In a message titled, AN ALLEGORY: ISHMAEL VERSUS ISAAC (Gal. 4:17-24a), Paul continues his doctrinal defense of the Gospel in chapters 3 and 4 as we pass from Paul’s fifth argument to start his capstone justification for our salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
In this passage, we are shown the Judaizers (i.e. “false brethren”) courted the Christians “for no good” (Gal. 4:17a; Gal. 2:4, etc.), and their devotion to the Galatian churches was only for the purpose of bringing believers under their power, influence, and authority in an effort to satisfy their “ungodly lusts” (Gal. 4:17b; 2 Pet. 2:1-3, Jude 4, 17-18, etc.). Paul, in contrast, told the Galatian churches “the truth,” desiring only to have Christ, who was already in their hearts, fully “formed” in their lives (Gal. 4:16, 19; Col. 1:27). Paul wanted to “be present with” them so he could speak concerning his grave concerns (Gal. 4:20, 11, 5:4; John 10:10, etc.).
Verse 21 then restates the problem of the Galatian churches, namely their “desire to be under the Law,” as Paul asks, “do you not hear the law?” (Gal. 4:21b). The Greek verb ἀκούω (akouō) to “hear” can also mean to “obey” (consider Gal. 3:10, a quotation of Deut. 27:26).
Scripture then shows us this final argument from Paul is allegorical- that is, figurative or “symbolic” (see Gal. 4:24a). Using two literal sons of Abraham (Ishmael and Isaac), the Holy Spirit explains how a Christian should treat the Mosaic Law (Gal. 4:22). Ishmael who was born in an ordinary way, without faith, and of the flesh symbolizes the Mosaic Law, bondage and works while Isaac, the son of the promise, was born miraculously by faith and symbolizes the Abrahamic Covenant of freedom and grace. Stay tuned, more to come… (James 4:15).
My passion is to protect and promote the truth, and teach others to do the same through the faithful teaching of the Bible.
Gospel means “good news.” While we can have good news throughout our lives in many forms, the good news God shares with us is the forgiveness of sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
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