The Fullness of Time and the Gospel

21 Apr
from Google Images

from Google Images

In Galatians 4:4 Paul mentions something called the fullness of time. This was when God sent Jesus into the world. The time of the “coming of Jesus” was predicted 483 years earlier during the time of Daniel, which he records in his 70 Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). It was a time for which God had prepared the world—it was during the Pax Romana when the nations enjoyed relative peace and freedom of travel wasn’t hindered. It was a time when the Greek language was understood throughout the west and in parts of the east, so the Gospel could be understood by many. It was a time when sea travel was safe and roads, built to permit swift military travel throughout the Roman Empire, allowed very good personal travel throughout the civilized world.

Such free and save travel would not be attained again, to the degree it enjoyed under Rome, until the 19th century. The fullness of time had to do with one age ending and another beginning. The Age of Law in which the Lord dealt with mankind in and through the Jewish nation governed by the Law of Moses was ending. The Age of Grace in which the Lord deals with mankind through faith in Christ—through the Gospel—was beginning.

In Galatians 4:4-5 Paul makes five statements concerning the fullness of time. It was the time God sent his Son; it was when God’s Son was born of woman; it was when God’s Son was born under law; it was when God’s Son was sent to redeem those under law; it was the time appointed by the Father when we should be adopted as his sons and daughters.

By being born under the Law, Jesus took the position of a servant (cf. Philippians 2:6-7). God waited cir. 4000 years to send his Son, because he had chosen to work through men and not merely bring things into existence like he did with the world. We had to come to the point, or brought to that point under his supervision, when we could understand enough to make a mature decision concerning Jesus.

The fullness of time marked a great change in mankind’s relationship with God, according to Galatians 4:6-7. Believing gentiles became God’s children and received the Spirit of Christ into their hearts which witnesses to us that we are, indeed, God’s children. Therefore, we are no more servants, but sons and heirs to the promises.

According to Galatians 4:6 we, first, become the child of God through faith in Christ, and then, as children, we received the Spirit of Christ. Having Christ’s Spirit has to do with experiencing our relationship to our Father as his child; it is proof that we are children of God, and not only so, but it gives us intimacy with him.

When my father was alive I never called him “father”. I always addressed him as “Dad” or “Daddy”, and this extended into my adult life. This is also true of how my daughters address me. When speaking to someone else about my “Dad” I always referred to him as my “father”. Do I ever call God “Daddy”? Yes, but not often. It is strange, isn’t it, that I would express more intimacy with my earthly father than my heavenly Father?

God sent his Son into the world (Galatians 4:4) that we might become the children of God (Galatians 4:5), and it is the Spirit of Christ within us that witnesses to us that we are God’s children (Galatians 4:6; cf. Romans 8:15-16, 26-27). According to Galatians 4:7, we receive an inheritance through Christ, and our inheritance is God, himself.

According to Galatians 4:8-10 Paul claims that by doing as the Judaizers taught, the Galatians rejected their new birth in Christ and his Spirit in order to return to the authority of the elements of the world, which they were under as immature children. This implies that the Galatians were able to decide between being treated as an adult or as a child, as free men and women or as servants, as being in Christ or being in rebellion.

In Galatians 4:8 Paul refers to the Galatians’ former paganism which he referred to in Galatians 4:3 as bondage to the elements of the world. It is interesting to note how Paul corrects himself in Galatians 4:9. He claims to know the true God is one thing, but to be known by him involves walking in his Spirit—it involves God **knowing** not just our names, but our behavior (cf. Matthew 25:1-12). If God doesn’t know us in our behavior (Matthew 7:21-23), whatever we do was done of our own initiative, and not at the prompting of God’s Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13) and doesn’t involve the works he had planned for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

In Galatians 4:3, 8 the elements of the world involved paganism, but in Galatians 4:9 Paul likens the elements of the world to the Law of Moses! He claims the Law is weak and beggarly, because it is powerless; it cannot make us righteous. It is beggarly because both it and paganism are unable to bestow any riches upon us; they cannot promise life. Life is a gift from God (Romans 6:23) that comes only through Jesus.

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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Epistle to the Galatians, Paul


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