Galatians chapter 4

Paul says the Galatians have been set free. They should not throw it away. He appeals to their former loyalty. He shares an allegory of Christian freedom.





VERSE 1. But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a bondservant, though he is lord of all,

child. The Greek word is hnêpios. It means infant or young child. Contrast that with the Greek word hues, which means son.


VERSE 2. but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed by the father.


VERSE 3. So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental principles of the world.

elemental. The Greek word for elemental is hstoicheia. It means “elements.”This is not a reference to the Law of Moses. Rather, it refers to the elementary stages of religious experience.

principles of the world. The world tells us to work and achieve and earn. The world tells us we should not accept handouts.

Many people profess faith in Christ, yet they still have that works-based worldly mindset. They try to work for their eternal salvation. They try to achieve it on their own. They do religious deeds in the hope that they will earn enough grace to make it to heaven.

Trying to achieve things on our own and rejecting handouts is a form of egotism. People build up their own egos by working and achieving and earning.

Even when people come to faith in Christ and are set free, many new believers seek out a Christian religious system that removes their freedom and puts them back in slavehood.

Also, many people like that point about our egos. We humans have such robust Pelagian tendencies. We must feel that we earned whatever we get.


VERSE 4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law,

born to a woman. The Lord Jesus Christ was not an apparition. He was not a ghost. He was really born. He was fully divine, but also fully human.


VERSE 5. that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children.


VERSE 6. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”

God … Son. Where is the Holy Trinity defined or alluded to in the New Testament? Here are the verses we found.


VERSE 7. So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.




VERSE 8. However at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods.


VERSE 9. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental principles, to which you desire to be in bondage all over again?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Galatians.

you have come to know God. Eternal life is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. Do you know them? Do you have a love-relationship with them? Read more »

why do you turn back again. Once we are free from a particular sin, it is important to guard against falling back into that sin.


VERSE 10. You observe days, months, seasons, and years.

You observe days. Paul laments that they gave up their God-given freedom. They enslaved themselves to religious observances.

This describes many believers in our day. They adhere to a religious systems that place more urgency on mandatory attendance and following rules than on faith in Christ.

It is not that the rules are bad in and of themselves. They provide helpful guideposts. But using them as a source of self righteousness is misguided.


VERSE 11. I am afraid for you, that I might have wasted my labor for you.




VERSE 12. I beg you, brothers, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong,


VERSE 13. but you know that because of weakness in the flesh I preached the Good News to you the first time.


VERSE 14. That which was a temptation to you in my flesh, you didn’t despise nor reject; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.


VERSE 15. What was the blessing you enjoyed? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.

you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. Back when Paul was among them, they thought of him as a very important part of their faith in Christ. They were very loyal to him.

Based on this verse, some people think Paul had poor eyesight.


VERSE 16. So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?

have I become your enemy. After Paul left Galatia, they forgot about him and what he taught them. Worse, they came to think of him as their enemy.

That is because he told them that they had fallen from grace and back into the clutches of religious works.


VERSE 17. They zealously seek you in no good way. No, they desire to alienate you, that you may seek them.


VERSE 18. But it is always good to be zealous in a good cause, and not only when I am present with you.


VERSE 19. My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you—

My little children. Paul considered certain people to be his children, in a spiritual sense.

Maybe he brought them into the faith. Maybe he trained them as disciples.

Do you have any “children,” in a spiritual sense?

1 Corinthians 4:14. I don’t write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.

Galatians 4:19. My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you—

Philipplians 2:22. But you know the proof of him, that as a child serves a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the Good News.

1 Thessalonians 3:7. for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith.

3 John 1:4. I have no greater joy than this: to hear about my children walking in truth.

I am again in travail. Paul was very eager for them to be rooted in Jesus Christ.


VERSE 20. but I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.




VERSE 21. Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don’t you listen to the law?


VERSE 22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the servant, and one by the free woman.


VERSE 23. However, the son by the servant was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free woman was born through promise.


VERSE 24. These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar.


VERSE 25. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children.


VERSE 26. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is the mother of us all.


VERSE 27. For it is written, “Rejoice, you barren who don’t bear. Break out and shout, you who don’t travail. For the desolate have more children than her who has a husband.”


VERSE 28. Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are children of promise.


VERSE 29. But as then, he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.


VERSE 30. However what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the servant and her son, for the son of the servant will not inherit with the son of the free woman.”


VERSE 31. So then, brothers, we are not children of a servant, but of the free woman.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.