Of the Fulness of Time, in Which Christ Appeared
Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,…

1. We may consider it with respect to God's fore-determination; and then it was therefore the fulness of time, because determined and foretold by the prophets. According to that ancient prediction of Jacob (Genesis 49:10), the Messiah was to appear before the total dissolution of the Jewish Government. Again; the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi 3:1), determines the coming of our Saviour to be before the destruction of the second temple. And that no less remarkable prediction of Haggai (Haggai 2:6, 7, and 9). 'Tis evident therefore that the incarnation of Christ was in the fulness of time; that is, exactly at the time foretold and fore-determined by the prophets. And indeed these prophecies were so plain, that about the time of our Lord's appearance, the Jews, and from them the Romans, and all the eastern parts of the world, were in great expectation of some extraordinary person to arise, who should be governor of the world. But —

2. Though it be evident that our Saviour came into the world in the fulness of time, viz., at the time foretold by the prophets; yet the question may still return, Why was that time determined rather than any other, and accordingly foretold by the prophets; for, without doubt, it was in itself absolutely the fittest and the properest season. Now two reasons there seem to have been more especially, of our Saviour's appearing at that time: the first is, because the insufficiency of the Jewish dispensation, as well as of natural religion, was then, after a long trial, become sufficiently apparent: apparent; not to God, who knows all things at once, and makes accordingly provision for all things from the beginning; but to men, to whom the counsel of God is opened by degrees. The second reason, why we may suppose our Savior appeared just at the time He did, was because the world was at that time by many extraordinary circumstances, peculiarly prepared for his reception. Now, about the time of our Saviour's birth, it is observable that there was a concurrence of many things in the world, to promote and further the propagation of such a religion. The Romans had then conquered almost all the known parts of the world; they had spread and settled their language among all the nations of their conquests, and had made the communication easy from one part to another. They had, moreover, improved moral philosophy to its greatest height. Further; the great improvement and increase of learning in the world about this time (according to that prophecy of Daniel, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased") gave occasion to the Jewish books to be dispersed through the world: and particularly the translating of the Bible some few ages before the birth of Christ into one of the then most known and universal languages upon earth, which had before been confined in a peculiar language to the Jews only, was a singular preparative to the reception of that great Prophet and Saviour of mankind, whose coming was in that book so plainly and so often foretold. Indeed this seems to have been the first step of God's discovering Himself further than by the light of nature to other nations as well as to the Jews, and of His giving the heathen also the knowledge of His revealed laws, and remarkably instrumental it afterwards appeared to be, in the propagating the Christian religion through the Gentile world.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

WEB: But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law,

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