Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO GALATIANS 4\\

In this chapter the apostle discourses concerning the abrogation of
the ceremonial law, under which the Old Testament saints were, being
as children under tutors; blames the Galatians for returning to it
when they were freed from it; puts them in mind of their former
affection to him and to his ministry; describes the false apostles,
who had been the occasion of their departure from the truth, and by a
beautiful allegory sets forth the difference between the legal and
Gospel dispensations. And whereas in the latter part of the preceding
chapter he had compared the law to a schoolmaster, under which the
Jews were till Christ came; he here makes use of another simile to
express the same thing by, which is that of an heir while under age
being under tutors and governors, until the time fixed by the parent's
will, \\#Ga 4:1,2\\ an accommodation of which simile is in \\#Ga 4:3\\,
by which the Jews under the former dispensation are represented as
children, and as in a state of bondage to the ceremonial law, from
which there is a deliverance by Christ at the appointed time of the
Father, by whom he was sent for that purpose; the act of sending is
ascribed to God the Father; the person sent is described as the Son of
God; the time when is called the fulness of time; and the
circumstances under which he was sent were, that he was made of a
woman, and made under the law, \\#Ga 4:4\\, the ends of his being sent
were to redeem his people from it, who were under it; and that they
might receive the adoption of children, the privilege and spirit of
it, \\#Ga 4:5\\. Hence because they were the sons of God, and as a
fruit and effect of the redemption of them by Christ, the Spirit of
God is sent down into their hearts, to make known and witness their
adoption, \\#Ga 4:6\\, and the benefits arising from hence are, that
such are or should be no longer the servants of the law, but are
children and free from it, and are heirs of God, \\#Ga 4:7\\, and that
the grace of God might appear the more illustrious in this privilege
of sonship, and the folly of the Galatians be more manifest in
returning to the ceremonial law, notice is taken of what they were and
did before conversion, and what they were inclined to now; that
whereas whilst they were ignorant of God, they served nominal
fictitious deities, such as were not by nature gods; and yet now,
though they knew God, and were known of him, seemed desirous of being
in a state of servitude and bondage to the weak and beggarly elements
of the ceremonial law, \\#Ga 4:8,9\\, of which instances are given in
their observing days, months, times and years, \\#Ga 4:10\\, which
gave the apostle a great deal of concern, fearing his labour among
them was in vain, and to no purpose, \\#Ga 4:11\\, wherefore he
entreats them as his brethren to imitate him, who being a Jew, yet had
relinquished the observation of the ceremonial law, \\#Ga 4:12\\, and
then he reminds them of their former regard unto him; how that though
he preached the Gospel to them through much weakness, yet they did not
despise him and reject him on account of his infirmities, but received
him with all the tokens of respect imaginable, as if he had been an
angel; yea, as if he had been Christ himself, \\#Ga 4:13,14\\, who
then reckoned themselves happy persons on account of the Gospel he
preached to them, and then had such an affection for him, that if it
had been needful they would have given their eyes unto him; and yet
now he was become their enemy for preaching the same truths he did
then, justification by faith in Christ's righteousness and the
abrogation of the law, \\#Ga 4:15,16\\, next he gives an account of
the false apostles, who pretended a zealous affection for the
Galatians; which was not a good one, nor with right views, \\#Ga 4:17\\,
though zeal in a good cause, and which continues, is very commendable,
\\#Ga 4:18\\, and such a constant and hearty attachment had the
apostle to them; wherefore he calls them his little children, says he
travailed in birth on their account, it being his earnest desire that
Christ might appear to be formed in them, \\#Ga 4:19\\, wherefore
since he was in doubt and distress about them, he was very desirous of
being with them, and to alter his way of arguing with them; and from
the law, and not the Gospel, show them their mistake and folly,
\\#Ga 4:20,21\\, which he does in the following allegorical way, by
observing that Abraham had two sons, the one by a servant maid, the
other by his lawful wife; the one was after the flesh, the other by
promise; which allegorically signified the two covenants of Sinai and
of Sion, \\#Ga 4:22-24\\. Agar the bondmaid represented the covenant
made at Mount Sinai in Arabia, under which the carnal Jews and their
posterity were in a state of bondage; and Sarah the free woman, the
covenant of grace under the Gospel dispensation and the Gospel church
state, which is from above, free, fertile, and numerous, \\#Ga 4:25,26\\,
which is confirmed, \\#Ga 4:27\\, by a passage out of \\#Isa 44:1\\
and as these two women were typical of the two covenants, so their
respective offspring represented the two sorts of professors,
legalists and evangelical Christians. True believers in Christ are
like Isaac, the children of the promise; legalists are like Ishmael,
men after the flesh, and of the same persecuting spirit with him:
wherefore as it was then, that carnal Ishmael persecuted spiritual
Isaac, so at this time the carnal Jews persecuted the real Christians,
\\#Ga 4:28,29\\ nevertheless for the comfort of the latter, it is
observed out of the Scripture that the former shall be cast out, and
not be heir with them, \\#Ga 4:30\\, and the conclusion of the whole
is, that the saints under the Gospel dispensation are not in bondage
to the law, but are made free by Christ; to which freedom they are
called, and in which they should stand, \\#Ga 4:31\\.