Galatians 3: 23 – 29 and 4: 1 – 7 Children of God
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 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 under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were under age, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
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This passage is full of theology. Today, rather than go into great detail, I’m going to take an overview. Perhaps I’ll look more at the detail tomorrow.
Paul is saying that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has changed everything.
We saw on Friday that God gave the law because his chosen people had behaved so badly. From the time of Moses to the time of Jesus, humanity was, figuratively speaking, enslaved. We had to obey the law, in every detail, for every minute of our lives. It was next to impossible.
What changed? Paul says this. “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” This is the gospel, the good news, that Paul has been preaching. Jesus was born of a woman. He was born under the law – just like every other human being. From that position, by perfect obedience and submission to the will of God, he was able to redeem us so that we could become children of God.
But that redemption is not automatic – we have to accept it. We accept it by believing in Jesus, and accepting God’s gift of the Holy Spirit of his Son. When we do this, we are no longer slaves but God’s children, and, since we are his children, we are heirs to his kingdom.
One implication of Paul’s teaching here, is that we have been given responsibility. It’s no longer sufficient just to slavishly follow a set of rules. We are called to help build God’s kingdom. We are called to attune ourselves to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We are called to love everybody, just as God loves everybody – and, yes, that really does mean everybody.
We have two commandments:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10: 27)
These commandments tell us how God has set up the universe. He is at its heart, and his nature is love.
Praise his name!
We praise you for creating the universe in which we live. We praise you that you care for us, that you love us with a love that is beyond our understanding. Thank you, for all your goodness to use, especially for sending us the Holy Spirit of your Son Jesus.
In Jesus’ name, Amen