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Lowell Brueckner

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The Slaves and the Free


Galatian 4:17-31

V. 17-20   They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 
18.  It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 
19.  my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 
20.  I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. 

Paul has just told of his relationship with the Galatians from the beginning of the time that he came to them. On his part, he had not originally intended to visit their area, but his infirmity was God’s means to obligate him to stop there. Their mutual relationship became deeply rooted in the love of God that passes understanding.

It was not natural love, for it manifested itself in things that would naturally be repulsive. They loved Paul, in spite of his physical appearance and received him as a messenger of Christ. And what was his message? It was the message of the cross, “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Co.1:23). This points to something supernatural and unearthly. Above all, their relationship was based on eternal truth.

Now he turns to the new relationship, which has begun between the false Judaic teachers and the churches in Galatia. The will of God is not being fulfilled and no good will come from it. They have been attracted and deceived through the ways, which they had learned from the world, and these are the ways of the flesh. They have turned away from the spiritual, heavenly ways.

The World’s ABCs


Galatians 4:1-16

V. 1-7   “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 
2.   but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
3.   In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 
4.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 
5.  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 
6.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 
7.  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 

 Paul continues with the illustration of a child guardian. This custom among the well-to-do Romans and Greeks serves to show the purpose of the law and that of faith. It also shows that the spiritual heir belongs to the Father, even before the time, when he believes. His guardian has a part in his life, the law doing its work through him, and brings the child to see that he is a hopeless sinner. In time, he comes to a place of maturity, that is, a place of more perfect understanding, where he can enter into his inheritance.

You will notice also that the father sets the date of his “conversion” from a practicing slave into a son and heir. To understand this illustration is to understand the ways of God in bringing His own into the gospel. There is no legitimate way to misinterpret Paul’s point, in order to suit a conflicting doctrine, because he plainly states that “in the same way”, every believer goes through a similar, spiritual process.

Abraham’s Offspring


Galatians 3:15-29

V. 15-18 “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 
16. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.
17. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 
18. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” 

One of the main points, which I am trying to make very clear in this Bible study, is that you cannot understand Paul's letters without being a student of the Old Testament. Some of you have heard that the New Testament is for the Christian era and the Old Testament is of less importance for us today. I want to expose that false assumption for the lie that it is, without any fear of contradiction from any noted authority of the Bible.

A question that I often put before listeners or readers is this: If the Old Testament was not meant for us, then who was it meant for? All that Abraham knew of the Scriptures was little beyond the creation, the flood and the tower of Babel. Moses knew of the governorship of Joseph in Egypt, the formation of the Hebrew nation, their deliverance from slavery and their wanderings in the wilderness. David knew nothing of the writings of the major or minor prophets and Isaiah knew none of the history of the captivity. Jeremiah never read of the return of the captives to their native land and the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel also missed out on these events, as well as the writing of the last of the prophets, such as Malachi.

Paul plainly answers my question: “They were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Co.10:11), and “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Ro.15:4). Study also these texts: Romans 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 9:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.