Galatians 4:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 4:1, NIV: What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1, ESV: I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,

Galatians 4:1, KJV: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

Galatians 4:1, NASB: Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, although he is owner of everything,

Galatians 4:1, NLT: Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had.

Galatians 4:1, CSB: Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything.

What does Galatians 4:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is writing to the Christians in Galatia, helping them understand why it is not necessary for them to begin following the law of Moses. A group of false teachers known as the Judaizers has been working to convince these new believers that after trusting in Christ, they must be circumcised and follow the law in order to be truly right before God (Galatians 2:4).

In the previous verse, Galatians 3:29, Paul declared that everyone who is in Christ has become Abraham's offspring. This refers to everyone who has faith in Jesus. In that way, along with Christ, believers are heirs to the promises God gave to Abraham. Now Paul begins to use the idea of being an heir to illustrate a different point.

In the Greek culture of Paul's day, the child of a wealthy family lived from day to day with very little freedom. Ultimately, he would own everything the family owned. He was the lord of the estate, in the sense that everything was under his eventual authority. Still, at that age, he didn't get to decide when to rise in the morning, when to go to bed at night, where to go, and what to do. His position as the heir didn't entitle him to true freedom until he reached the agreed-upon age.

Paul will make the case in the following verses that something similar was going for Israel, while living under the law of Moses, before Christ came.