Galatians 4:21-5:1 Study Guide
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. one is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 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. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Main Idea: Under the Old Covenant, we were still slaves to sin, but through Christ in the New Covenant, we are set free!
Overview: In this section, Paul introduces two allegories to support the rest of his letter. He compares Hagar, the slave woman, to the old covenant - represented by the physical locations of Sinai and Jerusalem, and Sarah, the wife of Abraham, to the new covenant - represented by the future New Jerusalem. The purpose of the comparison is to illustrate the freedom of the new covenant for God’s people, and that it is Christ who has set us free.
Observation and Interpretation:
- What does Paul say the similarities are between a Christian and Isaac? (Galatians 4:28-29).
- What are the two covenants mentioned in Galatians 4:24? What does Paul say makes them different?
- What is Paul saying about the children of promise by not distinguishing Gentiles from Jews in this section?
- What is the yoke of slavery in Galatians 5:1?
- What does it mean to live under the New Covenant? How do you interpret that idea in light of the rest of Galatians?
- What has Christ has set you free from? (See John 8:34-36; Romans 6:22). How does this reality change the way you will live your life today?
- Under the New Covenant, we are free from the power of sin, but still fight against the presence of sin. How does the reality that Christ has set us free empower the way you pursue holiness?
Prayer Point: Spend time in prayer thanking Christ for setting you free from sin and death by dying on the cross. Give thanks to God for providing a way to live as the free children of promise and not as slaves to sin.