Galatians 4: The New Relationship, Heirs

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4: 8, 9

Sonship; 3:26-4:7.

1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

[Law once kept us enslaved, but now has no power over us.  In Christ we have received the full rights of sons.  With full rights we have received the Spirit as a direct link to God, so we can speak with him and hear his voice directly rather than through the law.  As an heir, we also have the full resources of God himself, available to enable us to live the new life to which we have been called in Christ.]

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians, Enslaved Again?  4:8-20.

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even 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. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

[Paul’s goa:  that Christ be formed in you.”  The inner transformation — vastly different from a return to childhood and to control of behavior by external rules and regulations.]

An Analogy: Hagar and Sarah, 4:21-31

21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.”

28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does 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.” 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

[Ishmael represents human effort:  Isaac represents the working of God.  The principle of human self-effort, and that of by-faith appropriation of God’s promise, can never operate together.  A person must either relate to God through the law, or reject law and the self-effort it requires, to relay on the supernatural power of God operating through our relationship with God as his sons.]

[Human self-effort also includes psychological approach to mental health directed by “mental health professionals.”  While psychiatrists may provide certain medicines to help with symptoms, they are not able to “cure” mental illness.  The cure and healing would come from God by having the presence of the Holy Spirit and be released from elemental spiritual forces of the world.]


Not license to sin.  It is our title deed to experience true morality and righteousness.  God has taken the bars away and left us uncaged, because in Christ he has released us from the power of that tiger that rages in every man!  In Christ we are free to be truly good — in motives and desires as well as actions!

What then is freedom?  It is release from the dominance of sin over our reactions and our responses.  Freedom is release from the need for external regulations found through our new, inner relationship with God.  Freedom is a union with Christ by which the tiger in us is bound and the best in us is unchained.

There is no need through legalism to build again a dismantled cage.  We are free to concentrate on loving Jesus and so experience the changes God is working within.