In the Fullness of Time – Galatians 4:4

4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.NKJV

Why did Jesus come when he did? The “why” may be unanswerable, except that God knew it was the right time, the “fullness.”

When Jesus was born, everything was right for the coming of the Messiah.

  • The time was right religiously. During the Babylonian captivity, Israel once and for all forsook the idolatry into which she had so often fallen. Despite their many other sins and failures, including the national rejection of their own Messiah, no significant number of Jews has ever again turned to idolatry.
  • Also during the Exile, Jews developed synagogues, which they used as places of worship, as schools, and as courts. In addition to that, they at last had the completed Old Testament, assembled by Ezra and others after the return from Babylon. Those features facilitated the proclaiming of the Messiah’s gospel among the people of Israel. The Jews were expectant, eagerly awaiting their Messiah. Messianic fervor was at its height. Into this world came Jesus.
  • Next, the time was right culturally. The Greek civilization provided a language that had spread across much of the known world as the main language for all people. Christians who shared the gospel during the first several centuries had a common language with those to whom they witnessed and with whom they worshiped. Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world, and these continued their dominating influence long after Rome succeeded Greece as world ruler
  • Next, the time was right politically. Rome had instituted the pax Romana (Roman peace), which provided economic and political stability. The apostles and other early preachers and teachers could travel freely and safely throughout the empire and could do so on the magnificent system of roads built by the Romans.

Each of those factors was in some unique way a key to the spread of the gospel. God’s timing was perfect.

Ultimately, the term “fullness of time” refers more clearly to the time of Christ’s arrival rather than to a climate caused by other events that somehow made Jesus’ birth inevitable. Just as a Roman father would set the date for his son to reach maturity and attain freedom from his guardians, so God had set the date when he would send forth His Son to free people from the law, to become his children. Guided by a sovereign God, historical events worked in harmony to prepare for the pre decided moment of Jesus’ arrival on earth. God chose the exact time (see also Psalm 102:13; Mark 1:15; and Ephesians 1:10).

For centuries the Jews had been wondering when their Messiah would come—but God’s timing was perfect. We may sometimes wonder if God will ever respond to our prayers, but we must never doubt him or give up hope. At the right time he will respond. Are you waiting for God’s timing? Trust his judgment, and trust that he has your best interests in mind.

The reference to Jesus as sent indicates his preexistence as well as his endorsement by God in the overall plan of salvation. The sending also clarifies the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The former lovingly sends, while the latter obediently goes. This act of divine sending is mentioned forty-one times in the Gospel of John (for example, see John 3:16-17; 17:18;). At the conclusion of that mission, Jesus prefaced his own “sending” of us into the world by claiming, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go . . .” Matthew 28:18-19 niv. Jesus successfully submitted to his Father’s authority. Therefore, God gave him authority over us, both to rescue us and to send us out into the world.

Jesus was born of a woman—he was God yet also human (Genesis 3:15; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1, 14). Paul balanced his amazing claims about Jesus’ divine nature with his reminder of Jesus’ human character.

Born under the law, Jesus was a human; thus he was voluntarily subject to the structured universe that he had created (John 1:3-5) and that had been marred by human rebellion. More significantly, Jesus lived as a Jew, subject to God’s revealed law. In keeping with this, Jesus was both circumcised and presented at the temple (Luke 2:21-32). Yet while no other human being has been able to perfectly fulfill God’s law, Jesus kept it completely (Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus could be the perfect sacrifice because, although fully human, he never sinned. His death bought freedom for us who were enslaved to sin, offering us redemption and adoption into God’s family.


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Sources: Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Galatians, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1994), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “GALATIANS 3:1-4:7”.
John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 106-109.

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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