Galatians 4:1-10 — Sonship — Bible study notes

I. Slaves (immature) under the law (verses 1-3)

Galatians 4:1-3 (AMP): Now what I mean is that as long as the inheritor (heir) is a child and under age, he does not differ from a slave, although he is the master of all the estate; (2) But he is under guardians and administrators or trustees until the date fixed by his father. (3) So we [Jewish Christians] also, when we were minors, were kept like slaves under [the rules of the Hebrew ritual and subject to] the elementary teachings of a system of external observations and regulations.

  • The Old Covenant law was to be temporary until Christ came — it was NEVER to be permanent
  • Paul says that although they are “sons” (of God), they are no different than slaves.
    • Though legally the entire inheritance (of God) is theirs, the law was their tutor and guardian UNTIL the time appointed by the Father
    • That time appointed by the Father was when Christ would come and set them free to walk in the grace inheritance that is theirs as sons
  • The cross changed everything
    • After the cross, they were free to go from being slaves to sons by believing in what Jesus had done for them.
  •  Remember the Old Covenant law was only for the Jews
    • see verses — Deuteronomy 4:44; Deuteronomy 5:3; Leviticus 26:46; Psalm 147:19-20; Leviticus 27:34; Psalm 81:4; Romans 9:4; Romans 2:14;1 Timothy 1:9
    • The law was never for us Gentiles.
      • We were to believe in Jesus and immediately become sons…. not bound to the Old Covenant law as our tutor or our schoolmaster.
      • We were now in the school of grace and it would train us in righteousness and godliness and teach us to say no to sin (Titus 2:11-12)
  •  Under the law, people are no better than slaves (bondservants) — constantly being told what to do and no freedom to choose — no access to the inheritance that is their birthright.
    • The inheritance is legally theirs as sons
      • But they haven’t grown into their son-ship yet….. they are living under a dead, faithless, system that Christ set them free from.
      • Through Christ, people have been redeemed from the slave/servant relationship to the law and are now sons with all the rights, privileges, and freedoms that go with that.

III. Jesus born under the law (verses 4-5)

Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB): But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (5) so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

  • When the right time came — everything that was predicted in the Old Testament was concluded in Christ!

verse 5 in the Mirror: His mandate was to rescue the human race from the regime of the law of performance and announce the revelation of their true sonship in God.

  • His purpose in coming into the world was twofold.
    • He came to “redeem them that were slaves to the law.”
      • He did this by perfectly keeping the Law, fulfilling it, and paying its curse (Matthew 5:17 and Galatians 3:13).
      • By doing this, Christ delivered us from the entire system of the law.
    • Christ gave us the status of sonship with all its privileges.
      •  In the Greek, the expression means adult-sons.
      •  Under law we are treated as immature childlike slaves/servants
      • Under grace, we are treated as mature adult sons.
  • So in Christ, we were not only delivered from the bondage of slavery and servitude to the law but also redeemed unto sonship.
  • We simply need to renew our minds… actually walk in our already renewed minds…. as sons  in the full benefits of our inheritance

IV. We are now sons (verses 6-7)

Galatians 4:6-7 (NLT): And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (7) Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

  •  My life as a son is led by the Spirit of God.
  • Rom 8:14 (Mirror): The original life of the Father revealed in his son is the life the Spirit now conducts within us.
    • led is agoo in Greek, it means to conduct or to lead as a shepherd leads his sheep
    • the Spirit of God… the Spirit of Grace now leads my life… not the rules & regulations of the law
  • Slavery/servanthood is such a poor substitute for sonship
    • They are opposites
      • Slavery is a harsh taskmaster that leads forcefully through fear
      • Sonship is an intimate relationship with Abba Father.
    • Rom 8:15 (Amp): For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Daddy)! Father
  • His Spirit resonates within our spirit to confirm the fact that we originate in God and are fully dependent on Him.
    • Rom 8:16 (Amp): The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.
  • Because we are his offspring, we qualify to be his heirs, God himself is our portion, we co-inherit with Christ.
    • Rom 8:17a (Amp) And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him];…..”
  • Legalism which is a dependance on Old Covenant law rather than grace alone, contradicts sonship!
  • Legalism which is a dependance on Old Covenant law rather than grace alone, contradicts sonship!
  • Sonship cannot be earned.
  • We are not sons because of our obedience — we are sons because of Christ’s obedience
  • Jesus redeemed us from the law and it’s demands and MADE US sons
  • It is ours IN CHRIST.
  • We are NOW no longer slaves but sons
  • And as sons we are heirs

V. Don’t become enslaved again (verses 8-10)

Galatians 4:8-10 (NLT): Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. (9) So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? (10) You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.

  • Before the Galatian Christians came to know God through Christ, they were slaves to sin and in bondage to idols.
    • These idols were gods in name only.
    • They had no life and couldn’t do anything good or bad (see Psalms 115:4-8, 135:15-18; Isaiah 44:9-20; and Jeremiah 10:3-16).
  • Paul was writing this letter to convince them to trust in Christ alone for justification
    • they had been told that faith in Christ alone wasn’t enough for their new life in Christ
    • that they also had to keep the commandments of the Old Testament law
    • He wrote to turn them back to a pure faith in Christ alone
    • He was comparing their departure from the Gospel to them turning back to the idolatry they practiced before their salvation.
    • legalism is very similar to idolatry.
      •  Just as with the worship of idols, legalism assumes God is a wrathful God who has to be appeased by our efforts.
      •  In contrast, Christianity presents a loving Father who offers us salvation as a gift IN CHRIST
    • legalism is bondage, just as idolatry is bondage
    • the law was “weak”– it was powerless to save — just as all idolatry is powerless.
    • And any mixture of law and grace is weak and powerless — it is bondage
  • God predestined us to be sons IN CHRIST…. it was His desire.
    • The law was only to point us to Christ so that we could live the life He destined for us
    •  Ephesians 1:5 (NAS): He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
  • In verse 10, he named some of the things they were proclaiming had to be added to faith in Christ in order to truly be right with God.
    • The observance of days refers to keeping the Sabbath.
    • Observing months and times is a reference to the new moons and feasts
    • Observing years refers to the Sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee
    • Paul made it very clear that the keeping of these rituals is not necessary for salvation or for living this new life under the Covenant of grace.

VI. In Closing

  •  We are to simply walk as sons and heirs IN CHRIST
  • We are no longer slaves (bondservants) but sons
  • In John 8:35-36 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and telling them that freedom is found IN HIM and under the law they are slaves
    • Showing them the difference between their relationship to God under the Old Covenant and under the New
      • The Old Covenant position — that of a servant was an inferior relationship motivated by fear
      • The New Covenant position — as a son was superior in every way and motivated by love
    • John 8:35-36: The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. (36) So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
      Mirror: The difference between the slave and the son is that the slave only works there; for the son the father’s house is home! (36) With the freedom found in sonship there is no pretence (no false claim, no pretending)!
    • we are free indeed! Indeed means actually true; reality; Freedom as sons is our reality — it’s who we truly are!
  • Galatians 4:7: Now you are no longer a slave (bondservant) but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
    • no longer — in Greek means not to remain; never again
    • The Father sees us as His sons
    • why then would we continue to relate to Him as a servant (with an Old Covenant law based way of thinking)?
      • Galatians 4:7 (Mirror): Can you see how foolish it would be for a son to continue to live his life with a slave mentality? Your sonship qualifies you to immediately participate in all the wealth of God’s inheritance which is yours because of Christ.


  • a servant serves in bondage
  • his relationship is performance based
  • there are no evenings of intimate family interaction and no secure position
  • he enters His master’s house, receives his assignments, and sets about fulfilling them to the best of his ability
  • he then goes to the servant’s quarters (not even his own home!) assured of his masters pleasure, the satisfaction of his wage and the assurance that the relationship is secure. should he fail to do his master’s will, the anger of his displeased master may be vented on him, his promised wages could be withheld as a punishment, he might receive a physical beating, or his employment could be terminated.
  • seeing yourself as a servant and believing that your acceptance and approval by God is based on your performance will cause frustration – Paul talks about this in Romans 7:21-24
  • a servant never escapes from the condemning feeling that you should’ve done more
  • A servant walks in bondage and fear all of his life
  • “A slave does not abide in the house forever”



  • In contrast….. Jesus declared that “a son abides forever”
  • a son loves in freedom
  • a son’s relationship is by virtue of his birth
  • our position as a son does not come through doing but through simply being… it’s who we are
  • And our being comes through birth
    •  John 1:12-13 (Amp) But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name— (13) Who owe their birth neither to [c]bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God. [They are born of God!]
  •  a son has a room in his father’s house, a place at his table and a share in his busines
  • his position is permanent
  •  and once a son….always a son!
  • a son walks in freedom and love
  • a son has dominion and is master of all
    • Luke 15:31: And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and ALL that is mine is yours.”
      •  ALL is ALL
      •  ALL that the Father has is mine IN CHRIST
      • always with me — signifying his position of intimacy
        • our birthright as sons is uninterrupted fellowship and intimacy with the Father
        • Remember John 8:35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does
          remain forever (uninterrupted).”
      • all that I have is yours — signifying his possessions through inheritance
      • It is the religious servant (Old Covenant law) mentality that blocks us from receiving all that is ours IN CHRIST
  • When we get a revelation of our position as sons and heirs, we will rise up in faith and grabbing ahold what is rightfully already ours, exercise dominion that God has given us, and plunder the enemy who has stolen what belongs to us.
  •  When you cry Abba Father…. His response is not servant, slave, orphan or hirelin
  • His response is “My Son — you are ALWAYS with me and ALL that I have is yours”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.