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Study to Grow

By Doug Bell


Galatians 4:

21 ¶ Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.

23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.

24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.

25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 ¶ Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.

30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”

31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.


*****

Wow! How do we interpret this passage? It's always good to follow in exegesis (to draw out the true meaning). And, to determine its true meaning by understanding what the original author was saying to the original audience. Let's look at Paul's words.


Here is our first clue: 21 ¶ "Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?" Clearly then, the Galatians were being persuaded (by the Judaizers) to "add" to their Christianity under Paul. They were being told that; "For by grace you have been saved through faith." (Ephesians 2) wasn't enough! That they needed to add to it; Circumcision and keeping the Law. To show that this wasn't true, The Apostle adds some facts!


22 "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.

23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise."

This can not be denied! Hagar was Sarah's slave. Hagar had her child, not according to God, but by a plan hatched by Abraham and Sarah.

But Notice: Sarah's son was free because of a promise God had made to them 30+ years before! And Isaac's birth happened just as God had promised, when Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100.


But Paul says, let's look at this True statement allegorically! "these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.

25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother."

Sarah and Hagar then, 'represent' the Two Covenants, ie., the Old and the New Testaments. One is the Old, (under the Law) given to Moses at Mt. Sinai, Arabia. This is reflected by Hagar, Bering children for slavery (slavery to Sin, Romans 6:16-17). And she corresponds then, to the present city of Jerusalem. But Sarah is represented by the Jerusalem that is above (Revelation 21:2, 9f.) That Jerusalem is free and is the New Covenant of Grace, belonging to all who are United to Christ through faith alone.


29 "But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now." During Paul's time the Jews were persecuting other Jews who had turned to Christianity. (See: Acts 14:2, etc.)


But what had God instructed Abraham about Hagar and her son?

30 "But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”


Once again, in this book of Galatians we are being told that the 'true' children of Abraham are NOT the physical decedents of Abraham! But, his children, are those who have believed God's promise of Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ!!



31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.





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