Galatians 4

This devotional is written by Jermaine Jarrett.

Galatians 4

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were under age, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Paul’s concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Hagar and Sarah
21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

24 These things are being taken figuratively: the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:

‘Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who were never in labour;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.’

28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? ‘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.’ 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.


Child of God. It’s a phrase that’s thrown around but consider what it really means. It means access to the almighty creator of the universe, simply because of who you are. It means that we are His; His dependants – expected to rely on him for support, and his heirs – given status as a function of who we are and not what we’ve done. Crucially it also means that the love God has for us is unconditional. There is nothing we can do to make him love us more (or indeed less). We don’t earn his love by following rules.

So here Paul is reminding the church in Galatia that there is no need to feel insecure and listen to those who would confuse them by insisting that they need to follow Jewish law. He draws an analogy contrasting the fortunes of the children of Sarah and her maid Hagar; Isaac the heir is secure in his position, Ishmael ended up fleeing with his mother. And Paul says that, in a similar way, that while our position pre-Jesus was precarious like that of Ishmael, that’s not so now. ‘Now are we the children of God’ as per 1 John chapter 3. And our Father has no need to manipulate our insecurities to make us reliant on Him. We are adopted into full status as a child of God, secure in his love. Religiosity, excessive outward displays of piety, worship as form over substance – none of it is going to make us win His approval. If we want to know where we stand, His Spirit is what provides the assurance we seek, nothing else.

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