Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Galatians: Defending The Truthfulness Of Paul's Teaching On God's Grace
Part XI: The Validity Of Paul's Teaching On Grace By His Allegory Of Ishmael And Isaac
(Galatians 4:21-31)
  1. Introduction
    1. One very effective way to communicate God's truths is to use a pointed, clear illustration.
    2. Paul utilized the Genesis account of the parting of Isaac and Ishmael to form an illustrative allegory, revealing the validity of his teaching on God's grace, and how it was to be applied in life (as follows):
  2. The Validity Of Paul's Teaching On Grace By His Allegory Of Ishmael And Isaac, Gal. 4:21-31.
    1. Paul's Galatian readers were being pressed by Judaizers to be circumcised and to observe rules of the Mosaic Law in addition to trusting in Christ in order to be jusitified by God, Galatians 1:8-9; 5:2; Acts 15:
      1. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul called for the excommunication of those who were teaching a false gospel, for "let him be accursed" KJV literally translates "let him be anathema," "or devoted to destruction," a phrase "accompanied by excommunication," Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftn. to Galatians 1:8.
      2. That false gospel in light of Galatians 5:2 and Acts 15:1-2 called for faith in Christ plus circumcision.
    2. To communicate the error of what the Judaizers taught, and to direct them how to respond, Paul applied the Old Testament account of the parting of Ishmael and Isaac via an allegorical illustration, Gal. 4:21-31:
      1. Paul recalled for his readers the Old Testament account of the parting of Abraham's sons, Isaac and Ishmael in Galatians 4:21-22a, that passage being Genesis 21:8-14.
      2. Ishmael was the son of the bondwoman, and Isaac the son of the free woman, Sarah, Galatians 4:22b.
      3. Like Ishmael who had been born by natural means ("after the flesh"), or when Hagar and Abraham had natural reproductive powers to produce him in Genesis 16:1-4, the Judaizers were promoting salvation in part by works where Isaac, who had been born by divine miracle when Sarah and Abraham were too old naturally to reproduce, was born in fulfillment of God's promise (Genesis 17:15-19; 21:1-3), corresponding to how believers are saved by grace through faith as a miracle of God, Galatians 4:23.
      4. Paul expanded the allegory to depict the Judaizers as siding with the Law at Mount Sinai, with Hagar, Ishamel's mother, and with the earthly city of Jerusalem, all that promoted human works in his era, and salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ as siding with Sarah, the mother by divine promise and miracle, and with the heavenly Jerusalem, Galatians 4:24-26.
      5. Indeed, Paul wrote that though Sarah had once been the barren woman (Genesis 21:7), she had become far more productive as a mother of nations than Hagar who was productive after the flesh, and that due to God's supernatural blessing, Galatians 4:27 with Genesis 17:15-16. In like manner, we who trust alone in Christ for salvation are like the child of promise, Isaac, who are blessed with the Holy Spirit of God in contrast to those who fruitlessly seek salvation by the Law, Galatians 4:28 with Galatians 3:2.
      6. However, just like the son of natural works, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, persecuted Isaac, Sarah's son at his weaning feast by mocking him (Genesis 21:9-10), so the Judaizers persecuted those who held to salvation by faith alone through grace versus by faith plus the works of the Law, Galatians 4:29 with 4:10-11; 6:12. [It can be argued that legalistic parties, unsaved or saved, habitually persecute grace-oriented believers in a great conflict between false legalism and true grace, 2 Timothy 3:10-12!]
      7. Then, as Sarah urged Abraham to cast out the bondwoman and her son that he not threaten the heirship of Isaac, the son of promise (Genesis 21:10), Paul's readers were to excommunicate ("let him be anathema", Galatians 1:8-9) the false Judaizers from their midst, Galatians 4:30-31; Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftn. to Gal. 1:8; Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 604.
Lesson: To illustrate the theological crisis the Galatian believers faced with their Judaizer foes, Paul likened the Judaizers to Hagar and Ishmael, people of the flesh, versus Sarah and Isaac, people blessed of the promise by God's grace, so that they might hold to salvation by grace alone, and remove the "bondwoman and her son" in removing the Judaizers from their midst by way of excommunication.

Application: May we hold to salvation by grace through faith alone, and may we live free from legalism in our Christian lives as the "son of the free woman" versus the "son of the bondwom an" of legalism!