Galatians 4:4 "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law."
That phrase "had fully come" is a very picturesque Greek expression. It speaks of something that is complete and fully developed, like a ripe apple ready to be picked. Or like a pregnant woman feeling labor pains, ready to deliver her baby. It describes the moment in history when all things were in place, when all the pieces were on the board, that one moment when the stage was perfectly set. At that moment, not earlier and not later, God sent forth his Son. It means that God had prepared all of history from the beginning; he had set the stage for the entrance of his Son into the world.
Jesus was born during the famed Pax Romana, the Roman peace that spread across the Mediterranean world. No doubt you've heard it said that "all roads lead to Rome." That statement was literally true. The Romans had built a road system that stretched from Rome in all directions. That enabled the gospel message to quickly spread to all parts of the known world. And Greek was the common language throughout the empire, which further united people and made it easier for the message of Jesus to come to the masses. He came at a time of religious ferment and moral decline. And it was an age of prophetic fulfillment, as all the lines of Old Testament prophecy converged on a forgotten stable outside a country inn in the little village of Bethlehem.
What started in Genesis continued throughout the Old Testament. God promised over and over that he would intervene in history. One day the Messiah would come. There was an ever-narrowing stream of prophecy, the promises becoming more and more specific. Until it happened. The angel came to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Then to Mary. Then to the shepherds. Then the Magi in the east saw the star and knew the King of the Jews had been born. Herod, that evil and sick king tottering on the throne in Jerusalem, seems to have been caught by surprise. But the scribes weren't. They knew the baby would be born in Bethlehem.
Thus, the stage was set for the coming of Christ. It happened just as God said it would. Not too soon. Not too late.
Excerpted from "When Was Jesus Born?" by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).