Friday, November 25, 2005

In the Fulness of Time

"Paul's famous comment that the Nativity happened 'in the fulness of time' [Galatians 4:4] is usually interpreted to mean that God had a good sense of timing, since conditions prevailing in the Mediterranean world could not have been more favorable for the spread of Christianity....the Greeks had given their world a universal language through which Jesus' message could spread easily and quickly. The Roman empire had organized the whole Mediterranean basin into one vast communications network, almost perfectly geared to foster the spread of Christianity, since its missionaries could travel from city to city without fear of piracy at sea or brigands by land. Rome had also spread the welcome blanket of peace across the world, the Pax Romana, a time in which the new faith could thrive." (Paul Maier, The First Christmas [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2001], p. 34)

"Early Jewish interpretations of the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 increased expectation in precisely the decades surrounding the ministry of Jesus; this may have fit a general expectation of a coming era of peace in the eastern Mediterranean in this period." (Craig Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Vol. 1 [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003], p. 285)

Now are the days fulfilled,
God’s Son is manifested,
Now His great majesty
In human flesh is vested.
Behold the mighty God,
By Whom all wrath is stilled,
The woman’s promised Seed—
Now are the days fulfilled.

Now are the days fulfilled,
Lo, Jacob’s Star is shining;
The gloomy night has fled
Wherein the world lay pining.
Now, Israel, look on Him
Who long thy heart hath thrilled;
Hear Zion’s watchmen cry:
Now are the days fulfilled.

Now are the days fulfilled,
The child of God rejoices;
No bondage of the Law,
No curses that it voices,
Can fill our hearts with fear;
On Christ our hope we build.
Behold the Prince of Peace—
Now are the days fulfilled.
(author unknown, "Now Are the Days Fulfilled")