21 Therefore, is the law against the promises [of God]1? May it never be! For if a law was given, one that was able to bring about life2, then righteousness was indeed from performing the law. 22 Now the Scripture3 imprisoned all things4 under sin5, so that the promise may be given to the ones who believe by faith in Jesus Christ.
23 Now before faith6 came, we were being held prisoner under the law, being locked up until7 the faith that was about to be revealed8. 24 Therefore, the law had become our guardian9 until10 Christ11 so that we may be justified by faith; 25 and after the coming of faith12 , we are no longer under the guardian13.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; 27 for as many as have been baptized14 in Christ Jesus, have put on Christ. 28 There is15 neither jew nor gentile, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female16: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s17, then you are Abraham’s descendant18, and heirs according to the promise.
1 Now I say, for as long as the heir19 is a minor20, he is no different from a slave, yet, he is21 the master22 of all things23, 2 but he is under guardians24 and stewards25 until a set time determined by his father.26 3 We are also like this; when we were minors, under the elemental spiritual forces of the world27, we were enslaved. 4 But when the completion of time28 came, God sent out his son29, being born30 from a woman, being born31 under the law32, 5 so that he may redeem33 the ones under the law, so that we may received the adoption as sons. 6 Now because you are sons, God sent out the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying “Abba, Father!34” 7 Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if you are a son, you are also the heir through God.
1 [τοῦ θεοῦ] [of God]
“of God” is in brackets as it may not be original to the text. Original or not, the promises are still God given.
2 ζῳοποιῆσαι (to bring about life)
Greek: “to make life”. Jesus was able to bring about eternal life for all people, but one of the laws had the ability to do the same.
3 ἡ γραφὴ (Scripture)
or “the writings”. Here, Paul is referring to the written law.
4 All things referring to all people and the works that they performed.
5 In other words, since the law was brought about to cause transgressions, it enslaved everything under those transgressions. It was this act that would show people that they would alway sin. That reality leads a person to know that salvation only comes through God’s grace of mankind. Eternal life is a gift from God and is “graced” upon the ones who have faith in Christ.
6 Referring to the act of faith as opposed to performing the Jewish law. It is the New Covenant.
7 εἰς (until)
8 ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (to be revealed)
This is the infinitive verb form of the now where we get revelation from.
9 παιδαγωγὸς (guardian)
According to Louw & Nida: “In classical times, a παιδαγωγός was a man, usually a slave, whose task it was to conduct a boy to and from school and to supervise and direct his general conduct. He was not a teacher.”
10 εἰς (until)
11 Christ here represents the New Covenant based on faith and not on performing the Jewish law.
12 See Note 6
13 See Note 9
14 εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε (have been baptized in Christ)
This could mean a couple of things; 1. It could refer to baptism in water or 2. it could refer to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Since it takes being baptized with the Holy Spirit to actually “put on Christ”, most likely this passage refers to receiving the Holy Spirit.
15 ἔνι (is)
This is an emphatic form of the “to be” verb ἐστιν (is). Paul wants to make sure that his readers pay attention to what he is writing.
16 οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ (there is not male and female)
Notice change in the structure as opposed to Paul’s “neither/nor” construction. The construction can be found in Genesis 1:27c. I have placed the phrase in bold type.
ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς (he (God) made them male and female.)
17 Χριστοῦ (Christ’s)
or “belong to Christ”. “You are in the possession of Christ”. In other words, you are owned by Christ.
18 σπέρμα (descendant)
19 ὁ κληρονόμος (the heir)
One who inherits his father’s estate.
20 νήπιός (minor)
A small child that old enough to not be an infant, but not old enough to have any responsibility.
21 ὤν (he is)
22 κύριος (master)
or “lord”. In this case, the heir is the future master of his father’s household.
23 πάντων (of all things)
This refers to the things in which the heir will inherit from his father. Since he is the heir, he really owns everything that belong to his father now, but the responsibility has not been placed on him yet.
24 ἐπιτρόπους (guardians)
25 οἰκονόμους (stewards)
or “managers of households or estates”.
26 Under Roman law, a man can of age at 14, but his father still had say in the matter. A father would set a “fixed time” (τῆς προθεσμίας) in which the minor would be subject to tudors and household managers. Once the time was completed, the son was eligible to inherit.
27 ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (under the elemental spiritual forces of the world)
Early Greek writer Philo spoke about Greeks who revered the four elements: earth, water, air, fire. Paul is putting the Jewish law under this category as well.
28 Compares to the τῆς προθεσμίας (fixed time) in verse 2.
29 This represents the “high Christology” that Paul had in believing that the Son existed before he was sent.
30 γενόμενον (being born)
31 See above note.
32 In order for Jesus to become a curse according to Jewish law, he had to be born a human who was subject to the Jewish law. Since Jesus was the only person to never break the law, it took crucifixion to make him a curse.
33 ἐξαγοράσῃ (may redeem)
or “may buy out” or “may buy back”. In other words, Jesus bought us out of the curse of the law by becoming a curse.
34 αββα ὁ πατήρ (Abba Father!)
F.F. Bruce states, “When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’, it is the spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The Epistle to the Galatians.
Γαλάτας 3·21 ὁ οὖν νόμος κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν [τοῦ θεοῦ]; μὴ γένοιτο· εἰ γὰρ ἐδόθη νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζῳοποιῆσαι, ὄντως ἐκ νόμου ἂν ἦν ἡ δικαιοσύνη. 22 ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν, ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.
Γαλάτας 3·23 Πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, 24 ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν, ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν· 25 ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεως οὐκέτι ὑπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν. 26 Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 27 ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. 28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 29 εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ, κατ ̓ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι. Γαλάτας 4·1 Λέγω δέ, ἐφ ̓ ὅσον χρόνον ὁ κληρονόμος νήπιός ἐστιν, οὐδὲν διαφέρει δούλου κύριος πάντων ὤν, 2 ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστὶν καὶ οἰκονόμους ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός. 3 οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι· 4 ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον, 5 ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ, ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμεν. 6 Ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν κρᾶζον· αββα ὁ πατήρ. 7 ὥστε οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος ἀλλὰ υἱός· εἰ δὲ υἱός, καὶ κληρονόμος διὰ θεοῦ.