Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bible Study Series - Galatians Chapter 4

Children of God

The final paragraph of Chapter 3 where we learn that we become Children of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we put on Christ. – Galatians 3:26-27

Chapter 4 is a continuation of this talk but begins this chapter with an analogy.

Galatians 4:1-7 “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

The heir or the one receiving the inheritance while he is still a child is no different to that of the servant even though he owns the whole estate.

Servants in those days have a very different meaning to that of a slave in modern times. Servants in Abraham’s time were delegated with specific duties such as looking after the affairs of the home, financial affairs, teaching the children and in Abraham's case with his son Isaac, had entrusted a servant to go find him a wife.

A child is considered the same as a servant, who must remain obedient to his father, and will not receive his inheritance till the appointed time. If the father dies whilst the child is still underage, the child would still be the owner of the inheritance but a trustee would be elected to manage the affairs, that is; until he reaches the specified age or the appointed time. The trustee would have authority over the legal owner until then.

This analogy that Paul has set forth is talking about the Israelites/Jews who are the child. They were given the promise of salvation; they were heirs but did not yet receive the blessings. They were under the authority of the Law, their Schoolmaster until the time set by our Heavenly Father.

Now that the appointed time has passed, God wants us to come out from bondage, from the authority of the Law; not to be put back into bondage or slavery by the Law. At the appointed time, God sent forth his son, Christ Jesus: who was made from a woman, of flesh, made under the Law; who is obligated to keep the old covenant.

God sent his son under the law, and fully human to redeem us, who are human and under the Law; so that we could also inherit the promise and receive the adoption of sons.

Jesus had to become like us, to be subject to all things we were subject to do, to fulfil all righteousness (Matthew 3:15); to do it all for us perfectly and claim the authority to do so: By Faith in him, that we receive his Spirit in our hearts, we are no longer servants, but sons of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. God is treating us as adults no longer the small child, trusting us to be led by the Spirit.

Galatians 4:8-11 “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 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.”

Howbeit then, when you did not know God, you worshipped by nature no god at all? Paul is addressing the Gentiles that when they did not know the one true God, they worshipped their false Gods and idols. But now, that they know God or rather they are now known by God; how can they turn back again to be in bondage of the Law?

Paul is telling the Gentiles that now that God knows them, how can they turn back to the works of the Law? How can they want to turn back to enslavement or bondage? The Jewish Judaizers wanted the Gentiles to get circumcised, and keep the Law in addition to having faith in Christ. The Gentiles would have come out of their Pagan ways and into another religion that was not solely based on faith.

Verse 10 indicates that the Gentiles were also trying to keep unnecessary Laws like the Sabbaths and Festivals, such as the Passover, Feast of Tabernacles and as such. Paul says ye observe, days, months and years; it is childish to observe such certain times: our relationship with God is based on Jesus Christ his son and the Holy Spirit, not through observing events by way of the calendar.

Verse 11 Pauls says he fears for them, for they are in effect giving up Grace in the Lord for enslavement again and that somehow; he had wasted his efforts on them.

Galatians 12-16 “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?”

V12 – Paul says, “Brethren I urge you to be as I am”. Paul is saying here to be like him, free from the law; not put into bondage again by the works of the Law. Paul then goes to say, “For I am as you are: you have not injured me at all”, Paul being a Jew who once devoutly kept the Law has now become like the Gentile Galatians; Free from the Law.

When Paul first went to Galatia (Acts 13:42-50 and Acts 14:19), He was persecuted by the Judaizers, but whole heartedly accepted by the non-Jewish Galatians when he started preaching the Gospel to them.
Paul’s remark about not hurting him at all was a reference to the first time he came unto them with the Gospel; they did not hurt him then, why would they want to reject him now?

V13. Paul talks about his “infirmity of the flesh” he was ill (Acts 13:13-14), he was currently in Perga, which was a city of Pamphylia. Due to Paul’s physical illness, which led him to Galatia to preach unto the people residing there.

V14. Paul tells the Galatians that even though he was physically sick, they had still received him and they did not despise him nor reject because of his infirmities; rather they accepted him as a messenger of God with open arms, likewise when they heard Paul preaching they accepted the message because they knew the Lord was speaking through Paul.

V15. When Paul first came to the Galatians, they were so grateful to receive the Gospel that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them over to him.

V16. Since the initial preaching of the Gospel to the Galatians, some of them no longer regarded Paul and his message. The Judaizers that crept into the church had corrupted the Galatians; they became confused, even so to view Paul as their enemy. Paul reminds them that he had never harmed them, but told them the truth of the Gospel.

The Parable of the Tares and the Wheat is a good example of what is happening here at the church in Galatia. The children of the Devil came in after Paul had preached the truth of the Gospel, and corrupted their views and perverting the Gospel. Paul is writing this letter to tell them that he wants them to know that he speaks the truth and wishes them to accept the truth.

Galatians 4:17-20 “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. 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.”

“They zealously affect you”, meaning the Judaizers, the false teachers are trying to win the Galatians over, but for no good. They want to alienate the Galatians from the truth, from the Apostles so that that the Galatians would show more enthusiasm to the false teachers.

V18. Paul says it is good to be zealous, so long as it is for a good thing; not just when Paul is around.

V19. Paul calls them my little children, this is an affectionate term used mainly by John. Paul here is trying to tell them that his pain in them is likening to that of a woman giving birth until Christ is formed in them. They are still spiritually immature and still on milk and honey after their conversion, they haven’t fully spiritually grown with Christ in them being tossed around the waves because of these false teachers.

V20. Paul wishes he were there standing amidst them so that he could change his tone; for he stands in doubt of them, he is perplexed, at wits end with them!

The Bondwoman and the Free Woman

Galatians 4:21-22 “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.”

V21. Paul here starts to shift his direction to the people who want to keep the Law; he says to if you desire to be under the Law, what does the law say?
V22. Paul recites the Old Testament scripture in Genesis chapter 16-21 of Abraham, for it is written, had two sons, one of the bondwoman, Hagar and the other a freewoman, Serai.

Galatians 4:23 “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.”

Ishmael was born of Hagar the bondwoman, a slave; born after the flesh. Isaac was born of Serai (Sarah) the freewoman, by the promise; the Spirit.

Galatians 4:24-25 “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.”

Paul speaks of this as an analogy or figurative speech: Ishmael and Isaac represent the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai gives birth to children under the Law, to be in Spiritual bondage.

V25. Hagar represents Mount Sinai, which is fitting because that is where the law was given to Moses (Exodus chapter 19). Notice how Paul reveals that Mount Sinai is located in Arabia? On the contrary to what modern society believes; that it is situated in Egypt.

Mount Sinai is compared to earthly Jerusalem; much more it is Judaism, which is in bondage to the Law.

Galatians 4:26-27 “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.”

V26. But Jerusalem which is above is the Heavenly Jerusalem, it is free from bondage and she is the mother of all; like her son Isaac, all believers are by the Promise!

For all believers are free from the Mosaic Law, from works, from bondage; we are free from trying to please God by things of the flesh.

V27. Paul makes reference to Isaiah here which says:

·         Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate
than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.”

This is a spiritual statement, not a literal statement. Hagar is the one who had a child but barren Sarah who grieved (before Isaac) would be the one to rejoice. God promised her countless descendants, not only physical Israel but Gentiles who would become spiritual children in the faith of the God of Israel.

Galatians 4:28-31 “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.31So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”

V28. Like I explained before, all believers just like Isaac are children of the Promise.

V29. Ishmael, who was born after the flesh, persecuted Isaac who was born after the Spirit.

·         Genesis 21:8-9 “And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.”

Paul adds, “even so it is now” meaning that those who still choose to seek salvation by works still persecute those who seek God’s divine grace through faith, by the promise.
You see, unbelievers will always persecute believers for this reason. Unbelievers include all who trust in their own works to gain favour from God.

If you are trusting in any work performed of your own accord to get to Heaven then you really do not have 100% faith or trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; who did it for all of you.

Christians are born of the Spirit of God; the flesh will always be at war with the Spirit: but we are not of the flesh.

Our Lord Jesus told us that we must be born of the Spirit, be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven. – John 3:3-8

The flesh will put you under bondage, the Spirit will free you.

V30. What does the scripture say! Paul cites from Genesis –

·         Genesis 21:10 “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”

Paul is advising the Galatians to cast out the Judaizers from within their ranks. Look, surely by now you Pauls message to the Galatians is quite clear, Justification by works does not mix with Justification by Faith, Period.

V31. Brothers and Sisters, my brethren and would be all believers, we are not children of the bondwoman, we are children of the freewoman; heirs to the promise.

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