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BIBLE STUDY on the book of Galatians

Galatians Chapter 4

Justified believers are children of God . . . Galatians 4:1-10

Chapter 4 continues with justification by faith. We see that there is something else that comes through faith in Christ that we could NEVER get by the works of the Law: the position of children of God. We start out as babes in the Christian life, growing spiritually to a mature person . . . just as we grow physically (1 John 2:12-14).

Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; (KJV)

Child here is not the same as child in Gal.3:26 where it is means “son.” Here it means a little child without full power of speech. I think it means that if a father dies and leaves his wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they really own everything their father had.

Galatians 4:2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. (KJV)

But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. What time was that? It was when the father had decided that his son was capable of making decisions of his own. Notice! It is the father who decided when his son reached the age of maturity. It was NOT some law like we have in our society. It used to be that a young person became of age at twenty-one; now it’s eighteen. Personally, I think that many are as mature at eighteen as they are at twenty-one . . . BUT others have not reached maturity even at thirty.

Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: (KJV)

Under the elements of the world” . . . means under the Law. Paul is saying that it was the childhood of the nation Israel when they were under rules and regulations . . . the way it was before Christ came. We are slaves to the spiritual powers of this world without Christ.

Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (KJV)

At a specific time determined by God, God the Father sent forth God the Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. The Law was Jewish! Mary was a Jew. The woman at the well knew Jesus was a Jew! “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? …” (John 4:9). And, our Lord did NOT correct her . . . so she was right. Jesus had a perfect humanity. He was also God manifest in the flesh. In today’s world that is being questioned. My friend, the only Jesus that we have is the One who is described in one of the oldest creeds of the church as “very man of very man and very God of very God.” I agree with that creed because it is exactly what the Word of God teaches. Jesus was/is 100% Man and 100% God!

Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (KJV)

So . . . WHY did God send His Son? God had two reasons: #1. To redeem those under the Law. They were children under the Law. The Law NEVER made anyone a child of God. #2. That they might receive the adoption of sons . . . become children of God!

Adoption here has a meaning different from that of our present society of adopting a child into your family. Here it means the placing as a son, Christian sonship in respect to God. A believer is placed into the family of God as a full grown son, capable of understanding divine truth. Adoption: John 1:12-1:13; Acts 15:17; Rom 8:14-19, 21,29; 9:8,26; 2Co 6:17; Gal 3:26,29; 4:5-7; Eph 1:5; 2:19; 3:6,15; Phil.2:15; Heb. 1:5; 2:10,13; 12:6-7,9; 1Jn 3:1-2,10; 1Jn 4:4; Rev 21:7.

Under Roman law, an adopted child was guaranteed all legal rights to his father’s property, even if he was formerly a slave. He was not a second-class son; he was equal to all other sons, biological or adopted, in his father’s family. That is the way it is when God adopts a believer into His family.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (KJV)

And because ye are sons” is a very strong statement. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children [the sons] of God.” (Rom.8:16). IF you are a TRUE child of God, you desire to be led by the Spirit of God. The flesh may get victory in your life at times, but it will always make you sad because you know that you have displeased the Lord. I understand that the word Abba was not translated, because the translators of the King James Version had great reverence for the Word of God. When they came to the word Abba, they didn’t dare translate it into English because it is such an intimate word. It could be translated “my daddy.” God is my wonderful heavenly Father, but I could NOT call Him “daddy.” Abba is an Aramaic word for father.

Galatians 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (KJV)

Believers have an awesome experience of being a child of God. We can cry out to Him. We can rightfully call Him Father (1 John 3:1). There are many people who think that the only way you can have an experience is either by reaching a high degree of sanctification (becoming holy), or you have to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as they call it. They insist that if you don’t get up to that level, you will never have an experience. That is NOT what the Bible teaches! Let me assure you, if you are a new believer or a weak believer . . . you CAN have an experience as a child of God without reaching any so-called man-made levels.

Sonship comes to you, automatically through faith in Jesus Christ. And, you do NOT have to SEEK the baptism of the Holy Spirit. IF you are sincere in your belief and your faith in Christ, God knows this! He knows everything! (Eze.11:5). You shall immediately be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)

When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence (John 14:16), and he or she is born again into God’s family (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8). You do NOT have to SEEK this baptism! NO way! And you do NOT have to speak in tongues! That is a damnable heresy! (2 Pet.2:1). NO where does Jesus ever tell us that we have to speak in tongues. If you say I am wrong, prove it to me. Show me where He says I have to speak in tongues! That is man’s stupid rules! . . . http://www.judgmentcoming.org/j_c_cults_pentecostals_charismatics_exposed.htm
Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV)
NO where does the Bible ever tell us that we have to speak in tongues . . . NOWHERE!!! This would be “works” which is condemned by the Bible! This is what Galatians has been telling us! FAITH . . . not works save us!

As adopted children of God, we share with Jesus ALL rights to God’s resources. As God’s heirs, we can claim what He has so wonderfully provided for us . . . our full identity as His children (Rom.8:15-17).

Galatians 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. (KJV)

The Galatians had been idolaters, like millions of people today. Idols are vanities “nothings.” In 1 Corinthians 12:2 Paul called them “dumb idols.” They were nothing, could say nothing, could do nothing!

Galatians 4:9 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? (KJV)

Known of God” . . . actually means approved of God or to be acknowledged by God. The Galatians had come to Christ through faith and God accepts that. Most of the believers in the Galatian churches were Gentiles. Now that they were Christians, they were turning to the Mosaic Law, which is, as Paul says, like going back into the idolatry they came out of.

Galatians 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. (KJV)

See: Col. 2:16. Col. 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (KJV)

We have liberty in Christ. Paul says that the Galatians were trying to find favor with God by what they did or did not do at certain times. To respect the observance of certain days was just as a work, and was opposed to the free spirit of Christianity. Our whole life belongs to the Lord as the Gospel sees it, just as the whole world, and not just the Jews, belong to Him. “Ye observe days,” meaning the Sabbath days. "Months" probably refers to the observance of the “new moon” practiced by the people of Israel in the time of the kings. The prophets warned them against it. “Times” is seasons, meaning the three great feasts, the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. “Years” is the sabbatical year (Lev.25:2-7). God had given Israel seven feasts, but they all had pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The observance of all these “times” simply put these Gentile believers under the Mosaic Law. The Law is NOT faith in Christ!

Falling back to the Law . . . Galatians 4:10-21

Have you heard anyone claim that they are keeping the Mosaic Law? There are many legalists around . . . BUT . . . the only thing they observe is the Sabbath day. My friend, ALL the law comes bundled in one package, INCLUDING the sabbatical year and the Year of Jubilee. James said, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Again I tell you that the Law is like a chain. IF you break one link . . . you break the whole chain (Law)! NO one can keep the Law!

Galatians 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. (KJV)

Paul is saying that he thinks he has wasted his time among them. They were saved by grace, but their turning to the Law is the same as returning to their former idolatry. He told them that they had NOT known God or become His children by the Mosaic Law but by FAITH in Jesus Christ. We now come to a personal section (12–18).

Galatians 4:12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. (KJV)

Paul was pleading with them to live as he did . . . in freedom from the Law. He had set aside his Jewish habits, and wanted them to do the same. The fact that he had laid them aside among Gentiles, shows that he did NOT consider them in any way as contributing to justification or sanctification. The Law CANNOT save you! Faith in Christ Jesus can! The Galatian Gentiles, by adopting legal ordinances, showed that they considered them as needful for salvation. Paul completely disagrees! Ye have not injured me at all meaning at the time when he first preached the Gospel to them, when he made himself as they were, living as a Gentile, not as a Jew. The Galatians had been listening to false teachers, and they saw Paul as an enemy because he told them the Truth. We are all believers in the body of Christ.

Galatians 4:13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. (KJV)

Paul makes an appeal to them on the basis of his thorn in the flesh. What was that thorn? What was his temptation, or his trial?

Galatians 4:14 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. (KJV)

His temptation which was in his flesh was his trial, which elsewhere Paul calls his thorn in the flesh. Paul’s illness was something that he had when he visited the Galatian churches. The world is often callous to people’s pain and misery, to the elderly, the handicapped and retarded. Paul praised the Galatians for not scorning him, even though his condition was a trial to them. He never does explain what was wrong with him. Love = care, concern and compassion. This was what Jesus meant when He called us to serve the homeless, hungry, sick, and those in prison. We are to show lovingkindness to them as if they were Jesus Himself (Mat.25:34-40). Do you turn away from those in pain or those facing difficulty? Or are you willing to reach out to them as if they were Christ Jesus Himself? I think that all TRUE Christians fail in this, me included.

Galatians 4:15 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. (KJV)

I have always thought that Paul’s thorn in the flesh might have been some sort of eye trouble. There was an eye disease which was common in that land and is characterized by excessive pus that runs out of the eyes. If that were the case, people today would run the other direction! But Paul said that they just ignored it, and warmly received him when he preached the Gospel to them. Warm hearted people, just led astray by false teachers.

Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (KJV)

Many people today do NOT want the preacher to speak the Truth from the pulpit. The multitude of ‘seeker friendly’ churches today being led by greedy wolves in sheep’s clothing (Mat.7:15), preach only what the people want to hear (Isa.30:9-11). They want to hear that there is no Hell (damnable heresy). They want to hear that everyone will go to Heaven (damnable heresy)! They want to hear pleasant, easy on the ears words that say: you want riches, you want good health, ‘name it, claim it,’ (damnable heresy)! My dear friend, BEWARE!!! These preachers will take you straight to Hell. The Bible says so! There most certainly is a Judgment Day and a Hell! Believe it. . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_1_false_teachers.1.htm . . . http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_f_d%20_universalism.htm . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_word_faith_movement.1.htm

Galatians 4:17-18 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. (KJV)

They” . . . refers to false teachers who were claiming to be religious authorities and experts in Judaism and Christianity. These people appealed to the believers’ desire to do what was right, and drew quite a following. Paul told the Galatians that they were wrong, seeking them in a no good way; desiring to shut them away from the Truth of God that Paul brought. The false teachers were showing a deep interest in the Galatians, but their intentions were not at all good. All they wanted was to separate them from Paul.

False teachers are often respectable, persuasive and well liked, but their motives are always selfish. That is why ALL teachings (including mine) should be checked against the Bible (Acts 17:11). This same bunch of Judaizers had gone to Corinth. The Corinthian believers had loved Paul also, and Paul had to warn them of these men. I am amazed at the very fine presentation the cults make. Their TV programs are done to perfection. They are so shrewd. And they always present just enough truth to convince most people. BEWARE!!! See Rich Preachers: . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_cults_rich_preachers.1.htm

Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (KJV)

Paul addresses his parable to the Galatian believers by calling them, “My little children,” like John does (1 John 2:1,12-13;18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21). Children means born ones or Christian converts, Paul has a very tender heart, and here he compares himself to a mother, comparing his pain over their faithlessness to the pain of childbirth.

Galatians 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. (KJV)

Change my voice . . . either commending, or reproving, or exhorting, as he saw fit. From complaint and censure, to that of entire confidence.

For I stand in doubt of you . . . for I do not know what to think of you; I am afraid of your falling away from their profession of the Gospel, back to Judaism.

He was deeply concerned about these people. He had been using strong language in his letter, but you can see his tender heart. I stand in doubt of you . . . Paul was confused about how to deal with them. He didn’t know what kind of words to use, gentle or severe. He simply wanted to bring them back to the right path.

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? (KJV)

Paul says: Listen to me, you who want to live under the law. Do you know what the law really says? There are many people who talk about the Ten Commandments, BUT they don’t talk about the penalty imposed by the Law. We really CANNOT conceive just how holy God is. We are rebels in God’s Universe. We are lost sinners in God’s Universe with no capacity to follow or obey Him. Romans 8:6 says, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” The carnal mind is enmity against God. The world is against God; it is not for God. The world is NOT getting better. It is becoming more evil each day. Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” God is high and holy and lifted up, and He dwells in glory. We creatures walk here on earth and are brazen enough to walk contrary to the will of God! Jeremiah 44:10 They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. (KJV)

Paul did not want the Galatians to make the huge mistake of trying to live by the Law. He kept telling them over and over again that the Law would NOT, nor could NOT save them! The carnal mind is enmity against God. That is man’s position in the world. Paul told them, “Listen to the Law. You haven’t even heard it yet.” The Galatians had not actually heard the Law. The Law was NOT beautiful and comfortable. The Law was terrifying. It seemed that the Galatians want to be under law so Paul was going to let them hear it. John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (KJV) Moses was only the giver of the Law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Mat.5:17). The Galatians could NOT keep the Law, and NONE of us will ever be able to keep the Law. That is why we need Jesus, the only One who ever fulfilled the Law!

Law and grace, CANNOT co-exist (4:21-31)


This chapter ends with an allegory of Hagar and Sarah. Everything is contrasted in this section between these two women. Hagar, and every reference to her, represents the Law. Sarah, and every reference to her represents faith in Christ. The difference between believers who rest in Christ only, and those who trust in the Law, is explained by the histories of Isaac and Ishmael. These things are an allegory, a parable where, beside the literal and historical sense of the words, the Spirit of God points out something further. Hagar and Sarah are good symbols of the two completely different dispensations of the covenant. The TRUE church (God’s children), is represented by Sarah, and means freedom from the Law. She is the mother of ALL believers (red, yellow, black or white), who are born again of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:13). These were by regeneration and true faith, made a part of the TRUE seed of Abraham, according to the Promise made to him.

Galatians 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. (KJV)

Using an illustration from the life of Abraham (Gen. 16; 17; 18; 20; 21), Paul is going to make a contrast between these two boys that were born, one to Hagar and one to Sarah. One was the son of a bondwoman (a slave, a servant); the other was the son of a freewoman. Sarah the freewoman represents grace, and Hagar the bondwoman represents the Mosaic Law. Paul shall point out the contrast between them in what he calls an allegory. Paul is NOT saying that the story of Abraham is an allegory! Some interpret this statement to mean that. What Paul is saying is that the incident of the two women who bore Abraham sons contains an allegory. It had a message for the Galatians, and it has a message for us today as well.

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

Abraham’s son by the slave woman was born in the flesh, in a foolish human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God's Promise. But Abraham’s son of the freeborn wife was born as a result of God's Promise. Isaac was miraculously born, contrary to all calculations of flesh and blood. Sarah was far beyond child-bearing years when she became pregnant! (Gen.17:17; Heb.11:11). “He who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh.” The Code of Hammurabi, which governed the culture in Abraham’s day, stated that the son of a slave woman was a slave. So even though Ishmael was Abraham’s son, he was still a slave. “He of the freewoman was by promise.” Isaac was a miracle child, that is, his birth was miraculous. Abraham was too old to father a child, and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. The womb of Sarah was like a tomb, BUT . . . and out of that dead womb, God brought life! God can do ALL things! (Mat.19:26; Lu.1:37).

Galatians 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. (KJV)

Which things are an allegory” . . . means that these events in Abraham’s life contain an allegory. Paul shall draw a pertinent lesson from it. “For these are the two covenants”. . . the first is the covenant of the Law which Moses received from God on Mount Sinai.

Which is Agar” . . . Agar is Greek for the name Hagar. Paul compares Hagar to Mount Sinai which is synonymous with the Mosaic Law.

Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. (KJV)

In Paul’s parable, Hagar is Mount Sinai which corresponds to Jerusalem (the earthly Jerusalem of Paul’s day), because she was still in slavery with her children. In other words, Jerusalem (representing the nation of Israel) was still under the bondage of the Law.

Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (KJV)

Jerusalem which is above” . . . is the New Jerusalem which is presented to us in Revelation 20, as it comes down from God out of Heaven. As old Jerusalem is the mother city of those under the Law, so too is the New Jerusalem the mother city of the believer under grace. TRUE believers neither today, nor hereafter have any connection whatsoever with legalism (the Law). Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (KJV)

Galatians 4:27 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. (KJV)

From Sarah (who was barren until the birth of Isaac) there came more descendants than ever came from Hagar. Today the Arabs are fewer than the children of Israel. In this allegory, Paul is saying that God is saving under grace more members of the human family than He ever saved under the Mosaic Law by the sacrificial system.

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. (KJV)

Believers today are also the children of Promise. Our birth is a new birth, which comes to us when we BELIEVE God’s Promise: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God clearly tells us that if we trust Him by faith, we shall be born again (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

Galatians 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (KJV)

The legalist hates the Gospel of the free grace of God. People like to hear prophecy. But if you preach or teach the grace of God, people do NOT like it! That is why the Gospel is trimmed down today as it is. People insist that they have to DO something or SEEK something . . . or go through some religious ceremony. Legalists (cults) teach that it is Christ PLUS something! They are belittling the Work of our precious Saviour! They are actually calling Christ a curse. If you insist on adding ANYTHING to what He did for you, then His death on the cross was in vain. Christ was made a curse for us; but if you refuse to accept what He did for you, you are saying that you are not guilty . . . but that He is guilty. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” The natural man (unbeliever) hates the Gospel of the grace of God. Hagar’s children persecute the children of Sarah, then and NOW!

Galatians 4:30 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 free woman. (KJV)

God commanded the expulsion of the bondwoman and her son (Gen. 21:10). Today God is saying to you and to me, “Get rid of your legalism. Put all your emphasis on Jesus Christ.”

Galatians 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. (KJV)

Abraham could not have both Hagar’s son and Sarah’s son. He had to make a choice. Paul is saying that you cannot be saved by law and grace. You have to make a choice. If you try to be saved by Christ and also by law, you are NOT saved. TRUE Believers are NOT children of the bond-woman, but of the free. Since the privileges of all believers is so great, according to the new covenant, how absurd for the Gentile converts to want to be under that Law, which could NOT deliver anyone from bondage or condemnation!

The two covenants are works and grace. ALL works and fruits brought forth in a man’s own strength, are legal. But if arising from faith in Christ, they are grace! The works covenant spirit is of bondage unto sin and death. The grace covenant spirit is of liberty and freedom; NOT liberty to sin as some think, but in and to duty. TRUE Christians do NOT have a license to sin! . . . http://www.hisservants.org/a_1_a_license_to_sin.htm

The first covenant is a spirit of persecution; the second is a spirit of love. Yet as Abraham went in to Hagar, so it is possible that a believer turn to some things in the covenant of works, when through unbelief and neglect of the Promise he acts according to the law, in his own strength. BUT, it is not his way, so he is never at rest, until he returns to complete dependence upon Christ. Let our souls rest in Scriptures, and in a hope that eternal life (Tit.1:2) and our treasure is indeed in Heaven (Mat.6:19-21), and is reached only by faith in Christ. Amen!

Book of Galatians

Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5 . Ch.6

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