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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 4

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


The son. Since God intended all along to put men right with himself through faith in Christ, two questions arise: (1) Why didn’t Christ come immediately when our first parents sinned? (2) Why did God leave mankind for so many ages under the control of the law of nature and the Law of Moses, when neither of them could give any hope of forgiveness or eternal life? Paul answers these questions with the example of a “young son.”

Verse 2


While he is young. “An orphan son, before he reaches the age of legal maturity, is treated just like a slave, and there are men who take care of him (guardians) and who manage his affairs (trustees), even though he really owns everything.” Until the time. “Not until the time his father set, does he have actual possession of all that is his.”

Verse 3


We too were slaves. “Before the First Coming of Christ, the ruling spirits of the universe formed a valuable discipline for the education of the world, although they held us as slaves.” Compare Galatians 4:9; Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:20. Those same ruling spirits are condemned when their traditional hold on human society becomes opposition to the higher teaching of Christ!

Verse 4


The right time. “When the time of preparation was completed, at the right time, God sent his own Son! He sent him from heaven into our own world!”

Verse 5


To redeem. “Since both Jews and Gentiles were held slaves by the ruling spirits of the universe, God sent his own Son as a human being to BUY FREEDOM for us, so that we might become God’s sons and receive every blessing God has for his people!!!”

Verse 6


To show. “You believing Jews and Gentiles are sons, and to show this God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts so that we can come to him in complete confidence, each calling him Father in our own language!” Compare notes on Acts 2:6; Acts 26:14. In Christ, God becomes our Father in a sense which only a son (or daughter) can experience!!!

Verse 7


No longer a slave. [Both the TEV and the NIV follow the corrected Greek text.] “You who have the Holy Spirit as a pledge or guarantee, are no longer a slave under The Law and driven to obey through fear of punishment. You are a son, who is motivated by love (1 John 4:18). Since you are a son, you are heir to the treasures of heaven!!!”

Verse 8


In me past. “Don’t be foolish enough to give up your favored status as God’s sons!!! Remember what you used to be when you did not know God! Remember when you were slaves to idols and the spirits of dead men who only existed in your imagination!”

Verse 9


But now. “But now in Christ you have chosen God to be your Father, or rather, God had identified you as his sons (Galatians 4:6). How can you possibly think of turning back and making yourselves again slaves to those weak and pitiful ruling spirits, by converting to Judaism???” The false teachers claimed to know God. Paul brings out the fact that it is much more important that God knows you and identifies you as his son or daughter!!!

Verse 10


You pay special attention. “These holydays, even though Moses commanded them, are no more effective to gain the favor of God than were the pagan rites you formerly practiced when you worshiped idols.” Both Paul and the Jewish Christians continued to pay special attention to these holydays, but the difference lies in motive. What Paul condemns is Christians doing these things with the idea of putting themselves right with God! Because this credits them with an intrinsic sacredness out of harmony with the true freedom of the Spirit. For the Christian, every day is equally holy, and no day is holy in the special sense that a holyday was to a Jew. Even the Lord’s Day is not a “Christian Sabbath.” [Sabbath, for a Christian, comes in Eternity!!! Compare Hebrews 4:9-11.]

Verse 11


I am afraid for you! “You seem to love these weak and pitiful spirits so much, that I am afraid for you! Can it be that my work has been for nothing? You do not seem to value and understand the freedom you have in Christ!”

Verse 12


Be like me. Paul may be thinking that as he gave up the advantages of Judaism to become free from The Law as they were, so they should remain free in Christ, as he is! MacKnight understands it: “Brethren, I pray you to continue in friendship with me; for I am your true friend, having reproved you from love, and not from resentment. For all the time I was with you, ye injured me in nothing.”

Verse 13


You remember. Some sickness sent Paul into their area originally, and they showed him great love and respect! Ramsay thinks it might have been malaria, and that he went into the highlands of Galatia hoping to recover.

Verse 14


But you did not. Even though Paul’s physical condition put a strain on the Galatians, they did not despise him for it or reject him as unfit to be a messenger from God. MacKnight has Paul say: “You received me with as much respect as if I had been Christ Jesus himself.”

Verse 15


You were so happy! “The Good News I preached to you then made you jubilant!!!” What has happened? “What has changed your attitude toward me???” You would have. This is a figure of speech describing great gratitude! Some think this implies that Paul’s sickness was a chronic eye disease.

Verse 16


Have I now? “After all the love and devotion you showed to me your spiritual father, have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth of Christ and urging you to hold firmly to it???”

Verse 17


Those other people. “The circumcision party claims to love you and to be working for your own good. But their intention is to turn you away from the truth of Christ, and to separate you from me.” So that you. Compare what Jesus said in Matthew 23:15, and see note there.

Verse 18


For a good purpose. Alford understands this verse to say: “I have no wish, in thus writing, to set up an exclusive claim to show a deep concern for you – whoever will really teach you good, at any time, let him do it and welcome.”

Verse 19


My dear children! From the deep concern of Galatians 4:18, Paul narrows it down by speaking as a parent. He had brought the Galatians into the world as spiritual children, and his claim on them is greater than any new teacher could have! Until Christ’s nature. Their eternal destiny depends on their developing the knowledge, spirit, and qualities of Christ in themselves. This does not contradict salvation by faith, as James 2:22 shows.

Verse 20


How I wish. “If I were with you now, I would better know just what to say to help you!”

Verse 21


Do you not hear? “The Law itself teaches that Abraham’s descendants by faith, who will receive all God has for his sons, are not slaves to The Law!”

Verse 22


Abraham had two sons. “These two sons of Abraham are an example of what I mean.”

Verse 23


By the slave woman. “This son was born through the natural strength of his parents, but being born a slave, he had no claim to receive his father’s estate.” By the free woman. “This son was born through supernormal strength that was given to his parents by God’s promise. He was born free, and had claim to all that his father had.”

Verse 24


A figure. “These two women symbolize the two covenants by which men and women become the church and people of God. The one came from Mount Sinai, making Abraham’s descendants by Isaac the only visible church and people of God, is symbolized by Hagar, whose children are born in slavery.”

Verse 25


She is a figure. “She represents the present city of Jerusalem, that is, the Jewish church which was organized on that covenant, and is a slave with all its people, slaves to The Law.”

Verse 26


But the heavenly Jerusalem is free. “But the church of Christ, the messianic community, which is made up of all who reach out through faith to seize Christ and make themselves part of Him, is free and not slave! It is organized on the covenant which comes from Mount Zion (Hebrews 12:22-24), which I call the heavenly Jerusalem, both because its completeness will come in Eternity and because heaven is its source. The free woman, Sarah, is the symbol of this, and she is the mother of all who believe in Christ!”

Verse 27


For the scripture says. “What I say about the meaning of Abraham’s wives and sons is not just something which I dreamed up! Isaiah spoke about this very thing (Isaiah 54:1)! Sarah was the deserted wife, because when she could not have children, Abraham took Hagar as a second wife and by her had Ishmael. God’s promise to Sarah was that she would be a mother of nations, and that comes true in the Gentiles converting to Christ!”

Verse 28


Now, you. “Even though you are not Abraham’s descendants as we Jews are, yet like Isaac, who became their son by God’s promise, you, my brothers, are God’s children as a result of His promise! In this way, you are also children of Abraham and Sarah!”

Verse 29


Persecuted the one. “At that time, Ismael the slave son persecuted Isaac the free-born son. It is the same way now, when certain Jews who are slave-sons persecute us the free-born-sons!”

Verse 30


But what does? Genesis 21:10. “I show you that the scripture says to throw out the slave woman and her son. This means that all who have no spiritual relationship to God will be thrown out, no matter who their ancestors are. Only the true sons (and daughters) by the Promise of God, will share what the Father has for his sons!!!”

Verse 31


But of the free woman. “I have showed you from The Law itself that we who are God’s children by faith, are Abraham’s true descendants, born of the free woman, and we will receive our Father’s property!!!”

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/galatians-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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