Galatians 4:21-25
Gal 4:21 (KJB)
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
Hear - Hearing with understanding
Paul now asks a straight question concerning the law. He asks if they really understand the law? Do they realize what they are trying to do by desiring to keep the law and to place themselves back under the law again? Paul is trying to get them to dig deeper in their understanding of what they are trying to do. Sometimes we do things which seem noble on the surface but when they are analyzed and studied, they tend to reveal a damaging end.
Gal 4:22 (KJB)
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Paul now begins an allegorical illustration. Paul now brings in the life of Abraham. Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael was born to him by Hagar, an Egyptian, who was the handmaid of Sarah. When Sarah saw that she could not bear children for Abraham, she sent Hagar to him and she conceived and bore Ishmael. According to Mesopotamian law, the child by Hagar would have been the legal son of Sarah thus giving Abraham a son and heir. Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. Then 14 years later God’s promise that Sarah would conceive in her old age had come to pass and she bore him Isaac who was the true heir. This scenario may be found in Genesis 16 and 21.
Gal 4:23 (KJB)
But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Now Paul begins to apply the illustration. Hagar, who was the Egyptian handmaid of Sarah, is the bondwoman in this case and Ishmael was born according to the flesh who represents the law, which we saw previously that the works of the law were tied to the flesh. Now Isaac was born of Sarah and she is the freewoman in this case. God had promised Abraham that he would have many descendants. (Gen 17:2 KJV) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. Those descendants would come through Isaac. It is interesting that God focuses on the descendants through the line of Isaac. That is because Isaac was the child of promise through which the Messianic line would commence. Isaac represented the Elect of God saved by grace alone.
Gal 4:24 (KJB)
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Allegory - Speaking figuratively
Which gendereth - Give birth to or effect
Now Paul states he is speaking figuratively. He now brings in the fact that these two women represent two different covenants. The first covenant mentioned here is the one from Mt. Sinai which is the law of God and the law is represented by Hagar. The covenant of Sinai otherwise know as the law of God is the one that has the effect of being in bondage because of a person having to keep the law. James 2:10 states that if you keep the whole law but offend in one point, then you are guilty of violating the whole law. (James 2:10 KJV) For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. The word “offend” carries with it the meaning of “stumbling or fall over.” So whether you intentionally disobey or unintentionally, you have violated the entire law. That is part of the bondage.
Gal 4:25 (KJB)
For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Answereth - Corresponds to or stands in same line with
Now Paul states that Hagar represents Mt. Sinai which corresponds to Jerusalem at the present (in Paul’s time) and remains in bondage with her children. The earthly Jerusalem was still the center of keeping the law and her children are all those who are under the law. So Paul is stating that the city of Jerusalem with all those who live there who are under the law are in bondage. Paul is trying to show that the earthly Jerusalem is still in bondage to the law, even after the Lord came to Jerusalem and showed them the way of true salvation. This is the same situation with Galatia. They know the true way of salvation and yet they are under the same bondage as Jerusalem if they insist on keeping the law.