New King James Version
Sons and Heirs Through Christ
4 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, (A)were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But (B)when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, (C)born[a] (D)of a woman, (E)born under the law, 5 (F)to redeem those who were under the law, (G)that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth (H)the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, [b]“Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, (I)and if a son, then an heir [c]of God [d]through Christ.
Fears for the Church
8 But then, indeed, (J)when you did not know God, (K)you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now (L)after you have known God, or rather are known by God, (M)how is it that you turn again to (N)the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 (O)You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, (P)lest I have labored for you in vain.
12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. (Q)You have not injured me at all. 13 You know that (R)because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me (S)as an [e]angel of God, (T)even as Christ Jesus. 15 [f]What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 They (U)zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. 19 (V)My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: (X)the one by a bondwoman, (Y)the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman (Z)was born according to the flesh, (AA)and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are [g]the two covenants: the one from Mount (AB)Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the (AC)Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
(AD)“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”
28 Now (AE)we, brethren, as Isaac was, are (AF)children of promise. 29 But, as (AG)he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, (AH)even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does (AI)the Scripture say? (AJ)“Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for (AK)the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Sonship in Christ
4 Now what I mean [when I talk about children and their guardians] is this: as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave even though he is the [future owner and] master of all [the estate]; 2 but he is under [the authority of] guardians and household administrators or managers until the date set by his father [when he is of legal age]. 3 So also we [whether Jews or Gentiles], when we were children (spiritually immature), were kept like slaves under the elementary [man-made religious or philosophical] teachings of the world. 4 But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, 5 so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family].(A) 6 And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, [a]“Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ].
8 But at that time, when you did not know [the true] God and were unacquainted with Him, you [Gentiles] were slaves to those [pagan] things which by [their very] nature were not and could not be gods at all. 9 Now, however, since you have come to know [the true] God [through personal experience], or rather to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and worthless elemental principles [of religions and philosophies], to which you want to be enslaved all over again? 10 [For example,] you observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored [to the point of exhaustion] over you in vain.
12 Believers, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I have become as you are [a Gentile]. You did me no wrong [when I first came to you; do not do it now]. 13 On the contrary, you know that it was because of a physical illness that I [remained and] preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and even though my physical condition was a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn and reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 What then has become of that sense of blessing and the joy that you once had [from your salvation and your relationship with Christ]? For I testify of you that, if possible, you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me [[b]to replace mine]. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 These men [the Judaizers] eagerly seek you [to entrap you with honeyed words and attention, to win you over to their philosophy], not honorably [for their purpose is not honorable or worthy of consideration]. They want to isolate you [from us who oppose them] so that you will seek them. 18 Now it is always pleasant to be eagerly sought after [provided that it is] for a good purpose, and not just when I am with you [seeking you myself—but beware of the others doing it]. 19 My little children, for whom I am again in [the pains of] labor until Christ is [completely and permanently] formed within you— 20 how I wish that I were with you now and could change my tone, because I am perplexed in regard to you.
Bond and Free
21 Tell me, you who are bent on being under the Law, do you not listen to [what] the Law [really says]? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman [Hagar] and one by the free woman [Sarah].(B) 23 But the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth, while the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise. 24 Now these facts are about to be used [by me] as an allegory [that is, I will illustrate by using them]: for these women can represent two covenants: one [covenant originated] from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given] that bears children [destined] for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is (represents) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above [that is, the way of faith, represented by Sarah] is free; she is our mother. 27 For it is written [in the Scriptures],
“Rejoice, o barren woman who has not given birth;
Break forth into a [joyful] shout, you who are not in labor;
For the desolate woman has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”(C)
28 And we, [believing] brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children [not merely of physical descent, like Ishmael, but are children born] of promise [born miraculously]. 29 But as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh persecuted the son who was born according to [the promise and working of] the Spirit, so it is now also.(D) 30 But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the bondwoman [Hagar] and her son [Ishmael],
For never shall the son of the bondwoman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”(E)
31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free woman [the supernatural].
New International Version
4 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. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery(A) under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world.(B) 4 But when the set time had fully come,(C) God sent his Son,(D) born of a woman,(E) born under the law,(F) 5 to redeem(G) those under the law, that we might receive adoption(H) to sonship.[b](I) 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son(J) into our hearts,(K) the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.”(L) 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.(M)
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you did not know God,(N) you were slaves(O) to those who by nature are not gods.(P) 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God(Q)—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces[d]? Do you wish to be enslaved(R) by them all over again?(S) 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!(T) 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.(U)
12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters,(V) become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness(W) 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.(X) 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?(Y)
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.(Z) 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.(AA) 19 My dear children,(AB) for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,(AC) 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,(AD) are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman(AE) and the other by the free woman.(AF) 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh,(AG) but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.(AH)
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(AI) is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:
28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.(AK) 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh(AL) persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.(AM) 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](AN) 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman,(AO) but of the free woman.(AP)
- Galatians 4:3 Or under the basic principles
- 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.
- Galatians 4:6 Aramaic for Father
- Galatians 4:9 Or principles
- Galatians 4:27 Isaiah 54:1
- Galatians 4:30 Gen. 21:10