But when the fulness of time was come
The time agreed and fixed upon between God and his Son from all eternity, in the council and covenant of peace, when the Son of God should assume human nature; which time was diligently searched into by the prophets, was revealed unto them, and predicted by them; as more generally that it should be before the civil government ceased from Judah, and before the destruction of the second temple; and more particularly by Daniel in his prophecy of the "seventy weeks", towards and about the close of which there was a general expectation among the Jews of the Messiah's coming; and was the fulness of time here referred to, and what is sometimes called the dispensation of the fulness of time, the end of the Mosaic dispensation and Jewish church state, the last days of that state, and the end of the Jewish world, as to their ecclesiastical and civil polity. The Jews themselves own that the time of the Messiah's coming is fixed, and that at that time he shall come, whether they are worthy or not, for so it is asserted in their Talmud F4;
``says R. Jochanan, the son of David does not come, but in an age which is all worthy, or all wicked; in a generation which is all worthy, as it is written, ( Isaiah 60:21 ) in a generation that is all wicked, as it is written, ( Isaiah 66:5 ) and it is written, "for my name's sake will I do it"; says R. Alexander, R. Joshua ben Levi objects what is written, ( Isaiah 60:22 ) "in its time"; and it is written, "I will hasten it"; if they are worthy I will hasten it, if they are not worthy it shall be (hteb) , "in its time".''And accordingly a more modern writer of theirs says F5,
``our redemption upon all accounts shall be, (hnmzb) , "in its time", whether worthy or, wicked; but if worthy its time will be hastened;''it must be owned they do not always say so: this phrase, "the fulness of time", is an Hebraism, and is the same with (ymy talm) , in ( Ezekiel 5:2 ) which the Septuagint render (thn plhrwsin twn hmerwn) , "the fulness of days", and we, "when the days were fulfilled", when the time was up; and the same sense it has here, and it is also the same with (dewm) , "the appointed time", ( Habakkuk 2:3 ) and answers to (proyesmia tou patrov) , "the time appointed of the Father", ( Galatians 4:2 ) .
God sent forth his Son;
God not absolutely and essentially, but personally and relatively considered, is here meant, namely, God the Father, as appears from the relation the person sent stands in to him, "his Son"; not by creation, as angels, Adam, and all men are the sons of God; nor by adoption, as saints are; or by office, as magistrates be; or on account of his incarnation or resurrection from the dead, for he was the Son of God before either; but by divine generation, being the only begotten of the Father, of his divine nature and essence, equal to him, and one with him: and who was "sent" by him, not out of disrespect to him, but love to us; nor without his consent or against his will, he readily and heartily agreeing to it; nor does it imply any local motion or change of place, but only designs the assumption of human nature; nor does it suppose any superiority and inferiority, for though Christ, as man, and in his office capacity, as Mediator, is inferior to the Father, yet not as to his divine nature, or as the Son of God; but it suggests, that he existed before he was sent, and that as a person, and as a distinct person from the Father, otherwise he could not with any propriety be said to be sent by him; and also that there was an entire harmony and agreement between them in this matter, the Father agreed to send his Son, and the Son agreed to be sent; and that as to his taking upon him the office of Mediator, and his assumption of human nature in order to obtain eternal redemption: all this was not of himself, but done in concert with his Father, from whom as Mediator he had his mission and commission;
made of a woman;
"made", not created as Adam was; nor begotten by man, as men in common are; nor is he said to be born, though he truly was, but "made"; which word the Holy Ghost chooses, to express the mighty power of God, in his mysterious incarnation, wonderful conception, and birth; though some copies read, "born of a woman"; and so the Arabic and Ethiopic version: "of a woman"; whose seed he was from the beginning said to be; of a woman, without a man; of a woman, a virgin, as was foretold; and not only made and formed in her, but of her, of her flesh and blood, of which he took part; and which denotes the low estate and great humiliation of Christ, and shows that as sin came into the world by the woman, the Saviour from sin came also the same way:
made under the law;
under the civil and judicial law as a Jew, to which he was subject, paying tribute to the collectors of it; and which was necessary; that it might appear he sprung from that nation, to whom he was promised; and that he came before the civil government of that people was at an end; and to teach us subjection to the civil magistrate: and as a son of Abraham he was made under the ceremonial law, was circumcised the eighth day, kept the several feasts of tabernacles, passover and which was proper, since he was the principal end of it, in whom it centres, and for whose sake it was made; and that he might completely fulfil it, and by so doing put a period to it: and he was made under the moral law, both as a man and the surety of his people, and was subject to all the precepts of it, and bore the penalty of it, death, in their room and stead, and thereby fulfilled it, and delivered them from its curse and condemnation. So the Targumist F6, joins the incarnation of the Messiah and his subjection to the law together, as the apostle here does;
``the prophet saith to the house of David, because a child is born unto us, and a son is given to us, (hrjml yhwle) (atyrwa lybqw) , "and he hath took upon him the law to keep it, and his name shall be called"''
F4 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1. Vid. Jarchi & Kinachi in Isa. lx. 22.
F5 Kimchi in Psal. cviii. 4.
F6 In Isa. ix. 6.