Galatians 4:7
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
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(7) Thus, by your redemption, adoption, and the gift of the Spirit, it is distinctly proved that the old state of servitude and minority is past. You have entered upon the full privileges of the adult son. And the son is also called to the Messianic inheritance.

Thou.—The singular is used in order to individualise the expression and bring it home pointedly to each of the readers.

No more.—Since the coming of Christ, and your own acceptance of Christianity.

If a son, then an heir . . .—The Roman law (which the Apostle seems to be following) treated all the sons as heirs, and provided for an equal division of the property between them.

Of God through Christ.—The true reading here appears to be, through God—a somewhat unusual expression. The Christian is admitted as an heir, not through any merits of his own, but through the process of redemption and adoption wrought for him by God.

4:1-7 The apostle deals plainly with those who urged the law of Moses together with the gospel of Christ, and endeavoured to bring believers under its bondage. They could not fully understand the meaning of the law as given by Moses. And as that was a dispensation of darkness, so of bondage; they were tied to many burdensome rites and observances, by which they were taught and kept subject like a child under tutors and governors. We learn the happier state of Christians under the gospel dispensation. From these verses see the wonders of Divine love and mercy; particularly of God the Father, in sending his Son into the world to redeem and save us; of the Son of God, in submitting so low, and suffering so much for us; and of the Holy Spirit, in condescending to dwell in the hearts of believers, for such gracious purposes. Also, the advantages Christians enjoy under the gospel. Although by nature children of wrath and disobedience, they become by grace children of love, and partake of the nature of the children of God; for he will have all his children resemble him. Among men the eldest son is heir; but all God's children shall have the inheritance of eldest sons. May the temper and conduct of sons ever show our adoption; and may the Holy Spirit witness with our spirits that we are children and heirs of God.Wherefore - In consequence of this privilege of addressing God as your Father.

Thou art no more - You who are Christians.

A servant - In the servitude of sin; or treated as a servant by being bound under the oppressive rites and ceremonies of the Law; compare the note at Galatians 4:3

But a son - A child of God, adopted into his family, and to be treated as a son.

And if a son ... - Entitled to all the privileges of a son, and of course to be regarded as an heir through the Redeemer, and with him. See the sentiment here expressed explained in the the note at Romans 8:17.

7. Wherefore—Conclusion inferred from Ga 4:4-6.

thou—individualizing and applying the truth to each. Such an individual appropriation of this comforting truth God grants in answer to them who cry, "Abba, Father."

heir of God through Christ—The oldest manuscripts read, "an heir through God." This combines on behalf of man, the whole before-mentioned agency, of THE Trinity: the Father sent His Son and the Spirit; the Son has freed us from the law; the Spirit has completed our sonship. Thus the redeemed are heirs THROUGH the Triune God, not through the law, nor through fleshly descent [Windischmann in Alford]; (Ga 3:18 confirms this).

heir—confirming Ga 3:29; compare Ro 8:17.

Thou that art a believing Gentile, as well as the believing Israelites,

art no more a servant, not in that state of servile subjection to the law;

but a son; but in a more excellent state of liberty, like unto that of sons that have attained to a full and ripe age. Christ told his disciples, John 15:15, that he did not call them servants, for servants knew not what their lord did; but he had freely communicated to them what he had received from the Father. The apostle here saith, they were sons, sons by adoption; which is the highest notion of freedom and liberty. And this entitled them to an inheritance:

if a son, then an heir of God through Christ: which agreeth with Romans 8:17. And as it is with sons and heirs, though the inheritance cometh not fully to them till the death of the parent, yet while they live they are in a far better condition than servants; so the believing Gentiles, being made sons and heirs of God through Christ, though they were to stay a while for the inheritance reserved for the sons of God in the heavens, yet their state was much better than that of servants; for though they were obliged to serve the Lord, yet they served him without servile fear, and were no otherwise servants than sons are also servants to their father.

Wherefore thou art no more a servant,.... This is a benefit resulting from adoption, and the manifestation of it to the children of God, and supposes them to have been formerly servants; as whilst in a natural state they were the servants of sin, the vassals of Satan, slaves to the world, and the lusts of it, and in bondage to the law; but now being declared to be the sons of God under the witnessings of the Spirit, they are freed from the servitude of sin, from the captivity of Satan, from the slavery of the world, and particularly from the law, and that spirit of bondage which it brought upon them, which is chiefly designed; and from which they are delivered by the spirit of adoption, enabling and encouraging them to cry "Abba", Father; so that they are now no more under the former servile spirit, the spirit of a servant,

but a son; whose spirit, state, and case, are vastly different from those of a servant: the servant has not that interest in his master's affections as the son has; nor that liberty of access to him; nor is he fed and clothed as he is, or shares in the same privileges he does; nor is his obedience performed in the same free generous manner, from a principle of love and gratitude, but in a servile and mercenary way; and though he may expect his wages, he cannot hope for the inheritance; nor does he always abide in the house as the son does. He that is once a son, is always so, and no more a servant: predestination to sonship is immutable; it is God's act to put any among the children, and none can put them out; the covenant of grace, in which this blessing is secured, is unalterable; union with Christ, the Son of God, on which it is founded, is indissoluble; the spirit of adoption, wherever he witnesses, abides as such. They that are the sons of God may be corrected and chastised, as they often are, in a fatherly way; but these corrections are proofs for, and not against their sonship; they may indeed judge themselves unworthy to be called the sons of God, and may be in such frames of soul as to conclude, at least fear, they are not; but still the relation abides, and ever will. They will never more be servants, but always sons. The very learned Mr. Selden (i) thinks the apostle alludes to a custom among the Jews, who allowed only freemen, and not servants and handmaids, to call any Abba, Father such an one, or "Imma", Mother such an one: but this seems to proceed upon a mistaken sense, and rendering of a passage in the Talmud (k), which is as follows, ; which he thus renders, "neither servants nor handmaids use this kind of appellation, Abba", or "Father such an one", and "Imma", or "Mother such an one"; whereas it should be rendered, "servants and handmaids, they do not call them Abba, Father such an one", and "Imma, Mother such an one"; this is clear from what follows. "The Family of "R. Gamaliel" used to call them Father such an one, and Mother such an one"; which in the other Talmud (l) is, "the family of" R. Gamaliel "used to call their servants and their handmaids Father Tabi, and Mother Tabitha"; which were the names of the servant and handmaid of Gamaliel. Rather therefore reference is had to a tradition (m) of theirs, that

"a servant, who is carried captive, when others redeemed him, if under the notion of a servant, or in order to be one, he becomes a servant; but if under the notion of a freeman, , "he is no more a servant".''

Or to the general expectation of that people, that when they are redeemed by the Messiah, they shall be servants no more; for so they say (n),

"your fathers, though they were redeemed, became servants again, but you, when ye are redeemed, , "shall be no more servants";''

which in a spiritual sense is true of all that are redeemed by Christ, and through that redemption receive the adoption of children, and is what the apostle here means.

And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ; which is another benefit arising from adoption. Such as are the children of God, they are heirs of God himself; he is their portion and exceeding great reward; his perfections are on their side, and engaged for their good; all his purposes run the same way, and all his promises belong to them; they are heirs of all the blessings of grace and glory, of righteousness, of life, of salvation, and a kingdom and glory; and shall inherit all things, and all "through Christ": he is the grand heir of all things; they are joint heirs with him; their sonship is through him, and so is their heirship and inheritance; their inheritance is in his possession, it is reserved safe in him; and by him, and with him they shall enjoy it. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, only read, "an heir through God", and so the Vulgate Latin version; and the Ethiopic version only, "an heir of God".

(i) De Successionibus ad Leg. Ebr. c. 4. p. 33. (k) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 16. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Nechalot, c. 4. sect. 5. (l) T. Hieros. Niddah, fol. 49. 2. Vid. Massech. Semachet, c. 1. sect. 13. (m) Misn. Gittin, c. 4. sect. 4. (n) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 37. 2.

Wherefore thou art no more a {h} servant, but a son; and if a son, then an {i} heir of God through Christ.

(h) The word servant is not taken here for one that lives in sin, which is appropriate for the unfaithful, but for one that is yet under the ceremonies of the Law, which is proper to the Jews.

(i) Partaker of his blessings.

Galatians 4:7. Ὥστε] Inference from Galatians 4:5-6.

οὐκέτι] no longer as in the pre-Christian condition, when thou wast in bondage to the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου.

εἶ] The language, addressing every reader, not merely the Gentile readers (Hofmann), advances in its individualizing application: Galatians 4:5, ἀπολάβωμεν; Galatians 4:6, ἔστε; Galatians 4:7, εἶ. Comp. Galatians 5:26, Galatians 5:1.

εἰ δὲ υἱὸς, καὶ κληρονόμος] But if thou art a son (and not a slave, who does not inherit from his master), thou art also an heir, as future possessor of the Messianic salvation, and art so (not in any way through the law, but) through God (διὰ Θεοῦ; see the critical notes), who, as a consequence of His adoption of thee as a son, has made thee also His heir. To Him thou art indebted for this ultimate blessing, to be attained by means of sonship. This διὰ Θεοῦ cannot also apply to υἱός (Hofmann), so that ἀλλʼ should include all the rest of the verse in one sentence. With εἰ δέ a new sentence begins. Otherwise Paul must have written: ἀλλʼ υἱὸς, υἱὸς δὲ ὢν καὶ κληρονόμος. Rückert unjustly blames the apostle for having, in εἰ δὲ υἱὸς, καὶ κληρ., departed from the right track of his thoughts, because in Galatians 4:1 he had started at once from the idea of κληρονόμος. But in Galatians 4:1 the apostle, in fact, has not started from the Messianic idea of κληρονόμος, but from its lower analogue in civil life. With respect to the legal aspect of the conclusion itself, εἰ δὲ υἱὸς, καὶ κληρ. (comp. Romans 8:17),—in which, by the way, the father is conceived as dividing the inheritance during his lifetime,—the idea is not based on the Jewish law of inheritance,[184] according to which the (legitimately born) sons alone,[185] if there were such,—the first-born among these taking, according to Deuteronomy 21:17, a double portion,—were, as a rule, intestate heirs (see Keil, Archäol. II. § 142; Ewald, Alterth. p. 238 f.; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 820 f.). The apostle’s idea is founded on the intestate succession of the Roman law, with which Paul as a Roman citizen was acquainted, as in fact it was well known in the provinces and applied there as regarded Roman citizens. Comp. also Fritzsche, Tholuck, and van Hengel, on Romans 8:17. According to the Roman law sons and daughters, whether born in marriage or adopted children (and Paul conceives Christians as belonging to the latter class), were intestate heirs. It is evident in itself, and from Galatians 3:28, that υἱός, which Paul used here on account of its correlation with δοῦλος, does not, in the popular mode of expression, exclude the female sex. On the whole of this subject, see C. F. A. Fritzsche, utrum Pauli argumentatio Romans 8:17 et Galatians 4:7, Hebraeo an Romano jure aestimanda sit, in Fritzschior. Opusc. p. 143 ff. To assume a mere allusion to general human laws of succession (Wieseler) is not sufficient; for Paul has very distinctly and clearly conceived and designated the υἱότης of the Christian as a relation of adoption, which presupposes for his conclusion as to the heirship a special legal reference, and not merely the general and vague correlation of the ideas of childship and heirship. The clear precision of his thought vouches for this, and it ought not to be evaded by declaring such a legal question even foolish (Hofmann),—a dogmatical judgment which is all the more precipitate, as the specific Johannean idea of the divine begetting of the children of God (comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 717 ff.) can by no means be found in the Pauline πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας[186] (see on Romans 8:15). Besides, ΥἹΟΘΕΣΊΑ is, and after all remains, nothing else than the quite definite legal idea of adoption, which separates the υἱοί εἰσποιητοί or ΘΕΤΟΊ (Pollux, iii. 21) from those begotten or ΓΝΗΣΙΟΊ.

[184] So Grotius, who says: “Jure Hebr. filii tantum haeredes, sed sub illo nomine indicantur omnes fideles cujusque sint sexus.” The fact that Christians are the adopted children of God, is decidedly opposed to this.

[185] In Proverbs 17:2 nothing is said of adoption.

[186] The adoption into the state of children takes place on God’s part along with justification, and is on man’s part certain to the believing self-consciousness, to which the πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας also attests it. Beyschlag (Christol. p. 222) wrongly holds that the communication of the Spirit is itself the υἱοθεσία. No, those who receive the Spirit are already believing, justified, and thereby υἱόθετοι, and obtain through the Spirit the testimony that they are υἱοί,—a testimony which agrees with that of their own consciousness, συμμαρτυρεῖ, Romans 8:16.

Galatians 4:7. διὰ Θεοῦ. This language is unusual, and many variations are found in MSS. and versions, amidst them the Received Text Θεοῦ διὰ Χριστοῦ, but there can be little question on MS. evidence that the above is the genuine text. As for the true force of the words, the Epistle has now traced the scheme of redemption and design of bestowing a heavenly inheritance in Christ as far back as the patriarchs, and has shown that from the time of Abraham downwards God was disciplining Israel with a view to their becoming sons of God, and again that He was really ordering the lives of Gentiles likewise, though they knew Him not, with the same intent. With good reason therefore it is here said “through God—through His original design and providential care—thou hast now become son and heir”.

7. The conclusion of the argument is not stated didactically, but made emphatic by its personal form, passing from ‘we’ to ‘ye’, from ‘ye’ to ‘thou’.

no more a servant] rather no longer in bondage (Galatians 4:4).

then an heir] By the Roman law all the children whether sons or daughters inherited equally, whereas by the Jewish law females succeeded only in default of heirs male. Comp. Romans 8:17.

of God through Christ] The reading which has most authority is ‘through God’. It is unlikely that any transcriber would have adopted this reading, which is less usual, if he had had the received text before him. The expression ‘through God’ has the same sense as in ch. Galatians 1:1. It stands in antithesis to all human effort or merit, by the appointment and grace of God.

Galatians 4:7. Εἶυἱὸς, thou art—a son) Paul passes with a sweet effect from the plural to the singular, as in ch. Galatians 6:1; and there is at the same time expressed in this passage the fatherly answer of God towards [in relation to] individuals who cry out, Abba, Father, in the spirit.—δοῦλος, a servant) in the manner of inferiors.—κληρονόμος) an heir in reality.[36]

[36] Θεοῦ, of God) See App., p. 11, on this passage, where the great variety renders it probable that Θεοῦ was inserted from Romans 8:17.—Not. Crit. Yet the margin of the 2d Ed. gives less countenance to the omission, and the Germ. Vers. expresses the words of God, as if they were not doubtful.—E. B.

ABC corrected later, g Vulg. Memph., read διὰ Θεοῦ. G reads διὰ Θεόν. Rec. Text reads Θεοῦ, διὰ Χριστοῦ, with D(Δ)f.

Verse 7. - Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son (ὥστε οὐκ ἔτι εῖ δοῦλος ἀλλ υἱός); so then, no longer art thou a bondservant, but a son. "Ωστε, properly "so that," is frequently used by St. Paul for" so then" or "wherefore," to state a final conclusion (cf. ver. 16, below; Galatians 3:24; Romans 7:4, etc.). It here marks the conclusion resulting from the statements of the preceding six verses, viz. of God having sent forth his Son to do away with the Law, subjection to which had marked the nonage of his people, and to raise them to their complete filial position, and of his then sending forth his Spirit into their hearts loudly protesting their sonship. "No longer art thou;" by this individualizing address the apostle strives to awaken each individual believer to the consciousness of the filial position belonging to him in particular. Believe it: in Christ Jesus, thou, thine own very self, art a son! The phrase, "no longer," marks the position of God's servant new, as compared with what it would have been before Christ had wrought his emancipating work and the Holy Spirit had been sent forth as the Spirit of adoption; then he would have still been a bond-servant; he is not that now. This abrupt singling out one individual as a sample of all the members of a class is an instance of the δεινότης of St. Paul's style (comp. Romans 11:17; Romans 12:20; Romans 13:4; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 4:7). The individual cited by the "thou" is neither a Gentile convert only nor a Jewish believer only; it is any member of God's kingdom. "A son," a member of God's family, an οἰκεῖος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Ephesians 2:19), one free of all law of bondage and in full possession of a son's privileges; no sinner, now, under his Father's frown; but accepted, beloved, cherished, honoured with his Father's confidence. And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (ei) de\ ui(o/ kai\ κληρονόμος διὰ Θεοῦ [Receptus, κληρονόμος Θεοῦ διὰ Ξριστοῦ; and if a son, an heir also through God. So Romans 8:17, "And if children (τέκνα), heirs also; heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ." The inheritance here meant is the possession of every blessing which the theocratic kingdom entitles its members to look forward to. And the point of this added clause is that no further qualification is needed for our having a vested right in that inheritance, than that which is supplied by faith in Christ, uniting us to him and making us sharers with him; no such qualification, for example, as the Mosaizing reactionaries insisted upon (see Acts 15:1); no observance of ceremonial rites, whether of the Law or of such freaks of heretical" will-worship" as are referred to in Colossians 2:23. Thy faith in Christ (says in effect the apostle) gives thee now for good and all an assured place in whatever inheritance God designs to give his people. The manuscripts 'rod other authorities for the text present considerable variety in the reading of the last words of this clause. The reading adopted by L. T. Tr., Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, and Hort and Westcott, namely, κληρονόμος διὰ Θεοῦ, is that found in the three oldest uncials, and presents a form of expression which was likely so greatly to surprise the copyist as to set him naturally upon the work of revision; whereas that of the Received Text, κληρονόμος Θεοῦ διὰ Ξριστοῦ, would have seemed to him so perfectly natural and easy that he would never have thought of altering it. The words, "heir through God," taken in connection with the foregoing context, insist upon the especial appointment of the supreme God himself; his intervention displayed in the most conspicuous manner conceivable, through the incarnated Son and the sent-forth Spirit. The believer is here said to be a son and an heir "through God," in the same sense as St. Paul affirms himself to be an apostle "through Jesus Christ and God the Father," and "through the will of God" (Galatians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1); for "of him and through him and unto him are all things," and most manifestedly so, the things composing the economy of grace which the gospel announces (Romans 11:36). The apostle has thus brought back his discourse to the same point which it had reached before in Galatians 3:29. The reader will do well to carefully compare this section of the Epistle (vers. 3-7) with Romans 7:25-8:4 and Romans 8:14-17. With great similarity in the forms of expression, the difference of the apostle's object in the two Epistles is clearly discerned. There he is discoursing the more prominently of the believer's emancipation from the controlling power of a sinful nature, which, under the Law, viewed under its moral aspect rather than its ceremonial, was rather fretted into yet more aggravated disobedience than quelled or overpowered. Here his subject is more prominently the believer's emancipation from the thraldom of the Law's cere-monialism, which in the present Epistle, relative to the troubles in the Galatian Churches, he has more occasion to deal with. Both the one deliverance, however, and the other was necessary for the believer's full consciousness of adoptive sonship; and each was, in fact, involved in the other. Galatians 4:7Servant (δοῦλος)

Bondservant. See on Matthew 20:26; see on Mark 9:35; see on Romans 1:1.

Then an heir (καὶ κληρονόμος)

Καὶ marks the logical sequence. Comp. Romans 8:17. The figure is based upon Roman, not upon Jewish, law. According to Roman law, all the children, sons and daughters, inherited alike. According to Jewish law, the inheritance of the sons was unequal, and the daughters were excluded, except where there were no male heirs. Thus the Roman law furnished a more truthful illustration of the privileges of Christians. Comp. Galatians 3:28.

Of God through Christ

The correct reading is διὰ θεοῦ through God, omitting Christ.

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