How would the kingdom of God be received? In our Galatians Bible Study, What Are The Elements of the World?, we address the issue of the inheritance.
Paul shows that those who were in bondage under the elements of the world were called children. This means they were not legally qualified to receive the coveted kingdom of God. How would the inheritance be received?
The Jews were so zealous to receive the kingdom that they plotted to murder the prophets, and ultimately Christ hoping that by destroying the heir, (Matthew 21:33-43, they would have uncontested right to the kingdom. However, in our previous online Bible study lessons on Galatians we demonstrated the necessity to attain full grown status as sons.
However, bondage under the elements of the world prevented Israel’s attainment of the status as sons leaving them as bondservants under law. They were yet in bondage, however, not only to other nations though subject to Rome at the time of Christ, but in a much deeper bondage, that of sin under the law, (John 8:31-33).
For many the elements of the world means scientific period table of elements. This is foreign to the Jewish scriptures. By using the principles of inductive Bible study, one can arrive at a much more biblical conclusion.
Redemption From Bondage
First, by looking at what the outcome is, i.e. redemption (which means to buy back from slavery), would come to those who were under the law through Christ. In this text there is an allusion to Genesis 3:15 where the Seed of the woman comes to destroy the works of the devil, which is bondage to sin, (Hebrews 2:14).
God wanted to make them sons in order that they could inherit the kingdom. However, many of the Jews rejected Christ, John 1:11. But to those who received him, he gave the power to become sons. The whole point of being sons is the ability to reach the legal age and entitlement to the inheritance.
Holy Spirit Given to Sons
To distinguish between true heirs and those who attempted to ursurp the kingdom, Christ gave the Holy Spirit to believers or Christians, (Galatians 3:6). This guaranteed their rights to the inheritance, (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Those who were sons had the privilege of calling upon God as Father, and hence to receive the adoption. Receiving the adoption signified release from bondage, and ultimately resurrection. The Bible Study lesson plan shows the end result. “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (v. 7)
Now that we have established the context of sons versus servants in Galatians 4, Paul issues a warning that those who have been redeemed, do not turn back to their former status as slaves. His question however, focuses attention on the law and its feast days, not on atoms, protons and neutrons.
“But now after you have known God, or rthater are knwn by God how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and season and years.” (Galatians 4:9-10).
The elements of the world are rudimentary principles of a religious system. In scripture, in every place we see the term, it always refers to a religious system and not to material elements. See also Colossians 2:8, 20, Hebrews 5:12, 2 Peter 3:10.
For some great Christian Bible studies on the “elements of the world being burned up” see our study of “Will Planet Earth Be Destroyed?, with a full verse by verse analysis of 2 Peter 3.