THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Paul is still making a contrast between God’s people before Christ came and after He came.
This passage of Scripture we are looking at today has much similarity to the verses of 3:23-29. The difference is in the emphasis.
1. In Chapter 3, Paul spoke of people under the law as being slaves and could not experience freedom from slavery until the Messiah came.
2. In our passage today, Paul speaks of moving from slavery to becoming sons and daughters of God. We are going to see where the promises of God come into fulfillment.
I. THE PREPARATION OF HIS COMING. 1-3
Verses 1-2: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all; 2 but Is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed of the father.”
1. In the Jewish family, when the son came of age on the first Sabbath after he passed his 12th birthday and referred to as Bar mitzvah, the father would take his son to the temple or synagogue where the boy was proclaimed to be A Son of the Law – and at this time he officially became an adult.
2. In the Greek culture the boy was under his father’s care until he was eighteen.
3. But in the Roman culture the boy was considered to be an adult at the father’s discretion – usually between 14 & 18.
a. It seems that Paul is referring to the Roman custom because of verse 2 in which he says “until the time appointed of the father.”
The NIVBC says, “At that time the child was formally adopted by the father as his acknowledged son and heir and received special adult clothes.”
b. The clothes were a toga or robe made especially for this occasion.
As long as the boy was considered a child, even though he might be owner of a vast estate, he could not make any legal decision – he was not in control of his life – he had no freedom.
c. He was little better than a slave, but when he became of age he entered into full inheritance.
Paul uses this illustration to show the Galatians of their inferior condition under the law.
Verse 3. “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.”
a. “Children” (Gr. Ne-pi-os) meaning “immature ones.”
Under the law we were immature – we had not reached the stature where we were able to make decisional
b. “Elements” (Gr. Stoi-chei-on) – meaning the first thing or the first principle.
When a child starts first grade we say they are in their ABC’s.
That is the way of those under the law.
They are still in their ABC’s – they haven’t matured to full learning.
II. THE PERFECTION OF HIS COMING. 4
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”
1. The “fullness of time” speaks of when Christ came.
When Christ came things were made different.
2. When Christ came we graduated from the ABC’s of spiritual immaturity unto the full stature of maturity as God’s children.
But those words tell us much more! They tell us that everything happens by God’s schedule and it is never early nor late.
The time of the birth of Jesus was no coincidence or happenstance – it came by divine appointment.
Dr. Criswell says, “In nothing does God act prematurely or as an afterthought, nor does He pick under ripe or overripe fruit. He always acts and does right on schedule.”
There was an exact moment when our Lord should be born – when He should die – when he should rise from the grave – when He should ascend up into heaven – and there is an exact time when He will return for His Church.
The unbelieving world does not understand this, but all history, governments, powers and authorities move in divine unison under the divine mandate of a Master Conductor who is none other than Almighty God.
Throughout the history of the Hebrew people God was preparing them for the purpose of bringing the Messiah into the world.
And it is interesting how God used the nations of the world to bring about this great event.
1. The nation began with the twelve sons of Jacob and from his sons came a tribal and nomadic people.
2. By the sovereignty of God the twelve tribes came to Egypt.
God allowed this, I believe, because they were nomadic but in Egypt they settled down and God grew them into a nation.
3. After they grew numerically enough to be a nation, God used Moses to deliver them from Egypt and later they were brought into the Promised Land that God had given them.
4. In the Promised Land they went through a period of Judges, kings, and a division of the land. It was here that they often fell into idolatry.
5. The Babylonian captivity cured them from their idolatrous ways, and from this experience they, through Ezra, began to study the Scripture and began to have a strong expectancy for Messiah.
6. When the Israelites came under Greek control, God used this to give the world a universal language and a common thought concerning culture, philosophy, literature, drama, architecture, etc.
This was all God’s plan preparing Israel and the world for the coming Messiah.
7. When the Romans came they held all the people of the then civilized world together with an iron hand – thereby bringing peace into the world.
8. The Romans also built the first paved roads which cause traveling and trade among nationa to be much easier.
This also made it much easier for the Paul and other missionaries to carry the Gospel to the world.
The leaders of these empires had no idea at all that they were instrumental in preparing the world for the coming Messiah.
III. THE PURPOSE OF HIS COMING. 5-7
Verse 5: “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7. Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Everything God does is for a definite purpose.
A. To Redeem Sinners. 5a. Paul states that Christ came in the fullness of time “to redeem those who were under the law.”
1. Redemption is God’s purpose for coming to earth.
Luke 19:10 tells us that “… the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to save sinners. Salvation expresses the heart of the ministry of Jesus.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ…”
2. Redemption strongly supports Paul’s teaching of being “…kept under guard by the law.” (3:23) and in 4:1, “as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave.”
But when Christ came He redeemed us – He bought us out of the slave market of sin.
The NIVBC says, “People were slaves either to the law, as Jews, or to the ‘basic principles of the world,’ as Gentiles.”
3. Christ redeemed us by paying a ransom – the ransom being His own blood. All through the NT we see this truth presented.
Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
1 Pet. 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold …, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Eph. 1:7 & Col. 1:14, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Rom. 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
Robert C. Mounce makes an interesting point concerning God’s wrath.
When we think of the wrath of God we think of fire and brimstone, but Dr. Mounce says, “The wrath of God is not some violent expression of divine displeasure, but the rather quiet withdrawal of the divine presence.”
Then he continued, “When people continue to reject God, His wrath is revealed in His decision to allow people to pursue what they think they want. Unfortunately people can never get enough of what they really do not want.”
But Praise God! Christ purchased us out of the slave market of sin with His own blood.
How wonderful! How great! How marvelous is the love of God!
To be redeemed by the blood of Jesus is the most wonderful and precious gift a sinner could ever receive! Amen!
But our Lord didn’t stop there, for through Redemption God makes us His children!
B. God Adopts Us Into His Family. 5-7
“to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
The Believer’s Benefits As Children.
1. We are no longer slaves for we have been set free from the bondage of the law.
Paul says verse 7 “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son.”
Before we accepted Christ we were slaves striving for salvation. Our hope was that through our labor and service we might find deliverance and be commended to God.
But a slave can work a lifetime and still be a slave – his status never changes.
The only way possible for the slaves status to change would be for the master to adopt him as a son.
That’s what happens to the Believer.
Through Jesus Christ Sonship is bestowed on us.
Sonship is not gained through works – it must be bestowed upon us by God.
Rom. 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
“Adoption” carries the idea of Justification and Paul’s main teaching throughout Galatians is that we are justified through faith.
2. We are no longer under Tutors and Governors.
In the Roman family when a boy reached maturity he was given a Toga to wear.
This signified he was an adult – he had reached maturity.
As Christians we do not wear Toga’s, but in 3:21 Paul tells us “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
We are not clothed with some man-made object that will wear out – but we are clothed with our Lord Himself.
3. We Become Heirs Of God In Christ. 7b
“and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Rom. 8:17, “and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The word “if” is not asking a question, but assuming an actual fact and would best be translated “Since.”
I like the way the NLT reads, “And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for everything God gives to his Son ,Christ, is ours, too.”
We are the inheritors with Christ of the whole of God’s immeasurable Kingdom of glory.
4. Most Important Is That God Is Our Father. (6)
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
The word “Abba” suggest a very intimate relationship that we, His children, can have with Him.
Christians are the only people in all the world that can call God “Father” and this is because we have been adopted into the family of God.