Bible Study—Fall 2012
The Crucial Points of the Truth in Galatians (8)

The children born according to the Spirit versus the children born according to the flesh

Galatians 4:21-31
4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one of the maidservant and one of the free woman.
4:23 However the one of the maidservant was born according to the flesh, but the one of the free woman was born through promise.
4:24 These things are spoken allegorically, for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, bringing forth children unto slavery, which is Hagar.
4:25 Now this Hagar is Sinai the mountain in Arabia and corresponds to the Jerusalem which now is, for she is in slavery with her children.
4:26 But the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother;
4:27 For it is written, “Rejoice, barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not travailing, because many are the children of her who is desolate rather than of her who has her husband.”
4:28 But you, brothers, in the way Isaac was, are children of promise.
4:29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
4:30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the maidservant and her son, for the son of the maidservant shall by no means inherit with the son of the free woman.”
4:31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the maidservant but of the free woman.

Further scripture reading: John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; Rom. 5:2; Gal. 5:4; Gal. 3:14

We, the believers in Christ, are not children of law under its slavery, but children of grace under its freedom to enjoy the all-inclusive Spirit with all the riches of Christ.

In vv. 21-31 there are two women, Hagar and Sarah; two Jerusalems, one earthly and the other heavenly; two covenants, one of the law and the other of promise; and two sons, one according to the flesh and the other according to the Spirit. The apostle wanted the Galatians to know that they were children of the Jerusalem above, children of the free woman, and he wanted them to appropriate the covenant of promise and, according to the Spirit, enjoy the all-inclusive Spirit as the blessing of the gospel (3:14). In this section Sarah, the free woman, symbolizes the covenant of promise, which is symbolized also by the Jerusalem above, who is our mother; the mother symbolizes grace, by which we are born to be the children of God, who is the very source of grace. Hence, the free woman, the covenant of promise, the Jerusalem above, and the mother all refer to God’s grace, which is the very means of our spiritual birth. It was from this grace — Christ — that the Galatians who had been distracted by Judaism fell away (5:4).
(New Testament Recovery Version, note of Galatians 4:21)

Download the outline: The children born according to the Spirit

1. What does the free woman represent? What does Hagar the maidservant represent?
2. What is the blessing of the gospel?
3. What is the revelation in Galatians 3 and 4?

Hymn (Tune)
1. Grace in its highest definition is
God in the Son to be enjoyed by us;
It is not only something done or giv’n,
But God Himself, our portion glorious.

2. God is incarnate in the flesh that we
Him may receive, experience ourself;
This is the grace which we receive of God,
Which comes thru Christ and which is Christ Himself.

3. Paul the Apostle counted all as dung,
’Twas only God in Christ he counted grace;
’Tis by this grace-the Lord experienced-
That he surpassed the others in the race.

4. It is this grace-Christ as our inward strength-
Which with His all-sufficiency doth fill;
It is this grace which in our spirit is,
There energizing, working out God’s will.

5. This grace, which is the living Christ Himself,
Is what we need and must experience;
Lord, may we know this grace and by it live,
Thyself increasingly as grace to sense.