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.
4. the fulness of the time—namely, "the time appointed by the Father" (Ga 4:2). Compare Note, see on 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."