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Chapter 4

1I mean this: As long as the heir is a minor, he is no better than a slave, although he is the owner of all the property, 2but he is under guardians and trustees until the time fixed by his father. 3So when we were minors, we were slaves to material ways of looking at things, 4but when the proper time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, and made subject to law, 5to ransom those who were subject to law, so that we might receive adoption.

6And because you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the spirit of his Son, with the cry, “Abba!” that is, Father. 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir, made so by God.

8But formerly, in your ignorance of God, you were slaves to gods that really did not exist, 9but now that you know God, or rather have come to be known by him, how can you turn back to the old, crude notions, so poor and weak, and wish to become slaves to them again? 10You are observing days, months, seasons, and years! 11I begin to be afraid that perhaps the labor I spent on you was wasted.

12Take my position, I beg you, brothers, just as I once took yours! You took no advantage of me then; 13though you know that it was because of an illness that I preached the good news to you that first time; 14and yet what must have tried you in my physical condition, you did not scorn and despise, but you welcomed me like an angel of God, like Christ Jesus himself. 15What has become of that satisfaction of yours? For I can bear witness that you would have torn out your very eyes, if you could, and given them to me! 16Have I turned into an enemy to you, by telling you the truth? 17These men are making much of you, but not with honorable intentions. They want to shut you out, so that you will have to make much of them. 18But it is a finer thing to be made much of honestly and constantly—not just when I can be with you, 19my children—you for whom I am enduring a mother’s pains again, until Christ is formed in you. 20I wish I could be with you now, and use a different tone with you, for I do not know which way to turn about you.

21Tell me this, you who want to be subject to law: Will you not listen to the Law? 22For the Scripture says that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave-girl, and one by the free woman. 23But the child of the slave-girl was born in the ordinary course of nature, while the child of the free woman was born in fulfilment of the promise. 24This is an allegorical utterance. For the women are two agreements, one coming from Mount Sinai, bearing children that are to be slaves; that is, Hagar 25(and Hagar means Mount Sinai, in Arabia), and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for Jerusalem is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For the Scripture says,

“Rejoice, childless woman, who bear no children,

Break into shouting, you who have no birth pains!

For the desolate woman has more children than the married one!”

28Now we, brothers, are like Isaac, children born in fulfilment of the promise. 29But just as then the child born in the ordinary course of nature persecuted the one born through the influence of the Spirit, so it is today. 30Yet what does the Scripture say? “Drive the slave-girl and her son away, for the slave-girl’s son shall not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.” 31So, brothers, we are children not of a slave but of one who is free.

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