A Look at Galatians-The Two Mountains
I. The Heirs
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 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.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 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. 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.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
A. In eastern cultures the idea of a pedagogue or steward was a very common concept especially among those with means. A child of the tribal leader or rich man would grow up with the rest of the servants children and would be entrusted to a special tutor who would train and teach him in the ways of his father. He was not given authority until the time set by the father. Paul is illustrating that the Law given by the Father is exactly the same and in the fullness of time He sent his Son to be born under the Law to redeem those born and enslaved under the Law that they might receive adoption as Sons.
B. The concept of adoption is a powerful one. “Illustrating Paul’s acquaintance with Roman law, says: “The process of legal adoption by which the chosen heir became entitled not only to the reversion of the property but to the civil status, to the burdens as well as the rights of the adopter – became, as it were, his other self, one with him… this too is a Roman principle, peculiar at this time to the Romans, unknown, I believe, to the Greeks, unknown, to all appearance, to the Jews, as it certainly is not found in the legislation of Moses, nor mentioned anywhere as a usage among the children of the covenant. We have but a faint conception of the force with which such an illustration would speak to one familiar with the Roman practice; how it would serve to impress upon him the assurance that the adopted son of God becomes, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the heavenly Father” -Charles Merivale Fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge 1850’s.
II. The Elementary Principles
A. Paul’s concern is that the churches of Galatia are returning to weak and beggarly fundamentals that were meant to lead them to Christ; instead of moving forward in the revelation and reality of the freedom and life Jesus Christ has already brought them. They were now observing days, months, and seasons. the Judaizers were influencing them to be circumcised as a step of righteousness. It was regression instead of progression.
B. His desire was to see Christ formed in them and in us. Jesus wants to be formed in our thoughts and lives and actions. This is the promise of the Gospel!
III. The Two Mothers
A. Paul uses the Israel’s history to illustrate this concept of being a son instead of a slave to the weak and beggarly elements of the world or religion.
B. He says the story of Abraham could be interpreted allegorically. The son of the flesh was born through a slave woman, Hagar. The Son of Promise was born through his rightful wife Sarah, who had been barren. He goes onto say that Hagar represents Mt. Sinai and presently earthly Jerusalem, but Sarah represents the Jerusalem from Above that cannot produce fleshly children, but only spiritual children of Promise, whom we have become a part. Psalm 87:5, Hebrews 12:22
C. Paul further illustrates that just as the Lord said to send Hagar away so also we should cast out the bondwoman for we are from the free woman…don’t return to ideas or thoughts of righteousness manifest in the religious ideologies or practices of the day.
IV. Walk in the Spirit
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:1-26)
A. Christ made us free, so we should not submit to the yoke of slavery that religion and those proponents of works-based righteousness foist upon us.
B. The righteous shall live by faith. This is the righteousness we have received and it is faith in the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross! Not based on our own abilities to be faithful, but on His faithfulness. Paul declares that was the reason he was persecuted; because of his preaching the cross.
C. He then reminds them that their freedom is not to be used for an opportunity for the flesh, but that the freedom we have received enables us to serve one another through love. That we can actually love people the way we have been loved and simply be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving them. If we walk in the Spirit and Love we will not gratify the desires of the flesh for love does no harm to its neighbor.
D. The Works of the Flesh are evident, but the Fruit of the Spirit is just as evident! If we have received life by the Spirit, and we have, then let us Walk with Him moment by moment!