About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Chapters 3:26 through 4

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ch. 3:26 - 4:7    ch. 4:8-20    ch. 4:21-31

Sons Of God (ch. 3:26 – 4:7)

Paul opens this section in verse 27 by saying that "you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus".  Paul is not only saying that you are sons of Abraham, but he is actually saying that those who trust Jesus are sons of God. He is making the point that it is by faith, not by works of the Law that we becomes sons of God. 

We should note the words "you are all sons of God".  The pronoun "you" is clearly in reference to the Galatian believers, who, for the most part were Gentiles.  Paul is saying that Gentiles are sons of God, just as much as Jews are sons of God, and the Gentiles don't even have to be circumcised or obeying the Law of Moses.  

Many Christians have the idea that we are "adopted sons of God" because of the use of the word "adoption" in our English Bibles. (Romans 8:15,23, 9:4, and Galatians 4:5)  I personally don't believe that we are "adopted sons of God" as we might think of it today.  This may be a minor point, but I believe we are real sons of God.  Paul clearly states here that we "are" sons of God.  We are not second class sons.  Obviously there is a difference between Jesus "the Son of  God" and us, mere "sons of God", but the Bible is clear.  We are all sons of God and brothers of Jesus.   

The Greek word "huiothesia" is translated as "adoption" in our English Bibles.  It is made up of two Greek words, "sons", and "to place".   When used in reference to people and God, "people have been placed in a state of being a son to their Father God".  In John 1:12, Jesus said that those who believe in Him have been given the right to become sons of God.  We have the same rights and privileges that Jesus has.  If you understand "adoption" in this light, then go ahead and use the word, but I'm not sure all understand "adoption" this way.

One last thing about adoption.  The thing that seals this adoption for the Christian is the fact that we have been given the Holy Spirit inside of us.  You might then say that we have the "seed" of the Father within us, making us real sons, not just adopted sons.      

In verse 27 Paul says that if you have been baptized into Christ, you have clothed yourself with him.   The word "clothes" in verse 27 denotes the putting on of something, or, the entering into something, or, the enveloping yourself into something.  Paul appears to be comparing water baptism to us putting on Jesus.  When we are water baptized, we are enveloped into the water.  In like fashion, when we rely on Jesus, receive His Spirit, we are enveloped into Jesus.   This tells me that we have a union with Jesus that is very real and very special. It's not a figment of our imagination.      

Paul is linking water baptism with being united with Christ, or being saved. Practically speaking, how and when are we united with Christ? We are united with Christ when we receive His Spirit. This happens at initial salvation, when we first rely on Jesus and receive His Spirit. It is my opinion that Paul is not saying that water baptism is the way in which we are united with Christ. What I believe he is saying is that he is simply comparing water baptism with receiving Jesus into our lives through the Holy Spirit. 

Catholic and Anglican doctrine equates salvation with baptism, and that is why Catholics believe one is saved when he gets baptized as a baby.  I certainly don't believe that.  

There is something else to think about with verse 27. The NIV, 1973 version, differs from later versions of the NIV.  The 1973 version says, "..all of you who were united with Christ in baptism have been clothed with Christ". This suggests as I have said, that it is baptism that "unites" us with Christ, or gets us saved. The newer NIV translations say, "for all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ". The newer translations omit the word "unite". This solves the problem of baptism as a good work uniting us with Christ. It suggests that when we are baptized, we are clothed with Christ.

My RSV Interlinear Greek – English New Testament says, "for as many as - into – Christ – you were – baptized – Christ – you put on" There is no Greek word for "unite" in this Greek manuscript. Therefore the newer NIV translation seems to be more accurate. This too may solve the problem, since the Greek does not suggest we are "united" with Jesus because of baptism. It says we have put on Christ because of baptism. There is a difference.

Some commentators feel that Paul is not talking about water baptism here, but the baptism in the Holy Spirit that they say happens some time after initial salvation.  I personally don't believe in such a second work of grace.  I don't think Paul is talking about what some call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit here.  Others who do not believe in a second work of Grace called the Baptism in the Spirit still believe this is speaking of the Baptism in the Spirit, although they believe the Baptism in the Spirit takes place at initial salvation.  That's how I believe.    

Verse 28 is a well known verse.  It says that in Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.  This is important to the context of Paul's letter.  He is speaking of Jewish issues, of obeying the Law of Moses. He is speaking to people who are thinking about reverting back to Judaism, and making Gentile Christians become Jews.  Paul says that when it comes to New Testament salvation and Jesus, Jew and Gentile are alike.  There is no difference in God's eyes.  He says the same about slaves and free men, along with women and men.  Everybody is the same before God when it comes to salvation.   

All that being said, when it comes to prophetic history, there is still a distinction between Jew  and Gentile.  I elaborated on this in the last chapter.  You can refer to my notes there for further clarification.           

Paul says a very interesting thing in verse 29. He says, "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed". Once again note the word "seed" is singular. Remember back in verse 18 Paul told us that the Seed is Jesus. Now he says that the seed are those who believe in Jesus. What verse is right? What is Paul saying? Is this doubletalk? No. The point is simple. Jesus indeed is the Seed, but if we are united with Him by His Spirit and are one with Him, then we have become the seed as well. Therefore we are in Christ, and are Abraham seed along with Jesus. We also are heirs of the promises God gave to Abraham.

The word "seed" is still singular because "we are in Christ".  Think of it this way.  If something is inside of something else, then all the things inside of that something else becomes one with that thing.  So there is still one thing.  All believers are inside of Jesus in one sense of the word, therefore there is still only one seed, the seed Jesus.  That being said, there is a hint of the word "seed" being plural here.  You can't get around that.  Therefore, we cannot discount the plural nature of the word "seed" as Replacement Theology does.

Another possible way of looking at the word "seed" here is that as we becomes sons of God, like Jesus is  the Son of God, so we become the seed, even as Jesus is the seed.  In this sense of the word, seed is plural, and really, in English seed can be either singular or plural.  The same is true with the Hebrew word "zera" that is translated as "seed" or as "offspring" in our English Bibles.  Therefore, it's the context of how "zera" is used that determines whether or not we understand "zera" to be singular or plural.  This is where the controversy arises to whom the "zera", or "see" refers to, Jesus, Israel, or both.       

Paul goes on to say that if we are the seed, then we are heirs.  In this instance, seed, in the English is singular, while heirs is plural.  This tells me that in this case, seed then can be seen as plural, meaning, all those who have faith in Jesus.  What is an heir? An heir is someone who inherits something because he is a family member. If a father dies and leaves all that he has to his son, the son is considered an heir.  By trusting Jesus we also become heirs and are in receipt of the promise.  I believe in context, the word "promise tells me that Paul is talking about the Abrahamic Covenant.  The word "promise" all the way through this section has been in reference to the Abrahamic Covenant, so it would not be any different here.

This is yet another verse that those who believe in Replacement Theology use. Both Jew and Gentile are one in Christ, so there is no such thing as a Jew any more, at least in the sight of God, so Replacement Theologians say.  I distinguish between the fact that concerning salvation, there is neither Jew nor Gentile.  I also maintain though that concerning prophetic history, there is still a distinction between Jew and Gentile.  

In verses 1 and 2 of chapter 4 Paul compares a minor son, with a slave. That is, there is no difference between an under-aged son and a slave. They both have someone looking after them.  In traditional Jewish culture, a child under the age of 12 or 13 was raised by a designated person, normally a slave,.  In Greek and Roman culture a child also was raised by a slave  called a guardian up to the age of about 17.  From age 17 to 25, the child was cared for by a trustee.  At age 25, or an age stated by the father,  the child became an official son.  In all three cultures, the minor child was not considered a son, was not considered and heir of the father's estate.  They were considered to be slaves.  This is key to what Paul will say in this section.

The Galatian church consisted of both Jews and Gentiles, although there were probably more Gentiles than Jews.  So what Paul was saying could be understood by both ethnic peoples. Paul says that Israel in Old Testament times was like young sons. They needed someone to look after them until they could receive their father’s inheritance. That someone was the Law. When the time came, when the son grew up, he did not need someone to look after him any longer. When the time came for Jesus to be born of a woman, Israel grew up, no longer needing the Law. They could receive God’s promise of salvation, including receiving His Spirit.

Simply put, Old Testament Israel was a child, similar to minor children, needing a guardian.  New Testament Israel are grown up sons, needing no guardian, but ready to receive the inheritance promised.  The inheritance is found in Jesus.  Children are under the Law.  Sons are free from the Law.  The sad fact is that Israel, for the most part, did not want their inheritance. 

Paul compares the minor child to a slave because in both the Jewish and the Roman culture, practically speaking, they were slaves.  Yes, they were biological children, and yes, they would inherit their father's estate, but as long as they were young, they were treated as a slave.  Again, someone other than the parents would have complete charge over the child, pretty well every moment of the day, making them a practical slave themselves.  

Verse 2 explains further what I just said.  Paul states that as long as a child is young he is subject to both guardians and trustees.  Because of the words "guardian" and "trustees", many scholars suggest that Paul had the Roman culture in mind here, not necessarily the Jewish culture.  Jewish children reached adulthood earlier than Roman culture.  Roman culture had a two step path to adulthood.  As I said earlier, a guardian would raise the child to about age 17, then a trustee from age 17 to age 25, or, whatever age the father would stipulate.

The words "set time" are important as we will see in the next verse.  I am convinced, that as both the Jews and the Romans had set times for children to become adults, so God has set times for everything He does.  You see this all the way through Scripture.  Simply put, God has a time table of events.

In verse 3 Paul says that when we were children we were enslaved by the basic principles of the world".  We need to understand who the word "we" refers to here.  Paul is speaking to the Galatian Christians that were composed of mostly Gentiles, but also Jews.  This is important in understanding what Paul is saying in this verse when he speaks of the "basic principles of this world".  The words "basic principles" is translated from the Greek word "stoicheion".  "Stoiceion" means "any first thing from which other things are derived".   The Roman Gentile society was built on paganism that had been around for centuries.  The worship of angels and planets was basic or fundamental to their society.  Some suggest that this is what Paul is speaking of here. That is, the Gentile Christians were once enslaved to their societal traditions, but now it's time to grow up and move on from these traditions.  The same would apply to the Jews.  They should grow up and move away from their societal traditions as well.   Paul speaks more of these things in Colossians 2. You might want to read that chapter.     

Verse 4 states that "when the time had fully come, God sent His Son".  I said this a couple paragraphs back, but God does have a time table.  When the time table stated it was time for God to send His Son to the earth, He did just that.  

This verse tells us a few things about Jesus, God's son.  It tells us that He existed prior to being born into humanity.  The first few verses of the gospel of John elaborates on this.  This also speaks to the Deity of Christ.  Christ being God is fundamental to the Christian.  1 John 4:3 clearly states that if you don't believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, then you are of the anti-Christ.  When John speaks of Jesus coming in the flesh, he is saying the Jesus existed prior to Him being born into humanity.            

In verse 4 Paul says that God sent His Son.  Then he says two more things.  God's Son was born of a woman, meaning, although the Son existed prior to His birth, and we know from other passages that God and Jesus are one, He was completely human.  Understanding the humanity of Jesus is fundamental to the Christian faith.

Paul goes on to say in verse  for that the Son was born under law.  There are two ways to think about the Son being born under law.  Because the word "the" does not precede "law" some suggest that this law is in reference to the "basic principles of the world" mentioned in verse 3, and I would not be surprised if this is what Paul is speaking about.  Jesus was born like any other human being, brought up in the world like other humans, and therefore would live under the world systems.  Others suggest that "law" means "the Law of Moses", even though the word "the" is not found in the text.  Paul might not be speaking of the Law of Moses here, but Jesus did in fact live under the Law of Moses.  There is no doubt about that.        

Jesus being under the Law, and obeying the Law perfectly is important to our salvation, and especially so when it concerns righteousness.  God views us as righteous, even when we aren't righteous, because Jesus lived the righteousness demanded by the Law on our behalf.  Again, we are in Christ, and Christ lived the Law perfectly, and since He did that, we lived it perfectly too because we are inside of Christ.   

In verse 5 Paul says that Jesus came in order to "redeem" those under law.  Again, the text does not say "under the Law".  If law refers to the basic principles of the world, then Jesus has redeemed us so we would not have to live under and be influenced by the traditions of men.  If this means the Law of Moses, then Jesus redeemed us so that we don't have to be under the Law of Moses.  Whatever the case, both are equally valid as Biblical thinking.

The word "redeem" means "to purchase".  Jesus purchased us from God, not the devil. God was ready to destroy us all because of sin. Jesus stepped in and paid the price so God would save us. 

Verse 5 continues by saying the reason why Jesus redeemed us from God the Father.  It is so that we might have to full right of being sons of God.  This is yet another aspect of the cross of Christ. The cross is more than about forgiveness and heaven.  The cross is a multi-faceted thing.  Jesus made it possible for us to be "sons of God, just as He is the Son of God.  There is clearly a distinction between who Jesus is and who we are, or will be, but, when it comes to sonship, we who have given our lives to Jesus in faith, are just as much sons of God as Jesus Himself is.    

Paul in his logic, is in the midst of a progression in these verses.  He first said that Jesus redeemed us so that we could becomes sons of God.  He doesn't stop there. In verse 6 Paul says that since we have become God's sons, God has sent "the Spirit of His Son into our hearts."  Note here that the Spirit of God is called the "Spirit of His Son", or, "the Spirit of Jesus".  The Holy Spirit is called many things in the New Testament.  He is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus.  Christians too often do not recognize the Holy Spirit is actually Jesus.

Note also in verse 5 that the Holy Spirit enables us to call God our Father.  We see the word "abba" here.  It is a Greek word that suggests an affectionate relationship we have with God.  This word is used only in two other places in the New Testament.  When Jesus was in the garden, pleading with Father to release Him from the cross, the word Father is "abba".  In Romans 8 Paul says the Holy Spirit enables us to call God our "abba", the same point he makes here.  Beyond this three cases, the word "abba" cannot be found in the Bible.  I mention this because some Bible teachers go overboard on this point.  They say the modern word for "abba" is daddy. Thus we can call God "daddy".  I'd just suggest that if you call God "daddy", which I don't, just remember , the same God who you call "daddy" must be feared because He is a consuming fire.  My point is simple.  We do have an affectionate relationship with God the Father, or at least we should, but that should never mean we lose our reverence, respect, and fear for Him. 

Those who say we should call God our Father daddy may miss one point here in this verse.  It is the Holy Spirit that calls God "Abba", or, "daddy", not us.  Also, this is not a flippant use of the word "abba".  The Spirit "calls out", which speaks of intercession.  The word "abba" is also used in Romans 8:15, where Paul says that the Holy Spirit enables us "to cry out".   Again, this is not a flippant use of "Abba".  The only other place in the Bible where "Abba" is seen is in Mark 14:36 where Jesus calls His Father "Abba" as He cries out to Him.  The use of the word "Abba" in all three instances concerns crying, intercession, or one who is in pain.  That tells me that we should be careful how we use that word.  That's why I don't use the word "Abba" in my vocabulary.  

In verse 7 Paul gives yet another reason why we have become sons, and that is so we can be heirs. Paul's use of the word "heirs" here in Galatians is in reference to the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Both Jew and Gentiles, through Jesus, the Seed, can, have, and will inherit the appropriate promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.    

Paul’s Concern For The Galatians (ch. 4:8 – 20)

In verse 8 Paul continues to direct his thoughts to the Gentile Christians.  The reason why I say this is due to the phrase, "you were slaves to those who by nature were not gods".  I need to remind you at this point that there were more Gentile believers in Galatians than Jewish believers, although there were Jewish believers.  These Gentiles had a background of pagan worship of multiple gods.  Paul is saying that the gods they used to worship are not real gods.  These people would have known this after meeting Jesus.  Paul is simply saying this to build on a point he is making. I'll get to that point later.

The word "know' in verse 8 in Greek is "eido".  "Eido" is to know something as a fact, something that you have learned. There is another Greek word that is translated into English and that is "ginosko", which means, "to know experientially".  With the word "ginosko" there is the idea of knowing by relationship where there is some kind of intimacy.  These people knew of the pagan religious life they were once a part of.  It was all a matter of facts and following certain doctrinal and theological positions. 

Concerning the word "know" in verse 8, Paul says that in former days they did not know God.  They didn't even know the facts about the real God.  All they knew was a false form of worship, which these Galatian Christians would agree to. 

Note the word "slaves" in verse 8.  These Galatians didn't just know about their pagan rituals, they were slaves of the ritual.  There was a certain bondage associated with heir pagan religion.  Bondage is one of the main points in this letter, and in this particular case, the bondage is to pagan religious rituals.

These Gentile Christians were not enslaved by the Law prior to their salvation, but enslaved by false gods and the principles they believed in.  But now these people "know God", that is the true God as verse 9 states.  The word know in this verse is translated from the Greek word "ginosko".  That means that prior to their salvation, these Gentiles knew nothing about God, not one simple fact, but now. They know him, and not only through facts about Him.  They know Him "experientially" since that is what the Greek word "ginosko" means.  There is a major difference between knowing about God and knowing God.  That is a real concern to me in the modern church.  Many so-called Christians don't see the difference between knowing about God and knowing Him experientially.

In verse 9 Paul seems to stop abruptly when he inserts the phrase "but rather are known by God".  Paul was probably making the point that God knows the Galatian Christians experientially more than they know God.  I think this is a key concept.  Many Christians claim to know God, as in, knowing Him experientially, as in, who He is, or, as in, knowing God as one would know his wife, or, her husband.  I claim that we don't know God as well as we think we do, but He sure knows us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  So Paul was simply making the point that even though the Galatian Christians do know God to a degree, they don't know Him as well as they could or should.    

In verse 9 Paul can’t understand that once meeting the God of the universe, once being free from pagan bondage, why would these people want to contemplate entering a different kind of bondage.  This is an extremely key point here and many of us miss it.  The reason why I reminded you that Paul is speaking about the former life of Gentile Christians is key to understanding this verse. 

These Gentile believers were enslaved by paganism.  Now they want to be enslaved again, but not by paganism, but by Judaism and the Law of Moses.  Think about this for a minute.  Paul is comparing paganism to obedience to the Law of Moses in terms of being in bondage.  That would be blasphemy to a Jew, and this is why Jewish Christians had so much trouble with Paul.  These are extremely powerful words written by Paul.  No wonder he was in so much trouble. 

The key thing to understand here is that when Paul speaks of "returning back to weak and miserable principles" in verse 9, he is not talking about returning to paganism.  The context of the whole book of Galatians tells us the "weak and miserable principles" in verse 9 is the Law of Moses.    

In verse 9 Paul asks, "do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again"?  The word "them" refers to the "weak and miserable principles", which in turn refers to the Law of Moses.   Both Jews and Gentiles were slaves and only Jesus could set both free from their own particular brand of slavery.  

In verse 10 Paul gives some examples of how these people are beginning to revert back to their old ways, which in ones sense wasn't their old ways, but the Jews old ways.  They are observing special days, weeks, and years. IN fact, they were obeying and being enslaved by the Law of Moses.  The language Paul is using now is Hebrew language.  The Law of Moses provided for such special days, weeks, and years. 

In verse 11 Paul says, "I fear for you that somehow I have wasted my effort on you".  Do you see Paul’s feelings coming through here?  He had spent much time with these people, and it was looking like his time might be wasted.  Paul was always concerned about not wasting time.  He said, "redeem the time for the days are evil "in Ephesians 5:16.

I know Paul was speaking about wasting his efforts in this verse but he was also fearing for the salvation of these Galatian Christians.  We will see this in a few verses down the line.  Paul was a man of strong feelings.  If you read his second letter to the Corinthians you will quickly see how emotional he gets.  His feelings really come through in that letter.  

In verse 12 Paul says, "I plead with you, become like me, for I became like you…"   We must take note of the word "plead" here.  Paul is expressing great passion as he always does.  This letter is far more than a teaching lesson.  It is a personal plea by Paul for these people to stop and think about what they are doing.  At this point, Paul steps back a bit from theological issues and gets personal.  We cannot leave the personal out of Bible teaching, but many do.  Paul is a great teacher, partly because he does a good job at combining doctrinal truth with heart felt passion and feeling.  

Note the word brother in verse 12.  This is yet another way for Paul to be personal with these people.  He calls them brothers, and by so doing, he still acknowledges that they are true brothers in Christ.  They have not yet gone too far in this false doctrine.

Concerning the words "become like me because I became like you", Paul was a Jew, but in one sense of the word, he became like a Gentile.  He left Judaism behind, which included the Law of Moses, and in that sense Paul became like a Gentile.  As strange as it sounds, Paul is actually saying that these Gentiles should become like Gentiles, that is, Christian Gentiles.  

Also in verse 12 Paul says, "you have done me know wrong".  There is debate to what this exactly means.  I think we should just take it at face value.  These Galatian Christians had not done any harm to Paul.  He will explain what he means.  You might think that the thought of leaving the faith which really bothers Paul would be considered as being done wrong by Paul, but that's not what he is talking about here.  He is talking about in days past they have not done him wrong.   

In verse 13 Paul said that he actually got to preach the gospel to these people because of some kind of illness he had. This is interesting, in light of some present day teaching that states that we can be free from illness. Paul seemed very sick. His sickness was a "trial" to these people. They must have had to look after him for a period of time. The Galatians did not seem to be bothered by this. Even though it was a trial for them, they took pleasure in helping Paul. They welcomed Paul as if he was Jesus Himself. These people had a great love for Paul. It is thus clear that even the best of Christians can get sick, and I view Paul as the best Christian who ever lived.  The Hyper-faith movement is wrong when they say we don't have to be sick. 

It appears that Paul got sick and was unable to continue on his journey.  He had to stay in Galatia.  Therefore, because he was sick, that gave him the time to preach the gospel to these people where if he wasn't sick, it appears he would not have stayed in this part of the country.

In verse 14 we see that the Galatians did not treat Paul with scorn and contempt.  Certain diseases, like leprosy carried severe social consequences.  People did scorn those with leprosy. They stayed away from them and treated them as second class citizens.  I am not saying that Paul had leprosy, but whatever he had seemed to have carried some social consequence.  Instead of shying away from Paul, these people treated him like an angel, or even like Jesus Himself.  These people had great respect for Paul and he was counting on this respect to help convince them of the error of their ways. It's hard to believe that those who had such great love and respect for Paul would now be leaving what he taught them.  The false teachers must have been very persuasive.

Scholars over the years have tried to figure out what Paul's illness was.  Many believe it had something to do with his eyes.  What Paul says in verse 15 gives some support to this thinking.  He said that if these people could have, they would have torn out their eyes to give to Paul, suggesting Paul had an eye problem.  Another allusion to eye problems can be seen in chapter, 6 verse 11, where Paul points out that he has written with "large letters".   There is historic evidence that around this time in the Roman Empire there was a disease called "oriental ophthelmai". This illness effect the eyes and caused them to protrude out from the eye sockets.  This might be the reason why Paul says that his illness could have produced scorn or contempt.  It would not have been a pleasant sight for people to look at. 

If you remember, in my introduction, I gave what many Bible teachers suggest is a description of what Paul looked like.  Part of that description was that he had eyes that protruded out of his eye sockets.  The above mentioned disease causes this to happen, so the portrayal of Paul in my introduction might well be correct.

In verse 15 the words "torn out", as in, "torn out your eyes", is yet another passionate word that Paul uses.   From the Greek, one could use the words "dug out", or, "gouged out".  That doesn't paint a  pretty picture, but Paul isn't really trying to soften over what he is saying.  He is using very descriptive language to make his point in the attempt of winning the Galatian Christians back to him and the gospel of Jesus.  

The Jewish population would have thought of Paul's illness as being God's judgment against him, and in the present situation, that's probably what they thought.  It would have made a good excuse for them to try to discredit Paul and his ministry.  Of course that thinking is not correct.  Paul was in God's will.  His sickness was clearly God's will.  Sickness can be God's will, even in our lives today, despite what hyper-faith teachers teach.  

In verse 15 Paul asks, "what has happened to your joy".  Paul would not have asked this question if they had not lost a good measure of joy. I would suggest that if you were leaving the freedom found in Jesus and reverting to rules and regulations, you would certainly lose a good measure of joy.  Legalism always dampens joy.  Yet, we need to remember, freedom from law doesn't mean a license to sin, because when Christians sin, they lose there joy as well.     

Verse 16 says, "have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth".  In Paul's mind, these brothers, as he calls them, have become his enemy.  This is in contrast to what he has just said in the prior verse.  Those who would have gouged their very eyes out for Paul have now become his enemy, and I would say, the enemy of Christ as well.  You can see by these words that the rebellion that Paul speaks of in chapter 1, verse 6, is a rebellion against Paul.  A great divide has arisen between Paul and the Galatian Christians.  This has devastated Paul.       

In verse 17 Paul speaks of the motives of the false teachers who are trying to win the Galatians over to them.  They want to do this in order to bring a separation between Paul and his company and themselves.  Then the false teachers will have their own followers.  They simply wanted a following of people.  Paul really didn't care about a following of people.  He cared that these Galatians would follow Jesus.  Paul could care less about himself and being popular.  He cared most about Jesus and these Galatians.  More Christian leaders today need to be like Paul.  We have too many who care more about a following and their bank account than for Jesus and God's people.    

I suggest that the false teachers were attempting to build what we would call a cult.  When people emphasize obeying rules, whether the Law of Moses, or their own home made rules, what they are doing is in fact building a following.  They are dictating to people's lives.  An over-emphasis on rules pretty well always leads to cultishness.    

In verse 18 Paul commends these people for their zealousness.  That is a good character trait.  Paul was pretty zealous himself, but zealousness must be directed in the right way.  The Law was not the right way.  Jesus was the right way.  Being zealous is good, but clinging to the truth is more important than being zealous. 

In verse 18 Paul says it is "fine to be zealous".  The reason why he says this is because in the last verse he pointed out the zealous behaviour of the false teachers. There is nothing wrong with being zealous as long as it is directed in the right direction, and for the Galatians, that wasn't the case.  So, you can't judge a man's ministry by his zeal.  You also cannot judge a man's teaching by his zeal.  All the zeal in the world is good for nothing if the ministry and teaching of a man doesn’t fall in line with the Bible. 

In verse 18 we see that Paul says that being zealous is good, but these people should be zealous when he isn't around.  This tells us something about the Galatians.  It appears that when Paul was with them they were full of zeal, but after he left, there zeal slackened off.  This is human tendency, especially if you want to impress an important person.  Express the zeal when the important person is with you, but slack off when he leaves.  This might well be one fault of these people that help lead them astray into serious false teaching.    

In verse 19 Paul says, "my dear children, for whom I am in pains of child birth…" See the pain in Paul’s life here. He equates this pain to a woman giving birth to a baby. Women can certainly relate to what Paul is trying to portray here. This was no small matter for Paul.

Paul uses the word "pain" here.  Paul had given himself to these people, as he always did with those he led to Jesus or helped along the way.  The move towards the Law of Moses and away from Jesus caused Paul great pain.  If you want to learn more about Paul's pain, read the second letter he wrote to the Corinthians, because in that letter you will see Paul's emotions boiling over.  You could easily say that Paul was in "great anguish".  At times, Paul was not a happy man.  He was weighed down with caring for God's people.  I wonder how many Christian leaders feel the same pain that Paul felt.  Not many I suppose. There is something here for every pastor to learn.   

Notice the words "my children".  Up to this point Paul was calling the Galatian Christians "brothers", but here, he calls them "my children".  This is probably because of what he is saying in this verse.  He compares what he is going through with birth pains that a woman has when giving birth.  Paul gave birth to many of these people in a spiritual sense.  He led many of them to the Lord.  He birthed them into the Kingdom of God.  He feels responsible for them.  He feels like a mother.  He needs to do the best he can in caring for these believers, and now, when they are going astray, his heart aches for them, just as a mother's heart aches when she sees her teenage son or daughter go astray.  Any mother, or even father, who has shed tears over their teenage son or daughter will know a bit how Paul is now feeling. 

Note also the word "again" in verse 19.  This tells me that he has already gone through this with these people before. This would be when they first came to Jesus.  The battle with the world these people were used to would have been a fight to be fought when they first came to the Lord.  Their entrenchment in paganism probably took a while to over come, and Paul most likely felt the pain back in those days.

In verse 19 Paul says the words, "until Christ is formed in you".  The Greek "morphoo" is translated as "formed" in this verse.  We derive our English word "metamorphosis" from this Greek word. This tells you something to what this word means.  We use the word "metamorphosis" in relation to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.  There is a complete transformation from one existence into another.  This is what Paul is speaking of here.  These Galatians were once pagan sinners, far away from God.  They came to Jesus,  received His Spirit, and began transformation from being a pagan to being like Jesus.  We talked about this in the first part of chapter 3.  This transformation has now been interrupted.  By reverting to the Law of Moses, they would be leaving Jesus, and thus the transformation into Jesus likeness would end.

Concerning Christian metamorphosis, the final stage of our transformation will take place at the return of Jesus when our bodies will become like Jesus' present day heavenly body.  The problem I see with present day "hyper-faith" people is that they want to bring that which is only found in the next life into this present life, and that's not Scriptural.   

This tells us one very important thing.  When we come to Jesus, receive His Spirit, it is in order for the transformation of being a sinner into the likeness of Jesus to take place.  Our life as a Christian is not about just getting saved and waiting for heaven.  It is expected of us that our lives will be transformed, day by day, to be more like Jesus, but we cannot be transformed simply by following laws, whether the Law of Moses or man made traditional Christian laws.  

There is much talk in Christian circles today about so-called "positive thinking" as a means to make one's self better.  This is no different than the Galatians adopting the Law of Moses to live by.  Biblical transformation comes only one way, and that is through Jesus, via the Holy Spirit and the living Word of God. Besides that, there is no real transformation.       

In verse 20 Paul closes this section by saying, "...I am perplexed about you".  The Greek word "aporeo" is the word translated as "perplexed" in the NIV. the KJV says, "I stand in doubt of you. "Aporeo" literally means, "to be without a way".  To me Paul was beside himself.  He just couldn’t figure these people out. Why would they want to give back their inheritance? Why would they even think of living by the Law of Moses, especially when they never lived that way before. If you had inherited one million dollars from your father and put it in your bank account, that would surely make you happy. Then after having all that money for a while you decide that you don’t want it any longer, so you took all the money out of the bank and burned it. Now that doesn’t make any sense does it. This is exactly what the Galatians were doing with their inheritance. They were throwing away their inheritance.

Paul wished that he could be with these people "so he could change his tone'.   "Changing his tone" means the way he is talking.  He thought that just maybe, if he could be their he could persuade these Galatian Christians to stop heading towards living by law.  If he could be with them, and convince them of the error of their way, he'd be so happy, and his tone of voice and speech would be so much different.  I often wonder how Paul would feel if he had phone service, email, and all the other high tech things we have today.  I can see him constantly writing emails and making phone calls.  I'm sure he would be carrying his laptop everywhere.   

 

Hagar And Sarah (ch. 4:21 – 31)

 

You should note in this section that Paul takes a literal historical event and gives it a present day spiritual meaning. We can only conclude that God Himself has given Paul the right to do this.  I suggest that we as normal Christians should not allegorize, and if we do, we must clarify that we are in fact allegorizing with the possibility of being wrong.  If all of us used allegory, we would have thousands of interpretations of Old Testament events.  Paul can allegorize, but I question if we can.  I at least say that we should be extremely careful in this matter.  We need to realize that Paul was an Apostle above all other apostles. For those who believe in modern day apostles, you have to admit that any modern day apostle is not on the same level as Paul. The modern day apostle takes what Paul has already said and repeats it to others. He does not say anything new. He does not preach his own gospel but Paul’s gospel, which is in fact Jesus’ gospel.

What Paul will do in this section is what is known as "allegorizing".   Allegorizing as it pertains to the Bible is to take an historical event and make it mean more than just an historical event.  Another way to say it is to take an historical event and spiritualize it.  Good hermeneutics states that we should first understand historical events to be historical events without applying any secondary meaning to it.  Evangelical preachers have allegorized Old Testament passages for decades, and I've always had problems with this.  If you take an historical event and then preach that it "really means this", then who is to say that you are right or wrong.  We should do our best to understand the Bible as it was written by the particular writers who wrote it. To interpret what the original writers wrote and make it mean something else is dangerous.  Just because Paul did this, doesn't mean we can.          

In verse 21 Paul is suggesting that these people who want to revert back to the Law really don't understand what the Law of Moses and the Old Testament is all about.  I would say the same for most Christians today.  How New Testament Christians should view the Old Testament is one of the most misunderstood things in Christian circles today.  Many say they are New Testament Christians, but in reality, they live more like Old Testament Jews than New Testament Christians.   

Paul asks in verse 21, "are you not aware what the Law says"?   He answers this question in verse 22 and 23 by relating an historical event found in the book of Genesis.   Paul speaks of Abraham having  two sons, one son (Ishmael) born from a slave woman named Hagar, and another son (Isaac) born of a free woman named Sarah, who was Abraham’s wife.

The first thing we should note write away concerns Paul's thinking to what books of the Old Testament consisted of the Law of Moses.  They weren't just Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  The rabbis, Paul included, understood Genesis was part of the Law of Moses. This is often called the Pentateuch by Christians and the Torah by Jews, that is, the first five books of the Old Testament.  

The story of Abraham is well known.  He and his wife Sarah were very old and they never had children, for which they weren't happy about.  In Genesis 15 God promised Abraham a son, and of course, this would be a miracle son because Sarah was too old to have children.  Sarah eventually did have this miracle son named Isaac, but it took 13 years of waiting.  In the meantime, Abraham and Sarah got impatient and so Abraham has sex with Sarah's slave named Hagar, and she had a son born to her named Ishmael.

So, in verse 23 Paul says that the son that was born from Hagar was born the ordinary way, or, the natural way.  He then says the son that was born by Sarah was born by a promise.  That is, the promise that God spoke to Abraham in what we call the Abrahamic Covenant.   The word promise has been important in Paul's thinking and theology all the way through his discourse, and it still is.  

In verse 24 Paul says that these things can be "taken figuratively". By this Paul is saying that you can take this literal event and give it a non-literal meaning for us today. In short, Paul is spiritualizing this historical event.  Or, another way of saying it is that Paul is taking this historical event and giving a secondary meaning to it. Again, I believe Paul could do this, but we can't, or least we should be careful if we do so.

Verse 24 says that "these things can be taken figuratively".  What things is Paul speaking of?  He is speaking of the birth of Sarah and Hagar's sons.  The word "figuratively" is another word for "allegorize".  The historical events surrounding the birth of these two boys are "figures of speech" that suggest a greater meaning than them just being born.   

Paul says that both of these women represent two covenants.  This is where Paul allegorizes.  We might ask how Paul would come up with this.  Well, there is some logic to what he will say, but besides that, we believe he was inspired to make this allegory.  Again, I say, "if Paul is wrong on this point, then Christians are in serious trouble.  Because if he is wrong, we are preaching the wrong gospel.

One thing we learn here about the two covenants, which are as we will see, are the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant, is that they are two separate and distinct covenants.  This is something that many Bible teachers miss.   The Mosaic Covenant is not an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Verse 24 states that Hagar represents " Mount Sinai ".  This mountain represents the Law of Moses because it was on Mount Sinai where God gave the Law to Moses.  Paul then says that the children born of Hagar, which figuratively represents Israel, those born from Mount Sinai are slaves.  You might ask to whom were they enslaved.  They were slaves to the Law of Moses.  Remember, Paul made this analogy back in Galatians 3:23 when he said that Israel was imprisoned by the Law.      

In verse 25 Paul says that Hagar, the slave woman, stands for Mount Sinai, and Mount Sinai stood for the city of Jerusalem in Paul's day.  Again, this is pure allegory.  We have to believe that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say this, because there is no place in the Old Testament that says this. 

Paul does have some logic in what he says.  Hagar was a slave, and that meant her son Ishmael was a slave as well.  We know Paul's view on the Law of Moses.  It was something that enslaved Israel.  So, it only makes sense that he compares Hagar and Ishmael to the Law of Moses.  Where Jerusalem comes in is that the Jerusalem of Paul's day was Jewish and obedience to the Law of Moses was mandatory.  The temple was in Jerusalem and it was the centre of Judaism.  It is easy to conceive that Jerusalem would represent the enslavement of the Law of Moses.  

Verse 25 ends with "she is in slavery with her children".  I believe the pronoun "she" refers to Jerusalem.  Paul is simply saying that the Jews of Jerusalem, those Jews he once help lead, were slaves, and slaves to the very centerpiece of their religion.

In verse 26 Paul speaks of another Jerusalem.  It is the Jerusalem that is above.  This is distinguished from the Jerusalem that was on earth.  Paul knew something here.  I believe Paul had a glimpse of this Jerusalem in his many visions he received from Jesus.  This might well be one of those things he was not to speak about, as seen in 2 Corinthians 12:1 to 4.  The idea of a heavenly Jerusalem was a new idea to the Jews, and also to the Jewish Christians.  I wonder if he saw what John saw and wrote about it concerning the New Jerusalem in the last few chapters of the book of Revelation.  

Yet Sarah, Abraham’s wife stands for a spiritual Jerusalem , a Jerusalem that is above, meaning those who rely on Jesus for their salvation. Sarah stands for Christians.

As stated in verse 26, the earthly Jerusalem is different from the heavenly Jerusalem because the earthly one is in slavery while the heavenly one is free.  In context, Paul is saying that the heavenly Jerusalem is free from the Law of Moses.  Again, you can see why Jewish people had so much trouble with Paul.

When Paul says in verse 26 that the heavenly Jerusalem is "our mother", the word "our" refers to the Jews who had given their lives to Jesus, along with the Gentiles.  The word "mother" would be figuratively referring to Sarah, the mother of the promise.   

In verse 27 Paul quotes from Isaiah 54:1 to further enhance his allegory.  Isaiah praises the barren woman.  That's Abraham's wife Sarah.  In the long run, Sarah, who had no children for a long time, would have more descendents than Hagar. 

Note the words "than she who had a husband".   This is in reference to Hagar, but did Hagar have a husband?  What does that mean?  I believe this simply means that Hagar, through Abraham had a man to give her a son.  It's not that Abraham was Hagar's husband, other than in the sense it was through him that she had a son.

We know that Sarah having more descendents than Hagar came true because Jesus would be born in the lineage of Isaac, Sarah's son.  All those who have given their lives to Jesus, both Jew and Gentile, can be considered as Sarah's children.  This is exactly what Paul says in verse 28.  So the number of children of Abraham and Sarah by faith will logically outnumber the children of Abraham that do not have faith in Jesus.

Verse 28 begins with, "now, you brothers".  Again, as Paul has done earlier, he says these 3 words for emphasis sake.  He is still calling these Galatian Christians brothers because they have not gone all the way in obedience to the Law of Moses.  

Paul says that the Galatian brothers are like Isaac, born of a promise.   Again, the word promise refers back to the Abrahamic Covenant and not the Mosaic Covenant.  Paul is simply saying that those who have given their lives to Jesus are recipients of all the promises of God, and that includes the Holy Spirit who is often referred to as a promise in the New Testament. (Acts 1:5 – 8) Christians are thus children of promise, not children of slavery, that is, slavery to the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses has been laid aside forever. 

In verse 29 Paul compares the days of Abraham to his own day.  As Hagar and Ishmael persecuted Isaac and bugged Sarah, so the Jews in bondage to the Law in Paul's day persecuted Paul and those who were free from the Law so they could live for Jesus.  This may be hard for some to take, but I don't believe you can serve the Law and Jesus at the same time.  It's one or the other.  Jesus said that you cannot serve two masters.  I know He was speaking of money, but His statement applies here as well. You cannot serve the Law and Jesus at the same time. 

Notice the words "born of the Spirit" in verse 29.  This is a play on words.  Isaac was obviously born because of the Holy Spirit.  Paul and the followers of Jesus were also born of the Spirit.  That is what Acts 2 is all about.  It is the Holy Spirit that comes to live in the body of the believer that breaks the chains of slavery.    

In verse 30 Paul quotes Genesis 21:10 where it says, "get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman‘s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son".  Paul is spiritualizing this event. It was Sarah who actually said these words. Sarah was very angry with Hagar and so she wanted to vanish her and her son from her presence.  So Abraham did send away both Hagar and Ishmael.  Paul is saying that the present day meaning of this is that those who follow the Law will not share in the promise of the Spirit. You cannot mix Judaism and Christianity. You cannot mix law and faith. Throw out anything that has to do with Law and embrace Jesus and faith in His grace.

This is one verse  the those who believe in Replacement Theology often quote.  They say that this verse clearly states that the Jews have no more prophetic and historic significance in the sight of God because this passage says they were thrown out.  Again, I have to say that the Abrahamic Covenant had 3 recipients, Abraham, Jesus, and Israel .  Paul is not addressing the prophetic and historic significance of Israel here.  He is speaking of salvation by faith.  

It is very important to understand that the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant that were spoken to Abraham must be understood in the same way that Abraham understood them.  I believe that is good hermeneutics.  To go back and redefine the promises is bad hermeneutics. And, Abraham understood that his descendents Israel would receive the promises God spoke to him about.  

Paul is using very strong words when he says, "get rid of the slave woman".  Everyone knew what he was saying.  He is saying, "get rid of the Jews and those who are committed to the Law of Moses".   No wonder Paul had his critics.   

Paul ends this section in verse 31 by simply saying again that the true believers in Jesus are children of the free woman, not the slave woman.  That means they live under the promises of God, which include their salvation and the reception of the Holy Spirit. True believers and no longer under the domination of the Law of Moses.   

Paul takes a historical event from the Old Testament and turns it into something like a prophecy for his day.  This historical event is more than history.  It symbolizes a great New Testament truth.  Sarah represents Christians who are free from the Law and Hagar represents the Jews who were still in bondage to the Law.  Sad to say, some parts of the church today are still in bondage to parts of the Law, tithing and Sabbath laws being two such examples.  Besides, the Jewish orientated movement today among Christians, depending on how far they go with the Law, is dangerous.  

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