Original Research

Paul’s use of slavery imagery in the Hagar allegory

P. Balla
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 43, No 1 | a217 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v43i1.217 | © 2009 P. Balla | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2009 | Published: 26 July 2009

About the author(s)

P. Balla, School of Ecclesiastical Science & Ancient Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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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 wo- man, 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 re- garding who belongs to God’s people in the era of the new covenant.


Gods Promises; Hagar Allegory; Slavery Imagery; Two Covenants


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