Bible Study: Sons and Heirs
Questions to ask at the beginning of the book:
1. Who is the author of this book, and what do we know about them?
- Paul is the author of Galatians. This is our first time meeting Paul as an author in
this reading plan. Paul is an apostle of Christ, and we learned some of his story
from Acts. He was a religious leader, a persecutor of Christians. Then, one day on
the road to Damascus his life changed forever. Jesus grabbed a hold of him, and
he had a total conversion experience. He’s not known for who he was before
Jesus. He’s known as one of the most (if not the most) influential apostles of
Christ in history.
2. Who is the author writing to, and what do we know about them?
- Galatians 1:2 tells us he is writing to the churches of Galatia, which means there
are multiple congregations. There are two differing views on who the recipients
were, which also affects the view of when it was written. There are disputes as
to if he wrote this letter to the churches of northern vs. southern Galatia. In the
grand scheme of things, Galatians will still have the same central themes no
matter who it was written to. The only thing it changes is how we read Galatians
in relationship with the book of Acts . If it was written to the Northern churches, it
was probably written around the time of Romans after the second missionary
journey (see Acts 16:6). If it was written to the Southern churches, it very well
could have been the first letter he wrote, possibly around 48-49 AD (see Acts 13:14).
3. What is the genre of this book?
- This book is a letter. There are 13 letters from Paul, also called Pauline Epistles,
in the New Testament. They were either written to churches in specific regions
or individuals. This is obviously a letter to specific churches. The “theme” of
Galatians can be found in verse 2:16 “We know that a person is not justified by
the works of the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus, even we ourselves have
believed in Christ Jesus.” This letter was written to defend the truth of the gospel
in the face of a false gospel. Let’s dive in.
Questions about the selected passage: Galatians 3:24-4:7
1. Is there a key event (or events) happening in this chapter?
- Just like all biblical passages, this has to be read through the lens of what is
happening in the surrounding passages. Verses 24-26 are connecting verses to
the main passage to give us an idea of why Paul is talking about sons and heirs.
Galatians isn’t super long so we kind of have to look at the book as a whole to
understand this passage. We’ll stop before ch. 5, though, since that’s next week.
i. Ch 1-2 - The Galatians have taken to a false gospel that has been spread,
saying that Gentiles have to live under the Torah, the law given to the
Jews. There were messages spread about them having to be circumcised
or eat kosher to be justified. Peter (disciple) had even caved under
pressure and was an aid in spreading this incorrect message. Paul
confronted him and called out his hypocrisy, stating that this message
was in direct opposition of the gospel (see theme verse 2:16). To be
“justified” is to be declared righteous through God, and the gospel
declares us justified through faith, not by the law.
ii. Ch. 3 – Paul points to Abraham, who was declared righteous by the faith
he had in God’s promise. God’s plan was always to have a huge family
through Abraham’s generational offspring. The law was given for a
purpose, but was meant from the beginning to be temporary. It acted as
a “clarification of sin” until Christ came (3:19). It was never in conflict
with Abraham’s covenant, and it was necessary to both show Israel their
bondage under sin by magnifying it and act as a guide to instruct them in
the right ways.
iii. Which brings us to this passage. Jesus Christ came to take the curse of
Israel’s sin and place it on himself. And with that curse bring crushed into
oblivion, God’s blessing of salvation was made available to all people.
Verse 29 brings everything back around to Abraham’s promise: “If you
belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the
2. Who is involved in this event, and why are they significant?
- To understand who is affected by this passage, look no further than verse 3:28.
There is an equality and unity that happens under Jesus between people groups.
This verse signifies that rich, Jewish men are not the hierarchy under Jesus.
i. There is no Jew or Greek – Greek can also mean Gentile or basically
anyone who is not Jewish. The gospel is not confined by a region or
ethnicity or skin color.
ii. There is no slave or free – Jesus is not just for the rich. He does not care
about your socioeconomic status because you can’t buy the gospel. It’s
given for free to all who accept it.
iii. There is no male or female – No gender is to be exalted over another. In
Herod the Great’s temple, there was a Court of Women outside of the
temple because women were not allowed inside. Because of Jesus’
death/resurrection/ascension and the Holy Spirit’s descension, our
bodies are the temple of God. There is no “waiting area” for women.
Men and women have equal access to the Father.
3. Is there any terminology we should break down?
a. Guardian – (Paidagogos in Greek, where we get the term pedagogy) A guardian
in this time was a trusted slave who protected and instructed a young pupil until
he became the age of manhood. The law acted as our guardian until the
appointed time of Jesus.
b. Heir – Park right here for a second and let’s break this term down. An heir is
someone who “is entitled to the rank or property of another upon their death.”
First of all, in modern contexts we think of heirs in a few different ways. We
might think of an heir as someone in the Royal family. Like Prince William in the
UK. He is an heir to the royal throne, and one day when his father passes away
(or abdicates) he will be king. We also think of heirs to financial “kingdoms.” One
example is Paris Hilton. She is an heiress of the Hilton hotels fortune. While they
are wildly different, they have one thing in common. There was no test or
selection process to prove that either one of them deserves their title of “heir.”
i. Heirs are not chosen because they deserve whatever they’re going to be
given. They’re simply born into the right family at the right time. But
God’s vision was never to share his kingdom with one person. He desires
us to be in heaven with him and revel in his perfect glory for all eternity.
So, God opened up his family line. If you belong to Christ, you belong to
him. Our salvation signs the adoption papers into the family of God,
INSTANTLY making us heirs to God’s treasure of heaven. We are no
longer slaves to our sin, but part of God’s royal family.
4. What does this event reveal about God and his character?
- Verse 4:4 says, “When the time came to completion, God sent his son.” The
Greek word for completion is also translated as “perfect,” indicating that Christ
came at the perfect time. And it certainly was. Jesus came at a time that
practically made it easy to travel (well-constructed Roman roads), easy to
communicate (Greek was the dominant language in the entire region), and no
distinguishable wars. This timing made Jesus’ ministry accessible and easily
spread. I mean, talk about God’s perfect sovereignty?
-“Jesus was born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might
receive adoption of sons.” I get goosebumps every time I read that phrase. Apart
from a relationship with Jesus, we are spiritually bound in chains by our sin. The
law made that utterly clear. Jesus redeemed us from that bondage by paying our
ransom, making the key to unlock those chains a free, loving, unconditional
relationship with him. And the second we ask Jesus to unlock those chains, we
are part of his royal family. Our eternity is sealed, and though the nature of sin
still seeks to pry us from his hands while we’re on this side of eternity, our Father
is now our guardian (see terminology) walking with us through valleys and
mountains until we join him in paradise. WOO!
5. Is there any present-day application we can take away from the text?
- IS THERE? This book may have been written almost 2000 years ago, but it has
eternal implications for us. This letter is a confirmation of the gospel message
that it is 1) TRUE: Paul makes it very clear that there is one true gospel message
and that he fought hard to engrain it into the minds of the Gentiles (also we are
Gentiles so...thanks Paul!) and 2) FREE: We could not afford this gift if it were up
to us. That was the purpose of the law, to show us our need for a Savior. And
boy, did he come!
6. Is there any way we should respond to this text?
- Have you ever received a gift or honor you didn’t deserve? How did that make
you feel? Did you appreciate what your received more or less?
- How should this passage shape our view of evangelism? Or should it shape it at