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Galatians 4:1-5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits[a] of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our[b] hearts, crying, “Abba![c] Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.[d]

Paul Reproves the Galatians

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits?[e] How can you want to be enslaved to them again? 10 You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.

12 Friends,[f] I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong. 13 You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; 14 though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, 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 They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them. 18 It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

The Allegory of Hagar and Sarah

21 Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia[g] and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children,
    burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs;
for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous
    than the children of the one who is married.”

28 Now you,[h] my friends,[i] are children of the promise, like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.” 31 So then, friends,[j] we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Footnotes:

  1. Galatians 4:3 Or the rudiments
  2. Galatians 4:6 Other ancient authorities read your
  3. Galatians 4:6 Aramaic for Father
  4. Galatians 4:7 Other ancient authorities read an heir of God through Christ
  5. Galatians 4:9 Or beggarly rudiments
  6. Galatians 4:12 Gk Brothers
  7. Galatians 4:25 Other ancient authorities read For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia
  8. Galatians 4:28 Other ancient authorities read we
  9. Galatians 4:28 Gk brothers
  10. Galatians 4:31 Gk brothers
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Galatians 4:1-5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Children who are under age are no better off than slaves, even though everything their parents own will someday be theirs. This is because children are placed in the care of guardians and teachers until the time their parents have set. That is how it was with us. We were like children ruled by the powers of this world.

But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children. Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And his Spirit tells us that God is our Father. You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and you will be given what he has promised.

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. How can you turn back and become the slaves of those weak and pitiful powers?[a] 10 You even celebrate certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid I have wasted my time working with you.

12 My friends, I beg you to be like me, just as I once tried to be like you. Did you mistreat me 13 when I first preached to you? No you didn’t, even though you knew I had come there because I was sick. 14 My illness must have caused you some trouble, but you didn’t hate me or turn me away because of it. You welcomed me as though I were one of God’s angels or even Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where is that good feeling now? I am sure that if it had been possible, you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Am I now your enemy, just because I told you the truth?

17 Those people may be paying you a lot of attention, but it isn’t for your good. They only want to keep you away from me, so you will pay them a lot of attention. 18 It is always good to give your attention to something worthwhile, even when I am not with you. 19 My children, I am in terrible pain until Christ may be seen living in you. 20 I wish I were with you now. Then I would not have to talk this way. You really have me puzzled.

Hagar and Sarah

21 Some of you would like to be under the rule of the Law of Moses. But do you know what the Law says? 22 In the Scriptures we learn that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one of them was a slave, while the mother of the other one had always been free. 23 The son of the slave woman was born in the usual way. But the son of the free woman was born because of God’s promise.

24 All of this has another meaning as well. Each of the two women stands for one of the agreements God made with his people. Hagar, the slave woman, stands for the agreement that was made at Mount Sinai. Everyone born into her family is a slave. 25 Hagar also stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia[b] and for the present city of Jerusalem. She[c] and her children are slaves.

26 But our mother is the city of Jerusalem in heaven above, and she isn’t a slave. 27 The Scriptures say about her,

“You have never had children,
    but now you can be glad.
You have never given birth,
    but now you can shout.
Once you had no children,
    but now you will have
more children
than a woman
who has been married
    for a long time.”

28 My friends, you were born because of this promise, just as Isaac was. 29 But the child who was born in the natural way made trouble for the child who was born because of the Spirit. The same thing is happening today. 30 The Scriptures say, “Get rid of the slave woman and her son! He won’t be given anything. The son of the free woman will receive everything.” 31 My friends, we are children of the free woman and not of the slave.

Christ Gives Freedom

Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the Law again.

Footnotes:

  1. 4.9 powers: Spirits were thought to control human lives and were believed to be connected with the movements of the stars.
  2. 4.25 Hagar also stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia: Some manuscripts have “Sinai is a mountain in Arabia.” This sentence would then be translated: “Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, and Hagar stands for the present city of Jerusalem.”
  3. 4.25 She: “Hagar” or “Jerusalem.”
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