“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.” (Gal. 4:22)
We remember that in chapter three Paul used an argument about the law and Christ based on the Father. Now in chapter four Paul will use an argument based on the Mother. There are two mothers in this argument and they are separated in such a way as to lead to the main point of Paul’s argument.
One of the women was a slave woman. She had no rights and she had nothing to do with the promise that God made to Abraham about a special son. She is in regard to Abraham and her offspring just flesh. Their union was not of God’s promise and it was not asked for by God. It was a fleshly decision and the child that was born was born of that fleshly relationship. That child was the son of a slave and was of course banished from the inheritance that belonged to the true son. We know that woman as Hagar. She was boastful and proud and her arrogance led to her being thrown out of the house of Abraham.
The other woman was a free woman. She was the rightful wife of Abraham and the one to whom the promise was made for the promise was made to her as it was made to Abraham. She was the one who would carry and deliver the promised child. This child was the product of faith rather than flesh. As the mother of the child of promise, born as a result of faith and born as free Sarah demanded that the mother and child of flesh be removed from the family.
In order to understand what the Judaizers should have listened to, we need to know the facts about these two women and their children. We also need to understand the relationship they have to God’s promise. It will take Paul a few verses to reveal the entire story of the two mothers but as each verse appears we will see how they lead to an understanding of the law versus faith.
Task for today: Reread the story of the two women in Abraham’s life and the sons they bore him. Pay attention to details. Put that story in the context of what God told Abraham would come to pass as a result of Abraham’s faith. What exactly was the promise and how was it to come to fruition? Check that with what we have written above. Get ready for the next verse.