"Now this I say, the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth
nothing from a servant (Gr. doulos = bondslave), though he
be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors until the
time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were
children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
But when the fullness of the time was come. God sent forth
his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem
them that were under the law, that we might receive the
adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent
forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba,
Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son;
and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now and to change my voice, for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was bom after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar (Hagar). For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 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. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
It seems to be accepted by most conservative Bible
students that the Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus primarily
as king, the Gospel of Mark as a servant (or bond-slave).
Luke's Gospel as a man and the Gospel of John as God,
incarnate. If we think of this four-fold aspect of Christ in terms
of sonship, we can easily perceive that Matthew presents him as
the Son of David, Luke as the Son of Man, and John as the Son
of God. But how does Mark present him in terms of sonship?
The answer is found in our text - as the son of the
bondwoman! In the passage which we have quoted from the
fourth chapter of Galatians, Paul affirms that the historical facts
concerning Sarah, Hagar, and their two sons, Isaac and Ishmael,
constitute an allegory, or a story, which, beside its apparent
content, teaches a moralistic or spiritual truth by analogy. Paul
states that Hagar typically represents the covenant which the
Jews received at Mount Sinai - that of the law. Sarah, by the
same analogy, stands for the covenant of grace. Ishmael, the
son whom Hagar bore to Abraham, was born in bondage, since
his mother was a bond-slave. Isaac, though, was free-born,
since he was born of Sarah, who was a freewoman. Ishmael,
born of Hagar (who represents the law) therefore represents
those who are born under the bondage of the law - specifically
the Jews. Isaac, born of the freewoman, typifies those who (by
the new birth) are born under the freedom of grace. Since
those who are born under the law are (typically or figuratively
speaking) children of the bondwoman, then it follows that
Christ, himself, having been made under the law (Gal. 4:4) was
a son of the bondwoman, and as such is portrayed by the
Both Isaac and Ishmael are types of Christ, though naturally they are in considerable contrast with each other. Briefly, Isaac typifies Christ as the seed to whom the promises were made, (Galatians 3:16-19), and as the son whom his father spared not, but delivered him up. (Romans 8:32). Ishmael, in contrast, represents Christ (just as he did every other Jew) as the son of the bondwoman - one who had been born under the bondage of the law. Ishmael was not only the son of Abraham, but, having been born of Abraham's bond-slave, was also a slave or servant of his father. This dual relationship corresponds exactly with that of Christ to the Father - both son and servant, or bondslave. Note the words:
"I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the
will of him that sent me."
These words reveal His servant status, as do also many Old
Testament prophecies in which Christ is prophetically referred
to as my servant.
continued at top of next column
Ishmael further typifies Christ as the son who:
"... offered up prayers and entreaties to Him that was able to
save him from death, and was heard ..."
In Genesis 21:17, after Hagar and Ishmael had been sent away from Abraham's home, and were seemingly at the point of death because of thirst, we read:
"And God heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is."
Compare this passage with Hebrews 5:7:
"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard, in that he feared."
Of course, Ishmael was praying to be saved from death, by
preservation, while Jesus was praying to be saved from (Greek
ek - out of) death, by resurrection.
The name Ishmael in
Hebrew, denotes heard of God.
Christ is prophetically called the son of the bondwoman in Psalms 86 and 116. The 86th Psalm, in particular, may very well set forth the prayers and supplication mentioned in Hebrews 5:7. We quote the Psalm in its entirety so that the reader may judge for himself:
"Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul, for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name forevermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God fulll of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me."
Psalm 116:16 reads:
"O LORD, truly I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds."
By becoming a son of the bondwoman, Jesus was able to redeem those who were likewise under the bondage of the law. A bondman's service in those days was usually terminated by his death. Jesus became a bondslave and died as such, and through the gracious provision of God, any one who will, may, by trusting Christ as his Savior, enter into the death of Jesus and become legally dead to sin, to the law, and to the world. Being legally free from these things, the believer in Christ is freed from bondage to them.
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:
that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory
of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life... for he that is dead is freed from sin."
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."