Galatians 4 – Do Not Return to Bondage & The Gods of the Greeks and Romans

A young warrior dies. Block from the greater podium frieze.
The upper, shallower frieze on the podium also consisted of 22 blocks, and three have been lost.

Each of the four sides of this frieze represents the siege of a city. The cities are portrayed with characteristic Lycian merlons, and the frieze is thought to represent Arbinas’s conquest of Lycian cities so as to ensure his succession to the leadership.

Arbinas is represented in various ways, including sitting in Persian style, shaded with a parasol, and with his feet supported off the ground by a footstool.

There is also variety in the soldiers, including heavily armed hoplites and archers, and there are prisoners being led away, and besiegers scaling city walls with ladders.

As stated in the article below, magic spells were related to the false Roman and Greek gods, so tomorrow we’ll look at… 

Galatians 4
Do Not Return to Bondage

1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

“Fulness of the time was come” – the time “appointed” by God for His children to become adult sons and heirs.

“God sent forth His Son” – see Jn 1:14, 3:16; Rom 1:1-6; 1 Jn 4:14.

“Made of a woman” – showing that Christ was truly human.

“Made under the law” – subject to the Jewish law.

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

“The adoption of sons” – with the full rights of sons.  See Rom 8:15, where the “spirit of adoption” is contrasted with the “spirit of bondage”. 

Facade of Nereid Monument
The Nereid Monument is a sculptured tomb from Xanthos in classical period Lycia, close to present-day Kinik in Antalya Province, Turkey.

It took the form of a Greek temple on top of a base decorated with sculpted friezes, and is thought to have been built in the early fourth century B.C. as a tomb for Arbinas , the Xanthian dynast who ruled western Lycia.

The tomb is thought to have stood until the Byzantine era before falling into ruin.

The ruins were rediscovered by British traveler Charles Fellows in the early 1840s.

Fellows had them shipped to the British Museum: there some of them have been reconstructed to show what the East facade of the monument would have looked like.

God takes into His family as fully recognized sons and heirs both Jews that believe (those who had been under the law) and Gentiles who believe in Christ.

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

 

10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.

12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

“Received me” – Paul implies that under the influence of Judaizers they have changed their attitude toward him.

15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Arbinas, in Persian dress, receives emissaries. Scene from the upper podium frieze.
The frieze on the architrave on top of the columns is carved in a simpler, more naive style than the podium friezes.

It again portrays scenes of combat, but also a boar hunt, figures bearing offerings, and preparations for a banquet.

17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

“Two sons” – Ishmael was born to the slave woman, Hagar (Gen 16:1-16), and Isaac to his wife Sarah (Gen 21:2-5).

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

One of the nereids.
The monument is now named after the life-size female figures in wind-blown drapery.

Eleven survive, which would have been enough to fill the spaces between columns on the east and west sides, and the three on the north.

Jenkins speculates that there might never have been figures on the south side. They are identified as sea-nymphs because various sculpted sea creatures were found under the feet of seven of them, including dolphins, a cuttlefish, and a bird that may be a sea-gull.

They have generally been called Nereids, though Thurstan Robinson argues that this is imposing a Greek perspective on Lycian sculptures, and that they should rather be seen as eliyãna, Lycian water-nymphs associated with fresh-water sources and referenced on the Letoon trilingual inscription, which was discovered a few kilometres to the south of the site of the monument.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

“Answereth to Jerusalem which now is” – Jerusalem can be equated with Mount Sinai because it represents the center of Judaism, which is still under bondage to the law issued at Mount Sinai.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

“Jerusalem which is above” – Rabbinical teaching held that the Jerusalem above was the heavenly archetype that in the Messianic period would be let down to earth (cf. Rev 21:2).

Here it refers to the heavenly city of God, in which Christ reigns and of which Christians are citizens, in contrast to the “Jerusalem which now is.”

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband.

Paul applies Israel’s joyful promise to exiled Jerusalem (in her exile “barren” of children) to the ingathering of believers through the gospel, by which “Jerusalem’s” children have become many.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

“Cast out the bondwoman” – Sarah’s words in Gen 21:10 were used by Paul as the Scriptural basis for teaching the Galatians to put the Judaizers out of the church.

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

“We are not children of the bondwoman” – the believer is not enslaved to the law but is a child of Promise and lives by faith.

The Gods of the Greeks and Romans

The “religious marketplace” was extremely crowded during the Hellenistic era.

Zeus was the king of the gods and is often portrayed as being a user and manipulator of humans.
Zeus uses a thunderbolt as a weapon, among other things, and that is faithfully recreated in the “God Of War” games.

You encounter Zeus in each game, often in different forms, and he ends up being the main antagonist of the series.

The Olympian deities (and their Roman equivalents) still held a place in popular religion: mighty Zeus and his consort Hera, warlike Ares, erotic Aphrodite, prophetic Apollo, the virgin warrior Athena, Artemis the huntress, Hermes the messenger of the gods, Hephaestus the smith, Poseidon of the sea, Demeter of the field and Hestia of the hearth.

Pluto, the grim god of the underworld, was not always listed among the “Twelve” but retained a significant place in religious thinking.

While these deities were certainly reverenced, they were seldom seen as admirable characters. To the contrary, myths described them as violent and lustful, as well as capricious and conniving in their dealings with humans and with one another (as is seen in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses).

It is not surprising, then, that these deities and their stories were later sanitized by the philosophers. In some systems, for example, Zeus was equated with the organizing principle of the universe (examples are Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus and Aratus’s Phaenomena).

This transformation of the idea of Zeus was so thorough that Jews and Christians could sometimes make use of material related to Zeus in their apologetic teaching in the Hellenistic world (as in Paul’s reference to a poem by the stoic Aratus in Acts 17).

Foreign cults also proliferated in Greece and Rome during the Hellenistic age. The worship of the god Sarapis was particularly popular, even though it appears that he was invented as late as the 3rd century B.C.,drawing together characteristics from various Greek and Egyptian deities.

Widespread stories of his offering help to his followers (deliverance from shipwreck, healing, etc.) compensated for his lack of a long history, Isis and Osiris, other Egyptian dieties, were also popular objects of worship.

In addition to these major deities, there remained a host of local spirits and gods that attracted veneration throughout the empire.

Household gods, preserving hearth and home, were especially popular among the Romans Naiads were described as water-nymphs associated with fountains, just as Dryads were associated with trees and Nereids with the sea.

Hera is the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion.
Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage.

Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno.

The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her.

Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Various spirits connected with the earth were thought to bring fertility to crops, as well as to be associated with death and the underworld.

The terrifying goddess Hekatewas particularly prominent and was frequently invoked in magic spells.

Finally, heroes from the past, most notably Hercules, were thought to aid people in distress and sometimes to serve as spiritual mentors.

…magic in the Greco-Roman World.