When I was looking for into a concordance the verb πληρόω, I found the following verses:

Mark 1:14-15 (NASB)

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

What is the meaning of the phrase "The time is fulfilled"?


The popular distinction is between χρόνος = chronological span and καιρός = opportune moment, and the latter is used in Mark 1:15. The word "Πεπλήρωται" quite often means "accomplished". So "it's time!" would be a fine contemporary meaning.

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The imagery is of something being filled until it is full and can't have anything else added to it, like a cup full with water. So while the jews were living with the concept that the kingdom will come sometime in the future, after MORE time will have passed - Jesus is saying, there have been enough time. Whatever time we will add to this trough waiting, will not bring the kingdom any more than it is now. The cup of time is full, so the kingdom is not in the future but it is now.

One interesting aspect of this is that we would assume there was a period when the time was not fulfilled - like all the time from Adam to Jesus. But that does not have to be true for this saying to meaningful. If the gospel is eternal then after ANY time has passed, the time will be fulfilled. So what he simply is saying, "the time is now, have always been now and will always be now".

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"The time is fulfilled" means that the Messiah in the Person of Jesus has been properly announced and introduced as prophesied in Isaiah chapter 40, by John the Baptist, whose role ended up to his death in jail, having fulfilled the role as "the one crying out in the wilderness" to present the LORD who has come in the flesh. He had introduced The Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Thus, the role of John having been clearly defined as the one who fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah chapter 40, also clearly defined who Jesus Christ is: He was the One who is the YHWH of the Old Testament and is Jesus of the New Testament who came to start the promised Kingdom. Hence, whoever recognizes Him as Lord and believes in Him as Saviour becomes a member of the Kingdom of God which is already at hand, having been started by the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ and eventually fulfilled by His sacrificial death at the cross. The gospel, the good news is Christ's death, burial and resurrection from the grave having been finally accomplished when He ascended and entered into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Tabernacle, His Blood having been accepted by the Father evidenced by the return of Jesus to earth after His blood offering.

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The fulfillment of time that Jesus is referring to is the completion of the time of the Law, and the beginning of the time of the Gospel.

Paul wrote to the Galatians (4:4) that

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

According to what he wrote the Ephesians (1:10), this redemption of those under the law was existential and not merely judicial:

In the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might recapitulate all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, in Him

I know of no translation other than The Orthodox New Testament (and a translation of a Greek commentary on Ephesians 1:10) that choose to translate ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι as "recapitulate", but that is closer to the literal meaning - κεφαλαιώσασθαι is an extremely rare verb related to κεφαλή (head), with the prefix ἀνα- equivalent to our English "re-" in this context. The sense is to gather (back) all things under Christ as the head.

After telling that the time is fulfilled, the very next thing Jesus does is not only to call the hearer to repentance, but to believe the gospel. We think of repentance in terms of regret or sorrow, but this is not really what the Greek μετάνοια means. It too reflects an existential and not a juridical change: the root of μετάνοια is νοῦς, which is sometimes translated as "mind", but which would later be described as one's spiritual core.

So to "recapitulate", I would say the "fulfillment of time" here corresponds directly to what Paul explains in Galatians and Ephesians: an ending of the time of the Law, and a gathering of all under Christ as their head. The accompanying call to repentance should not, I think, be understood as a chastisement, but rather as an invitation.

One Greek commentator explained Mark 1:14-15 as follows:

It may appear that the Lord is preaching the same things as John, "Repent" and "The kingdom of God is at hand." But it is not so. For John said, "Repent", meaning "Turn away from sins." But Christ says, "Repent," meaning "flee from the letter of the law." This is why He also added the words, "Believe in the Gospel, the Good Tidings." For he who is about to believe through the Gospel, has in fact finished the law. The Lord says that the very time of the law has been fulfilled. Up until now, He says, the law governed, but form now on there is the kingdom and rule of God, that is, a life governed by the Gospel, and such a life is rightly compared to the kingdom of heaven.*

* Theophylact of Ohrid (11th c. Byzantine), The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Mark (tr. from Greek, Chrysostom Press, 1993), p.17

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Mark 1:14-15 (ASV) Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.

I believe this is to be understood as follows.

Acts 17:30 [note mine] The times of ignorance [of the world pertaining to the true God] therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent.

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I saw that Mark 1:14-15 matches Luke 4:14-21.

Luke 4:18-19 (being after Isaiah 61:1-2) is about the jubilee year mentioned in Leviticus 25:8-13.

Leviticus 25:8, And you shall count for yourself seven sabbatical years, seven years seven times.

v. 10, And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year

to count = "safar"

you count up until it is full 49 years.

So that must be the meaning of "the time has been fulfilled"

Also of Luke 4:21, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Jubilee year = "shanat hayuval" = year of the ram's horn blown at Yom Kippur , the tenth day of the 50th year, Paul's "last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:52)

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