What does Galatians 4:4 mean?
ESV: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
NIV: But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
NASB: But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
CSB: When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
NLT: But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.
KJV: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
NKJV: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Verse Commentary:
Verse 4 and 5 summarize the powerful, beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the good news Paul had preached, and which the Galatians had believed.

In the previous verses, Paul compared life under the law to a child living under the care of a guardian. Though that child is entitled to a grand inheritance, the child's daily life is similar to that of a slave until the predetermined date set by his father arrives. Others determine when and where the child will go and what he will do. He is waiting for the freedom his inheritance will bring.

Now Paul says that date has come for those who were under the law. In fact, the moment has come for all who want to share in the inheritance of Jesus. The date set by God the Father arrived right on schedule. When the "fullness of time" had come, God's Son Jesus was born to a human woman. This woman, Mary, was a virgin (Matthew 1:18), and her pregnancy was a mysterious miracle. She carried the child of God.

Jesus was born into a Jewish family in Israel. As such, He was born "under the law." Jesus was the only human being ever to keep the law perfectly. In doing so, He declared that He had "fulfilled" the law (Matthew 5:17). He satisfied all of its requirements, then died on the cross to pay all of the penalties for the sins of others (Galatians 3:13).
Verse Context:
Galatians 4:1–7 paints the picture of the heir of a wealthy son, who remains without freedom himself until he actually receives his inheritance. This corresponds to the customs of the time, when even wealthy children lived under the control of teachers and guardians. Paul insists that the crucial day has already come for all who trust in Christ. We are no longer under the supervision of the law of Moses. Christ has bought us out of slavery and into God's family. In Him, Christians are adopted as full children—we are God's heirs. We are given the Holy Spirit, making it possible to call Him our ''Abba,'' meaning ''Father.''
Chapter Summary:
In this chapter, Paul uses three new methods to teach his Galatian readers an important lesson. It is futile to follow the law of Moses in order to be made right before God, since justification comes only by faith in Christ. First, Paul shows that the arrival of Christ made it possible for all people to become God's children through faith in Him. Next, Paul makes a more personal appeal, asking what has changed to cause the Galatians to turn on Paul's teaching of the gospel. Finally, Paul builds an allegory from Scripture, illustrating the difference between being born into slavery and being born into the promise by faith in Christ.
Chapter Context:
Galatians 3 ends with Paul stating, once more, that those who are in Christ are Abraham's offspring, just as He is, making us heirs along with Him. Galatians 4 continues that idea, showing how Christ's arrival signaled the moment all people could receive the inheritance with Him and be adopted as God's children. Paul makes his appeal personal, asking why the Galatians moved from blessing him to rejecting the message of Christ. The chapter ends with Paul's allegory about the difference between being born into slavery under the law and being born into freedom by the power of the Spirit through faith in Christ. Chapter 5 will continue by expanding on the freedom we have in Christ.
Book Summary:
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
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