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Presentation 10. Introduction This is one of the most difficult passages in the epistle to understand: not simply because it is built upon a detailed.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 10. Introduction This is one of the most difficult passages in the epistle to understand: not simply because it is built upon a detailed."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Introduction This is one of the most difficult passages in the epistle to understand: not simply because it is built upon a detailed knowledge of the O.T. but because of the way in which Paul uses the O.T. here. What he is doing is drawing upon the facts of O.T. history and then allegorising them. This was a practice used in the Jewish rabbinical schools of his day. Paul's reason for using this method was probably because those disturbing the church in Galatia were particularly fond of employing this means of instruction. Presentation 10

4 A Timely Warning The message of these verses is right up to date especially for those from a legalistic religious background. According to v21 Paul is addressing those who desire to live under the law. People who imagine that the pathway to God is through observing certain rules. Such people need the inconsistency of their position exposed. And so Paul is saying, "You want to be under the law. Then listen to the law. For the very law whose servant you want to be will be your judge and condemn you”. We are able to identify three stages in Paul's argument. Presentation 10

5 The Historical Background v 22-23 One of the proudest boasts of the Judaising legalists of Paul’s day was, ‘we are descended from Abram’- who was a man set apart by God. God had revealed himself to Abraham and made special promises to both him and his posterity, [Gen. 12.3]. Because of this background the Jews, Abraham's descendants, believed themselves to eternally safe! But this presumption had recently been shaken. In Matt. 3v9 we read of John the Baptist saying, "don't presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham for our father; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham". Presentation 10

6 The Historical Background v 22-23 Similarly, during his ministry Jesus had challenged the core belief that physical descent from Abraham could in some way guarantee eternal security. On one occasion he said to the Jewish leaders, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me...this is not what Abraham did." Jn. 8v39-40. Clearly implying that being a true child of Abraham meant more than tracing ones’ physical descent to him. This is also where Paul's argument leads in Gal. 3 v29. Presentation 10

7 The Historical Background v 22-23 Abraham's true children are not those with an impeccable Jewish genealogy, but those who believe as Abraham believed and obey as Abraham obeyed. It is possible to be a physical descendant of Abraham without being his spiritual descendant. This double descent from Abraham, the false and the true, the physical and the spiritual, is something Paul sees illustrated in Abraham's two sons Ishmael and Isaac. Both had Abraham for their father but there were important differences between them. Presentation 10

8 The Historical Background v 22-23 The first difference is that they were born of different mothers v22... Ishmael's mother was Hagar, a slave and Abraham's servant. Isaac's mother was Sarah, a free woman and Abraham's wife. Each boy took after his mother. Ishmael was born into slavery but Isaac into freedom. The second difference is that they were born in different ways. That is under different circumstances. Cf v23. Ishmael was born according to nature but Isaac's birth was against nature. His father was 100 and his mother ninety. Presentation 10

9 The Historical Background v 22-23 Ishmael was born according to nature but Isaac’s birth was according to God's gracious promise and required God's special intervention. As Paul unfolds these two differences between Abraham's sons, he recognises an allegory. Every one of us is a slave by nature, until in the fulfilment of God's covenant promise when we are set free. So everyone is either an Ishmael or an Isaac, we either remain what we are by nature - a slave, or we become what we are by grace - free men. Presentation 10

10 The Allegorical Argument Having recounted the historical facts, Paul now shows how they can be allegorised, "the two women [Hagar and Sarah] represent two covenants”,v24. A covenant is a solemn agreement made between God and men. We are told that Hagar is associated with the covenant made at Sinai where the stress is laid upon man's obligations to God - the commandments. We are left to assume that the covenant associated with Sarah is that which proceeded the giving of the law and which was characterised by God's promises of grace. Presentation 10

11 The Allegorical Argument In these verses not only are two covenants mentioned but two Jerusalems. First, the earthly Jerusalem, the Jewish capital, used here to stand for the Jewish nation, which was at that time bound to the law as a means of gaining acceptance with God. And then there is the "Jerusalem above" used here to represent the Christian church. And so, the two women, Hagar and Sarah, the mothers of Abraham's two sons, represent two different groups of people, the one seeking a relationship with God based on law keeping and the other enjoying a relationship founded on God's gracious promises. Presentation 10

12 The Allegorical Argument Think in greater detail about these two women. Hagar represents the bondage which pursuing law keeping as a means of gaining God's favour brings. It is even more clear that children of the law, just like Hagar's children, are slaves. Such people have a servile attitude towards God. They are crushed in their efforts to reach God's standards and gain God's acceptance. Sarah was different. She was a free woman. Paul says to the Galatian Christians, "She is our mother". If Hagar, Ishmael's mother, a slave stands for the earthly Jerusalem whose children are the product of legalistic Judaism then, Sarah, Isaac's mother, a free woman, stands for stands for the heavenly Jerusalem, the heavenly church whose children are a product of grace. Presentation 10

13 The Allegorical Argument Paul then quotes Is.54v1, which refers to two women, one barren and the other with children. It is not a reference to Hagar and Sarah, but to God’s people. Isaiah is addressing exiles during the Babylonian captivity. He likens their state in exile, under divine judgment to that of a barren women deserted by her husband, and their future, after the restoration from their captivity to that of a fruitful mother with more children than ever. God uses this imagery to convey a promise to his people who will be more numerous after their return from captivity than ever before. A promise that was fulfilled by the growth of the Christian church - for Christian people are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Presentation 10

14 The Allegorical Argument Summing up Paul's allegory; Abraham had two sons, born of two mothers, Hagar and Sarah, who represent two covenants and two Jerusalems. Hagar the slave stands for legalism and the bondage which it brings, while her son Ishmael symbolises the legalists from the earthly Jerusalem whose lives were marked by fleshly exertion. Sarah the free woman stands for God's covenant of grace. Her son Isaac symbolises the church - heavenly Jerusalem, children of promise, who have received spiritual life on the basis of promise. While superficially similar, because both were the sons of Abraham, the two boys were fundamentally different. It is not enough to claim Abraham as father. The crucial question is, “Who is your mother. Are we slaves or freeborn? Presentation 10

15 Personal Application In v28ff Paul concludes by way of personal application. If we are like Isaac then we must expect to be treated as Isaac was treated. The treatment Isaac received from his half brother Ishmael [mockery and persecution] will be the treatment which Isaac's descendants will get from Ishmael's descendants. While the treatment Isaac received from his father Abraham [consuming love] is the treatment that the believer must expect to receive from God the Father. First of all we are told in v29 that Ishmael persecuted Isaac. We know from Gen. 21v9 that Isaac became the object of his brother's scorn and derision. Therefore believers must expect the same. Presentation 10

16 Personal Application The persecution Abraham's spiritual heirs, the church, does not always come from the world, who are strangers and unrelated, but from our half brothers, religious folk, nominal church people. It has always been so. It was true of Jesus. He was bitterly opposed by the religious leaders. Paul’s fiercest opponents were not unbelieving barbarians but Judaisers, like those in Galatia. Men bound to Judaism, who dogged his steps and stirred up strife against him wherever he went. The Reformers principal opponents in the C16th were the religious prelates, sellers of indulgences and advocates of earning ones way to heaven by good works, churchmen who enslaved their hearers. Presentation 10

17 Personal Application Luther, the monk had been like a man in irons. Luther, the justified man was a slave set free. A biographer describes his early slavery when he was trying to earn salvation by law-works, "His life is a long drawn out agony. He creeps like a shadow along the galleries of the cloister, the walls echoing with his dismal moanings and all the time he thinks of God as the One who delights in these continuous torments". Luther himself says of this period, "I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I could say that if a monk could ever get to heaven by monkery, I was that monk. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I should have kept on any longer I should have killed myself with my vigils, my prayers, my reading, and other work." Presentation 10

18 Personal Application In contrast with that listen to him after the light of the gospel had broken in upon him. "I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise." Luther like Paul before him, had been released from the slavery of the law with its legal prescriptions and tasted the new wine of freedom in the gospel. Luther had passed from the tyrannical tradition of Hagar to the free sonship of Sarah. He had become by faith an heir of Abraham, receiving his citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem. Presentation 10

19 Personal Application When we look at v30 we find Paul recalling the words of Sarah to Abraham, "get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance of the free woman's son." Although Isaac had to endure his brother's scorn, it was Isaac who became the heir and received his father's inheritance. So it is that the true heirs of God's promise to Abraham are not his children by physical descent, the Jews, but his children by spiritual descent. Just as Ishmael was rejected so too will the unbelieving Jews to be excluded from God's glorious inheritance. Presentation 10

20 Personal Application The fundamental difference between Ishmael and Isaac was the same as that between the Judaisers and true believers. The religion of Ishmael is a religion of nature, of what man can do by himself without any special intervention by God. But the religion of Isaac is a religion of grace, a religion of divine intervention for Isaac was born supernaturally through a divine promise. The Ishmael's of this world trust in themselves that they are righteous. The Isaac’s trust only in God’s provision of Christ as Saviour. The Ishmael's are in bondage because that is where self-reliance leads. The Isaac’s enjoy freedom because through faith in Christ they have been set free. If we have become Isaac’s we must not revert to being Ishmael's. Only in Christ can we inherit the promises, receive grace and enjoy the freedom of God. Presentation 10

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