As a kid growing up did your parents ever tell you “Act your age?” I recall being told this many times growing up (I was the class clown/goof ball).
Were you ever told this by your parents or someone else an adult?
If your answer is yes, you’re not alone. At least three groups of people in the New Testament are told, “act your age”, or better put, “grow up” or “be a mature.”
The first group is addressed by James, in the epistle of James. The theme of the epistle of James is maturity. James encourages his reads to walk in maturity and good works.
The second group that is addressed are the Hebrew Christians in Hebrews 6:1-3. The writer of Hebrews says,
1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.
2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.(NLT)
The situation in the book of Hebrews is that the Jewish Christians were thinking about returning to Judaism because of persecution. The writer of Hebrews writes and says there is no going back, they were to move forward and walk in maturity in their Christian life.
The third group is seen tonight in the book of Galatians.
As we’ll see the Galatians were walking in a mature loving relationship by grace through faith. Yet after all this the churches of Galatia were infiltrated by false teachers known as Judiazers who were teaching the Gentile Christians that in order for them to be saved and grow to perfection or maturity they needed to convert to Judaism and keep the law of Moses.
Paul responds to that teaching in these verses and points out through a couple of illustrations that, that thinking is childish and foolish. Rather than turning to the law, the Galatians were to press forward in maturity by abiding in grace.
Tonight as we look at Paul’s encouragement for the Galatians to “Act their age” we’ll learn in verses 1-7 about our position in Christ. As we look at this truth it will encourage us to abide in grace.
1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
Whether a person was raised in the Roman, Greek or Jewish culture they understood that their was a specific coming of age ceremony. This coming of age ceremony was preformed for boy who reached an age in which they are now considered a man. Not only were they considered a man but they would also begin partaking of their inheritance the the blessing of their birthright.
It’s believed by most scholars that Paul in these verses focuses specifically on the Roman culture, since the time by which the child was “of age” was determined by the father.
The focus of Paul in talking about these customs was to show that before the time determined by the father, the child had no rights or freedom, in a since they were no better off than their guardian and stewards.
The guardians and stewards were slaves that were owned by wealthy Romans. Their job was to watch over and care for their children. Last week we talked about another position in the Roman household which was disciplinarian called a tutor.
Paul moves on in verses 3-5 and gives the application to the Galatians of his illustration.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
“The bondage of the elements of the world” refers to the religious experiences of the Galatians before Christ. This would apply to both Jew and Gentiles in the congregation.
If a person was a Jew like Paul they grew up under the law, they knew that the laws, rules and regulations of Judaism could never save them, rather it just keep them in a form of bondage until the time of maturity determined by the Father.
Even so the Gentiles who were in bondage of pagan religions, were in bondage until the time in which God appointed for them to be free from bondage and come to Christ and maturity.
Paul I believe speaks of this in Acts 17:30-31 when talking to the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill, he says,
30Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Both Jew and Gentile were in a state of bondage until the time appointed by the Father to send Christ to bring them to salvation or a Paul illustrates it here a state of maturity.
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Just as the father in the Roman culture determined when the son was to become a man, even so God the Father in His infinite wisdom and knowledge determined a perfect time to send Christ.
Often we think that the perfect time would be in our age of technology and information. But Paul says were wrong, the perfect time to send Jesus was when He was born around 7-6 B.C.
What made this time the fulness of time? There are a number of things we can point to: the Jewish Messianic hope was at its highest, there was a universal language in Greek to share the gospel, there was a universal translation of the Bible in the Septuagint, there were roads connecting all of the Roman empire so missionaries could travel, there was an enforced peace making it possible for missionaries to spread the gospel, the Jews were in the Disporia and therefore synagogues were established which made it possible for Harvest crusade and apologetics conferences to take place.
Beyond all this the fullness of time could be prophetic. God for example spoke to Daniel through the angel Gabriel and gave him the specific time in which the Messiah would reveal Himself and die for the sins of the world.
You can read this prophecy in Daniel 9:25. The time that was set was from the command to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem given by Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 B.C.
From that date the Jews were to could 483 years or on a 360 day calendar would be 173,880 days. Most scholars are agreed that this date would be April 6, 32 AD. which was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey declaring Himself as their King and Messiah.
The gospel of Luke says that when Jesus came in and declared Himself as the Messiah some praised Him, but the religious leaders and Israel as a whole rejected Him.
In response to this rejection were told in Luke 19:41-42:
41Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
This was the day set by God the Father and Israel should have know it. They should have know as seen in Paul’s illustration that it was Bar Mitzvah time. All those years Israel had been waiting for the Messiah under the law and yet they rejected Him.
Paul in Romans 9-11 days this all happened because the Jews sought righteous by the law rather than Christ. Because of Israel’s rejection for a time they have been blinded and set aside. When the fulness of the Gentiles comes in then God through the great tribulation will give Israel a big spanking and then they will be finally ready for maturity and their Bar Mitzvah.
Not only was the time in which God send Jesus perfect, but the way God adopted man was perfect and one of a kind. mankind. Look at the end of verse 5 which gives us the doctrine of Christ in a nut shell.
Notice three things about who Jesus was;
First Jesus was the Son of God. The fact that Jesus is called the Son of God, should not make us think that He was created by God in eternity past.
The term Son of God actually implies that Jesus is also God, the second person of the Trinity (Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1,14, 8:58, Hebrews 1, 1 Timothy 3:16). Yet while Jesus is equal with the Father He choses to be submissive to the Father, as the Holy Spirit is submissive to both the father and Christ.
Second Jesus was born of a women. This phrase alone refutes the liberals that says that Jesus was just a normal man. If Jesus was just a man Paul would have not written this. This phrase also implies the virgin birth, which is how God became a man without a sin nature.
Through the virgin birth God took a human nature and added it to His divine nature, so that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.
God did this so as man He could die in our place and as God He could meet the righteous requirements of a Holy God.
Third Jesus was born under the law. Jesus was not born to just any women, but Jesus was born of a women that was part of the blood line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Nathan.
It was essential that Mary was from this specific line because if she was from the line of David through Solomon would have been from the line of Solomon the Jesus could not be the Messiah because God place a curse on one of his later descendants whose name was Jeconiah found in the book of Jeremiah.
Jesus was born of this specific line of Israel to fulfill the promises of God made to Israel. Jesus was born of Israel so He could fulfill the law given as a covenant to Israel.
Jesus was born under the law, therefore He kept it perfectly and fulfilled the law through Hi perfect life. Christ also died on the cross and bore the curse of the law because all mankind have broken God’s law.
Two results are given in verse 5 to all who put their faith in Christ..
5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Christ first through His death and resurrection made it possible for all who believe on Him to be set from the bondage of the law and its curse of death for breaking it.
Second Jesus made it possible for who believe in Him receive the adoption as sons and daughters of God.
When we read terms like adoption in the Bible we need to understand it in the context of first century AD Rome. Commenting on this phrase William MacDonald says,
“Adoption in Roman culture differed from that in modern life. We think of adoption as taking someone else’s child to be one’s own. But in the NT, adoption means putting believers into the position of mature sons with all the privileges and responsibilities of that position.”
Think about this first in context of what was going on in Galatia. The false teachers were no doubt teaching the Gentiles that they needed to keep the law to be born again, filled with the spirit an walk in maturity.
Paul says you are ready are looked at by God as His child, He has granted you all His blessings and privileges, all you need to do is know it and walk in it.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
The evidence of our adoptions are not mere papers, but the indwelling Holy Spirit. This evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a changed life (Galatians 5:24) and a desire to love and serve God (Galatians 4:6).
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Paul sums up his argument once again by showing the foolishness of thinking you have to turn to the law to be saved and have a mature relationship with God. Paul says it is foolish an childish to do so.
In closing remember you position and abide in God’s grace.