Summary: Hagar and Sarah represent the Mother of Legalism and the Mother of Grace.
HAGAR AND SARAH - THE MOTHER OF LEGALISM AND THE MOTHER OF GRACE
TEXT: Galatians 4:21-31
A. LAW AND GRACE – THE THRESHOLD OF THE GOSPEL
1. Many times when we learn some new truth, there is a threshold at the door of that truth that we have to learn in order to understand the rest of it.
2. Any man who does not understand the difference between Law and Grace will never understand the gospel.
3. It is like trying to learn to drive without learning how to use a steering wheel and the brakes.
4. In our passage, Paul gives an illustration of the difference between Law and Grace.
B. THE REAL CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
1. Paul uses an Old Testament story from the life of Abraham.
2. This is significant because the Legalists all claimed to be the sons of Abraham.
3. Paul shows them the difference between Law and Grace and proves that the Legalists were not under grace and therefore not the spiritual children of Abraham.
I. THE FACTS (4:21-23).
A. THE GALATIANS WERE IN DANGER OF TURNING BACK
1. The Galatians had not yet turned back to the bondage of the Law but they desired to.
2. Paul was trying to stop them and focus them on life under grace.
3. Paul challenged them to be aware of what the Law really was.
B. AN APPEAL TO ABRAHAM
1. By appealing to Abraham Paul was appealing to the founder of the Jewish nation.
2. All Jews traced their Ancestry to Abraham.
3. Paul reminded them that Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
4. Isaac, was born of Sarah, the free woman.
5. Ishmael, was born of Hagar, the slave woman.
6. According to ancient law and custom the status of a mother affected the status of her son.
7. Ishmael was born the ordinary way, requiring no miracle and no promise of God.
8. Isaac was born as the result of a promise.
9. Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of childbearing, but God miraculously fulfilled His promise in bringing life out of the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
II. THE INTERPRETATION (4:24-27).
In order to emphasize the contrast between Law and grace Paul treated those two mothers figuratively.
A. TWO COVENANTS 4:24
1. One was the Mosaic, which had its origin at Mount Sinai.
2. Those under this legal covenant were slaves.
3. As Hagar brought forth a slave son, so does the Law.
4. The other covenant was Grace.
5. As Sarah brought forth a free son, so does grace.
B. TWO JERUSALEMS 4:25-26
1. Hagar stood for the first-century city of Jerusalem - a city enslaved to Rome and in slavery to the Law.
2. Sarah, stood for the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of all the children of grace.
3. This heavenly city, which one day will come to earth (according to Rev. 21:2), is now the “city of the living God” (according to Heb. 12:22).
4. The heavenly Jerusalem is the home of all departed believers.
C. A QUOTE FROM ISAIAH 54:1 (Gal.4:27)
1. Paul applied this passage to Sarah, who though previously barren, was later blessed with a child
2. She would ultimately have more children than Hagar.
III. THE APPLICATION (4:28-31).
In applying the truth from the biblical illustration, Paul made three comparisons:
A. COMPARING ISAAC TO CHRISTIANS 4:28
1. As “Isaac” experienced a supernatural birth and was a child by means of a promise, so believers experience a supernatural birth (John 3:3, 5)
2. As children of promise Christians are in a distinct category and should not live as children of bondage.
B. COMPARING ISHMAEL TO FALSE TEACHERS 4:29
1. Paul compared Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac to the false teachers’ opposition to believers.
2. Abraham celebrated the weaning of Isaac with a banquet.
3. At that time, Ishmael mocked Isaac, laughing at his younger step brother, since Ishmael was the elder son and assumed he would be heir to his father’s estate (Gen. 21:8-9).
4. That early squabble has been perpetuated in the two groups even to today.
5. The Jews and the Arabs still don’t get along.
6. Paul compared the legalists to Ishmael as those who were born out of legalistic self-efforts.
7. He charged them of persecuting the true believers who were born by the power of the Spirit.
8. With few exceptions Paul’s persecution came from the Jews, the people in bondage to the Law.
C. PAUL COMPARED ABRAHAM TO THE GALATIANS (4:30)
1. When Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, she made Abraham expel the slave woman and her son
2. God granted Sarah’s request (Gen. 21:10, 12).
3. Paul was telling the Galatians to excommunicate the Legalists the same way Abraham excommunicated Hagar and Ishmael.