"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Chapter Four OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To appreciate the significance and blessedness of receiving the Spirit in our hearts (cf. Jn 7:37-39; Ac 2:38; Ac 5:32; Ro 5:5; Ro 8:11-17; Ro 15:13; 2 Co 1:22; 2 Co 5:5; Ep 1:13-14; Ep 3:16; Ep 4:30) 2) To understand Paul's concern over the Galatians' observance of holy days (cf. Co 2:16-17; Ga 5:4) 3) To comprehend the implications of the allegory of Hagar and Sarah SUMMARY In this chapter Paul continues and concludes his defense of the gospel of justification by faith in Christ, in contrast to seeking justification by the works of the Law. The previous chapter ended with Paul making a practical argument, how that by faith they had become the sons of God, the true seed of Abraham and heirs of the promise, when they put on Christ in baptism. The practical argument continues in the first part of chapter four as Paul describes the condition of those under the Law prior to the coming of Christ. They were "children" and really no different than slaves. But when Christ came, He redeemed those under the Law and made it possible for them to receive the adoption as "sons." A special blessing of this sonship was receiving the Spirit in their hearts, and now they are no longer as a slave but as a son and a heir of God through Christ (1-7). Paul then argues along sentimental lines. After having come to know the true God and being recognized by Him, their observance of holy days is indicative of a desire to return to bondage. That greatly concerns Paul, who would have them become like him. He reminds them of their reception of him in the past, and he hopes that by telling them the truth he has not become their enemy. Wishing he could be with them in person and use a different tone, he feels like a woman going through labor again as he seeks to ensure that Christ is formed in them. All of this is because he has doubts about them (8-20). His final argument is an appeal to the Law itself, addressed directly to those who desire to be under it. He reminds them of Abraham's two sons by Sarah and Hagar, and contends there are allegorical implications concerning the two covenants. Hagar, the bondwoman who gave birth to Ishmael, represents the covenant given at Mt. Sinai, and corresponds to physical Jerusalem and the bondage of those under the Law. Sarah, Abraham's wife who gave birth to Isaac, represents the new covenant and corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem which offers freedom to all who accept it. With a reminder that those born of the Spirit can expect persecution by those born according to the flesh, Paul concludes his defense of the gospel of justification by faith in Christ by proclaiming that those in Christ are not of the bondwoman but of the free (21-31). OUTLINE I. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH: THE PRACTICAL ARGUMENT, cont. (1-7) A. THEY HAD BEEN AS CHILDREN, NO DIFFERENT THAN SLAVES (1-3) 1. The illustration of an heir (1-2) a. While a child, an heir is no different than a slave, even though a "master" (1) b. Under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father (2) 2. In like manner, they had been as children, in bondage to the elements of the world (3) B. THEY'VE RECEIVED ADOPTION AS SONS, NO LONGER AS SLAVES (4-7) 1. At the right time, God sent His Son, born of woman, born under the Law (4) a. To redeem those under the Law (5a) b. That they might receive the adoption as sons (5b) 2. Because they are now "sons" (and not just "children")... a. God sent the Spirit into their hearts, crying out "Abba, Father!" (6) b. No longer are they as "slaves," but as "sons," thus heirs of God through Christ (7) II. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH: THE SENTIMENTAL ARGUMENT (8-20) A. PAUL'S FEAR OVER THEIR CONDITION (8-11) 1. They had come to know God, and to be known by God (8-9a) 2. But they seem to desire to be in bondage again, returning to weak and beggarly elements (9b) 3. Their observance of holy days gives Paul fear that his labor was in vain (10-11) B. THEIR PAST AND PRESENT RELATIONS WITH HIM (12-20) 1. A plea for them to be as he is (12) 2. A reminder of their past relations with him (13-15) a. They had not allowed his physical infirmities to hinder their reception of him and his gospel (13-14) b. They were even willing to pluck out their own eyes for him (15) 3. Has he become their enemy because he tells them the truth? (16) 4. They are being zealously courted by others, but zeal is good only when for the right cause (17-18) 5. He labors over them again, that Christ might be formed in them, wishing he could change his tone, but he has doubts about them (19-20) III. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH: THE ALLEGORICAL ARGUMENT (21-31) A. AN ALLEGORY FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO BE UNDER THE LAW (21-24a) 1. For those who wish to be under the law, will you hear what the law says? (21) 2. For we read Abraham had two sons (22-23) a. One of a bondwoman (Hagar), born according to the flesh (Ishmael) b. The other of a freewoman (Sarah), born through promise (Isaac) 3. These things are symbolic (24a) B. THE TWO COVENANTS (24b-31) 1. The two women represent two covenants (24b-26) a. Hagar represents the covenant from Mount Sinai (the Law), physical Jerusalem, and the bondage shared with her children b. Sarah represents a new covenant from Jerusalem above (spiritual Jerusalem), which offers freedom to all 2. As prophesied, the barren woman (Sarah) would have more children (27) 3. Those under the new covenant are like Isaac, children of promise (28) 4. Those born of the Spirit can expect animosity from those born of the flesh (29) 5. But the Scripture says that the children of the free woman (Sarah, the Jerusalem above) will be the heir (30) 6. We are not children of the bondwoman but of the free (31)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) What are the main points of this chapter? 2) What is the condition of a child, even though an heir? (1-2) 3) What was the condition of those under the Law? (3) 4) When did God send His Son? Why? (4-5) 5) As sons of God, what do we receive? What is our condition? (6-7) 6) What indication was there that the Galatians sought to be in bondage again? (8-10) 7) What did Paul fear? (11) 8) How had the Galatians received Paul when he first preached the gospel to them? (14) 9) What were they apparently willing to do when Paul was with them? (15) 10) What concern did Paul have in telling them the truth? (16) 11) Why did Paul wish he could be with them and change his tone? (20) 12) For those who desired to be under the Law, what story from the Law does Paul relate? (21-23) 13) What do the two women represent? (24-26) 14) How are Christians like Isaac? (28,31)