The first Christmas was perfectly timed. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” What was “the fullness of time”? God’s sovereign timing. He ordered world events so everything was ready for Christ’s coming and the subsequent outreach of the apostles.
Looking back at the early church, we are amazed at how quickly the gospel spread in less than a century. The sovereign hand of God is clearly evident. Christ’s advent could not have been timed more propitiously.
Politically, the Roman Empire was at its height. Rome had given the world good roads, a relatively fair system of government, and most important, peace. For the first time in history, people could travel with relative ease almost anywhere in the empire—and the apostles could carry the gospel message to the uttermost parts of the world.
Culturally, the world was becoming more unified. More people than ever were being educated, and most of them knew Greek or Latin. Even the common people usually spoke Koine Greek, the dialect that the New Testament was written in.
Spiritually, the world was diverse, but open. Greek and Roman polytheism were gradually being replaced by rational and secular philosophies, or by emperor worship. Among the Jews, a renewed interest in the Scriptures was leading to revival on the one hand—typified by the ministry of John the Baptist—and a strong pharisaic movement on the other. Christ could not have arrived on the scene at a more opportune time. It was the perfect time, sovereignly determined by God—“the fullness of time.”