Galatians 4: Children of Promise

As we ended the last study in chapter 3, we began looking at the high position of the believer in Christ as a son of God:

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. [Gal 3:26]

The position of sonship certainly has privileges, and with those privileges there are responsibilities. The responsibility is now an issue between the son and the Father, and not any longer between the child and the steward.

The high position of “son” is contrasted to the former gentile “heathen” position of slaves to gods that are not even gods. A turn back to serving the law is a step backwards to the “weak and beggarly” elements that had no power over sin. The law, remember, only shows sin, but gives no power to defeat it. Christ by the cross trampled over sin, and now we live by His faith (Gal 2:20) and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:2). Choosing to return to the law was choosing to return to poverty. It is living as a slave when you are an heir of God. It is foolishness.

Paul then continues to implore them that he is writing to them with this stern letter because of his love for them, and reminds them of their love for him. He also gives them a warning concerning those that try to turn them to law with their false gospel. They are only in it for themselves, while Paul tells them how he is earnestly looking out for their best interests.

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. [Gal 4:19-20]

We then see Paul using a scriptural allegory. He is using a real historical event to draw a picture. He shows us as being children of promise just as Isaac was. He also shows Ishmael as a type of trying to enter into the promise by fleshly means. This is exactly what the legalizers/Judaizers were doing. But the word is clear:

Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. [Gal 4:30]

A short word on allegories: This is Paul’s use of allegory, and it is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. God is free to use His Word as He sees fit. We must be careful in our use of allegory. There are many events in scripture that seem to paint a picture of something else, but do not explicitly say that. This is God’s word and we are not free to use it as we see fit. In these events, it is better to say that this reminds us of this “something else”, and not to say it means “something else”. We should not make what we see in a scripture have the authority of “thus saith the Lord”. It should also go without saying that changing the word of prophecies to mean something other than what they say is mishandling the Word of God. Paul did not do that here. What happened between Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac did actually happen. God is telling us by His Word that these things also really do picture the position of the child of promise, that we are to have nothing to do with the flesh, or to come under bondage to the elements of poverty, so:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [Gal 5:1]

 

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