“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal. 4:9)
Formerly they did not know God but now they do. They met Him in the gospel of Jesus Christ, His son. When they accepted that gospel and put on Christ in baptism they were added to the family and God knew them as his sons. What an experience. Paul appears somewhat stunned that those who had never known God, and then met God, and knew Him and He them, could possibly want to retreat to that former state.
Yet, in Paul’s mind and the Holy Spirit’s as well, that is exactly what they are doing by trying to add parts of the law to the gospel, thus corrupting it. “How can you?” is not a question Paul is wanting an answer to I don’t think. It’s rhetorical because in Paul’s mind it is unthinkable to leave the grace of God for the Law of Moses. Go back to weakness? No way! Go back to worthless idols? Ridiculous! Go back to ignorance? Who wants to do that? Why would the free person want to be a slave again?
The only way to answer these questions is to assume that the Galatians are foolish and ignorant. He starts the letter calling them foolish and follows by showing them that they are ignorant of the consequences of what they are doing. Not just the Gentiles but the Jews as well. In spite of what is being taught by the visiting teachers, there can be no Jesus and. It’s Jesus and Jesus only. It’s grace and grace only. It’s faith and faith only.
Task for Today: We may not have the same issues today as the Galatian Christians did but we can still try to add something to the gospel. Make sure you are not doing that. Keep the gospel pure. Don’t add works. Don’t leave off obedience. Don’t change the gospel!