Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Apostle by Chapter Galatians | Chapter 4

By Sam Nobles

At the end of chapter 3, we saw the Law was given to show that all people are sinners in need of a Savior. The Apostle Paul called the Law a tutor or a schoolmaster, whose job it was to bring people to the knowledge of sin. When faith has come, however, and there is no longer a need for the schoolmaster, the exchange is a relationship based on the Law for a relationship based on love. To make this clear, the Apostle Paul uses an allegory from the Old Testament story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.

The practical argument in the first part of this chapter describes the condition of those under the Law prior to the arrival Christ. They were considered "children", and practically no different than slaves. When Christ came on the scene, he redeemed those under the Law and made it possible for them to receive the adoption as "sons", and become the heirs of God through Christ (v.1-7).

After his practical argument, the Apostle Paul then gets sentimental. Paul points out that having faith in Christ Jesus meant that the observance of holy days was not a prescription for holiness. In fact, observing the holy days for that purpose was a telling sign of the bondage of the Law.  That greatly concerned Paul, who wanted the Galatians to become like him, spiritually speaking. The Apostle hopes that by telling them the truth he has not offended them or become their enemy (8-20).

The final argument of this chapter is Paul’s appeal to the Law itself, specifically how grace and the Law cannot exist together. Paul uses Genesis 16, the story of Abraham, Sara, and Hagar, as an illustration to explain (read the story in Genesis 16 for a fuller understanding).

Hagar is the Law, while Sarah stands for grace. Ishmael, Hagar’s son by Abraham, was born after the flesh, representing one’s physical birth; while Isaac, Sarah’s son by Abraham, was born by the power of God, representing one’s new birth. Abraham represents faith; therefore, Isaac was born by grace (Sarah) through faith (Abraham). The false teaching, Judaizers wanted to bring Hagar (the Law) back again, but she was sent away by Sarah because Law and grace cannot coexist. Like Hagar, the Law had a temporary ministry, but once the promised seed arrived, it was no longer needed – the job was fulfilled[i] (v.21-31).

Scripture to Claim:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Galatians: Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality, New edition (David C. Cook, 2010).

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