1 Let me explain further. As long as an heir is a child, he is no better off than a slave, even though he owns everything. 2 He is placed under the control of guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 It was the same way with us. When we were children, we were slaves to the principles of this world. 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son [into the world]. A woman gave birth to him, and he came under the control of God's laws. 5 God sent him to pay for the freedom of those who were controlled by these laws so that we would be adopted as his children. 6 Because you are God's children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into us to call out, "Abba! Father!" 7 So you are no longer slaves but God's children. Since you are God's children, God has also made you heirs. 8 When you didn't know God, you were slaves to things which are really not gods at all. 9 But now you know God, or rather, God knows you. So how can you turn back again to the powerless and bankrupt principles of this world? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10 You religiously observe days, months, seasons, and years! 11 I'm afraid for you. Maybe the hard work I spent on you has been wasted. 12 Brothers and sisters, I beg you to become like me. After all, I became like you were. You didn't do anything wrong to me. 13 You know that the first time I brought you the Good News I was ill. 14 Even though my illness was difficult for you, you didn't despise or reject me. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were God's messenger or Christ Jesus himself. 15 What happened to your positive attitude? It's a fact that if it had been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Can it be that I have become your enemy for telling you the truth? 17 These people [who distort the Good News] are devoted to you, but not in a good way. They don't want you to associate with me so that you will be devoted only to them. 18 (Devotion to a good cause is always good, even when I'm not with you.) 19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you again until Christ is formed in you. 20 I wish I were with you right now so that I could change the tone of my voice. I'm completely puzzled by what you've done! 21 Those who want to be controlled by Moses' laws should tell me something. Are you really listening to what Moses' Teachings say? 22 Scripture says that Abraham had two sons, one by a woman who was a slave and the other by a free woman. 23 Now, the son of the slave woman was conceived in a natural way, but the son of the free woman was conceived through a promise [made to Abraham]. 24 I'm going to use these historical events as an illustration. The women illustrate two arrangements. The one woman, Hagar, is the arrangement made on Mount Sinai. Her children are born into slavery. 25 Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia. She is like Jerusalem today because she and her children are slaves. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 Scripture says: "Rejoice, women who cannot get pregnant, who cannot give birth to any children! Break into shouting, those who feel no pains of childbirth! Because the deserted woman will have more children than the woman who has a husband." 28 Now you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. 29 Furthermore, at that time the son who was conceived in a natural way persecuted the son conceived in a spiritual way. That's exactly what's happening now. 30 But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, because the son of the slave woman must never share the inheritance with the son of the free woman." 31 Brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave woman but of the free woman.
1 Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm [in this freedom], and don't become slaves again. 2 I, Paul, can guarantee that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Again, I insist that everyone who allows himself to be circumcised must realize that he obligates himself to do everything Moses' Teachings demand. 4 Those of you who try to earn God's approval by obeying his laws have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen out of God's favor. 5 However, in our spiritual nature, faith causes us to wait eagerly for the confidence that comes with God's approval. 6 As far as our relationship to Christ Jesus is concerned, it doesn't matter whether we are circumcised or not. But what matters is a faith that expresses itself through love. 7 You were doing so well. Who stopped you from being influenced by the truth? 8 The arguments of the person who is influencing you do not come from the one who is calling you. 9 A little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough. 10 The Lord gives me confidence that you will not disagree with this. However, the one who is confusing you will suffer God's judgment regardless of who he is. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching that circumcision is necessary, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the cross wouldn't be offensive anymore. 12 I wish those troublemakers would castrate themselves. 13 You were indeed called to be free, brothers and sisters. Don't turn this freedom into an excuse for your corrupt nature to express itself. Rather, serve each other through love. 14 All of Moses' Teachings are summarized in a single statement, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 15 But if you criticize and attack each other, be careful that you don't destroy each other. 16 Let me explain further. Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants. 17 What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each other. As a result, you don't always do what you intend to do. 18 If your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses' laws. 19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I've told you in the past and I'm telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There are no laws against things like that. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their corrupt nature along with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by our spiritual nature, then our lives need to conform to our spiritual nature. 26 We can't allow ourselves to act arrogantly and to provoke or envy each other.
1 Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted. 2 Help carry each other's burdens. In this way you will follow Christ's teachings. 3 So if any one of you thinks you're important when you're really not, you're only fooling yourself. 4 Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. 5 Assume your own responsibility. 6 The person who is taught God's word should share all good things with his teacher. 7 Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you'll harvest. 8 If you plant in [the soil of] your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in [the soil of] your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life. 9 We can't allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way. Certainly, each of us will receive [everlasting life] at the proper time, if we don't give up. 10 Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers. 11 Look at how large the letters [in these words] are because I'm writing this myself. 12 These people who want to make a big deal out of a physical thing are trying to force you to be circumcised. Their only aim is to avoid persecution because of the cross of Christ. 13 It's clear that not even those who had themselves circumcised did this to follow Jewish laws. Yet, they want you to be circumcised so that they can brag about what was done to your body. 14 But it's unthinkable that I could ever brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his cross my relationship to the world and its relationship to me have been crucified. 15 Certainly, it doesn't matter whether a person is circumcised or not. Rather, what matters is being a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy will come to rest on all those who conform to this principle. They are the Israel of God. 17 From now on, don't make any trouble for me! After all, I carry the scars of Jesus on my body. 18 May the good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters! Amen.