A Christmas Letter from Paul

Well, not exactly.  Paul did write letters. The letters of Paul make up half of the New Testament. He never really described the birth of Jesus, nor did he write an account of the life of Jesus. But Paul sent a Christmas message in his letter to the Galatians.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Let’s think about Paul’s little Christmas message.

Jesus came in the right way. He was “sent” by God our Father and Creator. Jesus was sent on a mission from heaven to earth. In the words of John the apostle, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

He was “born of a woman.” the infant Jesus was conceived in a supernatural way, but born in the normal human way. The divine child took a human nature as he passed through human birth into the world. He partook of his mother’s humanity. This conforms to the prophecy of Isaiah, “Unto us a child is born” (Isaiah 9:6).

C.H. Spurgeon wrote of the birth of our Lord: “Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arm.”

The fact that Jesus was born under the law means that he was a Jew who observed the requirements and customs of the law of Moses. He was born under and into that system so that he could release people from that system. He fulfilled the requirements of the law by his sinless life. He paid the penalties of the law by his sacrificial death.

Jesus came at the right time. His appearance on the scene coincided perfectly with Bible prophecy. Those familiar with Daniel the prophet know that he prophesied the exact time of Messiah’s coming to Israel (Daniel 9:25-27). There are many prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures about the first coming of Messiah and Jesus fulfilled them. The book of Hebrews tells us that his coming was “in the culmination of the ages” (Hebrews 9:26).

Not only that, but his coming coincided with world events. In the providence of God, there was a confluence of historical circumstances that contributed to the rapid and efficient spread of Christianity just a few years after the earthly life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus came for the right reason. This is the heart of the Christmas message. In Galatians 4:4-7 Paul enumerates some of the blessings of salvation that are true because Jesus came at Christmas.

One of them is redemption. Jesus is said to redeem those who believe in him. This is a word that is taken from the Roman slave market to illustrate the freedom of those who are released from the bondage of sin. “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). His death on the cross was the ransom payment for our redemption.

Not only that, but his coming makes it possible for us to be taken into the family of God by adoption. In Paul’s day that meant full acceptance, status and recognition as children in the family. He applied that as an illustration of the believer’s relationship to God.

He goes even further to speak of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the indwelling presence of the Spirit who makes possible an intensely personal relationship to God. It is because of Christmas that it is possible for us to call out to the Father is prayer and call him “Abba!” It is because of Christmas that it is possible for us to know God and to be known by God and to receive the inheritance of eternal life (Galatians 4:6-9).

Paul would have us think about these things as we celebrate around the Christmas tree, sing carols and feast with our families. He wants us to know that redemption, adoption, the Holy Spirit, inheritance, and knowing God are wonderful gifts of Christmas. All because Jesus came in the right way, at the right time, and for the right reasons.

Pastor Randy Faulkner