We were slaves (Gal. 4:3)


It is with us.

When we were minors,

We were slaves

To the elementary spirits

Of the world.”

οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι·

Paul said, “Thus, it is with us (οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς).  When we were minors (ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι), we were slaves (ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι) to the elementary spirits (ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα) of the world (τοῦ κόσμου).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word στοιχεῖα that means a letter of the alphabet, the elements of knowledge, a rudimentary principle, or an elementary rule.  Paul indicated that we were immature children or minors.  We were slaves to the elementary spirits.  What are these elementary spirits?  It could be the first principles of education, like basic reading and writing.  It could be the physical elements of the world.  It could also mean deified heavenly bodies like stars or moons that the pagan gentiles worshipped.  Perhaps Paul was referring to the elementary laws of the Jewish Torah.  In any case, it was basic or elementary, not a mature knowledge.  Maybe he meant both the gentile pagan worship of worldly elements and the elementary knowledge of the Torah.  We were enslaved with this basic knowledge.  We did not know any better.  Did you ever get stuck with the stuff in elementary school?