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Now what I am saying is this: As long as an heir is a child, he is no better off than a slave, even though he owns everything. Instead, he is placed under the care of[a] guardians and servant managers until the time set by the father. It was the same way with us. While we were children, we were slaves to the basic principles of the world.[b] But when the appropriate time had come, God sent his Son, born by a woman, born under the Law, in order to redeem those who were under the Law, and thus to adopt them as his children. Now because you are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our[c] hearts to cry out, “Abba![d] Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if you are a child, then you are also an heir because of what God did.

However, in the past, when you did not know God, you were slaves to things that are not really gods at all.[e] But now that you know God, or rather have been known by God, how can you turn back again to those powerless and bankrupt basic principles?[f] Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10 You are observing days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid for you! I don’t want my work for you to have[g] been wasted!

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

12 I beg you, brothers, to become like me, since I became like you. You did not do anything wrong to me. 13 You know that it was because I was ill[h] that I brought you the gospel the first time. 14 Even though my condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me. On the contrary, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, or as if I were the Messiah[i] Jesus. 15 What, then, happened to your positive attitude?[j] For I testify that if it had been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I now become your enemy for telling you the truth?

17 These people who have been instructing you[k] are devoted to you, but not in a good way. They want you to avoid me so that you will be devoted to them. 18 (Now it is always good to be devoted to a good cause, even when I am not with you.) 19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you again until the Messiah[l] is formed in you. 20 Indeed, I wish I were with you right now so that I could change the tone of my voice, because I am completely baffled by you!

You are Children of a Free Woman

21 Tell me, those of you who want to live under the Law: Are you really listening to what the Law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 Now the slave woman’s son was conceived through human means, while the free woman’s son was conceived through divine[m] promise. 24 This is being said as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. The one woman, Hagar, is from Mount Sinai, and her children are born into slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to present-day Jerusalem, because she is in slavery along with her children. 26 But the heavenly Jerusalem is the free woman, and she is our spiritual mother.[n] 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, you childless woman,
    who cannot give birth to any children!
Break into song and shout,
    you who feel no pains of childbirth!
For the children of the deserted woman
    are more numerous than the children
        of the woman who has a husband.”[o]

28 So you,[p] brothers, are children of the promise, like Isaac. 29 But just as then the son who was conceived according to the flesh persecuted the son who was conceived according to the Spirit, so it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Drive out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman must never share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”[q] 31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.


  1. Galatians 4:2 The Gk. lacks the care of
  2. Galatians 4:3 Or the elemental spirits of the universe
  3. Galatians 4:6 Other mss. read your
  4. Galatians 4:6 Abba is Aram. for Father.
  5. Galatians 4:8 Lit. gods by nature
  6. Galatians 4:9 Or elemental spirits
  7. Galatians 4:11 Lit. you, lest somehow my work for you has
  8. Galatians 4:13 Lit. because of a weakness of the flesh
  9. Galatians 4:14 Or Christ
  10. Galatians 4:15 Lit. your blessedness
  11. Galatians 4:17 Lit. They
  12. Galatians 4:19 Or Christ
  13. Galatians 4:23 The Gk. lacks divine
  14. Galatians 4:26 Other mss. read the mother of us all
  15. Galatians 4:27 Isa 54:1
  16. Galatians 4:28 Other mss. read we
  17. Galatians 4:30 Gen 21:10