Sons, NOT Slaves, Passing from Slavery to Sonship (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

Sons, NOT Slaves, Passing from Slavery to Sonship (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 3, 2019

What do you think about when you think about inheritance?

CNNMoney reported, “American retirees expect to leave an average inheritance of almost $177,000 to their heirs.” This ranks sixth in the world, but this number does not apply to all Americans, however, since only 56 percent expect to leave any inheritance at all to their children.[1]

My theme today is:

We are no longer slaves but children of God.

Let’s read

Galatians 3:26-4:7:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

  1. Let’s review the context.
    1. Remember where we are at in Galatians. Paul has been writing about the law. The law had a purpose, it was not purposeless. There could be concern that Paul had talked negatively about the law and now people think it was useless and give in to antinomianism. This was a belief that we don’t need a moral law or a law.
    2. Then, in chapter 3:19-25 Paul talks about the law as a guardian.
    3. Now we are picking up after talking about the guardian and the law as a tutor to lead us to Christ.
    4. We were held in custody under the law but then faith came.
    5. The law could not give us righteousness.
    6. Faith came and Jesus came and so we are no longer under custody under the law.
    7. So, this brings us back to verse 26
  2. We are all sons (and daughters) through faith
    1. Let’s look at verses 26-29.
    2. We are all grafted into God’s family.
    3. àthis is an awesome truth, we have a family.
    4. 4:5 will get into this idea of sonship more.
    5. The ESV Study Bible shares: The Greek word huioi(“sons”) is a legal term used in the adoption and inheritance laws of first-century Rome. As used by Paul here and elsewhere in his letters (cf. 4:5–7 8:14–16, 23), this term refers to the status of all Christians, both men and women, who, having been adopted into God’s family, now enjoy all the privileges, obligations, and inheritance rights of God’s children.
    6. In Gal. 3:27, we have a nice picture of being baptized into Christ.
    7. This is a nice picture of being clothed with Christ.
    8. This is like we put on the uniform of Christ.
      1. Baptism seems to be a ceremonial rite.
      2. Baptism was a huge deal at that time and in the first few centuries of the church.
  • Sometimes they had different robes for them to put on after the baptism.
  1. When we are baptized into Christ we have a new life.
    1. Rom 6:3 talks about being baptized into Christ and being baptized into His death.
    2. 13:14: Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.[2]

Max Lucado shares about this:

I make no claim to being a good golfer, but I love to play golf, watch golf, and on good nights I even dream golf.

So when I was invited to attend the Masters Golf Tournament, I was thrilled. A pass to the Masters is the golfer’s Holy Grail. Mine came via pro golfer Scott Simpson.

Off we went to Augusta National Country Club in Georgia where golf heritage hangs like moss from the trees. I was a kid in a candy store. It wasn’t enough to see the course and walk the grounds; I wanted to see the locker room where the clubs of Ben Hogan and Paul Azinger are displayed.

But they wouldn’t let me in. A guard stopped me at the entrance. I showed him my pass, but he shook his head. I told him I knew Scott, but that didn’t matter. “Only caddies and players,” he explained.

Well, he knew I wasn’t a player or a caddie. Caddies are required to wear white coveralls. My clothing was a dead giveaway. So I left, knowing I had made it all the way to the door but was denied entrance.

God has one requirement for entrance into heaven: that we be clothed in Christ.

When someone prays, “Take away my [sinful] rags and clothe me in your grace,” Jesus in an act visible only to the eyes of heaven, removes the stained robe and replaces it with his robe of righteousness.

What did Jesus do for you and me? He put on our coat of sin and wore it to the cross. As he died, his blood flowed over our sins and they were cleansed. Because of this, we have no fear of being turned away at the door of heaven.[3]

  1. In Gal. 3:28: we are all one in Christ Jesus.
  2. This verse does not mean we lose our own identity, it just means our identity does not separate us. We are no longer:
    1. Greek or Jew
    2. Slave or free
    3. Male or female
  3. You are all one in Christ Jesus.
  4. I believe it would be okay to add other nations in here as well. Christianity does not separate based off of nationality or gender.
  5. However, this does not mean there are no longer gender roles.
    1. Ro 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,
    2. 1 Co 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.
  • Col 3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
  1. 3:29: important summary: if you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
    1. This is really awesome
    2. It is a privilege to be Abraham’s descendants and heirs according to the promise.
  • Belonging to Christ grafts us in to be children of Abraham.
  • Now, Paul drives this point home.
    1. 4:1-3: As long as the heir is a child, even though he owns everything he is a slave. He is under guardians and managers, UNTIL the date set by his father. This would be the date of freedom and ownership and sonship. One writes: In Roman culture the father determined the proper time to conduct the ceremony of passage. He took his child out from under the tutelage of his professional guardians and made him a free son. Normally he did this when his child turned 14.
    2. Now this is the application. We were the children, we had the promise, but we were under guardian. We were held in bondage under the elementary principles of the world.
    3. What does that mean? The ESV Study Bible shares about elementary principles: Both here and in  9the expression refers to the elementary principles the Galatians previously followed, which for Jews would be the Mosaic law and for Gentiles the basic concepts of their pagan religions. But the additional overtones of demonic bondage in this phrase should not be ignored; they were, in terms of their mind-set and life situation, under a legalistic system and enslaved, and Paul explains in v. 8 that this enslavement was “to those that by nature are not gods.” Legalistic superstition and demonic domination are closely linked.
    4. Verse 4, Jesus came at just the right time:
    5. I am always amazed at this passage. This passage makes me think, “Wow! God did have a plan!” of course God had a plan and God sent Jesus at just the right time. Now, some can read this and think this is talking about the right time period for the Gospel to spread. Others may think of this as the right time period within historical Judaism. Either way this does have to do with God sending us His Son at the right time. In Romans 8:18-22 the Bible talks about how all of creation had been waiting in eager expectation for redemption. Actually, all of creation is still waiting in eager expectation for the final redemption.
    6. As far as the history of culture goes, at the time when God sent Jesus things were very ripe for mass communication which helped spread the Gospel. As the Bible exposition Commentary says it: “Roads connected city with city, and all cities ultimately with Rome. Roman laws protected the rights of citizens, and Roman soldiers guarded the peace. Thanks to both the Greek and Roman conquests, Latin and Greek were known across the empire. Christ’s birth at Bethlehem was not an accident; it was an appointment: Jesus came in “the fullness of the time.” (And, it is worth noting, that He will come again when the time is ready.)”
    7. Why does this matter? It matters because these Roman Roads as well as most of the area speaking the same language facilitated an easier spread of the Gospel.
    8. God had a plan and God still has a plan! Jesus came at the right time.
      1. Do you ever doubt? Don’t be afraid to admit that you have certain doubts or that you have certain struggles with faith. We all have doubts sometimes. But this shows us that God’s perfect plan considered every single detail.
      2. God is sovereign.
      3. Trust in God, I encourage you to remember that we can trust in Him.
    9. Jesus was born under the law, this means that Christ lived and fulfilled the Old Testament Law.
    10. Verse 5: Christ came born of a woman, born under the law so that He might redeem us.
    11. In verse 6 we see that God has sent forth His Son’s Spirit into our hearts
    12. This Spirit cries “abba Father!” or “daddy”
    13. Verse 7 gives a nice summary. You are not slaves any longer. This implies that they were slaves to begin with. Slaves to what? Sin, as earlier mentioned
    14. If a son than an heir through God.
  1. Applications:
    1. We must rejoice and worship that we are children of God (3:26).
    2. We must live for Christ recognizing that we are baptized into Christ and clothed with Christ (3:27).
    3. We must not allow cultural differences to separate us from others (3:28).
    4. We must and will confess and repent of any racist thoughts (3:28).
    5. We must challenge and encourage unity (3:28).
    6. We must stand up for those who are put down by others (3:28).
    7. We must not misinterpret chapter 3:28 in a way that takes away differences between cultural groups and roles.
    8. Christ came and because of that we have the right to become a child of God (4:5)
    9. Christ came at just the right time (4:5). We must spread the news of this gift (4:5)
  • We must recognize God’s sovereignty.

Christ gives us a greater inheritance than anything we could ever receive in this world.

The first Russian cosmonaut, Urie Gagarin, famously said when he got to space, “My atheism has been confirmed. I went up in space and looked around, and I didn’t see any God.”

Shortly after this, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay responding to Gagarin’s statement. Lewis pointed out that if there is a God who created everything, he would not relate to us the way a person who lives upstairs relates to a person who lives downstairs. This seemed to be Gagarin’s assumption: God lives somewhere “up there,” and if we climb high enough we’ll find him.

If God is Creator, Lewis said, then he would relate to us more like Shakespeare relates to Hamlet: Hamlet’s never going to find out anything about Shakespeare by going backstage. The only way Hamlet knows Shakespeare is if Shakespeare writes information about himself into the play.

The gospel goes one better: God inserted himself into the play. He wrote himself into creation, and, amazingly, he did so not only as the Judge but as the suffering Redeemer.[4]



[1]Today in the Word, Feb 2017

[2]Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible(Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Ro 13:14.

[3]Max Lucado, “Back Door,” Christian Reader (May/June 2000), p. 96


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