But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (verses 4-7)
Paul continues to emphasize that we are now set free from the law. The law’s goal, all along, was that we would find forgiveness and life and freedom in Christ. “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Galatians 3:24-25).
This is the context for Paul’s statement: “the time had fully come.” The law’s work is done. We can now enter fully into a new reality – all of it in Jesus. He came in order to bring us into the highly privileged position of being sons in the family of God.
(Before we go further, I hasten to add that this in no way excludes women. Paul is using an illustration from the world of his day – in that culture, sons were the ones who were privileged. We don’t need to enter into a debate with ancient society about their sexist viewpoint. We can simply take the point that all who are in Christ have stepped into this privileged position, taking it together with Paul’s previous point that “there is neither … male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” – Galatians 3:28.)
To bring this about in its fullness, the Father not only sent the Son, but also the Spirit, who takes up residence in our hearts in order to infuse this new identity into the very core of our being. From that central position, the Spirit “calls out.” This verb is intense and deeply emotional, so much so that the word often refers simply to a wordless cry, an outburst of raw feeling. Think of someone hollering in pain or whooping with joy or yelping in surprise or shouting in unfettered triumph. The word is used of Jesus’ final cry from the cross as he gave up his spirit (Matthew 27:50). With similar intensity, now in joy and utter confidence, the Spirit calls out within us, “Abba, Father!” It’s a heart-cry of belonging, a declaration of knowing and being known. This cry of the Spirit confirms in our experience the reality that we are truly adopted into the Father’s family. We are at home.
“A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever,” Jesus said (John 8:35). He has brought it about for us. Under the law, we could only ever hope to be slaves in the household. But in Jesus we have a permanent place. We’ve been given the highest privilege. We’ve been made heirs of the family. Indeed, co-heirs with Jesus himself.
Praise his name.
Thank you, Father, that your purpose has always been to adopt me into your family. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming into the world to work salvation, making the adoption possible. Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you live in my heart, crying out within me the joy of this new reality, this new relationship.
Praise Father, Son and Spirit. Amen.
Reflect: Take some time of quiet prayer to invite the Spirit to call out within you afresh, “Abba, Father.” Listen for his cry. Be open to what he communicates to your heart. Give back to the Lord whatever response wells up within you.