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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 I mean that as long as
the heir is not of age, he is no different from a slave, although he is the
owner of everything,
but he is under the supervision of guardians
and administrators until the date set by his father.
In the same way we also, when we were not of
age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. 3
But when the fullness of time had come, God
sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law, so that we might
As proof that you are children, 4
God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, "Abba,
So you are no longer a slave but a child, and
if a child then also an heir, through God.
5 6 At a time when you did
not know God, you became slaves to things that by nature are not gods;
but now that you have come to know God, or rather
to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute
elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again?
You are observing days, months, seasons, and
I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have
labored for you in vain. 8
9 10 I implore you, brothers,
be as I am, because I have also become as you are. You did me no wrong;
you know that it was because of a physical
illness 11 that I originally preached the gospel to you,
and you did not show disdain or contempt
because of the trial caused you by my physical condition, but rather you
received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
Where now is that blessedness of yours? 12
Indeed, I can testify to you that, if it had been possible, you would have torn
out your eyes and given them to me.
So now have I become your enemy by telling you
They show interest in you, but not in a good
way; they want to isolate you, 13 so that you may show
interest in them.
Now it is good to be shown interest for good
reason at all times, and not only when I am with you.
My children, for whom I am again in labor until
Christ be formed in you!
I would like to be with you now and to change
my tone, for I am perplexed because of you.
14 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do
you not listen to the law?
For it is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory. These women represent
two covenants. One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is
Hagar represents Sinai, 15 a
mountain in Arabia; it corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in
slavery along with her children.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is
For it is written: "Rejoice, you barren
one who bore no children; break forth and shout, you who were not in labor; for
more numerous are the children of the deserted one than of her who has a
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of
But just as then the child of the flesh
persecuted the child of the spirit, it is the same now.
But what does the scripture say? "Drive
out the slave woman and her son! For the son of the slave woman shall not share
the inheritance with the son" of the freeborn.
Therefore, brothers, we are children not of the
slave woman but of the freeborn woman.
1 [1-7] What Paul has argued in
⇒ Gal 3:26-29 is now elaborated in terms of the
Christian as the heir (⇒ Gal 4:1,
7; cf ⇒ Gal 3:18,
⇒ 29) freed from control by others. Again, as in
⇒ Gal 3:2-5, the proof that Christians are children
of God is the gift of the Spirit of Christ relating them intimately to God.
2 [1,3] Not of age: an infant or
3  The elemental powers of the
world: while the term can refer to the "elements" like earth, air,
fire, and water or to elementary forms of religion, the sense here is more
likely that of celestial beings that were thought in pagan circles to control
the world; cf ⇒ Gal 4:8; ⇒ Col
2:8, ⇒ 20.
4  Children: see the note on
⇒ Gal 3:26; here in contrast to the infant or young
person not of age (⇒ Gal 3:1,
3). Abba: cf ⇒ Mark
14:36 and the note; ⇒ Romans 8:15.
5 [8-11] On the basis of the
arguments advanced from ⇒ Gal 3:1 through
⇒ Gal 4:7, Paul now launches his appeal to the
Galatians with the question, how can you turn back to the slavery of the law
(⇒ Gal 4:9)? The question is posed with reference to
bondage to the elemental powers (see the note on ⇒ Gal
4:3) because the Galatians had originally been converted to
Christianity from paganism, not Judaism (⇒ Gal 4:8).
The use of the direct question is like Gal 3, 3-5.
6  Things that by nature are not
gods: or "gods that by nature do not exist."
7  This is likely a reference to
ritual observances from the Old Testament, promoted by opponents: sabbaths or
Yom Kippur, new moon, Passover or Pentecost, sabbatical years.
8  Cf ⇒ Gal
2:2. If the
Galatians become slaves . . . all over again to the law (⇒ Gal
4:9), Paul will have worked in vain among them.
9 [12-20] A strongly personal
section. Paul appeals to past ties between the Galatians and himself. He speaks
sharply of the opponents (⇒ Gal 4:17-18) and pastorally
to the Galatians (⇒ Gal 4:19-20).
10  Because I have also become as
you are: a terse phrase in Greek, meaning "Be as I, Paul, am," i.e.,
living by faith, independent of the law, for, in spite of my background in
Judaism (⇒ Gal 1:13), I have become as you Galatians
are now, a brother in Christ.
11  Physical illness: because its
nature is not described, some assume an eye disease (⇒ Gal
4:15); others, epilepsy; some relate it to ⇒ 2 Cor
12:7-9. Originally: this may also be translated "formerly"
or "on the first (of two) visit(s)"; cf ⇒ Acts
16:6; ⇒ 18:23.
12  That blessedness of yours:
possibly a reference to the Galatians' initial happy reception of Paul
(⇒ Gal 4:14) and of his gospel
(⇒ Gal 1:6; ⇒ 3:1-4) and
their felicitation at such blessedness, but the phrase could also refer
ironically to earlier praise by Paul of the Galatians, no longer possible when
they turn from the gospel to the claims of the opponents
(⇒ Gal 4:17-18; ⇒ 1:7). If
the word is a more literal reference to a beatitude, ⇒ Gal
3:26-28 may be in view.
13  Isolate you: that is, from the
blessings of the gospel and/or from Paul.
14 [21-31] Paul supports his appeal
for the gospel (⇒ Gal 4:9;
⇒ 1:6-9; ⇒ 2:16;
⇒ 3:2) by a further argument from scripture (cf
⇒ Gal 3:6-18). It involves the relationship of
Abraham (⇒ Gal 3:6-16) to his wife, Sarah, the
freeborn woman, and to Hagar, the slave woman, and the contrast between the
sons born to each, Isaac, child of promise, and Ishmael, son of Hagar (Genesis
16; 21). Only through Isaac is the promise of God preserved. This allegory
(⇒ Gal 4:24), with its equation of the Sinai
covenant and Mosaic law with slavery and of the promise of God with freedom,
Paul uses only in light of previous arguments. His quotation of
⇒ Genesis 21:10 at ⇒ Gal
4:30 suggests on a scriptural basis that the Galatians should expel
those who are troubling them (⇒ Gal 1:7).
15  Hagar represents Sinai . . . :
some manuscripts have what seems a geographical note, "For Sinai is a
mountain in Arabia."
16  ⇒ Isaiah
54:1 in the Septuagint translation is applied to Sarah as the barren
one (in Genesis 15) who ultimately becomes the mother not only of Isaac but now
of numerous children, i.e., of all those who believe, the children of the
promise (⇒ Gal 4:28).
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