Wednesday, 13 April 2016
…but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Galatians 4:2
This verse is connected to verse 1 and it would be good to cite them together for context –
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.”
The child may be the inheritor of all of the estate, just as Israel was to be the inheritor of the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31, 32), but like the heir, they were not ready for that to be revealed “until the time appointed by the [F]ather.” Until that time, they were “under guardians and stewards.” Paul is using a real life example to show why the law was given to Israel and the purpose that law served.
The term “guardians” refers to a person to whom the care of a boy was committed during a particular time in their development. They trained them, took them to school, and even personally helped in educating them. This was what they did and it is what occurred for Israel while they were being taught through the many long years of their need for something other than the law.
The term “stewards” indicates a manager of a house. He was the overseer of it. He had the authority over the entire household including slaves and servants. It is pretty much what Joseph did under Potiphar while in Egypt. Eliezer of Damascus served a similar function under Abraham. Even though slaves, they were given this responsibility because they were found trustworthy and competent.
In this, Paul is equating Israel to being under such a guardian and a steward. The right to the inheritance belonged to them, but they were guided under the guardian until they became of rightful age. They were kept under such care until they had been shown that the law was insufficient to save them. Until that point, the law was intended to keep them in check and to show them how sinful sin really is.
At the coming of Christ, these caretakers were no longer needed. Instead, by faith in Christ, they would become recipients of God’s promises and they would have full rights within the house.
Life application: The law is shown time and time again to be a mere stepping stone in the process of redemptive history. It served its purpose and it was fulfilled in Christ. At that time, its purpose had been served and it was set aside. Now, by faith alone in Christ alone, all become rightful heirs of the promise. Don’t be duped into believing you must observe the law. It is a step back to bondage.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful life of blessing and joy that You have given us. Even those who haven’t called on You still receive Your many gracious gifts of life, love, yummy food, and good times with family and friends. For those who know You as Father, we do so with an extra bonus… the greatest of all. We have been given the blessing of life-eternal through Christ our Lord. No matter what comes that gives us grief, nothing can truly steal our joy. Thank You for our sure and certain hope! Amen.