Galatians 4

Galatians 4:1-2 the heir, as long as he is a under tutors and governors

The heir is the children of Israel. The tutors and governors are the schoolmasters or the Law of Moses which was to prepare the heir for the inheritance of the new and everlasting covenant-made possible only by the redemption of Christ.

Bruce R. McConkie

"Israel under the law of Moses was being trained and prepared for the coming of Christ so they could receive the adoption of sons. Similarly: Though we are heirs of God, destined to inherit all that the Father hath (D. & C. 84:38), yet as long as we are in mortality, we are under tutors and governors; we are being schooled and trained and prepared to use our inheritance wisely when it is finally received." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2:475)

Galatians 4:3 we, when we were children, were in bondage

Paul likens the Law of Moses to bondage because of its strict rules and statutes and because anyone who violates the law comes under the bondage of sin.

Galatians 4:5 that we might receive the adoption of sons

Bruce R. McConkie

"By the law of adoption those who receive the gospel and obey its laws, no matter what their literal blood lineage may have been, are adopted into the lineage of Abraham. (Abra. 2: 9-11) 'The effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile,' the Prophet says, 'is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham.' Such a person has 'a new creation by the Holy Ghost.' (Teachings, pp. 149-150.) Those who magnify their callings in the Melchizedek priesthood are promised that they will be 'sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham.' (D. & C. 84:33-34) Indeed, the faithful are adopted to the family of Christ; they become 'the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters'; they are 'spiritually begotten,' for their 'hearts are changed through faith on his name,' thus being 'born of him,' becoming 'his sons and his daughters.' (Mosiah 5:7.) Paul explained the doctrine of adoption by saying, 'As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,' because they receive 'the Spirit of adoption,' being or becoming Israelites, 'to whom pertaineth the adoption.' (Rom. 8:14-24; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 23.)

Galatians 4:6 God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father

"Abba is Aramaic and carries more than just the connotation of father, it is the intimate and personal diminuitive of the word father used by children in the family circle. The closest equivalent we have is papa or daddy, although neither can really convey fully the impact of the word. The point is that God is not only Father (the formal title and name), but he is also Abba, the parent of love and guidance that knows us intimately and whom we can approach without fear." (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 311)

Galatians 4:7 thou art no more a servant, but a son

"There is a very material difference between a servant and a son; the ties that bind a father and son together are much more sacred and binding than those which unite a master and servant. A father feels bound to his child by paternal ties, to his servant he does not: a father expects from his child a filial and an affectionate regard; but he expects a servant merely to do his work, and pays him for his services. A father reveals unto his son his purposes and designs, he does not acquaint a servant with them: a son inherits his father's property, a servant does not-having received his wages he has no further demand. Hence the reason of Paul's remark, 'Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ,' and hence also the reason of our Savior's remark John xv.-'Henceforth I call you not servants but friends' (they were his brethren, and God their father) 'for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.' I have revealed it. I have obtained revelations from the Father because I am his son: I have revealed them unto you because ye are his sons also; and my brethren and friends; 'no longer strangers, nor aliens, but fellowcitizens.' Christ had revelation, and they had revelation also; because he revealed his Father's will unto them, and they were placed in a situation to know the mind, the will, and purposes of God through the sonship. The great distinction was that a servant did no know what his Lord did, and a son did know; thus we see that a son of God has revelation, a servant has not, and this is the grand difference between the sectarians, and the Latter-Day Saints." ("Sons of God", Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 5 January 16, 1843 75.)

Galatians 4:7 if a son, then an heir of God through Christ

"Joint-heirs with Christ identifies those persons who attain the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-day Saints regard Jesus Christ as the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. Because of this priority, he is the natural heir of the Father. Through strict obedience to the Father's will, progressing from grace to grace by obeying the gospel and its ordinances and making the infinite Atonement, Jesus became the Savior of all mankind and also heir to all that the Father has. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their redeemer, repent of their sins, obey the ordinances of the gospel, and live in willing obedience with the Holy Spirit as their guide, can also become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. In the eternities, they can inherit the same truth, power, wisdom, glory, and exaltation possessed by God the Father and by the Son (see "D&C 84:38D&C 84:38).' (N. Gaylon Hopkins, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 583.)

"To be a son of God is to be born of God, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, but of God-to be related to, and be the son of God...consequently we inherit great blessings; we are conjointly with Christ, the sons of God, and with him inherit like blessings from the Father...(quotes Gal. 4:4-7).

"There is a depth, a dignity, and glory connected with this subject that very few have had any idea of: but when rightly understood it has a tendency to enlarge the heart, expand the capacity, to give us just and comprehensive views of the plans of Jehovah, and it justifies the ways of God to man. Narrow prejudice and bigotry flees at its approach, and haggard superstition hides its head in shame. It was a subject upon which the apostles loved to dwell, and Paul in writing to the Galatians concerning their departure from the simplicity of the gospel, portrays the dignity, the freedom, the blessings, and the glory of the sonship in striking and vivid colours; and when contrasted with the folly, the weakness and absurdity of the gentile superstitious, and the beggarly elements of the world, presents a thrilling discord.

"It is an opinion that generally prevails in the religious world, that all people who have united themselves to a religious body, if it is presumed that they have 'got religion,' are sons of God, an opinion than which nothing could be more absurd or preposterous. That many individuals have been serving God in different parts of the earth, and among different sects of professing Christians, with all sincerity, diligence, and faithfulness, we are free to admit; but to say that all those individuals, or all those churches were sons of God, would be saying that which could not be supported by the scriptures of truth. We doubt not their zeal; we do not question their diligence, nor their desire to do good; but there are certain principles which do not exist among them, which must necessarily be connected with the sons of God. If a man is a son of God, he can comprehend the things of God, enter into the designs of Jehovah, unravel the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and contemplate the future designs of the great I Am, as they shall roll forth in all their dignity, and majesty, and glory, and this they do not profess to enjoy." ("Sons of God", Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 4 (May 1843-May 1844), No. 4. August, 1843. Vol. Iv. 58.)

Galatians 4:9 the weak and beggarly elements

Gordon B. Hinckley

"I submit that it takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one's abilities in planning retribution. There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you 'get even.'

"Paul speaks of 'the weak and beggarly elements' of our lives. (See Galatians 4:9.) Is there anything more weak or beggarly than the disposition to wear out one's life in an unending round of bitter thoughts and scheming gestures toward those who may have affronted us?" (Be Thou an Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 49.)

Galatians 4:9-10 ye desire again to be in bondage...Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years

Bruce R. McConkie

"These Galatians...were leaving the gospel for the practices and rituals of the Mosaic law...the various feasts, fasting periods, and sabbatical years which were part of the worship of ancient Israel." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 476)

Galatians 4:15 if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me

Now that's true love for a missionary! To have an investigator pluck out their own eyes and give them to you! How ironic that the Galatians loved Paul that much; yet later they thought he was their enemy for telling them they didn't need to keep the Mosaic law!

Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth

Neal A. Maxwell

"The natural man, however, does not like counsel from a man of Christ. Paul asked, 'Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?' (Galatians 4:16.) In contrast, the children of Christ, who are in the process of growing up to a fulness of the stature of Christ, will surely be tutored: 'If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?' (Hebrews 12:7.)" (Men and Women of Christ [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 125.)

Galatians 4:17 Paul Paraphrased

"Your false teachers are zealous to influence you but not for your good, for they would exclude you from the promises of Abraham that ye might praise them instead."

Galatians 4:19 My little children...I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you

Bruce R. McConkie

"Paul again suffers anxiety and distress as he labors for the spiritual rebirth of those who once before were born again through his teachings and testimony." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 477.)

Howard W. Hunter

"We should seek to have Christ 'formed' in us. In Paul's short letter to the Galatians, he showed great concern over their apparent disbelief and their forsaking of his teachings regarding Christ. He wrote to them: 'But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.' (Galatians 4:18-19.) In other words, Paul expressed himself as suffering pain and anxiety until Christ be 'formed' in them. This is another way of saying 'in Christ,' as that expression is used by Paul repeatedly in his writings.

"It is possible for Christ to be born in men's lives, and when such an experience actually happens, a man is 'in Christ'-Christ is 'formed' in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or a fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, he is 'formed' in us; if we open the door, he will enter; if we seek his counsel, he will counsel us. For Christ to be 'formed' in us, we must have a belief in him and in his atonement. Such a belief in Christ, and the keeping of his commandments, are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind which may make each of us a channel of that peace. (72-04, pp. 67-68)

"It is only in the changing of a man's heart-a second birth-the changing of an individual, that the root strength comes to change a people or a nation." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 33.)

Galatians 4:22-31 The allegory of Sarah and Hagar

Paul used the story of Hagar and Sarah to symbolize the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ, respectively.


Hagar and Ishmael

Sarah and Isaac

Application of Law of Moses

Application of Gospel of Christ

Freedom v. Bondage

Hagar was the bondwoman

Sarah was free

The law brings one under the bondage of sin

The gospel of Christ frees one from the burdens of the law

Carnal v. Spiritual

Ishmael was born after the flesh

Isaac was born by promise (v. 23)

The Mosaic law was a law of carnal commandments

The gospel is a spiritual law


Ishmael was born 13 years before Isaac

The Law of Moses was given before the gospel of Christ


Ishmael lived in the wilderness as an archer

Isaac dwelt in Canaan

The law was given in the barren deserts of Sinai

The gospel was given in the holy city of promise-Jerusalem


Ishmael mocked Sarah and Isaac (Gen. 21:9)

The Jews mocked the converted Gentiles (Gal. 4:29)


Ishmael was promised that he would be the father of 12 princes and a great nation (Gen. 17:20)

Isaac was promised his seed would be as the stars in the heaven

The Law of Moses could be the source of great blessings (see Deut. 28:1-14)

The Gospel made possible the blessings of exaltation, including the continuation of the seeds (DC 132:19)


Ishmael was not entitled to Abraham's inheritance (v. 30)

Isaac received the entire inheritance of Abraham

The Law cannot qualify one for the Father's inheritance

The heirs are promised all that the Father hath (DC 84:38)


Galatians 4:29 he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now

"As Isaac grew, his older brother, Ishmael, turned on him to mock, and thus Ishmael and his mother were cast out by Abraham and Sarah. Paul saw this as a type. He likened Ishmael, the child of the flesh or the child of bondage (he being the son of the bondwoman), to the Mosaic law; Isaac, the child of promise and son of the freewoman, he likened to the fulness of the gospel. Those seeking to embrace the higher law were persecuted in like manner by those born of the carnal law. Yet they are heirs to the promise, while their persecutors are destined to wander in the wilderness. (Galatians 4:22-31.)" (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999], 152.)