“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” - Galatians 3:27-29
Paul continues in chapter 4: “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, but he is under the guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
The concepts of adoption, of inheritance, of slavery and freedom, are central to Paul’s argument. This is a brief letter that could be read to the church in a half hour, and it has the feel of a singular sermon with a singular message. In the first third, Paul pronounces the problem and lays contextual groundwork; in the middle third, he builds the logical bridge between what is known and what is to be concluded from that knowledge; and in the final third, he reinforces those conclusions and encourages his hearers to live according to the opportunity before them.
There are a few patterns of note. First, Paul grounds his arguments about the new covenant firmly in the patterns of the old. “Know then,” he reminds both Jew and Gentile, “that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” “Now you, like Isaac,” he reminds them today, “you…are children of promise.”
A second is how Paul continually identifies with the Galatians: “…in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith… Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law… In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved… God sent forth his Son…so that we might receive adoption as sons… So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman…” This subtle use of language reinforces the lack of distinction that is the heart of Paul’s message to the Galatians: “neither Jew nor Greek…”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Galatians 4 through 6. Now let’s read it!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.