Overview of Chapter Four:

In chapter 3 we have seen 3 bases of arguments for the truth of the grace message that Paul taught.

1. Personal argument- 3:1-5 - Paul challenged the Galatian believers to test their experience by God's Word. They were not initially saved nor matured by the law. 

2. Scriptural argument - 3:6-14 - Paul quoted or alluded to 6 OT verses to establish that the purpose of the law was not to justify the unbeliever. Justification is by faith.

3. Logical argument - 3:15-29 - The Abrahamic Covenant was not nullified by the later Mosaic Covenant. The purpose of the law was to bring us to Christ.

In chapter 4 we will see 3 more bases of argument for the grace message which Paul promotes:

4. Dispensational argument - 4:1-7  Paul highlights the distinction that can help us discern the relative place of the OT believers with those of us in this present dispensation. We are heirs of God through Christ (v. 7) and we become sons of God by belief in Jesus (John 1:12).

5. Sentimental argument - 4:8-18 - When you have liberty, why voluntarily return to bondage?

6. Allegorical argument - 4:19-31- Abraham & law - two sons, two types of birth; of the flesh and of the spirit, two women, two covenants, two mountains, two states; children of the bondwoman and children of the free.

Chapter Four Text

4:1.Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2.  But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4.  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5.  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

 

We have seen in the latter part of the third chapter, five blessings that every one of us as believers receives at the time we believe in Jesus:

1. 3:25 - We are no longer under the schoolmaster; the law. The law could restrain the flesh but could not give the new birth. It could condemn but could not justify or give life.

2. 3:26 - We become sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

3. 3:27 - We have put on Christ; spiritually baptized into union with Him by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism illustrates this undertaking but it cannot accomplish it.

4. 3:28 - We have equal position and oneness with other believers in Christ.

5. 3:29 - We become spiritual heirs. Chapter 4 gives us more details about our heirship. The law could provide none of these blessings. God does it all by His grace.

According to Gal. 3:25, "...after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." We now have another teacher, the Spirit of Truth." Jesus said of Him, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." (John 16:12, 13). We are told in Eph. 5:18, to "be filled with the Spirit." This concept will be further explained later in Galatians where we are told to "walk in the Spirit." (Gal. 5:16, 25).[1] We will see that chapter 4 continues with the heirship theme mentioned in the previous verse; Gal. 3:29.

In many cultures there is a ritual or event that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. In the Jewish culture this is called "Bar Mitzvah"[2] or "son of commandments." This occurs at age 13 and implies that they are now accountable to the law. Prior to reaching Bar Mitzvah, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's actions. After this age, the boys and girls bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics, and are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.

Other cultures had similar rituals. The Roman law involved the ceremonial donning of the white "toga virilis" (toga of manhood), symbolizing their new status as full citizen at ages 14-19 at a time chosen by his father. Since both Jews and Gentiles were recipients of Paul's epistle, both groups would be familiar with the illustration. Even in today's culture of the USA we have a symbolic coming of age where teenagers think that they are adults. What is this? The driver's license! They seem to want the keys to the car but not the expense of the gas, maintenance, and insurance. Some young people want the freedom and privileges of adulthood but not the accompanying responsibilities. We see this concept among us also in the spiritual realm.

Paul uses this analogy in the first 7 verses to show that as a child they were slaves and under the law, and now that they were adults, that they were free in grace and not under the law.

1.  Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child,[3] differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

The two major errors that Paul approaches in this epistle are 1. that an unbeliever could be justified in God's sight and is eternally saved partially or completely by the law, and 2. That a believer is to live the Christian life by obeying the Mosaic Law. We believe that Paul is proclaiming not only that we are justified by faith in Jesus alone but that the Christian life is not to be lived under some law system. The Christian life is intended to be a walk of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit based on the Word of God. Some people seem to be comfortable with legalism. This is not God's plan.

Paul's analogy here is that the child is still under the law and he is a slave. He is functionally the same as a slave. The full-grown son is not under law but under grace and he has freedom. The child under law is the potential heir of the whole package but he cannot take possession until he becomes an adult son. The Galatian believers were positionally full-grown sons, why would they want to become children be in bondage again?[4]

2.  But is under tutors[5] and governors[6] until the time appointed of the father.

The child needs the direction of the tutors and governors until the time that he is granted the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. In the Roman culture, the timing of this event was up to the father. Our heavenly Father also determined the timing of this spiritual event for us. Please see comments on verse 5 about "the fulness of the time."

3.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

When we were children we were in bondage (lit. enslaved ones) under the elements or rudiments of the world[7] or world system. In Gal. 4:9 Paul refers to these principles as "weak and beggarly elements" which bring us bring us back into bondage or enslavement.

4.  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

"But when the fulness of the time was come,..." What were some of the factors that contributed to this being the "fulness of the time" for the entrance of the Messiah into the world? Humanly speaking, it seems that the Pax Romanus or the time period of the peace of Rome (ca 27 BC-AD 180) was an important aspect of this timing. Alexander's military conquests had arranged 300 years before for the lingua franca or trade language of the world to be Greek. Common Greek was understood as a first or second language in almost the whole known world. The Roman road and bridge system had made efficient travel and communication available throughout their empire. The world was providentially prepared for the arrival of the Savior and for the dissemination of His message.

Prophetically speaking, there could be no other time for the incarnation of Christ. Over 300 prophecies concerning Jesus' first advent were coming to pass just as God had said. (Please see footnote 203. These are too numerous to elaborate here.)

Many are unaware of the prophetical significance of the feasts of the LORD which were commanded to Israel in Leviticus 23. They are commemorative but they also prophecy of various events in the life of Messiah from His birth to His sacrificial death and resurrection and then to His return and His future kingdom. An understanding of these feasts has important application for us today. We highly recommend to any who are interested to listen to the four messages on the feasts at http://www.elshaddaiministries.us/feasts/feasts_of_the_lord.html or even better, to purchase the DVDs and view them.

It is likely that there were no other two people in history who could have taken the place of Joseph and Mary as Jesus' earthly parents. Among other requirements, Messiah had to be of the tribe of Judah and of the royal lineage of David. The genealogies of both Joseph and Mary are recorded in Scripture; that of Joseph in Matt. 1:1-16 and Mary in Luke 3:23-38. Joseph's genealogy records the royal line through David and Solomon, A problem in this lineage arose with Jeconiah, (also called Coniah). He was so evil that God pronounced a curse on his seed that none should sit on the throne of David (Jer. 22:28-30).

Mary's genealogy was the same until David, where instead of going through Solomon, the lineage of the blood curse, it takes a turn and goes through David's second living son, Nathan, thus avoiding the blood curse in Joseph's lineage. The virgin conception and birth of Yeshua took care of both the blood curse in the royal line and the necessity of the blood line through Mary's lineage.

"...God sent forth his Son,..." This shows us not only the obvious, that God sent forth His Son, but also that His Son, Jesus, was pre-existent. One OT prophecy that clearly distinguishes both the deity and humanity of Jesus is Isaiah 9:6, where it states, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:..."[8] The humanity of Jesus was born of Mary, but the Son, Who was not born, but given, is God Himself and is eternal. God created the universe and then entered it as a man.

"God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,..." This phrase expresses both the deity and humanity of Jesus. "...Made under the law...." Jesus in His humanity was not only born of a woman but was "made under the law." The Son not only became a man but He was born a Jew, part of the nation to whom the law was given. He perfectly kept the law (1 Pet. 2:21, 22), even fulfilling all of its prophecies about Himself (Matt. 5:17, 18). He took his place under the Law that he might accomplish an important purpose for those who were under it. He made himself subject to it that He might become one of them, and then secure their redemption (2 Cor. 5:21).

It is noteworthy that "...when the fulness of the time was come,..." that "...God sent forth his Son,..." He did not send a politician because the great need was not political reform. He did not send a doctor because the great need was not physical health. He did not send a philosopher because the great need was not education. He sent a Savior because that was the great need of the world (Luke 2:11; 19:10).    

5.  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

What made the difference? It was the coming of Christ (God sent forth his Son). What was the purpose of His coming? "To redeem[9] them that were under the law," The Jews were under the law but all unbelievers are under its curse (Gal. 3:10). Believers are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom. 6:16).

We see also in verse 5 two purpose clauses. The first word in each of the two phrases ("to" and "that") are the same word in the Greek which we have mentioned before; "ἵνα" (hin'-ah), which means "in order to" or "for the purpose of."

In other words, this verse is telling us that "...God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To (in order to, for the purpose to) redeem them that were under the law, that (for the result that) we might receive the adoption of sons.[10]

As a side-note, let us think of how a person can get to be in a physical family and then observe the parallel to God's spiritual family. We see above that adoption is one way. Another obvious one is by birth; the spiritual aspect being presented in John 3:5. A third way is by marriage. Believers will be the bride of Christ. (Rev. 21:9; 22:17). It looks as though we as believers are solidly in the family of God (Eph. 3:15).

6.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

OT saints did not have Holy Spirit indwelling them. The Holy Spirit came and went at His own will. This blessing is a Church age phenomenon. Believers today have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them (1 Cor. 6:19. 20).

 " Abba,[11] Father." Abba is Hebrew/Chaldee for "father" and is most usually used when speaking to God in prayer. It is in the vocative case, meaning as when a person is directly addressed. Some have said that Abba is a very endearing term such as our term "Daddy," but I am unable to document this for certain.

7.  Wherefore thou[12] art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

If we are now adult sons and heirs of God through Christ, why would we want to renege on this privilege and go back to childhood on the level of a slave? Is it even possible for a believer to do this? Yes, that was occurring with some of the Galatian believers and that is why Paul is warning them about that dangerous error. This warning has important application to us today.

 

Text

4:8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

9.   But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

10.  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

11.  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

12.  Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

13.  Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

14.  And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

15.  Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

16.  Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

17. They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

18.  But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

 

8.   Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

"Howbeit[13] then, when ye knew not God..." Before they were believers and saved by grace,..." "...ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods." They "did service"[14] or literally, were enslaved to idols which are not really gods.

This statement may be primarily aimed toward the Gentile believers who had believed in idols. The Israelites had some serious idolatry problems up until the time of their captivity by Assyria and Babylon, which seemed to cure the nation of idolatry (ca 722 BC and ca 600 BC).

9.   But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

" But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God,..." They had believed in Jesus and knew Him (cf. John 17:3), and God had a personal knowledge of them in a redeeming way. "...how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements,[15] whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" How could they now desire to return to something so inferior? This legalism is described as "weak and beggarly elements." It was weak due to the weakness of the flesh and poor in contrast to the riches of grace. It amounts to nothing of value. It leads to spiritual enslavement.        

The recipients of this exhortation had been enslaved to idols but now know God and have been set free. Why would they want to now become enslaved to the law? Why turn from liberty to bondage? The unbelieving Gentiles were not free; they were enslaved to imagined deities of their own creation. The objects were imaginary but their servitude was real. In addition, believers who are saved by grace but choose to go back under the Mosaic law are also in bondage or enslaved to the requirements of the law. Paul uses the same descriptive word in verse 3, "bondage" (enslavement) when referring to the Jews who were under the law as he does here referring to the Gentiles who were enslaved to idols.[16]

As a side-note; Some biblically uninformed people have stated that there is little use sending missionaries to the heathen deep in the jungles. Why bother them because they are content in their simple religions? Not so! According to this text, they are enslaved. They also are lost without Christ. I heard of this statement being brought up in a church ladies meeting while a missionary, who had seen the despair and superstition that prevailed among these people, was speaking to the group. The missionary assertively informed the lady that she had seen too many Tarzan movies.  

10.  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

The other 5 uses of the Greek word translated "observe" imply a scrupulous and conscientious observing. It is likely that Paul was reiterating some areas of their previous enslavement. This might refer both to pagan holidays which the Gentiles had celebrated and possibly to the Jewish holidays which the Jews celebrated. We remember that the Judaizers had been trying to impose the Mosaic Law on the Gentile believers. Shortly after their release from slavery to the Egyptians (ca 1446 BC), the children of Israel received specific instructions through Moses concerning some feast days which they were to honor (Lev. 23).[17] Subsequently, they have added more of their own choosing. It would be wrong to make these holidays a requirement for receiving eternal life. It certainly is not inherently wrong to celebrate holidays as God has allowed us freedom and liberty in this area and we are not to judge others in this either.[18] Please see Romans 14:4-6.

If our suggested interpretation is correct, this passage is not speaking of keeping or honoring a holiday, but of being enslaved to it. We are to be servants (δοῦλος - doo'-los - bondslave) of Jesus Christ just as Paul had claimed of himself (Rom. 1:1; et al), not slaves to legal rituals.

11.  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

"I am afraid of you,..." Paul proclaims that he has fears concerning them, which shows that he realized the danger that they were in while pursuing the course of legalism.[19] Any who have been loving parents can reasonably liken this to your concern when you see your offspring whom you love, willfully pursuing a path which, according to your wisdom and experience, promises to injure them. It is almost like seeing someone sitting on a railroad track when you see the train coming. We try to warn them to get off of the railroad track or they will be hurt. Paul was speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Our labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor. 15:58).

12.  Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

"Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are:" Paul now shifts his argument to a personal appeal. In other words, he exhorts the Gentile believers, "Become like me for I became like you, that is, I became free from the law as I now am. After my conversion I became like the Gentiles, no longer living under the law." This is Paul speaking, who has been a rigid law-keeping Pharisee, saying that he became as the Gentiles had been in that he was no longer living under the law.[20] Paul had left the bondage of the law and some his converts were putting themselves under the law after their conversion. There is something wrong with this picture.

One commentator[21] simply states his comments on this verse with the following:

The KJV translators supply three verbs in v. 12.  I suggest the following:

"...become as I myself (am)," i.e. free in the gospel;

"because I (was) as you (are), in bondage in legalism;

"in nothing have you wronged me, "i.e., "I have no personal grievance with you in this matter," I am not striking back at someone as though I was wronged."

Since Paul became like the believers in Galatia had been, he can now urge them to become like him. When Paul was in Galatia, he ate with them and ate their foods. Now he is urging them to live like Gentiles once again! If anyone had a right to be bound by the Law of Moses, it was Paul. Yet he chose not to in order to advance his ministry among Gentiles (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

"...Ye have not injured me at all." This phrase may be in reference to the next three verses speaking of how amiably the Galatians had received him, or, possibly that they were not injuring him in not keeping the law.

13.  Ye know how through[22] infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

At the time that Paul had preached to them (his first missionary journey, Acts 13 and 14), he was laboring under some sort of physical handicap. Some suspect that his physical ailment was opthalmia, an eye problem which not only affected his eyesight but also was unsightly. Please see related verse 15 comments.

14.  And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 

"And my[23] temptation[24] which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected;..." Whatever Paul's physical problem[25] was, the Galatians did not treat him with contempt or scorn but received him with great hospitality. They overlooked his physical appearance and accepted him and his message."...But received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." Some commentators feel that due to context of the high respect that was offered, that "angel" here is referring to the created celestial angels of God. Grammatically and contextually it could also mean simply a "messenger of God."

15.  Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

"Where [or what] is then the blessedness ye spake of?" This statement seems a bit ambiguous on the surface. There is nothing in the Greek text directly corresponding to "ye spake of." It comes from the phrase "ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν," (ho mak-ar-is-mos' hoo-mone') which literally is "the blessedness of you," or would usually be translated "your blessedness." "Of you," or "ὑμῶν," is in the genitive case which frequently refers to possession of the noun it describes.

A suggested interpretation of this sentence is, "Where is the hospitality and kindness that you had previously shown to me, especially in light of the way that you presently treat me as mentioned in verse 16, now that the Judaizers have persuaded you with their false doctrine?"

"...For I bear you record [or "I testify to you], that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

Their initial response to Paul was loving and sacrificial. This might be just a figure of speech showing their earlier love and respect for him, but it may also contain a hint that he was suffering from a severe eye ailment. This supposition is supported by Galatians 6:11, where Paul states that he is writing in "how large a letter."

16.  Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?[26]

Now in contrast to his initial reception, has he now become their enemy? He still loved them. He had not become their enemy but they had begun to treat him as such. Why? Because he had told them the truth. Telling the truth can become alienating, especially among the immature.

Paul had not changed; they had changed because they had accepted a false message. He loved the Galatians enough to tell them the truth; not necessarily what they wanted to hear but what they needed for their own welfare. Do we love God and people enough to do the same and risk losing some approbation or acceptance with them? Paul tells us in Gal. 1:10 that his goal was not to "please men," but to be the "servant of Christ." This principle is well stated in 1 Thess. 2:4:

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

God has entrusted us with his good news message, Are we going to try to please men (which is almost impossible) or please God? I choose to try to please the One Who has done so much for me.   

17. They zealously affect you, but not well; yea,[27] they would exclude you, that ye might affect[28] them.

"They zealously affect you, but not well;" To whom is "they" referring? I can find no close antecedent. It apparently refers to the Judaizers, the false teachers[29] who had been the underlying factor in the epistle toward undermining the Galatian's correct doctrine. It appears that the false teachers were zealous in their passionate display of a professed concern for their welfare in order to gain them as proselytes. "...but not well;" This displayed enthusiasm was not really for the benefit and welfare of the Galatians believers. "...Yea, they would exclude you,..." In contrast, they were trying to exclude them from the love and affection of Paul. They would shut them out from that, in order that they might secure them for their own purposes. All this for the purpose "that ye might affect them." or so that the Galatians would be zealous toward the false teachers.

18.  But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

" But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing," This almost sounds redundant; "It is good to be zealous in good always." Paul presents a basic and simple truth. He loved them and did not want them to wrongly be zealous for the false teachers, but to be zealous for that which is right. Are we zealous in our love of our Savior? Are we zealous in learning and applying God's Word so that we may more effectively share the good news of salvation by grace through faith with others? Is our zeal and passion aimed toward something that will be of eternal value? (Matt. 6:19, 20; 19:29, 30).

"...And not only when I am present with you." This good zeal for a good thing should not have abated in his absence, but should have remained strong.

Paul was very concerned about their doctrinal defection from grace teaching to legalism. He was afraid for them (but not of them), and urged them to return to the teachings of grace that they had earlier learned from the apostle. They had lovingly received him and God's message. But later it was if Paul had become their enemy.

What happened? The false teachers had stolen their affection of Paul and shifted it to themselves. They had viewed him as a messenger from God but now viewed him as an enemy. Who changed? It was not Paul who changed his love and concern for these believers nor had he changed his doctrine. Due to the influence of these legalistic false teachers they were drifting away from the teaching of grace and in doing so, their hearts also grew cold toward the teacher of grace.

Paul, just as some pastors who wish to have a congregation who is well-fed on God's Word, realized that in honestly teaching the Bible that he was taking the risk of offending someone or "stepping on toes;" saying things that challenge people.[30] The Word of God is like a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), it can encourage us and it can convict us. Many churches teach about the Bible, but not many really teach the Bible. By that I mean to consistently and honestly study from verse one through to the end of a book of the Bible,[31] and when teaching on various Bible topics to honestly and diligently teach and believe the text. I have heard many sermons that I call "Longhorn" sermons: a point here, and a point there, and a lot of bull in between. I have even heard a few sermons about which I could find nothing to disagree; because they really did not say anything of importance.

If the Bible can do all that 2 Tim. 3:15-17 says that it can, then let us not spend our time listening to feel-good sermons which may be only so much "fluff." May we obey the admonition of 2 Tim. 2:15, and become serious about studying the Bible.[32]

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word "study" here literally is "to be diligent" (as it is translated in 4:9 and 4:21). We cannot have right living without right doctrine. I believe that the real "gems" in the Word are reserved for those who are willing to dig in the Bible for them and then to honestly accept and apply them when they are found. Part of the purpose of this study is to challenge those reading it to be "Acts 17:11" believers:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11).

Very roughly transliterated: "Don't believe what this writer says; check it out in God's Word on your own." I am not threatened if you come up with something in your study better than I did. We are not in competition with each other and we  can all learn from each other.

One way that believers can be defeated is to cut off their spiritual food supply. That's how the Russians eventually defeated the German army in Leningrad during World War II. As the Germans tried to go to Leningrad, they stretched themselves out so far that the Russians just came behind the line, cut off their food supply and let the Russian winter do the rest.

Satan works that way with the believer. If he can cut off the believer from hearing or studying the Word of God, the flesh can do the rest. This end can be accomplished through distraction or deception. Believers struggle in this spiritual warfare even when they are well fed on the Word of God, but face almost certain daily defeat when they are in starvation mode. We would not be very strong physically if we had only one meal per week. Likewise, we would not do to well spiritually if we only received a half-hour spiritual food each Sunday morning. In some churches this may be only some occasional baby food and in some others it might even be considered junk-food. God tells us to be diligent in study of His Word (2 Tim. 2:15).

Believers are not exempt from being courted and captured by legalistic teaching as these pointed warnings to the Galatian believers demonstrate.

Sometimes the cults put us to shame in their zeal and willingness to sacrifice in order to promote their cause. Even though some are in major error in significant and basic Bible doctrines, some also know the Bible better than many believers who claim to be believers.

Text

4:19. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

20.  I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

21.   Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22.  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24.  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25.  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27.  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28.  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29.  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30.  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

31.  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

 

We now begin the last of six arguments in chapters 3 and 4 in which Paul offers to support the grace doctrine. This argument we call, as per verse 24;  the allegorical argument. What is an allegory? One dictionary defines it as "a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning."

We will see a number of parallels or contrasts in these verses: The Law and Abraham, two sons with two types of birth; of the flesh and of the spirit, two mothers, one a slave and one free, two covenants from two mountains with two resulting states, two cities, two types of sons; those of the bondwoman and those of the free. This section sums up how we are to handle the bondage of the law and our state of freedom which we now have as believers.

This then leads us into chapter five where we see the theme of the believer's liberty expanded; the need to stand fast in the liberty (5:1) and how to use our liberty; to serve in love (5:13).

19.  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

The term, "My little children,"[33] might encompass several ideas; 1. The Galatians had been born again. Paul is not speaking about how to be eternally saved but of how to grow. 2. That they were his spiritual children; those whom he had led to Christ during his first missionary journey, and 3. That they were still immature in their zeal for legalism and needed to grow to maturity. Their spiritual growth was being arrested by poor doctrine. They needed to move on to maturity,[34]

"...Of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you," Paul was experiencing the equivalent of childbirth pains for them; first when he led them to belief in Jesus for eternal life and now again while he encouraged them to grow in grace (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18). He is not addressing unbelievers to show them how to be saved, but is telling believers that they need to grow. The new birth (John 3:3-7, 16) and conformity[35] to Christ are not to be confused. We, as believers are already in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Php. 3:9) and Christ is in us (Col. 1:27). Paul had already told them:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

Christ lived in him and now Paul was living in the flesh by faith of the Son of God...." He wanted that same fruitfulness and joy for the Galatian believers, instead of them being drawn away into bondage by the false teachers.

20.  I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

"I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice;..." Paul would rather speak with them in person. He could put his heart into his voice, but in writing, perhaps he found it necessary to speak with more severity.

"...For I stand in doubt of you." Paul's doubts had nothing to do with their position in Christ. He had already affirmed that they were believers (Gal. 1:2, brethren, to the churches; 1:6-9; 3:1-5; my little children, 4:19).

His doubts concerned whether they would overcome this threat to their faith and spiritual well-being that was instigated by the Judaizers. He fears that they would continue in their descent into this dangerous legalistic doctrine which brings God's anathema on them (Gal. 1:6-9).  

21.  Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

The law demands complete obedience. James 2:10 tells us, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." One sin makes us a sinner and condemns us. The question that Paul answers in Galatians is the question of law OR grace, not law AND grace. It cannot be both. Rom. 11:6 lays down an essential "grace" principle,

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."

This verse might seem to be unnecessarily redundant but it is actually quite clear. It is like saying that a barefoot boy does not have shoes on because he is barefoot. If he had shoes on he would not be barefoot because he had shoes on. It cannot be both.

The desire to be saved by the law or even to be kept saved by the law is a result of a misunderstanding of what the law really is and does. If the Galatians really understood the purpose of the law, how could they desire to placed under it again?

"Perhaps the phrase, "...do ye not hear the law?" pertains not just to the 10 commandments or even to the rest of the 613 commandments to Israel, but also to the balance of the Torah (the first five books of our OT, the Pentateuch), which contained information about both the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. He then continues his argument to establish the incompatibility of mixing law and grace by relaying a Biblical and historical OT account which was familiar to the Jews, including the Judaizers.

This narrative concerns itself with a family problem that developed due to a fleshly scheme on the part of Abraham and Sarah, the parents of Ishmael and Isaac. The historical facts can be briefly summarized by the following chart:

Abraham's age

75

86

100

103

Occurrence

God's promise of Seed

Child of flesh scheme with Hagar, Ishmael

Miracle child of promise, Isaac

Weaning of Isaac, Casting out of Ishmael

Scripture Reference

Gen. 12:1-3

Gen. 16

Gen. 17, 18, 21

Gen. 21:8-14

 

22.  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Paul speaks only of Abraham's first two sons: Ishmael, who was born of Abraham and Hagar, Sarah's handmaiden (i.e. a slave) and Isaac, who was born of Sarah (i.e. a freewoman), Abraham's wife.

"But he who was of the bondwoman was born after (or "according to") the flesh;"

God promised Abraham seed but after 10 years of waiting Sarah still had not conceived. She and Abraham then chose to take matters into their own hands. They decided to conceive a child through Hagar, Sarah's maid (a custom that was apparently acceptable in that culture).

"...After the flesh" - Ishmael was the fleshly way around the problem. God's way is by faith, not human wisdom. Adam and Eve did the same with the fig leaves after they had sinned. They tried to cover sin by human efforts. God's way was by the death (shedding of blood) of an innocent substitute (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:27; Matt. 26:28: 2 Cor. 5:21); in this case, animal skins. Man's way; fig leaves, just did not solve the problem.

"...But he of the freewoman was by promise." Isaac[36] was the son of promise. As opposed to Ishmael who was begotten through a lack of faith, man's way, Isaac's birth was the result of God working and man's faith (Rom. 4:17-21). This was about 25 years after the promise to Abraham and well after the normal child-bearing years of Sarah. This clearly was a miracle from God.

24.  Which things are an allegory:[37] for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth[38] to bondage, which is Agar.

"Which things are an allegory:" "Allegory" here is a passive verb, not a noun. Literally it is "Which things are allegorized." Though the account is literally true, the facts also were being given an allegorical interpretation. The two women and their children were types. "Gendereth," meaning here to bear or beget, is in the present tense. The covenant from Mt. Sinai, still brings bondage or enslavement.

25.  For this Agar[39] is mount Sinai in Arabia,[40] and answereth[41] to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

"For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia,..." In our allegory, Hagar is Mt. Sinai (the geographical source of the Mosaic law). "... and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." Hagar/Mt. Sinai represents, or corresponds with Jerusalem at the time of this writing. Why does Paul refer to their present-day Jerusalem? Jerusalem was the home of the Jewish temple where all of the Levitical sacrifices took place. Without Jerusalem and the Temple, the Jews could not properly fulfill the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law.

Since AD 70, when the temple was destroyed, the Jews and the Jewish priests have been unable to offer sacrifices that were required under the law. Since Jesus fulfilled the law and gave us His righteousness, we no longer need to offer the temple sacrifices (Heb. 10:10-14; Rom. 6:14).

One Bible teacher[42] appropriately comments:

"Paul identifies Hagar with Mount Sinai (“for this Hagar is Mount Sinai”).... How ironic this is. Surely the Jews of Paul’s day were outraged by this comparison. Hagar was the mother of Ishmael and the Arab nations, not of the Jews! Yet Paul says that Hagar the bondwoman foreshadowed Mount Sinai in Arabia, and that she corresponds to Jerusalem which now is. Mount Sinai in Arabia is where the Law was given to Moses.

The misuse of the Mosaic Law led the Jerusalem of Paul’s day to be in bondage with her children (i.e., the unbelieving inhabitants of Jerusalem, which was the great majority). Hagar was in bondage to Abraham and Sarah. So too Jerusalem and all Israel was in bondage to the Law and legalism.

Anyone who chooses legalism as a way to live chooses bondage, not freedom."

The Jews at that time who were under the law were in bondage as were the children of Hagar in this allegory.  

26.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

"But Jerusalem which is above is free," We have not yet seen the Jerusalem which is above (Rev. 21:2; Heb. 12:22). This Jerusalem of the believer, in contrast to the bondage of the law, is free. "...Which is the mother of us all." Why the term "mother of us all?" According to Galatians 3:7 and 8, Abraham is our spiritual father. In this allegory, Sarah, Abraham's legal wife, is the mother of Isaac, who represents the promise by faith. Believers are represented by Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, not Hagar and Ishmael.

 Let us notice carefully the allegory: we have:

1. Two women (mothers) - Hagar (begets bondage, v. 24), and Sarah (representing God's promise by grace).

2. Two sons - Ishmael (born after the flesh) and Isaac (by promise, v23, 28).

3. Two covenants - law (Mosaic covenant, conditional - begets bondage, v. 24) and grace (Abrahamic covenant, unconditional).

4. Two mountains - Sinai (begets bondage, v. 24) and by implication, Mt. Calvary (freedom by faith).

5. Two cities - earthly Jerusalem (under law and bondage) and heavenly Jerusalem (where believers will be, by grace through faith).

THE ALLEGORIZED ITEMS, v. 24-31[43]

Hagar/Ishmael

Sarah/Isaac

a. Represents the Sinaitic Covenant that produces bondage, v. 24

a. Represents the Grace-Promise Covenant that produces liberty, v 28, 31

LAW VERSUS GRACE-PROMISE

b. Represents Mount Sinai which corresponds to earthly Jerusalem and its inhabitants (the Jews) who are under bondage to the Sinaitic Law. v. 25

b. Represents the heavenly Jerusalem (the ideal) which produces children that are free from fleshly and cosmic controls, v. 26, 31

EARTHLY VERSUS HEAVENLY

c. Represents production of the flesh with its schemes and struggles relative to what is right, v. 23, 29

c. Represents production of the Spirit, v. 23, 29, note especially v. 29: Ishmael "born after (κατά - in accord with) the flesh" and Isaac "born after (κατά) the Spirit" the Holy Spirit!

- FLESH VERSUS SPIRIT

 - WORKS VERSUS FAITH

 

27.  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

This is quoted from Isaiah 54:1. Notice that this is immediately following Isaiah 53, which is a detailed prophecy of the Messiah and His vicarious and sacrificial payment that He made for our sins. This context seems to refer to Jerusalem in their unproductive time during exile and then bearing more children after their return to the land, or possibly looking forward to the future and their millennial blessings.

Commentators are divided on how Paul applies this to the Galatians. It might be in this allegory that Paul is likening the experience of Israel's barrenness and later productivity to that of Sarah, who initially was also barren but is now the mother of believers.

28.  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Believers in Jesus today are as Isaac was, the children of promise. This is a faith proposition (Rom. 4:17-22).

29.  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

"...After (or "according to") the flesh" (Also verse 23). Ishmael persecuted Isaac (cf. Gen. 21:9). This persecution continues in both of their descendants to this day. In the allegory we see this as the persecution of the legalistic Jews against the Christian believers. Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles received most of their persecution from the Jewish religious leaders.

30.  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

This is quoted from Genesis 21:10. What are we to do about all this? A quote of a historical event is used to admonish us; "Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." We are to reject man's way of legalism as shown in this allegory and as Galatians 2:20 exhorts, we are to "...live by the faith of the Son of God...."

31.  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

The summation of all this is that we should not be living under bondage of the law as is represented by Hagar/Mt. Sinai/Ishmael, because we are free.

The next verse, beginning in chapter 5, summarizes chapter 4 where the theme is bondage and freedom, and expands on how we should live with this marvelous freedom. We will now be getting into the "practical" portion of the epistle, or how to apply the doctrine that has been presented. I call it also the "fun" portion.

Since we are embarking on the last major section of the epistle, let us briefly recap what we have already seen.

Galatians is the defense of the Gospel of grace; not only for the grace message of salvation by grace through faith, but also for the liberty that we have in Christ for service. (Matt. 5:16). Grace has done what the Mosaic Law could not do. Romans defines the gospel and Galatians defends it.

The epistle is roughly divided into 3 sections,

Chapters 1 & 2 are Personal, They defend Paul's apostleship and authority.

Chapters 3 & 4 are Doctrinal. They defend the grace message.

Chapters 5 & 6 are Practical. We will see how to apply the message in our lives.

In chapters 3 &4 Paul presented 6 arguments mainly from OT Scripture to prove the purpose of the Mosaic Law;  primarily to show us our sinful condition and bring us to Christ in faith. His argument is to prove that salvation is by grace through faith apart from the works of the law (Eph. 2:8, 9) and that we as believers are to live the same way (Gal. 2:20; Col. 2:6).

 We have seen the arguments that Paul offered to illustrate the dismal failure of the law to accomplish what some people thought that it was intended to do (i.e. justify us and sanctify us). We have also seen what God intended the law to accomplish; to show us our need for a Savior and to bring us to faith in Christ. The law was not a failure, mankind was. Belief in Jesus is the only means of justification (Gal. 3:21; Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Paul, the writer of the epistle, has spent much care in presenting the purpose of the law and the fact that the believer is not under the law. For example the believer of this age is: dead to the law (Gal. 2:19); not under the law but under grace; (Rom. 6:14), loosed from the law; (Rom. 7:2) delivered from the law; (Rom.7:6). "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4).

In light of all this, we do not wish that the clarity of the freeness of eternal life and the liberty of the believer to confuse the need for the believer to live a Spirit-controlled life. Some have misnamed this doctrine as "cheap grace," a term which is not only pejorative, but is untrue. The payment that my Savior made for me to have eternal life was anything but cheap. A correct terminology would be "free grace." Jesus paid an awesome price so that you and I could be freely saved by grace through faith.

"Grace" for eternal salvation or for the believer's life is not a dangerous doctrine.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 14...Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11, 12, 14).

We will see in chapters 5 and 6 some very practical applications for victory, fruitfulness, and joy in our Christian lives. Let us again emphasize that even though we are eternally saved by faith alone in Christ alone and we as believers have great liberty in Christ (Gal. 5:1), we are exhorted to use this liberty in order to serve out of love (Gal. 5:13). This can only be done through the Holy Spirit's power and direction (Gal. 5:16; 22-25). The sixth chapter informs us of more practical considerations for effective Christian living. We will cover all this in more detail when we get there in our study, but we mention it again now just so that our clarity on the grace and faith issues does not cloud the understanding of our responsibilities as believers.

A good balance is presented in Titus 3:5, 8

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,... This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

The Judaizers did not try to get the Galatians to believe in Mohamed or Confucius. They promoted belief in Jesus PLUS the law. We see this same issue see prevalent in "Christian" churches today. Whenever we add "plus" to faith, besides it being unbiblical, where do we stop adding?

 

Overview of Chapter Five:

In chapter 5 we will see more how to apply the doctrine that has been presented in the previous chapters. This includes how to properly utilize this freedom that we have in Christ and practical doctrine concerning the battle the Christian has between his old and new nature. There is victory if we choose to employ God's principles.

We will see at least four contrasts[44] in chapters 5 and 6:

1. Liberty, not bondage 5:1-15.

2. The Spirit, not the flesh 5:16-26.

3. Others, not ourselves 6:1-10.

4. God's glory, not man's approval 6:11-18.



[1] Dr. M. R. DeHaan has some very helpful comments on the first few verses of chapter 4:

"The Holy Spirit came to reveal truth which the apostles were not ready to receive before Pentecost. This was reserved for the special revelation given to the apostles, Paul in particular. Before Christ came, revelation was in type and shadow. The Old Testament saints could not see what we see. The Old Testament saints since Moses were under the bondage of the law—the New Testament saint is in the liberty of the grace of God. In the Old Testament, the believer though an heir was an infant, while today we have received the standing as adult sons. This Paul asserts in Gal. 4:1-3.

The Old Testament saint was a babe, immature, not realizing the glory and fullness of his future inheritance, He was like a little child who, although an heir to millions, by virtue of his relationship to his father, is totally ignorant of the great wealth he is heir to, and would be made happier with a nickel than the promise of millions. A child cannot comprehend the meaning of a "million." From "Galatians" by Dr. M. R, DeHaan, Pages 138, 9. Zondervan.

[2] The comparable ceremony for a girl is called "bat mitzvah." These rituals are mentioned in the Jewish Talmud and Mishnah. The Talmud is a commentary on the Torah along with oral tradition. The Mishnah is a systematically arranged summary of the Torah categorized into topics.

[3] "Child" (νήπιος - nay'-pee-os), an infant, as in verse 3 also. The root of the word implies not being able to speak. The word is used 14 times in the NT; 6 times translated as "babes." The more common word for "child" or "children" in the NT is τέκνον (tek'-non), meaning "born one" or "offspring." It is used 99 times.

[4] A humorous story is told demonstrating the hopelessness and frustration of a man who decided to try to be good enough to be justified. He cut out drinking, he cut out smoking, he cut out partying, etc. Now he's cutting out paper dolls.

[5] "Tutor" ἐπίτροπος (ep-it'-rop-os), a commissioner, house manager. Used here, in Matt. 20:8 and Luke 8:3, both times translated as "steward."

[6] "Governor" οἰκονόμος (oy-kon-om'-os), a house manager or overseer. Used 9 other times and usually translated as "steward" and once as "chamberlain." This is the same word used for the "stewards" who were exhorted to faithful in 1 Cor. 4:2.

[7] This phrase also occurs in Col. 2:8 and 2:20.

[8] This verse continues with a number of important attributes of the promised Messiah; one of them being the enigmatic term, "The everlasting Father." This is the only place in the KJV where this phrase is found. There is only one true God, (Deut. 6:4) and Jesus, the Son of God the Father, also claims repeatedly to be God (John 10:30). Scripture also repeatedly differentiates between the Father and the Son (John 1:1, 2, 14; Mark 13:32; Php. 2:5-11). I can somewhat grasp how one God can manifest Himself in three forms (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit), but how can the Son of the Father also be called His own Father? Perhaps this is not what the verse is saying. I cannot be dogmatic on this but one possible explanation is offered by this partial quote from Barnes Commentary: "...The Chaldee renders this expression, ‘The man abiding forever.’ The Vulgate, ‘The Father of the future age.’ Lowth, ‘The Father of the everlasting age.’ Literally, it is the Father of eternity, (עד אב - awb ad)." "...The term Father is not applied to the Messiah here with any reference to the distinction in the divine nature, for that word is uniformly, in the Scriptures, applied to the first, not to the second person of the Trinity. But it is used in reference to durations, as a Hebraism involving high poetic beauty. He is not merely represented as everlasting, but he is introduced, by a strong figure, as even the Father of eternity, as if even everlasting duration owed itself to his paternity."

[9] "Redeem" Please see footnote and comments at Gal. 3:13.

[10] "Adoption of sons," is one word in the Greek, υἱοθεσία (hwee-oth-es-ee'-ah). Placing as a son. It is used elsewhere only in Rom. 8:15; 23; 9:4; Eph. 1:5.

[11] Ἀββᾶ (ab-bah' ) "Father" of Chaldee origin (אב - ab). "Barne's Notes" comments, "It is said in the Babylonian Gemara, a Jewish work, that it was not permitted slaves to use the title of Abba in addressing the master of the family to which they belonged. If so, then the language which Christians are here represented as using is the language of freemen, and denotes that they are not under the servitude of sin."

Why the repetition of the word in Greek? Some have suggested that it was just to clarify the term in both languages which were commonly understood. "Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament" comments, "It is possible that the repetition here and in Rom. 8:15 may be “a sort of affectionate fondness for the very term that Jesus himself used” (Burton) in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark14:36)."

[12] Paul changes from plural (ye) in verse 6 to singular (thou) in verse 7; perhaps to make the exhortation more personal in application.

[13] "Howbeit" ἀλλά (al-lah'), A commonly used Greek word found 637 times in the NT. It is usually translated as "but" (573 times), and "howbeit" only 9 times. "ἀλλά" is a stronger adversative and shows a greater contrast than the more frequently found "δέ" (deh) which is found 2556 times and is translated "but" 1237 times, "and" 934 times, "now" 166 times, and "then" 132 times.

[14] "...Ye did service" δουλεύω (dool-yoo'-o) Lit. "You were enslaved." This is the same Greek word which is translated as "to be in bondage" in verse 9. It is from δοῦλος (doo'-los), a bond servant.

[15] "Beggarly elements," Poor, as in a beggar, and rudiments or fundamentals. This phrase likely ties in with the "elements of the world" in verse 3.

[16] Paul makes some comments concerning idols also in 1 Cor. 8:4 and 1 Cor. 10:19, 20. In the latter passage we see the bold statement that the Gentiles' sacrifices were actually to demons.

[17] These comments are not intended in any way to denigrate the importance of the Jewish calendar or the commemorative and prophetical significance of the feasts of the LORD mentioned in Lev. 23. We maintain that believers of today, even though not under the Mosaic law (Rom. 6:14), could benefit greatly by knowing more of the feasts of the LORD and the Hebrew calendar. Our study in these two areas has helped us to "connect the dots" in some areas of Bible study which were previously lacking.  

[18] Many Christians choose not to celebrate Halloween due to its pagan and occultic origin and the influence that it wields. Have you considered that the two most revered holidays in contemporary "Christianity," Christmas and Easter, both have at least 3 things in common with each other: 1. We are not told to in the Bible to celebrate either one. We are told to celebrate Jesus' death (1 Cor. 11:24-26), not His birth. Concerning the resurrection; even though it was important and essential (1 Cor. 15), we are not told to celebrate the event. (The closest tie-in that I see to any requested celebration of the resurrection is the feast of firstfuits given to Israel, which in most years would not even fall on the correct day. i.e. 3 days after Passover) 2. Both of them are celebrated on the wrong date. Jesus was not born on December 25th. The shepherds were not out tending their sheep in the snow. He most likely was born sometime in the fall, probably during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth); about September/October. The resurrection was on Nisan 17. The modern "Easter" date was proclaimed by Constantine in the 4th century for the purpose of distancing his brand of "Christianity" from the Jews. This date is in conflict with the Hebrew calendar which God uses. 3. Both are of them are of Pagan origin. Easter is even named after a pagan Goddess whose followers claimed a heathen account of the death and resurrection of her son somewhat similar to that of our Savior. Christmas was chosen for the birth of Christ due to its closeness to the Winter Solstice which was a revered time of pagan reveling. Constantine apparently was attempting to achieve peace among his constituents of varied religious backgrounds. He simply merged pagan and Christian customs together in an effort to please everyone. God was not pleased. What Satan could not achieve in several hundred years of persecution of believers, he was able to more fully achieve through religious compromise with ungodly principles. Remember again, Romans 14:4-6, We have liberty in this area. We are not to judge each other on which holidays that you or I keep or do not keep. In reference to the pagan origin of much of today's "Christianity" please download and read the classic study "Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop) from http://www.freegraceresources.org/twobablonstoc.html .

[19] "Legalism" There are various and even conflicting definitions of legalism. This is one that I like. Legalism: The mental attitude which seeks to earn or merit the blessings of God by religious rituals or good works for either salvation (justification) or sanctification.

Legalism is big on external; doing or not doing certain things. God is primarily concerned about the inside. As He changes your inside, He then can transform also your outside. Legalism sometimes tends to result in people living a divided life because it is not the genuine article. True character is shown by what a person does when no one is around. Legalism also encourages pride and self-righteousness and often ends in despair; pride in people thinking that they are measuring up or despair in realizing that they really are not. Many times legalistic people have a hard time admitting that they are wrong because they so desperately want to be right. It frequently results in competition or a critical spirit; having to keep up with the Jones's religiously.

Being critical is different than being discerning. We are to recognize what is false or is sin so that we can know how to react or respond (1 Cor. 2:15; Rom. 16:17). Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). This is a worthy goal for us to seek also.

[20] Paul's philosophy concerning the law and his ministry to the Jews is explained in 1Cor. 9:19-23: "19. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21. To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

[21]"Galatians: God's Antidote to Legalism" by Ron Merryman, http://www.merrymanministries.com .

[22] "Through" διά (dee-ah') "Through," "because of" or "on account of."

[23] The critical text has "your" temptation instead of "my" temptation.

[24] "Temptation," πειρασμός (pi-ras-mos') The word could mean either a trial or testing, or solicitation to evil, depending upon the context.

[25] Paul healed others but did not heal his own infirmity even though he "besought the Lord thrice," (2 Cor. 12:7-10). That's bad news for some of the TV faith healers. They tell you that if you are sick that it is due to your lack of faith. It does not seem from the text that this was Paul's problem.

[26] "Truth," ἀληθεύω  (al-ayth-yoo'-o). To be true. Used only here and in Eph. 4:15; "speaking the truth in love."

[27] "Yea" is the same Greek word translated "howbeit" in verse 8, ἀλλά (al-lah'), which is usually translated "but."

[28] "Zealously affect" and "affect" are the same root word, ζηλόω - (dzay-lo'-o) as is also in verse 18. The word can mean to be zealous in either a good or a bad way.

[29] "They" is likely speaking about the legalistic false teachers who were troubling the Galatian believers. They are mentioned several times; in 1:7, "some that trouble you." They must have had a leader of some kind, in 5:7, "who" (singular) did hinder you?"   5:10, "he that troubleth you." 6:12, 13, "They" 4 times.

[30] I know of one Bible-teaching pastor who jokingly stated at the end of an admonitory type of sermon that, "If I didn't offend you this week, come back next week and I'll try again."    

[31] One of several churches that we know who abides by this principle is Pastor J.B. Bond at Stillwater Bible Church. Audio Bible studies may be downloaded for many important topics and most of the books of the Bible from  http://www.stillwaterbible.org/wordpress/resources/audio-library. My wife and I download the studies and put them on an inexpensive MP3 player. We frequently listen to them through a pair of computer speakers while we eat. We have listened to several hundred hours of these and recommend them highly. This pattern has been a tremendous blessing for us.

[32] In reference to how we spend our time, Eph. 5:15, 16 exhorts us that in our Christian "walk" that we should be "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (cf. Col. 4:5). One area of liberty which is a prevalent subject of enormous time consumption today is watching television. There is nothing inherently wrong with TV but like almost anything else, it has the potential to be misused. Many years ago our family chose to not even own a TV and to spend a certain consistent amount of time in God's Word. This has been a tremendous blessing to us. These hours add up over time.

 According to a survey that I read, the average American watches TV a little over 4 hours per day. That is 28 hours per week and 1460 hours per years. (At $10 per hour, that would be over $14,000). At that rate of hours, every 6 years, we have spent the equivalent of 1 full year, 24/7, day and night, watching television (8760 hours). What would happen in our lives and for God's glory if we disciplined ourselves to spend even half of that time in prayer and study of God's Word?

[33] "Little children" τεκνίον (tek-nee'-on) from a word meaning "born ones." It has less of an emphasis on "little" and more as "dear" children. It is used only as Jesus lovingly addressing His disciples (John 13:33), and as a loving Christian teacher addressing his spiritual children (Gal. 4:19; I John 2:1; 2:12; 2:28; 3:7; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21).

[34] Dr. Earl Radmacher has appropriately stated concerning baby believers who tend to stay spiritual babies when they should be growing and getting into the spiritual battle, that "They need to move from infancy to the infantry." (cf. Heb. 5:11-14; Eph. 6:12-20). He is also quoted as correctly saying that we as believers should "be training to be reigning."

[35] All believers will eventually be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29), but God wants us to be obedient in this life which will bring glory to Him here and bring rewards for us now and in the future (Matt. 6:19-21; Mark 10:29, 30).

[36] It appears that Isaac also was a "type" of Christ. Please see the chart in the comments about Galatians 3:9.

[37] "Allegory" ἀλληγορέω (al-lay-gor-eh'-o). The NKJV renders the phrase as "which things are symbolic." This "allegory" is not to be confused with what is frequently called "allegorical interpretation" of the Bible which was promoted by Origen and later by Augustine and which remains prevalent today. This is in contrast with the grammatical-historical method, which first determines a passage’s meaning by reference to its language, context, and background. Until we determine what the original author intended to convey to his original audience we have no basis for asking other questions, such as, “What does this mean to me today?”

The allegorical method of interpretation, to some degree, ignores the context but then is interpreted by the feelings of the interpreter. It seeks hidden meanings frequently at the expense of obvious literal truth. Since each allegorical interpreter may “see” or “feel” something different in the text, allegorical interpretations can never be verified by others working with the same text (unlike real biblical exegesis, where the work of generations of scholars verifies and re-verifies the conclusions already reached). The result of this fatal flaw in the system is that no allegorical interpretation can claim the authority of the original text. This is because the source of the interpretation is not the text itself but the mind of the interpreter who “sees” things in it.

[38] "Gendereth," γεννάω (ghen-nah'-o) Usually translated "begat" or "born," as it is in Galatians 4:23 and 29.

[39] "Agar," Greek spelling of Hagar, mother of Ishmael.

[40] "Mount Sinai in Arabia." This is one example of how we falsely assume some Bible-related claims to be true just because of consensus opinion. Most back-of-the-bible maps show Mt. Sinai to be in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The Bible says that it is in Arabia. Archeological research during the past 25 years has proven, at least to my satisfaction, that the site of Mt. Sinai (AKA Jabal al-Lawz), the rock at Horeb, the altar of the golden calf, Moses' sacrificial altar, and more are located in the Midian portion of Arabia about 30 miles east of the Gulf of Aqaba, the northeastern portion of the Red Sea. Some of these can be seen even today from Google Maps. The Arabian government has presently sealed the site off from public access although the mountain and the altar of the golden calf can be seen from through the fence.  Detailed information and video proof can be obtained from a DVD which we recommend entitled, "Discovered, The Exodus" at http://www.wyattmuseum.com/red-sea-crossing.htm or much information can be gained from the internet search engines and from www.youtube.com. If it is practical the DVD is available on loan from this writer.

[41] "Answereth" συστοιχέω (soos-toy-kheh'-o) Is used only here. It means "corresponds with," "represents" or Lit. "to walk in step with." 

 

[42] This comment is from the "Grace New Testament Commentary," "Galatians," by Bob Wilkin. If a person could only have one NT commentary, we would recommend this one. It is available for purchase from http://faithalone.org/bookstore/ntc.html. We believe that this website is among the best for scholarly and accurate grace related Bible studies. For shorter studies - http://faithalone.org/magazine.html and for more in-depth studies - http://faithalone.org/journal.html .

[43] This chart illustrating the Allegoration of the Historical Facts is from "Galatians: God's Antidote to Legalism" by Ron Merryman, http://www.merrymanministries.com or loan from this writer. Also, please see the booklet, "The Believer & The Mosaic Law" by the same author.

 

[44] This brief outline was gleaned from the excellent audio Galatians study by Dr. Chuck Missler, http://www.khouse.org/6640_cat/biblestudy/galatians.