Tuesday, 10 May 2016
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. Galatians 4:29
In the previous verse, Paul noted that those of the church are the children of promise, thus equating us to Isaac. Now he continues with the analogy. He says that just “as he was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the spirit…” This is a direct reference to Genesis 21:9 –
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.” Genesis 21:9
The word used in Genesis 21 as “scoffing” means something rather light and not injurious, such as “to jeer at” or “to mock.” Paul’s word here in the Greek conveys the idea of aggressive pursuit, such as a hunter pursuing a catch. This doesn’t mean that Paul has over-exaggerated the account. Rather, when a small child demonstrates a mocking attitude towards an even smaller child, it shows a streak of harmful intent. Sarah noticed this and it upset her greatly.
Isaac was the son of promise and Ishmael “persecuted him.” Paul then makes the full analogy by stating, “…even so it is now.” The son of promise, meaning the church, was being bullied around by the son born according to the flesh, meaning those under the law. They had their traditions and their long history, thinking these things were more important than the Spirit which was granted to those of the church by mere faith in Christ. The term Spirit here refers to the full term found in Ephesians 1, “the Holy Spirit of Promise” –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
Paul’s words are intended to show the Galatians exactly what was occurring with the Judaizers. They were actually persecuting the church through their false teachings.
Life application: Every verse of Galatians continues to be a warning to the church to not fall into the trap of turning to the law, in any form, for justification. We are to rely solely on the grace of Jesus Christ, being obedient to the prescriptions of the hand of Paul. Put away your legalism! Turn to Christ! Be pleasing to God through what He has done!
Wonderful, beautiful Lord Jesus! You came to do the work spoken through the prophets and wise men of God since the beginning of the world. They anticipated Your coming and wrote about You, including the fact that You would suffer and die for the sins of man. And yet, You still came, knowing what lie ahead. You resolutely set Your face towards the cross, shunning its shame for wayward souls like us. What manner of love God has lavished up us! We have been called children of God because of the work of Another. Thank You Lord Jesus. Amen.