Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Galatians 4:29

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But as then he - Ishmael, who was born after the flesh - whose birth had nothing supernatural in it, but was according to the ordinary course of nature,

Persecuted him - Isaac, who was born after the Spirit - who had a supernatural birth, according to the promise, and through the efficacy, of the Holy Spirit, giving effect to that promise - Sarah shall have a son, Genesis 17:16-21; Genesis 21:1, etc.

Persecuted him; the persecution here referred to is that mentioned Genesis 21:9. It consisted in mocking his brother Isaac.

Even so it is now - So the Jews, in every place, persecute the Christians; and show thereby that they are rather of the posterity of Hagar than of Sarah.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But as then he that was born after the flesh - Ishmael; see Galatians 4:23.

Persecuted him that was born after the Spirit - That is, Isaac. The phrase, “after the Spirit,” here, is synonymous with “according to the promise” in the previous verse. It stands opposed to the phrase “after the flesh,” and means that his birth was by the special or miraculous agency of God; see Genesis 21:9, where it is said that “Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.” It was on account of this, and at the special request of Sarah, that Hagar and her son were expelled from the house of Abraham; Genesis 21:10.

Even so it is now - That is, Christians, the children of the promise, are persecuted by the Jews, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “as it now is,” and who are uninterested in the promises, as Ishmael was. For an illustration of this, see Paley‘s Hora Paulina, on this Epistle, no. v. Dr. Paley has remarked that it does not appear that the apostle Paul was ever set upon by the Gentiles, unless they were first stirred up by the Jews, except in two instances. One of these was at Philippi, after the cure of the Pythoness Acts 16:19; and the other at Ephesus, at the instance of Demetrius; Acts 19:24. The persecutions of the Christians arose, therefore, mainly from the Jews, from those who were in bondage to the Law, and to rites and customs; and Paul‘s allusion here to the case of the persecution which Isaac the free-born son endured, is exceedingly pertinent and happy.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
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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