That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven…
This marks the period during which the summing up of all things is to be accomplished - the period of the dispensation of grace.
I. THE TERM SUGGESTS THE IDEA OF A PLAN OR SYSTEM, NOT CONSISTING OF MERE FRAGMENTARY AND UNRELATED PARTS, BUT A THOROUGHLY COMPACT AND ORGANIZED SYSTEM, IN WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL PARTS HAVE THEIR DUE PLACES IN THE WORKING OUT OF A DESTINED RESULT. Just as in creation there is a unity of plan with certain typical ideas and regulative numbers lying at its basis, so there is in God's dispensation a certain succession of times and seasons working out the purposes of his will. "God is the Steward of all time." The God who has made of one blood all nations of men "hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). Christianity marks a new era in history, dividing it into two unequal parts, the appearance of Christ marking the turning-point between them.
II. THIS DISPENSATION DATES FROM THE FULLNESS OF TIMES, THAT IS, FROM THE PERIOD WHEN ALL THE TIMES DESTINED TO PRECEDE IT HAD RUN OUT. The pre-Christian ages have seen their end in Christ's advent, which' becomes thenceforth "the fullness of times." It was a chronological as well as a moral fullness. The epoch in question is the best time in the Divine calendar; for it is God's time, and he is the Lord of all time. The age that saw the advent of the Savior was ripe for the event. It was "the time appointed by the Father" (Galatians 4:2). The Roman power had opened highways for the gospel in every land by its immense conquests and its large toleration, while Greece gave the world the richest of languages to become the vehicle for New Testament inspiration. Meanwhile religion had outlived itself, and skepticism mocked at the decaying superstitions of the people. "The world by wisdom knew not God." All Gentile experiments in living had been tried, but with the unvarying result of disappointment. Meanwhile there was at the heart of heathenism a mysterious longing for some change in the world's destinies, and the eyes of men turned instinctively to the East. Whether this tendency sprang up among the dispersion of the Jews over the East and the West, or from some instinctive longing, it was God's will that the Gentiles should, with a conscious need of redemption, feel after him for themselves, "if haply they might find him" (Acts 17:27). Among the Jews, likewise, there was a significant "waiting for the consolation of Israel;" idolatry had totally disappeared; new and more liberal ideas prevailed, in spite of the bigotry of the sects; and many hearts were prepared to welcome the" Desire of all nations." "The full age had come," when the heir would enter on his inheritance. Thus the advent was in every sense "the fullness of times." It was "the due time" when Christ died for the ungodly. The world had waited long for it. The purpose of God had only to receive its fulfillment by the coming of Christ. Equally so still is there a longing in the heart of men for a Savior. Men may try experiments in life; they may taste of its pleasures; they may try to extract from it all the wisdom the world can give; but there is still a void which nothing can fill till he comes whose right it is to possess and subdue and save the soul for himself. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: