DOCTRINAL 3, 1 -- 4, 31 (continued)
Christians Live in a State of Freedom 4, 1-31
Slavery and Freedom. 1. He differs in no way from a slave: i.e., in the eyes of
the law. The father of this child is supposed to be dead. St. Paul is only making a comparison, and every comparison
is imperfect. Our Father in heaven never dies. 2. Guardians were controllers
of his person, and stewards of his property. 3. The application is now made.
The meaning is that the ritual of Judaism was an elementary instruction preparing the way for the perfect doctrine of Christianity.
Cf. Col. 2, 20. 4. Fullness of time: i.e., the time appointed by
God the Father for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. Born under the law: born of a Hebrew mother,
and therefore subject to the obligation of the Law. 5. He was born under the Law,
that He might redeem the Jews, who were under the Law. He was born of a woman, and became our brother, that He might
elevate us all, Jews and Gentiles, to the dignity of adopted sons of God. 6. Cf.
note to text. 7. The conclusion is that the Galatians are now the adopted sons of
God and heirs to the inheritance. A better reading is: "You are no longer."
8-20: No Return to Slavery. The Galatians had been slaves to material things. Now that they
know God since their conversion, they should not return to religious slavery, which they would do by accepting the Law.
Known by God: i.e., they were the recipients of his graces. Weak and beggarly elements: the various
heathen ceremonies. They were weak, because unable to lead men to salvation; and beggarly, since at
their best they were only shadows of good to come. 10. Here Paul speaks of some of
the Jewish practices which the Galatians were following, namely Sabbaths, the observance of the new moon, and other recurring
festivals of the Jewish calendar.
12. I have also become like you:
after his conversion he became a Gentile, he was free from the Law. You have done me no wrong: i.e., since
you have not injured me personally, I feel freed to plead with you. 13. Infirmity
according to the majority of the Fathers means the trials Paul had in founding the Galatian churches; according to most modern
authors it means an illness of some kind, e.g., malaria, or a disease of the eyes. 14.
Instead of despising him, they received him as if he were an angel, or even Christ Himself. 15.
They congratulated themselves that they had Paul with them as their teacher. 16.
The truth refers to some preaching by Paul on his second visit which caused offense to the Galatians.
17. They would estrange you: they would separate you from your true friends, Paul and his
companions, or the Christian community. 18. Cf. note to text. 19.
Paul regards the Galatians as through the eyes of a mother, who suffered in giving them Christian birth, and who would suffer
the same pangs again to preserve them from perversion. 20. I wish, etc.:
to know more accurately their condition of mind; then he could change his voice according to the circumstances.
21-31: Ismael and Isaac. 23. According to the flesh: according to the ordinary
laws of nature. In virtue of the promise: cf. Gen. 17, 16.19; 18, 10. 24.
Allegory: i.e., these characters have a higher meaning. These: namely, the two women. Two
covenants: the Old and the New Testaments. The first was from Mt. Sinai, where it was contracted between God and
the Hebrews. It brought them under the yoke of the Law, serving God as slaves and for fear of punishment.
25. Paul shows the relation between Agar and Sinai, emphasizing the fact that she represents the Old
Testament, which supposes subjection. The Mount, situated in Arabia, is appropriately connected with the allegory of
Agar, the mother of the Arabs, for from Ismael sprang the principal Arab tribe. Many manuscripts have "For Agar is Mount
Sinai in Arabia"; but this reading is less probable, where Agar is a gloss that has crept into the text. Which corresponds
with the present Jerusalem: i.e., it is in the same class with the city which is now the center of Judaism, which holds
her children in slavery. 26. By above Paul does not mean exclusively the
Church Triumphant, for he says that she is our mother. Free: i.e., not subject to the Law.
27. The barren and the desolate spiritually represent the Gentiles, while the one
that has a husband is the Synagogue; although this prophecy of Isaias (54, 1) literally refers to Jerusalem
during and before the captivity. It implies that the children of the Catholic Church would be beyond all comparison
more numerous than the Jewish nation. 29. All that we read in Gen. 21, 9
is that the son of Agar played with Isaac, but from Sara's indignation as well as from Jewish tradition we may conclude that
there was something offensive, something of a mockery in that playing, which Paul here calls a persecution. Likewise,
the Judaizers now persecute Paul and the faithful Christians. 30. Sara told Abraham
to cast out Agar and her son. In like manner, the Galatians should expel the Judaizers. Cf. Gen. 21,
10. 31. We are not bound to the obligations of the Mosaic Law, from which Christ
has emancipated us.
Slavery and Freedom
1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the master of all; 2 but he is
under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father. 3* So we too, when we were children, were enslaved under
the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
5 that he might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6* And because you
are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." 7 So that he is no longer a slave,
but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God.
No Return to Slavery 8 But then indeed, not knowing God, you
served those who really are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is
it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, which you desire to serve again? 10* You are observing days
and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, lest perhaps I have labored among you in vain.
12 Become like me, because I also
have become like you, brethren, I beseech you! You have done me no wrong. 13 And you know that on account of a
physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you formerly; and though I was a trial to you in my flesh, 14 you did not reject
or despise me; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 Where then is your self-congratulation?
For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your very eyes and given them to me. 16 Have
I then become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? 17 They court you from no good motive; but they would estrange
you, that you may court them. 18 But court the good from a good motive always, and not only when I am present with you,
19 my dear children, with whom I am in labor again, until Christ is formed in you! 20 But I wish I could be with you now,
and change my tone, because I do not know what to make of you.
Ismael and Isaac 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the
Law, have you not read the Law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a slave-girl and the other
by a free woman. 23 And the son of the slave-girl was born according to the flesh, but the son of the free woman in
virtue of the promise. 24 This is said by way of allegory. For these are the two covenants: one indeed from Mount
Sinai, bringing forth children unto bondage, which is Agar. 25* For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which corresponds
to the present Jerusalem, and is in slavery with her children. 26* But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which
is our mother. 27* For it is written,
"Rejoice thou barren, that dost not bear; break forth and cry, thou that dost not travail;
For many are the children of the
desolate, more than of her that has a husband."
Now we, brethren, are the children of promise, as Isaac was. 29 But as then he who was born according to the flesh persecuted
him who was born according to the spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the
slave-girl and her son, for the son of the slave-girl shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." 31 Therefore,
brethren, we are not children of a slave-girl, but of the free woman---in virtue of the freedom wherewith Christ has made
3: The elements of the world: elementary principles of conduct, e.g., the religious
laws of the Jews, and the various ceremonies of the heathens.
6: Crying, "Abba, Father": i.e., the Spirit teaches us, the adopted sons of God,
to cry out: "Abba, Father." The two words are used because St. Paul, writing the Greek word, wished to preface it with
the very word our Lord had used in this doctrine which was of such great importance.
10: Their feasts under the Jewish Law.
25: The Old Testament, and the
The New Testament, and the Church.
27: Isa. 54, 1.