Summary: Galatians 4:21-31, Two wives are too many, cast one out

Two Wives Are Too Many; Cast One Out!

Galatians 4:21-31

Jan. 2008

* Finding a mate for life can be a difficult task.

Joke - One Wish

A woman was walking along the beach when she stumbled upon an unusual old lamp. She picked it up and cleaned it off, and suddenly a Genie appeared. The amazed woman asked if she was going to receive the usual three wishes.

The Genie said, "Nope...due to inflation, constant downsizing, low wages in third-world countries, and fierce global competition, I can only grant you one wish. So...what’ll it be?"

The woman didn’t hesitate. She said, "I want peace in the Middle East. See this map? I want these countries to stop fighting with each other."

The Genie looked at the map and exclaimed, "Goodness sakes, lady! These countries have been at war for thousands of years. I’m good, but not THAT good! I don’t think it can be done. Make another wish."

The woman thought for a minute and said, "Well, I’ve never been able to find the right man. You know, one that’s considerate and fun, likes to cook and helps with the housecleaning, gets along with my family, doesn’t watch sports all the time, and is faithful. That’s what I wish for...a good mate."

The Genie let out a long sigh and said, "Let me see that map!"


The woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, "You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?"

"What dear?" She gently asked, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth.

"I think you’re bad luck."


Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they go in. Jacob addresses the man behind the counter:

’Are you the owner?’ The pharmacist answers yes.

Says Jacob: ’We’re about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?’ Pharmacist: ’Of course we do.’

Jacob: ’How about medicine for circulation?’

Pharmacist: ’All kinds.’

Jacob: ’Medicine for rheumatism, scoliosis? ’

Pharmacist: ’Definitely.’

Jacob: ’Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundice?’

Pharmacist: ’Yes, a large variety. The works.’

Jacob: ’What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson’s disease?’

Pharmacist: ’Absolutely.’

Jacob: ’You sell wheelchairs and walkers?’

Pharmacist: ’All speeds and sizes.’

Jacob says to the pharmacist: ’We’d like to register here for our wedding gifts, please.’


I. The Historical Background - Genesis 21:1-21

Age 75 — Abraham is called by God to go to Canaan; and God promises him many descendants (Gen_12:1-9).

Age 85 — Sarah becomes impatient. She suggests that Abraham marry Hagar, her maid, and try to have a son by her.

Age 86 — Hagar gets pregnant and Sarah gets jealous! Things are so difficult in the home that Sarah throws Hagar out. But the Lord intervenes, sends Hagar back, and promises to take care of her and her son. When Abraham is 86, the son is born, and he calls him Ishmael (Gen_16:4-16).

Age 99 — God speaks to Abraham and promises again that he will have a son by Sarah and says to call his name Isaac.

Age 100 — The son is born (Gen_21:1-7). They name him Isaac (“laughter”) as commanded by God. But the arrival of Isaac creates a new problem in the home: Ishmael has a rival. For fourteen years, Ishmael has been his father’s only son, very dear to his heart. How will Ishmael respond to the presence of a rival?

Age 103 — It was customary for the Jews to wean their children at about the age of three, and to make a great occasion of it. At the feast, Ishmael starts to mock Isaac (Gen_21:8) and to create trouble in the home.

Gen 21:1-21 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. (2) For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (3) And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. (4) And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. (5) And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. (6) And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. (7) And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. (8) And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. (9) And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. (10) Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (11) And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. (12) And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (13) And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. (14) And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. (15) And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. (16) And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. (17) And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. (18) Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. (19) And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. (20) And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. (21) And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

II. A penetrating question v. 21

* The Judaizers boasted of their knowledge of and loyalty the law!

Gal 4:21 MSG Tell me now, you who have become so enamored with the law: Have you paid close attention to that law?

* A question designed to stop them in their tracks.

* Paul is saying if you want evidence that what I am telling you concerning the law is true, then listen to the law itself!

* "By all means, listen to the law!"… "learn from this illustration of the Old Testament

* "desire to be under the law" – tells us that the Galatians had not yet submitted to the bondage of the law, but they desired to.

* Paul is asking them to think this thing through!

* "Don’t listen to my opinion, listen to Scripture itself!"

* Let the Bible teach you what the Bible teaches!

III. An Old Testament illustration v. 22-27

A. The contrast of Hagar and Sarah

Hagar Sarah

1) Slave v. 21-22a 1) Free woman v. 22b

2) Marriage was fleshly directed v.23a 2) Marriage was spirit directed v. 23b

3) Her son, Ishmael, was naturally born v. 24 3) Her son, Isaac, was supernaturally born v. 27

4) Her son persecuted Isaac v. 29a 4) Her son persecuted by Ishmael v.29

5) Not Abraham’s rightful heir v. 30-31a 5) Abraham’s rightful heir v. 28

6) She corresponds to earthly Jerusalem v. 25 6) She corresponds to heavenly Jerusalem v. 26

* Hagar (an allegory of the law) … Sarah (an allegory of grace)

IV. A personal application v. 28-29, 31

* We are the children of promise!

- We are the free, not the slaves!

- We should be living in freedom, not in bondage.

- We are the rightful heirs because we are supernaturally born ones.

* v. 29 – As it was then…so it is now. Just as Ishmael persecuted and mocked Isaac, the Judaizers are mocking Paul and those who were Spirit born.

* v. 31 - We are not children of the law! The law didn’t beget us. The law didn’t save us! The law (Hagar) is not our mother, …Grace (Sarah) is our mother!

V. A single admonition v. 30

* Sarah said to Abraham, "One of us has got to go, and it’s not gonna be me!"

* These two women can’t stay in the same house! (Sarah and Hagar)

* Grace and law cannot live together.

* Sarah didn’t offer a compromise –

- "Yall come back and visit when you like, but you can’t live here!"

- "We’ll build a room on the back of the house for you to stay in"

* Compromise leads to bondage, just as it did for the Galatians!

* You don’t need more law, you need more of Jesus.

* We began this life by the Spirit…We were not saved by the law and we cannot stay saved by keeping the law.

Gal 3:2-3 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

* The Law and the old nature (Hagar and Ishmael) want to persecute us and bring us into bondage.

* ONE remedy-- Cast them out! … We have everything we need in the Spirit of God.


1) It’s possible for a genuine believer to live under the bondage of the law.

V. 21

* He/She doesn’t have to, but it’s possible.

* Paul says in v. 21, they were desiring to be,… were on the verge of placing themselves back under the bondage of law

* It was one thing for a Pharisee to live under the bondage of the law, but it was unacceptable to Paul that a believer would turn back to such a lifestyle.

* The only yoke a believer needs is the yoke of Jesus Christ

Mat 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

2) The law brings bondage, grace brings liberty. V. 24

* Throughout this passage of Scripture Paul has contrasted bondage and freedom.

* 7 references to bondwoman or bondage

v. 22 - bondmaid, - slave

v. 23

v. 24

v. 25

v. 30 (2 times)

v. 31

* engendereth to bondage = "to conceive, to procreate"

- gives birth to bondage

- begets and brings persons into a state of bondage

3) The law and grace cannot live together. V. 30

* The old covenant has been replaced and superseded with the new covenant.

* Grace has replaced law

* The law was added, but it was only a temporary arrangement.

* There is war in the house where Hagar and Sarah both exist.

* Man is not saved by works and faith, but by faith alone in Christ alone!

* We don’t become Christians by promising to live a better life and obeying the law as best we possibly can.

* We become Christians as a result of our faith in a substitute that died in our place for our sins—Jesus