In our study today Paul continues to make his arguments against the Judaizers who were attempting to lead the Galatian grace believers into the Law. He does this by allegorically comparing Hagar and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac. His conclusion is that they needed to cast out the legalists.
Verses 19-20: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. He calls them his children because he is the one who led them to the faith, and feels like he is having to win them over or persuade them again to the beauty of grace (1Corinthians 4:15). He also wanted to change his tone with them but was afraid that they would continue down this dangerous path away from the grace gospel that he had given to them.
Verses: 21-23: Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Paul is now uses Hagar and Sarah allegorically to make a point. He says that one was a son of the flesh while the other was a son of promise. The one of the flesh was Ishmael who was born to the bondwoman, Hagar, after the flesh. The second of the spirit was Isaac who was born to Sarah. Simply put, Hagar represented bondage in that she was a servant, while Sarah represented freedom because she was a free woman.
Verses 24-26: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. He then compares Hagar and Sarah to two covenants. The first which was given from Mt. Sinai where the Law was delivered (Exodus 19-20).
The background of Hagar was that she was a bondwoman that he had picked up while out of the will of God running around in Egypt. In the allegory, she represents the law and bondage as a servant to Sarah. The second of the covenants he speaks of is regarding Sarah who was a freewoman who was simply in the will of God waiting for the promise of God to have the child that he told her she would have even in her old age. In the allegory, she represents freedom and faith. The same faith that Abraham had when the promises were given to him.
His conclusion was that the children of Hagar were in bondage and the children of Sarah were free. It is almost like Paul is asking them which mother they would rather be under?
On a final note, regarding verse 26, Morris says, "Paul is not talking about the Jerusalem in Palestine that was the chief city of the Jewish nation at that time, for that city was not free. It was under the rule of the Romans. But the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem is not in bondage; it is free.” Again, Paul pointing to freedom as compared to bondage.
Verse 27: For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Paul goes on to say that it was with the descendants of the one who was initially barren, the nation of Israel, that God made the convent with and he is quoting from Isaiah 54:1.
The second part of the verse is a mind-binder for me. What does he mean for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Still not sure to be honest with you. However, the desolate to me is still speaking of Sarah, but hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Could the one who hath an husband be a reference to Israel under the law?
One commentator said that he is saying that there will soon be more Christians than Jews, i.e., the Jews under the law represented by Hagar and the Christians under grace represented by Sarah.
In this he compares Hagar and Sarah's children.
“Ishmaels” = Legalism “Isaacs” = Freedom
Slavery and bondage Freedom
born according to the flesh born by God’s promised miracle
earthly Jerusalem heavenly Jerusalem
Many children Many more children
Inheriting nothing Inheriting everything
based on law-keeping based on trusting God, i.e., faith
He doesn't draw a distinction between Israel's earthly promises and the Bodies heavenly promises, but again, I just do not know for sure what Paul meant by that phrase at this time. If you have an idea, let me know.
Verses 28-29: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. In other words, the ones who insist on the law, i.e., Judaizers were persecuting just like Ishmael did Isaac, the ones who were free from the law. Even so today, the legalists persecute the free and attempt to bring us back into bondage, e.g., observing days, months, times, and years (verse 10).
Verses 30-31: Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Paul’s solution to the problem was for them to cast out the legalists who were seeking to enslave them.