Galatians 4:6 states, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
The verb krazō (“to cry out”) is used 55 times in 54 verses in the NT, often in a literal fashion. For example, Peter cried out for Christ to save him from sinking in the water (Matt 14:30), people cried out when possessed by demons (Mark 5:5; 9:26), and people cried out for the death of Christ (Mark 15:13). Having some literal examples in hand, we feel this verb’s intensity when it is used of the Spirit’s action inside of someone’s heart. The Spirit cries out, “Abba! Father!” What is going on here? Are we supposed to somehow literally hear these words within our hearts to know that we are the sons of God?
What Paul is describing is a figurative crying out—it is not something audible. And yet, it takes place, and we know God is our Father because of this cry.
If God has truly saved us, and if we are truly His children, the Spirit does a work within us whereby we are confirmed that we are God’s children. This work is described here as the Spirit’s crying out within us that God is our Abba and Father. Abba was a term not usually used of God and stressed the intimate relationship of child and father. Father emphasizes this relationship as well. While the Spirit may not audibly make this cry within us, we know when this cry takes place because we ourselves are the ones saying that God is our Father, all at the Spirit’s prompting. In a parallel passage, Paul says that “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15 ESV). This process is described in this way: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16 ESV).
Comparing Scripture to Scripture with these two passages, we could say that one of the ways whereby we know that we are the children of God is this—God has placed the Spirit in us to bear witness to our spirits in such a way that moves us to cry with certainty to God that He is our Father.
To put it more simply, Galatians 4:6 provides us with part of the answer to the question, How can you know you are a Christian? Well, to be a Christian is to be a son of God, and we know we are the sons of God when the Spirit who lives within us prompts us to call upon God as our Father.
The women will be starting a new Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount. The study will begin on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 6:00 PM. Please join us as we dig deeper into God's Word together.
From “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” the first two verses of the third stanza read as follows:
Hail, the heav'nborn Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Ris'n with healing in His wings.
“The heav’nborn Prince of Peace” is obviously the Messiah (see Isaiah 9:6), but our understanding of the rest of these verses is not so immediate. Malachi 4:2 states, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (ESV). How is it that Christ is Malachi’s “Sun of Righteousness” who is “Ris’n with healing in His wings”?
Roughly 400 years before Christ, Malachi called Israel to faithfulness in light of her sins after returning to her land from exile. Malachi 3:13–4:3 gives an instance of these sins, recording Israel’s “hard words” against God claiming service to Him was profitless because the arrogant and evildoers lived in prosperity (Malachi 3:13–15). God responded that the unrighteous would indeed be judged and that the righteous would be protected (Malachi 3:16–4:3). The righteous would also experience the blessings of global righteousness and healing (Malachi 4:2).
Scripture often uses light as a metaphor for righteousness, and a king’s rule could shine righteousness over his land. As David once said, “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning” (2 Samuel 23:3–4). Likewise, Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah’s rule, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2; cf. 9:6–7). The fullest light of Christ’s rule comes at the end of the ages. John saw of the New Jerusalem that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23; cf. 22:5).
Malachi then pictures the sun’s rays as wings taking healing to all. Wherever this sun shines righteousness, it also gives healing through its rays. David once spoke of the sun’s dawning rays as the “wings of the morning” that reach to “the uttermost parts of the sea” (Ps 139:9). Wherever God’s righteous rule would be, so also would be His healing. The suffering of the Great Physician on the cross conquers not only sin but also its effects (Isaiah 53:4; cf. 35:5–6).
While Malachi did not speak directly of the Messiah as the sun with healing in His wings, this righteousness and healing do not come apart from Him. As He will one day be the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, we can gladly permit the hymnist the poetic license to call Christ the Sun of Righteousness whose rising day brings Healing as far as His rays will fly.
The Greek term paidagōs, from which we get our English pedagogue, has an array of translations and suggested translations: guardian, tutor, schoolmaster, disciplinarian, child-conductor, child-attendant, baby-sitter, custodian, and others. Sometimes it is translated as a verb, such as “put in charge.”
What makes this word interesting to translate is that it does not have an English equivalent. It refers to someone who was usually a servant who was given the charge of overseeing a child to school and back until the child was of age to assume his responsibilities without supervision. This oversight could extend to discipline when the child disobeyed and to education by reviewing the child’s lessons.
This term is also a metaphor for the Mosaic Law, which shapes how we perceive a large portion of Scripture, and it is difficult to discern is just what point or points of similarity Paul intended between a paidagōs and the Law by using this metaphor.
“Context is king,” as one my professors used to say, and that maxim may be the key to determining the meaning of paidagōs in this passage. So, in context, Paul has already been describing the Mosaic Law along the lines of its negative functions. It cannot justify (Gal 2:16), it curses those who do not obey it perfectly (Gal 3:10), and it gives no eternal inheritance to its adherents (Gal 3:18). If the law leaves its adherents in such shambles, the natural question is, “Why then the law?” (Gal 3:19). Paul vaguely answers his question with the brief phrase “because of transgressions” (Gal 3:19; or, “for the sake of transgressions”), and his vagueness has led to a number of suggestions as to this phrase’s meaning. We at least know that the phrase uses the term “transgressions,” and a transgression is a specific kind of sin in which the sinner knowingly violates the Law.
Moving further along in the context, Paul relates the Law to sin by referring to the Law as “Scripture” which has “imprisoned everything under sin” (Gal 3:22). For all that we could include in “everything,” we can at least include ourselves as sinners, and we see that we, too, are imprisoned by the Law in Paul’s statement, “we were held under custody by the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed” (Gal 3:23). If the Law was added for the sake of defining sin and showing sinners how they transgress the commands of God, and if man is incapable of perfectly obeying the law, then the Law imprisons and holds us in custody by promising life but never giving it because we can never live up to its demands. In this way, we see righteousness is only by faith.
Insomuch as the Law was meant to teach these very truths, the Law corresponds to the teaching function of a paidagōs. And, because the Law was meant to last until Christ, its temporality corresponds to a paidagōs as well. If the penalty of the Law is in view (i.e., imprisonment, custody), then maybe there is a notion of severity that could correspond to a paidagōs as well.
In Galatians 3:16, Paul identifies Christ as the offspring who received the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant as Christ. Did Abraham also think that Christ was the recipient of the promise that worldwide blessing would come to all through Him?
Perhaps the best way to understand the promise to this offspring is to understand offspring in a generic sense and yet realize that it also referred to one specific male offspring who would see the promise realized in full. This understanding seems to be how Abraham and others would have understood it then, which explains why Paul would have identified the offspring as Christ as well.
The recipient of Abraham’s promise was his offspring, which could refer to anyone who was his offspring. Whether Isaac, Jacob, or Israel as a nation, they, too, received the promises first given to Abraham. And, the blessing to the nations through them would have come by these nations blessing them and having faith in the promise themselves (Gen 12:3). The Offspring who received the promise to Abraham and brings blessing to the nations in full is obviously Christ because of what He did on the cross. By blessing Him, so to speak, through believing in Him, anyone among the nations of the earth may find himself blessed in that he is declared righteous before God through his faith.
The term offspring in two other instances is used similarly. First, Gen 3:15 promised that the seed of the woman would strive with but eventually crush the serpent. While it was singularly “he” who would crush the serpent’s head (obviously Christ), we find later that Satan’s crushing also involves the feet of believers as well (Rom 16:20). The struggle between Christ and Satan is shown through the plural offspring of each throughout the ages, as seen as early as the struggle between Abel and Cain in Gen 4 (cf. 1 John 3:9–10, 12). So, while Christ is the singular Offspring who crushes Satan in the end, so also all the offspring of the woman who are in Him will enjoy victory over Satan as well. Offspring can refer to both Christ and many offspring.
Second, 2 Sam 7:12–13 promised to David that his offspring would have his kingdom established and that the throne would be established forever. While some of David’s offspring were kings who saw their thrones established in part, the greatest Offspring of David is obviously Christ who will come again and rule forever. Again, offspring here refers ultimately to Christ while previously referring to other offspring before Him.
Added to all of the above is the fact that we have seen at least three stands of promises to offspring that all find their greatest fulfillment in Christ. The original readers of the OT would easily have understood the offspring from one promise to the other to find partial fulfillment in their day, knowing that one day the promise’s greatest fulfillment would be in the greater Offspring to come.
Join us for a new study centered around the question, "Why the Bible?" The study will begin on Sunday, November 26 during the adult Christian Life Hour (11 AM). John Ihne will be leading the class.
A Help to the Message: The Role of the Law in Leading to Life (2:19–20)
Before we throw out the law altogether when it comes to justification, we must remember that the law is not useless. After all, is it good when used in a lawful way (cf. 1 Tim 1:8–11). When someone attempts to live according to the law, his sin will show him time and again that he cannot live according to its demands and must suffer its penalty of death. Coming to this realization is actually one of the good purposes of the law. It shows one just how much he cannot attain his own righteousness by keeping the law because he can never perfectly keep it (cf. Gal 3:19–25). In this way he dies to the law, through the law, and is led to live to God in another way (Gal 2:19). Or, as Paul put it, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God” (Gal 2:19). That other way is justification by faith in Jesus Christ.
Remember that Christ lived out the law perfectly under the era of the law. And remember that He died the lawbreaker’s penalty of death without ever having broken the law. And remember that faith unites us to Christ. So, when we believe, we are united to Christ in His death, and thus we can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20). And it is who we were under sin as exacerbated by the law that died with Him at the cross.
Moreover, our union with Him is to be united to Him in life, so much so that we could even say again with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Even now, while in our physical bodies, we can have be justified by faith in Jesus Christ: “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20).
And for those who have faith, we are compelled to love the Savior all the more because it is He “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
The Hope of the Message: Righteousness through the Death of Christ (2:21)
Having said the above, we can claim that is actually us who do not deny God’s grace in salvation because we are not seeking God’s declaration of righteousness by living according to the law (cf. Gal 5:4). Were we to try such a thing, we would effectively dismiss the purpose of the death of Christ—to sinlessly die the sinner’s death so that all might live through Him (2:21). As Paul stated, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal 2:21).
The Heart of the Message: Justification by Faith in Christ (2:15–16): Our passage comes off the heels of Paul telling Peter he was wrong to withdraw from eating with the Gentiles (Gal 2:11–14). Peter’s problem was to imply through his behavior that the Gentiles needed to add obedience to the Mosaic law to their faith in Christ in order to be seen as righteous before God. In clarifying the matter further, Paul pointed out to Peter that even their privileged ethnicity as Jews in receiving the law did not make the law effective in bringing about their justification: “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
To be justified is to be declared by God as righteous, and the works of the law are not works produced by the law but works done in obedience to the law. And while we know that Jesus was perfectly faithful in His obedience to the law, “faith in Jesus Christ” is just that—the believer’s faith in Him and should not be translated as “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” The difference between the two options would be that our own faith is left unmentioned in the matter of justification if we speak only of the righteousness of Christ, not to mention we would be speaking of Christ in way that would be altogether unique in the NT.
Our faith in Jesus Christ is to have faith in who He is and what He has done for us. Not only did He as both God and man live perfectly according to the law, but He also suffered its penalty of death that you and I deserve. To believe, trust, and have faith in Him is to believe in a number of truths: (1) we have violated God’s law and stand condemned before Him; (2) Jesus lived out the law sinlessly and perfectly and merited a righteousness that we could never gain for ourselves; (3) Jesus died an undeserved death on our behalf and was vindicated as sinless at His resurrection (cf. 1 Tim 3:16); (4) His death and righteousness are our own when we believe in Him.
So, in putting these things together, our faith in Christ unites us to Christ and His righteousness becomes our own. The Father obviously approved of His Son when He raised Him from the dead, and we are thus approved and declared righteous by virtue of our standing in Christ. What a truth!
In previous studies, we matched the events of Galatians 1–2 to the book of Acts and concluded the following: Paul’s conversion and subsequent missionary endeavors are recorded in Acts 9:1–25 and Gal 1:11–17 (cf. 2 Cor 11:32–33); Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion and departure to the Gentiles are recorded in Acts 9:26–30 and Gal 1:18–24 (cf. Acts 22:17–21); and Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem is recorded in Acts 11:27–30 and Gal 2:1–10.
After describing his first and second meetings with Peter and others (Gal 1:18–21; 2:1–10), Paul recounted one more episode involving Peter in order to demonstrate that Peter was not the source of his gospel. In Gal 2:11–14, Paul confronted Peter in Syrian Antioch because Peter’s “conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel” that he had previously affirmed (Gal 2:14; cf. 1:18–2:10).
If “then” (Gal 1:18, 21; 2:1) and “when” (Gal 2:11) lay out for us a chronological series of events, Gal 2:11–14 occurred after Gal 2:1–10, which means that Gal 2:11–14 occurred sometime after Acts 11:27–30. And, if Galatians was written before Acts 15, our window for confrontation is somewhere in Acts 12–14.
Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, released, and “went to another place” (Acts 12:17; cf. 12:1–17). Paul was in Antioch in Acts 13:1–3 before his missionary journey in Acts 13:4–14:25 and returned to Antioch to report about his journey in Acts 14:25–28. Peter could have visited Paul in either Acts 13:1–3 or 14:24–28 or even sometime between Acts 14:24–28 and the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.
As to the last of these options, Luke records, “But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1 ESV).
“Some men” in Acts 15:1 are not the “certain men” who “came from James” in Gal 2:12 because James held to the same gospel as Paul (cf. Gal 1:19; 2:9; 1 Cor 15:7, 11). If anything, based upon Peter’s agreement with Paul in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:7–11), we could conclude that Peter responded positively to Paul’s rebuke (cf. Gal 2:11–14) and headed back to Jerusalem. “Some men” then “came down from Judea” to respond with their false gospel in light of what they heard about the matter (Acts 15:1). Then, “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2), and Paul sent his letter to the Galatians at this time, having heard that they were experiencing this same debate. Then Paul went with Barnabas “up to Jerusalem…about this question” to settle the matter once and for all (Acts 15:2 ESV).
While we obviously cannot be certain about this timeline, it gives a possible explanation for how to coordinate and match the timing and events between Galatians and Acts.
Luke generally describes a meeting between Paul and the apostles in Acts 9:26–27. Paul gave more details as to this meeting in Gal 1:18–19. Paul mentions that he then left for Syria and Cilicia in Gal 1:21. Luke mentions this departure as Paul leaving for Tarsus in Acts 9:30 (Tarsus is a city in the region of Cilicia) and records his time in Antioch in Acts 11:25–26 (this was the Antioch in Syria; cf. Gal 1:21). Acts 22:17–21 records Paul’s recollection of a vision from Jesus during this time as well. What follows below is more detailed and chronological description of this time in Paul’s life. The passages above are cited, approximate dates are provided, and an explanation is given for why the accounts differ between Luke and Paul.
Three years after his conversion (AD 34), Paul came to Jerusalem for the first time as a believer (Gal 1:18; AD 37) and was rejected in his attempt to join the disciples―they were fearful that he was not truly one of them (Acts 9:26). But then Barnabas brought him to the apostles―Peter and James in particular―for a private, fifteen-day visit that, after an explanation by Barnabas of Paul’s ministry in Damascus, resulted in Paul’s fellowship with the brothers in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28a; Gal 1:18–19).
Having been granted this fellowship, Paul then preached boldly in Jerusalem and disputed against the Hellenists (Acts 9:28b–29a). As a result, these Hellenists sought to kill Paul (Acts 9:29b). At some point during this time, Paul was praying in the temple when Jesus appeared to him in a vision, warned him that the Hellenists would not accept his testimony, told him to leave Jerusalem quickly, and said that he would go far away to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17–21).
Whether knowledgeable of Paul’s vision or not, the brothers in Jerusalem learned of the Hellenists’ plot to kill Paul, took him to Caesarea, and sent him to Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 9:30), where Paul would begin to fulfill Jesus’ instructions. Paul was there for what may have been roughly eight of what many call his “silent years” (AD 37–45), ended by Barnabas retrieving him and bringing him to Syrian Antioch where he stayed for a whole year (Acts 11:25–26; cf. Gal 1:21; AD 45–46).
As to why Luke and Paul differ, Paul’s burden in Gal 1:11–2:14 was to explain that his gospel was from Christ and not Peter, the apostles, and Jerusalem. Paul explained the primary significance of his visits to Jerusalem along these lines but did not need to recount all of the details of his ministry during this time. As to Paul’s preaching in Jerusalem, Luke wanted to provide his readers with the reasons as to why Paul left for Tarsus (in Cilicia) and described how he eventually came to Antioch (in Syria).
Pastor regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our staff page.