Galatians 4:4
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The fulness of the time.—That which was predetermined in the counsels of God as the right and proper time when the whole course of previous preparation both for Jew and Gentile was complete. Here we have a very clear expression of the conception of religion as progressive, divided into periods, and finding its culmination in Christianity. The phrase “fulness of the time” corresponds to “the time appointed of the father” in Galatians 4:2.

Sent forthi.e., from Himself; from that station which is described in John 1:1 : “The Word was with God.” The pre-existence of the Son is distinctly recognised by St. Paul.

Made of a woman.—Perhaps better translated, born of a woman. There is no allusion here to the miraculous conception. The phrase “born of a woman” was of common use. Comp. Matthew 11:11 : “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” So here the expression is intended to bring out, not the divinity, but the true humanity of Christ.

Made under the law.Born under lawi.e., born into a state of things where the whole world was subject to law—born under the legal dispensation, though Himself destined to put an end to that dispensation.

Galatians



THE SON SENT


Galatians 4:4-5 {R.V.}.

It is generally supposed that by the ‘fulness of time’ Paul means to indicate that Christ came at the moment when the world was especially prepared to receive Him, and no doubt that is a true thought. The Jews had been trained by law to the conviction of sin; heathenism had tried its utmost, had reached the full height of its possible development, and was decaying. Rome had politically prepared the way for the spread of the Gospel. Vague expectations of coming change found utterance even from the lips of Roman courtier poets, and a feeling of unrest and anticipation pervaded society; but while no doubt all this is true and becomes more certain the more we know of the state of things into which Christ came, it is to be noted that Paul is not thinking of the fulness of time primarily in reference to the world which received Him, but to the Father who sent Him. Our text immediately follows words in which the air is described as being ‘under guardians and stewards’ until the time appointed of His Father, and the fulness of time is therefore the moment which God had ordained from the beginning for His coming. He, from of old, had willed that at that moment this Son should be born, and it is to the punctual accomplishment of His eternal purpose that Paul here directs our thoughts. No doubt the world’s preparedness is part of the reason for the divine determination of the time, but it is that divine determination rather than the world’s preparedness to which the first words of our text must be taken to refer.

The remaining portion of our text is so full of meaning that one shrinks from attempting to deal with it in our narrow space, but though it opens up depths beyond our fathoming, and gathers into one concentrated brightness lights on which our dim eyes can hardly look, we may venture to attempt some imperfect consideration even of these great words. Following their course of thought we may deal with

I. The mystery of love that sent.

The most frequent form under which the great fact of the incarnation is represented in Scripture is that of our text--’God sent His Son.’ It is familiar on the lips of Jesus, but He also says that ‘God gave His Son.’ One can feel a shade of difference in the two modes of expression. The former bringing rather to our thoughts the representative character of the Son as Messenger, and the latter going still deeper into the mystery of Godhead and bringing into view the love of the Father who spared not His Son but freely bestowed Him on men. Yet another word is used by Jesus Himself when He says, ‘I came forth from God,’ and that expression brings into view the perfect willingness with which the Son accepted the mission and gave Himself, as well as was given by God. All three phases express harmonious, though slightly differing aspects of the same fact, as the facets of a diamond might flash into different colours, and all must be held fast if we would understand the unspeakable gift of God. Jesus was sent; Jesus was given; Jesus came. The mission from the Father, the love of the Father, the glad obedience of the Son, must ever be recognised as interpenetrating, and all present in that supreme act.

There have been many men specially sent forth from God, whose personal existence began with their birth, and so far as the words are concerned, Jesus might have been one of these. There was a man sent from God whose name was John, and all through the ages he has had many companions in his mission, but there has been only one who ‘came’ as well as ‘was sent,’ and He is the true light which lighteth every man. To speak in theological language of the pre-existence of the Son is cold, and may obscure the truth which it formulates in so abstract a fashion, and may rob it of power to awe and impress. But there can be no question that in our text, as is shown by the juxtaposition of ‘sent’ and ‘born,’ and in all the New Testament references to the subject, the birth of Jesus is not regarded as the beginning of the being of the Son. The one lies far back in the depths of eternity and the mystery of the divine nature, the other is a historical fact occurring in a definite place and at a dated moment. Before time was the Son was, delighting in the Father, and ‘in the beginning was the word and the word was with God,’ and He who in respect of His expression of the Father’s mind and will was the Word, was the Son in respect of the love that bound the Father and Him in one. Into the mysteries of that love and union no eyes can penetrate, but unless our faith lays hold of it, we know not the God whom Jesus has declared to us. The mysteries of that divine union and communion lie beyond our reach, but well within the grasp of our faith and the work of the Son in the world, ever since there was a world, is not obscurely declared to all who have eyes to see and hearts to understand. For He has through all ages been the active energy of the divine power, or as the Old Testament words it, ‘The Arm of the Lord,’ the Agent of creation, the Revealer of God, the Light of the world and the Director of Providence. ‘He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.’

Now all this teaching that the Son was long before Jesus was born is no mere mysterious dogma without bearing on daily needs, but stands in the closest connection with Christ’s work and our faith in it. It is the guarantee of His representative character; on it depends the reliableness of His revelation of God. Unless He is the Son in a unique sense, how could God have spoken unto us in Him, and how could we rely on His words? Unless He was ‘the effulgence of His glory and the express image of His person’: how could we be sure that the light of His countenance was light from God and that in His person God was so presented as that he who had seen Him had seen the Father? The completeness and veracity of His revelation, the authoritative fulness of His law, the efficacy of His sacrifice and the prevalence of His intercession all depend on the fact of His divine life with God long before His human life with men. It is a plain historical fact that a Christianity which has no place for a pre-existent Son in the bosom of the Father has only a maimed Christ in reference to the needs of sinful men. If our Christ were not the eternal Son of God, He will not be the universal Saviour of men.

Nor is this truth less needful in its bearing on modern theories which will have nothing to say to the supernatural, and in a fatalistic fashion regard history as all the result of an orderly evolution in which the importance of personal agents is minimised. To it Jesus, like all other great men, is a product of His age, and the immediate result of the conditions under which He appeared. But when we look far beyond the manger of Bethlehem into the depths of Eternity and see God so loving the world as to give His Son, we cannot but recognise that He has intervened in the course of human history and that the mightiest force in the development of man is the eternal Son whom He sent to save the world.

II. The miracle of lowliness that came.

The Apostle goes on from describing the great fact which took place in heaven to set forth the great fact which completed it on earth. The sending of the Son took effect in the birth of Jesus, and the Apostle puts it under two forms, both of which are plainly designed to present Christ’s manhood as His full identification of Himself with us. The Son of God became the son of a woman; from His mother He drew a true and complete humanity in body and soul. The humanity which He received was sufficiently kindred with the divinity which received it to make it possible that the one should dwell in the other and be one person. As born of a woman the Son of God took upon Himself all human experiences, became capable of sharing our pure emotions, wept our tears, partook in our joys, hoped and feared as we do, was subject to our changes, grew as we grow, and in everything but sin, was a man amongst men.

But the Son of God could not be as the sons of men. Him the Father heard always. Even when He came down from Heaven and became the Son of Man, He continued to be ‘The Son of Man which is in Heaven.’ Amid all the distractions and limitations of His earthly life, the continuity and depth of His communion with the Father were unbroken and the completeness of His obedience undiminished. He was a Man, but He was also the Man, the one realised ideal of humanity that has ever walked the earth, to whom all others, even the most complete, are fragments, the fairest foul, the most gracious harsh. In Him and in Him only has been ‘given the world assurance of a man.’

The other condition which is here introduced is ‘born under the law,’ by which it may be noted that the Apostle does not mean the Jewish law, inasmuch as he does not use the definite article with the word. No doubt our Lord was born as a Jew and subject to the Jewish law, but the thought here and in the subsequent clause is extended to the general notion of law. The very heart of our Lord’s human identification is that He too had duties imperative upon Him, and the language of one of the Messianic psalms was the voice of His filial will during all His earthly life; ‘Lo! I come, in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will and Thy law is within My heart.’ The very secret of His human life was discovered by the heathen centurion, at whose faith He marvelled, who said, ‘I _also_ am a man under authority’; so was Jesus. The Son had ever been obedient in the sweet communion of Heaven, but the obedience of Jesus was not less perfect, continual and unstained. It was the man Jesus who summed up His earthly life in ‘I do always the things that please Him’; it was the man Jesus who, under the olives in Gethsemane, made the great surrender and yielded up His own will to the will of the Father who sent Him.

He was under law in that the will of God dominated His life, but He was not so under it as we are on whom its precepts often press as an unwelcome obligation, and who know the weight of guilt and condemnation. If there is any one characteristic of Jesus more conspicuous than another it is the absence in Him of any consciousness of deficiency in His obedience to law, and yet that absence does not in the smallest degree infringe on His claim to be ‘meek and lowly in heart.’ ‘Which of you convinceth Me of sin?’ would have been from any other man a defiance that would have provoked a crushing answer if it had not been taken as a proof of hopeless ignorance of self, but when Christ asks the question, the world is silent. The silence has been all but unbroken for nineteen hundred years, and of all the busy and often unfriendly eyes that have been occupied with Him and the hostile pens that have been eager to say something new about Him, none have discovered a flaw, or dared to ‘hint a fault.’ That character has stamped its own impression of perfectness on all eyes even the most unfriendly or indifferent. In Him there is seen the perfect union and balance of opposite characteristics; the rest of us, at the best, are but broken arcs; Jesus is the completed round. He is under law as fully, continuously and joyfully obedient; but for Him it had no accusing voice, and it laid on Him no burden of broken commandments. He was born of a woman, born under law, but he lived separate from sinners though identified with them.

III. The marvel of exaltation that results.

Our Lord’s lowliness is described in the two clauses which we have just been considering. They express His identification with us from a double point of view, and that double point of view is continued in the final clauses of our text which state the double purpose of God in sending His Son. He became one with us that we might become one with Him. The two elements of this double purpose are stated in the reverse order to the two elements of Christ’s lowliness. The redemption of them that were under law is presented as the reason for His being born under law, and our reception of the ‘adoption of sons’ is the purpose of the Son’s being sent and born of a woman. The order in which Paul here deals with the two parts of the divine purpose is not to be put down to mere rhetorical ornament, but corresponds to the order in which these two elements are realised by men. For there must be redemption from law before there is the adoption of sons.

We have already had occasion to point out that ‘law’ here must be taken in the wide sense and not restricted to the Jewish law. It is a world-wide redemption which the Father’s love had in view in sending His Son, but that all-comprehending, fatherly love could not reach its aim by the mere forth-putting of its own energy. A process was needed if the divine heart was to accomplish its desire, and the majestic stages in that process are set forth here by Paul. The world was under law in a very sad fashion, and though Jesus has come to redeem them that are under law, the crushing weight of commandments flouted, of duties neglected, of sins done, presses heavily upon many of us. And yet how many of us there are who do not know the burden that we carry and have had no personal experience like that of Bunyan’s Christian with the pack on his back all but weighing him down? Jesus Christ has become one of us, and in His sinless life has ‘magnified the law and made it honourable,’ and in His sinless death He endures the consequences of sin, not as due to Himself, but because they are man’s. But we must carefully keep in view, that as we have already pointed out, we are to think of Christ’s mission as His coming as well as the Father’s sending, and that therefore we do not grasp the full idea of our Lord’s enduring the consequences of sin unless we take it as meaning His voluntary identification of Himself in love with us sinful men. His obedience was perfect all His life long, and His last and highest act of obedience was when He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.

This is the only means by which the burden of law in any of its forms can be taken away from us. For a law which is not loved will be heavy and hard however holy and just and good it may be, and a law which we have broken will become sooner or later its own avenger. Faithful in _Pilgrim’s Progress_ tells how ‘So soon as a man overtook me he was but a word and a blow, for down he knocked me and laid me for dead. . . . He struck me another deadly blow on the breast and beat me down backward, so I lay at his foot as dead as before, so when I came to myself again I cried him "Mercy," but he said, "I know not how to show mercy," and with that knocked me down again; he had doubtless made an end of me but that one came by and bid him forbear. . . . I did not know him at first, but as he went by I perceived the holes in his hands and in his sides.’ He was born under law that He might redeem them that were under law.

The slaves bought into freedom are received into the great family. The Son has become flesh that they who dwell in the flesh may rise to be sons, but the Son stands alone even in the midst of His identification with us, and of the great results which follow for us from it. He is the Son by nature; we are sons by adoption. He became man that we might share in the possession of God. When the burden of law is lifted off it is possible to bestow the further blessing of sonship, but that blessing is only possible through Him in whom, and from whom, we derive a life which is divine life. There is a profound truth in the prophetic sentence, ‘Behold I and the children which God hath given me!’ for, in one aspect, believers are the children of Christ, and in another, they are sons of God.

We have been speaking of the Son’s identification with us in His mission, and our identification with Him, but that identification depends on ourselves and is only an accomplished fact through our faith. When we trust in Him it is true that all His--His righteousness, His Sonship, His union with the Father--is ours, and that all ours--our sins, our guilt, our alienation from God and our dwelling in the far-off land of rags and vice--is His. In His voluntary identification with us, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. It is for us to determine whether we will lay on Him our iniquities, as the Father has already laid the iniquities of us all. Are we by faith in Him who was born of a woman, born under law, making our very own the redemption from the law which He has wrought and the adoption of sons which He bestows? Galatians 4:4-7. But when the fulness of time — Appointed by the Father, (Galatians 4:2,) and marked out by the predictions of the prophets for the accomplishment of this great event; was come — And we were arrived at the age proper for our entering on our adult state, and being put in possession of the promises, by the introduction of the gospel dispensation; God sent forth — From heaven into our world; his Son — Miraculously made, or rather, born, as the word γενομενον may, with equal propriety, be translated; because, although Christ, as to his body, or his human nature in general, might be said to have been made of a woman, and of the seed of David, (Romans 1:3,) yet as he was the Son of God, sent forth from the Father, he was not made at all, much less of a woman. See on Hebrews 1:3-6; Hebrews 7:3. Or the clause may be read, made flesh of a woman, namely, of a virgin, without the concurrence of a man. Made under the law — Under its discipline, in all its rigour; subject not only to the precepts, but to the curse of the law, even the Mosaic law; to redeem them that were under the law — From the curse of it, which he bore in their stead, and from that low, servile state in which they were before; and that he might bring them into a happy liberty from any future obligation to observe its ceremonial institutions. It must be observed, however, that the apostle had not only the Jews in his view here, but the Gentiles also, as is evident from Galatians 4:8, where they are addressed in particular. The law from which all are redeemed, or bought off, was not the law of Moses alone, but the law of nature, as a rule of justification: see note on Galatians 3:13. From both these laws, with the religious institutions attached to them, Christ hath redeemed mankind by his death, that he might place them under the gracious dispensation of his gospel. That we — Whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe; might receive the adoption of sons — Might stand related to God, not only as his people, his true and spiritual worshippers, his subjects and his servants, but also as his sons and daughters; might be peculiarly near and dear to him; made partakers of his nature, favoured with his special guidance, protection, and care; might have continual liberty of access to him and intercourse with him; might have all our wants, ghostly and bodily, supplied by him here, and might be constituted joint heirs with his beloved Son of the heavenly inheritance hereafter. See on John 1:12; Romans 8:14-17. Observe, reader, it is the privilege of true believers in the present life to have the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, protection from their spiritual enemies, assistance in times of trial and temptation, and the certain hope of eternal life. And because ye are thus made his sons — By adoption and regeneration; God hath sent forth — From heaven, as he sent forth his Son from thence; the Spirit of his Son — The very same Spirit of truth, holiness, and consolation, which dwelt in his Son; into your hearts — To take up his abode there; crying, Abba, Father — Enabling you to call God your reconciled Father in truth and with assurance, and to call upon him both with the confidence and temper of dutiful children. The Hebrew and Greek word signifying father are here joined together, to express the joint cry of Jews and Gentiles. Wherefore thou — Who believest in Christ, and art a true member of the gospel church, whether born a Jew or a Gentile; art no more — No longer; a servant — As formerly, in a state of bondage, whether to the legal dispensation of Moses, or to the law of nature, and the ceremonial institutions attached to it, by custom or divine appointment; but a son — Of mature age; and if a son, an heir of God — Entitled to the everlasting inheritance, and even to the enjoyment of the all-sufficient God himself; through Christ — Through his sacrifice and intercession, and my interest therein by faith.4:1-7 The apostle deals plainly with those who urged the law of Moses together with the gospel of Christ, and endeavoured to bring believers under its bondage. They could not fully understand the meaning of the law as given by Moses. And as that was a dispensation of darkness, so of bondage; they were tied to many burdensome rites and observances, by which they were taught and kept subject like a child under tutors and governors. We learn the happier state of Christians under the gospel dispensation. From these verses see the wonders of Divine love and mercy; particularly of God the Father, in sending his Son into the world to redeem and save us; of the Son of God, in submitting so low, and suffering so much for us; and of the Holy Spirit, in condescending to dwell in the hearts of believers, for such gracious purposes. Also, the advantages Christians enjoy under the gospel. Although by nature children of wrath and disobedience, they become by grace children of love, and partake of the nature of the children of God; for he will have all his children resemble him. Among men the eldest son is heir; but all God's children shall have the inheritance of eldest sons. May the temper and conduct of sons ever show our adoption; and may the Holy Spirit witness with our spirits that we are children and heirs of God.But when the fulness of the time was come - The full time appointed by the Father; the completion (filling up, πλήρωμα plērōma,) of the designated period for the coming of the Messiah; see the Isaiah 49:7-8 notes; 2 Corinthians 6:2 note. The sense is, that the time which had been predicted, and when it was proper that he should come, was complete. The exact period had arrived when all things were ready for his coming. It is often asked why he did not come sooner, and why mankind did not have the benefit of his incarnation and atonement immediately after the fall? Why were four thousand dark and gloomy years allowed to roll on, and the world suffered to sink deeper and deeper in ignorance and sin? To these questions perhaps no answer entirely satisfactory can be given. God undoubtedly saw reasons which we cannot; see, and reasons which we shall approve if they are disclosed to us.

It may be observed, however, that this delay of redemption was in entire accordance with the whole system of divine arrangements, and with all the divine interpositions in favor of men. People are suffered long to pine in want, to suffer from disease, to encounter the evils of ignorance, before interposition is granted. On all the subjects connected with human comfort and improvement, the same questions may be asked as on the subject of redemption. Why was the invention of the art of printing so long delayed, and people suffered to remain in ignorance? Why was the discovery of vaccination delayed so long, and millions suffered to die who might have been saved? Why was not the bark of Peru sooner known, and why did so many millions die who might have been saved by its use? So of most of the medicines, and of the arts and inventions that go to ward off disease, and to promote the intelligence, the comfort, and the salvation of man. In respect to all of these, it may be true that they are made known at the very best time, the time that will on the whole most advance the welfare of the race. And so of the incarnation and work of the Saviour. It was seen by God to be the best time, the time when on the whole the race would be most benefited by his coming. Even with our limited and imperfect vision, we can see the following things in regard to its being the most fit and proper time.

(1) it was just the time when all the prophecies centerd in him, and when there could be no doubt about their fulfillment. It was important that such an event should be predicted in order that there might be full evidence that he came from heaven; and yet in order that prophecy may be seen to have been uttered by God, it must be so far before the event as to make it impossible to have been the result of mere human conjecture.

(2) it was proper that the world should be brought to see its need of a Saviour, and that a fair and satisfactory opportunity should be given to men to try all other schemes of salvation that they might be prepared to welcome this. This had been done. Four thousand years were sufficient to show to man his own powers, and to give him an opportunity to devise some scheme of salvation. The opportunity had been furnished under every circumstance that could be deemed favorable. The most profound and splendid talent of the world had been brought to bear on it, especially in Greece and Rome; and ample Opportunity had been given to make a fair trial of the various systems of religion devised on national happiness and individual welfare; their power to meet and arrest crime; to purify the heart; to promote public morals, and to support man in his trials; their power to conduct him to the true God, and to give him a wellfounded hope of immortality. All had failed; and then it was a proper time for the Son of God to come and to reveal a better system.

(3) it was a time when the world was at peace. The temple of Janus, closed only in times of peace, was then shut, though it had been but once closed before during the Roman history. What an appropriate time for the "Prince of Peace" to come! The world was, to a great extent, under the Roman sceptre. Communications between different parts of the world were then more rapid and secure than they had been at any former period, and the gospel could be more easily propagated. Further, the Jews were scattered in almost all lands, acquainted with the promises, looking for the Messiah, furnishing facilities to their own countrymen the apostles to preach the gospel in numerous synagogues, and qualified, if they embraced the Messiah, to become most zealous and devoted missionaries. The same language, the Greek, was, moreover, after the time of Alexander the Great, the common language of no small part of the world, or at least was spoken and understood among a considerable portion of the nations of the earth. At no period before had there been so extensive a use of the same language.

(4) it was a proper period to make the new system known. It accorded with the benevolence of God, that it should be delayed no longer than that the world should be in a suitable state for receiving the Redeemer. When that period, therefore, had arrived, God did not delay, but sent his Son on the great work of the world's redemption.

God sent forth his Son - This implies that the Son of God had an existence before his incarnation; see John 16:28. The Saviour is often represented as sent into the world, and as coming forth from God.

Made of a woman - In human nature; born of a woman, This also implies that he had another nature than that which was derived from the woman. On the supposition that he was a mere man, how unmeaning would this assertion be! How natural to ask, in what other way could he appear than to be born of a woman? Why was he particularly designated as coming into the world in this manner? How strange would it sound if it were said, "In the sixteenth century came Faustus Socinus preaching Unitarianism, made of a woman!" or, "In the eighteenth century came Dr. Joseph Priestley, born of a woman, preaching the doctrines of Socinus!" How else could they appear? would be the natural inquiry. What was there special in their birth and origin that rendered such language necessary? The language implies that there were other ways in which the Saviour might have come; that there was something special in the fact that he was born of a woman; and that there was some special reason why that fact should be made prominently a matter of record. The promise was Genesis 3:15 that the Messiah should be the "seed" or the descendant of woman; and Paul probably here alludes to the fulfillment of that promise.

Made under the law - As one of the human race, partaking of human nature, he was subject to the Law of God. As a man he was hound by its requirements, and subject to its control. He took his place under the Law that he might accomplish an important purpose for those who were under it. He made himself subject to it that he might become one of them, and secure their redemption.

4. the fulness of the time—namely, "the time appointed by the Father" (Ga 4:2). Compare Note, see on [2346]Eph 1:10; Lu 1:57; Ac 2:1; Eze 5:2. "The Church has its own ages" [Bengel]. God does nothing prematurely, but, foreseeing the end from the beginning, waits till all is ripe for the execution of His purpose. Had Christ come directly after the fall, the enormity and deadly fruits of sin would not have been realized fully by man, so as to feel his desperate state and need of a Saviour. Sin was fully developed. Man's inability to save himself by obedience to the law, whether that of Moses, or that of conscience, was completely manifested; all the prophecies of various ages found their common center in this particular time: and Providence, by various arrangements in the social and political, as well as the moral world, had fully prepared the way for the coming Redeemer. God often permits physical evil long before he teaches the remedy. The smallpox had for long committed its ravages before inoculation, and then vaccination, was discovered. It was essential to the honor of God's law to permit evil long before He revealed the full remedy. Compare "the set time" (Ps 102:13).

was come—Greek, "came."

sent forth—Greek, "sent forth out of heaven from Himself" [Alford and Bengel]. The same verb is used of the Father's sending forth the Spirit (Ga 4:6). So in Ac 7:12. Compare with this verse, Joh 8:42; Isa 48:16.

his—emphatical. "His own Son." Not by adoption, as we are (Ga 4:5): nor merely His Son by the anointing of the Spirit which God sends into the heart (Ga 4:6; Joh 1:18).

made of a woman—"made" is used as in 1Co 15:45, "The first man, Adam, was made a living soul," Greek, "made to be (born) of a woman." The expression implies a special interposition of God in His birth as man, namely, causing Him to be conceived by the Holy Ghost. So Estius.

made under the law—"made to be under the law." Not merely as Grotius and Alford explain, "Born subject to the law as a Jew." But "made" by His Father's appointment, and His own free will, "subject to the law," to keep it all, ceremonial and moral, perfectly for us, as the Representative Man, and to suffer and exhaust the full penalty of our whole race's violation of it. This constitutes the significance of His circumcision, His being presented in the temple (Lu 2:21, 22, 27; compare Mt 5:17), and His baptism by John, when He said (Mt 3:15), "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."

But when the fulness of the time was come; the time, which answered the time appointed of the earthly father, mentioned Galatians 4:2; when that time came in which God had designed to bring his people into the most perfect state of liberty, which in this life they are capable of.

God sent forth his Son, who was existent before, (being brought forth before the mountains or hills were settled, Proverbs 8:25), but not

sent forth until this fulness of time came. And then

made of a woman, conceived in the womb of the virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost overshadowing her.

Made under the law; to which, as God, he was not subject, (being himself the lawmaker), but he subjected himself. He was born in a nation, and of a parent, under the law; he was circumcised, and submitted to the ceremonial law; he in all things conformed his life to the rule of the law, and subjected himself to the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Nothing of this is questioned, except the last; which yet appears also to have been necessary by what followeth in the next verse, for how else could he have redeemed those who were under the law; and this agreeth with what we had, Galatians 3:13. But when the fulness of time was come,.... The time agreed and fixed upon between God and his Son from all eternity, in the council and covenant of peace, when the Son of God should assume human nature; which time was diligently searched into by the prophets, was revealed unto them, and predicted by them; as more generally that it should be before the civil government ceased from Judah, and before the destruction of the second temple; and more particularly by Daniel in his prophecy of the "seventy weeks", towards and about the close of which there was a general expectation among the Jews of the Messiah's coming; and was the fulness of time here referred to, and what is sometimes called the dispensation of the fulness of time, the end of the Mosaic dispensation and Jewish church state, the last days of that state, and the end of the Jewish world, as to their ecclesiastical and civil polity. The Jews themselves own that the time of the Messiah's coming is fixed, and that at that time he shall come, whether they are worthy or not, for so it is asserted in their Talmud (d);

"says R. Jochanan, the son of David does not come, but in an age which is all worthy, or all wicked; in a generation which is all worthy, as it is written, Isaiah 60:21 in a generation that is all wicked, as it is written, Isaiah 66:5 and it is written, "for my name's sake will I do it"; says R. Alexander, R. Joshua ben Levi objects what is written, Isaiah 60:22 "in its time"; and it is written, "I will hasten it"; if they are worthy I will hasten it, if they are not worthy it shall be "in its time".''

And accordingly a more modern writer of theirs says (e),

"our redemption upon all accounts shall be, "in its time", whether worthy or, wicked; but if worthy its time will be hastened;''

it must be owned they do not always say so: this phrase, "the fulness of time", is an Hebraism, and is the same with , in Ezekiel 5:2 which the Septuagint render , "the fulness of days", and we, "when the days were fulfilled", when the time was up; and the same sense it has here, and it is also the same with "the appointed time", Habakkuk 2:3 and answers to , "the time appointed of the Father", Galatians 4:2.

God sent forth his Son; God not absolutely and essentially, but personally and relatively considered, is here meant, namely, God the Father, as appears from the relation the person sent stands in to him, "his Son"; not by creation, as angels, Adam, and all men are the sons of God; nor by adoption, as saints are; or by office, as magistrates be; or on account of his incarnation or resurrection from the dead, for he was the Son of God before either; but by divine generation, being the only begotten of the Father, of his divine nature and essence, equal to him, and one with him: and who was "sent" by him, not out of disrespect to him, but love to us; nor without his consent or against his will, he readily and heartily agreeing to it; nor does it imply any local motion or change of place, but only designs the assumption of human nature; nor does it suppose any superiority and inferiority, for though Christ, as man, and in his office capacity, as Mediator, is inferior to the Father, yet not as to his divine nature, or as the Son of God; but it suggests, that he existed before he was sent, and that as a person, and as a distinct person from the Father, otherwise he could not with any propriety be said to be sent by him; and also that there was an entire harmony and agreement between them in this matter, the Father agreed to send his Son, and the Son agreed to be sent; and that as to his taking upon him the office of Mediator, and his assumption of human nature in order to obtain eternal redemption: all this was not of himself, but done in concert with his Father, from whom as Mediator he had his mission and commission;

made of a woman; "made", not created as Adam was; nor begotten by man, as men in common are; nor is he said to be born, though he truly was, but "made"; which word the Holy Ghost chooses, to express the mighty power of God, in his mysterious incarnation, wonderful conception, and birth; though some copies read, "born of a woman"; and so the Arabic and Ethiopic version: "of a woman"; whose seed he was from the beginning said to be; of a woman, without a man; of a woman, a virgin, as was foretold; and not only made and formed in her, but of her, of her flesh and blood, of which he took part; and which denotes the low estate and great humiliation of Christ, and shows that as sin came into the world by the woman, the Saviour from sin came also the same way:

made under the law; under the civil and judicial law as a Jew, to which he was subject, paying tribute to the collectors of it; and which was necessary; that it might appear he sprung from that nation, to whom he was promised; and that he came before the civil government of that people was at an end; and to teach us subjection to the civil magistrate: and as a son of Abraham he was made under the ceremonial law, was circumcised the eighth day, kept the several feasts of tabernacles, passover, &c. and which was proper, since he was the principal end of it, in whom it centres, and for whose sake it was made; and that he might completely fulfil it, and by so doing put a period to it: and he was made under the moral law, both as a man and the surety of his people, and was subject to all the precepts of it, and bore the penalty of it, death, in their room and stead, and thereby fulfilled it, and delivered them from its curse and condemnation. So the Targumist (f), joins the incarnation of the Messiah and his subjection to the law together, as the apostle here does;

"the prophet saith to the house of David, because a child is born unto us, and a son is given to us, , "and he hath took upon him the law to keep it, and his name shall be called", &c.''

(d) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1. Vid. Jarchi & Kinachi in Isaiah 60.22. (e) Kimchi in Psal. cviii. 4. (f) In Isa. ix. 6.

{2} But when the {c} fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a {d} woman, made under the law,

(2) He utters and declares many things at once, that is, that this tutorship was ended at his time, in order that curious men may stop asking why the schoolmastership lasted so long. And moreover, that we are not sons by nature, but by adoption, and that in the Son of God, who therefore took upon him our flesh, that we might be made his brethren.

(c) The time is said to be full when all parts of it are past and ended, and therefore Christ could not have come either sooner or later.

(d) He calls Mary a woman in respect of the sex, and not as the word is used in a contrary sense to a virgin, for she remained a virgin still.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 4:4. Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου] corresponds to the ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμ. τοῦ πατρ. (Galatians 4:2). The time appointed by God, which was to elapse until the appearance of Christ (ὁ χρόνος)—consequently the pre-Messianic period—is conceived as a measure which was not yet full, so long as this period had not wholly elapsed (comp. Genesis 29:21; Mark 1:15; Luke 21:24; John 7:8; Joseph. Antt. vi. 4. 1, et al.). Hence τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου is: that moment of time, through which the measure of time just mentioned became full. Comp. on Ephesians 1:10, and Fritzsche ad Rom. II. p. 473.

On what historical conditions Paul conceived that counsel as to the fulness of time to depend (Theophylact: ὅτε πᾶν εἶδος κακίας διεξελθοῦσα ἡ φύσις ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη ἐδεῖτο θεραπείας. Baur: “when mankind was ripe for it;” de Wette: “conditioned by the need of certain preparations, or by the necessity of the religious development of mankind which had reached a certain point”), cannot, after his view of the destination of the law which intervened between the promise and its fulfilment (Galatians 3:19; Galatians 3:24; Romans 5:20), remain doubtful Theophylact takes in substance the right view. The need had reached its height. Comp. Chrysostom, ad Eph. i. 10: ὅτε μάλιστα ἔμελλον ἀπόλλυσθαι, τότε διεσώθησαν. Without due ground Baur perceives here (see his neut. Theol. p. 173) the idea that Christianity proceeded from a principle inherent in humanity, namely, from the advance of the mind to the freedom of self-consciousness.

ἐξαπέστειλεν] He sent forth from Himself. Galatians 4:6; Acts 7:12; Acts 11:22; Acts 17:14, et al.; Dem. 251. 5; Polyb. iii. 11. 1, iv. 26. 2, iv. 30. 1, and frequently. The expression presupposes the idea of the personal pre-existence of Christ (see Räbiger, Christol. Paul. p. 16; Lechler, apost. Zeit. p. 50 Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 316 ff.), and therewith at the same time His personal divine nature (Romans 8:3; Romans 8:32; Php 2:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9); so that in reality the apostle’s idea coincides with the Johannean ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τ. Θεόν and Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, but is not to be reduced to the notion of “the ideal first man” (Hilgenfeld), whose human birth, on account of His pre-existence, is conceived by Paul as not without a certain Docetism.[180] This remark also applies against the view of Beyschlag referring it to the pre-existent prototype of man (Christol. d. N.T. p. 220 ff.), in connection with which the Messianic name of Son is supposed to be carried back from the historical to the pre-historical sphere. This is at variance with the express designation as πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Colossians 1:15), which likewise forbids us to say, with Hofmann: “By the very fact, that God has sent Him forth from Himself into the world, He is the Son of God.” According to Colossians 1:15, He is, even before the creation, in the relation of Son to the Father, as begotten by Him,—a relation, therefore, which could not be dependent on the subsequent sending forth, or given for the first time along with the latter.

γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός] so that He was born of a woman; the relation of the aorist participle is the same as in Php 2:7 f. The reading γεννώμενον—attested only by min., and otherwise feebly, although recommended by Erasmus, adopted by Matthias, and defended by Rinck—is a correct interpretation (as to the meaning, but not as to the tense; see Phot. Qu. Amphil. 90), which also occurs at Romans 1:3, in Codd. mentioned by Augustine. Who this γυνή was, every reader knew; we must not, however, say with Schott, following many of the older expositors, “de virgine sponsa dicitur” (comp. Augustine, Serm. 16 de temp.; Jerome, and others); but comp. Job 14:1; Matthew 11:11. Nor is anything peculiar to be found in ἐκ (“ex semine matris … non viri et mulieris coitu,” Calvin; comp. Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Calovius, and others; Theophylact, following Basil, Jerome, and others: ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας αὐτῆς σῶμα λαβόντα); on the contrary, ἐκ is quite the usual preposition to express the being born (John 3:6; Matthew 1:16; 1 Peter 1:22, et al.; 3 Esr. Galatians 4:16; 4Ma 14:14; frequently used also in classical authors with γίγνεσθαι). This very fact, that Christ, although the Son of God, whom God had sent forth from Himself, entered into this life as man (Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:21; Acts 17:31) and—just as an ordinary man enters into temporal life—as one born of woman, Paul wishes to bring into prominence as the mode of carrying out the divine counsel. Comp. Romans 8:3; Php 2:7. The supernatural generation which preceded the natural birth was not here in question; its mention would even have been at variance with the connection which points to Christ’s humiliation: it is not, however, anywhere else expressly mentioned by the apostle, or certainly indicated as a consequence involved in his system (Weiss). Comp. on Romans 1:3. Nor is it to be inferred from ἐξαπέστειλεν, in connection with the designation of Him who was sent forth as the Son (Hofmann, comp. also his Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 84); because, while it is assumed that as the Son of God He was already, before His incarnation, with God (ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν), the mode of His incarnation—how He was born κατὰ σάρκα ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυΐδ (Romans 1:3; comp. Romans 9:5; 2 Timothy 2:8; Acts 2:30)—is not defined.

γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον] Luther: “made under the law;” and so most expositors: legi subjectum. But it is arbitrary to take γενόμ. here in another sense than before;[181] and the vivid emphasis of the twice-used γενόμ. is thus lost. Hence Michaelis, Koppe, Matthies, Schott, de Wette, Lechler, rightly understand ΓΕΝΌΜ. as natum. Thus also, in fact, “the beginning of an εἶναι ὑπὸ ΝΌΜΟΝ” (Hofmann) is expressed, and expressed indeed more definitely. Paul desires to represent the birth of the Son of God not merely as an ordinary human birth, but also as an ordinary Jewish birth (comp. Hebrews 2:14-17); and he therefore says: “born of a woman, born under the law,” so that He was subjected to circumcision and to all other ordinances of the law, like any other Jewish child. But God caused His Son to be born as an ordinary man and as an ordinary Israelite, because otherwise He could not have undergone death—either at all, or as One cursed by the law (Galatians 3:13), which did not apply to those who were not Jews (Romans 1:12)—and could not have rendered the curse of the law of none effect as regards those who were its subjects. Comp. Romans 8:3 f.; Hebrews 3:14 f. For this reason, and not merely on account of the contrast to τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ (Schott), Paul has added ΓΕΝΌΜ. ἘΚ ΓΥΝ., ΓΕΝ. ὙΠῸ ΝΌΜ., as a characteristic description of the humiliation into which God allowed His Son to enter. See the sequel.

With respect, moreover, to the perfect obedience of Christ to the, law, it was a preliminary condition necessary for the redeeming power of His death (because otherwise the curse of the law would have affected Him even on his own account); but it is not that which is imputed for righteousness: on the contrary, this is purely faith in the ἱλαστήριον of His death. See on Galatians 4:4. When God saw that the world was ripe for the Advent, He sent forth His Son. Until generations of mankind had learnt through years of social training to control some of the animal instincts of their lower nature, to rebel against its brutal passions, and cherish a desire to live in obedience to their higher nature, until they had developed some sense of sin and some craving after a holiness beyond their reach, they were not ready to welcome a Redeemer.—γενόμενοννόμον. The incarnate Son of God took upon Him our nature and our duties. He was (1) born of woman, (2) made subject to Law. His subjection to Law is so expressly associated with the subjection of the world in general to Law that the term cannot be limited (as our versions limit it) to the Law of Moses. Christ was in fact subjected also to Roman Law, and died by its sentence.4. the fulness of the time] The completion of the time of the world’s nonage, corresponding to ‘the time appointed by the father’ in Galatians 4:3. God’s appointed time had come, and man’s need of redemption had been proved to the full. Thus the eternal purpose of God and the preparation of the world had their fulfilment in the Advent of the Incarnate Son.

God sent forth his Son] In the Gospels, and especially in that of St John, our Lord designates the Father by the expression, “Him that sent me.” It implies that our Lord existed before His incarnation, that He ‘was with God’, John 1:1.

made … the law] Translate, born of woman, born under the law. The Son of God Most High thus became very man, the Seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) and also the Seed of Abraham in whom all nations of the earth should be blessed (Genesis 22:18).Galatians 4:4. Τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, the fulness of the time) This has reference to as long as, and to the time appointed, Galatians 4:1 [“as long as he is”]; 2, [“until the time appointed”]: for the Church also has its own ages.—ἐξαπέστειλεν, sent forth) Out of heaven, from Himself, as He had promised. The same verb is repeated, Galatians 4:6, concerning the Holy Spirit. [The infinite love of the Father!—V. g.] Comp. Isaiah 48:16, where Castellio and others give this interpretation: The Lord Jehovah sent me and His Spirit. Before this visitation men did not seem to be so much the object of God’s care; Hebrews 8:9 : afterwards a new appearance of things was presented.—τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, His (own) Son) The Author of liberty, αὐτοῦ, in a reciprocal sense, His own. What that means is evident from the train of thought in this passage, for we have received first adoption, then the Spirit of adoption. Therefore Christ Himself is not the Son of God, merely because He was sent and anointed by the Father.Verse 4. - But when the fulness of the time was come (ὅτε δὲ η΅λθε τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου); but when the completion of the term (Greek, time) came. "The completion of the term" is the notion answering to "the time appointed of the father" in ver. 2. The "time" (χρόνος) here most probably corresponds to the period terminated by the προθεσμία: that is, it is the interval which God ordained should first elapse. So Acts 7:23, Ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦτο αὐτῷ τεσσαρακονταετὴνς χρόνος, "When he was well-nigh forty years old;" literally," When there was being completed to him a time of forty years" (comp. also Acts 7:30; Acts 24:27; Luke 21:24; Luke 1:57). The substantive (πλήρωμα) "completion" occurs in the same sense in Ephesians 1:10, "Dispensation of the completion of the times." The apostle might apparently have written ὡς δὲ ἐπληρώθη ὁ χρόνος, "But when the term was completed;" but he prefers to express it in this particular form, as colouring the idea with a certain pathos of solemn joy at the arrival of a time so long expected, so fraught with blessing (compare the use of the verb "came" in Galatians 3:25). Why the supreme Disposer, the Father of his people, chose that particular era in the history of the human race for his children's passing into their majority is a deeply interesting subject of inquiry. Much has been said, as for example by Neander and Guerieke in their Histories of the Church, and by Schaff in his History of the Apostolic Church, on the preparedness of the world at large at just that juncture for the reception of the gospel. It may, however, be questioned whether the apostle had this in his mind in the reference here made to the Divine prothesmia. So far as appears, his view was fastened upon the history of the development of God's own people, which up to this time had been under the pedagogic custody of the Mosaic Law. Indeed, in just this context he does not even advert, as he may be supposed to have done in Galatians 3:24, to the effect produced by the Law in preparing God's own people for the gospel, but speaks only of the negative aspect of the legal economy; that is, of those features of "bondage," "powerlessness," and "poverty" which marked it as a state of oppression and helplessness. The training, probably implied in the reference to its "rudiments," stands back for the present out of view; the only notion which is actually brought prominently forward being the comparatively degraded condition in which the child-proprietor was for that while detained. God sent forth his Son (ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὑτοῦ). The terms here used require to be very closely considered: they arc fraught with the very essence of the gospel. The compound verb ἐξαποστέλλω occurs in nine other places of the New Testament, all of them in St. Luke's Gospel and the Acts. In six of these (Luke 1:53; Luke 20:10, 11; Acts 9:30; Acts 17:14; Acts 22:21) the ἐξ is well represented in our English Bible by "away." In the remaining three (Acts 7:12; Acts 11:22; Acts 12:11) - "(Jacob) sent forth our fathers first;" "They sent forth Barnabas as far as to Antioch;" "God hath sent forth his angel") - the preposition represented by "forth" expresses with more or less distinctness the idea that the person sent belonged intimately to the place or the society of the person who sent him. In no one passage is it without its appreciable value. The verb ἀποστέλλω, without this second prepositional adjunct of ἐξ, is used, for example, in John 17:18, both of the Father sending the Son and of Christ sending his apostles" into the world," but without putting forward this indication of previous intimate connection. So the verb πέμπω is used in like manner of God sending his Son in Romans 8:3, and of the mission of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26. It was, no doubt, optional with the writer or speaker whether he would employ a verb denoting this particular shade of meaning present in the ἐξ or not; but we are not, therefore, at liberty to infer that, when he chooses to employ a verb which does denote it, he uses it without a distinct consciousness of its specific force. In the clause before us, therefore, as also in ver. 6, the writer must be assumed to have had in his mind at least the thought of heaven as the sphere of existence from which the Son and the Spirit were sent, as in Acts 12:11 above cited, if not of some yet closer association with the Sender. The reference to a previously subsisting intimacy of being between the Sender and the Sent, which we trace here in the preposition ἐξ of the compound verb, is in Romans 8:3, where the verb employed is πέμψας, indicated in the emphatic reference implied in the pronoun ἑαυτοῦ, "sending his own Son." In endeavouring next to determine the import of the expression," his Son," as here introduced, we are met by the surmise that the apostle may have written it proleptically, or by anticipation; that is, as describing, not what Christ was before he was sent forth, but the glory and acceptableness with the Almighty which marked him as the Messiah after his appearing in the world; for when, for example, in another place the apostle writes," Christ Jesus came into the world to rove sinners," he must be understood as expressing himself proleptically, designating the person who came into the world by the name and office which he bore as among men, and not as he was before he came. A proleptic designation is therefore conceivable. But this interpretation of the apostle's meaning is resisted by the tendency of the context in the kindred passage in Romans 8:3, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin;" for those added words betoken very strongly that Christ was viewed by the apostle as having been God's Son before he appeared in the flesh. And such is the impression which a reader not preoccupied with other ideas would naturally receive also here. The conviction that this is what the apostle really intended is corroborated by references which he elsewhere makes to Christ's pro-incarnate existence and work; as, for example, in Philippians 2:5, 6; Colossians 1:15, 16; the latter of which passages, by describing "the Son of God's love" as "the Firstborn of every creature, because by him all things were created" (see Alford, and the 'Speaker's Commentary' on the passage), betokens that St. Paul regarded him as having been even then the "Son of God;" and this, too, in the sense of derivation from "the substance of the Father, ... begotten" (as the Nicene Creed recites) "of his Father before all worlds." We may, therefore, reason, ably believe that the Apostle Paul, whose views alone are now under consideration, recognized these two senses of the term, namely, the theological and the Christologieal, as inseparably blending into one when thus applied to the Lord Jesus; for we must allow that it appears alien to his manner of sentiment and of representation to suppose that he ever uses it in the purely theological sense only. In the view of the apostle Christ was the "Son of God," not only when appointed to be the Messiah, but also before he was "made to be of a woman." Indeed, it should seem that this conception of his person is just that which forms the basis for the subsequent statement that the object of his coming into the world was to procure the adoption of sons for us. Made of a woman (γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός); made to be of a woman. This, indeed, was probably the sense intended by King James's translators, when they followed Wicklife and the Geneva Bible in rendering "made of a woman;" whilst Tyndale and Cranmer, followed by the Revisers of 1881, give "born of a woman." Just the same divergency of renderings appears in the same English translations in Romans 1:3, "made of the seed of David (γενομένον ἐκ σπέρματος Δαβίδ)," except that Tyndale has "begotten" instead of "born." The difference in sense is appreciable and important: "made" implies a previous state of existence, which "born" does not. So far as the present writer can find, wherever in the New Testament the Authorized Version has "born," we have in the Greek either τεχθῆναι or γεννηθῆναι: γενέσθαι never having this sense at all. As in Galatians 3:13 (γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα), "Being made a curse for us," and in John 1:14 (ὁ Λόγος σάρξ ἐγένετο), "The Word was made flesh;" so here God's Son is described as "made to be of a woman," the phrase, "of a woman," being nearly identical in import with the word "flesh" in St. John, distinctly implying the fact of the Incarnation. The preposition "of" (ἐκ) denotes derivation of being, as when it is found after the verb "to be" in John 8:47, "He that is of God;" "Ye are not of God," pointing back to the claim which (ver. 41) the Jews had made that they had God for their Father. The construction of γίγνομαι, to come to be, with a preposition occurs frequently, as in Luke 22:44; Acts 22:17; Romans 16:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. There can be no doubt that γενόμενον must be taken in the next clause with the same meaning as here. Made under the Law (γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον); that is, made to be under the Law. The "Law" here, as in the clause immediately after "those under the Law," indicates, not Law in general, but that particular law of tutorship and of domination over one as yet in the depressed condition of a minor, which the apostle has just before spoken of; that is, a law of ceremonies and of external cult. The article is wanting in the Greek, as in Romans 2:12, 23; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:11, etc. We cannot be unconscious of a tone of pathos in the apostle's language, thus declaring that he who had before been no less august a being than God's Son, should in conformity with his Father's will have stooped to derive being "from a woman," as well as to become subject to such a Law of servitude as that of Moses was. In the second chapter of the Philip-plans we have a similar account of the Incarnation, in which, with similar pathos, the apostle remarks that he took upon him the form of a "bond-servant" (δοῦλος), being made to be in the like condition to that of men (ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γένομενος); but in that passage the line of thought does not lead to a definite reference of his being made subject to the ceremonial Law. The apostle probably thinks of Christ as being made subject to the Law by his being circumcised; a child of Israelite parents, so long as he was uncircumcised, was repudiated by the Law as one not in the covenant. With reference to the preceding clause," made of a woman," we are naturally led to inquire why this particular was specified. It does not appear to be essential to his argument, as the next clause certainly is. Probably it was added as marking one of the successive steps down which the Son of God descended to that subjection ("servitude," ver. 3) to the ceremonial Law which the apostle is most particularly concerned with. As in Philippians 2. he is exhibited, first as emptying himself; next, as taking upon him the form of a bond-servant by being made man; and then at length as brought to "the death of the cross;" so here, more briefly, he appears as "sent forth" from the bosom of the Father; next, as made "the son of a woman;" then as brought under the Law, to the end that (of course by the Crucifixion) he might buy off from under the Law those who were subject thereto. If the apostle intended anything more definite by introducing this first clause, it may have been to glance at that fellowship with the whole human race, with all "born of women" (γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν, Matthew 11:11), into which God's own Son came by becoming himself "of a woman" (comp. 1 Timothy 2:5). To refer to yet another point, we can fearlessly affirm that this sentence of the apostle is perfectly consistent with the belief in the writer's mind that our Lord was born of a virgin-mother, for a specified reference to this fact did not lie in his way just at present, and therefore is not to be desiderated. The only point for consideration in this respect is whether the expression employed does at all allude to it. Many have thought that it does. But when we consider that "one born of woman." γεννητὸς γυναικός, in Hebrew yelud isshah, was a set phrase to denote a human creature (cf. Matthew 11:11; Job 14:1; Job 15:14; Job 25:4; Job 11:12 [Septuagint]), with no particular reference to the woman except as the medium of our being introduced into the world, it has been with much probability judged by most recent critics that the clause shows no colouring of such allusion. Nevertheless, we distinctly recognize in it the sentiment expressed in the familiar verse of the ancient hymn: "Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti virginis uterum;" else, why did not the apostle write γενόμενον ἐν σαρκί ορ γενόμενον ἄνθρωπον? Fullness of the time (τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου)

The moment by which the whole pre-messianic period was completed. Comp. Ephesians 1:10. It answers to the time appointed of the Father (Galatians 4:2). For πλήρωμα see on John 1:16. The meaning of the word is habitually passive - that which is completed, full complement. There are frequent instances of its use with the genitive, as "fullness of the earth, blessing, time, the sea, Christ," in all which it denotes the plenitude or completeness which characterizes the nouns.

Sent forth (ἐξαπέστειλεν)

From himself: from his heavenly glory. This does not mean that God then, for the first time, embodied what had previously been a mere ideal, but that he sent forth a preexisting person. See Philippians 2:6.

Made of a woman (γενόμενον)

Or born. Repeated, and expressing the fact that Christ became a man, as distinguished from his prehistoric form of being.

Under the law

The earthly being of Christ began under the law. He was not only of human birth, but of Jewish birth; subjected to all the ordinances of the law, as circumcision for instance, like any other Jewish boy.

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