Line by Line Thru Galatians
Part 6 (Gal. 4:21-5:2)
James Scott Trimm
21 Say to me, you who desire that you be T'cheit Namosa, do you not hear the Torah?
22 For it is written that Avraham had to him two sons: one from the bondwoman, and one from the freewoman.
23 But [the one] that was from the bondwoman was born by the flesh, but [the one] that was from the freewoman, was by the Promise.
24 Now these are allegories of two covenants: one that is from Mount Sinai bears servitude, which is Hagar.
25 For Hagar is the mountain of Sinai, which is in Arabia: and fulfills, to this Yerushalayim, and serves in servitude, she and her sons.
26 But that Yerushalayim above, is the freewoman, who is our mother.
27 For it is written: Take delight barren one who bears not, and rejoice and shout, you who have not labored in birth: because that many are the sons of the dissolute [one], more than the sons of the married [one].
28 But we my brothers, like Yitzak, are the sons of Promise:
29 And like them, he that was born by the flesh, persecuted the one of the Spirit; thus also now.
30 But what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, because the son of the bondwoman will not inherit with the son of the freewoman.
31 Therefore we, my brothers … we are not sons of the bondwoman, but sons of the freewoman.
1 Stand therefore, in the freedom with which the Messiah freed us, and do not be bound again by the yoke of servitude.
2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you were circumcised, [then] the Messiah is a thing which does not profit you.
(Gal. 4:21-5:2 HRV)
In prompting this study I will begin with Gal. 5:2:
Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised,
Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal. 5:2 KJV
At first glance one might think after reading this verse that this one verse disproves the entire case made throughout the book you are now reading. But the key is that we must take the verse in context. One basic rule of hermeneutics is to ask yourself "who is speaking?" and "who is being spoken to?" Now we know that Paul is the speaker, but who is the "you" in Gal. 5:2? Is it the Galatians in general? Is it all mankind? Is it the modern reader? The answer to all of these questions is "no". If we look up just a little bit in Paul's letter here we will see that Gal. 5:2 is the summary of an argument that he initiates in Gal. 4:21 and which he illustrates in Gal. 4:22-31. Gal. 4:21 tells us exactly who the "you" in 5:2 is. He writes:
Tell me, you that desire to be under the law,
do you not hear the law?
Note that "you" is defined in 4:21 as "you that desire to be under the law" Thus Gal. 5:2 should be understood to mean:
Behold, I Paul say
to you, [that desire to be under the law]
that if you be circumcised,
Christ shall profit you nothing
Remember what we learned in the chapter "Paul Misunderstood", the phrase "under the law" does not refer to the Torah itself but to a false teaching that was never true. So Paul is telling these people who are ready to apostatize and seek salvation through the false "under the law" doctrine, that their circumcisions will profit them nothing. Following the context then the rest of Gal. 5 is addressed to the "you that desire to be under the law" of 4:21.
Now let us examine the midrash Paul gives in Gal. 4:22-31. Remember now, we know from Gal. 4:21 that Paul is going to be illustrating a contrast between the Torah and the "under the law" teaching. The parable may be illustrated in a chart as follows:
(To be continued)
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