Galatians 4:24 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 4:24, NIV: These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

Galatians 4:24, ESV: Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.

Galatians 4:24, KJV: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

Galatians 4:24, NASB: This is speaking allegorically, for these women are two covenants: one coming from Mount Sinai giving birth to children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.

Galatians 4:24, NLT: These two women serve as an illustration of God's two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them.

Galatians 4:24, CSB: These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery--this is Hagar.

What does Galatians 4:24 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is aware that the false teachers are arguing from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Galatian Christians must follow the law in order to be saved (Galatians 2:4). He has asked if they have really listened to the law (Galatians 4:21). To help them see why faith in Christ is superior, Paul is building an illustration about Christ and the law from the two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael.

He has described Ishmael, born of a slave-girl (Genesis 16:1–2), as being born according the flesh. Isaac, however, was the child of God's promise, born of the free woman Sarah, Abraham's wife (Genesis 21:1–3). Now Paul lays out the careful allegory he is creating. Hagar, the slave-woman, represents one covenant, while Sarah, the free woman, represents another.

Specifically, Hagar represents the covenant from Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is where God gave His law for Israel to Moses, described beginning in Exodus chapter 19. In this letter to the Galatians, Paul has already shown that to live under the law of Moses is to live in slavery to our own sin. The law reveals our sin, but it does not offer a way to be free from it (Galatians 3:19–25).

Hagar, then, as the slave woman, represents the covenant of the law between God and His people, Israel. All born under this covenant are born into slavery, just as Ishmael, Hagar's son with Abraham, was born into slavery. Importantly, we should note that this is not God's ultimate plan—there is a "better way" planned for us.