What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 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 principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (NIV)
1. The "basic principles of the world" mentioned in verse 3 is translated from a Greek term meaning things placed side-by-side, such as the ABC's, and then it came to mean fundamental principles or basic elements. Paul makes the point that before Jesus came, we all, both Jews and Gentiles, were like children or slaves, subject to the requirements of the law and the basic principles of religion. In what way(s) were the Jews and the Greeks in the same predicament? Jews believed in God and his law, and the Greeks were pagan. Why doesn't Paul differentiate between them when he talks about being slaves to the basic principles of the world?
2. In verse 8 Paul says, "....you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods." He is addressing Galatians who had been pagans before they accepted Christ. To whom had they been enslaved?
3. After reminding the Galatians of their slavery, he chides them for "turning back to those weak and miserable principles." He then specifically mentions that they're observing "special days and months and seasons and years." The first three chapters of Galatians establish that Paul is warning the Galatians about turning away from grace and embracing the law. What does he mean in verses 8-10? Are "those weak and miserable principles" the things they observed in paganism? If not, why does Paul say they are "turning back?" Is there something related about the "weak and miserable principles" they're now embracing and the paganism they formerly embraced? If so, what?
4. In verse 4 Paul says, "...God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law..." Why was it important that Jesus was "born of a woman, born under law"? How does this passage relate to Gal. 3:13 where it says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us"?
5. Verse 5 explains that Jesus' redemption of us made it possible for us to "receive the full rights of sons." Verse 6 points out that because we are sons we have the Spirit of the Son in our hearts, and we can experience intimacy with the Father. Verse 7 states that we're no longer slaves but sons, and since we're sons, we are also heirs. What is our inheritance? What do you think it means to be a son of God? This passage makes it clear that the word "son" is not just a metaphor; it's actually how God relates to us. What are the implications of this assertion to you?
6. Verse 4 states that Jesus redeemed all of us under the law so that we might "receive the full rights of sons." This passage suggests that when people lived under the law, sonship was a promise, not an experience. Are there ways in which you fall back into "weak and miserable principles" and abdicate certain of your rights of sonship? Into what do you fall back? What rights do you abdicate?
7. What habits or areas of control do you have that you need to give up to Jesus? What part of your life do you need to let Jesus redeem? What rights of sonship do you need to receive?
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