When we were children (ote hmen nhpioi). Before the epoch of faith came and we (Jews and Gentiles) were under the law as paedagogue, guardian, steward, to use all of Paul's metaphors. We were held in bondage (hmei hmeqa dedoulwmenoi). Periphrastic past perfect of doulow, to enslave, in a permanent state of bondage. Under the rudiments of the world (upo ta stoiceia tou kosmou). Stoico is row or rank, a series. So stoiceion is any first thing in a stoico like the letters of the alphabet, the material elements in the universe ( 2 Peter 3:10 ), the heavenly bodies (some argue for that here), the rudiments of any act ( Hebrews 5:12 ; Acts 15:10 ; Galatians 5:1 ; Galatians 4:3Galatians 4:9 ; Colossians 2:8Colossians 2:20 ). The papyri illustrate all the varieties in meaning of this word. Burton has a valuable excursus on the word in his commentary. Probably here (Lightfoot) Paul has in mind the rudimentary character of the law as it applies to both Jews and Gentiles, to all the knowledge of the world (kosmo as the orderly material universe as in Colossians 2:8Colossians 2:20 ). See on "Mt 13:38"; see also "Ac 17:24"; see also "1Co 3:22". All were in the elementary stage before Christ came.