Slaves and Sons; Children and Men (4.1-7) 1/3
The task was still the same Destroy the error of the Judaizers! The souls of men were at stake as well as the veracity of God. Paul's passion was in preaching and defending the truth. Troublers were preaching another gospel, a gospel which had it origins in the minds of men and not in the heart of God (). The 4th chapter of Galatians presents 5 distinct arguments against the doctrine of the troublers and for the pure doctrine which Paul preached. The first of these arguments is contained in and it has to do with Slaves and Sons; Children and Men.
"Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father." (). These verses present a figure which is intended to illustrate the relationship of humanity and the Jews in particular to God when serving under the Law as contrasted with those same people serving God under the Gospel system. Explicit in this text is the change in relationship that occurs with an heir-apparent to an estate as that heir grows from a minor to majority age. While a minor, the son has one relationship; after coming of legal age, the heir takes on a whole new set of entirely new and different relationships.
While a child (a minor), the heir is treated just like a slave in that he is placed under the charge of guardian and stewards. In prospect he owns everything about him including the direction of the services of the guardians and stewards over him; in reality he owns and directs none! He is an heir in prospect only and does not due to his age enjoy the position of sonship into which he will grow with time. In that respect Paul says that he (the minor heir) "does not differ at all from a slave." That reduces his argument to its lowest level. Argue as you will about potential rights, at that moment in time, the minor son enjoys the same rights and privileges of a slave!
But the intent of the father is not for things to remain in this state. The father fully intends, in fact plans, for the son to grow into manhood when he can accept the responsibilities that attend such an inheritance. No father would wish his son to remain as a minor but would long for the day when the son is mature enough to be the actual heir of his estate. In fact, this arrangement under the guardians and stewards is to last only " until the time appointed by the father." The objective of the father in placing the guardians and stewards over the son is so that one day he can assume the role of manhood. Because of this the father fixes a day in which such a transition can take place. This day would be a red-letter day in the minds of the son and the father and would become a deadline date for the work of the stewards and governors to be done.
Under the Law, Israel functioned as a minor child. The stewards and governors in this analogy correspond to the Law; they trained and supervised Israel's every move. But, the inheritance was not because of the stewards and governors; they were just tools the father used to supervise the son until he came to majority age. To go back to the law is to digress to an immature age and become subject to unnecessary restrictions and ordinances. Be a man; be a Christian!
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