But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,…
1. The text asserts that "God sent forth His Son." Who is intended to be designated by the term Son, I need scarcely pause to inform you. It is that Divine Being who is elsewhere called "the Word," "who was in the beginning with God, who was God," "by whom all things were made, and without whom not any thing was made that was made."
2. God sent forth His Son, "made of a woman." The term "made of a woman" intends, as I suppose, to assert that the Son appeared on earth a human being; that He took upon Himself a human, in opposition to an angelic or any other nature. If this be true, then the Messiah possessed a perfect human constitution, endowed with all the powers and faculties belonging to such a constitution, just like any one of us. He possessed an understanding, a taste, a conscience, a will, appetites, passions, senses, just like our own, save only that they were not defiled with the stain of sin. "Wherefore He is not ashamed to call us brethren."
3. "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law." What is the meaning of this last phrase — "made under the law"? The law spoken of here must be either the ceremonial or the moral law. The word "law" is used twice in the sentence which forms the text. In both cases it must have the same signification. It is said, in the latter clause, Christ came to redeem those who were under the law. The word here cannot mean the ceremonial law, since this exposition would restrict the blessings flowing from the atonement of Christ to the Jews, who were the only people under this law; and would also make the salvation of the gospel nothing more than a deliverance from ceremonial observances. When we say, therefore, that Christ was made under the law, we mean the moral law, that under which the human race was created, which they are bound to obey, and by which they will all be judged in the day of final account. What, then, does the apostle mean, when he declares that Christ was under the moral law? You observe that Christ was made under the law "to redeem those that are under the law." It is evident that the expression in these two places has the same signification. We cannot, then, escape the conclusion that Christ was made under the law in the same sense that we are under the law. He placed Himself under the same moral constitution as that under which the race of man was placed; or, in other words, the same as that under which Adam was originally placed in the garden of Eden. When, however, I assert this, it is proper to remark that the Messiah voluntarily placed Himself under this constitution. He was, in His Divine nature, infinitely removed from the moral law proper for human nature. The Creator cannot, from His nature, be subject to the law of the creature. He, of His own incomprehensible benevolence, placed Himself under the law which He had appointed for the creature in order to work out our redemption. After, however, the Son of God had placed Himself under the law of human nature, He became subject to it, in the same manner as that nature; that is, specially as Adam was subject to it, when he commenced his probation. He was exposed to all the consequences of disobedience, and entitled to all the rewards of obedience, just as we suppose our first parent to have been before his fall. This, however, includes several particulars, which may properly be stated somewhat more explicitly. On this part of our subject I would remark, first, He took upon himself a nature liable to sin. Were it otherwise, it would not have been a human nature, and He would neither have been under the law, nor would He have been of the seed of Abraham. Secondly. It follows, that if the Messiah had sinned, the consequences to Himself would have been the same as to any one of us. Nay, more: the plan of redemption, on which the wisdom of Omniscience had been exhausted, would have proved abortive. On this conflict, then, we may well suppose that the destinies of the universe were suspended. By the obedience of the Messiah was it to be determined whether sin or holiness should be henceforth in the ascendant.
II. Let us now survey this transaction from another point of view, and endeavour to form a conception of the life of Christ under the conditions which we have endeavoured thus imperfectly to explain.
1. Every one of us may possibly know from experience how oppressive is the weight of solemn and important responsibility. There are critical moments in the life of almost every man, when the whole colour of his destiny has been determined by a single decision. He who remembers these eras in his history needs not to be reminded of the fear and trembling with which he approached them. In the case of the Messiah, however, not temporal but eternal interests were suspended upon His decisions. It was not merely the result of His actions upon His own happiness or misery, but their result upon the happiness or misery of innumerable millions, that pressed with overwhelming anxiety upon His holy soul. It was not merely the happiness or misery of created beings, be they ever so numerous, or how largely soever susceptible of pleasure or pain; it was the honour of that holy law which, in the presence of the universe, He had undertaken to magnify, which was perilled upon the condition of His sinless obedience. And yet more: these stupendous consequences were not suspended upon a single hour, or day, or year of the Messiah's life, but upon every action, every word, every thought, every motive, throughout his whole probationary existence. Every moral bias, during His continuance under the law, was put forth under the pressure of this infinite responsibility. Again: when men are placed in circumstances of peculiar trial, they are of necessity intimately associated together. The chief actor in a momentous enterprise unites with himself others who sympathize in his motives, comprehend his plans, carry forward his designs, and who would cheerfully sacrifice their lives in behalf of the cause in which all are equally engaged. How much this tends to alleviate anxiety, and soften the pressure of otherwise intolerable care, I surely need not remind you. None of these ameliorating circumstances, however, relieved the anxieties of Jesus of Nazareth. Of all the beings who have dwelt upon our earth, none was ever so emphatically a lone man as the Messiah.
(F. Wayland, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,