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Galatians 4 International Standard Version (ISV)

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.

Footnotes:

  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
International Standard Version (ISV)

Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.

Galatians 4 New International Version (NIV)

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

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 forces[d]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Hagar and Sarah

21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:

“Be glad, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband.”[e]

28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”[f] 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Footnotes:

  1. Galatians 4:3 Or under the basic principles
  2. Galatians 4:5 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.
  3. Galatians 4:6 Aramaic for Father
  4. Galatians 4:9 Or principles
  5. Galatians 4:27 Isaiah 54:1
  6. Galatians 4:30 Gen. 21:10
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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