The Fullness of Time

Galatians is one of Paul’s finest legal arguments and a rich treatise on theology, in which he lays out the benefits of adoption (literally, “son making”), and drawing a line between advocates of Jewish legalism and the Libertines. At one point in Chapter 4, he uses a phrase that is profitable for our discussion here.

In the context of speaking of the Law as our tutor — our keeper if you will — Paul writes, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son …” You get a much better sense of this in Greek. It literally says (pardon the transliteration into English) “pleroma tou chronou” or “in the fullness of time.”

The word that is used, “pleroma,” is the same word that is used elsewhere in the New Testament pertaining to Christ’s divinity, that He represents the “fullness” of God. Here, the sense in Galatians 4 is that time was “pregnant,” that a new era was being inaugurated. And like a birth, Christ came onto the scene of human history. But God had prepared for that.

In Greece, philosophers and mystery religions stressed ideas like the immortal soul, the idea of being “born again” (that doesn’t mean that the gospel writers borrowed it), and the notion of the ethical life. Alexander the Great spread through conquest a common language (Koine Greek) across the whole world. And the Romans contributed as well. The Pax Romana, or the peace of Rome, and the systems of Roman roads and commerce were of extreme importance. And of course, the Jews contributed (though I need not rehash their influence here).

The point is that all of these developments were part of HIS plan, though man was totally unaware (other than the Jews) that history was being orchestrated from on high. Christ came not a moment early or late. Hearts — and minds — were prepared so that they might be able to grasp the One Messiah, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” as Colossians 2:3 says.

And if God is capable of planning this momentous event, and stepping into our world as a man at the right time, I ask if he is not capable of planning to save each and everyone of us? You are part of God’s plan, my friends … YOU are part of the history of his church.

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