The Fullness of Time

W. Terry Varner
January 13, 2013

Generally, when reflecting on this time of the year known as the birth of Jesus, we envision gifts, decorated trees, tables filled with special foods, a peaceful and happy people, Bing Crosby singing, "White Christmas," etc. Strangely, we fail to consider all that was involved from God, whenever Jesus entered this world.

Paul writes, "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (Galatians 4:4, emp. added). What a declaration! The verse speaks of some things involved in the birth of Jesus that we might never have considered. Henry Alford writes of this phrase: "The Apostle uses the term with regard not only to the absolute will of God, but to the preparations which were made for the Redeemer of the world" (Greek New Testament, IV: 39).

God had a plan. In God's foreknowledge, He planned man's redemption before Creation (1 Peter 1:18-21). Of God's work for redeeming man, the Old Testament prophets, "searched and inquired carefully ... what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating" (1 Peter 1:10-11, ESV). When man fell into sin, he had no acceptable sacrifice for his sins, God immediately began to developing His plan (Genesis 3:15).

God sent His Son. Paul states, "God sent forth His Son" (Galatians 4:4). Jesus, "the Word became [took on] flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1-2, 14). When Jesus entered into the world, He did not enter as anybody else. His entrance was unique—the Virgin Birth, or the Incarnation. Mysterious? Yes. Exceptional? Yes. But, Jesus and His entire life was exceptional from the beginning to the end.

God selected a woman. Jesus was "made of a woman" (Galatians 4:4). In the Garden of Eden, God promised the seed of the woman would defeat Satan and his forces some time in the future (Genesis 5:15). The phrase "made of a woman" implies the preexistence of Jesus and the virgin birth; i.e. God becoming flesh (John 1:14). The phrase also is a reference to the mother of Jesus alone, with no paternal reference. The woman was a "virgin" (Isaiah 7:14) named Mary (Matthew 1:18, 22-23; Luke 1:27, 34). Talk about upsetting a woman's wedding plans. Now Joseph, who "had not known" Mary (Matthew 1:25; Luke 1:34), had decided to put her away privately (Matthew 1:19). God informed Joseph that He was selecting his bride to give birth to the Christ child. God had an angel appear to Joseph in a dream informing him of the facts (Matthew 1:20). Then both Mary (Luke 1:38j and Joseph (Matthew 1:24-25) were submissive to God's will.

God had a common language. God used Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) to conqueror the world and spread the Greek language throughout his empire. As far as we know Alexander the Great did not know God Jehovah, but he did believe in a god because he was a student of Aristotle. As Alexander the Great conquered one nation after another, he spread Greek culture, knowledge, and language. By the time of the first century, most educated people were bilingual and most common people spoke Greek as their native language. The Greek language which they spoke is known as koine Greek, meaning common Greek. When God's New Testament was written, it was written in common Greek (koine) and wherever the early Christians traveled throughout the Roman empire, the people could understand the gospel message. When God had His message written, by inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16), and codified into one book known as the New Testament, people were able to read His message.

God used the Roman Empire. When God sent forth His Son, the Roman empire had attained a universal peace known as the Pax Romana. This allowed the easy, unhindered spread of the gospel among the Jews, Greeks, and pagans. Combined with the universal peace was also a network of roads allowing great ease of travel and communication. Paul speaks of the gospel being spread "in all the world" (Colossians 1:16); i.e. the Roman empire.

These facts should help us to better understand God's role in bringing about His Son to save man.