Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7
December 30, 2012
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:
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. Paul's "Proof".
- A. The argument is based upon Isaiah 54:1.
- 1. This text/context arises immediately upon the heels of Isaiah 53; a most potent text regarding "faith" (the opening question is "Who has believed...?") and substitutionary atonement (the entire text is about Someone else acting in the place of, and for the benefit of, others).
- a. That the issue is "faith" in the concept of God acting for us automatically means that the core principle is "promise".
- 1) At the "core" of this core is this fact: promises are made to people who want the item being promised.
- a) The word Paul used in his quote of Isaiah 54:1 to signal the response of the "barren" is used regularly in the New Testament to refer to people who are thrilled with the way "things" have turned out. It is not the typical word for "rejoice". It is the typical word for expressing glee because of a longed for outcome. It is an "abandoned" release of emotion; an uninhibited expression of deep satisfaction.
- b) The most significant distinction between "promise" and "law" is that "promise" extends hope to those who have a deeply desired objective. "Law" cannot extend such a hope.
- 2) Law, on the other hand, is all about what the Law-Giver wants and it uses what people do not want as a fundamental motivator (i.e., it thrives in the context of threat and fear). No one needs "Law" to motivate them if "Love" is their "driver" (Romans 13:8-10). Law only "works" in a context where people "love" something that is harmful and they need to be dissuaded from pursuing that "love" by the imposition of a threat that counts on a greater "love" to obtain compliance (i.e., if a person "loves" being alive and "loves" doing things to others that diminish their lives, the threat of "death" may dissuade the person from harming others by reason of the harm that will come to him/her if he/she decides to harm another).
- b. Of the fact that "faith" and "promise" are the keys to Paul's text/context in Galatians 4:21-31, there can be no dispute. Thus, he is directly "on target" with his referral to Isaiah 54:1.
- 2. Isaiah 54:1 is all about the mother/children thesis that Paul has opted to address in Galatians. This also points to the fact that he is arguing "biblically"; i.e., establishing his doctrine by biblical text/context.
- 3. Paul's "It stands written..." at the beginning of his "proof" is simply another way of making sure that his readers understand that God's words will not fail.
- B. The argument is fundamental: God has made a series of promises to a woman who has no children that she will have a greater progeny than the typical, fruitful woman.
- 1. These commitments have a large heritage in the words of God and the plight of barren women.
- a. The initial, large commitment made by God to Abraham involved a barren wife.
- b. The second generation, Isaac and Rebekah, also faced the promises with infertility (Genesis 25:21).
- c. The greatest "judge" of Israel (Samuel) arose out of the prayer and commitment of a woman who was barren (1 Samuel 1).
- d. The greatest "prophet" of Israel (John the Baptizer) arose out of the prayers of a barren couple who were giving a great deal of effort to walk with God (Matthew 11:11).
- e. The greatest fulfillment of this entire thesis involved a woman who became pregnant without the input of any man (Mary, the mother of Messiah).
- 2. At the root of all of these commitments is one issue: the question of whether the recipient would "believe" God (note Hebrews 11:11 where the ability to conceive was "faith" rooted).
- II. Paul's Argument.
- A. The "above Jerusalem" is to be inhabited by those who "believe the report" of a Substitute Who will serve as a redeemer.
- B. The "above Jerusalem" is likened unto a woman whose womb is barren for any of a number of reasons (not married; untimely widowhood; infertility; etc.).
- C. The "promise" to be believed is that Yahweh is going to bring about a veritable host of offspring.
- D. Paul's readers are not the "woman" to whom the promise is made, but are the consequent host of children who exist because "someone" believed the promise.
- III. Paul's "Point".
- A. First, the "point" is the one made in the following statement: we are children of promise according to the standard of Isaac.
- B. Second, the "point" is that those who "believe" should break out in high rejoicing because of the impact of the promise of a vast host of children.
- 1. This exhortation only fits into the "core" of "promise": high rejoicing is the outcome of obtaining something someone really wants.
- 2. It is a high crime that, in the name of Jesus, men still proclaim "Law" as an effective life methodology. Law counts upon "love" being a complicated, self-contradictory reality that can be used to pit people against themselves by pitting their "loves" against each other. "Love", on the other hand, is uncomplicated and non-self-contradictory so that all "promise" has to do is extend the offer of the thing "Loved".