Doctrinal: Defense of the Gospel
Galatians 3 – 4
Galatians 3 – 4
- Galatians’ Experience Proves the Folly of Law-keeping (3:1-5)
- How and when Abraham was Justified (3:6-9)
- The Folly of Believing that Justification is by the Law (3:10-14)
- Four Reasons why the Law cannot set aside Promise (3:15-18)
- The Clear Advantage of Promise over Law (3:19-20)
- The Limited Purpose of the Dispensation of Law (3:21-22)
- Bondage under Law (Children) vs. Liberty in Christ (Sonship) (3:23-29)
- Two Conditions: A Jew in the O.T. vs. A Christian in the N.T. (4:1-7)
- Appeal #1: Why desire bondage after just getting free? (4:8-11)
- Appeal #2: Legalism had degraded their affections (4:12-16)
- Appeal #3: Exposing the Judaizers’ & Paul’s Intentions (4:17-21)
- Appeal #4: The Law Contains a Warning against Legalism (4:21-31)
Chapter 3 is the paternal side of things (our standing) the Christians connection with Abraham and his seed. but In ch.4 it is the maternal, moral side, so Sarah’s name comes up, in which paul brings out the moral results of their error.
Galatians 3-4. The general subject of Ch. 3-4 is that righteousness is not by the law.
Galatians’ Experience Proves the Folly of Law-keeping (3:1-5)
Five questions providing evidence from the Galatians’ past
Justification is not by Law
¶ O senseless Galatians, who has bewitched you; to whom, as before your very eyes, Jesus Christ has been portrayed, crucified among you? V.1 Question #1: “Who” is Singular… possibly refrring to Satan? Note the progress: removed → Bewitched → entangled → hindered / stopped. Some of the strongest language ever spoken to christians. Not that Christ had been crucified in Galatia, but that Paul had so consistently preached Christ crucified that they were as good as eyewitnesses. Vv.1-2 note the order: see Christ crucified → receive the spirit.
2 This only I wish to learn of you, Have ye received the Spirit on the principle of works of law, or of the report of faith? v.2 Question #2: Paul had brought them the gospel and he hadn’t insisted on keeping the law. This proves that this error had been added afterwards. Diagnosing when the problem started.
A Holy Life is not by Law
3 Are ye so senseless? having begun in Spirit, are ye going to be made perfect in flesh? V.3 Question #3: it is senseless to think God would start on one principle and switch mid-stream to another.
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain, if indeed also in vain? v.4 Question #4: when the Galatians were converted they began to suffer persecution from Jews opposed to faith in Christ. If this false Doctrine were true then the Jews were right and all they suffered was a waste. See Galatians 5:11.
5 He therefore who ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, is it on the principle of works of law, or of the report of faith? V.5 Question #5: even Christian Ministry is not by law keeping but by faith through the spirit.
How and when Abraham was Justified (3:6-9)
Positively, Justification is by Faith
6 Even as “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” [Gen. 15:6] v.6 how? Faith is the vehicle, the work of Christ is the basis. God takes a man who is not righteous but has faith and declares him righteous in his sight.
7 Know then that they that are on the principle of faith, these are Abraham’s sons; v.7 Faith – not Bloodline or circumcision or law-keeping is the Believer’s connection to Abraham. Spiritual heirs. “Children” should be “Sons” – jewish Believers as well as Gentile Believers.
Negatively, it has nothing to do with the Law
8 and the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations on the principle of faith, announced beforehand the glad tidings to Abraham: “In thee all the nations shall be blessed.” [Gen. 12:3] v.8 when? Before the law was given. Foreseeing – Looking on to the time when the gospel would go to the Gentiles, God allowed 430 years of separation between Abraham’s justification and the giving of the law. The gospel of justification by faith was announced to Abraham, therefore it (and not the law) was God’s purpose.
9 So that they who are on the principle of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. v.9 showing that justification is extended to the Christian on the same principle that it was to Abraham, by faith not by law.
The Folly of Believing that Justification is by the Law (3:10-14)
vv.10-14 The Folly of justification by the law, Illustrated by three arguments:
- It results in a curse (v.10)
- It isn’t on the right principle (vv.11-12)
- Look at how much it cost to dig them out (v.13)
10 For as many as are on the principle of works of law are under curse. For it is written, “Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them;” [Deut. 27:26] V.10 the law requires complete obedience on even the smallest Point under threat of curse. No man can keep it, so everyone on the law principle is under its curse. James 2:10.
11 but that by law no one is justified with God is evident, because “The just shall live on the principle of faith;” [Hab. 2:4] Vv.11-12 the Old Testament proves that God has always Justified on the principle of Faith (v.11) and since the law is on the principle of works, not Faith (v.12) it can never be used to justify anyone. Quote Hab. 2:4 (also in Rom. 1:17 + heb. 10:38)
12 but the law is not on the principle of faith; but, “He that shall have done these things shall live by them.” [Lev. 18:5] v.12 any system of Works has no use for Christ’s death (gal. 2:21).
13 Christ has redeemed us [Jews] out of the curse of the law, having become a curse for us [Jews], (for it is written, “Cursed is every one hanged upon a tree,”) [Deut. 21:23] V.13 finally, it required the crucifixion and cursing of the Christ to dig the believing Jews out from under the curse of a broken law. At the same time this shows the Triumph of Grace despite sin.
14 that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we [Jews + Gentiles] might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. v.14 conclusion: Christ having taken the barrier of the curse and exhausted it at the cross, now the promise of blessing can flow through Christ as a channel, and the Jew and Gentile can receive the Holy Ghost, the subject of God’s promises. The Spirit was promised to “all flesh” in the millennium (Joel 2:28) and we have “pre-trusted” (Eph. 1:12), and so have received. Also, the Spirit was promised by Jesus (John 7:39, Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:33, Matt. 3:11). the blessing of Abraham is soverign grace through faith.
Four Reasons why the Law cannot set aside Promise (3:15-18)
Paul’s use of the Promises. w. kelly remarked on the difficulty of catching the point of the Apostle’s argument. Promises were addressed to Abraham in Gen. 12:2,3,7; 13:13-17; 15:18-21; 17:1-14; 22:17,18. Some of these promises apply to the natural seed of Abraham (Israel). But the promise to Israel is not what forms the subject matter of Gal. 3. In v.17 Paul uses two verses:
- TO abraham – Gen. 12:3 “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”
- TO Isaac/Christ – Gen. 22:18 “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”
Gentile blessing. Both speak of the millennial blessing of the Gentiles, not the Jews. The Jewish blessing, as to the land, power over enemies, etc. is to a numerous seed, as the stars and the sand. But in the blessing of the nATIONS, not a word of a multiplied seed appears. the Spirit, in recording the promises of Gentile blessing, carefully restricted them to Abraham and to his seed alone, BECAUSE his eye was really on Christ, the true and sole seed of promise. THESE PROMISES concerning Gentile blessing are millennial, WHEN the Gentiles in that day shall be the tail and not the head. BUT BY OUR ASSOCIATION WITH cHRIST AT THE PRESENT TIME, we are blessed with Abraham on the principle of faith, through which blessing accrues in all ages.
Post-Resurrection. When Isaac had been offered up (in figure) and raised (in figure), the promises made to Abraham and his seed were confirmed of God in (or, they settled on) Christ, the true “seed” of Gen. 22:18. It does not say “to thy seed” before Moriah, but after! Here is the significance… while Christ was upon the earth, He was under Law Himself (gal. 4:4). But when he was risen from the dead, he had nothing to do with law. It is to a risen Christ that the promise is confirmed! We, Christians, begin with Christ’s death and resurrection. All our blessings are “in Christ” raised from the dead.
Note: Covenant theologians try to equate “Christ” with “the Christ” here in gal. 3 because then they can say that the church existed in Gen. 22. William Kelly said regarding this: “I must decidedly adhere to the conviction that “Christ” is here to be understood personally, and not mystically.”
¶ 15 Brethren, (I speak according to man,) even man’s confirmed covenant no one sets aside, or adds other dispositions to. v.15 PAUL APOLOGIZES FOR EVEN COMPARING GOD’S WAYS WITH MANS, SEE ROM. 6:19. even a human Covenant, if confirmed, cannot be modified or cancelled. Then a Divine promise can’t be either. No Jew would disagree. God who cannot lie.
16 But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed”; [Gen. 22:18] which is Christ. v.16 in Gen. 12:3 (quoted in v.8) we find the promise made to Abraham. But after Morriah, typically Christ’s death as a burnt offering and resurrection, the promise was confirmed with an oath (the second of two immutable things, Heb. 6:14, Gen. 22:17-18). but Paul is looking at Gen. 22:18, not v.17. He sees that the promise of blessing to gentiles was made in view of a resurrected Isaac – the seed – but typically the seed is Christ! How could God negate a confirmed promise to Christ, especially after the sweet savour of the burnt offering, the resurrection of Christ by the Glory of the Father?
17 Now I say this, A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which took place four hundred and thirty years after, does not annul, so as to make the promise of no effect. v.17 it was confirmed 430 years before the law was given: therefore it takes precedence and cannot be an annulled. “in Christ” should not be in the text… covenant theologians say abraham was part of the church because he was “in Christ”… this is false, abraham was a Jew.
18 For if the inheritance be on the principle of law, it is no longer on the principle of promise; but God gave it in grace to Abraham by promise. v.18 even if you could change the date stamp and remove the seal, if the law were to modify the original promise it would change the principal on which God was acting – impossible! It would lower God’s actions from the principle of sovereign unconditional promise to the principle of law.
vv.15-18 Four reasons why the law with its conditional promises cannot amend or annul the unconditional promise – by faith.
- The covenant was confirmed (by God).
- The covenant was confirmed to Christ.
- The confirming of the promise predates the law by 430 yrs.
- The law works on a totally different principle.
The Clear Advantage of Promise over Law (3:19-20)
vv.19-22 God never wavered in his intention to fulfill the promises, but because they transgressed (v.19), to be righteous he had to ensure Israel and all men would understand it was not by their faithfulness but only God’s. So he proposed the law, at which time Israel ought to have seen their inability and the truth of v.21 and fallen back on the unconditional promises in God’s Sovereign Grace. Instead they said, “we can do it all”, misused God’s diagnostic tool, and fell under its curse (v.10). Despite this, the law has done its job (v.22A) and now those who inherit the blessing by faith (v.22b) do so on the ground of God’s grace alone. Remember Darby’s Bicycle example.
The Moral Law
- It is holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12)
- God never put Gentiles under it (Rom. 2:14: Gal. 4:3-5)
- given to manifest man’s condition (Gal. 3:19, Rom. 5:20).
- Doesn’t apply to righteous, but lawless (1 Tim. 1:9, 10).
- It could not give life, so righteousness could not come by it (Gal. 3:21)
- Being under the law brings a curse to man (Gal. 3:10)
- righteousness of the law is on a totally different principle from the righteousness by faith (Rom. 10:5-10).
- those once under it as Jews, were, if Christians, dead to it by the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4).
Two senses of “law”. It is important to distinguish between:
- Law (a principle) – God’s intention was to manifest transgression and convict of sin. as a principle, it is a ministry of death and condemnation (II Cor. 3), useful only to manifest man’s true moral condition.
- The Law (a dispensation) – it was a civil/religious system to repress grosser evils, in which God was king of the country and people, to separate the people from heathenism… a schoolmaster up to the time of Christ, also known as Judaism.
The only way a Gentile can be under law is as a principle of personal responsibility, not as in a dispensation.
The Clear Advantage: It Depends on God Alone (vv.19-20)
19a Why then the law? It was added for the sake of transgressions, until the seed came to whom the promise was made, v.19a the natural question of the Jewish mind. Israel put themselves under the law (Ex. 19), but why did God propose the law to them? Specific reason: because of the transgressions, to manifest man’s true Moral condition. not “to restrain” transgressions. Specific duration: until Christ came. Angels were Jehovah’s representation in the Old Testament (Acts 7:53). The mediator here is Moses, for “the law came by Moses”.
19b ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 But a mediator is not of one, but God is one. vv.19b-20 the discussion on a mediator is to show that The Promise is independent of man’s responsibility. In a covenant like the law, a mediator is required because you have two parties and the outcome depends on both. The strength of the promise is its sole dependence on God. God gives it, Christ receives it, and because God is one, man’s responsibility doesn’t come into it at all. He uses mediator differently than in I Tim. 2:5.
The Limited Purpose of the Dispensation of Law (3:21-22)
vv.21-22 The Limited purpose of the dispensation of law in the ways of God. God’s consistency and ultimate purpose.
¶ 21 Is then the law against the promises of God? Far be the thought. For if a law had been given able to quicken, then indeed righteousness were on the principle of law; v.21 a second question from the Jewish Gallery. The law didn’t contradict promise in grace. the law has a different purpose. it was never intended to give life or righteousness. It needs to be applied the way God intended – see v.22. But the law doesn’t fight (militate) against promise. God has stayed consistent.
22 but the scripture has shut up all things under sin, that the promise, on the principle of faith of Jesus Christ, should be given to those that believe. v.22 the proper use of the law is to listen to what it says. “All shut up in sin” then leave it and turn to God in faith.
Bondage under Law (Children) vs. Liberty in Christ (Sonship) (3:23-29)
Two Figures for the Law: a Prison Guard & a Schoolmaster (vv.23-26)
23 But before faith came, we [Jews] were guarded under law, shut up [with a view] to faith which was about to be revealed. v.23 the figure of a prison guard is used. The Law showed them that God required righteousness from man, but didn’t give them the means to produce righteousness. So it froze them in that position until faith; meanwhile the ordinances in the law kept them apart from the nations. Faith refers to The Christian faith…. not personal faith, because OT saints had faith (heb. 11:5-6). The Christian faith Came after the death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ and The Descent of the spirit.
24 So that the law has been our tutor up to Christ, that we [Jews] might be justified on the principle of faith. v.24 the figure of a schoolmaster is next used. the law can never lead us to Christ – only Grace can do that. Apparently these Judaizing teachers had not been good students of law, for they had not learned its two great lessons. Teacher – The law teaches us about (1) God’s holiness and (2) man’s depravity, but even then only a partial understanding. Fully seen at Calvary.
25 But, faith having come, we [Jews] are no longer under a tutor; Vv.25-26 school is out of session! We have been taken from being children under a schoolmaster and placed directly into the presence of God as sons of the father of Glory! The judaizers were self-righteously staying after class, missing out on the greatest individual Christian privilege: sonship.
26 for ye [Jews + Gentiles] are all God’s sons by faith in Christ Jesus. v.26 Sonship means “Son-place”. “So near so very near to God, I cannot nearer be; for in the person of his son, I am as near as he.” (Little Flock #27 in the appendix.)
27 For ye [Jews + Gentiles], as many as have been baptised unto Christ, have put on Christ. v.27 Paul references Christian baptism, which saves us outwardly, and puts us into the Christian profession. We have “died” out of the old sphere where national distinctions mattered. “Unto” is used because “in Christ” is our standing before God. Here baptism puts Christ on us as a uniform, marking us as a Christian, and thus erasing other markings (v.28). After you are a son of God it doesn’t matter if you were a Jew or Gentile, etc. before you were saved.
28 There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus: v.28 New Creation. our new standing “in Christ” is what has erased those distinction before God. God only sees “one kind” now. This doesn’t make void scriptures that call for a distinction between the sexes, such as I Tim. 2, or reverance of the wife for the husband, such as Eph. 5.
29 but if “ye” are of Christ, then ye are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise. v.29 further, we have been brought into a new race “of Christ” (see Rom. 5). Because the promise to Abraham was confirmed to Christ, as part of his race, we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise.
Two Conditions: A Jew in the O.T. vs. A Christian in the N.T. (4:1-7)
Galatians 3 and 4. While Ch.3 was paternal (standing), ch.4 is more the maternal side of things, where the Practical carrying out of the doctrine is emphasized. Here it is the Christian’s connection with Sarah – not Abraham. the moral results of the doctrinal error are brought out, such as the infighting, and coldness toward Paul. All together, Seven mothers are mentioned, Mary, Paul, Sarah, Hagar, Jerusalem below, Jerusalem above, and the Spirit.
An Illustration of a Child in a Family of Nobility (vv.1-2)
¶ Now I say, As long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a bondman, though he be lord of all; v.1 at a very young age children of nobility are no different then servants’ children, because they both need to be told what to do.
2 but he is under guardians and stewards until the period fixed by the father. v.2 The time appointed – The time when you are allowed to stay up late with the adults.
Children. This illustration defines Paul’s use of the word “children” in this chapter. It is in the diminutive sense (no different from a bondman) told exactly what to do. “Children” in Rom. 8 and I John 3 is in the sense of relationship – a different use of the word. “Sonship” mean “son-place” and has the sense of position. When a person is immature they need constant supervision. “Children” in Galatians 4 have new birth but not the Spirit, but in John’s ministry they have the Spirit.
Application of the Illustration to Believers (vv.3-7)
3 So we [Jews] also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the principles of the world; v.3-7 in order to show the difference in position of Old and New Testament saints. Jews under law were children → now Sons. Gentiles → straight to being Sons! (see v.6). Bondage: in that they knew God’s holy requirements but had no power for perform. Elements – Principles on which a fleshly man can build his religion: Superstition, self-glorification, self-esteem (see v.9), such as Judaism.
Three Major Distinctions between O.T. and N.T. (vv.4-6)
4 but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman, come under law, v.4 Distiction #1: they didn’t have the full revelation of God (the father and the son, etc.). It was consequent upon the incarnation. Christ came into the place in which man was found. He became man under law and perfectly kept it. Hence the law had no claim against him. He could then accomplish Redemption by standing in the place of others who are under the law’s curse. The “fullness of time” refers to the 4000 years… The end of man’s probationary period – 40 centuries of testing.
5 that he might redeem those under law [Jews], that we [Jews] might receive sonship. v.5 Distinction #2: Redemption had not been accomplished yet. That was consequent upon the death of Christ, The foundation for sonship. “them” – Gentiles don’t need to be redeemed from under law, but they do need to be redeemed. Sonship. In Greek, “sonship” = “adoption”. Adoption isn’t how we enter the family (that is by New Birth) but how we gain a new status within the family. for an example of Jewish adoption, see gen. 48:5.
6 But because ye [Gentiles] are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our [Jews + Gentiles] hearts, crying, Abba, Father. v.6 Distiction #3: The spirit of God had not been sent (connected with all spiritual blessings, and the Privilege of sonship). We know from John 7 and asked who this was consequent upon the Ascension. “Abba” (daddy) – intimacy. “Father” – intelligence (more than just there to meet our needs. “sent out” In the sense of indwelling. Not like Old Testament Saints, moved at times from without (like a sailboat) but empowered from within (a ship with inboard power).
7 So thou [Jewish?] art no longer bondman, but son; but if son, heir also through God. v.7 If we are Sons, we enter into the full privileges of heirship. What God possesses now, and what Christ will take in power at His appearing, He will share with His heirs. This is what “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18) means… “In the saints” tells us the mode in which Christ will possess his inheritance.
Appeal #1: Why desire bondage after just getting free? (4:8-11)
The Folly of Desiring Bondage Again (vv.8-11)
¶ 8 But then indeed, not knowing God, ye [Gentiles] were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods; v.8 Even the Gentiles were in bondage – not to the law – but to all kinds of superstitious lore and idolatry (not from God, like The law) and they had been set free by the gospel.
9 but now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how do ye turn again to the weak and beggarly principles to which ye desire to be again anew in bondage? v.9 Paul is Marvelling at the stupidity of walking back into the same trap on purpose.
10 Ye observe days and months and times and years. v.10 sounds a lot like Judaized Christianity – in bondage again.
11 I am afraid of you, lest indeed I have laboured in vain as to you. v.11 Paul’s labor was to bring them into the liberty of sonship… now it was in danger of all being wasted.
Appeal #2: Legalism had degraded their affections (4:12-16)
Legalism had Degraded their Affection for Paul (vv.12-16)
¶ 12a Be as “I” am , for “I” also am as “ye”, brethren, I beseech you: v.12A “Be as I am“, that is, as Paul was in his practice: fully delivered from legal bondage. “I am as ye are“, that is, Paul had the same standing before God as the Galatians. It is good to be established in the truth of our own standing before we try to help others with their state.
12b ye have not at all wronged me. v.12b Ensuring them that he wasn’t personally offended. But he was deeply concerned. That is amazing considering vv.13-16.
13 But ye know that in weakness of the flesh I announced the glad tidings to you at the first; vv.13-15 Going back to their beginning to remind them of their love for him. To show them how legalism had changed them. Some physical sickness – perhaps his eyesight (see Gal. 4:15 + 6:11).
14 and my temptation, which was in my flesh, ye did not slight nor reject with contempt; but ye received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. v.14 Any kind of physical deformity would have been repulsive to the Jew (Lev. 21:16-20), but not to the newly saved Galatians who received him as a sent one, as they would have received Christ. Is it a coincidence that many of the popular men in Christendom are good looking? We need to be careful that we do not look on the outward appearance of God’s servants.
15a What then was your blessedness? v.15a Where was the “blessedness” or happy state they had enjoyed after their conversion. Now that the Judaizers had come in, everything had changed.
15b for I bear you witness that, if possible, plucking out your own eyes ye would have given them to me. v.15b Paul had a medical need. Most-likely is was poor eyesight. Their hearts pre-legalism were so warm towards Paul that if an eye transplant were possible they wouldn’t have hesitated.
16 So I have become your enemy in speaking the truth to you? V.16 they were now treating him like an enemy. It has been less than five years. Legal persons often lack Grace and sensitivity in their dealings with others.
Appeal #3: Exposing the Judaizers’ & Paul’s Intentions (4:17-21)
Exposing the Judaizers’ Evil Intent and Paul’s Steadfast Love for Them (vv.17-21)
17 They are not rightly zealous after you, but desire to shut you out from us, that ye may be zealous after them. V.17 The Judaizers had impressed the Galatians with a show of great devotion. But they had bad motives. (1) They were skillfully sectioning them off and turning them against the apostles. (2) Getting a following and monetary support for themselves.
18 But it is right to be zealous at all times in what is right, and not only when I am present with you– v.18 Zeal is not enough. It has to be “according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2)… “have in your virtue, knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5). You have to be consistent, not just zealous when you are around those who want to please the Lord.
19 my children, of whom I again travail in birth until Christ shall have been formed in you: v.19 He calls them “Children” because Legalism stunts spiritual growth. “I again travail” – showing how much Paul loved them, But how much work and pain they had caused him. Drawing on their hearts (Num. 11:12). It was like going through labor twice for the same baby, once at their conversion, now again over this issue of legalism. “Christ formed” – To have the features of Christ seen in them.
20 and I should wish to be present with you now, and change my voice, for I am perplexed as to you. v.20 he almost questions their salvation, but doesn’t. If he could see them, raise his voice a little, and see Christ displayed, it would assure him.
Appeal #4: The Law Contains a Warning against Legalism (4:21-31)
Allegory. In this allegory, the flesh, law and bondage are joined together, while in contrast Spirit, promise and freedom are joined.
Four Jerusalems: each time Jerusalem is used to reference something it contains that thought of tranquility, as Jerusalem means ‘the possession of peace’.
- earthly Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2) the city of earthly righteousness, the center of the millennial kingdom.
- systematic Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26) – a reference to the system of grace (vs. the system of law).
- heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22) – the father’s house, the third heaven, the eternal dwelling place of God and all the heavenly saints (not just the church).
- mystical Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 10) – the glorified church, the bride of Christ. “new” added in the eternal state.
It is possible that the systematic and the heavenly Jerusalem’s are both the same company, just two aspects.
The Law itself Speaks against Legalism (v.21)
21 Tell me, ye who are desirous of being under law, do ye not listen to the law? v.21 if you would just listen to the law it contains a built-in warning against legalism. His voice has already changed. what does the law say? According to Ex. 21:4, all a slave girl could produce was a slave son. The law can never liberate – only give birth to bondage (v.24). That is what the “law says”… but next he uses an allegory to further illustrate the truth.
Details from Abraham’s Past (vv.22-23)
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons; one of the maid servant, and one of the free woman. 23 But he that was of the maid servant was born according to flesh, and he that was of the free woman through the promise. v.23 Ishmael’s conception was a result of trying to fulfill The Promise by the efforts of The Flesh. Isaac’s conception was a result of God fulfilling his promise regardless of human effort.
An Explanation of the Allegorical Sense (vv.24-26)
24 Which things have an allegorical sense; for these are two covenants: one from mount Sinai, gendering to bondage, which is Hagar. 25 For Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which is now, for she is in bondage with her children; v.25 Jerusalem which is now – center of an Earthly legal system.
26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. v.26 Mother of us all – This mistranslation leads people to covenant theology. It really means, “Jerusalem above is the mother of us Christians.” Note: that the blessing with grace comes without travail – works. “Jerusalem above” seems to be a reference to the system of grace.
|Two Covenants||Covenant of law||Covenant of Grace|
|Hagar – Bondmaid – could only gender to bondage||Sarah – free woman – children are free|
|Jerusalem which is now – connected with Mt. Sinai.||Jerusalem above – soverign grace.|
|Two Classes of Persons||Ishmael – Lives by the flesh, desires to be under law||Isaac – stands simply on the promise in grace|
Added Support of Prophetic Scriptures. (v.27)
¶ 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break out and cry, thou that travailest not; because the children of the desolate are more numerous than those of her that has a husband.” [Isa. 54:1] v.27 This verse shows a future Israel looking back comparing her new state with her old. “Her that hath an husband” is Jerusalem at the center of an Earthly legal system at a time when Jehovah was her husband, with few children. “Thou barren that bearest not” is Israel forsaken by the Lord for her sin (Lo-ammi) bereft of outward privileges, and before any outward Deliverance, but who has forsaken the law and taken the ground of Grace. This “barren” Jerusalem sees, by faith, millions of Christians gathered then in heaven, who are counted by Grace as her children!
Present Application of the Allegory (vv.28-31)
¶ 28 But “ye”, brethren, after the pattern of Isaac, are children of promise. v.28 it is the Christian’s privilege to live and rest his soul on God’s faithfulness – children of promise.
29a But as then he that was born according to flesh persecuted him that was born according to Spirit, v.29a Specifically it was the day he was weaned (gen. 21:8-9) – think ‘sonship’. those who base their walk and standing on the efforts of the Flesh will always persecute those who rest on God’s grace and the Spirit’s power. This mocking is here called “persecution,” see II Tim. 3:12.
29b so also it is now. v.29b An abiding principle – legalism always persecutes grace. a good example of this persecution is Heb. 11:32-40. Persecution had come to the Galatians from the Jewish Corridor.
vv.29-30 in one sense, this is seen most clearly at the cross, when those born after the flesh (Pharisees, etc.) persecuted the great seed of Abraham unto death. Then the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael took place at the cross.
30 But what says the scripture? “Cast out the maid servant and her son; for the son of the maid servant shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” [Gen. 21:10] v.30 The solution: cast out the bondwoman (the legal principle) and her son (the flesh that desires to be under law). Cast out completely – nothing can be saved. It seems hard – remember Abraham struggled with it (Gen. 21:11) – but it has to be done, because law and Grace cannot cohabitate. Many Christians have cast out the bondwoman, but are unwilling to cast out her son. this verse may actually be instruction to cast out the Judaizing teachers.
31 So then, brethren, we [Christians] are not maid servant’s children, but children of the free woman. v.31 In conclusion: don’t forget who your mother is (grace) and the freedom Christians are brought into as her children. In Gal. 3:29, we are Abraham’s seed. In Gal. 4:31, we are Sarah’s children.