specific to Israel and not the
Gentiles! This passage continues with the theme of
under tutors, which was touched upon in Ch.3:25.
Paul turns our attention to the customs of
when children became adults in the eyes of society. Whether Jew or
Gentile there was ' a rite of passage'.
For the Jews this was known as the 'Bar
Mitzvah' (meaning: one to whom the commandments apply). It
when the Jew in question became responsible for his/her actions. Before
then the parents were responsible for their children to follow the
law, but on reaching the appropriate age, they became
for themselves. They became at that 'fullness
of age' adults, it was not
the ceremony that gave them the position, but the age that they
the ceremony was a celebration of the fact that it
For the Roman there was a similar event to acknowledge the coming of
age. When he was of age the son would discard the tunic of boyhood ( praetexta juvenalis)
and put on the
robe of manhood ( toga
Then in a ceremony ( we shall omit the pagan rituals!) the father would
take him, in a procession, to the Forum; this would included a large
train of people including slaves, freedmen, family and friends. At the
Forum the lad's name would be added to the public records so that he
would be a citizen of Rome. His father would declare him
to be his son and legal heir.
Let us now apply these thoughts to the passage in
nation of Israel received the Law, as a temporary measure and
a limited period of time study
also it guarded and shut up the nation until Christ
ultimate purpose was to bring us to
Christ Gal. 3:24.
So when God the Father's appointed time was come, or
of time as Paul puts it, Christ was born of a woman. This was
God's timing for Israel to cease from the servant
come into the inheritance that he had promised way back to Abraham. Up
then Israel had been under tutors, guardians etc. The Hebrew
writer puts it like this:
who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the
fathers by the prophets, Hath
these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath
appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
childhood had come
to an end, when they were children (that is under the Law)
acted like it, but now they had to put away the childish things I Cor.
Hence we can immediately link this in to our theme, to be under a
legalistic system in 'spiritual ' things is to revert back to childish
things! It is not a sign of maturity, but rather the opposite.
When Jesus was born he was born of a woman under the Mosaic
thus fulfilling the first 'Messianic' promise of scripture: Gen.3:15.
He was subject to the Law and fulfilled it to the letter
perfectly, something no one else could ever do. Mtt.5:17-18.
He was subjected to his earthly parents until the
His Father's appointment Lk.2:21.
on the appointed day the Father declared Him publically, the public
record being His baptism in water.
|And Jesus, when he was
up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto
him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting
upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I
see also Ps. 2:7; Acts 13:33; Heb.1:5;5:5
time forward Jesus
only moved and spoke what He heard from His Father
when they wanted
wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine
hour is not yet come.
Then cried Jesus in the temple as he
both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but
he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.
Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the
Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of
myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the
Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself:
but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
We also have to understand that in order to fulfil His
Father's will, namely accomplishing our redemption, Jesus had
be identified with
mankind in every respect. For example on the cross He became
identified with our sin, II Cor.5:21.
So it was with the Law. He was made under the Law, He became
identified in that respect; the difference of course was that
He fulfilled it to the letter. Then He was declared to
to be THE Son of God to all.
3. The Adoption of sons
Christ came to redeem (buy from bondage) those under
the Jews) in order to receive the adoption. These who are Gentiles
don't go through the child/ law state but become sons immediately on
new birth. Whether Jew or Gentile, all become sons of God (we refer
back to Ch.3
again.) when baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ.
Everything we are and have as Christians is only because we are
into Christ; we are anointed only because we are in Him - THE anointed one;
chosen only because He is
chosen one; and so on. Likewise we
are only sons of God because we are baptised into the body of
of God. At new birth
regenerated and adopted: that is we receive both the nature and
of sons, on new birth.
And if Christ be in you, the
dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of
righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus
the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall
also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in
are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For
many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God. For ye
have not received the spirit of
bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself
witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if
children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so
be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
chapters of Romans,
& 7 deals with our regeneration and
nature of Christ's life; firstly by being dead to sin, and
dead to the Law. When we come into Ch. 8
Paul showing us what it is to walk in the Spirit, that is in newness of
In this passage, linking it to to our thoughts in Galatians,
note Paul's argument: we are not debtors to live after the
Because Christ has regenerated us and brought us into His life all the
obligations of the flesh are gone; we owe the flesh nothing! We are not
to indulge ourselves in the things of the flesh at all; applying this
to the Galatian theme, this includes living the Christian
according to Law and regulations. For doing such will bring death.
Instead we are to, by the Spirit, mortify such things, put to death all
temptations to walk after the flesh, and not to think for one moment
that we owe the flesh anything.
The idea of being debtors to the flesh is no more than gratifying it by
such things as believing we need to make a
our salvation or Christian walk in some way. We condemn
of religion for such an approach, yet how many in, so called
evangelical Christianity, do the same in some way? We owe the flesh
nothing, Christ has set us free from such an approach to living!
Such an approach brings bondage and slavery, and fear - fear that we
haven't paid the debt to the flesh properly; for example, we
haven't been austere enough in our lives: such as reading enough
chapters of the Bible a day, not giving enough in the collection, not
attending enough meetings, not clearing our house of enough things
'unspiritual', and so on. The Christian life was never meant to be
thus. Indeed this is not Christian living at all but the
child/Law like state that Paul speaks of in Gal. 4.
are regenerated, we are sons of God and are free from such
bondages! The life we then lead is to be Spirit , and not
Because we are baptised into Christ then we are raised to the position
of sons of God, but there is more! Because we are in Christ we are,
as a result, co-heirs with Him! So as Jesus identified Himself with us
in our condition, by HIS
of eternal redemption, we become identified with Him. This however is
doing and nothing of
us. No work of the flesh could ever do that, all the flesh ever did was
to bring condemnation (guilt) and fear, because we haven't, nor could
ever reached the
New birth free us from all the works of the flesh, and puts the spirit
of adoption in us that we say to God: Abba