|FULLNESS OF TIME |
The traditional rendering of two similar Greek expressions in
Galatians 4:4 and
Ephesians 1:10. The first refers to a past event, the sending of Christ to redeem those born under the law. While the sending of God's Son encompasses the whole of Christ's incarnate ministry, the New Testament specifically relates the sending to Christ's death as a saving event (John 3:17;
1 John 4:9-10). The sending of Christ in the fullness of time refers not so much to world conditions in the sense that the prevalence of Greek as a common spoken language, Roman roads, and the Roman enforced peace made the rapid spread of the gospel possible. Rather the emphasis is on God whose sending of Christ is not a “last ditch effort” but part of God's gracious plan from the beginning.
The reference to the fullness of time in Ephesians is more difficult. Some translations understand the time when all things are gathered together in Christ to lie in the future (NIV, TEV); others, in the past (REB). A major theme of Ephesians is that Christ has already broken down the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile (1 John 2:11-22, especially
1 John 2:14,1 John 2:21). Therefore, it seems likely that the crucial shift in time between the past with its hopelessness and hostility and the present age of reconciliation has already occurred.