Paul now passes from a personal appeal to an allegorical argument from the Law. As legalists, they are asked it' they will not hear the Law which in its history really condemns them as children of the bondwoman and not children of the freewoman. For such an allegorical interpretation we are content with Paul's authority, since he was inspired of God in his handling of Scripture as well as in writing additions to it. His rabbinical education would incline him to allegory; but we would not in consequence take any liberties with Scripture on the same track. Still, as we face the history as given in Genesis 21
. with Paul's help in our hands, it gives a very interesting and beautiful application of it.
I. LET US CONSIDER THE CHILD OF THE BONDWOMAN IN HIS EARLY YEARS. (Ver. 23.) Ishmael, as the child of Abraham, had for thirteen years a happy and interesting life. He was the issue of a union promoted by Sarah in her own despair. Upon him the patriarch looked with all an old man's pride; and, had not God expressly forbidden it, Abraham would have looked no further than Ishmael for a son and heir. Hagar naturally played the haughty part before her mistress and despised the beautiful woman because of her barrenness. But as soon as Isaac came to gladden the aged pair, Hagar and Ishmael fell of necessity into the background. In due time there is the weaning feast. "Hagar and her son heard the merriment," says Robertson, "and it was gall to their wounded spirits; it looked like intentional insult; for Ishmael had been the heir presumptive, but now, by the birth of Isaac, had become a mere slave and dependant; and the son of Hagar mocked at the joy in which he could not partake." Now, Ishmael all these years was the type of the legalist who prides himself on his observance of the ceremonies. Just as the boy thought that he was son and heir by undisputed right and title, so the legal spirit imagines that in God's house his rights cannot be disregarded. In the pride of self-satisfaction he sees no rival in the house and is disposed to brook none. And yet a touch of fate will make him realize at once his slavery and outcast condition.
II. CONSIDER NEXT THE SON OF PROMISE. (Ver. 23.) But for the promise of God, Isaac never would have been born. He belonged consequently to a different order from Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of nature; Isaac was the product of grace. In this Isaac is the type of the son of the gospel, as Ishmael is the type of the son of the Law. Isaac is born to freedom, to honour, to inheritance; while Ishmael is cast out as the slave who has no recognized rights in the household. So is it with the free-born son of the gospel as contrasted with the legalists of Paul's time. The believer is God's son through the freewoman; he has his inalienable rights in God's household; he may be persecuted and mocked by the Ishmaels who are but bondslaves; but he is destined to keep the field of privilege in spite of foes and triumph over them at last.
III. LEGALISM AND GOSPEL FREEDOM ARE INCOMPATIBLE. (Vers. 24-30.) One house could not hold both Ishmael and Isaac. They could not get on together. No more can the legal and the gospel spirit. Self-righteousness and faith in Christ are irreconcilable. Hence the war between the legalists and the apostle. It was war to the bitter end. The principles are antagonistic, and the one must triumph over the other. And liberty is sure to triumph over legalism in the end, as Isaac triumphed over Ishmael.
IV. THE CONSEQUENT DUTY OF MAINTAINING OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. (Galatians 5:1.) Paul calls upon the Galatians not to go back to bondage, but to maintain the freedom which Christ has given them. If he has fulfilled the ceremonies, why should they go back to the bondage of observances? If they are born as children of promise, why go back to the birth of bondslaves? It is like emancipated slaves insisting on surrendering their freedom. What the liberty bestowed by Christ is in its length and breadth may be realized from the close and climax of one of Liddon's masterly sermons. "It is freedom from a sense of sin, when all is known to have been pardoned through the atoning blood; freedom from a slavish fear of our Father in heaven, when conscience is offered to his unerring eye morning and evening by that penitent love which fixes its eye upon the Crucified; freedom from current prejudice and false human opinion, when the soul gazes by intuitive faith upon the actual truth; freedom from the depressing yoke of weak health or narrow circumstances, since the soul cannot be crushed which rests consciously upon the everlasting arms; freedom from that haunting fear of death, which holds those who think really upon death at all,' all their lifetime subject to bondage,' unless they are his true friends and clients who by the sharpness of his own death ' opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.' It is freedom in time, but also and beyond freedom in eternity." May we realize our rights as children of the free! - R.M.E.
That Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman.
The principle from which he views the Old Testament history may be compared to those lines of light which, on a misty day, open up glimpses among the mountains, in which that which is definitely seen is as nothing to the crowded and mysterious shapes suggested to the imagination. First his mind turns to the tents of the patriarchs, to that simple and pathetic tale — Sarah and Hagar — Isaac and Ishmael. Concentrated in them he sees the spirit of the two covenants. First the Egyptian slave, "which gendereth unto bondage," "which is Mount Sinai." But this covenant reminds him of Jerusalem which now is in miserable bondage. But then, high above all, the apostle's spirit rises to another Jerusalem, where the fetters fall from the soul of every slave that sets foot upon that soil. "Jerusalem which is above is free."
The bondwoman, Hagar.
Son of the bondwoman, Ishmael.
Natural birth (the flesh).
The earthly Jerusalem.
The Jewish Church is enslaved.
The freewoman, Sarah.
Son of the freewoman, Isaac.
Supernatural birth (the promise).
The heavenly Jerusalem.
The Christian Church is free.
Clerical World, 3, 441.
Look at the two covenants as represented by Hagar and Sarah.
I. THEIR POINTS OF CONNECTION.
1. They have the same origin. Those who are outside the covenant of promise are still children of the Heavenly Father.
2. They have to a great extent the same elements. Promise on God's part and conditions on man's. Ishmael got promises, and Isaac was subjected to conditions. Sinai had its promises; the gospel has its conditions.
3. For a time they largely influence each other. Ishmael and Isaac live together. The law was permeated by the gospel; the gospel by the law.
II. THE POINTS OF DIFFERENCE.
1. The degrees of prominence in those elements which they possess in common. The covenant becomes under the new dispensation also a testament with large bequests.
2. In the absence or presence of one great vital element — grace, forgiveness.
3. In their effects on men's natures. The law, like Hagar, bringeth forth children of bondage; the gospel, like Sarah, children of freedom.
, Mount Sinai
TopicsBirth, Bondwoman, Bond-woman, Born, Child, Common, Course, Flesh, Free, Freewoman, Free-woman, Fulfilment, Handmaid, Howbeit, However, Maid, Maid-servant, Nature, Ordinary, Promise, Result, Servant, Servant-woman, Slave, Slave-girl, Undertaking
Outline1. We were under the law till Christ came, as the heir is under the guardian till he be of age.5. But Christ freed us from the law;7. therefore we are servants no longer to it.14. Paul remembers the Galatians' good will to him, and his to them;22. and shows that we are the sons of Abraham by the freewoman.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGalatians 4:21-28
5721 mothers, a symbol
5078 Abraham, significance
6661 freedom, and law
7142 people of God, NT
LibraryMay 7. "I Travail in Birth Again Until Christ be Formed in You" (Gal. Iv. 19).
"I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. iv. 19). It is a blessed moment when we are born again and a new heart is created in us after the image of God. It is a more blessed moment when in this new heart Christ Himself is born and the Christmas time is reproduced in us as we, in some real sense, become incarnations of the living Christ. This is the deepest and holiest meaning of Christianity. It is expressed in Paul's prayer for the Galatians. "My little children, for whom I …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Text: Galatians 4, 21-31. 21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewomen. 23 Howbeit the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise. 24 Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
The Allegories of Sarah and Hagar
We shall attempt this morning to teach you something of the allegories of Sarah and Hagar, that you may thereby better understand the essential difference between the covenants of law and of grace. We shall not go fully into the subject, but shall only give such illustrations of it as the text may furnish us. First, I shall want you to notice the two women, whom Paul uses as types--Hagar and Sarah; then I shall notice the two sons--Ishmael and Isaac; in the third place, I shall notice Ishmael's conduct …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856
Adoption --The Spirit and the Cry
The divinity of each of these sacred persons is also to be gathered from the text and its connection. We do not doubt tee the loving union of all in the work of deliverance. We reverence the Father, without whom we had not been chosen or adopted: the Father who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We love and reverence the Son by whose most precious blood we have been redeemed, and with whom we are one in a mystic and everlasting union: and …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 24: 1878
GAL. iv. 6, 7. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. This is the second good news of Christmas-day. The first is, that the Son of God became man. The second is, why he became man. That men might become the sons of God through him. Therefore St. Paul says, You are the sons of God. Not--you may be, if you are very good: but you are, …
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God
Luther -- the Method and Fruits of Justification
Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, was born at Eisleben in 1483, and died there 1546. His rugged character and powerful intellect, combined with a strong physique, made him a natural orator, so that it was said "his words were half battles." Of his own method of preaching he once remarked: "When I ascend the pulpit I see no heads, but imagine those that are before me to be all blocks. When I preach I sink myself deeply down; I regard neither doctors nor masters, of which there are in the church …
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume I
The Faithful Steward
We are now prepared to present in detail that general system of beneficence, demanded alike by Scripture and reason, and best fitted to secure permanent and ever-growing results. While universal, it must be a system in its nature adapted to each individual, and binding on the individual conscience; one founded on, and embracing, the entire man,--his reason, his heart and will, including views and principles, feelings and affections, with their inculcation, general purposes and resolutions, with corresponding …
Sereno D. Clark—The Faithful Steward
"Ye are not in the Flesh," Says the Apostle...
"Ye are not in the flesh," says the apostle, "but in the Spirit"; but then he adds, as the only ground of this, "if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you"; surely he means, if so be ye are moved, guided, and governed by that, which the Spirit wills, works and inspires within you. And then to show the absolute necessity of this life of God in the soul, he adds, "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And that this is the state to which God has appointed, and called all …
William Law—An Humble, Affectionate, and Earnest Address to the Clergy
Here are Two Most Important and Fundamental Truths Fully Demonstrated...
Here are two most important and fundamental truths fully demonstrated, First, that the truth and perfection of the gospel state could not take place, till Christ was glorified, and his kingdom among men made wholly and solely a continual immediate ministration of the Spirit: everything before this was but subservient for a time, and preparatory to this last dispensation, which could not have been the last, had it not carried man above types, figures and shadows, into the real possession and enjoyment …
William Law—An Humble, Affectionate, and Earnest Address to the Clergy
But one Sometimes Comes to a Case of this Kind...
24. But one sometimes comes to a case of this kind, that we are not interrogated where the person is who is sought, nor forced to betray him, if he is hidden in such manner, that he cannot easily be found unless betrayed: but we are asked, whether he be in such a place or not. If we know him to be there, by holding our peace we betray him, or even by saying that we will in no wise tell whether he be there or not: for from this the questioner gathers that he is there, as, if he were not, nothing else …
St. Augustine—On Lying
Introductory Note to the Epistle of Barnabas
[a.d. 100.] The writer of this Epistle is supposed to have been an Alexandrian Jew of the times of Trajan and Hadrian. He was a layman; but possibly he bore the name of "Barnabas," and so has been confounded with his holy and apostolic name-sire. It is more probable that the Epistle, being anonymous, was attributed to St. Barnabas, by those who supposed that apostle to be the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and who discovered similarities in the plan and purpose of the two works. It is with …
Barnabas—The Epistle of Barnabas
The Gospel Message, Good Tidings
[As it is written] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! T he account which the Apostle Paul gives of his first reception among the Galatians (Galatians 4:15) , exemplifies the truth of this passage. He found them in a state of ignorance and misery; alienated from God, and enslaved to the blind and comfortless superstitions of idolatry. His preaching, accompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit, had a great and marvellous effect. …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2
How Can I Obtain Faith?
May the Spirit of God assist us while we meditate upon the way by which faith cometh. This shall be followed by a brief indication of certain obstructions which often lie in that way; and then we will conclude by dwelling upon the importance that faith should come to us by that appointed road. I. First, then, THE WAY BY WHICH FAITH COMES TO MEN. "Faith cometh by hearing." It may help to set the truth out more clearly, if we say, negatively, that it does not come by any other process than by hearing;--not …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 18: 1872
The Blood of Sprinkling
Our apostle next tells us what we are come to. I suppose he speaks of all the saints after the death and resurrection of our Lord and the descent of the Holy Ghost. He refers to the whole church, in the midst of which the Holy Spirit now dwells. We are come to a more joyous sight than Sinai, and the mountain burning with fire. The Hebrew worshipper, apart from his sacrifices, lived continually beneath the shadow of the darkness of a broken law; he was startled often by the tremendous note of the …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 32: 1886
"But Ye have Received the Spirit of Adoption, Whereby we Cry, Abba, Father. "
Rom. viii. 15.--"But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John iii. 1. It is a wonderful expression of love to advance his own creatures, not only infinitely below himself, but far below other creatures, to such a dignity. Lord, what is man that thou so magnified him! But it surpasseth wonder, that rebellious creatures, his enemies, should have, not only …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
"For as Many as are Led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. For Ye have not Received the Spirit of Bondage
Rom. viii. s 14, 15.--"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." The life of Christianity, take it in itself, is the most pleasant and joyful life that can be, exempted from those fears and cares, those sorrows and anxieties, that all other lives are subject unto, for this of necessity must be the force and efficacy of true religion, …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Moral Reactions of Prayer
The Moral Reactions of Prayer All religion is founded on prayer, and in prayer it has its test and measure. To be religious is to pray, to be irreligious is to be incapable of prayer. The theory of religion is really the philosophy of prayer; and the best theology is compressed prayer. The true theology is warm, and it steams upward into prayer. Prayer is access to whatever we deem God, and if there is no such access there is no religion; for it is not religion to resign ourselves to be crushed …
P. T. Forsyth—The Soul of Prayer
Christ's Humiliation in his Incarnation
'Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.' I Tim 3:16. Q-xxvii: WHEREIN DID CHRIST'S HUMILIATION CONSIST? A: In his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross. Christ's humiliation consisted in his incarnation, his taking flesh, and being born. It was real flesh that Christ took; not the image of a body (as the Manichees erroneously held), but a true body; therefore he …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
Her virginity Also Itself was on this Account More Pleasing and Accepted...
4. Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spake in answer to the Angel announcing to her her conception; "How," saith she, "shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"  Which assuredly she would …
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.
But if Moreover any not Having Charity, which Pertaineth to the Unity of Spirit...
23. But if moreover any not having charity, which pertaineth to the unity of spirit and the bond of peace whereby the Catholic Church is gathered and knit together, being involved in any schism, doth, that he may not deny Christ, suffer tribulations, straits, hunger, nakedness, persecution, perils, prisons, bonds, torments, swords, or flames, or wild beasts, or the very cross, through fear of hell and everlasting fire; in nowise is all this to be blamed, nay rather this also is a patience meet to …
St. Augustine—On Patience
Therefore at that Time, when the Law Also...
27. Therefore at that time, when the Law also, following upon the days of the Patriarchs,  pronounced accursed, whoso raised not up seed in Israel, even he, who could, put it not forth, but yet possessed it. But from the period that the fullness of time hath come,  that it should be said, "Whoso can receive, let him receive,"  from that period even unto this present, and from henceforth even unto the end, whoso hath, worketh: whoso shall be unwilling to work, let him not falsely …
St. Augustine—On the Good of Marriage
Letter xiv (Circa A. D. 1129) to Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln
To Alexander,  Bishop of Lincoln A certain canon named Philip, on his way to Jerusalem, happening to turn aside to Clairvaux, wished to remain there as a monk. He solicits the consent of Alexander, his bishop, to this, and begs him to sanction arrangements with the creditors of Philip. He finishes by exhorting Alexander not to trust too much in the glory of the world. To the very honourable lord, Alexander, by the Grace of God, Bishop of Lincoln, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, wishes honour more …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Eighth Sunday after Trinity Living in the Spirit as God's Children.
Text: Romans 8, 12-17. 12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: 13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow! A lthough the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophecies (Luke 24:44) , bear an harmonious testimony to MESSIAH ; it is not necessary to suppose that every single passage has an immediate and direct relation to Him. A method of exposition has frequently obtained [frequently been in vogue], of a fanciful and allegorical cast [contrivance], under the pretext …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
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