Galatians 4:1-7

Galatians 4:1-7
A Women’s Lectionary 6


My point is this: heirs,I as long asII they are minors,III

Notes on verse 1a

I “heirs” = kleronomos. 15x in NT. From kleros (lot, portion, heritage; that share assigned to you; also a lot used to determine something by fate, chance, or divine will); {perhaps from klero (casting a lot) or from klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread)} + the same as nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); {from nemo (to parcel out, assign)}}. This is heir, inheritor, or possessor – whether literal of figurative.
II {untranslated} = chronos. Time in the chronological sense, quantitative time or a duration of time.
III “minors” = nepios. 15x in NT – used in 1 Corinthians 13 (“when I was a child…”). This may be from ne (not) + epos (word; by extension, to speak) {from epo (to answer, bring word, command). This is an infant, child, minor, or immature person. It can also be used figuratively for someone who is childish or unlearned.

are no betterIV than slaves,V though they are the ownersVI of all the property; 

Notes on verse 1b

IV “are…better” = diaphero. 13x in NT. From dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is to carry through as in all the way to the end. It is differing or fully distinguishing – separating by comparison. Literally, it means transport – figuratively it can mean report or surpass.
V “slaves” = doulos. Perhaps from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is used for a servant or for a slave, enslaved. It refers to someone who belongs to someone else. But, it could be voluntary (choosing to be enslaved to pay off debt) or involuntary (captured in war and enslaved). It is used as a metaphor for serving Christ. Slavery was not inherited (i.e. the children of slaves were not assumed to be slaves) and slaves could buy their way to freedom. Slavery was generally on a contractual basis (that is for the duration of how long it took you to pay your debt and/or save up enough money to buy your freedom).
VI “owners” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

but they remain under guardiansVII and trusteesVIII until the date setIX by the father. 

Notes on verse 2

VII “guardians” = epitropos. 3x in NT. From epitrepo (to allow, permit, yield, entrust, give license); {from epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + the same as trope (turning, change, shifting); {from trepo (to turn)}}. This is a someone who has authority like an administrator, foreman, guardian, or steward. It could also be someone who has care over a child under 14.
VIII “trustees” = oikonomos. Related to “heirs” in v1. 10x in NT. From oiokos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple) + nemo (to manage) OR from oikos (see above) + the base of nomos (see note I above). This is a steward, manager, or guardian. It refers to someone whose job it is to oversee a house. It can also be a treasurer or other fiscal agent. Figuratively, this can mean someone who preaches the good news.
IX “date set” = prothesmia. 1x in NT. From pro (before, first, in front of, earlier) + thesmios (fixed, settled); {from tithemi (to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense; properly, this is placing something in a passive or horizontal position)}. This is a previously appointed time, a date set earlier or foreordained.

So with us; while we were minors, we were enslavedX to the elemental spiritsXI of the world.XII 

Notes on verse 3

X “enslaved” = douloo. Related to “slaves” in v1. 8x in NT. From doulos (see note V above). This is to enslave, cause something to be subject or bound. It focuses on the impact or result of being enslaved. It can be literal or figurative.
XI “elemental spirits” = stoicheion. 7x in NT. From the same as stoicheo (walking in rows, according to a uniform cadence; it can be marching in military style; figuratively, it is one’s walk of life, living piously); from stoichos (a row) or from steicho (in a line). This is part of a row. So, it could be a letter in the alphabet, something rudimentary or a fundamental element of something else. Figuratively, it is primary principles that are orderly. It can also refer to heavenly bodies or core sensibility.
XII “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.

But when the fullnessXIII of timeXIV had come, GodXV sentXVI his Son,XVII

Notes on verse 4a

XIII “fullness” = pleroma. 18x in NT. From pleroo (to fill, make full or complete; properly, filling something up to the maximum extent or induvial capacity; used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill); from pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in, occupied with). This is fullness, supply, completion, superabundance, or multitude.
XIV “time” = chronos. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note II above.
XV “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
XVI “sent” = exapostello. 13x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + apostello (to send, send away, send forth as a messenger, to commission); {from apo (from, away from) + stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for)}. This is to send away, dismiss, send someone for a mission.
XVII “Son” = huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.

bornXVIII of a woman,XIX born under the law,XX 

Notes on verse 4b

XVIII “born” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
XIX “woman” = gune. Perhaps related to “born” in v4. Perhaps from ginomai (see note XVII above). This is woman, wife, or bride. This is where the word “gynecologist” comes from.
XX “law” = nomos. Related to “heirs” in v4:1 & “trustees” in v4:2. See note I above.

in order to redeemXXI those who were under the law, so that we might receiveXXII adoption as children.XXIII 

Notes on verse 5

XXI “redeem” = exagorazo. 4x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + agorazo (to go and buy something at market with a focus on goods being transferred; to purchase or redeem.); {from agora (assembly, forum, marketplace, town square, thoroughfare); from ageiro (to gather)}. This is to buy up, purchase, redeem, ransom. Figuratively, it is to save something from loss, take an opportunity fully, making the most of something.
XXII “receive” = apolambano. 10x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + lambano (active acceptance/taking of what is available or what has been offered; emphasizes the choice and action of the individual). This is to receive back, separate, to get one’s due.
XXIII “adoption as children” = huiothesia. Related to “date set” in v2 & “son” in v4. 5x in NT. From huios (see note XVII above) + tithemi (see note IX above). This is making a son, adoption.

And because you are children,XXIV God has sent the SpiritXXV of his Son into our hearts,XXVI crying,XXVII “Abba!XXVIII Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Notes on verses 6-7

XXIV “children” = huios. Same as “Son” in v4. See note XVII above.
XXV “Spirit” = Pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
XXVI “hearts” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.
XXVII “crying” = krazo. This is to cry out, scream, shriek. It is onomatopoeia for the sound of a raven’s call. Figuratively, this means crying out urgently without intelligible words to express something that is deeply felt.
XXVIII “Abba” = Abba. 3x in NT. From Aramaic ab (father); corresponding to Hebrew ab (father in a literal or figurative sense – grandfather, chief, ancestor). This is abba, which means father – not a diminutive daddy.

Image credit: “Emperor Penguins” by Christopher Michel, 2013.

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