Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
July 1, 2012
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
5 that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
- I. The Concept of "The Fulness of the Time".
- A. The implication of "time" as a translation of this word in Paul's text is that it consists of a progression, or a point in the progression, of successive events. "Time", in this word, is the reality of a continuing progression in which there are certain 'events' that come to pass and, then, are left behind.
- B. The idea that there can be a "fulness of time" seems to be that certain events depend upon the previous existence of certain other progressively existing "events". This is in harmony with the presentation of a cause/effect universe in which things "happen" because they are set in motion by other, previous, things and, in turn, those "happenings" set in motion other, future, events. The use by Luke of this idea in respect to Elizabeth's pregnancy indicates that he thought in terms of both the details of causes and effects, but also of the length of the duration of each of the details. This means that "time" seems to be a "medium" in which events take place and those events spread out over a certain portion of that medium.
- 1. The implications of this phrase are many.
- a. The foremost implication is that the coming of the Christ required a veritable host of preliminary "events" that moved their individually incremental agendas forward to the "final" event, which, itself, is not the "final" event.
- b. There is also the implication that "the fulness of the time" is the equivalent of Paul's "the time appointed of the Father" (4:2).
- c. Then there is the implication that the nature of the task accomplished in the "event" was significantly complex; the greatest complexity, perhaps, being the manifestation of the Truth about God in the crisis of "Justice" vs "Mercy" (Romans 3:26).
- d. Fourth, it is clear that God has always intended to use the actions of His enemies to move His plan forward, an intention that enhances the complexity a great deal since a cause/effect universe has to take a vast host of decisions/actions into account in bringing anything to pass.
- 2. One of the more difficult issues of "the fulness of the time" is the ceaseless recurrence of the living/dying cycle of every human being involved and the uninterrupted aggression of the host of "spiritual forces of wickedness" that are involved. Moving the "players" around on the board is far more difficult when some of them suddenly "die".
- II. God's Sending of His Son.
- A. This is a tacit admission that the "problem" is far beyond "creaturely" capacities. When the "permission" of an angelic rebellion was given and that permission was extended to humanity, the problem of corruption was of such a vast magnitude that there was no "solution" aside from the direct involvement of God Himself.
- B. This is also a strong proclamation that God was of the "character" that refused to permit the corruption to accomplish its goals. This is the statement of the value system by which God does what He does (1 John 4:14-16).
- 1. There is an inter-connection between the elements of goals, both of corruption and the Kingdom of God. Corruption is "allowed" to be "victorious" on a limited, individual basis so that both angels and men end up being finally corrupted beyond redemption and cast into an eternal state of chaos. But, even while corruption is seeking to destroy, God is "willing to make His wrath and power known" (Romans 9:22) so that corruption simply plays into the hands of God by providing Him the means to accomplish the greater goal of revealing His glory unto Life for those for whom corruption is defeated. No matter what corruption achieves, God has the last "laugh" (Psalm 2:4).
- 2. The sending of His Son is God's way of providing the defeat of corruption. This "event" was, in a very real sense, a funnel through which every "effect" of every "cause" was forced so that nothing of all creation can escape the impact. Paul's argument is not difficult: the sending of the Son laid the foundations of the efficacy of "faith" which, in its turn, stands corruption on its head. It is "faith" that defeats the progress of corruption, and it is the Son of God's entrance into the cause/effect Creation that provides the central focus of the "what" that is to be believed. An omniscience-based wisdom is impossible to frustrate.