Lesson 14

The Epistle to the Galatians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:1 But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a bondservant, though he is lord of all; 4:2 but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed by the father. 4:3 So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the elements of the world. 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, 4:5 that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. 4:6 And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father!" 4:7 So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Today's Lesson 

In defending the gospel of Christ, Paul is contrasting the message of the Judaizers with his own message of grace. The Judaizers taught that a believer must take onto themselves the full obligations of the Law of Moses in order to be righteous before God. But, Paul contrasted this attitude with the promise that God had given to Abraham. God promised Abraham that even though he was old and his wife, Sarah, was barren he would have as many descendants as there were grains of sand on the seashore. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Then Paul told the Galatians that they were all children of the promise of Abraham if they accepted God's promise in Christ.


Now Paul furthers the analogy by contrasting two other things. He had already told the Galatians that the law was like a tutor that was given by God to lead mankind to Christ. Now in the ancient world, the tutors of a rich man's household were almost always slaves. These slaves would raise the children up to a certain age and then a more formalized training would begin when the child was of age to enter the world of adulthood.


Paul reminds the Galatians that as long as the child is young and being raised under the tutelage of these slaves, he is no different than a slave. Even though he may be an heir to great wealth, we still takes instruction from slaves. This condition is just like a man under the Law of Moses. Israel was heir to the Kingdom of God. But, as long as Israel was under the Law of Moses, it was just as a child that, though an heir is under the tutelage of slaves.


But there comes a time when the child that is the heir comes into his inheritance. Paul likens this time to the coming of Christ and the gospel of grace. Christ redeems those that are under law. Christ sets the children free and makes them full heirs. Under grace, we no longer need a tutor. The Spirit of God is within us, leading us into ever-greater intimacy with God. It is the Spirit within us the cries out, "Abba, Father!" This is the cry of a dearly loved child to his father. It is a cry of familiarity and affection. We are no longer the distantly held children being raised by the tutor. We are the dearly loved children who easily reach for the embrace of the loving Father.


Children with this kind of relationship with their Father do not need a slave to tutor them. They do not need laws and regulations to know that they are loved in their Father's eyes. Let us not turn again to the things that enslave us. Let us walk in the light as the free children of God.


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