Friday, July 31, 2009

Galatians 5:1-6

Paul turns in chapter five from his doctrinal treatise to the practice application of such doctrine. Here that appears as a discussion of freedom in Christ and living by the Spirit. He’s refuting legalism but not to the extent of becoming an antinomian. There is a balance in the Christian life, and it can only be lived by the Spirit. Let’s take a look:

1) V1-6 – 1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Vincent Cheung begins his commentary on this passage by saying, “V1 is a transition statement, and can be attached to either the end of the previous passage, or the beginning of the present one. First, it summarizes a major thrust of what Paul has been demonstrating by the previous arguments: ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.’ Then, it states what we are to do because of this, anticipating what will follow: ‘Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ Positively, believers must stand firm in the freedom that they possess in Christ. Negatively, they must resist all attempts to place them under slavery again, and this means to resist both the practice and the promoters of circumcision.”

Paul refers in v1 to the yoke of slavery. Jews of the day understood this image well, as rabbis would choose disciples and place them under their yoke, to symbolize that they are following their rabbis teaching as oxen pulling a cart, even as slaves following their master. But Christ died for freedom, and Jesus’ yoke, as He declared, is easy, and His burden is light, unlike the yoke of slavery to the law. While you are either a slave to sin or to righteousness (Romans 6:16), Jesus set us free from sin in order that we could obey righteousness, which is true freedom. It is for this freedom (slavery to righteousness) that “Christ has set us free.” Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Christian liberty is freedom from the law as a system of salvation, freedom from sin’s dominion, and freedom from conformity to the world’s ways, to which Paul refers through his epistles as “basic principles of this world.”

In v2, Paul’s point is that for those set free in Christ to undergo circumcision for the sake of salvation was effectively to reject Christ’s sufficiency, to attempt what they could never do (Galatians 2:21) – earn their own righteousness through obedience to the law. Even if they obeyed that part of the law rightly, both externally in their bodies and internally from their hearts, they would be guilty of breaking the law at other points, which would – and does – bring condemnation (v3). Paul is so firm on this point that he reminds them that he is saying this by using his name and by saying, “Mark my words!” and, “Again.” Calvin is very helpful here:

When [Paul] views circumcision in its own nature, he properly makes it to be a symbol of grace, because such was the appointment of God. But when he is dealing with the false apostles, who abused circumcision by making it an instrument for destroying the Gospel, he does not there consider the purpose for which it was appointed by the Lord, but attacks the corruption which has proceeded from men. A very striking example occurs in this passage. When Abraham had received a promise concerning Christ, and justification by free grace, and eternal salvation, circumcision was added, in order to confirm the promise; and thus it became, by the appointment of God, a sacrament, which was subservient to faith. Next come the false apostles, who pretend that it is a meritorious work, and recommend the observance of the law, making a profession of obedience to it to be signified by circumcision as an initiatory rite. Paul makes no reference here to the appointment of God, but attacks the unscriptural views of the false apostles.”

By no longer relying on grace, Paul says in v4, the Galatians are rejecting the sufficiency of Christ. Yet Paul is confident that God’s people have not and will not fall away permanently, as v10 reveals, and as Kim Riddlebarger exposes, saying, “These are not elect Christians but are instead baptized members of the visible covenant community (the church) but who in reality do not trust in Jesus Christ for justification and who secretly trust in their own righteousness even though they profess faith in Christ alone with their mouths. Such people are members of the visible church (the covenant community) through baptism and the external profession of faith. But they never truly exercise saving faith, do not persevere and they fall away. They are therefore, not among the elect. Professing Christians can and do fall away. Believing Christians numbered among God’s elect cannot.”

Indeed they cannot fall too far for God’s grace to reach them; but that is no license for lawless living, for lawless living may prove that they have never experienced God’s grace in the first place. Thus Paul contrasts the sure hope in righteousness by grace through faith in Christ with the vain hope in righteousness by self (flesh) through law abiding (v4-5). The Holy Spirit is our deposit with that sure hope, our seal or guarantee that God will finish what He started (Philippians 1:6). On v5, Vincent Cheung says, “Those who depend on God’s grace do not work for their righteousness, but they wait for the final revelation of righteousness that will occur on the day when God will publicly pronounce all His chosen ones ‘justified’ in His sight through faith in Christ.” As we noted earlier, John Piper says, “What is it practically that converts the love of Christ for us into our love for others? There are two answers in the book of Galatians. One answer is the Holy Spirit. The other answer is FAITH. …O let us be a people of the Word, and a people of faith, and people of love, by the power of the Spirit.” In doing this, we hope for righteousness, eagerly waiting by the Holy Spirit and through faith in Jesus Christ.

V6 reveals that Paul is not so much concerned with circumcision itself; he is concerned with the motive for it. He sees the Gentile Galatians being pressured into it by the Judaizers claiming that it’s necessary for salvation. However, Paul concludes that the one who is saved in Christ is the one who believes in Christ and demonstrates the genuineness of that faith by living a sanctified life (“faith expressing itself through love”). Kim Riddlebarger sums it up by saying, “Paul is saying simply that the faith which justifies is of such a nature that it expresses itself through love… The problem is not that the gospel leads to license, but that those who live in such fashion do not understand or believe the gospel! Paul’s doctrine is that the faith which justifies, is also a faith which works in love – not to become justified – but because one is already justified.” Vincent Cheung says, “So it is not that faith does not perform works, only that it does not perform works in order to obtain justification. The works of law that strive to obtain a righteous standing before God is bound to failure, and is opposed to the way of grace. But the works of faith proceed from a person who is already justified through faith in Christ.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Galatians 4:28-31

28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30But what does the Scripture say? ‘Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son’ [Genesis 21:10]. 31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Paul wraps up chapter 4 with a stunning visual. His allegorical viewing of Abraham’s situation reveals Ishmael persecuting Isaac. Ishmael did in fact persecute Isaac, apparently mocking him in some way (Genesis 21:9). But Paul says, “It is the same now” (v29). The Judaizers were persecuting the Galatians, just as Ishmael did Isaac. The Judaizers are the natural children of Hagar, not the children of promise. And the Galatians, along with all those who receive Christ by grace through faith, are the children of promise.

We can look at this at both a corporate and personal level. First and corporately, pagans persecute Christians; those of slave religions (everyone subscribes to a religion, for humans worship) persecute those of the free religion. They do so, because they have neither obtained nor understood the simplicity of the gospel (John 3:19-21). Second and personally, sin takes the law and condemns each of the children of God; legalism persecutes those who are free from the condemnation of the law. In both of these cases, a solution to the problem is needed.

Paul gives the solution by quoting Genesis 21:10, saying to get rid of the slave woman. On the personal level, we must get rid of the law’s condemnation that comes upon us due to our sin, for we can’t, due to sin, receive the inheritance by clinging to the law. We must not return to the law; it can’t save. The Galatians needed this advice; and we do as well, for we are neither slaves to sin, nor to the condemnation due us from the law (the curse), because we are Abraham’s offspring by faith in Christ, who bore the curse for us (Galatians 3:13). On the corporate level, we must realize as Christians that there is no unity available with the world apart from compromising the gospel, the pure doctrine of Scripture, and the authentic lifestyle of Christianity. Because Christianity is an intolerant (though non-violent) faith (Only One Way – Jesus Christ), there can be no agreement on essentials. One commentator says, “The reason why all ‘natural’ religious systems are bound to come into conflict with Christianity, the ‘supernatural’ system, is because they cannot co-exist as parallel paths to the same goal.” Therefore, corporately, Christianity must not compromise for the sake of unity with any false-gospel paganism, even if it comes calling under the name of “Christian” – such as, for example, Mormonism, Catholicism, or the JW’s. The Galatians must cast out the Judaizers; and we must cast out the false teachers among us.

Vincet Cheung concludes, "The way forward is to 'get rid of the slave woman and her son.' This seems to be Paul's indication that the Judaizers should be expelled from the community of the Galatians, along with their doctrines and practices. And this is also the way that we must treat all religious systems that would enslave us under adherence to Jewish rituals and customs, or inordinate reverence for Jewish culture and ancestry. Some forms of so-called 'Messianic Christianity,' for example, would subject Christians under such slavery again. Rather than expressing interest and obedience to these doctrines, the false teachers should be expelled from the church community. They do not introduce a superior version of the faith, but rather a slave religion, one that will not share in the inheritance," and we can respond in reverence and appreciation, not anxiety or envy (Psalm 37:1). Hebrews 12:22-24 is an apt conclusion, saying, "You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavnely Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant."

Galatians 4:21-27

21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written: ‘Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband’ [Isaiah 54:1].

Paul relates the historical account of Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, Ishmael, and Isaac, to his Galatian Gentile audience as allegory. In other words, this real life history has a much greater and deeper significance for us now than it did for them then (1 Corinthians 10:11). Also, the New Testament interprets the Old Testament, not the other way around. Therefore, the present application of this passage is different than the natural meaning. Have you seen the despair poster that shows a sinking ship with the caption, “It could be that the purpose of your life is nothing more than to serve as a warning to others”? It’s true, but that’s no reason for despair. How amazing that God has a good purpose for your life!

Essentially, on the one hand Hagar and Ishmael are tied to the law, slavery, the flesh, and the physical Mt. Sinai (notably located in Arabia, in the land of Midian rather than on the Sinai peninsula as most maps depict) that God visited; on the other hand, Sarah and Isaac are tied to the covenant promise of God, freedom, the Holy Spirit, and the Jerusalem above where God dwells. Both have Abraham as father, but the important element here is the mother. Slave women give birth to slaves, and free women give birth to free children. So are you a child of Hagar, conceived by the flesh, enslaved by the law? Or are you a child of Sarah, conceived by the Spirit, free indeed? Paul answers that in the next section.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Galatians 4:12-20

V12-20 – 12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus Himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

In v12, Paul wants his audience to see that he was freed from the legalism of being a Pharisee; he was freed from the weight of the law so that he could evangelize Gentiles. Now he wants them to be free from legalism as well. He has reminded them of their personal relationship with God, and now he reminds them of their good relationship with one another; Paul wants that to continue (v13-16). It is proper for a minister to appeal to his audience’s loyalty to himself as a secondary argument for faithfulness (the primary argument being loyalty to God, whom they know and by whom they are known). He is angry and upset, as seen in the previous passage, but it’s only because he loves them so much, as seen from this passage.

His reference in v13 to illness and then in v15 to eyes may help us understand his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Scholars suggest that Paul struggled – as noted also from his mention at the end of Galatians of writing with large letters – with his eyesight, with recurring bouts of malaria, or with epilepsy. Regardless, his malady allowed him to stay with the Galatians and minister to them for a longer period of time. They could have made Paul’s malady a stumbling block for coming to faith in Christ, but they helped Paul through it, as if he “were an angel of God” (Malachi 2:7), even “Christ Jesus Himself” (Luke 10:16), and revealed their genuineness. Thus Paul appeals to their loyalty to him, wondering how they could abandon him, even declare him their enemy, by rejecting his gospel in favor of the Judaizers’ false-gospel.

Paul refers in v17 to “those people,” speaking of the Judaizers and notes their zeal (Romans 10:2). The motive for their zeal, which was “for no good,” may have been to gain reputation among non-Christian Jews or to avoid the persecution coming at them from non-Christian Jews (Galatians 6:12), who saw Christian inclusiveness as a threat to their cause. They were zealous to win the Galatians in order that the Galatians would be zealous for them, and their method began by trying to turn the Galatians from a love and respect for their primary pastor (Paul). Calvin says, “This stratagem is frequently resorted to by all the ministers of Satan. By producing in the people a dislike of their pastor, they hope afterwards to draw them to themselves; and, having disposed of the rival, to obtain quiet possession. A careful and judicious examination of their conduct will discover that in this way they always begin.” But Paul’s zeal for the Galatians was to win them for God, such that they would be zealous for God and the freedom in Christ that Paul preached and that they had experienced (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).

In v19, Paul speaks to his “dear children,” the same audience he previously called “foolish Galatians.” His emotions of harsh anger and deep love reveal the seriousness of the matter the Galatians faced. Regarding Paul’s birth pains, Calvin notes John 16:21 and says, “The Galatians had already been conceived and brought forth; but, after their revolt, they must now be begotten a second time.” One commentator says, “
Paul experiences ‘over gain’ the pangs of labor – the sharp pains including those of perplexity (v20b), apprehension (v11), indignation (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:29), and all the painful efforts required to reclaim the Galatians for the truth… The verb used (morphousthai) refers to the process whereby the fetus develops into an infant; Paul’s desire is to see Christ thus ‘formed’ in his converts.”

Vincent Cheung concludes his comments on this passage, “Therefore, his personal appeal to them is, ‘I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you.’ Paul lived like a Gentile when he was among them (Galatians 2:14). Consistent with his message, he did not insist on following Jewish customs and regulations for himself, nor did he impose these upon the converts. Now he pleads with the Galatians, ‘become like me,’ as one who affirms and practices a gospel of justification by faith in Christ apart from circumcision, the works of the law, or Jewish customs and regulations.”

Finally, Calvin comments, “This is a remarkable passage for illustrating the efficacy of the Christian ministry. True, we are ‘born of God’ (1 John 3:9); but, because He employs a minister and preaching as His instruments for that purpose, He is pleased to ascribe to them that work which Himself performs, through the power of His Spirit, in co-operation with the labors of man. Let us always attend to this distinction, that, when a minister is contrasted with God, he is nothing, and can do nothing, and is utterly useless; but, because the Holy Spirit works efficaciously by means of him, he comes to be regarded and praised as an agent. Still, it is not what he can do in himself, or apart from God, but what God does by him, that is there described. If ministers wish to do anything, let them labor to form Christ, not to form themselves, in their hearers. The writer is now so oppressed with grief, that he almost faints from exhaustion without completing his sentence.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Galatians 4:8-11

V8-11 – 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

In his commentary on this passage, Vincent Cheung begins, “Paul has argued for his gospel of justification by faith on the basis of his personal history, the Galatians’ conversion history, and Scripture’s salvation history. His formal arguments are almost complete – one may consider 4:21-31 the actual conclusion. And now he turns to make a direct and personal appeal to his readers to come to their senses regarding this matter.”

Paul notes the previous condition of those saved by grace, and in v9, makes particular mention of the fact that knowing God is all about Him knowing us (as in a personal, intimate relationship that develops as we surrender our lives to Him); it comes not by our efforts or inquiry (as in our learning more about God) but is by His grace and revelation in opening our blind eyes and unlocking our deaf ears through monergistic regeneration (Isaiah 65:1; Jeremiah 9:24). Therefore, returning to “weak and miserable principles” – such as atheism, paganism, humanism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Polytheism, Pantheism, all the other –isms, and specifically here, ceremonial legalism – is like slavery to superstitious astrology (v9-10); to turn from a personal relationship with God for an –ism is a completely senseless decision. Calvin says, “The main inference is that the Galatians were less excusable for corrupting the gospel than they had formerly been for idolatry.” They had thirsted and tasted the living water, so how could they forsake it and dig their own wells, which were broken and could hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13)?

Paul is clearly intolerant of these –isms, openly declaring them “weak and miserable principles.” Vincent Cheung considers Christianity to be a non-violent intolerant faith. He says, “Tolerance is no virtue – it either means that the tolerant person does not know the truth (so that he must keep an ‘open’ mind), or that he does not value the truth (so that he will not defend truth and destroy error). He is either a fool or a coward. On the other hand, biblical intolerance arises from the knowledge of the truth, the conviction of its importance, and humility and obedience toward God. In any case, Paul is neither a fool nor a coward.” Paul fears for the Galatians, that their turning away from the true gospel not only reveals Paul’s wasted efforts to bring them to salvation but also their eternal damnation. These were dire straits. Calvin says, “In opposition to the grace of Christ, they set up holidays as meritorious performances, and pretended that this mode of worship would propitiate the divine favor. When such doctrines were received, the worship of God was corrupted, the grace of Christ made void, and the freedom of conscience oppressed.”

Undoubtedly from Paul’s argument here, the Judaizers included Jewish feasts and other ceremonial practices with circumcision in their legalistic demands. However, Vincent Cheung says, “There is a sense in which the observance of special days could be tolerated (Romans 14:5-6), but the Galatians are taught to observe them for justification before God and other spiritual attainments. Paul’s position is that this is like returning to paganism, back to ignorance and enslavement. And this is also his assessment of the Judaizers’ religion.” Calvin affirms this sentiment, saying, “When we, in the present age, intake a distinction of days, we do not represent them as necessary, and thus lay a snare for the conscience; we do not reckon one day to be more holy than another; we do not make days to be the same thing with religion and the worship of God; but merely attend to the preservation of order and harmony. The observance of days among us is a free service, and void of all superstition.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Galatians 4:1-7

V1-7 – 1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Once again, Paul comes to a summary place (“What I am saying is…”). Vincent Cheung says, “As we proceed to 4:1, we must keep in mind that Paul is making his case from the perspective of salvation history. This is important for a proper understanding of the rest of the passage. He says that although an heir would inherit the entire estate, he appears no better than a slave before he comes of age. His activities are dictated by guardians and trustees, and he could make no decision regarding the estate that he would one day inherit. And it was the case under certain ancient laws and customs that the father was the one who determined the official time when the child would be considered an adult.” Calvin agrees, saying, “The fathers under the Old Testament, being the sons of God, were free; but they were not in possession of freedom, while the law held the place of their tutor, and kept them under its yoke. That slavery of the law lasted as long as it pleased God, who put an end to it at the coming of Christ… The elect, though they are the children of God from the womb, yet, until by faith they come to the possession of freedom, remain like slaves under the law; but, from the time that they have known Christ, they no longer require this kind of tutelage.”

Legalism often subjected people to “basic principles of the world” (v3), and most commentators see these as calendar rites, seasonal feasts determined by the alignment of the heavenly bodies (Colossians 2:8,20-22). But Calvin concludes, “The obligation to keep the law did not hinder Moses and Daniel, all the pious kings, priests, and prophets, and the whole company of believers, from being free in spirit. They bore the yoke of the law upon their shoulders, but with a free spirit they worshipped God. More particularly, having been instructed concerning the free pardon of sin, their consciences were delivered from the tyranny of sin and death. Hence we ought to conclude that they held the same doctrine, were joined with us in the true unity of faith, placed reliance on the one Mediator, called on God as their Father, and were led by the same Spirit. All this leads to the conclusion, that the difference between us and the ancient fathers lies in accidents [outward appearance], not in substance [inward reality]. In all the leading characters of the Testament or Covenant we agree: the ceremonies and form of government, in which we differ, are mere additions. Besides, that period was the infancy of the church; but now that Christ is come, the church has arrived at the estate of manhood [as a whole and not particular to individuals].” I also appreciate Kim Riddlebarger’s thoughts on this:

The Greek term underlying the NIV’s phrase, ‘principles of the world,’ is stoicheia which probably means something along the lines of the ‘rudimentary principles of morality and religion, more specifically the requirements of legalism by which people lived before Christ.’ A number of commentators have tried to argue that this word refers to “angelic powers” or cosmic forces. But as one commentator notes, the direct connection of this with immaturity, as well as the fact that the law is an instrument of bondage, would support the argument that the reference is more likely referring to… elementary imperfect teaching. …To accept the Jewish law or some equivalent system is to come under slavery to some imperfect doctrine. But if stoicheia denotes elemental spirits, then it has to be explained how submitting to the regulations of the Jewish law is tantamount to being enslaved by these spirits. Thus the ‘basic principles’ of the world (or even better, ‘this present evil age’ – cf. Galatians 1:4) is the notion that we can be declared righteous before God based upon merit or rewards earned through obedience to the law. As understood by modern Americans, the stoicheia would be something along the lines of ‘good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.’ Since Americans believe that people are basically good, it is common to believe that everybody goes to heaven, notorious evil doers excepted. But Paul’s doctrine, on the contrary, is that all people are sinful and under God’s condemnation. Only those in Christ are given eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. This goes totally against the grain of modern egalitarianism.”
While it is true and good that the law has a preparatory role for growing us to be adopted as sons and to receive our inheritance, it is more noteworthy that at the right time (v4), which the Father ordained (v2), “God sent His Son.” This is the “fulfillment of the ages” (1 Corinthians 10:11) or the marking of the beginning of the last days. Now, when God sent His Son, He was “born of woman” (implying the importance of the two natures of Christ – God and man) and “born under law.” He was obligated to fulfill the law and identify with the sinners He was sent to save. His redeeming role (v5), was one of setting the captives free from slavery. We are redeemed by the Father (who gave His Son – 1 Peter 1:17-18) and by the Son (who gave His life as a ransom for many – Matthew 20:28). God’s people are under the law as rebellious children (Exodus 4:23; Isaiah 1:2) but are sealed in adoption through the Holy Spirit maturing them (Romans 8:9-17).

Vincent Cheung says, “V6 hearkens back to 3:2 and the other references to the Spirit as the fulfillment of the blessing of Abraham. We are the sons of God, so the Spirit enables us to know and address Him as ‘Abba, Father.’ In connection with this, we seem to have too much patience with the common misconception that ‘Abba’ is the equivalent of ‘Daddy’ in English – it is not.” “Abba” is Aramaic for “Father,” and just as Jesus called His Father “Abba” on account of their eternal “natural” relationship, we can call God “Abba,” or “Father,” as well, since we – by adoption through the Spirit – are sons of God like Jesus and have the same Spirit He had while on earth (Ephesians 2:12-13). And finally, note in v7 that a son is an heir, one who takes possession of the inheritance. Elsewhere we read that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Hebrews 2:11) and that we are co-heirs with Christ of all things (Romans 8:17). Praise God!

So to conclude, Vincent Cheung says, "Paul has argued for his gospel of justification by faith on the basis of his personal history, the Galatians' conversion history, and Scripture's salvation history. His formal arguments are almost complete - one may consider 4:21-31 the actual conclusion. And now he turns to make a direct and personal appeal to his readers to come to their senses regarding this matter."

DC 301 - Week 11

Only 2 more weeks to go in the 301 curriculum. We are wrapping up the teaching segments on the Ten Commandments, and we're reading through Judges and Ruth, as well as continuing through the Psalms. Here's how the week's workload might look:

Monday - Read Judges 1-12
Tuesday - Read Psalms 49,50, and 53
Wednesday - Prepare a couple mini-lessons on the Old Testament text for the week
Thursday - Review memory verses, such as 2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 2:10, and 2 Corinthians 5:21
Friday - Work on Ten Commandments lesson