Week 4: May 2 - 8


Galatians 4

The hyper-Jews from Jerusalem tell the gentiles in Galatia that they have to become Jewish to really be saved.  Not only must they believe in Christ, they also must keep the Old Testament law.  Paul goes crazy at this idea:  in chapter 3 he shows that the law came after the promise (vv. 15-18), that its only purpose is to reveal sin (v. 19), that it has passed its sell-by date (v. 19), that it could not stand on its own but needed a mediator to support it (vv. 19-20), that it couldn’t give life (v. 21), and that it acted as a temporary jail-keeper (vv. 22-25).  Now in chapter 4 Paul continues his assault on the hyper-Jews’ false reverence for the law by using a word-picture drawn from family life.  He then appeals to Galatians because of their past love for him.  Finally he beats the hyper-Jews at their own game by using the kind of allegorical interpretation the rabbis loved so much.


Day 1

  1. Read Galatians 4 and focus on vv. 1-8.

  2. Paul invites the Galatians to compare being an underage heir to being one who has come of age.  Finish this chart to see the difference:

Under Age                                                                  

v. 1. Like a slave

v.2.  Subject to guardians and trustees


Owns the whole estate

3. In these verses Paul likens “being underage” to not being a Christian.  In v. 3 what does he say was true of us before we came to Christ?

4. Because we have come to Christ, what does v. 5 say is true of us?

5. Because we are God’s sons, what has God done for us?

6. According to v. 7, what two things are true of us because we are no longer slaves?

7. If you were born into the British royal family, what difference do you think that would make in our life?  Since you are born into God’s divine family, what difference do you you think it should make in your life?


Day 2 


  1. Read Galatians 4 and focus on vv. 8-10.

  2. According to Paul what was true of our lives before we knew God?

  3. For those of us who came to Jesus as adults, what forms of slavery were especially strong in our lives?

  4. In v. 9 Paul likens adopting the Jewish law--the works-righteousness approach to life--to what?

  5. What outward changes do the Galatians Christians make when they obey the hyper-Jews and try to follow the Old Testament law?


Day 3 


  1. What does Paul fear when he hears the Galatians have listened to the hyper-Jews?

  2. What does Paul ask the Galatians to do in v. 12 and what motive does he give them to do it?

  3. Later when Paul writes to Corinth he makes it clear what he means when he tells the Galatians he became like them.  From 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, what does he mean?

  4. Since Paul gave up his allegiance to the Jewish law for the sake of the Galatians, what does he want them to do for him in return?

  5. We don’t know how Paul was sick when he preached to the Galatians, but we do know they did not refuse to listen to him because of his condition. Instead of treating him with scorn how do they treat him?

  6. What does Paul wonder because the Galatians are abandoning the message he preached to them?


Day 4


  1. Read Galatians 4 and focus on vv. 17-20.

  2. What are the hyper-Jews zealous about?  What is their ultimate goal?

  3. What does it mean to be zealous for the law?  What does it mean to be zealous for Jesus?

  4. What word picture does Paul use to show his love for the Galatians?

  5. Do you know any baby Christians inside or outside your family?  How zealous are you that Christ be formed in them?

  6. What do you do in terms of thought, planning, energy, and prayer to make sure Christ is formed in the baby Christians around you?

  7. How does Paul describe his state of mind about the Galatians?

  8. Have you ever cared enough about someone’s spiritual state to be perplexed about it?


Day 5


  1. Read chapter 4 and focus on vv. 21-27.

  2. Paul’s next argument is the kind the hyper-Jews would love, but he turns it on its head to show how wrong they are.  The rabbis loved to allegorize the Old Testament stories and Paul does exactly that with the story of Sarah and Hagar from Genesis 16, 17, and 21.  Make a chart contrasting the truths about the children of Sarah and Hagar.  Here is a start:



Born by Promise                                 



Born by Flesh

3. V. 27 is a quote from Isa 54:1. The barren woman is Sarah and that is literally what she is called in Genesis 11:30 although the NIV translates it as “childless.”  Which one of Sarah and Hagar will ultimately have more children?  According to this prophecy, which will be greater, the number of Christians or the number of Jews?


Day 6


  1. Read Galatians 4 and focus on vv. 28-31.

  2. Paul assumes the Galatians know that Sarah’s son was Isaac.  According to Genesis 21:9 how did the son born according to the flesh persecute the son born by the power of the Spirit?

  3. What must happen to the slave woman and her son?

  4. If you feel the injustice of Abraham’s treatment of his slave and her son, consider all of what the Bible says about Ishmael.  Although Paul calls Isaac the son of promise, other parts of the Bible show that Ishmael also shares in God’s promises and blessing.  Ishmael is mentioned at least eight times in the Old Testament and is often blessed by God.  In Genesis 16:10 God promises Ishmael, “I will so increase your descendants so that they will be too numerous to count.”  God goes on in verse 12 to state that Ishmael will be “a wild donkey of a man” and “will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”  These words, however, do not indicate God’s disfavor with Ishmael, for he is included in the covenant with Abraham by circumcision (Genesis 17:23) and God promises again to bless him: “I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.  He will be the father of twelve rulers and I will make him into a great nation”  (Genesis 17:20).  This promise is reiterated in Genesis 21:13 and 18, and is partially fulfilled as Genesis 21:20 tells us that God was with the boy as he grew up.  More of the promise comes true as Genesis 25:13 tells us that Ishmael’s twelve sons become the heads of twelve tribes and finally Isaiah 60:7 prophesies that the flocks of Ishmael’s sons will serve Israel and be accepted on God’s altar.  True, Ishmael is not part of God’s plan to save the world through Abraham and Sarah, but he and his descendants are richly blessed by God.

  5. The hyper-Jews wanted to limit God’s blessing to the Jews and those who became Jews by circumcision and allegiance to all 613 commands of the law.  According to Paul, who gets the blessing of God?  How does one become a child of the free woman?  Who is your mother?