The Meaning of Galatians 4? The Law Vs. Grace

Galatians 4 is about the human race growing up under the law, and its eventual adulthood. When we reached adulthood we received the grace and mercy that abounds from Jesus.

Paul states this perfectly by using the children metaphor.

In our broken state, how would we recognize God without some sort of parameters on where to look? When we ran from God we ran from the light.

And we found ourselves in total darkness. God needs us to see him and draw us to him before he can reconcile us to himself.

This is essentially the law. In the law, God set parameters for who he is, and how he should be worshipped. We learned about the character of God and who we spent our lives running from.

God is the source of love and everything that is good in the world. (including light). When we run from him, we run from everything that makes us human, and everything we want to experience.

The irony is that we are being lied to by ourselves and Satan, but we still continue on the same dark path.

Galatians 4 is a glimpse into the mysterious plan of God, and how he came to bring us back to him, it’s a story of love, pain, and hope.

Galatians 4 is one of my favorite Bible chapters, I could write books on this.

Galatians 4 We Are No Longer Slaves

Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Galatians 4:1-7

When we fell into sin, we sold ourselves into slavery, and what’s sad about it? We got the short end of the stick. There was no benefit to us selling ourselves, in fact, we gave everything up. Our inheritance or birthright was with God, and we gave it up for a piece of fruit and the promise of something we already had.

Galatians 4 is telling us to wait for the promise God sent, and that promise is Jesus.

The lie Satan told us in the Garden of Eden was that we’d become like God…and so we ate the fruit and lost our relationship with him. In essence, we stopped being God’s children.

However in Galatians 4, God appoints guardians for us, and we have to wait for the promise to come.

The irony is that we were made in his image, we were already like God. Of course, we didn’t know good from evil, but we were created in his image and hung out with him every day.

How much closer did we think we could get?

This is why the Christmas story is so important. Jesus coming into the world was an invasion. We had seeded our power and authority to the devil, received nothing, and now lived under his bootheel.

So Jesus came as a baby and taught us to connect with God and each other. Then he died so we could make that connection permanent. It was an act of love and mercy.

Galatians 4 tells us that the law is what pointed us toward goodness, love, and hope. The law is what Jesus came to fulfill.

Galatians 4 Small

Galatians 4: Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? 

10 You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. 11 I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing. 12 Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws.

You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you. 13 Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. 14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. 

15 Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible. 16 Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?

Galatians 4:8-16

In John 1, it’s written that Jesus is the light that came into the world. Why would light need to come down here if the world wasn’t in darkness? We were enslaved to our own desires and passions.

In fact, we didn’t even know how lost we were, Paul states in Galatians 4 that many of them served Gods that didn’t even exist and he infers that they are wasting time observing seasonal festivals.

This was how the ancient people tried to connect with God. You see even though we were lost, there’s something missing in all of us, we have a need for God.

While ancient people groups tried to look a tt he stars, the seasons, and nature. God gave us guidelines to follow that pointed toward him.

These guidelines weren’t the way, but they pointed toward it, and that is the point of the law. The law is what guides us to Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled the law.

We don’t have to sacrifice animals now, because Jesus became the sacrifice. Also, we can now eat bacon, and that is delightful. That is the fulfillment of the law that we’ve been waiting on.


Galatians 4: False Teachers Spinning The Truth Into Lies

17 Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them. 18 If someone is eager to do good things for you, that’s all right; but let them do it all the time, not just when I’m with you.

19 Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. 20 I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance, I don’t know how else to help you.

Galatians 4:17-20

Galatians 4 is so rich I worry that I’m missing information. However, the one thing I’m always scared about is teaching someone something false.

Let me state this here and now.

  1. Jesus is God
  2. He died on the cross taking our sins to the grave
  3. 3 days later, God raised him from the dead.
  4. Now he resides with God and sent the Holy Spirit to earth.

I’m always terrified of teaching incorrectly because there are so many paths I can find myself going down. In fact, I worry often that I might be stuck in the weeds somewhere arguing about stuff that doesn’t matter. Galatians 4 reminds humanity where we were, and where God is taking us.

For example, a lot of churches lately are trying this massive cookie-cutter strategy where we all attend, go to small groups, and everything is in the exact same format.

I can see the good in that. Many people need that sort of program to get started.

However, Christianity can’t be put in a box like that. To live a real life following Christ you can’t walk in a building and sing 3 fast songs, and 3 slow. Then you hear a feel-good message and then you go home.

Truly following Christ is being awake at 3 AM praying in the spirit about things you’ve been waiting on God to reveal.

Christianity is wild, and we need to remember that. God won’t be caged, and we shouldn’t ever try to force it.

I do believe we need order in the church, however, if people are not growing outside then what’s the point?

Galatians 4: Abraham Had Two Children

21 Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. 23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.

24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27 As Isaiah said,

“Rejoice, O childless woman,
    you who have never given birth!
Break into a joyful shout,
    you who have never been in labor!
For the desolate woman now has more children
    than the woman who lives with her husband!”

28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.

30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

Galatians 4:21-31
Galatians 4

Galatians 4: My Breakdown

Galatians 4 is a book breaking down the past, and it’s also breaking down the Present. Today the church is trying to mirror Christianity to the law. (the church in general)

In reality, following Christ is a chase, it’s giving our lives to him, not knowing where he will take us, and what will happen to us.

It’s raw, wild, and very unnerving. I think that’s why people try to make rules and regulations. It tames things. However, I think Galatians 4 brings up a good point. The law was a section of guide rails, pointing us to Jesus.

However, I refuse to go back to the law where everything was neat and in order. I’d rather be like King David, dancing in front of God. He didn’t care about rules or what was happening in the service.

Instead, he was focused on God.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a rant against the church, I didn’t mean it to sound that way. I’m very passionate about how much God loves us. And how much we hold him back by our own programs and rules.

Following Jesus is supposed to be a daily adventure, and instead, it feels like a visit to the library. We need to change our mindsets and ask God what he wants us to do, and where he wants us to go.

I love Galatians 4 because it shows us where we’ve come from, and where God wants us to be.

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