8

In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul describes the incarnation event:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

The description of the Son as born under the law makes sense to me in context of the letter which deals so much with the law, but why does he also call out the Son as one "born of a woman"? Is this for some reason to stress his humanity? Or the method of the sending? And how does it tie in with any of the rest of the letter if at all?

1
  • I am wondering if the phrase born of woman has to do with distinguishing a natural born mortal with the mythical godly or gods of the mythologies, the Roman Greek gods and Nephilim etc
    – Michael16
    May 22 at 9:09

6 Answers 6

5

The phrase "born of woman" is definitely used to draw attention to Jesus's humanity, however, there are many ways to do this and it was typically done in the Gospels with Jesus's self-title, "Son of Man."

I think there's something else going on for this descriptor only once used for Jesus. Similar to the title Son of Man, I believe it does double duty by not only referring to Jesus's humanity but also recalling Old Testament messianic prophesy. In this case, the messianic prophecy that Jesus fulfills is that of the Snake Crusher, the Seed of the Woman - the fulfillment of the first Gospel prophesy:

14So the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and every beast of the field!
On your belly will you go,
and dust you will eat,
all the days of your life.
15And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

In context of Galatians, Jesus deals with Genesis curse, the work of the serpent brought about through Adam and Eve, by coming under the law to rescue the Children of Abraham so that the promise of blessing of Abraham can be made available to all the children of Adam.

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive our adoption as sons.
-Galatians 4:4-5

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
-Gal 3:13-14

2

I think it is simply expressing his humanity. Born of woman indicates mortal humanity, that is the flesh, in contrast with "born of God" which is Spiritual. God sent his son as a mortal normal man like anyone else under the law to redeem them from the bondage of the law. John the Baptist was called greatest among those born of women (Matt 11:11). That reference is made for the ordinary mankind where the status of the citizens of heaven is compared with people on earth.

2

What is Paul's purpose in highlighting that the Christ was born of a woman?

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Gal 4:4-5

The origin of Jesus is expressed in all the Gospels without ambiguity. We can understand exactly what happened when Mary was enabled to conceive by the power of God working in her body and of the subsequent birth.

Throughout the NT, Paul and other writers, remind us of the significance of Jesus' beginning and of his promised heritage.

regarding His son, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh Romans 1:3

That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

  • Jesus was born as flesh. We know from 1Pet 3:18 that Jesus died 'in the flesh' but was raised in the spirit. We know that he was the 'firstborn of many brothers' at his resurrection (Rom 8:29) which relates to his new life/new birth in the spirit. But even now he says he is not A spirit Luke 24:39. He remains a human, but now with new life eternal Rom 6:9.
  • Paul is reminding readers of this critical foundation for God's plan which centres on His son and what He asked him to accomplish.
  • being the second and last Adam (1Cor 15:45) Jesus has ticked all the boxes of numerous prophecies since Gen 3 - the seed of the woman - a human like the first Adam, descendant of David and Abraham, of Israel, born of the woman chosen by God to bear His holy son.
  • "when the set time had fully come" denotes the final stages of the plan culminating in Jesus becoming the Lamb of God on the cross.
  • "God sent his Son". The son God sent was born of the woman. God has no other son that could be the Lamb without blemish, 1 Peter 1:19.

Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God 1John 4:2

Here John, who introduced the 'logos become flesh' is sending a closing message about sticking to the truth revealed. That Jesus is the son of God, the son of man, and he is flesh (like the first Adam). If he came as anything other than flesh, it would conflict with John's test of which spirits testify of the true Jesus - and which ones do not.

Paul too is attempting to remind the Galatians about the Jesus in whom they are saved and that they may also become sons of God in Jesus. From humble, fleshly humanity came Jesus, born of a woman, and now sits next to God! They can sit there too - with and in him Eph 2:6.

++++++++++++++++

The phrase 'Son of man', used often of and by Jesus, has been used since Numbers 23:19 and denotes a human being.

  • Ps 8:4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him
  • Ezek 2:1 Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!”
  • Ezekiel 11:4 “Therefore, prophesy against them, son of man, prophesy!”
  • Dan 8:17 “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”
  • Mark 2:10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins
  • Luke 19:10 the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
  • Mark 14:62 you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power

++++++++++++++++

Some speculate that for Jesus to be sent, he must have pre-existed. No scripture confirms this proposal, only conjecture and inference. We might ask when was Jesus sent? Was it as a newborn? Well yes, but also no. His primary sending was after his baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. How could he be sent into battle without the resources he desperately needed?

This is when he was sent into the ‘world’ in the sense of his opposition to, and confrontation with, evil. God sent His son even before Gen 3! Whether he existed then is irrelevant. He would exist and that is all that matters. Heb 1:2 confirms Jesus being the one God speaks through ‘in these latter days’. Jesus said he came to not do his will, but that of his God and Father. Certainly, ‘knowing God’s will’ would not have been possible as a newborn, but through great suffering and the resultant learned obedience until the cross, God’s will was understood and done.

1

1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4 NKJV)

Born of a woman stresses the human nature of the Son of God. However, Paul also wants the Galatians to understand Jesus was the Son of God before He was born of a woman. He does this by stating God sent forth His Son using ἐξαποστέλλω and not the more common ἀποστέλλω.

  • ἐξαποστέλλω - ❶ to send someone off to a locality or on a mission, send away, send off, send out; ❷ to send off as an act of dismissal, send away; ❸ to send something off in an official sense, send, dispatch1
  • ἀποστέλλω - ❶ to dispatch someone for the achievement of some objective, send away/out; ❷ to dispatch a message, send, have something done2

Etymologically ἐξαποστέλλω is formed by adding ἐκ to ἀποστέλλω. This gives an added emphasis of being sent from. So, God sent forth, or sent away, His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Thus, Jesus did not come into existence when He was born of a woman; rather He was already in existence and was sent away [from God] to be born of a woman.

This same sequence is repeated by Paul in Philippians and expressed by John:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God...11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. (John 1)

To emphasize this sequence, Paul immediately repeats ἐξαποστέλλω to describe the Spirt of God's Son who is sent into the hearts of the believer.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

In both cases that which was sent, ἐξαποστέλλω, was with God before being sent.


1. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, pp. 345-346
2. Ibid., pp. 120-121

0
0

I have always been interested that the curse on Adam seems to contain little hope,but the rebuke to the serpent tends to say that the redemption will come through Eve. He gave the command about the tree and the responsibility of its observation to Adam who stood by silently as it was broken.

0

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to son ship.

This passage speak to me the Holy Father in his infinite wisdom and sovereignty set a time and made a way for man's redemption, Indeed, it was necessary for the redeemer to be born of a woman for this is the way all mankind are born and for the redeemer to be born in the likeness of man with the same feelings as those he would reconcile to the Father that come to him in faith (Romans8:3). We receive the adoption of sonship by walking in the newness of his spirit (Romans 8:15)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.