As we continue the discussion of being the difference between slaves and adopted sons and daughters of God let’s remember Chapter 2:16: “Yet we know that a person is set right not by deeds based on Torah, but rather through … [the faithfulness of Messiah Yeshua]. So even we have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua, in order that we might be set right based on trust in Messiah and not by deeds based on Torah—because no human will be justified by deeds based on Torah.”[i]
[Read Gal. 4]
Adoption as Sons and Daughters
(Vs. 1-7) Sometimes I find myself going so deep into a single verse, that I forget the overall message. The incredible message that is in these first five verses is that we have been adopted by Adonai as sons and daughters! How do we even begin to comprehend that we are sons and daughters of God by the work of Yeshua? Prior to the coming of Messiah, almost every reference to the “sons of God” is a reference to angels, and yet here we are adopted as sons and daughters.
Before Yeshua came the entire world (remember Sha’ul is speaking to a Gentile audience) all humanity was “subservient to the basic principles of the world”. Well what were these basic principles? “The Sages taught … [that] all of humanity were commanded to observe seven mitzvot: The mitzvah of establishing courts of judgment; the prohibition against … cursing, the name of God; the prohibition of idol worship; the prohibition against forbidden sexual relations; the prohibition of bloodshed; the prohibition of robbery; and the prohibition against eating a limb from a living animal.”[ii] Similarly, the Apostles wrote to all the gentiles in Galatia a list of these prohibitions in [Acts 15:23-29].
But where did the Sages and the Apostles, get these laws from? Well (Deut. 18:9-12) speaks of the idolatry and the associated practices for which Adonai was judging the Canaanites, and (Ps. 110) speak of how Yeshua the Messiah will judge the nations in the last day. Also, (Gen. 6: 1-3) may show that one of the reasons Adonai judged the world was because of sexuality deviancy. What I mean by “sexual deviancy” is the same thing as what Yeshua was talking about in [Matt 19:4-6]. Here Yeshua is quoting from Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and He is pointing out that Marriage and the associated sexual relations were only acceptable between one man and one woman for life. Every other sexual encounter deviates from this created order. In (Gen. 9: 1-17) we see the covenant that Adonai made with Noah. In this covenant Adonai prohibits murder, because all of humanity, from conception[iii] to natural death, is made in the image of God and therefore is of inestimable value. We also see in (Gen. 9:3-4) that humanity is allowed to eat “every crawling thing that is alive … [however the] flesh with its life – that is its blood – [we] must not eat!”
So, coming back to (Gal. 4) we see that all humanity is under a basic moral code. All people have a conscience, that tells them that these things are objectively wrong. As Sha’ul writes to the congregation in Rome, all “people are without excuse – for even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God” (Rom. 1:21-25) And the question has always been, “How are we redeemed and set free from sin when (not if) we fall?” Prior to Messiah, it was through the sacrifice of an innocent animal, but “when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law— to free those under law, so we might receive adoption as sons.” This is the Good News! Because of what Yeshua did on the cross, in paying the penalty of our sin, we can now cry out, “Abba Father!” And we are now adopted into His family and are children of Adonai.
Fears for the Congregations
(Vs. 8-20) Joseph Shulam writes that, “Paul’s immediate and overwhelming concern is that his gentile Galatian disciples are not conducting themselves as befits their standing before God. The disparity between their actions and (spiritual) reality, expressed in their desire to attain Jewish identity as a social status, demonstrates that they are being persuaded away from the teaching of the gospel.”[iv] David Stern points out the distinction between Jewish life and Gentile observance. He writes that although Jewish life
is a religion based on the sanctification of time”, and “Jewish communal life thrives on celebrating biblically prescribed times… when Gentiles observe these Jewish holidays neither out of joy in sharing what God has given the Jewish people nor out of spiritual identification with them, but out of fear induced by Judaizers who have convinced them that unless they do these things, God will not accept them, then they are not obeying the Torah but subjugating themselves to legalism; and legalism is just another species of those weak and miserable elemental demonic spirits, no better than the idols left behind.[v]
The questions of Sha’ul come fast and furious: “How can you turn back again to those weak and worthless principles? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? … I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain!”
< see David Stern’s commentary on feast days>
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[ii] Sanhedrin 56a, The William Davidson Talmud.
[iii] For when life begins see: Job 31:13-15 Jeremiah 1:4-5, 20:14-18, Isaiah 49:1, Ecclesiastes 11:5, Psalm 139:13-18, Luke 1:44
[iv] A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians, Hilary Le Cornu with Joseph Shulam, pg. 274.
[v] The Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, pg. 557.