A reflection on Galatians 4:4-7 for December 27, 2020
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Galatians 4:4-7 (NRSVA)
Paul has a lot to say about the law in Galatians. In fact this seems to be the primary reason he takes pen to parchment. The Galatian church is reverting to a religious legalism.
And it alarms the apostle.
After all, this is radically inconsistent with the story of God that Paul is sharing with the world.
These three verses, function as something of a summary telling of this story. In many ways, here we have Paul telling – in his own way – the account of Christmas.
The perfection of God’s timing is the first claim. This was no accident – but – as we have seen in the Isaiah reading that sits alongside this one – this was a a plan bought about by the zealous resolve of YHWH.
The second claim is that this one was very human: ‘Born of a woman’ expresses the reality and radical groundedness of the incarnation. This one is really one of us.
So much one of us that he grew up under the Mosaic law. He was part of the good (but inadequate) system taught by the priests of his time and culture.
And yet, Jesus had a far bigger vision than the law ever could – our adoption as the children of God, our equipping with the powerful presence of God, and our invitation to call the creator of the universe ‘Pappa’.
Yes, ‘Abba’ is that familiar. ‘Daddy’ conveys the same.
Through God you are a child and heir to all of God. You are no longer a bound ‘slave’ – but a free ‘child’.
Between the two is a world of difference!
How do you respond to the familiar ‘Abba’ in this reading? Does it seem overly familiar? What concerns you about the use of such a term?
What do you understand the inheritance God offers to be?