Useful Bible Studies > Galatians Commentary > chapter 4

A lesson about two sons of Abraham

Galatians 4:21-23

A lesson from Abrahamís life

Still, the Christians in Galatia wanted to obey Godís rules very much. Those rules are in the books that Moses wrote. So Paul told them that they must read those books.

The first of those books is called Genesis. The rule that the *Jews must *circumcise boys and men is in Genesis. The *Jews do that because of the events in Abrahamís life. So, again, Paul wrote about Abraham.

The importance of Abrahamís sons

When we read about Abrahamís life, Abrahamís sons are very important. God made promises to Abraham. But God would not do those things during Abrahamís life. Those promises were for future centuries. So, Abraham needed a son. And God said that Abraham would have a son.

But it was not easy for Abraham to have a son. Abrahamís wife became old and they still did not have a son.

Ishmael, the son of Abrahamís slave wife

So, Abraham married his slave, called Hagar, and she became his second wife. They had a son called Ishmael. Ishmaelís birth was not the result of Godís promises. He was Abrahamís son. But he was not the son that God promised to Abraham. God had made promises about future centuries. But those promises would not happen by Ishmael. Abraham still needed another son.

Isaac, the son of Abrahamís free wife

Abrahamís first wife called Sarah became very old. And it seemed impossible for her to have a child. But God had made his promise. And so Abraham and Sarah had a son. He was called Isaac.

The two sons of Abraham

So Abraham had two sons. One son was born because of Godís promise. It happened because God had done it. That son was the son of Sarah, who was a free woman. And the other son was born because people wanted it to happen. It happened because of the things that people did. That son was the son of Hagar, who was a slave.

Paulís lesson about the two sons

We can learn from those two womenís lives. We can believe Godís promises. We can let God work in our lives. Then we become like Sarahís son; we are free.

Or, we can do things as people usually do those things. People are doing that when they try to obey rules. Those people are like Hagarís son. They are like slaves. And only God can make them free.

Galatians 4:24-27

The two sons are like the two cities called Jerusalem

God made his rules at the mountain called Sinai. There he gave them to the *Jews. Jerusalem is the most important city for *Jews. There, they continue to teach those rules. And they continue to obey those rules. That is the work that they must do.

But Paul wrote about another Jerusalem. It is the future city for all Godís people. And there, all Godís people will be free. John also wrote about that city (Revelation chapters 21 and 22). Paul repeated Isaiah 54:1. Sarah was not able to have children. But in the end, all Godís people will be like her children!

Galatians 4:28-31

Godís promise is only to the people who believe him

Godís people are free. So they are like Isaac. They have become Godís children because of his promise.

But other people do not like the people who believe Godís promise. That happened to Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was cruel to Isaac. Paul repeats Sarahís words to Abraham (Genesis 21:10). Abraham loved both sons. And he asked God what he must do.

God told Abraham that Sarah was right. Godís promise was not to Ishmael. It was to Isaac.

And Christians, like Isaac, are free people because of Godís promise. They are sons and daughters of God. It is only the children of a slave who are slaves.

Next part: How God makes people *righteous

See the word list for explanation of words with a *


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© 2015, Keith Simons.