Thursday, August 27, 2015

Two Mothers, Two Covenants, Two Children...

"This must follow, unless we break the chain of the apostle's reasoning. If Sara and Hagar were the typical mothers of believers and of unbelievers respectively, then indeed they were very expressive types of these two opposite covenants under which their respective seeds do stand. — As the one mother was a handmaid or servant to the other, so in the depths of adorable wisdom, the one covenant was made subservient to the other. The law is our school-master to bring us unto Christ, Gal. iii. 24. The covenant of works drives sinners to that of grace. Sara was prior to Hagar, and the Abrahamic covenant to that from Sinai. Sara excelled Hagar in dignity, and so does the Abrahamic covenant the Sinaitic. Hagar, however, soon brought forth a son, not so Sara. The children of the bond-woman are always older than those of the free. Never a saint, but he was a sinner first. The flesh is elder than the Spirit, nature than grace. How fitly may the two covenants be compared to mothers? In virtue of the covenant of works we are born the children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. In virtue of the promise of the covenant of grace we are born again, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. In both cases we are merely passive, corruption being conveyed by the curse of the one covenant, and regeneration by the promise of the other. These two mothers divide the whole of the human race betwixt them. Not a man but is a son of the one, or of the other. And, says our apostle, we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise, Gal. iv. 28." [emphasis added]
Thomas Bell, A View of the Covenants of Works and Grace. 1814 


  1. "That the two covenants in the text are meant of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, may be proved from the two cities mentioned by our apostle, viz. the earthly Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem which is above, called elsewhere the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, Heb. xii. 22. Jerusalem which now is, says our apostle, is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all, Gal. iv. 25, 26. Here are two cities, each of which is said to be a mother: the one in bondage with her children, the other free with hers. The one was the Jerusalem which existed when our apostle wrote to the Galatians. As to her, we know, that having rejected the Lord Redeemer, the was now in the most miserable bondage, and about 20 years after utterly destroyed."
    - Thomas Bell

  2. "Hence we may learn several important points of doctrine, as 1st. That the New Testament throws much additional light on the Old. Had it not been for what we read in the text, we never could have known that God intended the history of Sara, Hagar, and their sons, to be a typical representation of the two covenants, with their respective adherents. There we read that the things recorded concerning Abraham, them, and their sons, are allegorized. As was said above, the apostle did not make them an allegory, but rinding them so, he taught us the import ant truth."
    - Thomas Bell

  3. Two mothers, but one father, Abraham.

    Hagar was a slave in Abraham's house.

    Genesis 16: 8 He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”

    Genesis 16: 9 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.

    By the use of this epithet," Calvin writes, "the angel declares that Hagar still remained a servant, though she had escaped the hands of her mistress; because liberty is not to be obtained by stealth, nor by flight, but by manumission."

    Circumcision is not only about the Mosaic covenant, but also about Abraham and Ishmael. . The covenant with Abraham was conditional, and could be broken---at least in terms of a person being cut off from it

    Genesis 17:14 If any male is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that man will be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant

    Genesis 17: 26 On that same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised.

  4. The promise, both typical (possessing earthly Canaan) and redemptive (possesing Christ through faith), were given through Isaac. Ishmael was not the conduit of the promise even though circumcised. Yet any in his line who were marked out for salvation would indeed be recipients through faith of the promise through Isaac. If one doesn't believe the promise (faith in Christ) then he is cast out, no matter circumcision or baptism.

  5. One lesson to learn is that there is more than one promise in the Abrahamic covenant. So we should be careful not to say "the promise" without talking about other promises and threats. Why would you need to say "one promise with two (or more) aspects" when you could simply say "promises"?

    Genesis 16: 9 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.”[e] 10 The Angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.” 11 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her: You have conceived and will have a son.
    You will name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction.
    12 This man will be like a wild donkey.
    His hand will be against everyone,
    and everyone’s hand will be against him;
    he will live at odds with all his brothers.
    13 So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?” 14 That is why she named the spring, “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.”

    Lee Irons—"They say that all types must typify grace. Therefore, they argue, the works principle or merit cannot be typified in the OT. Response: This principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath.

  6. Ligon Duncan — So as far as Moses is concerned, there is no radical dichotomy between what God is doing with His people in the time of the Exodus and what God promised to Abraham. In fact, he says that the reason God came to His people’s rescue was because He remembered the promise He had made with Abraham. In Genesis chapter 15, God went out of His way to tell Abraham about the oppression of Israel in Egypt and about the fact that He was going to bring them out of Egypt as a mighty nation, and that He was going to give them the land of Canaan. Moses goes out of his way in both Genesis and in Exodus 2 to link the Mosaic Economy with the Abrahamic Covenant, so that the Mosaic Economy isn’t something that is replacing the way that God deals with His people. under Abraham. The Mosaic economy is expanding what God was doing with His people through Abraham.

  7. Bryan Estelle (the law is not of faith)--- By the time of the New Testament Israel’s disobedience has triggered the curse sanctions. Therefore, the new covenant context has essentially changed matters … What was prototypical during the Abrahamic covenant has been eclipsed by what is antitypical [eternal life].

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  9. Scott Clark—Even though there were typological (land) and even national elements in the promises given to Abraham (Gen 12 and 15) they were only temporary expressions of the more fundamental promise to send a Savior.