But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
The Fulness Of Time
God had promised in the Garden of Eden that a Seed would come that would bruise the head of Satan in response to the fall of man. The story of the Seed promise unfolds throughout history, from the saving of the eight in the ark to the promise to Abram that through him, all nations would be blessed. There were times the fragile events of human history seemed at odds against the Seed coming, but the time came that God’s promise came true. It was the most pivotal moment in time. Nothing compares to the series of events that began when the angel of God appeared to a young couple in the city of Nazareth that would literally and forever change the world. The coming of Jesus was not a coincidence or an unplanned event. What happened in that little town of Galilee is what the apostle refers to as the “fulness of time.”
In the scheme of redemption, there was a singular appropriate time the work of salvation must begin. The set time had fully come of the revelation of God’s will through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. A specific particle of historical blending of events was the right time when Jesus must come to earth. Everything was in place as designed and purposed by God. The factors were all aligned in providential care by the hand of God. As the angel spoke to Joseph and Mary, the scroll of divine wisdom began to open in perfect succession. It would reach a climax nearly thirty-three years later when Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.
The fulness of time is multi-layered. It was not just a single event but a divine combination of timing and preparation that would usher in the coming of God’s Son and the propagation of the kingdom of God throughout the world within forty years of its beginning. History literally changed when the fulness of time came. Jesus Christ moved the world toward the Father. His life and teaching forever changed the world. Jesus came at the exact time prophesied by men like David (1,000 BC) and Isaiah and Zechariah, who promised the coming Messiah hundreds of years before His time. There are at least sixteen prophecies concerning Jesus fulfilled in one 24-hour period surrounding the death of Jesus of Nazareth. No event in history claims such power.
Israel had been in bondage for six hundred years. First, the Babylonians and then the nations of Persia, Greece and Rome continued to oppress the people of God as a conquered people. Daniel prophesied in the days of Rome, a new kingdom would be established. The Roman Empire was the greatest empire of history, spanning the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. Nations filled with ranks of the Roman empire, including the Jews, who were spread throughout the empire. Through the writings of the Old Testament, preserved in the Hebrew and Greek languages, the message of the coming Messiah resonated in the hearts of the Hebrews. They believed in one God, worshiped in synagogues with the reading of the law and longed for the coming Messiah.
There was a unified language throughout the Roman Empire. Widespread dissemination of the Greek culture and language helped the gospel of Christ spread throughout the world. Hebrew, Greek and Latin were common. Alexander the Great had spread the Greek language throughout the world and it became the universal language. Latin was the language of the Romans and Hebrew was the language of the Jews. All men could know the story of Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. The gospels were written to show the Hebrews that Jesus was the Seed of Abraham (Matthew’s gospel) and to proclaim the power of Christ to the Gentile or Roman mind (Mark’s gospel).
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was a time of peace (Pax Romana). After His death, the gospel spread quickly throughout the world as men like Paul traveled from city to city preaching the gospel. The Roman Empire established consistent authority throughout the land with a universal system of law and order. Roads and travel were a marvel of Roman ingenuity. It was not difficult to travel from one city to another as commerce spurred the growth of regions, allowing the gospel’s teachings to spring up in every town. A standard coinage helped the early disciples travel from one city to another. Everything was in place for the kingdom of God to be found in the uttermost parts of the earth. The fullness of time was proper and Jesus came to save the world from the wrath of God.
The fullness of time is a marvel of the providential power of God, who determined to send His Son into the world at an exact time with an exacting purpose. There is no other time in history that would have fit the model of God’s plan than the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago. As advanced as the world is today, it is not the right time. The fullness of time is the declaration that God rules in the affairs of men directing events to His glory and for His purpose. Thank God for the fullness of time that filled the world with eternity.