“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law”(Gal. 4:4, ESV).
Paul’s choice of the word fullness indicates God’s active role in working out His purpose in human history. Jesus did not come at just any time; He came at the precise time God had prepared. From a historical perspective, that time is known as the Pax Romana (the Roman Peace), a two-hundred-year period of relative stability and peace across the Roman Empire. Rome’s conquest of the Mediterranean world brought peace, a common language, favorable means of travel, and a common culture that facilitated the rapid spread of the gospel. From a biblical perspective, it also marked the time that God had set for the coming of the promised Messiah (see Dan. 9:24–27).1
Galatians 4:4, 5 contains one of the most succinct accounts of the gospel in Scripture. The coming of Jesus into human history was no accident. “God sent forth His Son.” In other words, God took the initiative in our salvation.
Although He was the divine preexistent Son of God, Jesus was also “born of woman.” Though the virgin birth is implied in this phrase, it more specifically affirms His genuine humanity.
The phrase “born under the law” points not only to Jesus’ Jewish heritage but also includes the fact that He bore our condemnation.
It was necessary for Christ to assume our humanity because we could not save ourselves. By uniting His divine nature with our fallen human nature, Christ legally qualified to be our Substitute, Savior, and High Priest. As the second Adam, He came to reclaim all that the first Adam had lost by his disobedience (Rom. 5:12–21). By His obedience He perfectly fulfilled the law’s demands, thus redeeming Adam’s tragic failure. And by His death on the cross, He met the justice of the law, which required the death of the sinner, thus gaining the right to redeem all who come to Him in true faith and surrender.