1. What I am saying is this: an heir, during the time while he is still under age, is no different from a slave, even though he is the owner of all the property;
2. he is under the control of guardians and administrators until the time fixed by his father.
3. So too with us, as long as we were still under age, we were enslaved to the elemental principles of this world;
4. but when the completion of the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law,
5. to redeem the subjects of the Law, so that we could receive adoption as sons.
6. As you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son crying, 'Abba, Father';
7. and so you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir, by God's own act.
8. But formerly when you did not know God, you were kept in slavery to things which are not really gods at all,
9. whereas now that you have come to recognise God -- or rather, be recognised by God -- how can you now turn back again to those powerless and bankrupt elements whose slaves you now want to be all over again?
10. You are keeping special days, and months, and seasons and years-
11. I am beginning to be afraid that I may, after all, have wasted my efforts on you.
12. I urge you, brothers,-be like me, as I have become like you. You have never been unfair to me;
13. indeed you remember that it was an illness that first gave me the opportunity to preach the gospel to you,
14. but though my illness was a trial to you, you did not show any distaste or revulsion; instead, you welcomed me as a messenger of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
15. What has happened to the utter contentment you had then? For I can testify to you that you would have plucked your eyes out, were that possible, and given them to me.
16. Then have I turned into your enemy simply by being truthful with you?
17. Their devotion to you has no praiseworthy motive; they simply want to cut you off from me, so that you may centre your devotion on them.
18. Devotion to a praiseworthy cause is praiseworthy at any time, not only when I am there with you.
19. My children, I am going through the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you;
20. and how I wish I could be there with you at this moment and find the right way of talking to you: I am quite at a loss with you.
21. Tell me then, you are so eager to be subject to the Law, have you listened to what the Law says?
22. Scripture says that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave girl and one by the freewoman.
23. The son of the slave girl came to be born in the way of human nature; but the son of the freewoman came to be born through a promise.
24. There is an allegory here: these women stand for the two covenants. The one given on Mount Sinai -- that is Hagar, whose children are born into slavery;
25. now Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and represents Jerusalem in its present state, for she is in slavery together with her children.
26. But the Jerusalem above is free, and that is the one that is our mother;
27. as scripture says: Shout for joy, you barren woman who has borne no children! Break into shouts of joy, you who were never in labour. For the sons of the forsaken one are more in number than the sons of the wedded wife.
28. Now you, brothers, are like Isaac, children of the promise;
29. just as at that time, the child born in the way of human nature persecuted the child born through the Spirit, so now.
30. But what is it that scripture says? Drive away that slave girl and her son; the slave girl's son is not to share the inheritance with the son of the freewoman.
31. So, brothers, we are the children not of the slave girl but of the freewoman.