Jesus lived spotlessly under the Jewish law to free us from the bondage of it, we were slaves to an unwinnable and impossible way to heaven before adoption into the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ…Sonship is the freedom of relationship to God the Father in Jesus. I love how much is shown in these first few verses. We see God fulfilling his promise to Abraham by sending Jesus, we see the reward of the spirit in us through faith in Him, and our relationship we can now have with God by this adoption into His family, becoming heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
Paul is trying to show the Galatians that enslavement to the law is playing right into Satan’s hands, who is working in this to have people rely on self instead of faith in the Lord. The devil is sly, and through the false law-based teaching is working his own will, disguising it as the will of God (remember back to Gal 1:8, where even an “angel from heaven” can be false – a wolf in sheeps clothing). What a difficult path we have to walk as Christians! Though we know that Satan opposes us, it is so easy to forget in our cushy lives that this can happen at any time, in any way on a day to day basis – and will likely come in the guise of something good, that if we took it at face value could really be hiding a rotten inside. We have to be diligent with everything, even our Sunday teachings at church to ensure it is biblical and Godly.
The sentiment in v.17 seems to be that the Judaizers wanted to look better themselves (gain accolades) by bringing the “sinners” back to the law. This, however, would cause the Galatians exclusion from heaven since they would have reverted back to a works-based salvation over Christ’s true faith-based salvation. In v.19 when Paul talks about “Christ be formed in you”, it is our receipt of the Holy Spirit through our faith. How many times have I fallen victim to this and tried to ‘help’ someone to make myself look good, or feel better, instead of doing it out of love for them? Many times I’m sure. The motives of the Judaizers were the same, the motivation behind what they did wasn’t of live and hope for the Galatians souls, and it wasn’t done to glorify God, which Paul mentions in v.18 is a good thing.
Isaac was born through Sarah because of the miracle God provided, Ishmael was born through the works of Abraham, trying to control the situation with his own actions. Hagar is paralleled with mosaic law and the slavery in it. Sarah is the free woman to whom God faithfully provided, and in whom we can see our own freedom through faith in Christ. It is difficult to wait on God in faith that he will provide, without stepping up myself in an attempt to “manage” a situation. I need to remember to leave it in God’s hands!
Fun resource: The Bible project has a great infographic for Galatians
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. 12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. 13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. 16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? 17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. 18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, 20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. 21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.