Introduction: In the last several weeks we learned that God’s
promise to Abraham of righteousness by faith existed alongside
Abraham’s knowledge of God’s commandments. The reason the two
(grace and law) existed side by side, we found, was because they had
different purposes. This week Paul brings women and children into
the discussion. Will this give us a clearer insight into our choice
between relying on the law and relying on grace? Let’s jump into
our study of Galatians and find out!

  1. The Law Speaks

    1. Read Galatians 4:21. This question is addressed to those
      who believe that we must obey the law to be saved. Anyone
      here believe that? Even if you do not, for purposes of
      discussion let’s say that we believe it. So, Paul asks,
      what does the law say? (The law says a lot of things.
      I’ve often heard it said that the law “is the transcript
      of God’s character.” That has to be good!)

      1. Is Paul really asking for a response from his
        readers as to what the law says? (No. He suggests
        his readers are not aware of what the law says, and
        he is going to tell us what it says.)

    2. Read Galatians 4:22-24. What does Paul suggest the law
      says? (It says, “I am Hagar and her children.”)

      1. Wait a minute! No where do I see that written in the
        Ten Commandments. Where does Paul find this
        written? (Paul says “these things may be taken
        figuratively.” The Greek word translated
        “figuratively” is “allegoreo” – an allegory, a
        parallel, an illustration. Paul tells us that the
        story of Hagar is the story of the law.)

  2. Hagar’s Story

    1. Let’s turn to Hagar’s story. Read Genesis 15:2-6. This is
      the text that we keep coming back to: God promised
      Abraham many descendants, Abraham believed God, and that
      belief caused God to “credit” righteousness to Abraham.)

    2. Read Genesis 16:1-2. Did Sarai(Sarah)believe God? (She
      believed in God – for she thought God had kept her from
      having children.)

      1. Was Sarah disobeying God? (I went back and looked at
        the promises made to Abraham about having many
        descendants. These are promises to Abraham, not to
        Sarah. Sarah was just helping God along.)

    3. Let’s discuss this a moment. Paul tells us that Hagar is
      a parallel or story about the law. Hagar entered the
      picture because of decisions made by Sarah and Abraham.
      Let’s see what we can learn about this parallel:

      1. Was it wrong for Sarah to have the goal of getting
        children for Abraham? (No.)

      2. Was it wrong for Sarah to actually help Abraham get
        children? Shouldn’t a wife be helpful?

      3. Was there anything wrong with what Sarah did? (Sarah
        decided to do God’s work. I understand that the
        custom of the time held that Hagar was Sarah’s
        property, much like she might own an automobile
        today. Sarah might very well have considered God’s
        promise to Abraham to be a promise to her because in
        God’s eyes a married couple are one (two become one
        Genesis 2:24). Since she owned Hagar, she could
        reason that she was not violating the “two become
        one” marriage command since Hagar was her property.
        Thus, she would work out God’s will.)

        1. Is this a parallel, a picture of those who keep
          the law? (Yes! This is exactly the situation.
          Instead of believing God (as Abraham did) and
          letting God fulfill His promise, Sarah was busy
          doing what God had already promised that He
          would do. If she had just believed God, that
          would have been enough.)

        2. Do we have a bit of a logical problem here –
          the Bible ( Galatians 4:24) says that the “women
          represent two covenants.” Hagar represents the
          law, yet it is Sarah who did the wrong thing.
          How should we understand this? (We need to look
          at this from Abraham’s point of view. God
          promised children to him and it would be in
          accord with the Bible if they came through
          Sarah. Sarah changed this by bringing Hagar
          into the picture. Thus, Hagar represents
          salvation by human works.)

    4. Read Galatians 4:25. Why is Hagar compared to Mount Sinai
      and Jerusalem? (Sinai is where the Ten Commandments were
      given. Jerusalem is the source of those arguing that the
      law must be kept to be saved. Hagar and her son are
      slaves. Those under the law are slaves to a death

      1. Is there a huge, salvation by works religion,
        connected with Arabia and Hagar?

      2. Despite the animosity between Islam and Judaism, is
        there a parallel view between them on salvation?
        (Every religion today, except Christianity, believes
        in “salvation by works.”)

    5. Read Galatians 4:26-27. Who was living in the Jerusalem
      in heaven at that time? (Jesus! Jesus, having fulfilled
      the requirements of the law for us, is now in heaven.
      That is our true spiritual home, not the Jerusalem on
      earth that rejected Jesus as the Messiah.)

      1. Notice that verse 27 is a quote from Isaiah 54:1.
        Who is the “barren woman?” (Sarah!)

        1. Who is the woman “who has a husband?” (Remember
          that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham. It was Hagar
          who now “has a husband.” Paul is still talking
          about the two women.)

        2. How is it accurate to say, “more are the
          children of the desolate woman?” (Sarah would,
          in the end, be the one to bear Isaac, and thus
          become the mother of the Jewish nation and
          ultimately, the Messiah.)

  3. Isaac’s Story

    1. Read Galatians 4:28. How are we (those who believe in
      righteousness by faith alone) like Isaac?

    2. Read Romans 4:18-21. What are the important points of
      Abraham’s faith? (That what was promised was humanly
      impossible. Yet, Abraham believed God’s promise and gave
      glory to God.)

    3. Read Romans 4:22-25. Now answer my earlier question, “How
      are we like Isaac?” (Isaac came as the result of the
      faith of his father in God’s promise. God our Father
      promised us Jesus. We have life through Jesus. Just as
      Abraham was credited with righteousness because he
      believed in the promised Isaac, so we are credited with
      righteousness if we believe in the life, death and
      resurrection of Jesus on our behalf.)

  4. Conclusions

    1. We have seen that Sarah’s goals for Abraham were
      essentially the same as God’s goals for Abraham. What
      does that teach us about those who believe that works are
      necessary to earn salvation? (Good works are good! Doing
      good is essentially God’s plan for our life. The problem
      is not the goal, but the method. If we follow Abraham’s
      method and believe and trust God, our method is sound. On
      the other hand, if we are looking to our own deeds, then
      our method is not only destined for failure, it is

    2. Read Galatians 4:29. Paul tells us that those who believe
      in righteousness by faith are persecuted by those who
      believe in righteousness by works. Why? (Do you like it
      at work when you are the only one putting in an honest
      day’s work? No! You are jealous of those who are
      worthless and lazy. If you believe your works will save
      you, then you are jealous of those who claim they are
      saved by grace. Our (or at least my) natural heart
      believes in working hard because I am by nature a hard
      worker. Accepting the free gift of salvation is contrary
      to our natural heart.)

    3. Read Galatians 4:30-31. Recall that the workers naturally
      look down on those saved by grace. What does Paul say we
      should do with the righteousness by works people? (Get
      rid of them!)

      1. Whoa! Wait a minute! I thought that we agreed with
        the goals of the workers? That obeying the Ten
        Commandments was a good thing? Why should we be
        tossing “good” people out of our fellowship? (Read
        Galatians 5:1-4. This is a very grave issue. Those
        who deny righteousness by faith alone deny the work
        of Jesus. They deny the most fundamental part of the
        gospel. They are alienated from Jesus and they are
        destined for eternal death because they must keep
        the entire law.)

    4. Friend, do you see how serious a question this is? If you
      rely on your works for your salvation, you are lost. You
      have denied Jesus. Why not today confess your sins,
      accept by faith Jesus work on your behalf, and then rest
      in the glorious knowledge of your salvation by grace

  5. Next week: Freedom in Christ.