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Summary: The proposition that only those who by faith accept God’s promise are children of God is given its last defense with an appeal to Scripture interpretation. It appeals to Scripture to again prove that Christians are not under law.

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GALATIANS 4:21-31

BONDAGE VERSES FREEDOM

[Genesis 16:1- 4; 21:8-12]

How you interpret the facts is important. A worldly young Southern Baptist went to the racetrack for the very first time. He saw a priest in the paddock give a horse a blessing. The boy took the horse’s number, placed a small bet and sure enough the horse won.

For the next several races, the boy went to the paddock, saw the priest bless a horse, placed a bet and won. On the last race of the day he repeated the routine and bet all his winnings on the anointed horse.

Rounding the final turn the horse had a sizable lead, but then he suddenly dropped dead. The young man sought out the priest to complain.

"That’s the trouble with you Baptists," said the priest. "You don’t know the difference between a simple blessing and the last rites."

Events aren’t always what they seem on the surface. Some events in life can only be understood if the Holy Spirit explains them to us. Such is the case with Paul’s disclosure here.

The proposition that only those who by a true and living faith accept God’s promise are children of God is given its last defense with an appeal to Scripture interpretation. It is an appeal to Scripture to again prove that Christians are not under the law. He takes the familiar story of Ishmael and Isaac (Gen. 16-21) and draws from it basic truths about the Christian’s relationship to the law.

Paul uses the slave woman Hagar and her son to show that adherence to the law is slavery. The free woman Sarah and her son of promise stands for faith and freedom. The law is bondage and spiritual slavery but faith in the promise is freedom and spiritual fulfillment (CIT).

I. THE TWO SONS OF ABRAHAM, 21-23.

II. THE INTERPRETATION, 24-29.

III. THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 30-31.

People are saved and sanctified because of their faith in Christ, not because of what they do. Verse 21 begins a contrast between those who are enslaved by law and those who are free from law. Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?

The legalistic Jews continuously promoted the indispensable necessity of keeping the law. If they had truly listened to the law they would know that it contradicted their beliefs. The word law here is without the definite article referring to a legalistic following of the Torah or Pentateuch. The lively word listen or hear carries the idea of understanding what is heard. The challenge is that if they really hear the law, meaning correctly understand and respond to it, they would not want to be under it.

Verse 22 summaries part of the story of Abraham. For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.

The Jews were always boasting about being descendants of Abraham as if that relationship granted salvation. Yet those who prided themselves on their descent from Abraham forgot that he had two sons. Ishmael by Hagar and Isaac by Sarah. If physical decent from Abraham is so all–important then Jews are no better than the Ishmaelites or Arabs. Yet there is a difference, not just of mothers, but of a contrast in relationships. One was a wife and a free woman, the other a slave and a bondwoman.


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