The Living Word for the week leading up to Sunday, December 31: Part 4 of 5
Thursday, Dec 28: Galatians 4:4-7
The teaching that explains we have the status of being God’s children and rights of adoption
4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.
- “Sent” or better “sent forth” (NASB). The verb is ‘exapesteilen’ which is related to the word for apostle, which has the meaning for sending on a mission.
- Born of a woman – probably referencing Isaiah 7:14, the verse that speaks of the young woman conceiving a child and calling Him Immanuel. Also emphasising that Jesus was born as fully man (while also remaining fully God).
- “Subject to the law” is more literally “born under Law”. The relevance of this is in the next verse and freedom from the Law.
5 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.
- This drills down deeply into the whole nature of the relationship with God, and how in Jesus it changes. Under the Old Covenant it was the somewhat distant legal relationship of covenant protection and provision, some unconditional but some requiring adherence to the requirements of the covenant. The new relationship in Jesus is a release from those requirements of the Law into a joyous and personal kind of belonging to the Father. It is a shift from religion to relationship; from being a follower of God to a friendship with God through Jesus. Nothing could be more different.
6 And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
- God sent: (1) His Son, (2) freedom from slavery, (3) adoption as His children and (4) the Spirit of Jesus to reveal and remind us of this new relationship.
- “Abba” is sometimes rendered as “Daddy”, which isn’t quite right, but this is a relaxed expression of familiarity. “Abba, Father” is the expression Jesus Himself used when He was facing up to the ordeal He knew was coming Mark 14:36. To address Almighty God as “Loving Father” is quite a shift.
7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His Child, God has made you His heir.
- NASB: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” This brings out what inclusive language can disguise. In the first century world, and Roman law and culture especially, adopted sons were given exactly the same rights as biological sons; all the rights of inheritance were theirs. Those rights applied to sons rather than daughters in that culture. Once we have understood the point about God conferring on us the inheritance of adopted sonship, we can own this in an inclusive way.
This is the ‘status update’ to end all status updates! There is a huge difference between being a slave with duties and obligations, and a son or daughter with privileges. Who lives in a way which is more pleasing to God, a bond servant who dares not disobey, or the son or daughter of noble upbringing, who is an honoured family representative?
The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Son and the Father, helps us grasp how we have found ourselves by grace in this awesome relationship, and reminds us to relate, not in the way of those from below the stairs, but those who are part of the drawing room circle.
When we come to God in prayer with a particular need in mind, how does being a free, adopted, privileged son change the way we pray?