“…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:5)
This verse further explains why Jesus was sent. He was sent to redeem those under the penalty of sin. Remember that Paul has shown the Galatians to have been imprisoned under the law. Paul then explains that Jesus freed all who were captive by abolishing the master that was holding them. Under the law, we were subject to the guardian and were not heirs but when Jesus removed the guardian we became eligible for adoption. Therefore, God adopted all those who came to Him by faith rather than works of the law.
Is the “we” in this verse Paul and his Jewish brethren or is it all of the Galatian Christians? Did all of them somehow need redeeming from the law? It is certain that all needed adoption. I think Paul is including everyone in a broad sense as being under God’s law and everyone because of that in need of adoption as sons.
Just a small word about the term “sons”. Many people, especially feminist, take offense at the term “sons.” They see it as a term of separation and division. For them, the idea that “sons” is used puts them and their agenda down as if God was siding with the male domination group. In response to that complaint, the NIV changes the word to children. This is a terrible mistake in my opinion. The word used cannot be translated as children and it never means that in any Biblical text. By making it children, a more neutral term, the translation violates the major rule of translations.
It is true that the term in its original setting was very singular in its meaning. It had to do with the oldest son who was the heir, indifference to all of the other children in the family and that is why it can’t be changed to “children.” This word is about inheritance. This is how Paul is using it and how the Galatians understood it.
Does this imply that Paul is saying that only the first born male child can be adopted and given the heir’s rights? Of course not. Paul is using a term for understanding. The question is how does he apply it? All Christians, male or female, regardless of any other outstanding differences are able to be “Sons of God.” In other words, in Christ, all are made one and that one is a son of God, a joint heir with Christ.
Task for Today: Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Don’t get hung up on terms from another place and time. Just believe that God has adopted you as His “Son,” and made you an heir regardless of your sex, race, stature in the world or any other consideration. You are a Son of God.