HEIRS OF THE PROMISE
Father, I rejoice over being one of Your children.
Read GALATIANS 3:23—4:7
Children of God
23 Before the coming of this faith,[a] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
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 under the elemental spiritual forces[b] of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[c] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[d] Father.” 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.
a Galatians 3:23 Or through the faithfulness of Jesus … 23 Before faith came
b Galatians 4:3 Or under the basic principles
c 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.
d Galatians 4:6 Aramaic for Father
New International Version (NIV)
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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!… he has given us new birth… into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Pet. 1:3,4).
In verses 23–25, Paul compares the role of the Law to that of a guardian. In Paul’s time, a guardian (usually a slave) was entrusted with the care of the master’s children. Guardians were not teachers but took children to school and helped in their moral education. When the child came of age, the guardian no longer had responsibility for the child (Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 263–265). Similarly, since Christ has come, the Law’s guardianship has ended, and people can become God’s children through faith in Christ (25,26).
To be “in Christ,” that is, to be in his sphere of influence, also has implications for our relationships with one another. In verse 28, Paul states his egalitarian manifesto (cf. Col. 3:11). Not that all differences are obliterated, but in Christ there is no scope for discrimination. Hence, Paul stresses that God has reconciled Jew and Gentile through the cross (Eph. 2:14–16), and in a few years he will ask Philemon to welcome back Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother (Phlm. 16). Although the debate continues about how Paul sees the roles of men and women, it is indisputable that the Gospel transforms all relationships!
In 3:29—4:7, Paul explains that belonging to Christ means being counted as Abraham’s offspring and thus heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. When heirs are minors, they cannot claim or have access to their inheritance—they are not unlike slaves, who own nothing. Minors are subject to guardians and trustees until the time their father has fixed for them. Similarly, at the appointed time, God sent his Son into the world to redeem people from the Law’s confinement. Believers are therefore no longer slaves or minors, but children of God and thus his heirs. The indwelling Spirit enables believers to call God “Father,” thus showing that they are truly God’s adopted children.
Explore what it means to be heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. It includes not only sharing in Christ’s glory but also in his sufferings (Rom. 8:17,18).
Lord, thank You for our inclusion into a covenant wherein there are no preferences shown toward those who are born a certain way.