Justification and Sonship
To explain more about justification, Paul uses different illustration and analogy. He has to do it so he can emphasize that salvation is by grace through faith only apart from works. If the Galatians as well
as everyone would not understand this important truth, then I would say all is lost.
I. The Heir (Gal. 4:1)
A. In the olden times, there were ways in which an heir is treated. The Jew’s had the “Bar mitzvah”, where at the age of 12 the young boy would be taken to the synagogue and he would become a son of the law. In Greece they had “epobas or the cadet”, where at the age of 18 the young man would spend two years under the training of the government. The Romans had the “toga pratexta” or the changing of
the robes, this usually happened between the ages of 14 – 17.
B. The word child in this verse refers to a child too young to talk, spiritually and intellectually immature, and not ready for the privileges and responsibilities of an adult.
C. While still a child, the heir is treated like a servant. He is not permitted to manage or enjoy the privileges of being the owner of his inheritance, he is kept under the restraint of law. the child may have all of the wealth of his father but as long as he is a child, he is not different than the servants
D. But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father (Gal. 4:2). As long as the heir is a child, he is really no different from a slave. A slave would have been his tutor or his governess. He was treated no differently than their children would have been treated while he was under their authority, until the appointed time by his father.
E. When we were children, were in bondage (Gal. 4:3). Before our coming of age, when we came to saving faith Jesus Christ.
Elements of the world. “Elements” is from the Greek word meaning “row” or “rank” and was used to speak of basic foundational things like the letter of the alphabet. In the light of its use in V. 9, it is best to see it here as a reference to the basic elements and rituals of human religion. Paul describes both Jewish and Gentile religions as
elemental because they are merely human. They were filled with laws and ceremonies to achieve divine acceptance. Galatians 4:3 Thus all were enslaved until Christ liberated them.
II. Fullness of time (Gal. 4:4)
A. When the fullness of the time was come – The time which God in his infinite wisdom counted best; God had a precise time for Christ to be born (Daniel 9:24-27). Christ came at a climatic moment in prophecy, the time when the period of the Mosaic law elapse.
B. God sent forth his Son – Him who came immediately from God himself, made of a woman, according to the promise, Gen. 3:15; produced by the power of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary without any intervention of man; hence he was called the Son of God. Lk. 1:35
C. Made under the law – In subjection to it, that in him all its designs might be fulfilled, and by his death the whole might be abolished; the law dying when the Son of God expired upon the cross.
D. To redeem them that were under the law (Gal. 4:5). Those under bondage need redemption in order to secure freedom. Paul has shown that those under the law were in bondage. From this bondage Christ came to redeem us.
E. That we might receive. This “adoption of sons” is bestowed as a gift. We cannot have it, and still be in bondage
Illustration 1: Some Bible Truths
1. Among the blessings of the Christian experience is adoption (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). We do not enter God’s family by adoption, the way a homeless child would enter a loving family in our own society. The only way to get into God’s family is by regeneration, being “born again” (John 3:3).
2. The New Testament word for adoption means “to place as an adult son.” It has to do with our standing in the family of God: we are not little children but adult sons with an of the privileges of sonship.
3. It is unfortunate that many translations of the New Testament do not make a distinction between children of God and sons of God. We are the children of God by faith in Christ born into God’s family. But every child of God is automatically placed into the family as a son, and
as a son he has all the legal rights and privileges of a son. When a sinner trusts Christ and is saved, as far as his condition is concerned, he is a “spiritual babe” who needs to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3); but as far as his position is concerned, he is an adult son who can draw on the
Father’s wealth and who can exercise all the wonderful privileges of sonship.
4. We enter God’s family by regeneration, but we enjoy God’s family by adoption. The Christian does not have to wait to begin enjoying the spiritual riches he has in Christ. “If a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7). Now follows Paul’s discussion about adoption. He
reminds his readers of three facts.
III. The Benefits (Gal. 4:6-7)
A. Upon becoming a Christian, a child of God, we in turn receive the Holy Spirit of God, he makes abode within our hearts. Then we can have an intimate relationship with our God. The Holy Spirit within us is the guarantee of our sonship and the verification of our standing within the family.
B. The moment we were saved, we received the Holy Spirit. The power of God now lives within us and he transforms inwardly and it works its way outwardly.
C. The law tried to work on the outside but it had no true bearing on the inside. Now we are capable of honoring God, because we are his children.
D. Crying, Abba, Father. Rom. 8:15. Abba is simply the Syriac for “father.” It is found also in Mk. 14:36. This spirit of adoption helps the son to realize that he is a son, and to look up to God and to address him, if a Semitic, as Abba; if a Greek as Pater; if an Anglo-Saxon, as Father.
E. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Gal. 5:7). The children of God have been redeemed and set free from the bondage of the law and legalism. We are not servants to that system of religious works or ceremony and we have become sons of God. In becoming a part of the family of God we have also been blessed as an heir of God, through Jesus.
F. In the eyes of the Roman law all of a man’s sons were considered to be equal and the inheritance would be split as such. By the Roman law all the children whether sons or daughters inherits equally, whereas by the Jewish law females succeeded only when there is no male heir.
Illustration 2: God the Father
God’s fatherly relationship with Jesus implies four things. First it implies authority. The father commands and disposes; the initiative which he calls his Son to exercise in resolute obedience to his
Father’s will. Second, it implies affection; third, fellowship; fourth, honor: God wills to exalt his Son.
All this extends to God’s adopted children. In, through, and under Jesus Christ their Lord, they are ruled, loved, accompanied, and honored by their heavenly Father. As Jesus obeyed God, so must they (1 John 5:1,3). As God loved his only-begotten Son, so he loves
his adopted sons (John 16:27). As God had fellowship with Jesus, so he does with us (1 John 1:3). As God exalted Jesus, so he exalts Jesus’ followers, as brothers and sisters in one family (John 12:32; :24).
In these terms the Bible teaches us to understand the shape and substance of the parent-child relationship which binds together the Father of Jesus and the servant of Jesus.
Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986
We enter into God’s family by regeneration or by being “Born Again”. How can you be “born again”? By repenting from your sins and receiving Christ as your personal Saviour