|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:28-31 The history thus explained is applied. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free. If the privileges of all believers were so great, according to the new covenant, how absurd for the Gentile converts to be under that law, which could not deliver the unbelieving Jews from bondage or condemnation! We should not have found out this allegory in the history of Sarah and Hagar, if it had not been shown to us, yet we cannot doubt it was intended by the Holy Spirit. It is an explanation of the subject, not an argument in proof of it. The two covenants of works and grace, and legal and evangelical professors, are shadowed forth. Works and fruits brought forth in a man's own strength, are legal. But if arising from faith in Christ, they are evangelical. The first covenant spirit is of bondage unto sin and death. The second covenant spirit is of liberty and freedom; not liberty to sin, but in and unto duty. The first is a spirit of persecution; the second is a spirit of love. Let those professors look to it, who have a violent, harsh, imposing spirit, towards the people of God. Yet as Abraham turned aside to Hagar, so it is possible a believer may turn aside in some things to the covenant of works, when through unbelief and neglect of the promise he acts according to the law, in his own strength; or in a way of violence, not of love, towards the brethren. Yet it is not his way, not his spirit to do so; hence he is never at rest, till he returns to his dependence on Christ again. Let us rest our souls on the Scriptures, and by a gospel hope and cheerful obedience, show that our conversation and treasure are indeed in heaven.
Verse 30. - Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? (ἀλλὰ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή). "Nevertheless:" man is acting thus; but, what cloth God say touching the matter? The similar question in Romans 11:4, "But what saith the answer of God (ὁ χρηματισμὸς) to him?" favours the belief that by "the Scripture" the apostle does not mean Scripture in general (as e.g. John 10:35), but the particular "passage of Scripture" to which he is referring (cf. John 19:37; Acts 1:16). The animation of his tone is that of the triumphant assertion of the Almighty's will as an all-suffering answer to all objections and all discouragements. For "the Scripture" is equivalent to "the utterance of God;" not merely as found in an inspired volume, but because of the circumstances attending upon the speaking of the words (comp. Romans 9:17: Galatians 3:8). They were, indeed, uttered by Sarah; being, however, not words of a simply jealous and petulant woman, but of a righteously indignant matron, whose just, if severe, requirement was enforced upon the reluctant Abraham by God's own express command. The historical fact itself, as thus recorded, was singularly noticeable, standing in a position marking it as peculiarly significant: that it really was a type, prophetical of a certain future spiritual procedure, is ascertained for us by the apostle's exposition. Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman (ἔκβαλε τὴν παιδίσκην καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς οὐ, γὰρ μὴ κληρονομήσῃ [or, κληρονομήσει] ὁ υἱὸς τῆς παιδίσκης μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἐλευθέρας cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. The Septuagint has "Cast out this (ταύτην) handmaid and her son; for the son of this (ταύτης) handmaid shall not inherit with my son Isaac (μετᾶ τοῦ υἱοῦ μου Ἰσαάκ);" the apostle's citation being literally exact, except that it has not the words ταύτην and ταύτης (which are not in the Hebrew), and substitutes "the son of the freewoman" for "my son Isaac." His object in these 'changes, which do not in the least affect the substance, is to mark the utterance the more distinctly as God's own voice, speaking of the parties concerned, not as Sarah did, being one of them, but as supreme Ruler and Judge: for the Lord adopted her decision for his own. In respect to Ishmael's exclusion from inheriting, the instance of Jephthah (Judges 11:1, 2), excluded in somewhat similar terms by the legitimate sons of his father ("Thou shalt not inherit in the house of our father; for the son of a harlot woman art thou"), does not apply. Hagar was not a "harlot;" but stood with respect to Sarah in much the same position as did Bilhah and Zilpah to Rachel and Leah. We cannot doubt but that the discrimination made between the two sons, whatever was the character of Sarah's feelings in the matter, is to be ascribed to God's own sovereign appointment (see Romans 9:7, 11). In this terrible sentence, by which Hagar and Ishmael were driven forth beyond the pale of God's most especial guardianship and blessing, the apostle hears the voice of God bidding away from his covenant all who disbelieved the gospel - all, that is, who set aside God's assurances of his tree unmerited love to all who believed in Jesus. It should seem that it was mainly for the purpose of introducing this denunciation that the apostle has been at the pains to trace out the allegorical meaning of the narrative. The apostle is not now thinking of the national excision of the Jews; he is contemplating, not nationalities, but habits of mind - servile legality on the one side, and on the other faith accepting a free gift of grace. It is at their extreme peril, he in effect tells the Galatians, that they forsake the latter to take up with the former: God has shown that by so doing they will forfeit the inheritance altogether.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?.... This is a Talmudic form of citing Scriptures, and answers to , "what says the Scriptures (e)?" the passage referred to is Genesis 21:10 and which are the words of Sarah to Abraham; but inasmuch as she spake them under divine inspiration, and they were approved of and confirmed by God, as appears from Genesis 21:12 they are ascribed to God speaking in the Scripture:
cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. There is very little difference in the citation from the original. The apostle omits the word "this" in both clauses, which though very proper to be expressed by Sarah, to point out the person she meant, and as being in a vehement passion, was not absolutely necessary to be retained by the apostle, since by the context there is no difficulty of knowing who is meant by her; though the Alexandrian copy has the word in it: and instead of "with my son, with Isaac", the apostle says, "with the son of the free woman, Sarah"; there speaking of herself, whose character the apostle gives, in opposition to the bondwoman: in like manner a Jewish writer (f) reads and interprets it,
"for the son of this woman shall not be heir , "with the son of the mistress".''
The casting of Hagar and Ishmael out of Abraham's family was a type and emblem of the rejection of the carnal and self-righteous Jews from the Gospel church state; nor ought any carnal persons, any that are after the flesh, unregenerate ones, or that trust to their own righteousness, to be in a Gospel church; as they will also be excluded and thrust out of the kingdom of heaven, into which no unregenerate and unrighteous, or self-righteous persons shall enter. The Jews make this ejection of Hagar and her son to be both out of this world and that which is to come (g). The reason given why the one should not be heir with the other perfectly agrees with the Jewish canons; which was not because he was the son of a concubine, for the sons of concubines might inherit, if they were Israelites, and free, but because he was the son of a bondwoman, for thus they run (h);
"all that are near of kin, though by iniquity, are heirs, as they that are legitimate; how? thus for instance, if a man has a son that is spurious, or a brother that is spurious, lo, these are as the other sons, and the other brethren for inheritance; but if, , "his son is by an handmaid", or by a strange woman, he is no son in any of these matters, , "and no heir at all":''
and again (i),
"an Israelite that hath a son by an handmaid, or by a Gentile, seeing he is not called his son, he that he has after him by an Israelitish woman, , "is the firstborn for inheritance", and takes the double portion.''
The reason assigned for non-inheritance in the text implies that the children of the free woman, the spiritual seed of Abraham, shall inherit the privileges of God's house, the blessings of grace, and eternal glory; they are children of the promise, and heirs according to it; when the children of the bondwoman, self-righteous ones, shall not; for the inheritance is not of the law, neither are they heirs who are of the works of it; nor is it to be enjoyed by mixing the law and Gospel, grace and works, in the business of salvation.
(e) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 9. 2.((f) R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror, fol. 21. 3.((g) Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. (h) Maimon. Hilch. Nechalot, c. 1. sect. 7. (i) Ib c. 2. sect. 12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30. Ge 21:10, 12, where Sarah's words are, "shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." But what was there said literally, is here by inspiration expressed in its allegorical spiritual import, applying to the New Testament believer, who is antitypically "the son of the free woman." In Joh 8:35, 36, Jesus refers to this.
Cast out—from the house and inheritance: literally, Ishmael; spiritually, the carnal and legalists.
shall not be heir—The Greek is stronger, "must not be heir," or "inherit."
Galatians 4:30 Parallel Commentaries
Galatians 4:30 NIV
Galatians 4:30 NLT
Galatians 4:30 ESV
Galatians 4:30 NASB
Galatians 4:30 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible