CAST OUT THE SLAVE-GIRL
By Jonathan Mitchell
In Galatians Chapter Four, Paul has a few things to say about the Law. The context of this study is vs. 21-31, and the focus is “the slave-girl.” Paul begins this passage addressing those constantly wanting or intending to be under the Law, asking if they are listening to it or paying attention to it. Next he brings up the subject of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, from the book of Gen. He points out that Abraham had two sons: “one forth from out of the female slave (Hagar), and one from out of the freewoman (Sarah),” and that the first was born through normal means, but the second was a result of God’s promise to Abraham.
In vs. 24 he tells us that these events “are normally being expressed in an allegory – for these women are (= represent) two covenants: one, on the one hand, from Mount Sinai, habitually giving birth into slavery (or: bondage) – which is Hagar.”
Vs. 25 continues his thought: “Now this Hagar is (= represents) Mount Sinai, within Arabia, and she continuously stands in the same line with the present Jerusalem, for she continues in slavery, with her children.”
Paul then speaks of “the Jerusalem above” in vs. 26-28, associating us with Sarah, Isaac, and the Promise – a different line than that which came through Mount Sinai (a figure of the Law) and the then present Jerusalem. In vs. 29 he compares the harassment which Ishmael gives to Isaac to that which the leaders of the Jewish religion give to the followers of Christ.
Now he comes to his point and conclusion in vs. 30, where he quotes Gen. 21:10, “Cast out (or: At once expel) the slave-girl, and her son.” So what is Paul meaning by this statement? Who or what are the people of faith (represented in this story by Abraham) supposed to cast out? Who or what does the slave-girl represent? He gave the answer, above, in vs. 24-25: Hagar is a figure of the Law (Mt. Sinai), and the covenant associated with the Law – both of which he affirms are “habitually giving birth into slavery.” So when he says “Cast out the slave-girl,” he is saying, “Cast out the Law and the covenant initiated at Sinai,” as well as what this Law and covenant produce (“her son”). That which the Law and the old covenant produce “will by no means be an heir” of the Promise – of the kingdom.
Ever since the days of Paul, Christianity has mixed the two covenants and has tried to have the son of the slave-girl be an heir of the Promise – and the entire organized system of the Christian religion has given birth to slavery, not freedom. It has embraced the Law and tried to fit it into grace. But Paul wisely told us to cast out the Law, as well as the things of the old covenant. They will not be an heir “with the Son of the freewoman.”
Jonathan, A son of the freewoman!