Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Ishmael's Mocking: Paul's application of Genesis 21:9 in Galatians 4:29
Note: Here are some notes from my exposition of Galatians 4:29 in my sermon on Galatians 4:21-31.
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the
Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking (Genesis 21:9).
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now (Galatians 4:29).
I think Paul adds Galatians 4:29
as an encouragement to those who first received this letter and who were
sympathetic to his cause, reminding them that just as Ishmael mocked Isaac, so
the spiritual descendants of Isaac can expect to be mocked or persecuted by the
spiritual descendants of Ishmael.
It is striking that all
through this letter Paul never speaks of the dangers of persecution coming upon
the church from the pagan Roman government, but he does describe persecution
that comes from those who claim to be brethren.
Terry Johnson, pastor
of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia,in his recent commentary on Galatians
(Christian Focus, 2012) notes: “This mocking by Ishmael of Isaac
corresponds to the persecution of believers by those ensnared in legalism” (p.
He then adds from his own
I can only think of one time in twenty years that
our congregation has suffered persecution, either fierce or mild, from outside
the organized, visible church.But from
within?I can hardly think of anything
good that hasn’t been resisted, often fiercely.On a personal level, Christian people typically suffer more at the hands
of fellow professing Christians than worldlings.Remember Ishmael was a part of the visible
church.The longer I am in the ministry,
the more I am astonished at how cruel Christian people can be to one another,
all under the guise of righteousness as well.
Think of your own wounds and the scars of recent
years. Who has inflicted them?Who has
criticized your priorities?Who has
criticized your choices?Who has
discourages and defeated you?Has not
most of this come to you from within the visible church?....Why?Because the besetting sin of zealous Christians is a Pharisaic
self-righteousness.We all seem to have
our lists of things to which everyone must conform.I don’t mean biblical things like keeping the
Ten Commandments, tithing, witnessing, loving one’s neighbor, and so on.Of course we must all do those things.I mean extra-biblical expectations regarding
ways of doing things and saying things, and matters of judgment not principle,
about taking the left fork and not the right fork.We can become Pharisees about food and drink,
about child-rearing and education, about fashion and finances.Take care about what you say, when you say
it, and how you say it!Take care lest
unwittingly you become a persecutor of the saints (p. 123).