top of page
  • Ethos Church


March 20 - March 24, 2023

Galatians 4 Overview

One of the tragedies of legalism is that it gives the appearance of spiritual maturity when, in reality, it leads backward into bondage. The Galatian Christians wanted to grow, but they were going about it in the wrong way. And their experience is not too different from ours today.

Here in Chapter 4, Paul is still addressing the Galatians who, like the prodigal son, wanted their Father to accept them as servants when they were really sons. Slaves when they were really free. Bondage when they were really liberated by Christ. But why? The Judaizers were responsible for tricking them into some of the wrong thinking. But also, their old nature liked the law because it enabled them to do things and measure external results. And as they measured themselves, they felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. Sound familiar?

Paul uses several approaches to convince the Galatians that they did not need legalism in order to grow in Christ. He told them that (through the Spirit) they are adopted children of God and co-heirs with Christ (4:1-7). Then he asks them “why” (4:8-11). Why are you trading your sonship for slavery? Why are you reluctant to rest in Jesus’ finished work? Paul even sensed that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism (4:15). He asked them “What has happened to that joy you experienced when you heard the gospel and trusted Christ?”

Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then?....Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth? Galatians 4:15-16

You can sense Paul’s love for the Galatians in Chapter 4. Whatever righteous anger boiled inside, it was because of love. Paul loved them enough to say hard things. He was going after their hearts; he wasn’t going to let them slide away.

At the end of Chapter 4, Paul launches into an allegorical look at the two sons of Abraham: Ishmael and Isaac. This passage is hard to understand, but in short, Paul is saying: you are either a child of slavery or a child of freedom. He’s asking the same questions of the Galatians that he asked previously. Why would they want condemnation when they could have freedom? Why be the son of slavery when they could be the son of freedom?

And we’ll have to examine our lives in the same way. Is your Christian life moving forward into liberty or backward into bondage?


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page