"But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother," (Galatians 4:26).
According to the World Mission Society Church of God, WMSCOG, this passage teaches that there is a Heavenly Mother.
There are a number of reasons why this passage does not teach the existence of a Heavenly Mother. First, the comparison of Jerusalem being our mother is an allegory which means that one should not take the comparison literally. In context, the book of Galatians is teaching about salvation by faith. In Galatians 4, Paul uses an allegory (verse 22) to make a comparison between two Old Testament characters Hagar and Sarah. Those who seek to be righteous by the law who are called children of the slave woman (Hagar in 4:24-26) and those who seek to be righteous by faith who are children of the free woman (4:22 and 30) or children of promise, (Sarah in 4:28).
Second, the “mother” (Greek μήτηρ meter) reference in Galatians 4:26 corresponds to the heavenly city of Jerusalem which represents Sarah who is the free woman mentioned in verse 22. Nowhere does this text call Sarah God and nowhere does this text mention God the heavenly Mother. It simply refers to those who are justified by faith. They are, figuratively speaking, children of the free woman Sarah (verse 31).
Third, Paul was well aware of the Greek term for God, theos, which he uses numerous times in Galatians and his other letters. If he wanted to teach the notion of God the Mother, he easily could have used theos here and combined it with meter in order to teach God the Mother. However, he did not.
Fourth, Paul believed that there was only one God in all of existence (known as monotheism). This monotheistic belief he expresses elsewhere in Galatians 3:20 as well as in his other letters (1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Romans 3:30). The idea that there are two gods, a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, is absolutely false. Please consider the following examples:
- "A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one," (Galatians 3:20, NIV1).
- "So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live," (1 Corinthians 8:4-6, NIV).
- "Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith," (Romans 3:29-30, NIV).
The context of this passage is clear. Paul plainly says he is using an allegory and thus speaking figuratively. Even if taken literally, the passage would say that the heavenly Jerusalem is Sarah, not a divine "God the Mother." Finally, the very idea of a second God goes completely against the clear and repeated testimony of Paul that there is only one God. The WMSCOG is completely misrepresenting this text to force their Mother God doctrine into the Bible.
- 1. The NIV is used because that is what the WMSCOG often uses