4:1 Now 1 I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
(1) He declares by another twofold similitude,
that which he said before concerning the keeper and schoolmaster. For, he
says, the Law (that is, the whole government of God's house according to the
Law) was as it were a tutor or overseer appointed for a time. And when that
protection and overseeing which was but for a time is ended, we would at
length come to be at our own liberty, and would live as children, and not as
servants. Moreover, he shows along the way, that the governance of the Law was
as it were the basics, and as certain principles, in comparison with the
doctrine of the Gospel.
4:2 But is under tutors and governors a
until the time appointed of the father.
(a) This is added because he that is always under
a tutor or governor may hardly be considered a freeman.
4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in
bondage under the b elements of the
(b) The Law is called elements, because by the
Law God instructed his Church as it were by elements, and afterward poured out
his Holy Spirit most plentifully in the time of the Gospel.
4:4 2 But
when the c fulness of the time was come,
God sent forth his Son, made of a d
woman, made under the law,
(2) He utters and declares many things at once,
that is, that this tutorship was ended at his time, in order that curious men
may stop asking why the schoolmastership lasted so long. And moreover, that we
are not sons by nature, but by adoption, and that in the Son of God, who
therefore took upon him our flesh, that we might be made his brethren.
(c) The time is said to be full when all parts of
it are past and ended, and therefore Christ could not have come either sooner
(d) He calls Mary a woman in respect of the sex,
and not as the word is used in a contrary sense to a virgin, for she remained
a virgin still.
4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we
might receive the e adoption of sons.
(e) The adoption of the sons of God is from
everlasting, but is revealed and shown in the time appointed for it.
4:6 3 And
because ye are sons, God hath f sent
forth the g Spirit of his Son into your
hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
(3) He shows that we are free and set at liberty
in such a way that in the meantime we must be governed by the Spirit of
Christ, who while reigning in our hearts, may teach us the true service of the
Father. But this is not to serve, but rather to enjoy true liberty, as it is
fitting for sons and heirs.
(f) By that which follows he gathers that which
went before: for if we have his Spirit, we are his sons, and if we are his
sons, then we are free.
(g) The Holy Spirit, who is both of the Father,
and of the Son. But there is a special reason why he is called the Spirit of
the Son, that is, because the Holy Spirit seals up our adoption in Christ, and
gives us a full assurance of it.
4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a h
servant, but a son; and if a son, then an i
heir of God through Christ.
(h) The word "servant" is not taken
here for one that lives in sin, which is appropriate for the unfaithful, but
for one that is yet under the ceremonies of the Law, which is proper to the
(i) Partaker of his blessings.
4:8 4 Howbeit
then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no
(4) He applies the former doctrine to the
Galatians, with a special rebuke: for in comparison with them, the Jews might
have pretended some excuse as men that were born and brought up in that
service of the Law. But seeing that the Galatians were taken and called out of
idolatry to Christian liberty, what pretence might they have to go back to
those impotent and beggarly elements?
4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather
are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and k
beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire l
again to be in bondage?
(k) They are called impotent and beggarly
ceremonies, being considered apart by themselves without Christ: and again, by
that means they gave good testimony that they were beggars in Christ, for when
men fall back from Christ to ceremonies, it is nothing else but to cast away
riches and to follow beggary.
(l) By going backward.
Brethren, I beseech you, be as I [am]; for I [am] as ye [are]: ye have not
injured me at all.
(5) He moderates and qualifies those things in
which he might have seemed to have spoken somewhat sharply, very skilfully and
divinely declaring his good will toward them in such a way, that the Galatians
could not but either be utterly hopeless when they read these things, or
acknowledge their own lack of steadfastness with tears, and desire pardon.
4:13 Ye know how through m
infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
(m) Many afflictions.
4:14 And my n
temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me
as an angel of God, [even] as o Christ
(n) Those daily troubles with which the Lord
tried me among you.
(o) For the sake of my ministry.
4:15 p Where
is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if [it had
been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to
(p) What a talk was there abroad in the world
among men, how happy you were when you received the gospel?
4:17 They zealously affect you,
q [but] not well; yea, they would
exclude you, r that ye might affect
(q) For they are jealous over you for their own
(r) That they may transfer all your love from me
4:18 But [it is] good to be s
zealously affected always in [a] good [thing], and not only when I am present
(s) He sets his own true and good love, which he
earnestly held for them, against the wicked vicious love of the false
4:20 I desire to be present
with you now, and to t change my voice;
for I stand in doubt of you.
(t) Use other words among you.
4:21 6 Tell
me, ye that u desire to be under the
law, do ye not hear the law?
(6) The false apostles urged this, that unless
the Gentiles were circumcised Christ could profit them nothing at all, and
also this dissension of those who believed in the circumcision, against those
who believed in the uncircumcision, both these things being full of offence.
Therefore the apostle, after various arguments with which he has refuted their
error, brings forth an allegory, in which he says that the Holy Spirit did
through symbolism let us know all these mysteries: that is, that it should
come to pass that two sorts of sons should have Abraham as a father common to
them both, but not with equal success. For as Abraham begat Ishmael by the
common course of nature, of Hagar his bondmaid and a stranger, and begat Isaac
of Sara a free woman, by the virtue of the promise, and by grace only, the
first was not heir, and also persecuted the heir. So there are two covenants,
and as it were two sons born to Abraham by those two covenants, as it were by
two mothers. The one was made in Sinai, outside of the land of promise,
according to which covenant Abraham's children according to the flesh were
begotten: that is, the Jews, who seek righteousness by that covenant, that is,
by the Law. But they are not heirs, and they will at length be cast out of the
house, as those that persecute the true heirs. The other was made in that high
Jerusalem, or in Zion (that is, by the sacrifice of Christ) which begets
children of promise, that is, believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And
these children (like Abraham) do rest themselves in the free promise, and they
alone by the right of children will be partakers of the father's
inheritance, whereas those servants will be shut out.
(u) That desire so greatly.
4:23 But he [who was] of the
bondwoman was born after the x flesh;
but he of the freewoman [was] by y
(x) As all men are, and by the common course of
(y) By virtue of the promise, which Abraham laid
hold on for himself and his true seed, for otherwise Abraham and Sara were
past the begetting and bearing of children.
4:24 Which things are an allegory: for z
these are the a two covenants; the one
from the mount b Sinai, which gendereth
to bondage, which is Agar.
(z) These represent and symbolize.
(a) They are called two covenants, one of the Old
Testament, and another of the New: which were not two indeed, but in respect
of the times, and the diversity of the manner of ruling.
(b) He makes mention of Sinai, because that
covenant was made in that mountain, of which mountain Hagar was a symbol.
4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and c
answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and d
is in bondage with her children.
(c) Look how the case stands between Hagar and
her children; even so stands it between Jerusalem and hers.
(d) That is, Sinai.
4:26 But Jerusalem which is e
above is free, which is the mother of us all.
(e) Which is excellent, and of great worth.
4:27 7 For
it is written, Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry,
thou that travailest not: for the f
desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
(7) He shows that in this allegory he has
followed the steps of Isaiah, who foretold that the Church should be made and
consist of the children of barren Sara, that is to say, of those who should be
made Ahraham's children by faith, and this only spiritually, rather than of
fruitful Hagar, even then foretelling the casting off of the Jews, and the
calling of the Gentiles.
(f) She that is destroyed and laid waste.
4:28 Now we, brethren, g
as Isaac was, are the children of h
(g) After the manner of Isaac, who is the first
begotten of the heavenly Jerusalem, as Israel is of the slavish synagogue.
(h) That seed to which the promise belongs.
4:29 But as then he that was born after the i
flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the k
Spirit, even so [it is] now.
(i) By the common course of nature.
(k) By the virtue of God's promise and after a
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
(8) The conclusion of the former allegory, that
we by no means procure and call back again the slavery of the Law, seeing that
the children of the bondmaid will not be heirs.