SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.43 issue1The theological polemic purpose of Genesis 1 - 3: Implications for the reformed doctrine on original sinContinual academic development of the AFM pastor: Challenges in the new millennium author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441

In Skriflig (Online) vol.43 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2009




Paul's use of slavery imagery in the Hagar allegory


Paulus se gebruik van slawerny as beeld in die Hagarallegorie



P. Balla

School of Ecclesiastical Science & Ancient Languages, Potchefstroom Campus. North-West University. Potchefstroom. E-mail:




In this article it is examined how Paul used slavery imagery in Galatians 4 when dealing with the theme of God's "children". The use of words related to the semantic field of slavery in Galatians is briefly discussed. Paul uses these words both with their literal meaning and in a figurative sense. This is also true for the main passage to be discussed in this article - the Hagar allegory. In Galatians 4, Paul first speaks about a real slave woman, and then uses this imagery to describe those who do not accept God's promises to have been fulfilled in Jesus. The way Paul uses the term "allegorise" is examined. It is argued that in Galatians 4 Paul uses the slavery imagery in order to speak about aspects of one's relationship to God. The background of his use of the Hagar allegory is his "salvation historical" view concerning God's covenantal relationship to his people. He uses allusions to Old Testament texts to express his view regarding who belongs to God's people in the era of the new covenant.


In hierdie artikel word Paulus se gebruik van die slawerny-beeld in Galasiërs 4 ondersoek. Eers word ander woorde in Galasiërs uit die slawerny-betekenisveld kortliks bestudeer. Paulus gebruik hierdie woorde letterlik sowel as figuurlik. Dit geld ook van die deel van Galasiërs wat in hierdie artikel bespreek word, naamlik die Hagar-allegorie. In Galasiërs 4 praat Paulus eers van n werklike slavin, en dan gebruik hy dit as beeld om die-gene te beskryf wat nie aanvaar dat God se beloftes in Jesus vervul is nie. Die wyse waarop Paulus die term "allegoriseef' gebruik, word ook ondersoek. Die argument is dat Paulus in Galasiërs 4 slawerny as beeld gebruik om aspekte van 'n mens se verhouding met God te beskryf. Die agtergrond van sy gebruik van die Hagar-allegorie is sy openbaringshistoriese benadering van God se verbondsverhouding met sy volk. Met toespelings op Ou-Testamentiese gedeeltes gee hy uitdrukking aan sy beskouing oor wie deel uitmaak van die volk van God in die nuwe verbond.



“Full text available only in PDF format”



List of references

BAUER, W. 1979. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. 2nd ed. Transl. by W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.         [ Links ]

BETZ, H.D. 1988. Galatians: a commentary on Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia. Philadelphia: Fortress.         [ Links ]

BRUCE, F.F. 1982. The epistle of Paul to the Galatians: a commentary on the Greek text. Exeter: Paternoster.         [ Links ]

CARSON, D.A. & MOO, D.J. 2005. An introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.         [ Links ]

DAVIS, B.S. 2002. Christ as devotio: the argument of Galatians 3:1-14. New York: University Press of America.         [ Links ]

DUNN, J.D.G. 1993. The epistle to the Galatians. Peabody: Hendrickson.         [ Links ]

ELLIOTT, S. 2003. Cutting too close for comfort: Paul's letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian cultic context. London: Clark International.         [ Links ]

HAYS, R.B. 2000. The letter to the Galatians: introduction, commentary, and reflections. (In Keck, L.E., ed. The new interpreter's Bible. Vol. 11. Nashville: Abingdon. p. 181-348.         [ Links ])

HODGE, C.E.J. 2007. If sons, then heirs: a study of kinship and ethnicity in the letters of Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

LONGENECKER, R.N. 1990. Galatians. Dallas: Word Books.         [ Links ]

MARTYN, J.L. 1985. Apocalyptic antinomies in Paul's letter to the Galatians. New Testament studies, 31(3):410-424.         [ Links ]

MARTYN, J.L. 1997. Galatians: a new translation with introduction and commentary. New York: Doubleday.         [ Links ]

MORRIS, L. 1996. Galatians: Paul's charter of Christian freedom. Downers Grove: InterVarsity.         [ Links ]

NANOS, M.D., ed. 2002a. The Galatians debate: contemporary issues in rhetorical and historical interpretation. Peabody: Hendrickson.         [ Links ]

NANOS, M.D. 2002b. The irony of Galatians: Paul's letter in first-century context. Minneapolis: Fortress.         [ Links ]

ROHDE, J. 1989. Der Brief des Paulus an die Galater. 1. Auflage der Neubearbeitung. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt.         [ Links ]

SILVA, M. 2007. Galatians. (In Beale, G.K. & Carson, D.A., eds. Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. p. 785-812.         [ Links ])

THIELMAN, F. 1989. From plight to solution: a Jewish framework for understanding Paul's view of the law in Galatians and Romans. Leiden: Brill.         [ Links ]

VOUGA, F. 1998. An die Galater. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.         [ Links ]

WAKEFIELD, A.H. 2003. Where to live: the hermeneutical significance of Paul's citations from Scripture in Galatians 3:1-14. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.         [ Links ]

WITHERINGTON III, B. 2004. Grace in Galatia: a commentary on Paul's letter to the Galatians. London: Clark International.         [ Links ]

YARBROUGH, R.W. 2004. The salvation historical fallacy? Reassessing the history of New Testament theology. Leiden: Deo Publishing.         [ Links ]

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License