4:1  NOW WHAT I mean is that as long as the inheritor (heir) is a child and under age, he does not differ from a slave, although he is the master of all the estate;

4:2  But he is under guardians and administrators {or} trustees until the date fixed by his father.

4:3  So we [Jewish Christians] also, when we were minors, were kept like slaves under [the rules of the Hebrew ritual and subject to] the elementary teachings of a system of external observations {and} regulations.

4:4  But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law,

4:5  To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted {and} have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God's sons].

4:6  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father!

4:7  Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, {through Christ.}

4:8  But at that previous time, when you had not come to be acquainted with {and} understand {and} know the true God, you [Gentiles] were in bondage to gods who by their very nature could not be gods at all [gods that really did not exist].

4:9  Now, however, that you have come to be acquainted with {and} understand {and} know [the true] God, or rather to be understood {and} known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly {and} worthless elementary things [of all religions before Christ came], whose slaves you once more want to become?

4:10  You observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years!

4:11  I am alarmed [about you], lest I have labored among {and} over you to no purpose {and} in vain.

4:12  Brethren, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I also have become as you are [a Gentile]. You did me no wrong [in the days when I first came to you; do not do it now].

4:13  On the contrary, you know that it was on account of a bodily ailment that [I remained and] preached the Gospel to you the first time.

4:14  And [yet] although my physical condition was [such] a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn {and} loathe {and} reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus [Himself]!

4:15  What has become of that blessed enjoyment {and} satisfaction {and} self-congratulation that once was yours [in what I taught you and in your regard for me]? For I bear you witness that you would have torn out your own eyes and have given them to me [to replace mine], if that were possible.

4:16  Have I then become your enemy by telling the truth to you {and} dealing sincerely with you?

4:17  These men [the Judaizing teachers] are zealously trying to dazzle you [paying court to you, making much of you], but their purpose is not honorable {or} worthy {or} for any good. What they want to do is to isolate you [from us who oppose them], so that they may win you over to their side {and} get you to court their favor.

4:18  It is always a fine thing [of course] to be zealously sought after [as you are, provided that it is] for a good purpose {and} done by reason of purity of heart and life, and not just when I am present with you!

4:19  My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely {and} permanently formed (molded) within you,

4:20  Would that I were with you now and could coax you vocally, for I am fearful {and} perplexed about you!

4:21  Tell me, you who are bent on being under the Law, will you listen to what the Law [really] says?

4:22  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid and one by the free woman.

4:23  But whereas the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh {and} had an ordinary birth, the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise.

4:24  Now all this is an allegory; these [two women] represent two covenants. One covenant originated from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given] and bears [children destined] for slavery; this is Hagar.

4:25  Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to {and} belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children.

4:26  But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother.

4:27  For it is written in the Scriptures, Rejoice, O barren woman, who has not given birth to children; break forth into a joyful shout, you who are not feeling birth pangs, for the desolate woman has many more children than she who has a husband.

4:28  But we, brethren, are children [not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but] like Isaac, born in virtue of promise.

4:29  Yet [just] as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh despised {and} persecuted him [who was born remarkably] according to [the promise and the working of] the [Holy] Spirit, so it is now also.

4:30  But what does the Scripture say? Cast out {and} send away the slave woman and her son, for never shall the son of the slave woman be heir {and} share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.

4:31  So, brethren, we [who are born again] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free [the supernatural].