Galatians 4:27
For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bore not; break forth and cry, you that travail not: for the desolate has many more children than she which has an husband.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(27) Rejoice, thou barren.—The quotation is from Isaiah 54:1. It has reference, in the first instance, to the restoration of the exiled Jews to Jerusalem and to the coming greatness of the newly-settled city. Though at present it is desolate and in ruins, it shall become greater and more populous than ever it had been in its best days before. The revived theocracy under Zerubbabel is naturally taken as a type of the final theocratic reign of the Messiah. The representation of the theocracy under the figure of marriage is common, both in the prophetic writings and in St. Paul.

Thou barren that bearest not.—This was originally spoken of the revived condition of Jerusalem, in which for a long time no children had been born. Here it is applied to the despised and persecuted condition of the early Church.

Break forthi.e., into singing. The phrase is expressed in full in the Authorised version of Isaiah 54:1.

The desolate. . . . she which hath an husband.—In the original, Jerusalem after the exile, opposed to Jerusalem in the time of its prosperity under David and Solomon; in the typical application, Sarah, who had long been barren, as opposed to Hagar, whose marriage had been fruitful; in the anti-typical application, the new dispensation, Christianity, with its small beginnings, as opposed to the old dispensation, with its material possessions and privileges.

4:21-27 The difference between believers who rested in Christ only, and those who trusted in the law, is explained by the histories of Isaac and Ishmael. These things are an allegory, wherein, beside the literal and historical sense of the words, the Spirit of God points out something further. Hagar and Sarah were apt emblems of the two different dispensations of the covenant. The heavenly Jerusalem, the true church from above, represented by Sarah, is in a state of freedom, and is the mother of all believers, who are born of the Holy Spirit. They were by regeneration and true faith, made a part of the true seed of Abraham, according to the promise made to him.For it is written - This passage is found in Isaiah 54:1. For an exposition of its meaning as it occurs there, see my notes at Isaiah. The object of the apostle in introducing it here seems to be to prove that the Gentiles as well as the Jews would partake of the privileges connected with the heavenly Jerusalem. He had in the previous verse spoken of the Jerusalem from above as the common mother of all, true Christians, whether by birth Jews or Gentiles. This might be disputed or doubted by the Jews; and he therefore adduces this proof from the Old Testament. Or if it was not doubted, still the quotation was pertinent, and would illustrate the sentiment which he had just uttered. The mention of Jerusalem as a mother seems to have suggested this text. Isaiah had spoken of Jerusalem as a female that had been long desolate and childless, now rejoicing by a large accession from the Gentile world, and increased in numbers like a female who should have more children than one who had been long married. To this Paul appropriately refers when he says that the whole church, Jews and Gentiles, were the children of the heavenly Jerusalem, represented here as a rejoicing mother. He has not quoted literally from the Hebrew, but he has used the Septuagint version, and has retained the sense. The sense is, that the accession from the Gentile world would be far more numerous than the Jewish people had ever been; a prophecy that has been already fulfilled.

Rejoice thou barren that bearest not - As a woman who has had no children would rejoice. This represents probably the pagan world as having been apparently forsaken and abandoned, and with whom there had been none of the true children of God.

Break forth and cry - Or "break forth and exclaim;" that is, break out into loud and glad exclamations at the remarkable accession. The cry here referred to was to be a joyful cry or shout; the language of exultation. So the Hebrew word in Isaiah 54:1 צהל tsaahal means.

For the desolate - She who was desolate and apparently forsaken. It literally refers to a woman who had seemed to be desolate and forsaken, who was unmarried. In Isaiah it may refer to Jerusalem, long forsaken and desolate, or as some suppose to the Gentile world; see my note at Isaiah 54:1.

Than she which hath an husband - Perhaps referring to the Jewish people as in covenant with God, and often spoken of as married to him; Isaiah 62:4-5; Isaiah 54:5.

27. (Isa 54:1).

thou barren—Jerusalem above: the spiritual Church of the Gospel, the fruit of "the promise," answering to Sarah, who bore not "after the flesh": as contrasted with the law, answering to Hagar, who was fruitful in the ordinary course of nature. Isaiah speaks primarily of Israel's restoration after her long-continued calamities; but his language is framed by the Holy Spirit so as to reach beyond this to the spiritual Zion: including not only the Jews, the natural descendants of Abraham and children of the law, but also the Gentiles. The spiritual Jerusalem is regarded as "barren" while the law trammeled Israel, for she then had no spiritual children of the Gentiles.

break forth—into crying.

cry—shout for joy.

many more—Translate as Greek, "Many are the children of the desolate (the New Testament Church made up in the greater part from the Gentiles, who once had not the promise, and so was destitute of God as her husband), more than of her which hath an (Greek, 'THE') husband (the Jewish Church having God for her husband, Isa 54:5; Jer 2:2)." Numerous as were the children of the legal covenant, those of the Gospel covenant are more so. The force of the Greek article is, "Her who has THE husband of which the other is destitute."

It is written, Isaiah 54:1. Some think that the apostle doth but allude to that of the prophet; and that the sense of the prophet was only to comfort the Jews, whose city, though it should be for a present time barren, thin of inhabitants, during the time of the Babylonish captivity; yet it should be again replenished with people, and be more populous than other cities. But the apostle seemeth rather to interpret that prophecy, than merely to allude to it; so that verse is one of those prophetical passages about the calling of the Gentiles, of which are many in that prophet. In this sense, the Gentiles are to be understood under the notion of the woman that was barren and desolate. The church of the Jews is represented under the notion of a woman that had a husband and children. The prophet, by the Spirit of prophecy, calleth upon the Gentiles, that brought forth no children to God, and to whom God was not a husband, to rejoice, and to cry out for joy, for there should be more believers, more children brought forth to God, amongst them, than were amongst the Jews: so as the church of the Gentiles are compared to Sarah, who was a long time barren, but then brought forth the child of the promise, the seed in which all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. For it is written,.... Isaiah 44:1, which is cited to prove, that the heavenly Jerusalem, or Gospel church state, is the mother of us all, and has brought forth, and still will bring forth, many souls to Christ, even many more than were under the legal dispensation by the Jewish church, though the Lord was an husband to them, Jeremiah 31:32. The words are,

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; by her that was "barren", and "bore" not, and "travailed" not, and was "desolate", is not meant the Gentile world, which before the coming of Christ was barren and destitute of the knowledge of him, and from among whom very few were called by grace; but the Gospel church in the first beginnings of it, in Christ's time, and especially about the time of his death, and before the pouring forth of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, when the number of its members were few; for the names of the disciples together were but 120, when it seemed to be barren, and desolate, and deprived of its husband Christ, but was quickly to have a large accession to, it, both of Jews and Gentiles; and therefore is called upon to "rejoice, break forth", and "cry"; that is, to break forth into songs of praise, and express her spiritual joy, by singing aloud, and setting forth in hymns and spiritual songs the glory of powerful and efficacious grace, in the conversion of such large numbers of souls, the like of which had never been known under the former administration. Three thousand were converted under one sermon, and added to this first Gospel church; and the number of its members still increased, and the number of the men that afterwards believed was about five thousand; and after this we hear of more believers being added to the Lord, both men and women; and also that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith; and when out of this church, the apostles, and other preachers of the Gospel went everywhere into the Gentile world, thousands of souls were converted, and a large number of churches formed, and a spiritual seed has been preserved ever since; and in the latter day Zion will travail in birth, and bring forth a numerous offspring; a nation shall be born at once, and the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in. Agreeably to this sense the Jewish writers, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Aben Ezra, understand this passage of Jerusalem; as does also the Chaldee paraphrase, which renders it thus:

"Praise, O Jerusalem, which was as a barren woman that bringeth not forth; rejoice in praise, and be glad, who was as a woman which conceives not, for more are the children of Jerusalem forsaken than the children of the habitable city, saith the Lord.''

{7} For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the {f} desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

(7) He shows that in this allegory he has followed the steps of Isaiah, who foretold that the Church should be made and consist of the children of barren Sara, that is to say, of those who should be made Ahraham's children by faith, and this only spiritually, rather than of fruitful Hagar, even then foretelling the casting off of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles.

(f) She that is destroyed and laid waste.

Galatians 4:27. Proof from Scripture[221] that no other than this, the free Jerusalem (ἥτις), is our mother. This, namely, is according to Paul the subject addressed, the unfruitful one, because Sarah—who, according to the allegory, answers to the heavenly Jerusalem—was, as is well known, barren. The historical sense of the prophecy (Isaiah 54:1, exactly according to the LXX.) is the joyful promise of a great increase to the depressed people of God in its state of freedom after the Babylonian exile. The desolate, uninhabited Jerusalem, which had become like an unfruitful wife, is summoned to rejoice, because it—and in this light, certainly, it is poetically compared with itself as a second person (in opposition to Hofmann)—is to become more populous, more rich in children, than formerly, when it was the husband-possessing spouse (of Jehovah). The fulfilment of this Messianic prophecy

Messianic because pervaded by the idea of the victorious theocracy—is discerned by Paul in the great new people of God, which belongs to the ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ, to this Sarah in the sense of the fulfilment, as its mother. Before the emergence of the Christian people of God, this heavenly Jerusalem was still unpeopled, childless; it was ΣΤΕῖΡΑ, Οὐ ΤΊΚΤΟΥΣΑ, ΟὐΚ ὨΔΊΝΟΥΣΑ, ἜΡΗΜΟς (solitaria, that is, in conformity with the contrast: without conjugal intercourse), consequently quite the Sarah of the allegory, before she became the mother of Isaac. But in and with the emergence of the Christian people of God, the ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ has become a fruitful mother, rejoicing over her wealth of children, richer in children than Ἡ ΝῦΝ ἹΕΡΟΥΣΑΛΉΜ, this mother of the ancient people of God, which hitherto, like Hagar, had been בְעוּלָה, Ἡ ἜΧΟΥΣΑ ΤῸΝ ἌΝΔΡΑ. This ἈΝΉΡ is God (not the law, as Luther interprets), whose relation to the theocratical commonwealth of the old covenant is conceived as conjugal intercourse. In virtue of this idea, the relation of God to the ΝῦΝ ἹΕΡΟΥΣΑΛΉΜ—the latter regarded as a woman Ἡ ἜΧΟΥΣΑ ΤῸΝ ἌΝΔΡΑ—is the counterpart of the relation of Abraham to the ΠΑΙΔΊΣΚΗ Hagar, whose descendants came into life ΚΑΤᾺ ΣΆΡΚΑ. On the other hand, the relation of God to the ἌΝΩ ἹΕΡΟΥΣΑΛΉΜ—the latter likewise regarded as a woman, who, however, had hitherto been ΣΤΕῖΡΑ Κ.Τ.Λ.—is the counterpart of the relation of Abraham to the free Sarah, whose far more numerous descendants were children of promise (Galatians 4:28). Comp. Romans 9:8.

Ἡ Οὐ ΤΊΚΤΟΥΣΑ] not for the past participle (Grotius and others), but expressing the state of the case as it stands:which does not bear,” the consequence of στεῖρα, sterilis, unfruitful, as Sara was עֲקָרָה. In the same way afterwards, Ἡ ΟὐΚ ὨΔΊΝΟΥΣΑ.

ῬῆΞΟΝ] ΦΩΝΉΝ is usually supplied. For many instances of ῥήγνυμι φωνήν or αὐδήν (Eur. Suppl. 710), to unchain the voice, that is, to speak aloud, see Wetstein, in loc.; Loesner, Obss. p. 333; Jacobs, ad Anthol. X. p. 385, XI. p. 57, XII. p. 131. Comp. the Latin rumpere vocem (Drakenborch, ad Sil. It. iv. 528). But since the verb alone is never thus used, it is safer to derive the supplement from what has preceded; hence Kypke and Schott correctly supply εὐφροσύνην (rumpe jubilum, begin to rejoice), not because פִּצְחִי רִנָּה stands in the Hebrew (Schott), but because ΕὐΦΡΟΣΎΝΗΝ flows from the previous ΕὐΦΡΆΝΘΗΤΙ;[222] “rejoice, let it break forth.” The opposite is ῥήγνυμι κλαυθμόν (Plut. Per. 36), ῬΉΓΝ. ΔΑΚΡΎΩΝ ΝΆΜΑΤΑ (Soph. Trach. 919).

στεῖρα κ.τ.λ.] applies in the connection of the original text to Jerusalem, and is also here necessarily (see Galatians 4:26)—according to the Messianic fulfilment of the prophecy, in the light of which Paul apprehends the Scriptural saying—to be referred to Jerusalem, but to the ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ, ἥτις ἐστὶ μήτηρ ἡμῶν, whereas the ἡ ἔχουσα τὸν ἄνδρα which is placed in comparison with it is the νῦν Ἱερουσαλήμ. See above. Chrysostom and his successors, Bengel and others, consider that the words στεῖρα κ.τ.λ. apply to the Gentile Christians (she who had the husband being the Jewish church); but against this view it may be urged that that ἥτις ἐστὶ μήτηρ ἡμῶν, which refers to all Christians, is to be proved by Galatians 4:27.

ΠΟΛΛᾺΜᾶΛΛΟΝ Ἤ] not used instead of ΠΛΕΊΟΝΑ Ἤ, which would leave the multitude of children entirely undetermined; but it affirms that both had many children,—the solitary one, however, the greater number: for numerous are the children of the solitary one in a higher degree than those of her who possessed the husband. So the LXX. has rightly understood the Hebrew רַבִּים מִבְּנֵי.

[221] For this Scriptural proof, the particular passage Isaiah 54:1 is selected with great skill and true tact, since the ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ is the allegorical counterpart of Sarah, this στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα κ.τ.λ.

[222] The LXX. probably did not read רִנָּה.Galatians 4:27. The prophecy of Isaiah 54:1, here quoted from the LXX, describes the restoration of Zion, the enlargement of her borders and increase of her people, under the figure of a wife long neglected and barren, but now restored to the favour of her husband and fruitful in children. This picture was perhaps suggested to the prophet by the history of Sarah’s prolonged barrenness before she became the fruitful mother of Israel, and is peculiarly appropriate for describing the long delayed but fertile growth of the Christian Church, of which she was the typical mother.27. For it is written] The quotation is taken exactly from the Septuagint version of Isaiah 54:1.

By the ‘barren’ we must understand Sarah, who was a type of the Gospel dispensation. Small and persecuted in its early days, the Church of Christ has now ‘many more children’ than the Jewish Church could ever boast of. ‘She which hath an husband’ (rather, ‘the husband’) is Hagar, who took the place of Sarah in the conjugal society of the husband. She represents the Jewish people, nationally and ecclesiastically, and for a time enjoyed the peculiar favour of her God—a relation to Him which in the O.T. is frequently described as that between husband and wife. St Paul’s use of this passage of Isaiah in no wise interferes with its primary reference to the promised deliverance of Israel from exile and oppression. Those who overlook or deny a primary and literal fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament unconsciously weaken the foundation on which the hope (or the belief) of a spiritual and ultimate accomplishment of them rests.Galatians 4:27. Γέγραπται, it is written) Isaiah 54:1εὐφράνθητι, rejoice) with singing.—στεῖρα, barren) Sion, Jerusalem above.—ῥῆξον, break forth) into crying.—καὶ βόησον, and shout) for joy.—τῆς ἐρήμου, of the desolate) i.e. The New Testament Church, collected for the most part from the Gentiles, who had not [answering to τῆς ἐρήμου, the desolate] the promise; and as this New Testament Church was made up of those who heretofore were seen to have had no such aims, it is called “not bearing,” “not travailing,”—τῆς ἐχούσης, than she who hath) the Jewish Church.Verse 27. - For it is written (γέγραπται γάρ). The points indicated in the section of Isaiah (54.) referred to by the quotation which is made of the first verse, and which amply make good what the apostle has been stating and implying, are these: that a new economy was to appear; that by this economy a multitude of servants of God should be called into being; that this multitude should in numbers far surpass those called into being heretofore; that this economy, though newly manifested, had been in existence before, but comparatively unblest with offspring; that it was to be known as an economy of forgiving, adopting love, involving a principle of spiritual life and of spontaneous, no longer constrained and servile, obedience. We need not hesitate in asserting that the last-named features of the new economy were, in the apostle's view, included in the prediction he means to refer to, although not contained in those words of the prophet which he has expressly quoted. For it is one of the characteristics of a Jewish religious teacher's method of citing Scripture, noted by the learned Dr. Biesenthal, himself a Jew, in his 'Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews' ('Einleitung,' p. 54), that he is wont to omit in his express citation more or less of the passage referred to, leaving it to his hearer or reader to supply the omitted portions from his own knowledge, even when these are most material for the argument; as e.g. in Hebrews 6:13, 14, the" oath," fully recorded in Genesis 22:16, is not itself contained in the citation made by the writer. The above-named, then, we may assume to have been points which the apostle regarded as contained in the passage he refers to, because they are contained in the section of which the cited words are an integral portion. Whatever may be thought of the applicability, in a measure, of the prophet's language in the section alluded to, to the case of Israel restored from the Babylonian captivity, yet that such an application furnishes no complete explanation of its import is clear from the circumstance that this jubilant prophesying follows immediately upon the delineation in the preceding chapter of the sufferings of Christ - a delineation which ended with the intimation of the results which should follow in the triumph over mighty powers opposing the Sufferer, and in the work of justification which he would accomplish upon "many" (Isaiah 51:10-12). That the section was understood by our Lord to refer to the new economy which he was himself to introduce, is evidenced by his citing the words, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord" (ver 13), as pointing to the spiritual illumination which should at the time referred to characterize the people of God universally, so universally that none would be numbered amongst God's true people, that is, amongst the disciples of his Son, who had not "heard from the Father" (John 6:45). We have, then, in this section of Isaiah a distinctly predictive description of a condition of spiritual well-being which was to result from Christ's mediation; that is, of the illumination, peace and joyful sense of God's love which then should be the "heritage of the servants of the Lord." This, construed in the apostle's imagery, connecting itself with that of the words which he expressly quotes, is the large multiplication of the children of the freewoman, bringing forth her offspring into a state of freedom and adoption in the great Father's family. The Greek rendering of the passage given by the apostle is identical with that of the Vatican text of the Septuagint. The Alexandrian text varies only in adding καὶ τέρπου, "and be glad," to the word βόησον, "cry." apparently to explain what kind of crying out was intended. Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not (εὐφράνθητι στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα). The Authorized Version as well as the Revised thus renders the Greek here; but in the original passage in Isaiah the former renders, "that didst not bear." the Hebrew having the preterite indicative; and similarly, the "travailest not" in the next clause here is "didst not travail" there. The participles, τίκτουσα and ὠδίνουσα, may be classed with τυφλὸς ὤν ἄρτι βλέπω in John 9:25, expressing the normal state as hitherto known, though just now subjected to a change. Break forth and cry, thou that travailest not (ῤῆξον καὶ βόησον ἡ οὺκ ὠδίνουσα); break forth and shout, thou that travailest not. But the Hebrew has "break forth into singing" instead of "break forth and shout;" and so m Isaiah 49:13; the word for "singing" denoting unarticulated cries of joy, as in Psalm 30:5, and often. The Hebrew word for "break forth" appears to mean "scream (for joy)," as in Isaiah 12:6, etc. For the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband (ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον η} τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα); for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath the husband. The word "desolate" represents the same Hebrew participle in 2 Samuel 13:20, where the Septuagint has χηρεύουσα, widowed. It points in the present case to the solitary and unhappy condition of a woman "forsaken by her husband" (comp. Isaiah 54:6). On the other hand, the words, τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα, render the one Hebrew word be'ulah, the passive participle of the verb ba'al, cohabit with. Compare the use of this verb in Deuteronomy 24. I ("married her," Authorized Version; συνοικήσῃ αὐτῆ, Septuagint); Deuteronomy 21:13, "and be her husband." The words, therefore, denote her that had her husband living with her as such; "hath," as John 4:18; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 7:2. "The husband" is conceived of as belonging both to her and of right to the "desolate one." Perhaps τὸν ἄνδρα may be rendered "her husband." In the prophet's view, the "woman which had her husband" was the visible Israel, possessing the temple and the other tokens of the Lord's dwelling in her midst; the "desolate one" was the spiritual or the ideal Israel to be manifested in the future; for the present out of sight and seemingly in abeyance; but thereafter to he quickened into fertility by the inhabitation of the Lord (for he in the prophet's vision, ver. 5, is the Husband), revealed in his first suffering then glorified Servant as portrayed in the foregoing prophesying. So exactly do these two images correspond with "the Jerusalem that now is" and "the Jerusalem that is above," of the apostle's imagery, that his use of the prophet's words is plainly no mere accommodation to his purpose of language which was in reality alien to the subject, but is the citation of a passage regarded by him as strictly predictive, and therefore probative of the truth of his representation. The view of this prophecy of Isaiah found in Clemens Romanus, Ep. it., 'Ad Corinthians,' § 2, and in Justin Martyr, 'Apol.,' p. 88, which regards it as referring to the Gentile Church as contrasted with the Jewish, is plainly a misconception of its import: the rejoicing mother of the prophet, as well as the supernal Jerusalem of the apostle, knows of no distinction in her believing offspring, between Jew and Gentile, comprising both alike. The last statement is proved from Scripture, lxx of Isaiah 54:1, which predicts the great growth of the people of God after the Babylonian exile. It is applied to the unfruitful Sarah, who answers to the Jerusalem above, and who is a type of God's dealings with her descendants.

Break forth (ῥῆξον)

In this sense not in N.T. The ellipsis is usually supplied by φωνήν voice; cause thy voice to break forth. Others prefer εὐφροσύνην joy, as suggested by εὐφράνθητι rejoice. Ῥήξει φωνὴν occurs Job 6:5, of the lowing of the ox; and ῥηξάτωσαν, ῥηξάτω εὐφροσύνην in Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9. As these are the only instances in lxx in which the verb is used in this sense, as the quotation is from Isaiah, and as the verb occurs twice in that prophecy with εὐφροσύνην joy, it seems better to supply that noun here. Cause joy to break forth.

Many more children than (πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα - μᾶλλον ἣ)

Incorrect. Not as Lightfoot and others for πλείονα ἣ more than. Rather, "Many are the children of the solitary one in a higher degree than those of her which hath a husband." It is a comparison between two manys. Both had many children, but the solitary had a greater many.

Galatians 4:27 Interlinear
Galatians 4:27 Parallel Texts

Galatians 4:27 NIV
Galatians 4:27 NLT
Galatians 4:27 ESV
Galatians 4:27 NASB
Galatians 4:27 KJV

Galatians 4:27 Bible Apps
Galatians 4:27 Parallel
Galatians 4:27 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 4:27 Chinese Bible
Galatians 4:27 French Bible
Galatians 4:27 German Bible

Bible Hub

Galatians 4:26
Top of Page
Top of Page