Lesson 7
Galatians 4:1-11

E-Mail - Henry Mahan

In these verses Paul deals with the annulment of the ceremonial law under which the Old Testament people were as children under a tutor; he blames the Gentile believers for returning to that law when they had been freed from it!

(Vs. 1-2) To illustrate what he said in Gal. 3:23-24, Paul presents the case of an heir during his childhood. The heir is owner and lord of all by promise and testament; yet while he is a child and under-age, he is not his own man. He is under restraint. kept in school, taught, and corrected as if he were a servant and not the heir. The father appoints a time for his inheritance to come into effect.

(Vs. 3) Even so the Jews, when they were children in spiritual knowledge (in the infant state of the church) , were kept like children in school under the ceremonies, sacrifices, and rituals of the Mosaic law. These are called "elements of the world" because they lay in outward, worldly, and earthly things such as animal sacrifices, washings, meats, etc.

(Vs. 4-5) But when the time appointed by the Father was fulfilled, He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, into the world.

(Vs. 6) Now because you are truly sons of God (accepted in the Beloved, redeemed from all sin, having no condemnation) , God has put His Spirit of adoption, of assurance, of comfort, of holiness in your heart whereby you can actually call God your loving Father.

The word "Abba" is a Hebrew word meaning father. It may be that the word is in both Hebrew and Greek to show that God is the Father of both Jew and Gentile believers.

(Vs. 7) Therefore, we are no longer servants under tutors, schoolmasters, ceremonies, and types; but we are sons of God who have been made free from the law and have entered into the joy and enjoyment of all blessings of redemption in Christ (I Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:8-11).

(Vs. 8) When you Gentiles knew not the true God, you worshipped idols and were in bondage to gods that did not exist; they were of this world and the product of your imagination. You performed rites and ceremonies that were useless.

(Vs. 9) Now after God has revealed Himself to you in Christ Jesus and you know the true and living God (Who chose you and foreknew you), why do you turn back to rituals, ceremonies, and elementary, worthless things such as circumcision, holy days, and rieats and drinks which can do nothing for you before God? Paul is astonished that these professed believers would want to be in bondage to things from which Christ had set them free.

(Vs. 10) By "days" he means seventh-day sabbaths. The sabbath was typical of Christ, Who is the true rest of His people.

"Months," designs, new moons, or the beginning of months were kept by holding religious feasts and abstaining from work.

"Times" mean the three times during the year that the Jewish males appeared before the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the three feasts—tabernacle, passover, and Pentecost.

"Years" are to indicate sabbatical. Every seventh year the fields were to be idle, no plowing or planting. Paul blamed these Gentiles because they were being drawn into these practices to obtain acceptance with God (Gal. 5:1-2).

(Vs. 11) Paul knew that the true minister of God never labors in vain (Isa. 49:5; II Cor. 2:14-16). He speaks with reference to them. If they should persist in bringing in the ceremonies, circumcision, and observance of these laws to make effectual the redemptive work of Christ, then, for them, the gospel is preached in vain. Salvation cannot be by grace and by works (Gal. 2:21; Gal. 5:1-4).

Henry Mahan, Pastor
Thirteenth Sreeet Baptist Church
Ashland, Ky.