Galatians 3:26

Liberated from the tutelage of Law through faith and on account of his union with Christ, the Christian is exalted into the condition of a free son of God and enjoys the large privileges of sonship.

I. THE CONDITION OF SONSHIP. God is the Father of all mankind, and all human creatures, even the most ignorant, the most degraded, and the most vicious are naturally God's children. The prodigal son is still a son and can think of "my father." Nevertheless, it is clear that St. Paul often speaks of a sonship that does not belong to all men - a sonship which is the Christian's peculiar condition and is not even shared. by the Jew, a sonship which is not enjoyed by natural birth, but must be received by adoption, i.e. by a special act of Divine grace. What does this mean?

1. Near relationship with God. The son is most closely related to his father. But the disobedient child who forsakes his home is practically dead, for him practically the old relation is severed. It needs to be restored if he is to enjoy it again. The son, too, with St. Paul is not the young child in the nursery, but the older child admitted into the society of his father. The Jew was kept in the nursery separated from God by a "mediator" (ver. 19) and a "tutor" (ver. 24). The Christian is admitted into close fellowship with God.

2. Liberty. This is an idea always associated with St. Paul's description of sonship. The son is no longer the child "under guardians and stewards," who "differeth nothing from a bond-servant." He is a free man enjoying the confidence of his father. Such are Christians; to them the mind and will of God are revealed; they are free from restraints of formal Law; they are put in positions of trust.


1. Through rattle. This is an important point in the apostle's argument. So long as we have not faith we remain in tutelage and at a distance from God. Faith breaks the yoke and brings us into the presence of God. Faith teaches us to realize that God is our Father and to trust him fearlessly, and so to take the position of sons.

2. By union with Christ. Christ is the Son of God. Yet he is not desirous of keeping his privileges to himself. On the contrary, he laboured and suffered that his people might share them. The baptized, that is to say, all of the Galatian people who accepted Christianity as a religion, had happily gone further and really entered into the spirit of it. They had since backslidden, but they were no hypocrites. Living Christianity is "putting on Christ," being clothed with the spirit of Christ. They who do this through faith in Christ become one with him, and, as his brethren, become sons of his Father.


1. Universal brotherhood. We are all one "in Christ Jesus." Here is the secret. The fraternity that sprang from the mere enthusiasm of philosophic philanthropy led to the guillotine. It is only union in Christ that secures true lasting union among men. As all colours melt into one common brilliancy under the rays of a very strong light, all distinctions vanish when Christ's presence is deeply felt.

(1) National distinctions vanish. The old antagonism of Jew and Gentile disappears. Christianity now tends to blend nations.

(2) Social distinctions vanish. Slaves are free in Christ. Free men are servants to Christ. The gospel is the enemy of all caste-feeling.

(3) Even distinctions of sex count for nothing. This meant much in ancient times, when cruel injustice was done to women. Women are under eternal obligations to the gospel, which has freed them from an unworthy bondage and given them their true place in the world.

2. The inheritance of ancient promises. The son of a king is an heir. What shall be the inheritance of a Son of God? To him it is said, "All things are yours." The Jew cherished the promises as a hope. The Christian enjoys the fulfilment of the promises. As yet the fulfilment is but partial, though enough to be an earnest of better things to come for those sons of God who are being made "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." - W.F.A.

For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
"Liberty, equality, and fraternity," is the three-fold watchword of the masses in modern society. These words are written up in large characters on public buildings, and even on some of the churches, in France; and the ideas represented by them are held and aimed after by vast numbers in nearly every European country. What is meant by them?(a) By "Liberty" is meant perfect freedom for the people to govern themselves, This is attainable, and, so far as political government is concerned, it has been attained by France, Great Britain, and other countries.(b) By "Equality" is meant the abolition o! rank and title, whether hereditary or otherwise; to many it means socialism or communism — the abolition of personal property — the State becoming the sole proprietor and apportioner of the means of subsistence.(c) By "Fraternity" is meant the realization of the feeling of true brotherhood as between man and man. Such are the ideas represented by the "liberty, equality, and fraternity" sought after by the world — a mixture of truth and error. True "liberty, equality, and fraternity" are only to be attained through the gospel being accepted and acted on throughout the world. This alone will stop the seethings of dissatisfaction, the upheavals of discontent, and the outbreaks of revolutionary passion.


1. Freedom from the condemnation of the law.

2. Freedom from the power of evil.

II. EQUALITY IN JESUS CHRIST. Not an equality subverting natural relations; these remain, but with a new spirit of light and love, constituting essential equality under circumstantial inequalities, so far as these are not inlaid in the very constitution of man as a social being.

1. In Christ there is no national inequality.

2. In Christ there is complete equality between master and servant.

3. Equality as between man and woman.

III. TRUE FRATERNITY. This is unattainable by political methods. It never yet has been, and never will be, reached by these means. Neither ancient nor modern republics have been able to secure true brotherhood among the members of the State, e.g., Athenian democracy, French and American Republics. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can make us true brothers, as descended from the same parent, heirs of the same inheritance, and hence possessed of a spirit of true fraternal affection towards each other. Not necessarily do Christians always agree in their opinion on indifferent points; nor do they see fundamental questions always from the same standpoint — one seeing the matter according to his own God-given mental peculiarities, another according to his, and so on; but, amid all differences of opinion, they are one in true brotherly affection, sympathy, and aim. This is the real tendency and intention and aim of Christianity, however far we may at present fall short of it. What we can now see only "in part," will one day be perfected, for "our citizenship, our commonwealth, is in heaven."

(W. Spensley.)

Theological Sketch Book.

1. In common with the other intelligent creatures of God (Acts 17:29).

2. By external profession (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15).

3. Their sonship consists chiefly in their regeneration and adoption.

4. This sonship is not a mere title or mark of distinction, but has privileges the most excellent annexed to it. There is no condemnation to them. They are His temples. Led by His spirit. Abiding in their Father's house, heart, love. They have a title to incorruption and immortality (Romans 8:23). They are born to a great inheritance (Romans 8:17; Psalm 16:5).

5. This sonship is equally the privilege of every believer in Christ. They may be distinguished from each other, as to external circumstances in life, spiritual gifts and graces, etc., but their filial relation is the same.

6. It is a privilege of which they are conscious, and hence they enjoy the comfort of it (Galatians 4:6).

II. HOW IT IS THAT THEY ATTAIN TO THIS PRIVILEGE AND DIGNITY. The text says, by faith in Christ Jesus. To illustrate this, it may be proper to recollect —

1. That in the state of primitive innocence, Adam was truly the son of God: he resembled God (Genesis 1:27). This resemblance was effaced by sin; his former relation of sonship to God then ceased, and he was turned out of God's family and garden as a rebel, while he and his numerous progeny became children of disobedience and wrath.

2. It is by faith, or a supernatural revelation only, that we are informed how this high prerogative may be regained. This surpasses the capacity of the wisest philosopher, and even of angels. It is brought to light by the gospel (Galatians 4:4, 5).

3. We become the children of God, when we cordially believe in Christ: we are thereby brought into union with Christ and into a relation of sonship with the Father (John 1:12). Concluding exhortation:

1. Be astonished, ye heavenly principalities and powers, to see such base-born slaves and rebellious creatures taken into the family of God. Unmeasurable love! Infinite honour!

2. Forget not the love, duty, submission, and service, resulting from this relation.

3. How insipid, alas I are such themes as this to the generality even of gospel hearers. Show them how to acquire a fortune, etc., and they will be all attention; but publish the riches of God's gracious adoption, they relish it not. Blinded sinner, what a fatal choice! Naught can avail thee in the long run, but this. Claim thy adoption, and live as a child of God.

(Theological Sketch Book.)

I. A WONDERFUL AND AN INEXPLICABLE PRIVILEGE. What an honour (Proverbs 17:6)! What an advantage (Romans 8:17)! In this name we have —

1. A spiritual right to all the creatures of God (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

2. An interest in God Himself (Isaiah 49:15, 16; 1 John 4:16).

3. The service and guardianship of angels (Psalm 91:11; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14).

4. A certain and infallible claim to eternal glory (Colossians 1:12; Matthew 25:34).


1. This privilege is not natural to man. By nature we are

(1)children of this world (Luke 16:8); or worse,

(2)a seed of falsehood (Isaiah 57:4); or yet worse,

(3)children of unrighteousness and darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5); or yet worse,

(4)sons of wilful disobedience (Ephesians 2:3); or worst of all,

(5)children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2).

2. This enjoyment may be obtained by

(1)Adoption (Ephesians 1:5);

(2)Regeneration; not of water only, so we are all sacramentally regenerated; but of the Holy Ghost (1 John 1:12, 13; John 3:5).

3. Union with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 4:15; James 1:18).

4. By means of faith as saith the text.


1. Like his Father (1 Peter 1:15, 16);

(1)He is merciful; are we cruel?

(2)He is righteous; are we unjust?

(3)He is slow to anger; are we furious?

(4)He is abhorrent of evil; do we take pleasure in wickedness?

2. Bears a filial answering to a paternal love.

3. Reverences his Father (Malachi 1:6).

4. Is obedient to his Father.

5. But beyond this there is the witness and guidance of the Holy Spirit of our Father.

(Bishop Hall.)

A man has faith in God as the Creator of the universe, as the Father of man, as the moral Ruler of the world; but that is not what is meant by the faith that admits into the saved family. A man may assure himself that he has scientific ground for his faith in theism, but that is a long way from the faith that saves the soul. To put faith in manhood, or kinghood, or pope, or progress, or church, or creed, as the object of faith is simply to divert the mind from that which saves. Faith in the beautiful, the good, the nobler aspects of the race, in the poetry and yearnings of the higher humanitarianism, are interesting things to talk about; but to put them forth as the dark passages through which men are to find their way into the family, is to shut the door of hope in the face of the great sinning, sorrowing, race. Not without meaning is Fichte's despair of raising men into the blessed life since they are so far beneath the reach of his philosophy. But Paul here opens the door of hope, and shows how any man may become a new child of God.


No man ever wrought to make the world better that was not my brother. No man ever laboured to exemplify the coming manhood, that was not kindred to me. Whatever nation he belonged to he belonged to my nation. Whatever language he spoke, he spoke my language. Whatever sphere he wrought in was my sphere. Whether he was crowned or uncrowned, he was of my lineage. I own him; and if he is saved he owns me. And all over the world, there are no spirits bearing and enduring with fortitude and cheerfulness in obscurity that are not my unknown relations. My Father has an enormous family, for my Father is God. My eldest brother is named Jesus Christ, and the relationships which spring out of this Fatherhood and this Brotherhood — how many they are! Wherever men are denying themselves for rectitude, and enduring for that which is just and true, and living courageously for the right, and exemplifying purity and sweetness, and diffusing happiness-these are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and our brethren.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A man was fleeing from some men who desired to rob and kill him. He came to a wide gulf, over which there was only a slender plank for a bridge. It looked too weak to bear him, so that there seemed only a choice of the kind of death open to him. What was he to do? Death behind! Death. in front by a fearful fall! While his mind was wavering as to his right course, he saw a strong, heavy man on the opposite side, who shouted. 'Come over, man! I crossed the plank safely; I am heavier than you are. When it has borne me it will bear you': Similarly, Christ is our plank of safety across the gulf of damnation. He has borne my sins, therefore He can and will bear yours.

A person asked me the other day whether I had seen a book entitled, "Sixteen Saviours." I answered, "No, I have not, and I do not want to know of sixteen saviours, I am satisfied with one. If all who dwell in heaven and earth could be made into saviours, and the whole were put together, you might blow them away as a child blows away thistle-down, but there is this one Saviour, the Son of Man, and yet the mighty God, and He cannot be moved. Joy then, my brethren, and rejoice in your blessed Lord.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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