Question / Comment - Is Galatians 4:9-11 about the feasts and did Paul observe the feasts? If so should we?
Hi. Blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I come across to your website where I read about the "Feast of the Lord". There are questions and also answer on that topic. One that caught my attention is question 9 Are believers in Christ told to keep the feasts today? To refer to the book of Galatians 4:9-11 but that is not refer to the feasts. In verse 8 it says, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods." Verses 9-11 is referring to the gods they knew before they come to the true God. Galatians have many gods and they observing special days, months, seasons and years.it is not referring to the "Feast of the Lord". In verse 12 Paul says, I plead with you , brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you..." Did Paul abandoned the feast? No. Did he not observed the Sabbath? No. Have a blessed day.
Gal 4:8-11 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. (9) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? (10) You observe days and months and seasons and years. (11) I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
Not once in the book of Galatians is their issue said to be going back to their previous gods and practices as you say. Their issue was always going back to legalism under the Jewish law. This is clear from Gal 2:14-21, 3:1-3, 3:10-14, 3:15-29 etc. Both immediately before the passage we are looking at in 4:4-7 it is speaking of the law and straight after it again where Paul asks:
Gal 4:21-23 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? (22) For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. (23) But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
I could go on obviously. Again not once in the entire book is the issue with the Galatians about going back to their old gods and old practices. It is ONLY, exclusively, about putting themselves under the Jewish law. You are correct that 4:8 refers to a time before they heard the gospel when they were slaves to other gods but it doesn't say they returned to these god and practices but to 'the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again'. Paul is saying that in contrast to Jesus and the Gospel of grace, the law, similar to their former practices when they didn't know God, is weak and worthless elemental things.' Thus verse 4:10 is about the 'the Jewish calendar with its Sabbaths, its festivals, and seasons'.
The Believers Bible Commentary states: "Yet they were turning from His power and riches (of which they were heirs) to weak and poor things, the things connected with the law, such as circumcision, holy days, and rules of diet. They were again putting themselves in bondage to things that could neither save nor enrich but could only impoverish them. Paul labels the law and all its ceremonies as weak and beggarly. God's laws were beautiful in their time and place, but they are positive hindrances when substituted for the Lord Jesus. It is idolatry to turn from Christ to law. The Galatians were observing the Jewish calendar with its Sabbaths, its festivals, and seasons. Paul expresses fear for those who profess to be Christians, yet seek to find favor with God by legal observances. Even unregenerate people can observe days and months and years. It gives some people intense satisfaction to feel there is something they can do in their own strength to win God's smile. But this implies that man has some strength, and hence, to that extent, he does not need the Savior.
Did Paul observe Jewish feasts and the Sabbath?
As to whether Paul observed Jewish feasts and Sabbaths etc he was very clear as to what he did and why:
1Co 9:19-22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. (20) To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; (21) to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. (22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
He said that he was not under the Jewish law but was willing to place himself under the law when he was with unconverted Jews to win those under the law (the Jews). It was all about the gospel and getting people to Christ. When he was with those not under the law (the gentiles) he didn't observe the Jewish laws but always maintained the law of Christ to love.
But he himself was not under the law as he said. And he warned both Jews and Gentiles who thought they had to observe aspects of the law:
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Gal 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? (2) This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Col 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. (17) These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
I have a feeling you won't understand or accept this. I trust one day you will. The most important thing of all is that we are experiencing 'the reality' is Christ. The feasts, the Sabbath day, all just shadows which pointed to a spiritual reality that we are meant to experience in Him. The true rest is in Him and it is every day. I trust you are experiencing that rest each day.