4:24 allegory. When God’s Word is meant to be interpreted allegorically, the text indicates such. Symbolic, figurative, or parabolic language is occasionally used in the Bible, but this is normally clearly evident in the context. When the author does not indicate such language, the safe and proper way to interpret a text is not to interpret it at all, but simply to assume it means exactly what it says and to proceed on that basis. On the other hand, even this allegory is predicated on the actual historicity of the story of Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael. In no way does Paul suggest that the events discussed did not really happen. The “spiritualizing” method of interpreting historical narratives (e.g., the Genesis record of creation) to avoid having to accept them as real history, is always unscriptural and dishonoring to God and His Word. In the special case here, both the historical record and the allegorical lesson derived from it must be taken as divinely inspired.
4:24 Agar. Hagar, Sarah’s maid, was the mother of a son sired by Abraham when he and Sarah became impatient in waiting for the promised son, Isaac. In the allegory, Hagar represents the law given at Sinai and the city of Jerusalem, whose “children,” like their mother, are in bondage, under the law (Galatians 4:25).