Fullness of Time

Paul argued that adopting the rite of circumcision would constitute regression to something rudimentary, and an earlier stage in the redemptive history of God’s people. If Gentile believers did so, they would be obligated to keep the whole Law, and they could easily find themselves “severed from Christ” - (Galatians 5:1-4).

For disciples of Christ, enslavement under the “elemental” forces of the old era ceased with the arrival of the Son of God - “In the Fullness of Time” – who came to redeem those “under the law” so they could become God’s “sons.”

Lighthouse Dusk - Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash
[Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash]

As Paul makes his case in
 Galatians, the temporal aspect becomes prominent. The Law was always an interim stage between the original covenant with its promises and the arrival of the “Seed of Abraham”:

  • And I say, so long time as the heir is a babe, he differs nothing from a servant, though lord of all, but is under tutors and stewards till the time appointed of the father, so also we, when we were babes, under the elemental things of the world were in servitude, and when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, who came to be of a woman, who came to be under the law, that those under the law he might redeem, that the adoption of sons we may receive; and because you are sons, God sent forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father!' so that you are no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, also an heir of God through Christ” – (Galatians 4:1-7).

The Greek term translated as “elemental” is stoicheion, which refers to the basic components that comprise a larger whole; something that is “elemental, first principle, RUDIMENTARY” - (Strong’s Concordance #G4747). By “elemental principles,” Paul means some of the regulations of the Mosaic Law, and this is confirmed by his usage of stoicheion in verses 9 and 10 when he describes Jewish calendrical observances:

  • But now that ye have come to know God…how do you turn again to the weak and beggarly ELEMENTAL PRINCIPLES (stoicheion) to which you desire to be in bondage over again? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.”

If Gentile believers submitted to the regulations of the Mosaic Law, including circumcision, they would effectively be returning to the elemental teachings of the pagan society from which God delivered them. Similarly, Jewish believers would find themselves once more under the “curse of the Law”:

  • Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written in the Law… I testify again to every man that receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” – (Galatians 3:10, 5:1-4).


However, the Son of God redeemed us from the curse of the Law - “So we could receive the adoption of sons” - by coming under its curse for us, and this he did through his death on the Cross:

  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, CURSED IS EVERY ONE THAT HANGS ON A TREE: that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” - (Galatians 3:13-14).

The result of his self-sacrificial act was our “adoption.” We are not children of God by birth or biological descent but by adoption. All human beings are His creatures, but not everyone is His son or daughter - (Romans 8:15-23, 9:4, Ephesians 1:5).

Paul stresses the pivotal moment, the “Fullness of Time.” The idea that the decisive moment was the Death and Resurrection of Jesus occurs elsewhere in the New Testament. For example, Paul claimed that the “ends of the ages had come” upon believers. Consequently, the forms of this world “are passing away” – (1 Corinthians 7:31, 10:11. Compare Romans 16:25-26, Colossian 1:26, Ephesians 3:9, Hebrews 9:26).

God achieved victory through the Death and Resurrection of His Son. This means we are now under the New Covenant that fulfills the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, including its blessings for the Gentile nations. Membership in the covenant community is open to men and women of all races and nations based on repentance and the “faith of Jesus.”

Because we are His sons, God sends the “Spirit of His Son into our hearts.” This statement rounds off the argument that began at the start of Chapter 3 when Paul reminded the Galatians that they received the Spirit while they were still uncircumcised. What greater proof of the acceptance of Gentiles by the God of Abraham could we possess than the Gift of His Spirit received through a “hearing of faith”?

Thus, anyone who has been “baptized into Christ has put on Christ” and becomes an “heir” of Abraham, and since we are covenant heirs apart from the “works of the Law,” why seek what the Law could never deliver by obligating ourselves to fulfill all its requirements, especially since doing so would place us under its “curse”? 

  • Rescued from this Evil Age - (Paul anchored all that God has done in the resurrection of Jesus, which also inaugurated the Messianic Age - Galatians 1:1-5)
  • Having Started in the Spirit - (The receipt of the Spirit while in an uncircumcised state is irrefutable proof that Gentiles are accepted by God AS GENTILES)
  • Evidence of Sonship - (The Gift of the Spirit among the Galatians demonstrates they are the sons of God and the heirs of the Covenant promises)



Rumors and Disinformation

Limits of the Law