Is Gal. 4:4 saying that Christ was under law as a man or under the Law of Moses as a Jew? Both seem to be true. The former fits the context of verse 5 (the Galatians mainly being Gentiles), but the latter fits the wider context of the epistle.

Galatians 4:4 But when the set 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 adoption to sonship.[b]

  • How are you deriving that the Galatians were mainly Gentiles?
    – Dave
    May 6, 2021 at 18:20
  • Chapter 4 verse 8 possibly?
    – user558840
    May 6, 2021 at 18:22
  • Thanks - was curious about your source.
    – Dave
    May 6, 2021 at 18:28
  • It was something I had taken for granted actually. Perhaps there are more conclusive arguments?
    – user558840
    May 6, 2021 at 19:33

2 Answers 2


While Paul wrote Galatians primarily to Gentiles, they were Gentiles that Judaizers were telling them that they also needed to follow the Law of Moses and be circumcized.

The major theme is Galatians is:

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal. 2:16, ESV)

Paul's reference to circumcision obviously points to the Law of Moses.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal. 5:2–4, ESV)

Paul pointed out that Jesus was born a Jew under the Law of Moses to fulfill the Law and become our righteousness that we could not fulfill on our own.

 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2:21, ESV)

 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, (1 Cor. 1:30, ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Co 5:21, ESV)

Thus, in Gal. 4:4 Paul referred to the Law of Moses.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4–5, ESV)

Paul wrote that the Gentiles are under the Law of Moses as far as what it written in their hearts.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law [of Moses], by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2:14–16, ESV)

Example of the Law of Moses written in one's heart:

 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14, ESV)

A renowned Greek professor didn't mention the lack of the article in the Greek, but wrote:

Born under the law (γενομενον ὑπο νομον [genomenon hupo nomon]). He not only became a man, but a Jew. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ga 4:4). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

Note the following verses also have ὑπὸ νόμον without the article: Rom. 6:14,15; 1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 3:23; Gal. 4:22; 5:18. Only Paul used ὑπὸ νόμον in the New Testament and always without the article. It was not used in the Septuagint.

But, Gal 3:24 has he article:

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. 3:23–24, ESV)

  • Thanks for this. But what about the absence of the definite article before "law" (in Greek) in Gal. 4. 4-5?
    – user558840
    May 7, 2021 at 7:27
  • See additions in edit.
    – Perry Webb
    May 7, 2021 at 9:26
  • Added more detail
    – Perry Webb
    May 7, 2021 at 23:00
  • So the argument would seem to be that the article is absent because the construction ὑπὸ νόμον does not employ the article?
    – user558840
    May 8, 2021 at 15:26
  • I suspect something like Paul used the phrase as an adverb.
    – Perry Webb
    May 8, 2021 at 16:09

Perry has already given his excellent answer. Here I just supplement a little.

Is Gal. 4:4 saying that Christ was under law as a man or under the Law of Moses as a Jew?

There is a 3rd alternative: Christ was born under the Law as a human.

Luke 2:27b

the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what was customary under the Law,

Jesus was a Jew born under Moses' Law. Additionally, Luke 2:

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus was born for all people and not just for the Jews. He was the Son of Man.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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