Casting Out the Bondwoman--Part 1
Jul 31, 2009
In Galatians 4:30, Paul quotes from Genesis 21:10,
"Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman."
Paul was appealing to the Galatian Christians to separate themselves from Judaism, their dependence upon the temple and its priesthood, and from the Old Covenant itself. This is an almost perfect mirror image (opposite) of what Christian Zionism teaches today.
Whereas Paul taught that Judaism was "contrary to all men" (1 Thess. 2:15), Christianity teaches that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16). Whereas Paul taught that God now inhabits human flesh as His temple, Judaism continues to seek a temple built of wood and stone. Whereas Paul taught (in Hebrews 5-7) that a Melchizedek Order is now the legitimate priesthood that is called to dispense the inheritance of God, Judaism continues to seek a restored Aaronic priesthood. Whereas Paul taught that animal sacrifices were replaced by the True Sacrifice of Christ, Judaism seeks to build an altar on the site of the old temple and resume such animal sacrifices.
Unfortunately, Christian Zionism has largely come into agreement with Judaistic Zionism. The only significant difference is this: Judaism never did accept the ways of the New Covenant; Christian Zionism teaches that the New Covenant was either applicable only to non-Jews or just a temporary interlude.
Such a ridiculous teaching would put Paul, Peter, and all the other apostles under the constraints of the Old Covenant, given their genealogy as Galileans and Judeans. I think that Paul would object vociferously and point to his letters to the Galatians and Hebrews to prove his point.
There are not two gospels, as some have taught, one for Jews and one for non-Jews. There is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. In Acts 4:12, Peter told the rulers of the temple,
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
That is because only Jesus Christ died as the Lamb without blemish to pay the penalty for our sin. All others, though perhaps good men, could not do this, for they all had sinned and were equally in need of this Sacrifice on their behalf.
All other religions require their believers to do something for themselves to be saved. Good works are not a bad thing, of course, but they cannot resolve the underlying problem. Good works may, to some extent, provide restitution to the offended parties and bring reconciliation between enemies; but these works resolve only low-level offenses. What about the underlying offense to God Himself? Can any man do enough good works to pay for his offenses to God?
Men may try, and this often makes zealots of men. It can even motivate them to kill others for the sake of God's honor and dignity. Such people are unaware of the true character of God, because they have never really known Jesus Christ, who is the "express image" of God (Heb. 1:3).
Essentially, Old Covenant religion, regardless of its label, is a religion requiring man's works or labor to earn salvation or to assist in its attainment. The New Covenant, on the other hand, puts all those requirements upon Jesus Christ Himself, because His life was worth more than all of the debt ever created by sin by every man who ever lived. In giving His life, He paid the full penalty for sin without any help from others.
Those of the New Covenant are thus able to obtain release in the divine court, on the grounds that the entire debt of sin has already been paid in full. The believer is therefore able to begin a new life of being led by the Spirit without carrying a load of guilt from Adam and from his own prior life. He can now begin to learn obedience, not in order to attain salvation, but because he has already attained it. The Law now functions as a teaching tool to define sin for him (1 John 3:4), so that he knows better how to obey God AFTER obtaining Grace.
To cast out the bondwoman (Old Covenant) first means to abandon the use of the Law as a means of salvation. It is to stop trying to work for one's salvation and forgiveness for past sin. It means that we should stop working in our own strength to establish something that Jesus Christ has already accomplished. If we have confidence (faith) in His work on the cross, then we will indeed know the forgiveness of sin. Those who do not believe this have little choice but to remain under the Old Covenant and continue their attempts to work hard enough to prove their "faith" in God and to be pleasing in His sight.
The "Dual Covenant Theology" permeating Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism today teaches that there are two ways of salvation, depending on one's genealogy. Jews are said to be saved by the law; Christians by grace. Jews are chosen with or without Jesus Christ; Christians must believe in Jesus Christ, and if they dare to be obedient to the law, they somehow fall from grace.
As it works out in practice, the teaching is that Jews are saved by being zealous for the traditions of men, which they call "the law," but which are actually the Talmudic Traditions and cultural practices that destroy the law of God. In contrast to this, Christians are said to be saved by casting aside the law altogether.
These two views are equally condemned in Scripture, because they characterize the national religious practices of Judah and Israel. Judah was condemned for its hypocritical religion, in which they pretend to follow the law, but actually violate it continually. Israel was condemned for its blatant lawlessness. In Jeremiah 3:1-11, God condemns Israel for being an open harlot with other gods, and in verse 8 condemns Judah for being a secret harlot.
(11) And the Lord said to me, "Faithless Israel has proven herself more righteous than treacherous Judah."
These two religious systems are with us yet today. Both are biblical harlots. Each violates the law of God in its own way.
Paul says to "cast out the bondwoman and her son." The bondwoman is the Old Covenant, he says, and her son represents the individual adherents of Old Covenant religion. Christian Zionists like to think of this in terms of Islam, because of the Arab genealogical connection with Hagar and Ishmael. But Paul obviously extends this to Judaism itself and makes no direct reference to Islam, which had not yet been founded.
Does this mean "God is finished with the Jews"? No, of course not. He is not finished with anyone. God intends to save all mankind, and He will not be finished until His goal of history has been reached. I am simply saying with Paul that all men are on an equal footing in regard to being sinners (Rom. 3:10-12). All are therefore equally under the sentence of the law (Rom. 3:19). And all ("without distinction") are equally justified by faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ that has paid the full penalty for their sin (Rom. 3:22).
This idea that God will give a free pass to those of Abrahamic genealogy simply do not understand the gospel, nor do they understand the conflict between equality-minded Christianity and privileged-class Judaism. People hate Paul for different reasons, but Judaism hates him mostly for making all men equal in the sight of God and removing the privileged status of Jews. If you read the book of Acts, you will see that the Jews hated him while the Greek believers loved him for this very reason. The Greek believers were no doubt tired of being treated like second-class citizens of the Kingdom. Paul demolished that wall of separation (Eph. 2:14) that had divided them up by genealogy.
This is the first part of a series titled "Casting Out the Bondwoman." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones