Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Galatians 4:26

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But Jerusalem which is above - The apostle still follows the Jewish allegory, showing not only how the story of Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac, was allegorized, but pointing out also that even Jerusalem was the subject of allegory; for it was a maxim among the rabbins, that "whatsoever was in the earth, the same was also found in heaven for there is no matter, howsoever small, in this world, that has not something similar to it in the spiritual world." On this maxim, the Jews imagine that every earthly thing has its representative in heaven; and especially whatever concerns Jerusalem, the law, and its ordinances. Rab. Kimchi, speaking of Melchizedec, king of Salem, says: מעלה של ירושלם זו zu Yerushalem shel malah, "This is the Jerusalem that is from above." This phrase frequently occurs among these writers, as may be seen in Schoettgen, who has written an express dissertation upon the subject. Hor. Hebr., vol. i. page 1205.

Is free, which is the mother of us all - There is a spiritual Jerusalem, of which this is the type; and this Jerusalem, in which the souls of all the righteous are, is free from all bondage and sin: or by this, probably, the kingdom of the Messiah was intended; and this certainly answers best to the apostle's meaning, as the subsequent verse shows. There is an earthly Jerusalem, but this earthly Jerusalem typifies a heavenly Jerusalem: the former, with all her citizens, is in bondage; the latter is a free city, and all her inhabitants are free also. And this Jerusalem is our mother; it signifies the Church of Christ, the metropolis of Christianity, or rather the state of liberty into which all true believers are brought. The word παντων, of all, is omitted by almost every MS. and version of antiquity and importance, and by the most eminent of the fathers who quote this place; it is undoubtedly spurious, and the text should be read thus: But Jerusalem, which is above, is free, which is our mother.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But Jerusalem which is above - The spiritual Jerusalem; the true church of God. Jerusalem was the place where God was worshipped, and hence, it became synonymous with the word church, or is used to represent the people of God. The word rendered “above,” ( ἄνω anō) means properly “up above,” that which is above; and hence, heavenly, celestial; Colossians 3:1-2; John 8:23. Here it means the heavenly or celestial Jerusalem; Revelation 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven.” Hebrews 12:22,” ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Here it is used to denote the church, as being of heavenly origin.

Is free - The spirit of the gospel is that of freedom. It is freedom from sin, freedom from the bondage of rites and customs, and it tends to promote universal freedom; see the note at Galatians 4:7; compare John 8:32, John 8:36; and the note at 2 Corinthians 3:17.

Which is the mother of us all - Of all who are true Christians, whether we are by birth Jews or Gentiles. We should not, therefore, yield ourselves to any degrading and debasing servitude el any kind; compare the note at 1 Corinthians 6:12.

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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