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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.

I, Paul, promise you that Christ won’t do you any good if you get circumcised. If you do, you must obey the whole Law. And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his wonderful kindness. But the Spirit makes us sure that God will accept us because of our faith in Christ. If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others.

You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough, 10 but you belong to the Lord. That makes me certain that you will do what I say, instead of what someone else tells you to do. Whoever is causing trouble for you will be punished.

11 My friends, if I still preach that people need to be circumcised, why am I in so much trouble? The message about the cross would no longer be a problem, if I told people to be circumcised. 12 I wish that everyone who is upsetting you would not only get circumcised, but would cut off much more!

13 My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. 14 All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. 15 But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves.

God’s Spirit and Our Own Desires

16 If you are guided by the Spirit, you won’t obey your selfish desires. 17 The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should. 18 But if you obey the Spirit, the Law of Moses has no control over you.

19 People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. 20 They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are 21 envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.

22 God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23 gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24 And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25 God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26 But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.

Help Each Other

My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.

If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others. We each must carry our own load.

Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said.

You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. 10 We should help people whenever we can, especially if they are followers of the Lord.

Final Warnings

11 You can see what big letters I make when I write with my own hand.

12 Those people who are telling you to get circumcised are only trying to show how important they are. And they don’t want to get into trouble for preaching about the cross of Christ. 13 They are circumcised, but they don’t obey the Law of Moses. All they want is to brag about having you circumcised. 14 But I will never brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his cross, the world is dead as far as I am concerned, and I am dead as far as the world is concerned.

15 It doesn’t matter if you are circumcised or not. All that matters is that you are a new person.

16 If you follow this rule, you will belong to God’s true people. God will treat you with undeserved kindness and will bless you with peace.

17 On my own body are scars that prove I belong to Christ Jesus. So I don’t want anyone to bother me anymore.

18 My friends, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you! Amen.

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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