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Life under the law

1THIS is what I mean: so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his;

2he is subject to guardians and trustees until the date set by his father.

3So it was with us: during our minority we were slaves, subject to the elemental spirits of the universe,

4but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

5to buy freedom for those who were under the law, in order that we might attain the status of sons.

6To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying “Abba, Father!”

7You are therefore no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, an heir by God's own act.

8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to gods who are not gods at all.

9But now that you do acknowledge God -- or rather, now that he has acknowledged you -- how can you turn back to those feeble and bankrupt elemental spirits? Why do you propose to enter their service all over again?

10You keep special days and months and seasons and years.

11I am afraid that all my hard work on you may have been wasted.

12PUT yourselves in my place, my friends, I beg you, as I put myself in yours. You never did me any wrong:

13it was bodily illness, as you will remember, that originally led to my bringing you the gospel,

14and you resisted any temptation to show scorn or disgust at my physical condition; on the contrary you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as you might have welcomed Christ Jesus himself.

15What has become of the happiness you felt then? I believe you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me, had that been possible!

16Have I now made myself your enemy by being frank with you?

17Others are lavishing attention on you, but without sincerity: what they really want is to isolate you so that you may lavish attention on them.

18To be the object of sincere attentions is always good, and not just when I am with you.

19You are my own children, and I am in labour with you all over again until you come to have the form of Christ.

20How I wish I could be with you now, for then I could modify my tone; as it is, I am at my wits' end about you.

Freedom through Christ

21TELL me now, you that are so anxious to be under law, will you not listen to what the law says?

22It is written there that Abraham had two sons, the one by a slave, the other by a free-born woman.

23The slave's son was born in the ordinary course of nature, but the free woman's through God's promise.

24This is an allegory: the two women stand for two covenants. The one covenant comes from Mount Sinai; that is Hagar, and her children are born into slavery.

25Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and represents the Jerusalem of today, for she and her children are in slavery.

26But the heavenly Jerusalem is the free woman; she is our mother.

27For scripture says, “Rejoice, O barren woman who never bore a child; break into a shout of joy, you who have never been in labour; for the deserted wife will have more children than she who lives with her husband.”

28Now you, my friends, like Isaac, are children of God's promise,

29but just as in those days the natural-born son persecuted the spiritual son, so it is today.

30Yet what does scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave shall not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”

31You see, then, my friends, we are no slave's children; our mother is the free woman.

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