Summary: Paul was concerned about the Galatians REGRESSING back to the slavery of legalism, about the RELATIONSHIP between himself and the Galatian churches, and about the REASONS why the Judaizers wanted the Galatians to follow their false doctrines.
PAUL’S CONCERN FOR THE GALATIANS
In these thirteen verses Paul expresses his concern for the Galatians.
That concern can be expressed in three ‘R’s.
They are REGRESSION, RELATIONSHIP, AND REASONS.
1. Paul was concerned about the Galatians REGRESSING back to the slavery of legalism.
2. Paul was concerned about the RELATIONSHIP between himself and the Galatian churches.
3. Paul was concerned about the REASONS why the Judaizers wanted the Galatians to follow their false doctrines.
I. REGRESSION (4:8-12)
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by
nature are not gods.
9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that
you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish
to be enslaved by them all over again?
10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You
have done me no wrong.
A. “FORMERLY…YOU WERE SLAVES” TO FALSE GODS (v.8-9)
1. Before they were saved the Galatians had been slaves to false gods.
2. According to Acts 14, they had worshipped Zeus and Hermes.
3. But they had come to know the TRUE AND LIVING GOD.
4. They had been in slavery to false gods.
5. They had been set free by the TRUE AND LIVING GOD.
6. To go under the law was the same as returning to false Gods.
7. It was a return to “WEAK AND MISERABLE PRINCIPLES.”
8. JOHN NEWTON’S TESTIMONY – author of “Amazing Grace.”
Newton was an only child and lost his mother when he was seven.
At the age of eleven he went to sea as a sailor and became involved
in the inhuman African slave trade. Soon hardened by his evil
surroundings, he outdid his companions in immorality, vulgarity, and
blasphemy. But when he was twenty-three his ship was caught in a
severe storm, and when he began to fear for his life he cried out to
God for mercy and was marvelously saved. Not wanting ever to
forget the depths of sin from which he had been rescued by God’s
grace, Newton later inscribed the words of Deuteronomy 15:15
above his mantel: “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a
bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee.”
9. Unlike Newton, the Galatians forgot what they were once like.
B. “YOU ARE OBSERVING SPECIAL DAYS…” (v.10)
1. Some use this verse to forbid celebrating birthdays and holidays.
2. That is not the intent of Paul’s message.
3. This verse does not forbid anyone from celebrating Christmas.
4. He is simply pointing out that SUCH THINGS DON’T SAVE.
5. They had been convinced to observe the MOSAIC CALENDAR.
6. They kept special days, and months, and seasons.
7. If you want to use this to forbid special days, then act the same all season long too.
8. Either keep your A/C going summer and winter or keep your heater going winter and summer.
9. If you want to take this literally, then go all the way with it and don’t observe any months or any seasons either!
C. “I FEAR…I HAVE WASTED MY EFFORTS…” (v.11)
1. Paul feared that he had wasted his efforts on the Galatians.
2. efforts = Gk. Kekopiaka - labored to the point of exhaustion
3. wasted = Gk. Eikeô - in vain or for nothing
4. These words show a strong distaste for legalistic religion.
5. If they put themselves under the O.T. laws, then Paul’s efforts were useless.
6. If they put themselves under the O.T. laws, then Paul’s preaching to them had been for nothing!
7. If so, then they might as well have never heard the true gospel.
D. “…BECOME LIKE ME…” (v.12)
1. Paul told the Galatians, “Be like me, because I became like you.”
2. What did Paul mean by this?
3. From the context we see he was referring to the Law.
4. He was saying, “Be free from the Law as I am.”
5. After salvation Paul was like a Gentile - free from the Law.
6. But, these Gentiles were doing just the opposite.
7. They had never known the law before salvation.
8. Now that they were saved, they were trying to be under the Law.
II. RELATIONSHIP (4:13-16)
13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel
14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with
contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of
God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.