1 NOW WHAT I mean is that as long as the inheritor (heir) is a child and under age, he does not differ from a slave, although he is the master of all the estate;
2 But he is under guardians and administrators or trustees until the date fixed by his father.
3 So we [Jewish Christians] also, when we were minors, were kept like slaves under [the rules of the Hebrew ritual and subject to] the elementary teachings of a system of external observations and regulations.
4 But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law,
5 To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God's sons].
6 And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father!
7 Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, through Christ.
8 But at that previous time, when you had not come to be acquainted with and understand and know the true God, you [Gentiles] were in bondage to gods who by their very nature could not be gods at all [gods that really did not exist].
9 Now, however, that you have come to be acquainted with and understand and know [the true] God, or rather to be understood and known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly and worthless elementary things [of all religions before Christ came], whose slaves you once more want to become?
10 You observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years!
11 I am alarmed [about you], lest I have labored among and over you to no purpose and in vain.
12 Brethren, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I also have become as you are [a Gentile]. You did me no wrong [in the days when I first came to you; do not do it now].
13 On the contrary, you know that it was on account of a bodily ailment that [I remained and] preached the Gospel to you the first time.
14 And [yet] although my physical condition was [such] a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn and loathe and reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus [Himself]!
15 What has become of that blessed enjoyment and satisfaction and self-congratulation that once was yours [in what I taught you and in your regard for me]? For I bear you witness that you would have torn out your own eyes and have given them to me [to replace mine], if that were possible.
16 Have I then become your enemy by telling the truth to you and dealing sincerely with you?
17 These men [the Judaizing teachers] are zealously trying to dazzle you [paying court to you, making much of you], but their purpose is not honorable or worthy or for any good. What they want to do is to isolate you [from us who oppose them], so that they may win you over to their side and get you to court their favor.
18 It is always a fine thing [of course] to be zealously sought after [as you are, provided that it is] for a good purpose and done by reason of purity of heart and life, and not just when I am present with you!
19 My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you,
20 Would that I were with you now and could coax you vocally, for I am fearful and perplexed about you!
21 Tell me, you who are bent on being under the Law, will you listen to what the Law [really] says?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid and one by the free woman. [Gen. 16:15; 21:2, 9.]
23 But whereas the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth, the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise.
24 Now all this is an allegory; these [two women] represent two covenants. One covenant originated from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given] and bears [children destined] for slavery; this is Hagar.
25 Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children.
26 But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother.
27 For it is written in the Scriptures, Rejoice, O barren woman, who has not given birth to children; break forth into a joyful shout, you who are not feeling birth pangs, for the desolate woman has many more children than she who has a husband. [Isa. 54:1.]
28 But we, brethren, are children [not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but] like Isaac, born in virtue of promise.
29 Yet [just] as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh despised and persecuted him [who was born remarkably] according to [the promise and the working of] the [Holy] Spirit, so it is now also. [Gen. 21:9.]
30 But what does the Scripture say? Cast out and send away the slave woman and her son, for never shall the son of the slave woman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman. [Gen. 21:10.]
31 So, brethren, we [who are born again] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free [the supernatural].