Verse 1 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
Just as a child is not of age to be in control of his inheritance till he is of age, the Jews that did not believe in the Messiah, had not come into their inheritance. No one receives this inheritance that Paul is talking about without Jesus.
Verse 2 – but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
Verse 3 – Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
Verse 4 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Verse 5 – to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Verse 6 – And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
If a person does not follow Christ, they are under the bondage of sin. But once a person believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins and rose again, and then the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in our hearts. When this happens, we are adopted into God’s family making us sons and daughters of the Most High God – Jesus!
Verse 7 – Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Paul’s appeal to those in the churches in Galatia, was that a person who tries to be justified before God by works is a slave to the Mosaic law. But those who are justified by faith in Christ are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter with full rights as an heir to God’s infinite treasures.
Verse 8 – But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
Verse 9 – But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
Paul wanted to know after being able to worship God freely, how could they go back to placing themselves under the Jewish law of rites and ceremonies? Do Christians today do this? Some do. It depends on what kind of denomination they sit under. They begin to hold certain days as holy; they restrict themselves to wearing only certain clothes; they have rituals, thinking it pleases God.
Verse 10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years.
Verse 11 – I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
His fears were that they had no genuine Christian principles. If people ever fear that they have gotten off track, they need to go back to the word of God. Be careful who you listen to; don’t fall back into the routine of trying to keep man-made-laws and rituals and ceremonies to please others. Nothing we do will make us more holy in God’s sight. Believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.
Verse 12 – Brethren, I urge you to become as I am for I am as you are. You have not injured me at all.
Verse 13 – You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
Verse 14 – And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God even as Christ Jesus.
In verse 12, Paul says for them to imitate him in the matter that was discussed beforehand, which was about their ceremonies and rites as Jews. Then he tells them that they have done him “no personal wrong.”
Now in verse 13, he reminds them of past times, even in his weakness, they accepted him as he was.
“My trial,” meaning that Paul was afflicted with various calamities and infirmities, but they did not hinder them from receiving him.
Paul could have had malaria that he contacted in Asia Minor, or it very well could have been disfigurement from the stoning he had received in Acts 14:19. I’m sure he came out of that with some pretty bad scars.
Verse 15 – What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.
Keep in mind that Paul is still talking to them about their leaving Paul’s doctrine for a doctrine that took them backwards into legalism. He reminds them of the love and affection they showed him when he was with them.
Maybe that’s what we need to do when we feel a slipping away of a relationship with God, or anyone else for that matter. Go back to the love and affection we first showed and remember why.
Verse 16 – Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
Paul was saddened that the Galatians now viewed him as their enemy because he told them the truth. People haven’t changed much. They still have a tendency to get angry when corrected. We shouldn’t write off someone just because they challenge us to do better or correct a behavior that we have. We all need to check our attitudes at times.
Verse 17 – They (the false teachers) zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
Verse 18 – But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
The only way these false teachers could maintain the zeal of the Galatians was to isolate them from the other Gentile churches who were not trying to be justified by the works of the law.
Verse 19 – My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.
Paul had deep feelings for them as a parent would a child. His anxiety for them he compares to the deepest sufferings which human nature endures. This is how the greatest example of ministers of the gospel should feel in regard to their people. “Until Christ is formed in you ,” means: until Christ reigns wholly in your hearts; until you wholly embrace his doctrine and live by it.
Verse 20 – I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I have doubts about you.
Law and Grace Cannot Coexist
Verse 21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
Paul is about to give illustration to show the effect of being under bondage or servitude of the Jewish law, compared with the freedom which the gospel imparts.
Verse 22 – For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
Abraham had many sons but Paul’s talking here about the freewoman, Sarah and the bondwoman, Hagar. Hagar had Ishmael and Sarah had Isaac.
Verse 23 – But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
Ishmael was born according to flesh because Sarah and Abraham weren’t willing to wait on God to fulfill His promise that Abraham would have a son. So Sarah gave Abraham her bondwoman, slave, and they produced Ishmael. But the promise came when Sarah gave birth to Isaac when Sarah was in her 80’s and Abraham was in his 90’s. This one story is a very good reason to always wait on God and then we won’t have to deal with the consequences of our choices.
When 24 – which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – (The law was given on Mount Sinai.)
Verse 25 – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children –
Verse 26 – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
“The Jerusalem above,” refers to the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven. (Revelation 21:2)
Verse 27 – For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who do not travail! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”
Verse 28 – Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Verse 29 – But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, the Judaizers persecuted the true Christians.
Verse 30 – Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
Just as Sarah cast out Hagar and her son Ishmael, Paul wanted the Galatians to cast out the false teachers who were teaching new converts they had to be under the law.
Verse 31 – So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
In other words: Reject what the false teachers were saying about being justified by the works of the law, anything that placed them under bondage again.
It is the birthright of born-again Christians to think and feel and act like freemen and women, and they should not allow themselves to become the slaves of costumes, rites, and ceremonies, but should feel that they are adopted children of God.