on Galatians 4 :27
Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not - This quotation is taken from Isaiah 54:1, and is certainly a promise which relates to the conversion of the Gentiles, as the following clause proves; for the desolate - the Gentile world, hath many more children - is a much larger and more numerous Church, than she - Jerusalem, the Jewish state, which hath a husband - has been so long in covenant with God, living under his continual protection, and in possession of a great variety of spiritual advantages; and especially those offered to her by the Gospel, which she has rejected, and which the Gentiles have accepted.
on Galatians 4 :27
For it is written - This passage is found in Isaiah 54:1. For an exposition of its meaning as it occurs there, see my notes at Isaiah. The object of the apostle in introducing it here seems to be to prove that the Gentiles as well as the Jews would partake of the privileges connected with the heavenly Jerusalem. He had in the previous verse spoken of the Jerusalem from above as the common mother of all, true Christians, whether by birth Jews or Gentiles. This might be disputed or doubted by the Jews; and he therefore adduces this proof from the Old Testament. Or if it was not doubted, still the quotation was pertinent, and would illustrate the sentiment which he had just uttered. The mention of Jerusalem as a mother seems to have suggested this text. Isaiah had spoken of Jerusalem as a female that had been long desolate and childless, now rejoicing by a large accession from the Gentile world, and increased in numbers like a female who should have more children than one who had been long married. To this Paul appropriately refers when he says that the whole church, Jews and Gentiles, were the children of the heavenly Jerusalem, represented here as a rejoicing mother. He has not quoted literally from the Hebrew, but he has used the Septuagint version, and has retained the sense. The sense is, that the accession from the Gentile world would be far more numerous than the Jewish people had ever been; a prophecy that has been already fulfilled.
Rejoice thou barren that bearest not - As a woman who has had no children would rejoice. This represents probably the pagan world as having been apparently forsaken and abandoned, and with whom there had been none of the true children of God.
Break forth and cry - Or "break forth and exclaim;" that is, break out into loud and glad exclamations at the remarkable accession. The cry here referred to was to be a joyful cry or shout; the language of exultation. So the Hebrew word in Isaiah 54:1 צהל tsaahal means.
For the desolate - She who was desolate and apparently forsaken. It literally refers to a woman who had seemed to be desolate and forsaken, who was unmarried. In Isaiah it may refer to Jerusalem, long forsaken and desolate, or as some suppose to the Gentile world; see my note at Isaiah 54:1.
Than she which hath an husband - Perhaps referring to the Jewish people as in covenant with God, and often spoken of as married to him; Isaiah 62:4-5; Isaiah 54:5.
on Galatians 4 :27
4:27 For it is written - Those words in the primary sense promise a flourishing state to Judea, after its desolation by the Chaldeans. Rejoice. thou barren, that bearest not - Ye heathen nations, who, like a barren woman, were destitute, for many ages, of a seed to serve the Lord. Break forth and cry aloud for joy, thou that, in former time, travailedst not: for the desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband - For ye that were so long utterly desolate shall at length bear more children than the Jewish church, which was of old espoused to God. Isa 54:1.