We can open our survey of Galatians chapter four with a look at each of the three sections that comprise this chapter. The first section covers verses one through seven and continues the “faith versus law” discussion that Paul the Apostle began earlier in chapter three. The next portion encompasses verses eight through twenty. This highly personal section highlights Paul’s deep concern for the Galatian churches and the damage that had been inflicted upon them by the false teachers of their day.
Finally, Galatians chapter four will end with a comparison of the Old and New Covenants. While the great Old Testament patriarch Abraham will serve as the focal point of this section, these verses will also call attention to the historic example of his wife, two of his sons, as well as another prominent member of his family. In addition, Paul will touch upon such varied subjects as Greco-Roman family law, Old Testament history, and Biblical geography throughout these verses.
We’ll take some time to examine those subjects and events over the course of this chapter. But first, the opening verses of Galatians chapter four will build upon the concept of Christians as “…children of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:26 TLB) that Paul began earlier in chapter three. Unfortunately, this means that the chapter break serves to interrupt this train of thought.
With this in mind, its easy to forget that the chapters and verses found in modern-day versions of the Bible did not appear within the original Biblical manuscripts. Instead, these references were later added to help identify each individual portion of Scripture. Because of this, its important to remember that the Biblical book we know today as the New Testament Epistle to the Galatians was originally written as a personal letter to the local churches of that area.
This meant that Paul’s correspondence flowed in a manner similar to a modern-day letter without chapter or verse divisions. As a result, the line of reasoning that began near the end of chapter three may not be apparent as we enter chapter four. Therefore, we can establish the continuity between these chapters in the following manner…
“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. Now I mean that the heir, as long as he is a minor, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father” (Galatians 3:29-4:2 NET).
We’ll begin our look at the meaning and application of these verses next.