Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
November 25, 2012
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
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.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 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.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
1901 ASV Translation:
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 to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children.
26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; Break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: For more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also it is now.
30 Howbeit what saith the scripture? Cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman.
31 Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman.
- I. The Allegory.
- A. "Allegory" in this context is simply "history following reality and demonstrating it". In other words, Truth always shows up in the real world and, for those who are aware of it, is always illustrated by history.
- B. The two mothers represent two covenants, two methods, two cities, and two consequences.
- 1. The first is the Covenant of Mount Sinai and is identified by the name "Hagar".
- a. The meaning of the name "Hagar" is shrouded in history. The consensus seems to be that it comes from a verb that means "to flee" (thus, Hagar means "flight") and/or "the one put to flight because of being a sojourner" ("the fleeing stranger").
- 1) There are two critical issues in this "name".
- a) The first is its meaning in this context: "cast out the bondwoman" (so that her "name" is fulfilled).
- b) The second is its contextual burden. In Genesis 16:1 we are told that Hagar was an Egyptian who was Sarah's handmaid. In Genesis 12:16 we are told that Pharoah gave Abram, among other things, "handmaids" because of Sarai (NASB). The implication is very strong that it was Abram's decision to go to Egypt and lie about Sarai that created the present reality of an Egyptian handmaid in his household who came to be the mother of Ishmael because of yet another failure of faith on Abram's part. Hagar was Satan's secret "plant" in the household so that he could corrupt the world through unbelief.
- 2) The larger picture is that of the adversary's skill in making use of the failures of faith to corrupt the divine plans inasmuch as it is possible to so do. Hagar became the inserted "thorn" whose presence created a festering sore that has erupted into the present day Israeli/Islamic conflict as the sons of Isaac are surrounded by, and persecuted by, the sons of Ishmael.
- b. The name "Sinai" is only used 4 times in the New Testament and it is probably in our text for the sake of the readers in their "Gentile" status (unaffected by Jewish fixations).
- 2. The second covenant goes unnamed and unremarked until 4:26 and the reader is forced to go back to Galatians 3:15-17 for the point of reference.
- C. At this point (4:24), Paul delves into the covenant from Sinai which produces children under bondage and the "mother", Hagar, is directly tied to Mount Sinai.
- 1. The "point" of this paragraph is the message of Law which is being completely misunderstood (4:21).
- 2. This "message" is "bondage": Mt. Sinai, Hagar, mother of one of the sons of Abraham, the covenant from the mountain -- everything goes into "birthing children under bondage".
- D. Then Paul moves into "the present Jerusalem" which is in bondage "with her children".
- 1. The "present Jerusalem" is Judaism in the first century.
- 2. The "bondage" is theological and extremely real. It is the way men think that makes them "bound" or "free" and "theology" is the root of all thought.
- E. The other "mother" is the Jerusalem from above, which is free and produces children of promise who are free, but we do not get to this "point" until v. 26.
- II. At Issue is "Bondage/Freedom".
- A. A major question is why Paul jumps from Hagar to "the Jerusalem that now is".
- 1. Clearly Paul sees a major difference between the two Jerusalems that exists because of the details of the two distinctly different covenants.
- 2. That the covenant from Sinai produces bondage is most fundamental to Paul's entire way of thinking.
- B. Another question is why "Ismael" and "Sarah" remain unnamed and "Isaac" and "Hagar" are named.
- 1. "Isaac" is derived from "laughter" because of a double entendre. Abraham and Sarah both "laughed" at the promise of Yahweh and were rebuked for it; then she "laughed" again in joy at the birth of her son (Genesis 21:6). The son was named "Isaac" because Yahweh told Abraham to name him that (Genesis 17:19). The point seems to be that the fulfillment of Promise leads to the laughter of joy and shows the foolishness of laughing at God's promises.
- 2. Hagar is most likely named because she so clearly represents the problem of fleshliness, which is always at the root of the laughter of unbelief.
- C. The bottom line is that the "children" that are produced by the heavenly Jerusalem are "free" because they are "children of promise" -- raising the question of what, precisely, that means.
- 1. Both "freedom" and "bondage" have far more to do with the internal state of a person's heart, mind, spirit, and soul than with the external circumstances and the issues of what the body actually "does". Where there is joy there is freedom and where there is grief there is bondage.
- 2. Being in "bondage" is, by linkage to the issue of "covenant", being outside of the activity of the God of Promise so that one cannot, by any means -- especially personal --, get "into" the issues of "Promise". In other words, "bondage" is being held under something that keeps the one "bound" from being able to participate in the blessing of Abraham.
- 3. Being a "child of promise" automatically means that the "child" is a production of God in order to carry out His word of promise to the individual to whom He made the commitment. This automatically produces the "freedom" of divine parentage and blessing.
- 4. Being "free" has more to do with internal harmony than external harmony. Paul's categories of "bondage" and "freedom" have to do with the way a person views his/her circumstances, not with the nature of those circumstances.