Gal 4:26-28 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
Paul has just admonished his audience that Hagar (Agar) represents Mount Sinai, and that Mount Sinai is a type of the Jerusalem that is still clinging to the law. He further states that this Jerusalem is in bondage as are her children. He now calls on the brethren in Galatia to look to a higher source where there is freedom. The word translated as “free” indicates one who is a citizen rather than a slave according to Strong’s.
There is a Jerusalem that is above the one that compares to Mount Sinai. The first Jerusalem Paul mentions is in slavery with her children (they are only slaves or servants). The Jerusalem which is above is populated with citizens, not slaves. Citizens are free born and serve out of a deep well of liberty instead of legalism. Paul says this Jerusalem is “the mother of us all.” It is clear that he cannot be referring to those that are in bondage with legal Jerusalem, so who is the “us all” that Paul is speaking of?
First, we need to note that although Paul was a Roman citizen, a Jew, and a Pharisee after the flesh, he did not identify himself with that Jerusalem which is in bondage. Although he was one of her children at one time, by the grace of God he had been brought into this Jerusalem which is above. He identified himself with these brethren in Galatia (Gal 4:12). In doing so, Paul strongly denounced the authority of those that had come to trouble them about keeping the law.
He speaks of legal Jerusalem as “she which hath an husband,” and surely for many centuries the Jews had held the chosen position of having the first covenant that God had made with them. However, Paul is telling them that the coming of Jerusalem which is above (the gospel church), while not being able to claim a “husband” for as many years as the legalistic Jew could, would now have many more children than the Jerusalem of bondage.
There were many Jews who had refuted the truth of the prophets about the coming Messiah and the Gentiles had been held outside the covenant. With the coming of Jesus Christ, both the believing Jew and Gentile were now welcomed as citizens (free born) of this Jerusalem which is above. They (and we) have great cause for rejoicing, for she who was once called desolate (lonesome) has many more children.
Where do these children come from? Paul says we come from the same place as Isaac. Jesus Christ was the promised seed, of whom God told Abraham that in Him all nations would be blessed. Isaac was a child of promise; he was the product of God’s promise to Abraham. I say that Isaac was a child of promise because Paul tells us he was not the only one. We (the Galatian churches and us today), brethren, as Isaac was, are also the children of the promise that God made unto Abraham! We are not the promised seed (Jesus), but we are born out of that holy promise. Therefore, we are free born citizens of that Jerusalem which is above.
May we give God all the praise, honor, and glory that we are free born and recognize this is by His grace alone!