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This is what I am saying: When young children inherit all that their father owned, they are still no different from his slaves. It doesn’t matter that they own everything. While they are children, they must obey those who are chosen to care for them. But when they reach the age the father set, they are free. It is the same for us. We were once like children, slaves to the useless rules[a] of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that he could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us his children.

Since you are now God’s children, he has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts. The Spirit cries out, “ Abba,[b] Father.” Now you are not slaves like before. You are God’s children, and you will receive everything he promised his children.

Paul’s Love for the Galatian Believers

In the past you did not know God. You were slaves to gods that were not real. But now you know the true God. Really, though, it is God who knows you. So why do you turn back to the same kind of weak and useless rules you followed before? Do you want to be slaves to those things again? 10-11 It worries me that you follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years. I fear that my work for you has been wasted.

12 Brothers and sisters, I became like you. So please become like me. You were very good to me before. 13 You know that I came to you the first time because I was sick. That was when I told the Good News to you. 14 My sickness was a burden to you, but you did not stop showing me respect or make me leave. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God. You accepted me as if I were Jesus Christ himself! 15 You were very happy then. Where is that joy now? I can say without a doubt that you would have done anything to help me. If it had been possible, you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Am I now your enemy because I tell you the truth?

17 Those people[c] are working hard to persuade you, but this is not good for you. They want to persuade you to turn against us and work hard for them. 18 It is good for you to work hard, of course, if it is for something good. That’s something you should do whether I am there or not. 19 My little children, I am in pain again over you, like a mother giving birth. I will feel this pain until people can look at you and see Christ. 20 I wish I could be with you now. Then maybe I could change the way I am talking to you. Now I don’t know what to do about you.

The Example of Hagar and Sarah

21 Some of you people want to be under the law. Tell me, do you know what the law says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one son was a slave woman, and the mother of the other son was a free woman. 23 Abraham’s son from the slave woman was born in the normal human way. But the son from the free woman was born because of the promise God made to Abraham.

24 This true story makes a picture for us. The two women are like the two agreements between God and his people. One agreement is the law that God made on Mount Sinai. The people who are under this agreement are like slaves. The mother named Hagar is like that agreement. 25 So Hagar is like Mount Sinai in Arabia. She is a picture of the earthly Jewish city of Jerusalem. This city is a slave, and all its people are slaves to the law. 26 But the heavenly Jerusalem that is above is like the free woman, who is our mother. 27 The Scriptures say,

“Be happy, woman—you who cannot have children.
    Be glad you never gave birth.
Shout and cry with joy!
    You never felt those labor pains.
The woman who is alone[d] will have more children
    than the woman who has a husband.” (A)

28 My brothers and sisters, you are children who were born because of God’s promise, just as Isaac was. 29 But the other son of Abraham, who was born in the normal way, caused trouble for the one who was born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same today. 30 But what do the Scriptures say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son! The son of the free woman will receive everything his father has, but the son of the slave woman will receive nothing.”[e] 31 So, my brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman. We are children of the free woman.


  1. Galatians 4:3 rules Or “powers.” Also in verse 9.
  2. Galatians 4:6 Abba An Aramaic word that was used by Jewish children as a name for their fathers.
  3. Galatians 4:17 Those people The false teachers who were bothering the believers in Galatia. See Gal. 1:7.
  4. Galatians 4:27 woman … alone This means her husband has left her.
  5. Galatians 4:30 Quote from Gen. 21:10.

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