24 May 2017

Galatians 4:1-7

“So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child also an heir, through God.” (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 130


Paul's letter to the Christian community in Galatia is dominated by the question of whether Gentiles needed to conform to the practices and rituals of the Jews before they could become Christians. Conservative Jews demanded this whereas Paul took a very different stance. Paul maintained that the law had served its purpose in the past - that of restraining sin but that it possessed no power to liberate people from sin. For Paul it was the coming of Jesus which set people free and made them children of God through faith.

In this passage, Paul expands on what it means to be an heir. Those who follow Jesus are no longer slaves either to the law of the Jews or to their former pagan practices. Paul speaks of how the coming of Jesus inaugurated a new age in which all people can be adopted as children of God, and all can become part of God's family, the Church and heirs to his kingdom. Gone are the days of slavery to rigid rules or practices.

Today is Wesley Day, the day, 279 years ago, on which John Wesley experienced a new sense of being God's child, not through any merit or action of his own but through the grace of God alone.

To Ponder

  • All denominations seem to have an in-built tendency to create rules and regulations and for them to become as important as the rule of love given by Jesus Christ. To what extent has Methodism succumbed to this over the years?
  • Some Christian groups, on the other hand, have taken the 'freedom' offered by Christ to outrageous extremes - what guidance can we find in Paul and the Scriptures to prevent us from falling into this problem?
  • How might you and the Church move forward in the middle ground?


Bible notes author

The Revd Jennifer Potter

The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Methodist minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London. Prior to being appointed to serve there she worked in the Connexional Team from 1996-2002 as the secretary for international affairs.