25 May 2020

Galatians 4:1-7

… when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (vs.4-5)

Psalm: Psalm 130


The letter to the Christians in Galatia is the only one of Paul’s letters where, after the initial greeting, he remonstrated with his readers. Paul was angry and hurt that this community, which he had brought to faith and nurtured, had so quickly turned away from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They had become captive to erroneous teaching of a kind which Paul found utterly intolerable. It demanded that converts to the Christian faith should first undergo the rites required of a person converting to Judaism, specifically that men should be circumcised – with all that this symbolised. For Paul, this had all the trappings and demands of the law and its hold on believers. It indicated a conforming to the ways of the world that he had been repudiating and he was at pains to emphasise that this is absolutely unnecessary. "For freedom, Christ has set us free," he argued (5:1).

In Galatian society, and in other societies of the time, guardians were trusted slaves whose duty it was to take a child to school, to care for him, to nurture him to adulthood (this applied only to males, it should be said). While under the guardian’s care, a child was regarded as no better than a slave, as Paul pointed out (verses 1-2). But, when a father decided the right time had come, the child received all the rights of an heir. So, Paul explained, the Galatian Christians have been held captive by erroneous thinking; they needed to be freed by faith in Christ and so become truly heirs of salvation. The one born of a woman and under the law (verse 4) will draw them into the family as children and heirs!


To Ponder:

  • Think of a time when you experienced a ‘light-bulb moment', when suddenly you saw things very differently – was this liberating or scary?
  • How do you handle a new way of thinking? Is it easy to lapse into the old ways?
  • As we remember today the conversion of John and Charles Wesley, reflect on your own conversion experience or process.

Bible notes author

Gillian Kingston

Gillian Kingston is a local preacher on the North Tipperary Circuit of the Methodist Church in Ireland and Vice President of the World Methodist Council. She was the first Lay Leader of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Married to Tom, a retired Methodist minister, and with four adult children, she is the besotted grandmother of seven beautiful granddaughters and one handsome grandson.

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