PLUS Resource: 6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety

Galatians 4

SUMMARY.--Children, While Minors, Not Free. So the Israelites Under the Bondage of the Law Until Christ Came. Christ Frees From This Bondage. The Folly of Gentiles Seeking This Bondage. How the Galatians Had Once Welcomed the Gospel. The Two Covenants, Hagar, and Sarah, and Their Significance.

      10-11. Ye observe days. These are specifications of how they were "turning back" to the Jewish law. Compare Col. 2:16 . The days are the Jewish Sabbaths. The months are the new moons; the times are the Jewish festivals; the years are the Sabbatical years. In observing these there was legal bondage to an obsolete system. 11. In vain. See notes on 2:2.

      12-16. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am. Literally, "Become as I am." Come to my ground. For I am as ye are. Rather, I become as ye are. I gave up my bondage to Judaism, the religion of my fathers, and made myself as a Gentile to Gentiles. Ye did me no wrong. My complaint against you is not on personal grounds. You have not wronged me. 13. Ye know how, through infirmity, etc. The Revision is clearer. Some fact, not explained to us, but well known to the Galatians, is referred to. It is implied that some physical weakness caused him to preach in Galatia the first time. Perhaps he was passing through and was stopped by an infirmity that prevented him from traveling. The first time. This implies he had preached there more than once. The Acts Acts 16:6 Acts 18:23 speak of two visits to Galatia. 14. And my temptation which was in my flesh. The Revision follows the best manuscripts: "Your temptation, which was in my flesh." His "infirmity" is meant. It was probably some malady which hindered his work--might have disfigured him, and been a temptation to the Galatians to ridicule and despise him. Probably 2 Cor. 12:7 refers to the same affliction. Both these allusions show that the infirmity was one that he severely felt. But the Galatians despised not, nor rejected him on that account, but received him heartily, even as an angel of God, God's messenger. 15. Where, then, is the blessedness? They then congratulated themselves that Paul had come to them with the gospel. I bear you record. So great was then their joy and sense of obligation, that they could not do enough to show their gratitude. Why, they would even have given him their own eyes!--a proverbial expression denoting very strong devotion. 16. Am I, therefore, become your enemy, etc. Then, you were so devoted to me; has the fact that I tell you the truth alienated you? It is probable that he refers to truth told on his second visit.

      17-20. They zealously seek you. The false, Judaizing teachers are meant. They showed great zeal for them, but they were not seeking their good. They would exclude you. Exclude you from the great body of Gentile believers and bind you to their clique. 18. It is good to be zealously affected. To exhibit zeal and feeling is a good thing. It was good to show this feeling when he was present with them. But now it was changed in respect of himself. It was only when he was present. 19. My little children. He addresses them very tenderly as their spiritual parent. Of whom I travail in birth again. He is more than a father; he travails for them as a mother. He had done so when they were converted; he did not now again until they were so matured in Christ that they would cling to the gospel. 20. I desire to be present. When present ( verse 18 ) they had shown warm feeling for him. He would now that they were face to face. To change my voice. To speak, not severely, as a letter would sound, but tenderly. I stand in doubt. Is perplexed by what he hears, and filled with fears.

      21-31. Tell me, ye that desire, etc. What troubled him was their tendency to accept the obsolete law of Moses. He now addressed all such a question. Will they hear the law itself? 22. A bondmaid. Hagar, whose child was Ishmael. A freewoman. Sarah, whose child was Isaac. 23. Was born after the flesh. The son of the bondwoman was born in the ordinary course of nature. Was by promise. The son of Sarah was a child of promise, born when she was long past the age of bearing children. See Genesis 18:10 Genesis 18:14 Genesis 21:1 Genesis 18:2 21:1, 2 . 24. Which things are an allegory. Though literally true, the facts had an allegorical interpretation. The two women and their children were types. Are two covenants. One, the bondwoman, represents the covenant given at Sinai, the covenant of bondage. The other, the freewoman, represents the covenant of Christ, the gospel. 25. For this Agar is Mount Sinai. Represents Sinai. This Mount Sinai is in Arabia, the very home of Ishmael and his race. Some also add that one name of the mountain is Hagar, but this is not certain. Answereth to. Represents the earthly Jerusalem, under bondage, bondage to the law herself, and also her children, as Hagar and her child were under bondage. 26. But Jerusalem which is above is free. The freewoman and her free child represent the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of Christ. Our mother. The mother of those in Christ. 27. For it is written. Isaiah 54:1 . In that connection the prophet speaks of the Babylonian bondage, of Abraham and Sarah, and then of the deliverance, looking onward to the glorious deliverance in Christ. Chapter 53 is all concerning Christ, and chapter 54 speaks of the great deliverance. Thou barren. Sarah, the type of the church, long childless. The desolate. Sarah, or rather the church, that has more children by far than the children of the old covenant. 28. Now we, brethren. As Isaac was the child of promise, so are we, Gentile and Jewish Christians, of the promise to Abraham of a Seed in which all nations should be blessed. 29. As he then that was born after the flesh persecuted. See Gen. 21:9 . Ishmael persecuted Isaac. So the Jews still persecuted God's spiritual children, the heirs of the promise. Paul "of the Jews had five times received forty stripes save one." 30. Cast out the bondwoman and her son. The allegory will hold good still further. Abraham, when it was impossible that the two families should get along in peace, cast out the bondwoman and her son. See Gen. 21:10 . So, too, the Jews, the children of the old covenant, had lost the divine favor, and the children of the promise, whether Jews or Gentiles, made heirs. 31. So then, brethren. This, then, is the conclusion. We Christians are not children of the bondwoman, and are not under the bondage of the law. Dr. Schaff contrasts the two covenants as follows:

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