New American Standard Bible
This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
King James Bible
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Darby Bible Translation
Which things have an allegorical sense; for these are two covenants: one from mount Sinai, gendering to bondage, which is Hagar.
World English Bible
These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar.
Young's Literal Translation
which things are allegorized, for these are the two covenants: one, indeed, from mount Sinai, to servitude bringing forth, which is Hagar;
Galatians 4:24 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Which things - The different accounts of Ishmael and Isaac.
Are an allegory - May be regarded allegorically, or as illustrating great principles in regard to the condition of slaves and freemen; and may therefore be used to illustrate the effect of servitude to the Law of Moses compared with the freedom of the gospel. He does not mean to say that the historical record of Moses was not true, or was merely allegorical; nor does he mean to say that Moses meant this to be an allegory, or that he intended that it should be applied to the exact purpose to which Paul applied it. No such design is apparent in the narrative of Moses, and it is evident that he had no such intention. Nor can it be shown that Paul means to be understood as saying that Moses had any such design, or that his account was not a record of a plain historical fact. Paul uses it as he would any other historical fact that would illustrate the same principle, and he makes no more use of it than the Saviour did in his parables of real or fictitious narratives to illustrate an important truth, or than we always do of real history to illustrate an important principle.
The word which is used here by Paul (ἀλληγορέω allēgoreō) is derived from ἄλλος allos, another, and ἀγορεύω agoreuō, to speak, to speak openly or in public - Passow. It properly means to speak anything otherwise than it is understood (Passow); to speak allegorically; to allegorize. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, nor is it found in the Septuagint, though it occurs often in the classic writers. An allegory is a continued metaphor; see Blair's Lectures, xv. It is a figurative sentence or discourse, in which the principal object is described by another subject resembling it in its properties and circumstances - Webster. Allegories are in words what hieroglyphics are in painting. The distinction between a parable and an allegory is said to be, that a parable is a supposed history to illustrate some important truth, as the parable of the good Samaritan, etc.; an allegory is based on real facts.
It is not probable, however, that this distinction is always carefully observed. Sometimes the allegory is based on the resemblance to some inanimate object, as in the beautiful allegory in Psalm 80. Allegories, parables, and metaphors abound in the writings of the East. Truth was more easily treasured up in this way, and could be better preserved and transmitted when it was connected with an interesting story. The lively fancy of the people of the East also led them to this mode of communicating truth; though a love for it is probably founded in human nature. The best sustained allegory of any considerable length in the world is, doubtless, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; and yet this is among the most popular of all books. The ancient Jews were exceedingly fond of allegories, and even turned a considerable part of the Old Testament into allegory. The ancient Greek philosophers also were fond of this mode of teaching.
Pythagoras instructed his followers in this manner, and this was common among the Greeks, and was imitated much by the early Christians - Calmet. Many of the Christian fathers, of the school of Origen, made the Old Testament almost wholly allegorical, and found mysteries in the plainest narratives. The Bible became thus with them a book of enigmas, and exegesis consisted in an ingenious and fanciful accommodation of all the narratives in the scriptures to events in subsequent times. The most fanciful, and the most ingenious man, on this principle, was the best interpreter; and as any man might attach any hidden mystery which he chose to the scriptures, they became wholly useless as an infallible guide. Better principles of interpretation now prevail; and the great truth has gone forth, never more to be recalled, that the Bible is to be interpreted on the same principle as all other books; that its language is to be investigated by the same laws as language in all other books; and that no more liberty is to be taken in allegorizing the scriptures than may be taken with Herodotus or Livy. It is lawful to use narratives of real events to illustrate important principles always. Such a use is often made of history; and such a use, I suppose, the apostle Paul makes here of an important fact in the history of the Old Testament.
For these are - These may be used to represent the two covenants. The apostle could not mean that the sons of Sarah and Hagar were literally the two covenants; for this could not be true, and the declaration would be unintelligible. In what sense could Ishmael be called a covenant? The meaning, therefore, must be, that they furnished an apt illustration or representation of the two covenants; they would show what the nature of the two covenants was. The words "are" and "is" are often used in this sense in the Bible, to denote that one thing represents another. Thus in the institution of the Lord's supper; "Take, eat, this is my body" Matthew 26:26; that is, this represents my body. The bread was not the living body that was then before them. So in Galatians 4:28; "This is my blood of the new covenant;" that is, this represents my blood. The wine in the cup could not be the living blood of the Redeemer that was then flowing in his veins; see the note at that place; compare Genesis 41:26.
The two covenants - Margin, "Testaments." The word means here, covenants or compacts; see the note at 1 Corinthians 11:25. The two covenants here referred to, are the one on Mount Sinai made with the Jews, and the other that which is made with the people of God in the gospel. The one resembles the condition of bondage in which Hagar and her son were; the other the condition of freedom in which Sarah and Isaac were.
The one from the Mount Sinai - Margin, "Sina." The Greek is "Sina," though the word may be written either way.
Which gendereth to bondage - Which tends to produce bondage or servitude. That is, the laws are stern and severe; and the observance of them costly, and onerous like a state of bondage; see the note at Acts 15:10.
Which is Agar - Which Hagar would appropriately represent. The condition of servitude produced by the Law had a strong resemblance to her condition as a slave.
LibraryThe Allegories of Sarah and Hagar
We shall attempt this morning to teach you something of the allegories of Sarah and Hagar, that you may thereby better understand the essential difference between the covenants of law and of grace. We shall not go fully into the subject, but shall only give such illustrations of it as the text may furnish us. First, I shall want you to notice the two women, whom Paul uses as types--Hagar and Sarah; then I shall notice the two sons--Ishmael and Isaac; in the third place, I shall notice Ishmael's conduct …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856
Luther -- the Method and Fruits of Justification
"For as Many as are Led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. For Ye have not Received the Spirit of Bondage
The Moral Reactions of Prayer
He said, "The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.
1 Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
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