A Comparison Between The Two Sons of Abraham

Hugh Mackay, an Australian researcher collected some interesting information about Australian attitudes toward religious subject matter. In 1999, 74% of Australians indicated a belief in God of some sort (although no attempt was made to clarify their idea of God). But to the more … More


It is written that a barren woman, who has not given birth to children should break forth with a joyful shout, because of not feeling birth pangs, in comparison to the desolate woman who has many more children than she who has a husband (v. 27). This quotation from (Isaiah 54:1) says Israel before her Babylonian Captivity was likened to a woman with a husband. The barren woman was Israel in captivity. The woman bearing more children may have pictured Israel restored to the land after the Exile. It seems that Paul applied this passage to Sarah, who though previously barren was later blessed with a child. In applying the truth from this illustration he made three comparisons:

  1. Paul compared the birth of Isaac to that of Christians (v. 28). As Isaac experienced a supernatural birth and was a child by means of a promise, so each believer experiences a supernatural birth as a recipient of the promise of salvation.
  2. The apostle compared Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac to the false teachers’ opposition to believers. (v. 29). That early animosity has been perpetual in the two peoples which descended from the two sons of Abraham and is seen in the current Arab-Israel tensions.
  3. Paul compared the action of Abraham to the obligation of the Galatians. (v. 30). When Sarah observed Ishmael mocking Isaac, she asked Abraham to expel the slave woman and her son so Ishmael will not become a joint heir with Isaac. A fundamental incompatibility remains  between a religion based on works and a religion based on faith.

Paul concludes that he and all believers are not really children of the slave woman who was denied a share in the inheritance but children of the free woman who are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (v. 31).


Do you ever stop to think about how much of your time is spent doing what you want to do in life in comparison to seeking what the Lord wants you to do? When I think about this it makes me wonder where the values of my life have been? I really want to make them count for the Lord!

Galatians 4:27-31 (English Standard Version)

For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband." Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

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