Summary: 1) The Elements, 2) Reason and 3) Benefits of Christ’s Coming.
When was Jesus born? No, not on December 25. Though Christians had adopted that date by A.D. 336, Christ was born “when shepherds watched their flocks by night.” In other words, most likely in the spring. And no, He wasn’t born in the year 1 A.D. The Bible tells us that Herod the Great ruled Palestine when Jesus was born, and Herod died in 4 B.C.—so Jesus had to have been born not long before that. (Blame Dionysiuys Exiguus for this one—he’s the sixth century monk who came up with the idea of splitting history into A.D. and B.C. He just chose the wrong date to do so, that’s all.) (Signs of the Times, Dec, 1991, p. 6:Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
Often, when we determine dates and timings, we get them wrong. We make plans to meet and scheduling conflicts ensue, weather derails and everything seems to fall apart. But when God the Father sent His son into the world it was exactly at the right time. All the circumstances were as He planned. He achieved His specific purposes and the benefits to us are the greatest gifts of Christmas.
From Galatians 4:4-7 we see 1) The Elements, 2) Reason and 3) Benefits of Christ’s Coming.
1) The Elements of Christ’s Coming
A) The Timing of Christ’s coming: Galatians 4:4a. GOD’S TIME
Galatians 4:4a But when the fullness of time had come,
We have seen so far in Galatians that in ancient times the Father had the right to fix the time when his son would receive his estate, so did God the Father set the time to send forth His incarnate Son to earth as Redeemer. It was in the fullness of time that Jesus Christ came, exactly as and when the Father had established.
• Linking with the context of what has preceded, as a father set the time for the ceremony of his son becoming of age and being released from the guardians, managers, and tutors, so God sent forth His Son at the precise moment to bring all who believe out from under bondage to the law—a truth Jesus repeatedly affirmed (Jn 5:30, 36, 37; 6:39, 44, 57; 8:16, 18, 42; 12:49; 17:21, 25; 20:21).( MacArthur, J. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible : New American Standard Bible. (Ga 4:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
The expression that the fullness of time had come”; (JB “the appointed time”), is found only here in Paul’s writings. Elsewhere Paul described Christians as those “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11). (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (300). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Jesus Himself knew that he had come at just the right time:
• He said so in Mark 1: 15 "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;
The fullness of time refers to the completion of the period of preparation in God’s sovereign timetable of redemption.
When the law had fully accomplished its purpose of showing humanity their utter sinfulness and inability to live up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness, God ushered in a new era of redemption. When He sent forth His Son, He provided the righteousness for His children that humanity could not provide for themselves. (cf. Ps 102:13, Lu 1:57).
When Jesus was born, everything was right for the coming of the Messiah. First of all, the time was right religiously. During the Babylonian captivity, Israel once and for all forsook the idolatry into which she had so often fallen. Despite their many other sins and failures, including the national rejection of their own Messiah, no significant number of Jews has ever again turned to idolatry.
Also during the Exile, Jews developed synagogues, which they used as places of worship, as schools, anti as courts. In addition to that, they at last had the completed Old Testament, assembled by Ezra and others after the return from Babylon. Those features facilitated the proclaiming of the Messiah’s gospel among the people of Israel.
Second, the time was right culturally. Christians who propagated the gospel during the first several centuries had a common language with those to whom they witnessed and with whom they worshiped. Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world (Hellenization), and these continued their dominating influence long after Rome succeeded Greece as world ruler.
Third, the time was right politically. Rome had instituted the pax Romana (Roman peace), which provided economic and political stability. The apostles and other early preachers and teachers could travel freely and safely throughout the empire and could do so on the magnificent system of roads built by the Romans.
Each of those factors was in some unique way a key to the spread of the gospel. God’s timing was perfect.