Galatians Chapter IV.
Verse 1-3.-"But I say, that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth
nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all; but is under guardians
and stewards, until the term appointed of the father. So we also when we
were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world."
The word "child" in this place denotes not age but understanding;94
meaning that God had from the beginning designed for us these gifts, but,
as we yet continued childish, He let us be under the elements of the world,
that is, new moons and sabbaths, for these days are regulated by the course
of sun and moon.95 If then also now they bring you under law they do nothing
else but lead you backward now in the time of your perfect age and maturity.
And see what is the consequence of observing days; the Lord, the Master
of the house, the Sovereign Ruler, is thereby reduced to the rank of a servant.
Ver. 4, 5. "But when the fulness of the time came God sent forth
His Son, born of a woman, under the Law that he might redeem them which
were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
Here he states two objects and effects of the Incarnation, deliverance
from evil and supply of good, things which none could compass but Christ.
They are these; deliverance from the curse of the Law, and promotion to
sonship. Fitly does he say, that we might "receive," "[be paid,]" implying
that it was due;96 for the promise was of old time made for these objects
to Abraham, as the Apostle has himself shown at great length. And how does
it appear that we have become sons? he has told us one mode, in that we
have put on Christ who is the Son; and now he mentions another, in that
we have received the Spirit of adoption.
Ver. 6, 7. "And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of
His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer
a bond-servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."
Had not we been first made sons, we could not have called Him Father.
If then grace hath made us freemen instead of slaves, men instead of children,
heirs and sons instead of aliens, is it not utter absurdity and stupidity
to desert this grace, and to turn away backwards?
94 ["It is clear from the context that here the apostle
is not speaking of the Jewish race alone but of the heathen world also
before Christ. He distinctly refers to their previous idolatrous worship
(v. 8) and describes their adoption of Jewish ritualism as a `return 0'
to the weak and beggarly discipline of childhood. * * * Heathenism had
been in respect to the `ritualistic 0' element, which is the meeting-point
of Judaism and heathenism, a disciplinary training like Judaism. They were
made up of precepts and ordinances, as opposed to `grace 0' and `promise,
0' and in an imperfect way they might do the same work. They might by multiplying
transgression and begetting a conviction of it prepare the way for liberty
in Christ"-Lightfoot.-G. A.]
95 ["Paul in the following paragraph (ver. 12-20) interrupts
his argument for a moment by an affectionate appeal to the feelings of
the Galatians."-Schaff.-G. A.]
96 ["'Egeno/mhn must be supplied in the second clause
and not h@mhn as Chrysostom would understand: Become as I, free from Judaism,
for I also have become as you. For when I abandoned Judaism I became as
a Gentile and put myself on the same footing with you."-Meyer.-G. A.]