Galatians 3:26-29 Adult Sons Now June 10, 2007 Introduction We started in early January in Galatians. This is our 17th message, and we have ar- rived at the end of chapter 3. We have reached the halfway point! In 3:22-25, we learned that Paul was not thinking in terms of individual people being kept under the Law, or individual people exercising faith. Rather, he was thinking in big terms—the age of the Law, the epoch of faith, the Jewish people, all people, and the big- picture purpose of the Law. It was not given for justification or sanctification or to compete with God’s promise to Abraham. When Christ came, there was a massive change in how God deals with mankind. Christ’s coming is in that sense a huge watershed event in histo- ry. With this being the case, if you are a Christian today, you have several benefits that you would not have had were you a child under the guardianship of the Law. Let us look at four of them as listed in the next verses. 1. Spiritual Adoption by Faith in Christ, v. 26 A. The Point Briefly, the point of v. 26 in light of v. 25 is that a believer is not treated as a religious baby, but as an adult son with the full privileges of God as his Father. In 3:23-25, Paul has said that the Jewish people were under the Law as a guardian to lead them on to Jesus Chr- ist for justification by faith. In spiritual terms, God worked with them as with minor child- ren. When the faith came in history, the people were no longer under that guardian, be- cause the Teacher had come. God now deals with mankind on a different basis, one in which there is no need for this child-trainer guardian (as if people are children, religiously speaking). Instead, God deals with men directly through the gospel of Christ. So the con- nection between v. 25 and 26 is this: the Jews are no longer under the Law-guardian, treated as minors, precisely because everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ becomes a full age-of-majority son of God. B. A Technical Note The KJV has ―children‖ in v. 26. Because the contrast between 25 and 26 is one of minor children and adult sons, and because the word used in Greek is the word for ―son,‖ it would be better to use the word ―sons‖ of God here. In the New Testament, there are vari- ous Greek words for newborn (bre,foj, Luke 1:41), infants (paidi,a, 1 John 2:13), little children (tekni,a, 1 John 2:1), children (te,kna, John 1:12 [NKJV]), a child (nh,pio,j, Gal. 4:1, 3), young people (neani,skoi, 1 John 2:13), and sons (ui`oi., Gal. 3:26). Here we are speaking of full-grown heirs, not little children. C. How Do I Become a Son? Now, we have said that believers are ―sons‖ of God. The question is, how do they get that way? In theological terms, we call this ―adoption.‖ Adoption is a judicial or declara- tive or legal act having to do with the believer’s relationship to God as his Father, namely, that the believer is placed as an adult son of God and giving all the rights and privileges of a son. It secures sonship. It is not experiential. On the other side of the coin, God becomes the Father of the believer. He is the father of all things in a creative sense (Acts 17:29; Eph. 4:6) but at salvation becomes Father in the redemptive sense. When one becomes a Christian, a lot of things happen simultaneously. One of those is regeneration, in which the spiritually dead person is quickened to new life. Another is forgiveness, by which the guilt of sin is taken away. Another is justification, in which the person is given a standing of righteousness with God. These things accomplish the new birth and new life for the Christian, and take care of his sin problem. But even with all this, God could hypothetically view us as far-off acquaintances. With adoption, he actually brings us into a son-ship relationship with Him. He becomes our Father, and does not treat us as remote friends. D. Errors to Avoid Two errors need to be avoided. First, while it is true that all people are ―children of God‖ in the sense of creation and that they bear the image of God, not all people are sons in the sense of their having a spiritual relationship with God. We don’t believe in the liber- al theological concept of the ―brotherhood of man‖ or that all of humanity are ―children of God‖ in a saving sense. Most human beings are not sons of God at all in that sense. They do not have the privileges of a personal relationship with God because they are enemies of God. Second, being a son of God is not the same as the Son of God who is uniquely divine. He is the one and only Son, of sole descent from God. Our sonship is relatively somewhat less in quality in the sense that we are ―adopted‖ as children. It has to be this way since we are not divine. We are made, after the fact of our creation, partakers of the divine nature. Nonetheless, the privileges that God has promised us as sons of God are tremendous! E. Summary in light of Modern Judaism It is interesting that the Jews think in terms of a ―son of the commandment‖ – a ―bar mitzvah.‖ A Jewish boy goes through this rite of passage when he turns 13 (a girl at 12), crossing from childhood into adulthood in the eyes of the Jewish culture. Before this point, they are supposedly not responsible for their law breaking. They become fully responsible parties under the Law at their bar mitvah. Paul would say to such folks that they ought to become sons of the LORD instead of sons of the Law. 2. Spiritual Baptism into Christ, v. 27 Here we are at our second ―perk‖ as Christians. This verse speaks of baptism, but it is not the dunking-in-water type of baptism. This is Holy Spirit baptism, which happens to every believer at the moment they believe. By this miraculous event, they are placed into spiritual union with Jesus Christ and his Church (see 1 Cor. 12:13). It is that Christ, by means of the Holy Spirit, places the new believer into the Church and into union with Him- self. Did you know that Spirit baptism is mentioned often in the Bible? It was predicted in the gospels and happened on the day of Pentecost (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16, Rom. 6:3-4, 1 Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27, Col. 2:12). This Spirit baptism central to Christianity. Water baptism is simply an external ritual—important to obey, but not something that obtains salvation. When you come to a text that mentions baptism, you must carefully consider which one type is meant—and it is very often Spirit baptism, always so in the epistles except for a few references in 1 Corinthians. On the flip side, all believers have put on Christ. This speaks of putting on his righ- teousness and character. Not only do we have a standing ―clothed in the robes of righ- teousness‖ (Isaiah 61:10), but our practice ought to reflect a growing righteousness day by day (Rom. 13:14). Imagine Jesus doing or saying some of the things we do or say! 3. Spiritual Equality in Christ, v. 28 Another benefit of In Christ and in the church, there is no difference in spiritual stand- ing or importance that depends on race, social status, or gender. There is not black and white, blue collar or white collar, Ph.D. or high school drop-out, man or woman, handsome or ugly, high caste or low caste. To make a difference or to show partiality or say that one is better than another is SIN, pure and simple. This goes for any culture at any time. Now be sure to note that this equality is in spiritual standing, not in physical characte- ristics, emotional makeup, or functional role. There is a difference between men and wom- en in holding office in the church, there is a difference between master/slave or employ- er/employee that still is to be observed in your relationships in life. The point is that we are unified in Christ on a level playing field as far as our worth in God’s eyes. Some errors to avoid here include feminism/egalitarianism and the denial of distinct Biblical roles for men and women, and the denial of God-ordained authority structures such as in church governance. 4. Spiritual Connection to Abraham, v. 29 This verse adds a fourth fact about our place in Christ. Using a first class conditional statement (assumed true for the sake of argument), Paul tells us what we are if we belong to Christ: we also then are Abraham’s seed. That being said, we are also heirs of the prom- ise. Remember what the promise is? It is justification by faith, as in Gal. 3:8. When we read the phrase ―Abraham’s seed,‖ we have to note carefully what it means. Simply put, it means ―spiritual children of Abraham‖ and ―those who have the same faith in God as Abraham did.‖ The connection from us to Abraham comes through Jesus Christ, who has already been called ―The Seed of Abraham‖ in 3:16. We are Abraham’s seed simply because we are baptized into Christ, and He is the seed of Abraham (to tie back to v. 27). Thus only those who are in Christ are the seed of Abraham. Now we must note carefully that the word ―seed‖ is used in different senses in differ- ent contexts. Here we are speaking of a spiritual family, and only believers are included. Not all Jews are included in Abraham’s seed in this sense. How do I know this? Rom. 9:6- 8 says so—they are not all Israel who are of Israel. The unsaved Jews are not a part of the ―Israel of God‖ in Gal. 6:16. Jews do not have an advantage over Gentiles in getting saved; for that matter, neither do slaves have an advantage over free people, or men over women. This notion ties us back to v. 28. Conclusion The four verses we have examined have as ―bookends‖ the implicit question: have you faith in Christ? Do you belong to Him? If so, you are an adopted, baptized spiritual member of Abraham’s family on equal footing with every other Christian. Or, if you are not Christ’s through faith, you are none of these things. You are outside of the family. Be- lievers covet that you would come to be on the inside. MAP I think it is interesting to think about the Law today. I do not believe anyone is properly under the Law now, since the first covenant has been replaced with the New Covenant. However, the wonderful thing is that even if someone erroneously places themselves under the Law today, the Law can still have the effect of a guardian bringing them to Jesus Chr- ist. They ought to see how they cannot keep the Law, and how it was given as a comple- ment to the promise to Abraham. This should leave them to Christ, who is Abraham’s seed. Adoption examples = John 19:26, Acts 7:21 sons of God = Matt. 5:9, Rom. 8:14, 19, Gal. 3:26 Excursus on English Translations 1. Major translations and few comments KJV – literal; older style English; updated several times; last time 1769 by Benjamin Blayney. NKJV – 1982 update of KJV; very good English style NASB – 1971/1995; updated from 1909 ASV, which in turn was an Ameri- can revision of the RV. NIV – dynamic equivalent; good English; lacks connectives. ESV – 2001; as literal as NASB but better English NET – New English Translation and ―InterNET‖ translation; good philoso- phy on Bible distribution, but seems to select most strange translations in several places (Gen. 12:3, 15:6, for instance). RSV – 1952; updated from 1885 translation; liberal leaning NLT – not really a translation—a paraphrase. Gives you their transla- tion/interpretation at each point. 2. Vocabulary KJV, ASV – wit (that is) 21 times and KJV, wot (to know) 10 times. 3. Readability - important The NIV and ESV are at an easier reading level. The NLT is probably the easiest. The KJV is more difficult in spots. KJV - But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. Corrected by NKJV to read But the free gift is not like the offense. 4. Accuracy – more important RSV – Isaiah 7:14 says Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. NET also translates as ―young woman‖ but notes it could be a virgin. NIV – basically the only translation which omits the word ―for‖ in Gal. 3:26. But this is an important word to help you connect ideas into the flow of thought of the author. 5. Which to Pick? Translations are human enterprises and as such, are fallible. No translation is perfect. The originals were perfect. But this difference should not cause alarm, for we have many very good translations available to us in English. I personally use the NKJV for my studies. I would have to say then that it is my first pick. I would also recommend ESV, NASB, and KJV. I use NIV, NET in my studies but would not as a ―main‖ translation. I RA- RELY use RSV and NLT. But I am flexible. I use the NASB if I am in a context where they use NASB. I use the KJV if I am in a context where they use the KJV. We don’t bash someone for using a particular translation. It is an issue of understanding. Not all have seen the examples that would convince them one way or the other.
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