Spirit - Evidence of Sonship

The Gift of the Spirit among the Galatians demonstrates they are the sons of God and the heirs of the Covenant promises. In his letter, Paul addresses believers who are considering adding circumcision to their faith in Jesus, and in chapters 3 and 4 of the Letter he presents a series of arguments demonstrating why doing so would be disastrous. Included in his arguments are several appeals to the Gift of the Spirit now possessed by the Galatians as evidence of their status as the sons of God and the heirs of Abraham.

Considering all that God has provided, why do the Galatians now wish to “return to bondage under the weak and beggarly rudiments” of the world? This makes no sense since they are full heirs of the Covenant who now live in the “fullness of time,” in the age of fulfillment.

Downpour - Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash
[Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash]

Not only so, but they
 have the Gift of the Spirit. Therefore, resorting to outmoded rituals is tantamount to reverting to the state of slavery from which God previously delivered them.

Paul’s first argument is based on the Galatians’ experience of the Spirit. Since they previously received the Spirit “through a hearing of faith” while in an uncircumcised state, why do they now wish to adopt circumcision so they may “become completed by the flesh”? - (Galatians 3:1-6).

Moreover, Paul treats the receipt of the Spirit as something that was experienced by the Galatians. God supplied the Spirit and miraculous works among them in response to their faith and not “from the works of the Law.” That they now possess the Gift of the Spirit is self-evident - (Galatians 3:5).

In contrast to those who have received the Spirit “from faith,” men who insist on the necessity of circumcision are obliged to perform the whole Law, and consequently, they are under its “curse.”

Nevertheless, Jesus “redeemed us from the curse” by becoming a “curse for us,” that “upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT THROUGH FAITH” - (Galatians 3:10-14).

Note how Paul equates the Gift of the Spirit with the “blessing of Abraham,” and the fact that the Galatians have it is undeniable evidence that they are the children and heirs of Abraham despite their uncircumcised state.


And with the arrival of Jesus, the true “seed of Abraham,” a fundamental change in the Law and a shift in the status of God’s people occurred – (Galatians 4:1-6).

He appeared in the “fullness of time.” the pivotal moment when we ceased being minors and became the heirs of the promises. To now return to the “rudimentary things” of the old order such as circumcision is the opposite of progress or the “completion” of one’s faith.

Paul uses an analogy based on the adoption practices of the Greco-Roman culture. Under the Law, Israel was comparable to a minor before his formal adoption when the child was under “custodians and administrators” appointed by his adoptive parent. As such, he differed little from a household slave.

Likewise, believers were “children” in bondage under the “rudiments of the world” until the time appointed when God sent his Son to redeem them. Consequently, they have been adopted, and as sons, they are heirs and no longer minor children.

In his analogy, the Law of Moses plays the “custodian.” But since the “adoption,” a change in their status has occurred, and this is confirmed by the Gift of the Spirit:

  • And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” - (Galatians 4:6-7).

Implicit in Paul’s logic, especially his appeal to the Galatians’ possession of the Spirit, is that a return to minority status under the Law would mean the loss of the Spirit.

In short, the Gift of the Spirit received by the Galatians “from faith” demonstrates they are the “sons of God” and the “children of Abraham” despite their lack of circumcision and the other “works of the Law,” including the dietary regulations and calendrical observations required in the Levitical code. They have experienced the Spirit even though they remain Gentiles and are not living “from the works of the Law.”


The Suffering Servant

The Living Word