“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
“I’m tired of being told what I can and can’t do. It’s not fair. I can’t wait until I’m a grown up and I can do whatever I want!” This is a sentiment that I’d bet every child has expressed at least once on their way to adulthood. It’s human nature to want what we want and buck those that would hold us from such freedoms.
Paul is tapping into that very human understanding by comparing the constraints on children to the same as that of slaves – that pragmatically there’s no difference. And once we’re on the other side of childhood we understand the need for the guardrails that surrounded us and gave us a safe environment to learn and prepare for the relative freedom that we now enjoy.
Children during Paul’s time didn’t have access to their inheritance or rights until they were of age. And God sent his Son at just the right time to bring about this new age. A transition from the age of the law as guardian, to an age of inheritance, and freedom and adoption into His family.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- As a child, what freedoms did you look forward to once you would become an adult?
- What are some freedoms you now enjoy as an adopted heir into the family of God?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you respond?