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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 10/1/1998

"In the Fullness of Time"

When Paul wrote the Book of Galatians, he told first-century Christians: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son…" (Galatians 4:4-6). Today, we know that God’s Son was Jesus Christ, and that He came to save men from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But what is "the fullness of time"?

Paul did not explain his statement. But it is clear that the timing of Christ’s arrival on Earth was no accident. God knew that the time was right for His Son to make His appearance among men. As we look back in history, we can see several things that might have made it a good time for Christ to come.

First, Alexander the Great spread the Greek language all over his vast empire. By the time of Jesus, many people could speak and write Greek. This made communication much easier. Second, the Roman Empire had spread its system of justice and order far and wide. This is called the "Roman Peace." Third, a common language, together with the Roman Peace, made it easier for people to travel over great distances of the vast Empire. Fourth, Jewish prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others) had spent hundreds of years telling the people that a Savior was coming. And the people certainly needed a Savior; they were spiritually sick (the Sadducees, for example, did not even believe in a life after this one). Fifth, the Jews had spread out widely into many different lands, taking with them their laws and customs. They had built synagogues, which not only were popular places of worship, but popular places for people to gather to enjoy each other’s company as they discussed important issues of the day. This provided a good place to teach people about Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures. Sixth, these Scriptures now were available in Greek, and so could be read by many people.

There may have been other reasons why it was a good time for Christ to come. It had been a long time since God had said "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). He had given man rules, regulations, and laws to make his life better. He had been patient. He had watched and waited. And along the way God had given other gifts—miracles, prophets, and revelations. But He had saved the best gift of all—Jesus Christ—for "the fullness of time." Jesus Himself said "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15).

Jesus came to a world where "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and where "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). But He offered salvation and said: "…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He wanted people to know that "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Think what it would be like to live in world where Jesus never had existed! And think what it will be like one day to live in heaven with Him forever. How grateful we should be that God sent Jesus "in the fullness of time."

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