4 I want to tell you this: While those who will inherit their fathers’ property are still children, they are no different from slaves. It does not matter that the children own everything. 2 While they are children, they must obey those who are chosen to care for them. But when the children reach the age set by their fathers, they are free. 3 It is the same for us. We were once like children, slaves to the useless rules of this world. 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law. 5 God did this so he could buy freedom for those who were under the law and so we could become his children.
6 Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, “Father.”[a] 7 So now you are not a slave; you are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child.
Paul’s Love for the Christians
8 In the past you did not know God. You were slaves to gods that were not real. 9 But now you know the true God. Really, it is God who knows you. So why do you turn back to those weak and useless rules you followed before? Do you want to be slaves to those things again? 10 You still follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid for you, that my work for you has been wasted.
12 Brothers and sisters, I became like you, so I beg you to become like me. You were very good to me before. 13 You remember that it was because of an illness that I came to you the first time, preaching the Good News. 14 Though my sickness was a trouble for you, you did not hate me or make me leave. But you welcomed me as an angel from God, as if I were Jesus Christ himself! 15 You were very happy then, but where is that joy now? I am ready to testify that you would have taken out your eyes and given them to me if that were possible. 16 Now am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 Those people[b] are working hard to persuade you, but this is not good for you. They want to persuade you to turn against us and follow only them. 18 It is good for people to show interest in you, but only if their purpose is good. This is always true, not just when I am with you. 19 My little children, again I feel the pain of childbirth for you until you truly become like Christ. 20 I wish I could be with you now and could change the way I am talking to you, because I do not know what to think about you.
The Example of Hagar and Sarah
21 Some of you still want to be under the law. Tell me, do you know what the law says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one son was a slave woman, and the mother of the other son was a free woman. 23 Abraham’s son from the slave woman was born in the normal human way. But the son from the free woman was born because of the promise God made to Abraham.
24 This story teaches something else: The two women are like the two agreements between God and his people. One agreement is the law that God made on Mount Sinai,[c] and the people who are under this agreement are like slaves. The mother named Hagar is like that agreement. 25 She is like Mount Sinai in Arabia and is a picture of the earthly city of Jerusalem. This city and its people are slaves to the law. 26 But the heavenly Jerusalem, which is above, is like the free woman. She is our mother. 27 It is written in the Scriptures:
“Be happy, Jerusalem.
You are like a woman who never gave birth to children.
Start singing and shout for joy.
You never felt the pain of giving birth,
but you will have more children
than the woman who has a husband.” Isaiah 54:1
28 My brothers and sisters, you are God’s children because of his promise, as Isaac was then. 29 The son who was born in the normal way treated the other son badly. It is the same today. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son. The son of the slave woman should not inherit anything. The son of the free woman should receive it all.”[d] 31 So, my brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
- 4:6 “Father” Literally, “Abba, Father.” Jewish children called their fathers “Abba.”
- 4:17 Those people They are the false teachers who were bothering the believers in Galatia (Galatians 1:7).
- 4:24 Mount Sinai Mountain in Arabia where God gave his Law to Moses (Exodus 19 and 20).
- 4:30 “Throw . . . all.” Quotation from Genesis 21:10.