Paul continues his purpose of the previous 3 Chapters; that is, to recover these Christians from the impressions made upon them by the Judaizing teachers. He points out their weakness and foolishness for allowing themselves to be deceived by the false teachers, and desiring to place themselves into the old Jewish religious bondage.
Exodus 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
God called Israel his firstborn son, and speaks of Old Testament Israel as a son here in Galatians 3 & 4.
In Chapter 3, Paul's application was that the son has been under the training of the schoolmaster, that is, the ordinances of the Mosaic law.
In Chapter 4, Paul approaches the issue from a different angle: God's son, Israel, has been bound by the Mosaic ordinances. He is here compared to a child under tutors and governors.
He covers much of the same ground, so we will not spend much time here.
The schoolmaster was to direct the son to Christ. The tutors and governors were also to train the son until he found maturity in Christ.
Paul's comparison now is that the former dispensation of the ceremonial law was like a tutor, under whom the son is until the time fixed by the parents' will. 4:1, 2. That time fixed by the parent was the time of Christ, who was sent by the Father to bring maturity to Israel, who was the son the heir:
Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 ¶ Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
1) Hebrews deals with the same basic problem Galatians deals with the desire to seek justification through obedience to the Jewish religious laws.
Today's application is seeking justification by good works rather than by the work of Christ.
2) In order to fulfill the laws requiring sacrifices and offerings, Christ had to have a body. Only his sacrifice would please the Father, and fulfill the laws needed to provide remission of the sins of His people (Isa. 53)
3) After he finished the offering, Christ sat down on the right hand of God where He will remain until all His enemies are subdued to Him.
We can identify the new Israelites under the new covenant by identifying who has been sprinkled or washed with the new pure water as prophesied in the law and the prophets.
Ezekiel 36:25-28 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
The new Israel of God, who is the legal heir to the promises, is identified by who is now included in the prophesied washings that is, it consists of all who have been saved, by the washing of regeneration, and it is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
In the Father s good time, Christ came to redeem them that were under the law, i.e., the Jews. (See also, Mk. 1:15, Eph. 1:10, Heb. 9:10.) The Gentiles were never under the ceremonial laws as delivered to national Israel; however, they were certainly under the Commandments, and held accountable there to. Paul tells us that the Gentiles were without the law, but the law Paul referred to was the laws of the Jewish religion, for the Gentiles were always accountable to God's moral laws as found in the Commandments. (Rom. 1:20, 2:12, 1 Cor. 9:20, 21. See also, Isaiah 5:24, 25, Jeremiah 11:2, 3, Jeremiah 25:25, 29, 32, Isaiah 13:1-23:8, Isaiah 24:1-6, 21, Psalms 9:17, Jeremiah 18:7-10, Jeremiah 50, where God destroyed Babylon because she violated the Covenant-law and sinned against the Lord, v. 14, &c.)
In this chapter, Paul's goal is to convince these Christians of their folly, and to correct their error. To do this, he presents the comparison of a child under age. He had touched on this in chapter 3. He will show the great advantage we have under the gospel than under the tutorage and governance of the old Mosaic laws.
Vv. 1-3. Paul tells us that Old Testament Israelthat is, the Old Testament church as much like an underage child. The child is kept in darkness and in bondage compared to what he will have when he becomes the heir. Though the Old Testament was also an age of grace, it was an age of darkness compared to what the New Testament Israelthat is, the gospel churchhas. In Christ, we have light and liberty from the bondage of the old Mosaic economy.
The son, Israel was under tutors and governors till the time appointed of his father. That is, the son, Israel, was educated and instructed in those things he knew little of. He did not fully understand the meaning of the rites and rituals required of him before Christ.
They were in bondage under the elements of the world. Israel understood he was in bondage by those elements, but did not fully understand the meaning of those elements of the world.
2 Corinthians 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
God's firstborn son, Israel, was in bondage, darkness and blindness as to who Christ was. Israel was like a child, under the care of tutors and governors. The Old Testament church was more like a servant than like an heir. Though he did not fully realize the reasons for his Father's commands found in the ordinances, he was required to do them.
V. 5, [T]he adoption of sons.
Who are Israelites?
Romans 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Who are the children of God, or the true Israel of God? They are those, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), who have been adopted into the family of God, and have received the Spirit of his Son. (Rom. 9:4ff., Gal. 3:26-4:8.)
And thus Paul points out that the Jews/Israelites must be adopted as sons of God, as do the Gentiles. (Therefore, even the natural branches had to be grafted into the true olive tree, Christ, Rom. 11:17-24.) Paul proved previously that both Jews and Gentiles were in the same fallen state as sinners who could only become the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
When the fullness of time was come... That is, in the Father's appointed time, the Father put an end to the Mosaic manner of worship, and established a better one. He sent forth his Son.... The Son had been prophesied of and promised from the beginning of time. Then when the time was right, in the fullness of time, Christ was sent. He took on a body in order to submit himself to the manner of all men. His body was made of a woman. Notice it does not say, made of a virgin, which would imply that his mother was not a perpetual virgin, as Rome would have us believe.
V. 5, gives us the purpose of his appearance: to redeem them that were under the law...
As we saw above, Hebrews 10:5-10 clearly tells us that the purpose of the Son assuming the body of a man was so he could free his people from the terrible yoke of bondage of the offerings for sin required by the Mosaic law.
But his coming had a far higher purpose than just freeing his people from the bondage of the sin offerings. He came to redeem his people from the wrath of God and from the curse of the moral law which all sinners are born under. The wages of sin is death...
He tells the Galatians that they are no longer immature children under the governors and tutors appointed by the Father, but because of Christ, they are joint heirs with him by faith.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Romans chapter 11 tells us that when Christ was rejected, the old son, Israel, was broken off, and, as individual believers, he is now grafted back into the root one at a time. That root is Christ. The Jew/Gentile distinction is removed, and we all become sons of God by faith in Christthat is, by adoption.
We could phrase the first 7 verses of Galatians 4 like this:
The firstborn son out of Egypt has been disinherited because he rejected Christ. That firstborn has been replaced by adopted sons. These new sons are not under the schoolmaster, tutors and governors. Rather, they are adopted into full family membership and privilege.
Let me give you a short account of adoption in Paul's day:
In Rome the unique nature of paternal authority, by which a son was held in his father's power, almost as a slave was owned by his master, gave a peculiar character to the process of adoption. For the adoption of a person free from paternal authority, the process and effect were practically the same in Rome as in Greece. In a more specific sense, adoption proper was the process by which a person was transferred from his natural father's power into that of his adoptive father, and it consisted in a fictitious sale of the son, and his surrender by the natural to the adoptive father. (ISBE, OLB.)
Not a few similar points:
First, all men are natural born into another family, whose father is the devil. John 8:44.
Second, adoption transferred the individual from his natural father's power to his adoptive father's power.
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Third, adoption consisted of an apparent sale of the son to the adoptive father.
1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
We can easily see how Paul's use of the term adoption fits into the society of his day.
Conclusion of vv. 1-7.
1. The wonders of divine love and mercy that caused the Father to send his only begotten Son to redeem us from the power of Satan.
2. We have great advantages over the Old Testament saints, for we are under the gospel:
Though our natural birth, we are children of wrath.
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Yet we have been adopted as sons of God in Christ Jesus.
3. We have received the Spirit of Adoption.
That spirit of adoption includes the privilege of being a son of God, able to partake of the nature of God the Father.
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
That Spirit of Adoption enables us to fulfill our duty to pray to the Father.
That Spirit of Adoption makes us the Father's heirs with his only begotten Son.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
AS you will see, I can identify with this section probably as good if not better than about any other sections of Scripture.
These verses all go together as Paul defines the problem and gives his response. Sadly, this section describes the life of Christian leaders who have been given charge of the souls of their people.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Here Paul reminds them of what they were and what they did before their conversion to Christ. He points out the changes conversion brought to them. He then tries to explain to them their great weakness in listening to those who try to bring them into bondage to Moses.
V. 8. Before the gospel, they were ignorant of the true God, and the proper manner of worshiping him. They followed many superstitions and idolatrous practices, as they attempted to serve things that were considered gods, but were mere creatures or even things made with their own hands.
As I have mentioned many times, particularly as we have dealt with the First Commandment. Those who are ignorant of the true God as revealed in Scripture must worship false gods.
True worship and service is due only to the God of Scripture through his Son, and as revealed in the total of God's Word. Otherwise, false gods are being worshiped.
Regardless of how religious sounding a man or a group might be, if they are not presenting the God of the Scripture, that man or group is false.
We had a man and wife ask to meet with Bettie and me asking for advice. He feels he is called into a teaching ministry. In the course of our conversation, I asked him how many times he had read his Bible through. He replied, "None." I told him there was no way he could have a call from God that did not include a desire to read and study God's word.
I asked him again not long ago if he was reading Scripture. He said, "Not as much as I should." Then he tried to justify his lack of study by saying he had a lot of New Testament passages memorized.
How can he claim his ministry is of God? Will henot lead the simple away from the Lord?
This man is clearly trying to worship a god after his own making. He does not know what is required of him by the Christian God, and he rejected what I tried to tell him.
He is clearly trying to do service unto them which by nature are no gods.
One of the responsibilities of spiritual leaders is to point God's people to a proper Biblical understanding of God, so they can indeed worship him in Spirit and in Truth.
THIS IS WHY WE MUST KNOW THE SCRIPTURES.
V. 9. Paul reminds them of the changes that was made in them by his preaching of the gospel among them.
They were brought to the knowledge of the true God and of his Son, Christ Jesus. They were recovered out of the ignorance and bondage of their pagan idolatry. They were brought to the knowledge of the true God through the gospel. They were brought to God's knowledge, and adopted as His sons in Christ.
Paul expresses surprise that they desire to replace the bondage to gods that were not gods with bondage to the Jew's religion.
Ye have known God, or rather are known of God. Our relationship with the Christian God must start with him.
Turn ye again... Paul asks, "How is that you have been taught the true gospel way of worshiping the true God and now you are persuaded to go into the Jewish ceremonial way of worship.?"
Paul points out to them that they had never been under the Mosaic laws of worship, so why would they want to be under those weak and beggarly elements. They had no power of redemption nor of cleansing the soul in them.
Days, months and years shows us that Paul is speaking of the Mosaic worship.
I have found that it is very possible for those who have made professions of Christ to be drawn into false manners of worship. I think we see this in sacradolism that is, looking to the sacraments to make one right with God.
Scripture teaches that the more mercy one experiences in being brought to Christ, the greater sin it is to be drawn away from him by rites and rituals that is, the weak and beggarly elements of the world or of Moses.
In v. 11, Paul expresses fear that his work among them has been wasted, because of their desire to be in bondage to the Jewish religious laws.
How many times does a pastor or leader see and experience "wasted labour." Many hours have been spent on training in the Word of God, just to see the individuals go elsewhere where the Word of God is not taught or is greatly compromised, or see them follow the desires of the flesh, and fall away completely.
Those who have gospel labour expended on them and who waste it will have a great amount to answer for in that day before Christ.
This section is the heart of any pastor or teacher who has invested time, effort and love into new converts. I must admit that I have been burned so many times in the area Paul discusses here that I now find it very difficult to get close to people.
Paul has spoken sharply to the Galatians, even accusing them of being foolish and being under demonic spells. Now he tempers his words by reminding of his love toward them.
He points out the great physical effort it took to be with them. His presence was not a mighty physical presence, as it was with the false teachers. Rather, it was a mighty spiritual presence. He was there in the mighty power of the Spirit of God. He reminds them that he was among them for their benefit, not for his own.
He calls their attention to how very wrong their present behavior is when compared to what they were.
Though condemning their conduct, he has no quarrel with them. He is able to maintain his love toward them while expressing his deep concern. He assures them they have not injured him, and that his zeal is for God's honor, for the truth and purity of the gospel, as well as for their welfare and happiness.
"Why," Paul asks, "are you turning from the blessedness of close communion with the Father to the bondage of the law?"
Like any pastor/teacher who has invested a great amount of time and work into "his" new converts, Paul is shocked that they departed so quickly from their close relationship to himself. They replaced that relationship with a close relationship with the enemies of the gospel.
The reason for the change from friend to enemy was because the truth he was telling them concerning the gospel.
The false teachers had come in with overwhelming charisma, and had charmed the people to follow them. Their charming presence overshadowed their message. That message said that in order for the people to be true heirs to Abraham's promise, the people to proselytize to Judaism with its various rites and rituals.
I can not tell the number of people I have seen leave good, sound Bible teaching churches to follow after charismatic leaders. Providence in Harrisonburg is a good example.
And with Paul, I must admit the heart break and stress that comes when my own people who were saved under my ministry go after the charming teachers who compromise the word of God, if they teach it at all.
Probably the most heart rending situation was a young couple in Linden who had several children. They were both saved while I was there. She played the piano. The husband even called me late one night about his salvation. They moved a good distance from the church and her husband had to work, so my wife would drive the 25 minutes each way to pick her up for the WN service. We had another family who lived almost across the street from them, but they would not bring her to church with them. Strange indeed.
The couple bough a house closer to the church, and came faithfully. Something happened, and I cannot tell you what it was, but they started traveling to the other end of the county close to where they had lived to a "Rick Smith, Calvary Chapel" church were they had a compromised gospel, no standards and a worship band where their son could play his drums.
We see here with Paul, that as he reproved or tried to correct these people, it was only because of his zeal for the truth, and the well-being of those in error.
In vv. 13-16, in order that the people might be ashamed of their departure from the truth, Paul reminds them of the great affection they had for him and his ministry when he was there.
Infirmity of the flesh... Though Paul mentions this infirmity often, there is no indication of what it was. However, it was well known to those to whom he writes. Whatever it was, it cost Paul something to minister the gospel to them, and made him special to the people. They received him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus himself.
In fact, they accepted him so well that if it were possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes for him.
This situation with Paul reminds us of how uncertain people are. I remember so well in LA, how people would stand up at the men's prayer meeting on Saturday night, and tell how much they love the pastor, or on a WN when the pastor would give an opportunity for testimonies. But things change, and many of these people became enemies.
This is what happened with the young couple in Linden. One day they professed their love for me, and the next, they were enemies.
It is amazing how easily they can change their minds from great esteem and affection to almost contempt. In my 40 some years in the ministry, I have seen it happen more than a few times. It seems that people forget that the pastor is no more than a redeemed sinner, still having the same weaknesses as they have.
V. 16. The longer I am in the ministry, the more I see v. 16 as one of the most distressing in Scripture.
The harshest lesson I have had to learn is that people claim to want the truth, but you do not dare tell it to them. What they actually want is to be assured that what they think is truth is truth. I have yet to met a professedly mature Christian who can or will accept the truth with thanksgiving. Yet they expect the pastor to quietly listen to the truth and conform to what they believe is true.
I am reminded of the chairman of the Pulpit Committee that called us to minister at Linden Baptist Church in 1983. His family was saved there, and they would say how thankful they were for us being there. I reprinted the London Baptist Confession, and was teaching trough it in SS class. I believe we were discussing chapter 14, "Of Saving Faith." The wife ask me about babies who die, DO THEY GO TO HEAVEN. I answered her truthfully that the Scripture just do not address that subject, but knowing the grace and mercy of God, we can assume they do, but Scripture is not clear.
She got up and walked out, and never came back.
I found out later that she had lost twins at birth, and she was looking for someone to assure her that they went to heaven.
She did not want the truth. She wanted someone to find a Scripture to support what she wanted to believe.
People might even say they want the truth about their families, but you certainly tread on thin ice if you do tell them the truth.
My personal experience is that 19 out of 20 times if you try to even share Bible truths with people that might counter their life-style, you have made an enemy, even among those who claim to love you. I have found this true even among those saved through my ministry.
I do not have the boldness Paul displayed here in vv. 12-16, in that he made enemies by telling them the truth, for very few can tolerate the truth.
Bro Joel was placed in contact with a pastor named David King up in Milton Pa. I spoke with him about attending a conference they are having at the end of October. He was a very joyful man who had been the pastor of his church for many years. He said that some years ago, he took a stand with people and their responsibility to be faithful to the church where they were members. He was truthful with them, and he lost about 60 people.
Nor is it uncommon for people to consider their enemies those who are actually their best friends who might try to tell them the truth.
Pastors can make enemies by simply being faithful to their Scriptural duties.
Just try rebuking sin by name from the pulpit as was done many times in Scripture... People will flee from that church as a bird flees from the feeder when we get to close to the feeder.
Now Paul reveals the character of the false teachers who were making it their business to draw the people away from the truth of the gospel of free grace.
Paul tells the people that if they will listen closely to the teachers and compare their words to the truth, they will see that the false teachers are simply using them for their own advantage: to exalt themselves.
Paul tells the people here that the teachers show a great respect for them and pretend a great affection for them, but not well. That is, their motive is not good. Their goal is to draw the people away from Paul and from the truth, so they can enrich themselves.
How many have we met who appear to have a great deal of zeal, but little truth and sincerity?
They only have self-interest at heart, and they know how to draw the unwary to themselves.
The teachers described here by Paul will not stop at destroying the good names of others if it will benefit themselves.
Bro Joel told us of the ministries such as Bennie Hinn who pays the Indian people a few Rupees to let Bennie Hinn baptize them. The many baptisms are then proudly displayed in the US to raise more money from the gullible. In other words, Hinn apparent zeal for the Lord has an affect upon honest Christians in order that he can get the desired affect that is, more money. His interest is in himself, not in the Lord nor in the people to whom he "preaches," as proved by paying people to be baptized.
Vv. 19, 20
little children... Scripture teaches that those saved under a particular pastor's ministry are his children. When they depart from him under unfavorable circumstances, it is like a child leaving home.
The leaders love their children as their own, and the greatest joy they have is to hear that his children have matured and can recognize false teaching. They now walk in the way pleasing to the Lord.
Unlike the false teachers who were self-serving in the matter, Paul had genuine interest in those who were converted as a result of his labours. He reminds them that he is their spiritual father, and the effort he put into them for their conversion.
Paul was not present with these people when he received the report of the problems of the false teachers and the people's willing acceptance of their message. Though not present, Paul expresses his desire to be with them in order to personally call them back to the truth.
Paul had expressed his gratefulness to the Lord for his work in them, before he expresses his fear for them. He did not know for sure what all was going on there, and he wished he were present so he could speak more informed concerning the situation. Then maybe he could change his tone of voice toward them.
I might add here that charismatic Christian leaders naturally draw others to themselves, no matter how hard they try to point to Christ.
Our pastor in LA was a very charismatic man. Though he tried to point people to Christ and get them to follow Christ, the vast majority of people followed him. When he got crossways with the Lord, it destroyed a good number of people. They were following him, and not the Lord.
I suppose the best thing for people like that to do is found in,
2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
It is obvious that Christ will not be fully formed in us until we see him. Thus, we are all sucuceptible to sin as well as sounding, charismatic teachers and their false messages. But the more Christ is formed in us, the more we will be able to withstand false messages.
This is the final section of Galatians 4. Here Paul uses the contrast between Hagar and Sarah to drive home his point concerning bondage vs freedom. The events referred to here by Paul are found in Genesis 16 and 21.
Abraham was 86 when Hagar bare Ishmael. Abraham was 100 when Sarah bare Isaac, making Ishmael 14 years older than Isaac.
Though Genesis 21 refers to Ishmael as a child, making it sound as though he was small enough to be carried by his mother, he was probably close to 17 years old.
I find the situation with Ishmael and Isaac difficult to understand. What Sarah did was wrong, when she insisted her husband take Hagar as a second wife. Yet Paul uses this very event to prove his point.
Paul has been strongly rebuking the Galatians the foolishness of giving up the freedom in Christ for the bondage of the Jews' religious laws as promoted by the judaizers. They were telling these Christians here that in order for Christ to profit them, they had to follow the Jews' religious practices.
In this section, Paul illustrates the difference between believers who rest in Christ only and those who trust in rites and ceremonies, particularly the Jews' religious laws in this context.
He opens this section with a statement: You desire to be under the Jews's religious laws. You have heard from the false teachers what those laws say. Though you have heard with your ears what the laws say, evidently you have not understood what you are being taught. If you understood, you would not be so ready to go into the bondage of those laws. Let me tell you what they say and their implications.
How many people today agree with man made laws without knowing what they say? The so called "Patriot Act" is a very distressing example. Many thousands of pages of oppressive laws were presented to congress, and the congressmen were only given a very few minutes to read them over. No one had any idea what it said, and only Ron Paul voted against it.
Paul now illustrates the difference between the freedom of Christ and the bondage of the law.
Vv. 22, 23, Paul reviews the history that the false teachers knew very well. Two totally different views are presented in the history of Ishmael and Isaac.
Ishmael was born after the normal course of nature; he represents bondage.
Isaac was born according to God's promise, against the normal course of nature. There was no hope of Sarah having a son, except in the promise of God.
Vv. 24-27. Now Paul explains the meaning of what took place so many years ago.
Hagar and Sarah represent the two covenants.
Hagar represents what was given from Mt Sinai, and results in bondage. The age before Christ was also an age of Grace, yet when compared to the grace under the gospel, it was bondage. Through their misuse of the laws that came from Mt Sinai, the Jews made the bondage especially bad. They misused the laws in attempting to be justified by those laws.
Mt Sinai thus represented the Jerusalem of Paul's day. That Jerusalem was controlled by its childrenthe scribes and Pharisees, who insisted on retaining the bondage of the Jews' religion. The children of that Jerusalem worked hard to convert new Christians to follow the Jews' religion, as Paul once did. Galatians 1:13, 14.
On the other hand, Sarah prefigured the spiritual Jerusalem which is above. That Jerusalem represents the state of Christians under the new and better covenant in Christ. It is free from the eternal curse of the moral laws, which is death, and it is free from the bondage enforced by the Jews' ceremonial laws on this side of death.
The mother of us all. That is, the mother of all who are in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles of Paul's day.
V. 27. Paul quotes,
Isaiah 54:1 ¶ Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
The desolate woman represents the Gentiles, while the woman with an husband represents the Jews.
V. 28, now Paul applies what he just said. He tells the Galatians that those who have accepted Christ and rely upon him only for justification and salvation are the spiritual seed of Abraham, as was Isaac, the seed of God's promise to Abraham.
Then in v. 29, he says that as the child after the flesh, Ishmael, persecuted the child after the promise, Isaac. He identifies the judaizers as the child after the flesh, Ishmael. They were quite proud of their physical heritage to Abraham, and persecuted the spiritual seed, the Christians.
I believe that it is significant that Ishmael is the father of the Arabs, and today they are known for their persecution of Christians.
V. 30. Paul tells the Galatians to throw out the judaizers, and do not give to them what belongs to Christ. Ishmael and Isaac cannot be heirs together to Abraham's promise.
Heirship is either by following the practices of the Jews' religion or it is by faith. Heirship cannot include both.
Though the judaizers persecute and hate the Christians, the final end will be that Judaism would sink, wither and perish, while true Christianity would flourish and last for ever.
He sums up the matter with v. 31, reminding the people that they are the spiritual heirs to Abraham, not physical heirs. They are free in Christ, not bound by any physical relationship as claimed by the judaizers.
Let be give several conclusions of this chapter:
1) Why would people who are given a choice chose to be a servant in the rich man's house when they could be a free son in the same house?
2) V. 10. The Christian religion is a religion of liberty, though not liberty for one to do his own things. Romans 14:5, 6, tell us we are at liberty to keep holidays or not to keep them. We are not to judge or be judged by whether or not Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, &c. are observed.
3) Paul was not content to just get a lot of decisions, have a lot of people walk the aisle and make professions, and then turn them over to false teachers as is done by a lot of today's shallow, "easy believeism" preachers. He watched over and agonized over his converts, desiring that Christ would be formed in them. He looked for physical evidence of their following Christ.
One of the evidences he looked for was that they would continue in the truth he had taught, rather than following the false teachers.
4) V. 13, Paul had an infirmity of some kind. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, he called it a thorn in the flesh. According to James 5:14, 15, we should always seek God's healing, but it is not always God's will to heal. Notice that even the most popular teachers of the "health and wealth prosperity gospel" die 100% of the time.
Are we ready to die, and meet the Lord?
5) V. 16. The truth upset the people. Let us never be guilty of turning against anyone who had the courage to confront us with an unpopular and unpleasant truth.
6) V. 17, peer group pressure was being applied to get the Galatians to knuckle under to false doctrines. There are plenty of folks around, both in and out of religious circles, who use peer pressure to get us to follow in their ways.
7) V. 17 also. If folks only had the zeal for the Lord as they do for their sports, work, travels, false religions or other things they enjoy, we would see an explosion of the gospel, and the world soon won for Christ.
8) V. 20. Paul was greatly perplexed that these people were so easily influenced by certain rites, rituals, ceremonies, holy days, circumcisions and baptisms. It appeared to him and to those around them that they were not trusting in Christ alone for their salvation.
1 Corinthians 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Many preachers tell their people they should never doubt their salvation. But this is not what Paul told these people. He doubted their salvation because their public testimony was not fitting of a Christian.
I have concern for those who are unfaithful as well as those who are greatly committed to religious rituals, as well as to infant baptism.
9) V. 21. Those who desire to be under the law, that is, to do something to earn their redemption, just do not understand the law.
10) V. 25. Those who long after and focus on modern Jerusalem and who desire to fight over its control, whether Jews, Mohomands, Romans, Greek Orthodox or even fundamentalist Christians, for all practical purpose, are sons of Hagar. They are in bondage to the events of the day.
Many Christians today are focused in "Israel." "Watch Israel, for it is God's clock."
Those who desire to see the establishment of modern Israel are in the bondage to the Jerusalem that now is of which Paul warned about.
Our inheritance as Christians is in the heavenly Jerusalem, not in any kind of physical land over in Palestine.
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
The Jerusalem we are to long for is the dwelling place of Christ and the of the saints who have gone on before us.
11) Our concern is not who owns and controls the Temple Mount, nor the activities that take place there. When the woman at the well in John 4:21, tried to get our Lord to debate the issue of the location of the True Temple, Christ was emphatic. He clearly told her that the only true worship had to be through him, and apart from any Jewish land or temple.
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Worldnetdaily posted this article advertising a new book, TEMPLE AT THE CENTER OF TIME, by David Flyn:
Is Temple Mount God's time bomb?
New book sees Jerusalem real estate as roadmap to future events
Posted: August 14, 2008
Was the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem more than a place of worship?
Was it, indeed, a roadmap to future events
a kind of prophetic landmark whose significance is only
now revealed through the development of satellite imagery?
Paul made it extremely clearIt is not nor was it ever part of God's plan to go back to the ceremonies and animal sacrifices of Old Testament Judaism, regardless of how much some modern Galatian teachers would like to see it happen.
There is big money in keeping track of every movement concerning the earthly Jerusalem and the Temple. Paul militated against any such mentality.
12) Sarah was barren, with no earthly hope of having children. Yet the promise of Isaiah 54:1 and Galatians 4:27 promises many children.
V. 27, the desolate woman, the Gentiles, would have many more converts than would have the Jews. Implied by Paul here is that true Christianity would be a fruitful and every growing movement among the Gentiles.
Paul was not a believer that revival is not God's plan for the ages. God's plan is for revival to break forth among the nations. Thus, there would be many more children than there ever was under the Jewish ceremonial laws.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy
in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge
of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
We are not involved in a lost cause. Rather, we are looking forward to a great ingathering of converts into the Kingdom of God.
Finally, the Biblical Time Line is interesting.
Shem lived 600 years after the flood, and he was still alive when
Ishmael and when Isaac were born. He was also alive when Jacob
was born. They could all have easily known Shem.
In other words, both Abraham and Sarah were very well acquainted with Shem who came through the flood. Yet even personally knowing how the Lord provided for their great-grandfather, who was still very much alive, through the flood, they could not believe that the Lord could provide the son according to his promise to Abraham.
How like us: We know what God has done for others, yet we have a difficult time believing he can perform wonderful works through and for us.
As the man told our Lord in Mark 9:24,
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.