No Longer Slaves But Sons and Heirs

Now I say, for as long a time as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he[a] is master of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the time set by his father. So also we, when we were children, we were enslaved under the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that he might redeem those under the law, in order that we might receive the adoption. And because you are sons, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba![b] (Father!),” so that you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, also an heir through God.

Do Not Be Enslaved Again

But at that time when you[c] did not know God, you were enslaved to the things which by nature are not gods. But now, because you have come to know God, or rather have come to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental spirits? Do you want to be enslaved to them[d] all over again? 10 You carefully observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest perhaps I have labored for you in vain! 12 I ask you, brothers, become like me, because I also have become like you. You have done me no wrong!

Paul’s Personal Appeal

13 But you know that because of an illness of the flesh I proclaimed the gospel to you the first time. 14 And you did not despise or disdain what was a trial for you in my flesh, but you welcomed me like an angel of God, like Christ Jesus. 15 So where is your blessing? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me! 16 So then, have I become your enemy by[e] being truthful to you? 17 They zealously seek you, not commendably, but they want to exclude you, in order that you may seek them zealously. 18 But it is good to be sought zealously in good at all times, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, for whom I am having birth pains again, until Christ is formed in you! 20 But I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone because I am perplexed about you.

Hagar and Sarah Represent Two Covenants

21 Tell me, you who are wanting to be under the law, do you not understand[f] the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the female slave and one by the free woman. 23 But the one by the female slave was born according to human descent, and the one by the free woman through the promise, 24 which things are spoken allegorically, for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery, who is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is a slave with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren woman, who does not give birth to children;

burst out and shout, you who do not have birth pains,

because many are the children of the desolate woman,

even more than those of the one who has a husband.”[g]

28 But you, brothers, are children of the promise, just as Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the child born according to human descent persecuted the child born according to the Spirit, so also now. 30 But what does the scripture say? “Drive out the female slave and her son, for the son of the female slave will never inherit with the son”[h] of the free woman. 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the female slave but of the free woman.


  1. Galatians 4:1 Here “although” is supplied as a component of the participle (“is”) which is understood as concessive
  2. Galatians 4:6 “Abba” is Aramaic for “father”
  3. Galatians 4:8 Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“know”) which is understood as temporal
  4. Galatians 4:9 Literally “to whom”
  5. Galatians 4:16 Here “by” is supplied as a component of the participle (“being truthful”) which is understood as means
  6. Galatians 4:21 Literally “hear”
  7. Galatians 4:27 A quotation from Isa 54:1
  8. Galatians 4:30 A quotation from Gen 21:10, which does not include the words “of the free woman”