top of page

Lessons from Galatians Part 4a

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Chapter 4:1-15 Meet your Abba Father

4:1 What 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. An everyday example.

2 He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. Other people boss him around and tell him what to do.

3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.

By the principles or elements of the world the Apostle does not mean the physical elements. In calling the Law "the elements of the world" Paul is saying that the Law is something material, mundane, earthly. It may restrain evil, but it does not deliver from sin. The Law does not justify; it does not bring a person to heaven. I do not obtain eternal life because I do not kill, commit adultery, steal, etc. Such mere outward decency does not constitute Christianity. Even an unbeliever can observe the same restraints to avoid punishment or to maintain a good reputation. God receives no glory from this. In a sense the Law brings us into condemnation. Paul is saying that such effects of the Law certainly cannot be called divine or heavenly. These effects are principles or elements of the world.

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights (KJV adoption) of sons.

Two thousand or so years ago in a stable in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ the son of God was born to his mother Mary and was born subject to the Law. He came to redeem humankind from the penalty of the Law, so that we could be freed from sin and able to enter the Family of God as mature sons.

6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." When you heard and believed the Gospel, God poured out his Holy Spirit into your heart, and he cries ‘Abba Father'.

Daddy God and causes us to know that we are saved, and not only saved, but that we have become sons of the living God. The Holy Spirit operates in us in such a way to produce new motives, new desires, new ways [1].

When the Spirit within us cries Abba Father, we can know for certain that the Father hears him and through him us.

7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Checkmate! Says Paul, since we are now sons of God, we can no longer be slaves, but are heirs of the promises of God.

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 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?

10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

The Apostle Paul knew what the false apostles were teaching the Galatians: The observance of days, and months, and times, and years. The Jews had been obliged to keep holy the Sabbath Day, the new moons, the feast of the Passover, the feast of tabernacles, and other feasts. The Judaizers urged the Galatians to observe these Jewish feasts under threat of damnation. Paul tells the Galatians that they were exchanging their Christian liberty for the weak and beggarly elements of the world.

11 I fear for you, that somehow, I have wasted my efforts on you.

12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.

Paul is saying that it was not that they had not offended him personally in any way, but it was because of his love and concern for them that they should stick to the one true gospel.

13 As you know, it was because of an illness [2] that I first preached the gospel to you.

14 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.

When Paul speaks of the infirmity of his flesh, he does not mean some physical defect or carnal lust, but the sufferings and afflictions which he endured in his body. What these infirmities were he himself explains in II Corinthians 12:9, 10: "Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." "In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck," etc. (2 Cor. 11:23-25.) By the infirmity of his flesh Paul meant these afflictions and not some chronic disease. He reminds the Galatians how he was always in peril at the hands of the Jews, Gentiles, and false brethren, how he suffered hunger and want.

15 What 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.

The Apostle continues his praise of the Galatians. "You did not only treat me very courteously. If it had been necessary, you would have plucked out your eyes and sacrificed your lives for me." And in very fact the Galatians sacrificed their lives for Paul. By receiving and maintaining Paul they called upon their own heads the hatred and malice of all the Jews and Gentiles.

Amen and your prayer

[1] 2 Cor:5 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [2] 769. astheneia, as-then'-i-ah; from G772; feebleness (of body or mind); by impl. malady; mor. frailty:--disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.

For full text for printout and access to all other parts of 'Lessons from Galatians' click below

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page