Galatians 4:21-31: The law from Sinai is bondage?

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Galatians 4:21-31

Verse 26 speaks of the Jerusalem which is above is free… represented by the covenant of the free… the free women. But verse 25 says that the one from Sinai is bondage? So I went back to Sinai to read, and notice what I found:

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not……” (Exo 20:2)

I noticed that just before God gave the 10 Commandments, he said that he took them out of bondage. But then he gave them the 10 Commandments. Paul clearly speaks of some covenant that came from Sinai which puts you in bondage, but… did God take them out of bondage to give them more bondage? As I asked myself this question, I learned the following. Paul says this was bondage covenant is from mount Sinai (verse 24) however I discovered that the covenant of the Ten Commandments were not from Sinai, but from heaven:

-Exodus 20:22
And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

-Deuteronomy 3:36
Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire

-Deuteronomy 3:33
Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?

-Nehemiah 9:13
Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments

God came “down” upon Mount Sinai when he spoke to Moses privately, but when he spoke to all of Israel, he spoke “from heaven” and all heard God himself speak it (Deut. 10:4). Paul mentions this covenant is the covenant of the free, and he knew this to be true, because James in speaking about this covenant quoting few of them says they are of the “law of liberty” –James 2:10-12. No wonder Paul back in Galatians 4 speaks of the covenant of the FREE which is from Jerusalem ABOVE… it was the covenant of the Ten Commandments which was spoken at Sinai, but from heaven above. And we know there is a city Jerusalem which is in heaven (John 14:2; Heb. 11:16; Rev. 21:2).

So what covenant was the one which was spoken at Sinai? The law spoken by God but given to the people not by hearing God speak it from heaven, but through his servant Moses who God spoke it to… the Mosaic law, the covenant containing additional laws…

Exodus 24:3-7
(3) And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.
(4) And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
(5) And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.
(6) And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
(7) And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.

This book of the law was placed “separately” OUTSIDE the Ark from the covenant of Ten commandment (Deut. 31:26) which contained curses that were against us, which Paul quotes when metioning the “book of the law” (Gal. 3:10). He later says we are redeemed from its curses (verse 13) and its obligations (Eph 3:15) saying that this which was against us was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14). This book contained the feast sabbaths also… which is why he mentions the sabbath days here in verse 16 in the same Hebraic language these are generally mentioned of in the OT (Lev. 23:37).

Why then does he mention also “days” in Galatians 4:10? Because some feast days were on certain days, new moons were on a “day” every month, and on a “day” the lamb was slaughtered, on a “day” the high priest entered the most holy in the sanctuary (Day of Atonement).

God himself sets a difference between his seventh day Sabbath and the feast sabbaths when he says it is “besides” my sabbaths (Lev. 23:38). The word “beside” in this verse is the Hebrew word “bad” meaning “seperate.” For a closer look at this word and Colossians 2:14, Click Here.

If we do not view Paul’s words in Galatians 4:21-31 as speaking about the ceremonial mosaic law as the law of bondage, we will run into a contradiction with Exodus 20:2.


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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