Galatians Part 29 - Galatians 4:21-31

vs. 21-31. 1. Paul here sets forth a powerful illustrative argument drawn from real history, not from a fable. A. If the Genesis account of Abraham were little more than a shepherd’s campfire story, Paul’s use of it would be as vain as the Ephesian townclerk’s reasoning in ACT 19:35-36. B. Christian faith is rooted in fact, not fable, and is not in conflict with genuine science. 2PE 1:16; 1TI 6:20. C. If you can’t trust Genesis, why should you trust John? JOH 8:56; 20:30-31. 2. The Galatians desired to be under the law but obviously had not read the contract closely. v. 21. A. “The law” refers not only to the Sinaitic covenant mediated by Moses (GAL 3:19) but also to the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) in general and sometimes even to books of the psalms/writings and the prophets. JOH 10:34; 1CO 14:21. B. Paul had already made clear that “under the law” implied guilt and curse (ROM 3:19; GAL 3:10) and a Christ-denying impossible formula for righteousness. GAL 2:21; 3:21. C. But here Paul focuses on the Genesis record of Abraham as a model of the difference between the inheritance of the law and the inheritance of promise. D. This verse closes with “do ye not hear the law?” which continues with “For it is written...” (v. 22). The “voices” of the prophets are “heard” in their written record (ACT 13:27), the only valid “hearing” of God’s voice for us today. 3. In vs. 22-23, Paul reminds them of the written record of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac. GEN 11-23. A. Abraham’s wife was Sarah: the freewoman (a woman who is personally free, not a slave or serf). The promised seed was to come through this marriage by a miracle of God working life from death which produced Isaac. ROM 4:18-19; HEB 11:18. B. Abraham and Sarah’s impatience generated a marriage of Abraham to Hagar who was Sarah’s Egyptian handmaid, the bondwoman (a female slave). This produced a son, Ishmael, by natural order: no miracle required. GEN 16. C. Among other things, this scenario should remind Christians of the folly of devising human means of bringing God’s unconditional promises to pass, of doubting God’s words, of Galatians 1-1-17 Page 51 subordinating their liberty in Christ to Old Testament bondage (and, tangentially, of Egyptian manuscripts pretending to be scripture). 4. “Which things are an allegory...” (v. 24). A. allegory: Description of a subject under the guise of some other subject of aptly suggestive resemblance. B. God makes use of literary and logical devices in Scripture, such as types, shadows, figures, similitudes, patterns, allegory. C Such devices can enrich our understanding but they can also be overused and abused to the point that one might (as Origen) conclude that the true message of God in Scripture is not in the words and grammar but in occult or pneumatic interpretations (the stuff of Gnostics: those who claimed to have superior knowledge of things spiritual, and interpreted sacred writings by a mystic philosophy). D. If one views the words on the page as a mere covering not to be taken at face value, he goes counter to Christ and Paul who preached the word of God grammatically, definitionally, plainly. MAT 5:18; 22:31-32; 2CO 2:13; 3:12. E. Any “spiritualizing” of Scripture which disagrees with what is plainly declared in the words on the page in their context or elsewhere in Scripture is errant. F We know we are on safe ground where the Scripture itself tells us that there is a type, shadow, figure, allegory or such in play. Eg. ROM 5:14; HEB 11:17-19. 5. Paul builds the allegory which supports the truth of his gospel of grace in vs. 24-31. A. There are two covenants 430 years apart under consideration and they are distinct. v. 24 c/w GAL 3:15-19. (1) The Abrahamic Covenant was directly from God Who swore promises to Abraham and Christ which unconditionally guaranteed eternal heavenly inheritance. (2) The later Law Covenant at Sinai via angels could not alter the earlier covenant and provided for an earthly inheritance conditioned upon sinners’ obedience and that inheritance could be forfeited. It was a gap-filler until Christ came. (3) The difference between these two is basically grace v. works. B. The Sinaitic/Law Covenant gendereth to (engenders, produces, brings about) bondage and so accords with Hagar, the bondwoman. (1) It was a yoke of bondage. GAL 5:1. (2) It was a spirit of bondage to fear (ROM 8:15): fear of wrath, death, loss of inheritance. (3) It was bondage to a burdensome religion of impossible justification before God, rituals, curious distinctions and futile sacrifices. GAL 3:10; HEB 9:9-10; 10:1-4. (4) Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, allegorically. v. 25. (5) Given the long-standing divide between Jews and Arabs, it is interesting that the Law Covenant was given in Arabia. God descended upon an Arabian mountain in EXO 19 to write the Law in stone with His finger. EXO 31:18. (6) Hagar accords with earthly Jerusalem under bondage with her children. v. 25. C. Earthly Jerusalem under bondage with her children pales in comparison to heavenly Jerusalem which is free and her children. v. 26. (1) There is a heavenly Jerusalem and Abraham sought it. HEB 11:10; 12:22. (2) Earthly Jerusalem’s inheritance could be forfeited but not heavenly Jerusalem’s. 1PE 1:3-4. (3) Earthly Jerusalem’s citizens are many less than heavenly Jerusalem’s which includes all those in Christ, Jew or Gentile. REV 7:9-10. (4) Sarah’s sad barrenness would be more than compensated for through Isaac and all Galatians 1-1-17 Page 52 like him who are born of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. vs. 27-29 c/w HEB 11:11-12. (5) Heaven’s citizens are miracle-children: born inwardly by a miraculous work of the Spirit of Christ and guaranteed new bodies in heaven by the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. ROM 8:11 c/w PHIL 3:20-21. D. Paul completes the allegory with an observation about the true Abrahamic inheritance. vs. 30-31. (1) Isaac was the promised son, not Ishmael. (2) The inheritance must go to the son of the freewoman, the child of promise and not to the child of the bondwoman born after the flesh. (3) Therefore Hagar and Ishmael were cast out of the inheritance which was meant for the child of promise, Isaac, yet God had other in store for them. GEN 21:9-13, 18; 16:10; 17:20. (4) Blood relation to Abraham does not determine the inheritance of promise. The children of the flesh are not the children of God, only the children of promise. LUK 3:8; ROM 9:7-8. (5) Spiritual relation to Abraham is the key. a. The children of promise are born of the Spirit like Isaac. They have “...Christ in you, the hope of glory” (COL 1:27). b. They have assurance of this by manifesting the same faith as Abraham. ROM 4:14-16, 20-25. Galatians 1-1-17 Page 53

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