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Summary: Paul writes, “…the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

There’s a story about a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady for 42 years before she finally said, "Yes." The couple, both 74, recently became "Mr. and Mrs."

For more than 40 years, the persistent, but rather shy man slipped a weekly love letter under his neighbor's door. But she continually refused to speak and mend the spat that had parted them many years before.

After writing 2,184 love letters without ever getting a spoken or written answer, the single-hearted old man eventually summoned up enough courage to present himself in person. He knocked on the door of the reluctant lady and asked for her hand. To his delight and surprise, she accepted.

Imagine our problem from God's perspective. Time and time again He tried to get His message of love through to His human creation with little response. Finally, when there was no other way, He wrapped up His message in person. Jesus was and is that message.

(John 1:1, 14 NKJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Our text:

(Gal 4:1 NKJV) Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,

(Gal 4:2 NKJV) but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

(Gal 4:3 NKJV) Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.

(Gal 4:4 NKJV) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

(Gal 4:5 NKJV) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

(Gal 4:6 NKJV) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

(Gal 4:7 NKJV) Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

In this section of Galatians chapter 4, Paul explains that the period of Law was a dispensation, a special way in which God dealt with Israel for a special purpose.

The Bible refers to Jews as heirs (Romans 4:14), for God had made wonderful promises to them through Abraham, but it took many centuries before they received these promises. In Galatians 4, Paul uses the rearing of the Jewish child-heir to teach the relationship between the believer and the law.

(Gal 4:1-2 NKJV) Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

The child, Paul reasons, might be heir to a fortune, but as long as he or she has not reached the legal age of inheritance, the child is no different from the slave.

We see this in some of the older "classic" movies where the house slave, “Aunt Beulah” reared the master's children, talking to them and disciplining them as if they were her own.

Paul writes, “…the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Even though they would one day inherit all that belonged to their parents, they in many cases were treated no differently than slave children—that is, until that one day when their parents said this relationship was to stop.

Paul is teaching that the Jews were in their “spiritual childhood” under the law. God had ordained that there would be a space of time where they would be indoctrinated or taught His Law.

Though one day they would inherit the land—that time had not come.

Though one day they would be rich in faith—that time had not come.

The Jew’s graduation into their full inheritance was kept at bay until God’s appointed time.

Word definitions for verse 3:

(Gal 4:3 NKJV) Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.

* "We…Children" - Paul is referring to Christians, Gentiles and Jews (Wuest).

* “Bondage” - douloo, doo-lo'-o; means “to enslave” (lit. or fig.):--bring into (be under) bondage; become (make) servant.

* "Elements" - stoicheion, stoy-khi'-on; refers to something orderly in arrangement--principle, rudiment.

* "World" - kosmos, kos'-mos; system; orderly arrangement, mankind (cp. John 3:16)

The "elements of the world" refers to the first principles of non-Christian humanity. This is the predisposition of both the Jew and Gentile before the influence of Christ and the effects of Christianity.

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