God’s Saving Word: Faith
Galatians 4:8-31: Paul is deeply worried that other people have turned the Galatians away from what he has taught. Drawing upon the example of Abraham’s two sons by Hagar and Sarah, Paul demonstrates that anyone who follows the Law is a slave like Hagar and her son, but those who have faith in Christ are like the descendants of Sarah because she was the mother of Isaac, the child born according to God’s promise.
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians
8 In the past you did not know God, and so you were slaves of beings who are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or, I should say, now that God knows you—how is it that you want to turn back to those weak and pitiful ruling spirits? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10 You pay special attention to certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am worried about you! Can it be that all my work for you has been for nothing?
12 I beg you, my friends, be like me. After all, I am like you. You have not done me any wrong. 13 You remember why I preached the gospel to you the first time; it was because I was sick. 14 But even though my physical condition was a great trial to you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you received me as you would an angel from heaven; you received me as you would Christ Jesus. 15 You were so happy! What has happened? I myself can say that you would have taken out your own eyes, if you could, and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17 Those other people show a deep interest in you, but their intentions are not good. All they want is to separate you from me, so that you will have the same interest in them as they have in you. 18 Now, it is good to have such a deep interest if the purpose is good—this is true always, and not merely when I am with you. 19 My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ’s nature is formed in you. 20 How I wish I were with you now, so that I could take a different attitude toward you. I am so worried about you!
The Example of Hagar and Sarah
21 Let me ask those of you who want to be subject to the Law: do you not hear what the Law says? 22 It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by a free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born in the usual way, but his son by the free woman was born as a result of God’s promise. 24 These things can be understood as a figure: the two women represent two covenants. The one whose children are born in slavery is Hagar, and she represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai. 25 Hagar, who stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia, is[a] a figure of the present city of Jerusalem, in slavery with all its people. 26 But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother. 27 For the scripture says,
“Be happy, you childless woman!
Shout and cry with joy, you who never felt the pains of childbirth!
For the woman who was deserted will have more children
than the woman whose husband never left her.”
28 Now, you, my friends, are God’s children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was. 29 At that time the son who was born in the usual way persecuted the one who was born because of God’s Spirit; and it is the same now. 30 But what does the scripture say? It says, “Send the slave woman and her son away; for the son of the slave woman will not have a part of the father’s property along with the son of the free woman.” 31 So then, my friends, we are not the children of a slave woman but of a free woman.
Today’s Key Verse: Galatians 4:28
Now, you, my friends, are God’s children, as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was.
How does Paul express his concern for the Galatians? Abraham had two sons. Because he didn’t believe he could have a son by his wife, Sarah, he first had a son by Hagar, Sarah’s slave (Genesis 16). Hagar’s son was named Ishmael. Later Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac, who was the child God had promised (Genesis 21:1-8), and his descendants became the people of Israel. In his argument, Paul quotes from Isaiah 54:1 (verse 27). [Note: You may wish to read the story of Hagar and Ishmael being sent away in Genesis 21:9-21.] What is your understanding of why Paul uses the example of Hagar and Sarah in his argument with the Galatians?
Lord God, in faith, I trust in your promises. Thank you for calling me to be your child as a result of your promise. May all I do and say this day reflect your love and grace. Amen.
Galatians 5:1-26: Paul writes about the freedom believers have in Christ.