May 24, 2011

The Filling of The Time [ το πληρωμα του χρονου ]

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. ~Galatians 4:4

The verse above in layman's terms says that God sent His Son at the perfect time. At the earliest and latest possible time God sent Jesus. Obviously, God would want to send His Savior as soon as He could because man was not able to do anything on His own. So how do we possibly know that Year Zero or the birth of Jesus Christ was the best possible time or the "fullness of time"? Time is temporal and of the Creation at least a far as we are concerned because it is the world God sent His Son into. So lets look at the surrounding historical contexts of Jesus life and the start of Christianity. There are primary (7) things that stand out as remarkable when we consider the "fullness of time".

(1) The Greek language was the lingua franca of the Hellenized Roman empire. Rome had taken over an area that had predominantly bee control by Greek influence after the domination by Alexander the Great. One of the things that Alexander had instituted was a unified language in which to help unify his controlled areas. It worked. It worked so well that it lasted long after his death and the first manuscripts of the Bible ended up being written and circulated in the Koine Greek.

(2) The Pax Romana (the Roman peace) or the peace of Rome. The power and influence of Rome at its peak was so formidable, so absolute and so wide spread that it lent itself to large swathes of the known world to be peaceful and free of war. This lent itself to movement and transfer of information (letters, etc). We need only look at Acts to see this. We can also look at the early Church through the 1st century.

(3) Due to the first two ideas we see a state-of-the-transportation and communication infrastructure. The letters of Paul move rather easily throughout the empire. The Roman road system was extensive allowing movement to some of the farthest reaches of the empire.

(4) Because of the language and the ease of movement across large areas of land cultural issues that would've normally been obstacles began to melt away. Worldviews, religions and cultures were able to move quickly and affect other cultures in a speed never before known to mankind. This then allowed for unification politically and socially.

(5) Old distinctions eroded quickly because of permeable barriers and old nation boundaries disappeared in the homogenized whole of the Pax Romana. It became a melting pot just as the United States is in modern times. Ironically, because of these new freedoms the Roman empire was just as susceptible and fell victim to internal sins and debauchery that the US has also fallen to (as have many nations that have followed the same pattern [history repeats itself] ).

(6) Christianity originally was viewed a Jewish sect. Because of this it was protect by Rome under the legal status of  religio licita. Acts unquestionably shows this fact. Every time the Christians get themselves in hot water while spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who comes to their  rescue? The Roman officials themselves. This is plainly obvious in the case of Paul. This is obviously before Nero chose to slaughter and persecute the Christians in Italy. It also isn't until the 60's that Christianity begins to breech the religio licita and become a religion in its own right. It is at this point that the protection afforded it by being a Jewish sect begins to fade...and persecution starts in earnest.

(7) Rome, for all intensive purposes had implemented the most advanced and fair judicial process thus far known in the ancient world. Granted Rome had its tyrants and nut-jobs, but in most cases because of their law and due processes justice quite often prevailed in surprising ways...especially in favor of minorities like...Christians. Paul being a Roman citizen was afforded legal benefits not granted to non-Roman citizens (ironically like Jesus).

With these known and documented aspects of the Roman empire it is no wonder Christianity begins to take off in the shadow of Roman rule. As Paul said in Galatians: But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son..." Paul knew first hand all the elements in his world that needed to come together to allow the spread of the small movement he was involved in. A small movement that, according to the Romans, was a sect of Judaism start by an obscure Rabbi named Jesus that had been executed in a Roman backwater named Jerusalem on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

Blomberg, Craig. Jesus and the Gospels: an introduction and survey. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1997. Print.

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