Philo and the early church's use of allegory and Paul's use of the same technique differed significantly.  The former totally ignored the historical setting, developing teachings entirely foreign to the original author's intent (i.e., found parallel in Plato's thought).  Paul's approach is better characterized as "typology."  Paul assumed the historical setting of Genesis and the unity of the Old and New Covenants, thus he was able to build on the similarities between them because they have one author—God.  In this particular contex (ti.e., Galatians 3-4), Paul compared the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant and draws application to the New Covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 and the NT.

Four connections in Gal. 4:21-31 may be drawn.

1. the two mothers stand for two families; one formed by natural means, the other by supernatural promise

2. there was tension between these two mothers and their children as there was tension between the Judaizer's message and Paul's gospel

3. both groups claimed to be descendants of Abraham, but one was in bondage to the Mosaic Law and the other was free in Christ's finished work

4. two mountains were connected to these different covenants, Mt. Sinai with Moses and Mt. Zion with Abraham.  Mt. Zion, or Mt. Moriah, was where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice (cf. Genesis 22), which later became Jerusalem.  Abraham was looking for a heavenly city (Heb. 11:10; 12:22; 13:14, New Jerusalem, Isaiah 40-66) not an earthly Jerusalem.


Paul may have used this typology because

1. the false teachers had used this same approach to their advantage, claiming to be the true seed of Abraham

2. the false teachers may have used an allegory from Moses' writings to push their Jewish covenant theology so Paul uses the father of the Jewish faith, Abraham

3. Paul may have used it because of Gen. 21:9-10, which is quoted in verse 30 and says, "drive off" the natural son; in Paul's analogy this would refer to the Judaizers

4. Paul may have used it because of the exclusivism of the Jewish false teachers, particularly in their contempt for the Gentiles; in Paul's typology the Gentiles are accepted and the racially confident ones are rejected by God (cf. Matt. 8:11-12)

5. Paul may have used this typology because he has been emphasizing "sonship" and "heirship" in Galatians 3 & 4.  This was the heart of his argument: our adoption into the family of God by faith through Christ alone, not natural descent.


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