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The DEEP

The Insult

that's well deserved.

Galatians 4:27–31

For it is written:

“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Here, Paul wraps up his Hagar-Sarah analogy with a quote from Isaiah 54:1 that describes Sarah’s ultimate triumph and joy. Then he emphasizes Sarah’s supremacy over Hagar.

Do not miss how insulting this is. To a first century Jew, being described as analogous to Hagar is the ultimate put-down. The descendants of Hagar are at war with the descendants of Sarah even now, twenty centuries after this was written. Their animosity was even fresher back then.

Paul is calling the circumcision party the exact opposite of sons of the covenant. The insult climaxes with, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”

Ouch.


Paul, as God’s messenger to the Gentiles, is forever making the point that Gentiles can be full members of the covenant, equal to Jews in righteousness and holiness. But today’s passage hints at putting Gentile Christians not just equal, but above the Jewish Christians who are of the circumcision party.

Paul is as mad as a cat in a bathtub. His love for the Galatians is palpable, and his anger over what the Judaizers have done is even more so.

But just consider how this transpired. Paul goes on a very successful missionary trip (presumably his first, according to the “southern” theory of who are the Galatians). He forms a tight bond with the newborn Christians in the churches he plants. They even take great care of him in his infirmities. He loves them.

Then some guy shows up (maybe more than one) with an extreme works-based doctrine and wrecks the whole thing. Paul’s great and joyful triumph is threatened. Paul’s work was clearly blessed by God, and this garbage is from the enemy. So Paul takes it personally.

I’d be hot too.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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