Galatians 4:1-7: Sermon Notes

Not only are Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free, women, men no longer divided along those lines and are one in Christ, our oneness in Christ is based on a glorious reality: Through faith in Jesus we are made children of God. 

Galatians 3:25-26 (CSB) But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.

Through faith, we are children. That’s huge. 

In “Knowing God”, by JI Packer, he asks the question, “What is a Christian?”

He says, “The richest answer I know is that a Chrisitan is one who has God as Father.” (Packer, Knowing God, p. 200)

“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.” (ibid., 201). 

Just to make sure the point is clear that we are ALL under the curse of sin, Paul will swap analogies on us in chapter 4. We move from the law being a guardian imprisoning everyone and everything under sin to children being no different than a slave in regard to their status as heir in a family. He makes that switch in 3:29.

Point? All are under the curse of sin. Whether Jew or not, one’s relationship to the law of God is on equal footing: Violators of God’s law unders the power of dark forces. 

That is going to be the point of verse 1-3. 

Apart from Jesus, we are enslaved to the spiritual principles of the world. V. 1-3

  1. Paul wants to ensure they know nothing but faith in Jesus alone saves. 
    1. He wants them to understand they are not only rescued from keeping the law, but they are also rescued from spiritual principles that enslave mankind. 
  2. The idea Paul is trying to get across is not the illustration of children, and slaves as heirs, but what the illustration points to. 
    1. There is the barrier of sin that keeps us from God and enslaved to the powerful forces of sin. 
  3. We, apart from Jesus, are under the slavery of principles belonging to the world system. 
    1. What is this guardianship/slavery? 
    2. We were under the “elements” or principles of the world system. 
      1. This language is that of spiritual influence.
      2. Ephesians 2:1-2 (CSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
  4. The law revealed our sin, showed it to be sin, increased the sin, and revealed that we were all under the dark influence of the world system’s power. 

How does God save a people who are lawbreakers and under the spiritual darkness of the dark kingdom?

God worked his eternal plan. V. 4a

When the time came to completion.”

  1. The eternal covenant of redemption was and is being worked out to perfection in perfect detail for God’s glory and our temporal and eternal good. 
    1. Jesus’ entrance and work were determined, and no power in heaven or earth could stop it. 
    2. Jesus’ entrance into time and space was at just the right theological and religious time to take advantage of a climate that would facilitate his multiplying movement. 
      1. Jesus’ entrance was at a time when a huge part of the world spoke the same language – Koine Greek – and this message would be preserved in that language. 
      2. Jesus’ entrance was politically perfect. The Pax Romana had brought government and roads that would allow for missionary travel to unimagined places. 

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. V. 4b-5

  1. God sent his Son – Jesus was/is God. (John 8:58 Before Abraham was, I AM.) 
    1. Jesus is the eternal God. 
    2. Colossians 1:15-17 (CSB) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.
  2. Born of a woman – Jesus was real flesh and blood in order that he would be a merciful and faithful high priest who is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2)
    1. Jesus is truly human, and what full humanity looks like.
    2. Philippians 2:5-11 
  3. Born under the law – Jesus came living under the law that he gave and knew we could never keep and would himself keep and fulfill so that he would be a merciful and faithful high priest who understands his creature’s difficulty.  
    1. Hebrews 2:17-18 (CSB) Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
  4. To redeem those under the law – Jesus, having kept the law and able thus to die in our place for our sin, fixes the mess we were in due to sin, and takes us from under law to be children of God. 
  5. We receive adoption as children – We were not children, but through faith we become children. 
    1. Adoption as God’s children is rooted in the eternal nature of God, and part of the eternal covenant of redemption.
    2. This truth is so holy that Paul creates the word here to communicate this plan of salvation. This word’s first usage in Greek shows up in Galatians. The word is unique to Paul. 
      1. Adoption is so rooted in the nature of God that humans, made in God’s image, picked up on it and practiced it with no word for it. 
      2. Uio-thesis – to make a child
  6. Paul is drawing from an adoption formula already present in the OT. 
    1. In my opinion, and the opinion of a few other OT scholars, 2 Samuel 7:14 is an example of this when God tells David that Solomon would be to him a son and he would be a Father. This “adoption” formula is used in other places throughout the OT (Ex. 2:10; Esther 2:7; Genesis 48:5; Hosea 11:1).
    2. Adoption does not come from the culture at large. Man didn’t create it from need. It is rooted in the nature of God in his great plan to save a people for the Son of God by “adopting” them as sons and daughters through the eternal Son of God.

As children of God, we get the Holy Spirit to live in us, who brings to life our father/child relationship. V. 6

  1. All of us in Christ are really children. 
  2. We know this because we get all of God in the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. 
  3. We have God as Father. 

As children, we are heirs of God. V. 7

  1. Heirs are recipients of all that belongs to their father. 
  2. Matthew 5:3-10 (CSB) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.  4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.


  1. If you have not believed in Jesus, turn from sin and slavery to a dark kingdom today and trust him. 
  2. If you are a Christian, stop trying to earn God’s favor, live as a child of God that already has his favor. 
    1. The indicative comes before the imperative, so live like it. 
    2. NOTE: The standard is not relaxed. He is holy and demands we act holy. 
    3. What changes are our desire and ability to be holy. 
      1. He gives us a new heart that wants to be holy, and he gives us his Spirit to actually pull it off. 
  3. Don’t live transactionally with God. Live in a relationship with God. 
    1. It begins in repentance and faith. 
    2. It then progresses in learning to live life with God as a real and present Father. 
      1. In God’s word, learn the Holy Spirit’s presence and ministry. 
      2. You will only walk with God as you learn your relationship with him from his word and experience in practicing what you learn. 
      3. It’s not more complicated than that, but it’s also as complicated as that. 
        1. There are objective realities you must know. No amount of me telling you will make you believe them. 
        2. There are subjective practices you need to discover in your relationship with God. 
        3. All of these must be discovered in covenant fellowship on mission because the relationship is given by God for the mission with God with God’s local people to the world with the end of his glory, our joy, and creation restored for us together forever. 

Corporate Prayer

Increase our people

Increase our holiness

Increase our sending

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