Galatians 4:21-31

Paul’s doctrinal argument that began in 3:6 has ended in 4:7.


He has begun an appeal to the Galatians to apply this teaching to their lives.


Beginning in 4:21 Paul is going to use an OT story as an allegory to appeal to the Galatians logic.


  1. This appeal is Paul’s capstone argument that uses both the Law and Abraham.


  1. Paul uses an interpretive style that was used by the rabbis. This hermeneutic style involved very heavy use of symbols and allegories. Very often extreme. The Galatian Judiazers were most likely using this kind of OT allegorizing. Paul, being very familiar with this type of teaching, beat them at their own game.


  1. The story illustrates and reviews all of Paul’s main points:


    1. Law and Faith are opposites
    2. Law is bondage; Faith is freedom
    3. Law is natural; Faith is supernatural
    4. Law is flesh; Faith is spirit


  1. Story ends with the casting out of the slave woman and so the point is to apply this to the Judiazers. Cast them out.



4:21     Paul appeals to the Law itself to speak and verify what Paul is saying.

            Paul and the Law both say that the Law is bondage.


            Wuest: “Tell me, ye that are bent upon being under law, are ye not hearing the   law.”

4:22     Paul again goes with Abraham.

            Abraham himself had two sons.

            So the power was not in Abraham’s genetics, flesh or law.

            The power was not attainable except by the promise, the spirit, or faith.


            “For” connects verses 21 and 22 and gives the idea, “Your desire to be under the  law is not in harmony with scripture.”

4:23     Differences in the two sons (who both had the same father)

                        1)    Mothers – one slave, one free

                        2)    Method of conception – one natural, one supernatural.



son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise”

            or, “through                  the             promise”

                 dia                           ths          epaggelias

a)     this teaches that the promise of God called Isaac’s life into being.

b)    In verse 4:29 this phrase becomes “by the power of the Spirit.”


4:24     “taken figuratively” means these historical events can be used to teach a truth.


4:25     The word “corresponds” is the Greek word “sustoicei” and means “to file together” or “to be in the same line or row.”


            “sustoichei” refers to things that are in the same column such as letters in the     alphabet or soldiers at attention.


            This means that Paul sees in this story an allegory that has parts that can be taken   out and lined up for comparison.


                        Hagar                          Sarah

                        Ishmael                        Isaac

                        Old Covenant              New Covenant

                        Earthly Jerusalem        Heavenly Jerusalem

                        Judaism                       Christianity


            Hagar, the slave, represents the old covenant from Sinai and Ishmael represents Judaism centered in Jerusalem.


            Sarah, free woman, represents the new covenant from Calvary and Isaac      represents believers who are members of heaven.


            Ishmael and Isaac are alike since they both have the same father.

            So, Judaism and Christianity arte alike since they both originate from Abraham.


            But, Ishmael and Isaac are drastically different:

                        1- Born of different woman. . . . . . . . . .          Law or                    Faith

                        2- Born by different means. . . . . . . . . . .        Flesh or                Spirit

                        3- Source of origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        Works or                Promise


            The question for the Galatians is who is your mother and how where you conceived?


            The Judiazers recognize that the Galatians believers have a connection to Abraham just       as they do.

            What they fail to realize is that:

1-    Believers are born of the Spirit and live by faith as a result of a promise.

2-    Legalist are flesh in bondage to a law because their hope is in their works.


4:27     From Isaiah 54:1

            This verse comes after Isaiah 53 which describes the career of the Messiah


            The number of supernatural born will outnumber the natural born.


4:28     Now we are like Isaac.

1-    We came into being because of God’s promise (word)

2-    We have a supernatural birth

3-    Our entire existence is the result of a promise, the spirit, and faith

a.     Spiritual conception

b.     New birth

c.     Spiritual growth

d.     Production

e.     Rewards (glorification)


4:29     The position of a believer who is spirit born and faith living is persecution by the natural man who lives by works (or, is a spiritual slave.)


            Jesus said:

                        “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”                          Mt. 5:10


                        “Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them                                       

                        you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and                                              

                        pursue from town to town.”                                        Mt. 23:34


            The apostles said:

                        “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but                                              

                         also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you                                     

                        law I had, and now hear that I still have.”                   Philippians 1:29-30


                        “We sent Timothy. . .to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one  

                        would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were                      

                        destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you                 

                        that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well  know.”                                                                      

                                                                                                            1 Thessalonians 3:2,3


                        “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life In Christ Jesus will be                                                        

                        persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse,                                     

                        deceiving and being deceived.”                              2 Timothy 3:12,13


                        “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though                        

                         something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate                       

                         in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is   revealed.”                                                                                                                                                                              1 Peter 4:12,13


See Genesis 21 Isaac was laughed at and mocked by Ishmael

            Isaac was about 2 years old and was being weaned.

            Ishmael was 17.


            Note: The laughing and mocking came not from the Canaanites but from a half brother.

                        One with the same father, but existing from a slave woman.



                        Jews, not the Pagans, killed the prophets in the OT

                        Pharisees/Priest, not the Romans, crucified Christ

                        Medieval church, not the pagans, killed the reformers

                        Woman on the beast, not the beast, drunk with the blood of the saints


4:30     There is no compatibility of fleshly religion and spiritual religion


            Genesis 21:10 “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will    never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”


The Jewish teachers would have viewed this verse and this story as God’s     rejection of the Gentiles. Paul turns it to be God’s rejection of legalism (including   the Jews) and giving the inheritance only the believers (including the Gentiles.)


This allegory must have infuriated the Judiazers.



Point: Get rid of the legalist in Galatia.


4:31     There is a switch to the first person “we” from the second person “you” or “they” because    this teaching includes all who embrace the truth.