Galatians 4 is one chapter among many I consider to be absolutely amazing. The language in which Paul uses, as we will see in these few verses must have been difficult for the Jewish believers of his day to hear. Sometimes, it is the things we would rather not hear that we need most to hear. I believe we really see the heart of Paul here within this selected texts. With that, we will begin with Paul stating,
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and mangers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4: 1-5).
What are these elementary principles of the world Paul’s referring to here in the text? As we read the text, we find that Paul’s reference to the elementary principles is the Law of Moses in which Christ came to redeem those who were held captive and slaves. Herman Ridderbos writes, “The figure is presumably that of a son whose father has died at an early age. By the guardians and stewards those who are meant who supervise the minor, and guard his possessions. But such guardianship and stewardship is in force only until the period stipulated by the father has elapsed” (Ridderbos 152). So then the law, being the guardian was called on to protect the possessions of the son. This makes sense to me as a younger child of my mother and father. Being only 25 and the youngest of six, I have found that my parents protection and guardianship of my life, though at times was more than I would have wanted it, was so important to my personal growth. That did not mean that I never rebelled against the guardianship of my parents. There were many instances in which I found myself in direct defiance of their authority because I felt as though I could take care of myself. When I was in obedience to them though, I was given more responsibility and freedom to greater extents. Eventually, their guardianship over me as a child was replaced with their encouragement and guidance as an adult. In many ways, I these few verses of Paul’s letter in the same light.
Paul continues in his letter writing, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 6-7). I love these verses for they hold a personal testimony of who Christ is to the Church. Even Calvin in his commentary writes, “In the Christian Church slavery no longer exists, but the condition of the children is free… The ancients were also sons of God, and heirs to through Christ, but we hold the same character in a different manner; for we have Christ present with us, and in that manner enjoy his blessings” (Calvin 121-22). Because of who Christ is, we are who we are in Him. Who else calls their god ‘Abba, Father?’ Throughout the history of the ancient world, God was either seen as a far off deity who had no desire to be in relationship with his creation (or their creation) or the god(s) were to be feared. Do not get me wrong. We serve a powerful God. But we also have access to the throne of God at anytime because of the working of Christ. He is our Abba, our daddy. He is one who calls us to a radical relationship with Him. That is definitely worth getting excited about and why we should alone praise God