Galatians: Slaves to the Elementary Principles of the World

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

Galatians 4:3

Having reminded the believers of the common practice of the heir of a family being under the tutalige of a guardian until the father deems the chid’s training is complete, he applies the priciple of being under guardianship to the Galatian believers.

In this context, the idea of being children or immature is related specifically to the pre-conversion state of the believers. As you see in chapter’s one and two, the believers Paul is writing to is made up of both Jews and gentiles. For the Jew, the law was the first principle children were suppose to learn. It gave the principles of where people came from, God’s promises to the decendents of Ham then to Abraham and his decendents and ultimately to Jesus who fulfills all the requirements of the Law.

The Gentiles too had elementary principles in which they were enslaved. The Greek and Roman god’s were caprircious and the worshippers served them for what they can get out of the god. Worship the god of war in order to have victory over your enemy or the goddess of fertility to have good crops and many children. However should something tragic happen, one was left not knowing which god to appease.

Even by the first century, however, worship of the God’s started to fall out of favor, the Greek philosophers began to ask the question about what makes the universe work and their thoughts took them to the one thing that all the universe can be explained by. Some would argue for 4 or more elements from which all other actions and materials were formed. The gods were simply the eminations from the one quality or substance that is the source of deity. The human philosophy was man’s attempt to explain the universe appart from the god’s or the one true God.

Both the poly-theism of the Greek and Romans and the atheism of the philsophers brought people under bondage because they ignored the one true God and the world he created. Before coming to the knowledge of God, we also ignored God. We sought our own purposes as though we were gods ourselves. When Christ came and faith in Christ was generated in us, we no longer abide in enslavement to the former principles weather to the Law or to the non-deities.

Let us believe in Christ as our rightousness because he fulfilled the Law both in his obedience as well as its purpose.

Jesus’ Prayer for Protection on Those He Sends into the World

After his recounting that all the father gave the Son has been kept except the “son of destruction,” Jesus now assures the disciples that he is going to the Father and does not focus on his departure. It was a joyful thought that he would once again enjoy the position he had with the Father and he speaks these things “in the world” or in the ears of the disciples so that they would know that his departure is ultimately a good thing though painful for a while. This joy that Jesus experienced is something he desired the disciples to experience as well.

Jesus is not leaving the disciples alone, however. He is giving them God’s word. The have God’s word is a great value. It also separates those who love God from those who hate him. In fact the connection is that those who hate God hate those who belong to God specifically because they are not like the world but will be like God. God’s reflection is seen in those who belong to him and the Word is the mechanism whereby God instills his image in his people. In short, the world hates the disciples because their values and philosophy and way of life is not like the world but like God.

Even though we are not of this world, Jesus does not pray we are taken out of the world but are left in the world. The reason they are left is that Jesus is sending them into the world to be salt and light. Jesus prays, however, that in the world his disciples would be protected from the evil one. The devil hates God and by extension hates the saints who belong to him. Satan empowers the world and Jesus prays that Satan’s work would not overcome the disciples.

Let us pray that as the Father glorifies himself in Christ, let us also glorify God through Christ.

Galatians: Being Under Guardianship

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 managers until the date set by his father.

Galatians 4:1-2

Paul illustrates his point made in chapter 3 that, in the progress of revelation, the Law was given to Israel, but it was not the final revelation. It was a master that held captive those to whom it was given until faith would be revealed (Galatians 3:23-24.) The coming of Jesus and justification by faith was what the Law was pointing to, but from the perspective of the Mosaic covenant, was still in the future.

The Law then was to point to the coming faith and revealed the true need of humanity just as the guardian in pre-modern times took care of and instructed the children of the master. Several aspects of the law reveal the deepest need of the human condition: sin, the rebellion against the rule of God over all aspects of human life, brings consequences appropriate of the disobedience. In Romans, Paul summarizes that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23.) The law, in all of its goodness was never meant to be the purveyor of salvation, but to point to both the need and the coming salvation. Even the sacrifical system spoke to the coming need of a more permanent sacrifice since the daily and annual sacrifices never came to an end because they were satisfactory forever. Rather, the sacrifices continues because they could not cleanse the concencience of sin or remove the guilt; sacrifice can only remind the bearer of their failures.

However, where the law was unable to bring salvation, it was able to point to where salvation would come. That is why Paul uses the ancient cultural practice of an heir and their guardianship. There would be a day where the father gives to the son authority over the household, but until then, was in bondage to the guardian even though he is the son. The coming date in which the law would end its relationship as a guardian is when Christ came and faith in him being the end to which the law was pointing.

Looking back at Christ’s redemption by his death, we first see our need of a savior when we look at God’s law and see that we are deficient in keeping it. We do not love God as we ought and, left to ourselves, will seek to please ourselves instead of Him. Once we recognize our rebellion, we can now turn to Christ and see that our rebellion and the infinite offence we made against God can now be settled in Christ by faith in his cross-work alone.

Galatians: Children Under a Tutor

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,

Galatians 4:1 (ESV)

The modern western world does not emphasize the role of heirs as previous generation did. In the first century of the Roman world, the wealthy and powerful would pass on their status to their children especially to the first born male of the household. However, there was no status in the household afforded to the children. They no different in status that the slafes of the household though he would eventually inherit all that belonged to his father.

In the Galatian context, Paul illustrates that God’s previous revelation of the Law given through Moses was to train the nation of Israel. The nation needed a tutor to instruct them on the nature of God; specifically his rightousness and how that righteousness translates into personal relationships between the individual and God and between the individual and others.

Just as the child of the master would mature and become the inheritor and master of the hoursehold, the people of God go from needing the Law to needing the savior who fulfilled the requirements of the Law.