WHO IS YOUR MOTHER?
Lord, thank You for my spiritual pedigree in Christ.
Read GALATIANS 4:21–31
Hagar and Sarah
21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:
“Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”[a]
28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”[b] 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
a Galatians 4:27 Isaiah 54:1
b Galatians 4:30 Gen. 21:10
New International Version (NIV)
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“I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psa. 119:104,105). Thank You, Lord.
In this difficult passage, Paul interprets the Genesis story of Hagar and Sarah allegorically to draw a parallel with the Galatian situation at hand. First, Hagar and Sarah represent two contrasting covenants—the Mosaic covenant that enslaves and the Abrahamic covenant that liberates. Hagar was a slave woman whose children were born in slavery, whereas Sarah was a free woman and her children were born free. It is possible that Paul mentions Hagar’s connection to Jerusalem (25) because the Judaizers in Galatia might have a considerable connection to the Jerusalem church (Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 333).
Paul further employs Hagar and Sarah because they also stand for the Judaizers in Galatia and for Paul himself. We should note that Paul’s self-designation as a mother in verse 19 is a precursor to this. In verse 27, Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 to say that his “children” (his converts) will outnumber the converts of the Judaizing opponents (Witherington, 336). He points out that the Galatians are children of the free woman (Paul) but risk being claimed by the wrong mother (the Judaizers) if they give in to her demands.
The quotation of Genesis 21:10 in verse 30 also refers to the Galatian situation, where Hagar stands for the Judaizers and Sarah refers to Paul. The point is that just as Sarah (rightly) demanded that Hagar and her son be sent away, so Paul demands that the Galatians expel the Judaizers from their midst (Witherington, 325,326). If the Galatians continue to entertain the presence of the wrong mother among them, she will birth children into slavery, and Paul wants to avoid seeing the Galatians return to a state of being enslaved. “Consider your true mother,” Paul seems to caution them.
Today, many voices seek to influence us with their ideologies through advertising, politics and social media. Which ones seek to enslave you? What can you do about them?
Lord, we thank You for making us children of the free woman and not the slave woman.