1I want to tell you this: While the heir is still a child, he is no different from a slave. It doesn’t matter that the heir owns everything. Why? 2Because while he is a child, he must obey the people who are chosen to care for him. But when the child reaches the age his father set, he is free. 3It is the same for us. We were once like children. We were slaves to the useless rules of this world. 4But when the right time came, God sent his Son. God’s Son was born from a woman. God’s Son lived under the law. 5God did this so that he could buy the freedom of the people who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us his children. 6You are God’s children. That is why God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. The Spirit cries out, “Abba, Father.” 7So now you are not a slave like before. You are God’s child. God will give you the things he promised, because you are his child. 8In the past you did not know God. You were slaves to gods that were not real. 9But now you know the true God. Really, it is God who knows you. So why do you turn back to those weak and useless rules you followed before? Do you want to be slaves to those things again? 10- 11It worries me that you follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years. I fear that my work for you has been wasted. 12Brothers and sisters, I was like you; so please become like me. You were very good to me before. 13You remember why I came to you the first time. It was because I was sick. That was when I told the Good News to you. 14My sickness was a burden to you. But you did not show hate for me. You did not make me leave. You welcomed me like I was an angel from God. You accepted me like I was Jesus Christ himself! 15You were very happy then. Where is that joy now? I remember that ˻you wanted to do anything possible to help me˼. You would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if that were possible. 16Now am I your enemy because I tell you the truth? 17Those people are working hard to persuade you. But this is not good for you. Those people want to persuade you to turn against us. They want you to follow only them and no other people. 18It is good for people to show interest in you, but only if their purpose is good. This is always true. It is true when I am with you and when I am away. 19My little children, again I feel pain for you like a mother feels when she gives birth. I will feel this until you truly become like Christ. 20I wish I could be with you now. Then maybe I could change the way I am talking to you. Now I don’t know what to do about you. 21Some of you people still want to be under the law ˻of Moses˼. Tell me, do you know what the law says? 22The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one son was a slave woman. The mother of the other son was a free woman. 23Abraham’s son from the slave woman was born in the normal human way. But the son from the free woman was born because of the promise ˻God made to Abraham˼. 24This true story makes a picture for us. The two women are like the two agreements ˻(covenants)˼ between God and his people. One agreement is ˻the law that God made˼ on Mount Sinai. The people who are under this agreement are like slaves. The mother named Hagar is like that agreement. 25So Hagar is like Mount Sinai in Arabia. She is a picture of the earthly ˻Jewish˼ city of Jerusalem. This city is a slave, and all its people ˻(the Jews)˼ are slaves ˻to the law˼. 26But the heavenly Jerusalem that is above is like the free woman. This is our mother. 27The Scriptures say, “Be happy, woman who cannot have children! You never gave birth. Shout and cry with joy! You never felt the pain of giving birth. The woman who is alone will have more children than the woman who has a husband.” 28- 29One son ˻of Abraham˼ was born in the normal way. ˻Abraham’s˼ other son ˻(Isaac)˼ was born by the power of the Spirit, ˻because of God’s promise˼. My brothers and sisters, you are also children of promise like Isaac was then. The son who was born in the normal way treated the other son ˻(Isaac)˼ badly. It is the same today. 30But what do the Scriptures say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son! The son of the free woman will receive everything his father has. But the son of the slave woman will receive nothing.” 31So, my brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman. We are children of the free woman.