The Book of Galatians was written at a time when professors of the faith were teaching that God’s Salvation was to be attained by grace intermingled with laws that the Old Covenant had set in place. In this perverted teaching of their legalistic approach in meriting God’s favor, they were abrogating (annulling) that God’s Salvation was by promise. On the other hand, Paul was set as a defense of the Gospel of Grace, asserting that God’s Salvation was a promise, conditional upon none other than the unmerited favor of God.
The perverters of the faith were doing what many modern ministers do today. They were weaving grace and law together; corrupting the purity of the Gospel; professing that God’s Election is determined by, or conditional upon, our works – rather than His Promise.
With this controversy, Paul decides to pen the Galatian Churches a letter of assurance that the Salvation of God’s People is by His unmerited favor. In Paul’s defense of the Gospel, he uses what is known as an allegory in Chapter Four, to prove that “the Church” is a covenant people of God under grace, opposed to being a covenant people under law.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.” (Galatians 4:22)
“But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.” (Galatians 4:23)
“Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants…” (Galatians 4:24a)
The following observations of the Scriptures will undoubtedly prove that God’s Chosen are in Covenant Relations with their Lord.
First, we must define “allegory,” so that we can better understand the point the Holy Spirit is making. An allegory is the expression of a point through symbolism of truths so that the facts stated are applied to illustrate principles (Vine’s and Merriam Webster).
The allegory Paul uses is a combination of Old Testament truth in comparing and contrasting to prove a New Testament principle. That principle being grace, as opposed to law.
Some would call this “Spiritualizing Scripture,” which in fact is exactly the case. As we read through the New Testament, we come to realize that the Old Testament was a physical fact of reality; it pointed to a spiritual principle of significance; as Paul makes clear here in the Fourth Chapter of Galatians.
Seeing as how the theology that was being set forth by the false teachers of Paul’s day is a clear contradiction to every design set forth in the Covenant of Grace, Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to set forth an allegory in defense of the Gospel.
He sets forth that the Covenant of Law, given at Mt. Sinai, symbolized Abraham’s bondmaid, Hagar, who bore a son after the flesh, Ishmael – while the Covenant of Grace symbolized Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who bore the son of promise, Isaac.
As Hagar symbolized the Covenant of Law given at Mt. Sinai, and answered to the Jerusalem of their day – Sarah symbolized the Covenant of Grace given in the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all; thus teaching the New Testament Church that we are a Covenant People of God. “For these are the two covenants…”
I believe that these Scriptures set forth a clear indication that the Church of the Living God is in Covenant Relations with the Lord Jesus Christ; as we have seen in the Book of Ephesians.
In Christ, we have become a new creation, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28; Romans 10:12; Colossians 3:11). Jesus has broken down the middle wall of partition that once stood between us (Ephesians 2:14); and we both now have access unto God by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:18), as one fold (John 10:16), under one covenant (Ephesians 2:11-13). Amen.