(1) 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. (2) But he is under guardians and trustees (see comments on 3.24-25) until the date set by the father (when he acknowledged his son as heir). (3) So also we, while we were children (The Torah “watches” over his people until the heir appeared) were held in bondage under the elementary things of the world (Those things devised by man, customs and traditions, works of outward earthly things-2 Pet 3.10). (4) But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son( Isa 7.14), born of a woman born under the law (but he never broke it like we did) (5) in order that he might redeem those who were under the law (but we sinned and the judicial aspect of the Torah condemned us) that we might receive the adoption as sons (the obstacle of sin and guilt have been removed=redeemed) (6) and because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit (the Shekinah presence) of his son into our hearts crying “Abba, Father!” (7) Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (8) However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves(un-regenerated) to those which by nature are no gods (pagan practices they had). (9) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things to which you desire to be enslaved all over again (this is referring to all the man-made customs, works and pagan traditions that they followed, the works of man. This can’t be the Torah because they were Gentiles and they couldn’t have been “enslaved” to it before because they knew about it, so how could they go back. This is talking about the outward, earthly things they did before salvation-see 2 Pet 3.10)? (10) You observe days and months and seasons and years (he may be referring to the observance of biblical festivals here, and saying that they were using them as a means of gaining righteousness with God, so they were “mixing” the things of God with their past paganism). (11) I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain (The School of Shammai was gaining ground with them and he was afraid he may have wasted his time there). (12) I beg of you, brethren, become as I am (he was not saying that they should be free from following the Torah, because he was Torah observant), for I also was as you are (seeking righteousness by works). You have done me no wrong (but to God you have); (13) but you know that it was because of an infirmity of the flesh (he probably had an eye disorder) that I preached the gospel to you the first time (14) and that which was a trial to you in my flesh (they were being tested to see if they would respond to his need) you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus himself. (15) Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. (16) Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth (that works of any kind, whether they are God’s commandments or the commandments of men, cannot earn them any righteousness with God. Even our good works are as filthy rags to God if we think they can earn us righteousness? (17) They (the Judaizers from the School of Shammai) eagerly seek you, not commendably (they did not want them as God-fearers, the School of Shammai already believed that God-fearers were not accepted as having a place in the world to come. What they wanted was for them to convert to their brand of Judaism, to desire their beliefs over all others and accept ritual circumcision), they wish to shut you out ( exclude all others and seek only their beliefs, and to certainly ignore what Paul taught them. Remember, he was from their bitter rivals camp, the School of Hillel) in order that you may seek them (be on their side). (18) But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner and not only when I am present with you (you sought me when I was there but it shouldn’t weaken when I am gone). (19)My children (he led them to faith in Yeshua and a Torah lifestyle, so he is their “father” in a spiritual sense) with whom I am in labor until Christ is formed in you (the Shekinah) (20) but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. (21) Tell me, you who want to be under law ( no “the” before law here, they had not totally embraced the idea of observing Torah for salvation yet, but were close. If they wanted to do that, he was going to now give them something to think about from the Torah itself). (22) For it is written that Abraham had two sons (Ismael and Isaac), one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. (23) But the son of the bondwoman (symbolizing those who wanted to obtain redemption through their own works and merit) was born according to the flesh (an act of Abraham, not God) and the son of the free woman through the promise (faith). (24) This is allegorically speaking: for these are two covenants, one is from Mount Sinai bearing children (Torah was given there but her children were the children of works) who are to be slave; she is Hagar. (25) Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem (it was God’s city and home of the Torah but she has been placed in bondage by those who claimed that by observing the Torah was a way to gain righteousness with God) for she is enslaved with her children (by works righteousness). (26) But Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother (like Sarah gave birth to a son because of a promise she could not see, this Jerusalem that cannot be seen or touched required faith and she is the mother of all those children of faith and the promise). (27) For it is written, “Rejoice barren woman who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more are the children of the desolate one than of the one who has a husband” (Isa 54.1). (28) And we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of the promise (children of faith). ((29) But as at the time he who was born according to the flesh (human works) persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit (promise), so it is now also ( this is not grace versus law, it is faith versus works, works always persecutes faith). (30) But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman (works) and her son (results of it), for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir (to salvation) with the son of the free woman” (Gen 21.10). (31) So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free woman.