Galatians 3:23

3:6-9              The Faith of Abraham

3:10-14            The curse of “faith” in the law

3:15-18            The Unilateral (Unconditional) Covenant of Åbraham (free to believe promises)

3:19-22            The Two-party (Conditional) Covenant of the Law (Purpose: Sin becomes transgression)

3:23-29            Position of sonship and full rights of an heir

4:1-7                Bondage to the law holds you away from privileges of the “Faith Estate”


3:23     “the faith” of salavation

3:24     The word for “put in charge” (NIV) or “schoolmaster” (KJ) is “paidagogos” which means    “a child-custodian” or “child-attendant.” The law exposed our sin as transgressions and causedus to stop rationalizing that we were good enough and forced us to look for another way to God. That way is justification by faith and not justification by good works.

3:25     There is no need now for the law since we have found Christ.

3:26     We are now sons of God

            “We are now sons of God in Christ . . .we are in Christ through faith.”

3:27     “Baptized into Christ” is “placed, or positioned” into Christ. We have spiritually been moved

from our first location, or condition, into the location (condition, position, relationship) of Christ. In this new condition we are, like Christ, sons of God.

Sonship by Creation. . .natural to all men and referred to in Acts 17:28

Sonship in Christ. . . . .not natural or given to all men. It is the same phrase but refers to something  other than being a creation of God.         


Mature Sonship . . .This is the sonship of Galatians 3:26 and refers to the fullness of our position in  Christ. This is granted to every believer in Christ.

Mature Son. . . . . .This is contrasted with the immature son (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:11-6:2) and refers to

                                    Growing into the position God has called us to or assigned us to. This must be

                                    Attained by the Spirit-led believers who hears and understands God’s word.


3:28 Does not say racial/national differences, social differences, and the differences between male and        female  do not exist. God has made these differences and they are natural. This is saying that      these differences are not figured or recognized in the new position of being a Son of God (being

in Christ.) A healthy church will have all of these different people who still maintain their natural     differences yet function as the spiritual body of Christ.


We do not need to destroy the natural in order to attain the spiritual. God is the creator of both.

God’s creation, both natural and spiritual, work in harmony.


3:29     According to Gal.3:16 Christ was the heir of the promises spoken to Abraham. Here it states that

            if we are in Christ then we are the “seed” and “heirs.”


            The Legalizers (in this case, the Judiaizers) had promised the Galatians that they could become part of Abraham’s seed by obeying the Jewish laws. They would at best be imitators of      Abraham’s natural seed. Paul tells them that by being in Christ, the heir of the promises, they are  given the promises of Abraham by being his spiritual seed. Point: Even the natural seed (Jews)    need to become Abraham’s spiritual seed by faith. So there is no advantage in taking the detour     through the law of Moses.


All that is available is in Christ. Christ is mentioned 7 times in the last 8 verses.


Three things are discussed in this three-dimensional application:

1)    The height – In Christ we are reconciled to the transcendent God of the universe (3:26)

2)    The width - In Christ we are united to all other believers and they to us. (3:28)

3)    The length – In Christ we are joined to a long line of believers through out history (3:29)


Galatians 4:1

This begins the final contrast

This develops the thought of the pedagogue in verses 23-29


4:1-2 – “the time set by his father” is “prothesmias, an Athenian legal term referring to an appointed time for   the termination of the minority. This time is set by the father of the child.


In Judaism a boy became a man at the age of 12

            In Greek culture a boy passed from the care of his father to the care of the state at age 18.

                        The Greek boy was then responsible to the state.

   Under Roman law there was also a coming of age, but it was not a code or a year. It was a

                        time set by the discretion of the father.

                        The Roman child was under the guardians until the time set by the father had come.

                        At the annual feastival on March 17 the child was officially adopted by the father as the   father’s son and heir.

                        The son then received the toga virilis in place of the toga praetexta

                        “toga virilis” – “the white toga of manhood assumed by boys of ancient Rome at age 15.”


            Note: “Pedagogue” is replaced with the terms “guardians” and “trustees.”

                        Paul is thinking of our status before Christ as compared with in Christ.


4:3       “When we were children” refers to before Christ and under the supervision of a law.


            We were “in slavery under the basic principles of the world.”

            What does this mean: (this “basic principles of the world” has been widely debated.)

1)    The elementary stages of religious experience common to all men. This word is used in Hebrews 5:12; and Colossians 2:8,20. Paul would have been referring to the elemental phases of religion for both the Jew and the Gentile. This is hard to accept for it would include Paul giving recognition to the pagan rituals as foundational in the development of Christianity. This view would not be supported by his teaching in Romans 1.

2)    Paul is referring to the Law of Moses. This view is consistent with Paul’s earlier teaching concerning the law holding us in bondage. The difficulties are:

a.     It would not apply to the Gentiles which are included in this discussion

b.     Why would Paul say, “of the world,” if he were talking about “of Israel?”

3)    This view is based on a different meaning of the Greek word “stoicheia.” The word can mean

elements” as well as “alphabet,” or “basic principles.” This word is used the way we refer to chemistry and the elements that make up the universe. The ancient world had four elements:

earth, fire, air, water. These had been expanded in the days of Rome to include: the sun, moon, stars, planets. The connection to this verse comes when we understand that each of these was associated with a god, or a demon. These “gods” controlled the calendar and were associated with feast and celebration. Paul is referring to the bondage or slavery to the practice of demon worship and a lifestyle dictated by beliefs and superstitions produced by these pagan gods.

This view is supported by the following reasons:

a)     4:8, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature   are not gods.”

b)    4:9, “those weak and miserable principles.”

c)     4:10, “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years.”

d)    Romans 8:38, 39; Eph. 6:10-13, shows Paul’s world view included a conflict of interest, values, priorities with demons.


So, to be in Christ means to be free from bondage to:

a)     the Mosaic Law if you are Jewish

b)    the demonic forces of false religions if you are a Gentile


“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Ephesians 2:1-3