An Important Allegory
by Dennis Michelson
An allegory - according to the Cambridge English Dictionary - is a story, play, poem, picture, or other work in which the characters and events represent particular moral, religious, or political qualities or ideas. Paul has been drawing a sharp distinction between law and grace as the relate to justification. He now employs the story of Ishmael and Isaac and says "which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants."
1. PAUL REMINDS THEM OF THEIR TWO LIVES (4:8-11)
Gal 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
2. PAUL REBUKES THEM FOR THEIR TWO ATTITUDES (4:12-20)
Gal 4:12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
Gal 4:13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
Gal 4:14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
Gal 4:15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
Gal 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Gal 4:17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
Gal 4:18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
Gal 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Gal 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
3. PAUL RECOUNTS THE STORY OF THE TWO SONS (4;21-31)
Gal 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Gal 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Gal 4:27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
Gal 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Gal 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Gal 4:30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
Gal 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.