Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Galatians 4:25

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia - Το γαρ Αγαρ Σινα ορος εστιν εν τη Αραβια . This is the common reading; but it is read differently in some of the most respectable MSS., versions, and fathers; thus: το γαρ Σινα ορος εστιν εν τῃ Αραβια, for this Sinai is a mountain of Arabia; the word Αγαρ, Agar, being omitted. This reading is supported by CFG, some others, the Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and one copy of the Itala; by Epiphanius, Damascenus, Ambrosiaster, Jerome, Augustine, Hilary, Sedulius, and Bede; and the word is sometimes, though not always, omitted by Cyril and Origen, which proves that in their time there were doubts concerning the common reading.

Of the word Agar in this verse, which renders the passage very obscure and difficult, Professor White says, forsitan delendum, "probably it should be expunged." Griesbach has left it in the text with a note of doubtfulness.

Answereth to Jerusalem - Hagar, the bond maid, bringing forth children in a state of slavery, answereth to Jerusalem that now is, συστοιχει, points out, or, bears a similitude to, Jerusalem in her present state of subjection; which, with her children - her citizens, is not only in bondage to the Romans, but in a worse bondage to the law, to its oppressive ordinances, and to the heavy curse which it has pronounced against all those who do not keep them.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For this Agar is Mount Sinai - This Hagar well represents the Law given on Mount Sinai. No one can believe that Paul meant to say that Hagar was literally Mount Sinai. A great deal of perplexity has been felt in regard to this passage, and Bentley proposed to cancel it altogether as an interpolation. But there is no good authority for this. Several manuscripts and versions read it, “For this Sinai is a mountain in Arabia;” others, “to this Hagar Jerusalem answereth,” etc. Griesbach has placed these readings in the margin, and has marked them as not to be rejected as certainly false, but as worthy of a more attentive examination; as sustained by some plausible arguments, though not in the whole satisfactory. The word Hagar in Arabic is said to signify a rock; and it has been supposed that the name was appropriately given to Mount Sinai, because it was a pile of rocks, and that Paul had allusion to this meaning of the word here. So Chandler, Rosenmuller, and others interpret it. But I cannot find in Castell or Gesenius that the word Hagar in Arabic has this signification; still less is there evidence that the name was ever given to Mount Sinai by the Arabs, or that such a signification was known to Paul. The plainest and most obvious sense of a passage is generally the true sense; and the obvious sense here is, that Hagar was a fair representation of Mount Sinai, and of the Law given there.

In Arabia - Mount Sinai is situated in Arabia Petraea, or the Rocky. Rosenmuller says that this means “in the Arabic language;” but probably in this interpretation he stands alone.

And answereth to Jerusalem - Margin, “Is in the same rank with.” The margin is the better translation. The meaning is, it is just like it, or corresponds with it. Jerusalem as it is now (that is, in the days of Paul), is like Mount Sinai. It is subject to laws, and rites, and customs; bound by a state of servitude, and fear, and trembling, such as existed when the Law was given on Mount Sinai. There is no freedom; there are no great and liberal views; there is none of the liberty which the gospel imparts to men. The word συστοιχεῖ sustoichei“answereth to,” means properly to advance in order together; to go together with, as soldiers march along in the same rank; and then to correspond to. It means here that Mount Sinai and Jerusalem as it then was would be suited to march together in the same platoon or rank. In marshalling an army, care is taken to place soldiers of the same height, and size, and skill, and courage, if possible, together. So here it means that they were alike. Both were connected with bondage, like Hagar. On the one, a law was given that led to bondage; and the other was in fact under a miserable servitude of rites and forms.

Which now is - As it exists now; that is, a slave to rites and forms, as it was in fact in the time of Paul.

And is in bondage - To laws and customs. She was under hard and oppressive rites, like slavery. She was also in bondage to sin John 8:33-34; but this does not seem to be the idea here.

With her children - Her inhabitants. She is represented as a mother, and her inhabitants, the Jews, are in the condition of the son of Hagar. On this passage compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 10:4, for a more full illustration of the principles involved here.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1077

13. See EGW on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. 6BC 1077.1

15-21 (1 Timothy 1:9, 10; James 1:22-25; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9). Not Obedient, but Transgressors, Under Bondage—Paul in his Epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9, 10. 6BC 1077.2

The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character. 6BC 1077.3

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