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. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. Galatians 4:1-3 (NIV).
How does it work out for you, Paul comparing “before faith” to being underage? In a way, Paul is saying, “we grow up when we have faith in Jesus.” That means that the folks who don’t believe are immature, like uninformed children. And, uninformed children are at the mercy of “the elemental spiritual forces of the world.”
Those forces are anything that isn’t Christ. Per my Concordia, they’re “false, worldly, religious, elementary teachings.” Elementary? When you read Galatians 4 and Colossians 2 together, you see that “elementary” refers to things that are of the world, not referring to ‘elementary school’ or youth in general. But the word also does infer that those who choose to not follow Jesus, meaning reject Him or not know Him, also are indeed childlike, not innocent, but spoiled, temperamental, and undisciplined.
It’s why children aren’t given their inheritances until they are of-age, educated in the ways of life. Yesterday was Easter. We rejoiced at the official annual celebration of the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. It wasn’t a Bible story: it’s recorded human history, substantiated by timely accounts, archaeological proofs, and cultural phenomena. As followers of Jesus, we’re glad He rose, glad He made possible the way forward both in this world and into eternity. As Christians in a markedly un-Christian world, we get to live our lives as reflections of this joy, soldiers of Christ’s army of the faithful, and keepers of the knowledge of Him.
And professors of that knowledge instead of just possessors of it. We get to teach others, share what we know and believe of Jesus. Our first, best students are our families, especially our children, grandkids, and neighbors. In this un-Christian world, it’s safe to assume that most everyone else (by six to one odds) doesn’t know or doesn’t care about Jesus and His Easter message of salvation and peace. Most everyone else might be childish slaves to the sinful world; most everyone we meet may be those undisciplined spiritual children. Will we be harsh teachers, wielding an iron rule, or will we be gentle but firm like Jesus, brandishing His strong peace and His welcoming truth? Most of the world is at the mercy of un-Christlike elemental forces, being quietly subdued by the evil one, who many mistake as a friend.
On Easter Monday, what will we teach today: childlike elementary words or our risen Jesus?
For further reading: Colossians 2:8 & 20, Galatians 4:4
Risen Savior, teach me Your holy truth so I might better teach others today. You are risen!
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