Paul now turns to the practical implications of the arguments he has made in Gal. 1-4. In particular, he focuses on how the Galatians should treat each other. The introduction of the teaching of the Judaizers was destabilizing and led to division (2:11; see Acts 15:2).The unity of the church was threatened, which may explain why Paul says so much about love and warns so much about factionalism in these two chapters (5:6; 5:13-15; 5:20; 5:22—23; 5:26; 6:1-2). In some respects 5:2-15 is a bridge between the arguments Paul made and the applications he intended to make.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Paul concludes the middle section of the letter with an allegory. Allegories are extended metaphors, and they were an accepted form of argumentation in the rhetoric of the first century. Paul’s allegory revolves around the stories of Sarah and Hagar, and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
It is interesting that the first century Jewish writer, Philo, made an argument based on a similar allegory with regard to education. He compared Hagar to the elementary subjects we must learn, and Sarah to the deeper knowledge of virtue (The Preliminary Studies, I-V).
It may very well be that Paul is responding to an allegorical argument made by the Judaizers, who may have concluded that since Ishmael and even foreigners had to be circumcised (Gen. 17:23-27), that Gentiles even in the era of the gospel had to be as well.