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Slave or Free?

Tell me you who want to  be under the law, do you not listen to the law?  Paul has been where the Galatians are.  He has been under the law, but didn’t understand the true implications of it.  Paul is challenging the Galatians to think through the implications of what the law really means.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.  Paul is using the story of Ishmael and Isaac to illustrate life following the Judaizers versus following Christ.

But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.  This shouldn’t have been hard for the Galatians to understand.  Abraham and Sarah decided to help God along to accomplish the promise that He had made that they would have a child.  Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham and they had a child according to the flesh, Ishmael.  Fourteen years later, at the ages of 100 and 90, they had the child of promise, Isaac.

This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.  Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  Paul is treating Hagar and Sarah as allegories.  He is saying that they represent two covenants.  Hagar represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai resulting in the present situation in Jerusalem.  Currently she, and the children of Israel, are in slavery.  Why?  Because they are children of the flesh.  They are attempting to complete the law through self-reliance resulting in the Law becoming legalism.

For it is written “REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”  Paul transitions to Sarah quoting Isaiah 54:1 to show that Sarah, who was barren, produced more children than the one who was not barren.

And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.  Paul reminds the Galatians that they when they came to Christ, they became children of the promise.

But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.  Paul compares Ishmael and Isaac here.   Ishmael was born of the flesh, of self-reliance.  Isaac was born according to the Spirit.  Being born according to the Spirit was the same as being born of the promise in Paul’s eyes.  Ishmael mocked Isaac when Abraham had a feast to celebrate Isaac’s weaning.  This is how he persecuted Isaac.  Paul is saying that those who are of the flesh, the Judaizers, are doing the same to the Galatians.

But what does the Scripture say?  “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”  In terms of the allegory, Paul is telling the Galatians that the Judaizers are not free and heirs of the promise that comes with Christ.

So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.  Paul wraps this up by saying that they, since they have come to Christ, are children of Sarah, children of the promise, children of freedom as opposed to being children who are children of Hagar, children of the flesh, children of slavery.

What can we take away from this?

1.  People do not see what the Law is driving at.

2.  Trying to accomplish what the Law says through self-reliance results in legalism.

3.  Legalism results in slavery.

4.  Faith in Christ results in one being children of the promise.

5.  Children of the promise are born according to the Spirit.

6.  Children of the promise are free.

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