Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unit 9 - New Life in Christ vs. Enslavement to the Powers

I. Introduction - Ch. 3:25 - 4:11, Three Themes to Consider this Week

A. Heirs and Children of God
B. "Elemental Spirits"
C. "Observing Special Days, and Months, and Seasons, and Years"

II. Heirs and Children of God

A. Paul continues where he left off in last weeks lesson
1. Earlier in Ch. 3 - described law as curse and disciplinarion
2. Continues in Ch. 4 - describing Jews as minor children, subject to the law and "elemental spirits"
3. Describes how minor children in those days were like slaves, they had no rights
a. were "heirs to the promise", but were subject to guardians and trustees (the Law)
b. by accepting Christ they became adults and were no longer subject to the law
B. Also describes baptism and putting on Christ
1. custom in those days were to shed old clothes prior to baptism
2. come out of baptismal waters clothed in new white robes
3. powerful imagery - regardless of what you were before, all emerge equal heirs (man/woman, jew/greek, slave/free)

III. "Elemental Spirits"

A. No clear definitive answer as to what Paul meant by this phrase
1. some believe he is referring to elemental (basic) knowledge
2. greek word used is stoicheia - originally meant line of things, came to mean basic knowledge like teaching children the alphabet
3. others believe he was referring to the greek followers of astrology
B. Typing "elemental spirits" into Google returns references to earth, wind, fire, and water.
C. Further clues as to what Paul meant might be found in v.8, "enslaved to things that by nature are not gods"

IV. "Observing Special Days, and Months, and Seasons, and Years"

A. Is Paul speaking out against organized religion?
1. What does this say about our following the liturgical calendar?
2. Think Paul is saying we shouldn't hide behind creation of special days
3. God wants to be with us everyday, not just on Sunday, or just on Christmas and Easter.
4. Too many people come to God on Sunday but then shut Him out of their lives on Monday - Saturday.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

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