Why are there apparent contradictory passages of Scripture regarding the subject of salvation?
In brief, there are passages of Scripture which appear to be contradictory regarding the subject of salvation, some that indicate salvation is totally apart from works (e.g., John 3:16, 18; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:20, 24, 27, 28; 4:2; 9:11; 11:16; Galatians 3:11; Ephesians 2:8, 9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5) and some that indicate salvation is associated with works (e.g., Romans 2:1-13; 8:6, 13; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 9:27; Galatians 5:21; 6:8; Ephesians 5:5; Hebrews 10:26, 27, 39; 12:14; James 2:14-17, 20-22, 24-26; 2 Peter 2:20, 21; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7, 8).
The reason for this is manifold. One reason is due to an exegetical error called illegitimate totality transfer relative to the doctrine — when the “meaning” of a word (understood as the total series of relations in which it is used in the literature) is read into a particular case as its sense and implication there. An error that is related to illegitimate totality transfer is illegitimate identity transfer — when a meaning in one context is made to be the meaning in all contexts. Both exegetical errors contribute to a reader’s misguided effort to assign the same meaning to every use of a particular word or phrase within all passages of Scripture without considering and applying one of the basic rules of interpretation, that of interpreting within context.
This is particularly the case when one fails to recognize the difference between salvation of the spirit and salvation of the soul. When one believes all passages referencing salvation applies to eternal/spirit-salvation, he then will be forced to admit that many other salvation passages, those which deal with life/soul-salvation, are contradictory in nature; unless of course he then submits to additional exegetical error in his concerted attempt to force such apparent contradictory passages to be reconciled with all other passages of Scripture pertaining to the subject.
Another reason is the failure to recognize the difference between the eternal salvation or redemption of a person, which is based solely on grace through the one-time exercise of faith in (confidence in, reliance upon) Christ; and his subsequent inheritance as a firstborn son, which is also tantamount to soul-salvation that may be gained or lost depending upon his faithfulness in fruit bearing (divine good works) as a child of God.
Other reasons fall within the methods one utilizes in the study of the Word. For instance, it should go without saying that one should start the study of the Word where God began when He revealed His Word to man; yet this is often not the case. Young Christians are routinely advised to predominately study the New Testament, usually starting in the book of John, since the Old Testament is not as relevant to them. But unless a person understands the type-antitype structure of Scripture and compares passages of Scripture with other passages of Scripture (between the Testaments), he can never build upon the God-breathed skeletal structure (foundation) of it, which God established to be the process that insures correct interpretation (Matthew 2:23; Luke 18:31; 24:27, 44, 45; John 1:45; Acts 1:20; 2:16, 25, 34; 3:18; 4:23-25; Romans 5:14; 15:4; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 9:9, 10; 10:6, 11; 15:45; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 1:5-14; 2:6-8, 12, 13; 3:7-11, etc.).
Sadly, the above mentioned errors of interpretation have dominated most efforts of interpreting Scripture in Christian circles of yesterday and today and which apply to many facets of biblical doctrine, not only to the doctrine of salvation. Such misguided efforts have been prevalent throughout all instructional levels — personal, local churches, and up through the highest echelons of academia. And frankly, this is the reason there is such a huge chasm of disagreement between those who primarily adhere to Calvinistic and those who primarily adhere to Armenian points of view.
It is well to remember that all Scripture is alive [God-breathed] and is the only spiritual food for those who have been made spiritually alive (Hebrews 4:12; John 3:6, 7, 16; Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17), those who are a “new creation” “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Word is useless to those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), those who are incapable of “[receiving] the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to [them]” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The purpose of the Word is to spiritually feed Christians, to nurture them from milk to meat doctrines (Hebrews 5:12-14), in order that they may become spiritually mature — “sanctified [set apart; made holy]” to “be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:17). And once a student of the Word, be he neophyte or PhD in theology, realizes this focus in and by Scripture, he will find that the preponderance of scriptural passages deal with the aspect of salvation dealing with the soul, not the spirit.
Very detailed and extensive commentary by Arlen L. Chitwood regarding this question follows:
. . . not in words that man’s wisdom teaches but that the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:13b)
One part of the Word (at any point in the Old
or New Testaments) is compared with another part of the Word (at any
point in the Old or New Testaments) under the leadership of the
Revelation surrounding the shedding of blood
for the remission of sins begins in
three, immediately following man’s fall; and the entire
Old Testament sacrificial system that followed pointed toward the
One — of whom the prophets spoke (cf.
Isaiah 53:12; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6) —
who would one day come and take away “the
sin of the world” through the sacrifice of Himself (John
All Scripture is Theopneustos
2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV reads,
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine [teaching], for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The words, “given
by inspiration of God,” are a translation of the one
Greek word, theopneustos, meaning “God-breathed.” This is a
compound word comprised of Theos (“God”) and pneuma
(“breath” in this particular usage [this is also the word used for
“Spirit” in the New Testament — the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit, and
the use of spirit in general; also “wind” in
For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. . . .
Now, the question: Why is the Word of God “living,”
“powerful,” and “sharper
than any two-edged sword”? The answer: Because of its
origin. The Word is “theopneustos”; the Word is
in its entirety, outlines events of a yet future day. It has to do
with that time when Messiah returns and life [spiritual] is
restored to “the whole
house of Israel [both
those alive at that time (possessing natural life) and resurrected
Old Testament saints]” [Exodus
13:19; cf. Ezekiel
(Note also Luke 8:55; James 2:26; Revelation 13:15. The word pneuma appears in each verse, referring to “life”; and the word should be understood as “breath” in these passages.)
For prophecy [referring to written revelation (v. 20)] never came by the will of man, but holy [set apart] men of God spoke as they were moved [borne along] by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:21)
The Word is “God-breathed,”
and thus “living,”
because of the Spirit’s inseparable connection with the Word.
He is the One who gave the Word to man through man, and He is
the One presently in the world to guide man “into
all truth” through the use of this Word (John
That’s why pastor-teachers have been exhorted
to “Preach the Word,”
and that’s why Christians have been exhorted to “study” this same
Word (2 Timothy 2:15;
4:2). A person’s ability to function in the
spiritual realm is inseparably connected with that person’s
knowledge of and ability to use the Word of God.
“Faith is . . . By (through) Faith . . . without Faith”
Now faith is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
. . .
(Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6)
Now believing God to the saving of
the soul [10:39]
is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen.
is the translation of the Greek word hupostasis. This is a
compound word, comprised of hupo (“under”) and stasis
(“to stand”). The word, in its literal sense, means, “to stand
under.” In this respect, it is used in the sense of “a foundation,”
that which stands under and supports the structure above.
“By (through) Faith”
God has appointed His Son “Heir
of all things,” and it was through the work of His Son
within the framework of the ages that God, in the beginning, “made
the worlds [‘made the
ages’]” (Hebrews 1:2).
Then after dealing with Christians through two major warnings relative to that future day when “the Heir of all things” will bring “many sons to glory” to realize “so great salvation” (chapters 2-4), the writer refers to Christ being made a Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” (5:6ff); a quotation from Psalm 110 (v. 4), a Messianic Psalm:
You are a Priest forever
[lit., ‘with respect to the age’ (one age)] after the order of
And Christ being a Priest after this order is specifically stated to be something reserved for a time encompassed by one of the ages within the framework of all the ages referred to in Hebrews 1:2; 11:3.
Thus, within this framework, Hebrews 11:3 should not only be understood in the light of Hebrews 1:2 but also in the light of Hebrews 5:6ff. The “age” referred to in Hebrews 5:6 can, contextually, only be the Messianic Era, the age in which the Son will be manifested as “Heir of all things,” that future time when He will bring “many sons to glory” with Him (1:2; 2:10).
This is what the book is about; and this must
be recognized as one moves throughout the book, else he will find
himself lost in a sea of misinterpretation.
. . . so that the things that God has brought to pass within the framework of His orderly arrangement of the ages, which an individual sees and understands through faith, are separate and distinct from the disorder one sees all about him during one of these ages.
The word ginomai (“to become,” “happen,” “take place” referring to something with a definite beginning and possible ending) appears in a perfect tense in the Greek text in the latter part of this verse (translated, with a negative, “were not made” [KJV]). The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past and existing during present time in a finished state. Ginomai in this verse refers to God’s past action in arranging the ages in an orderly fashion — action completed at that time and presently existing in a finished state.
Thus, in this sense, there is a present aspect
to the matter of God’s orderly arrangement of the ages. But the
verse states specifically that though there is a present aspect, the
present disorderly condition all about us, which one can see and
experience, is separate and distinct from the orderly condition that
God has decreed (past) will shortly exist (future).
(The same Greek verb was also used by Christ when He identified Himself to the “band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” in John 18:5-8. The identifying words, “I am He,” should literally read, “I Am”— a clear declaration of His deity, identifying Himself with the God of the Old Testament.)
The Septenary Arrangement of Scripture
Hebrews 4:1-11 deals with a rest that will be realized by “the people of God” during the seventh millennium dating from the restoration of the earth and the creation of man in the first chapter of Genesis.
Teachings surrounding this rest, textually and contextually, viewed from the standpoint of the way matters are outlined in the book of Hebrews, are based on three portions of Old Testament Scripture:
The experiences of the Israelites under Moses,
and later Joshua, during a past dispensation form the type;
and the experiences of Christians under Christ during the present
dispensation, leading into the coming dispensation, form the
antitype. Then teachings surrounding a rest lying
before both the Israelites in the type and Christians in the
antitype are drawn from the rest that God entered into following six
days of work in Genesis
chapters one and
two. And the Sabbath was
given to Israel to keep, ever before them, the whole overall
thought of that that occurred in the opening two chapters of
“Was” or “Became”
It would go without saying that there has been
a great deal of controversy over the years among theologians and
Christians in general concerning exactly how the opening two
chapters of Genesis
should be understood. And it would also go without saying that, as
a result, confusion has reigned supreme in Christian circles
concerning not only these chapters but the general tenor of the
remainder of Scripture as well.
Those in one school (probably the position held by the majority today) view the six days in the first chapter as time revealing and describing God’s creative activity from verse one.
And those in the other school view these six
days as time revealing God’s restoration of a ruined creation (creation
seen in v. 1,
ruin of this creation seen in v.
2a, and God’s
restoration of the ruined creation seen in vv.
(a) “The earth was without form, and void;”
(b) “And darkness was on the face of the deep.”
(c) “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
In the Hebrew text there is what is called a “waw” beginning verse two (a conjunctive or disjunctive particle [actually, a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the waw, prefixed to a word], usually translated “and” in most English texts). Some grammarians view this particle beginning verse two in a conjunctive sense (showing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2), and other grammarians view it in a disjunctive sense (showing a separation between v. 1 and v. 2). Normally the context determines how the particle is to be understood.
(The other two circumstantial clauses in verse two begin with “waw” as well, which will be discussed later.
The Hebrew text of the Old Testament uses the “waw” more frequently in a conjunctive [“and”] rather than a disjunctive [“but”] sense. Of the approximately 28,000 usages of this particle, some 25,000 appear to be conjunctive and some 3,000 disjunctive.)
Using the King James Version (KJV) text to illustrate, the translators of the Septuagint used de and kai to translate the three Hebrew “waws” in this manner:
And [De, lit., But] the earth was without form, and void; and [kai] darkness was upon the face of the deep. And [kai] the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And, viewing the verse beginning in a disjunctive sense of the preceding nature, there would be no connection between the first two verses of Genesis. Rather, a separation would exist instead. Within this view, one would normally see verse one revealing an absolute beginning, with verse two (along with the following verses) revealing events occurring at later points in time.
(Most holding this linguistic view see verse two as a description of God’s perfect creation [from verse one] being brought into a ruined state, separated from verse one by an unrevealed period of time. And they would, accordingly, see God’s activity during the six days as activity surrounding the restoration of this ruined creation.
Some holding this linguistic view though still see the six days as time revealing God’s creative activity. They view verse one as describing a “grand summary declaration that God created the universe in the beginning.” Then, apart from seeing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2, they view God’s activity during the six days as a revelation concerning how God accomplished that which He had previously stated in verse one.)
Leupold, a Hebrew grammarian from past years,
in his commentary on Genesis,
appears to capture the overall thought of hayah to mark
beginning points in each day quite well by translating, “. . .
Then came evening,
then came morning — the first day the second day . . . the
third day,” etc.
Attention is called to this fact because
numerous individuals look at the translation “became [or ‘had
become’]”as so rare in the Old Testament that serious consideration
should not be given to the thought of translating
Genesis 1:2, “And
[or But] the earth
became [or had become] . . . .” But the rarity is in the
English translations, not in a literal Hebrew rendering or in
certain other translations (e.g., in the
KJV there are only 17
instances in all of Genesis
where hayah has been translated “became [or, ‘. . . become’]”
10; 3:22; 9:15; 18:18; 19:26;
20:12; 21:20; 24:67; 32:10; 34:16;
37:20; 47:20, 26; 48:19]; but in
the Septuagint there are at least 146 instances [and some 1,500 in
the entire Old Testament]).
In this respect, first note the words tohu wavahu from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:2.
The words tohu wavohu from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:2 are translated “without form and void” in the KJV English text (“formless and void," New American Standard Bible [NASB]; “formless and empty,” New International Version [NIV]; “waste and void” American Standard Version [ASV]). These two Hebrew words are used together only two other places throughout all of the Old Testament—in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23. And both of these passages present a ruin of that previously seen existing in an orderly state. In Isaiah 34:11, Edom (v. 6) was destined to become tohu wavohu (translated “confusion” and “emptiness” [KJV], “desolation” and “emptiness” [NASB]; and in Jeremiah 4:23-28, there is a comparison of that which had previously occurred relative to the earth in Genesis 1:2a to that which was about to occur relative to the land of Israel.
The land of Israel was about to become tohu wavohu. That is, as seen in Jeremiah 4:23-28, God was about to do the same thing to the land of Israel (cf. vv. 14:22) that He had previously done to the earth in Genesis 1:2a. And the reason for both of these actions — that which God had done to the earth, and that which He was about to do to the land of Israel — was the same. Sin had entered (sin on the part of Satan in the former, and sin on the part of the Jewish people in the latter).
And, in complete keeping with this type understanding of the use of tohu wavohu in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, Isaiah 45:18 (where the Hebrew word tohu is used, translated “in vain”) clearly states that God did not create the earth (in Genesis 1:1) in the manner described in Genesis 1:2a. Isaiah 45:18 states that God “created it [the earth] not in vain [not ‘tohu,’ not ‘without form,’].”
Thus, if Genesis 1:2a is to be understood in the light of related Scripture bearing on the subject, there can be only one possible interpretation — the ruin of a prior existing creation (from v. 1) because of sin. The earth from verse one “became” tohu wavohu. The ruin seen in both Genesis 1:2a and Jeremiah 4:23, for a purpose is with a view to eventual restoration. And the restoration seen in the continuing text of Genesis 1:2 (vv. 2b-25) and in the overall passage of Jeremiah 4:23ff (v. 27b), as well as in related Scripture (e.g., Isaiah 35:1ff), is also for a purpose.
Then, the whole of subsequent Scripture is perfectly in line with this type understanding of the opening section of Scripture. The whole of subsequent Scripture is built on a septenary structure, with the foundation established and set in an unchangeable fashion at the beginning, in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
That is to say:
The heavens and the earth were created, there was ruin of the material creation (because of sin), God took six days to restore the ruined creation, and He rested the seventh day.
Man was created on the sixth day, man fell into a state of ruin (because of sin), God is presently taking six days [6,000 years] to restore man, and God will rest the seventh day (the seventh 1,000-year period [cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8]).
And the latter, patterned after the former, is what the whole of Scripture is about. The whole of Scripture is about the same thing initially introduced and established in an unchangeable fashion in the opening thirty-four verses of Genesis (1:1-2:3). The whole of Scripture is about the creation of man, his ruin, his restoration over a six-day period (over a 6,000-year period), followed by a seventh day of rest (a seventh 1,000-year period — the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God [Hebrews 4:9; cf. vv. 3, 4], the Messianic Era).
As previously stated, man would have been expected to understand this opening section of Scripture after the preceding fashion at the time it was written. And subsequent Scripture simply verifies the correctness of the way man would have been expected to understand these verses, apart from other revelation at the time Genesis was written.
Days in Scripture
The structure of God’s revelation to man will
be set forth briefly under three headings, and material discussed
under these three headings will relate specifically to how
particular sections of Scripture handle the matter at hand. Then
attention will be called to other related Scriptures outside these
sections to better present the overall picture from the whole of
The Sabbath was given to Israel as a sign, and the Sabbath was to be observed by the Jewish people “throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16). In this respect, God stated concerning the Sabbath,
It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the LORD made heavens and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17)
When giving the Sabbath to Israel (cf. Exodus 20:11) or referring to the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God in the book of Hebrews (4:4-9), in each instance, for a very good reason, God called attention to that which had occurred in Genesis chapters one and two. There is a latter work of restoration, followed by rest, which is based on a former work of restoration, followed by rest; and the Sabbath was given to Israel to keep this thought ever before the Jewish people.
But a ruin ensued once again. Man, an entirely
new creation in the universe, fell; and, as a result, the restored
material creation was brought under a curse (Genesis
3:17), leaving God with two ruined creations: man,
and the material creation.
According to Scripture, God set about to
restore the subsequent ruined creations in exactly the same
manner as He had restored the former ruined creation in the
opening chapter of Genesis.
God set about to restore the two subsequent ruined creations over a
six-day period (in keeping with
Genesis 1:2b-25); and, in keeping with
3, following His restoration work, God would then rest on
the seventh day.
The Sabbath was a “sign,” and a sign in
Scripture points to something beyond itself. This “sign,” the
Sabbath, points to a seventh-day rest that God will enter into
with His people (“the people of God” in
Hebrews 4:9) following
six previous days of restorative work.
Jesus performed such signs for one central purpose:
. . . that you [the Jews]
might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing you might have life through His name. (John
20:30, 31; cf. John 2:11; 5:46,
47; 6:14, 21; 11:45).
Seven of the eight signs in John’s gospel were
performed in connection with particular days, all in perfect keeping
with one another, all in perfect keeping with the sign of the
Sabbath, and all in perfect keeping with the septenary arrangement
of Scripture. And all of the signs refer, after different fashions,
to the same thing. They all refer to things surrounding Israel’s
coming salvation and restoration.
The eighth sign, in
20:1-29, has to do with
Christ’s resurrection, after two days, on the third day.
This sign pints to that coming third day, dating from the
crucifixion, when not only Israel but all of God’s firstborns
(Christ, Israel, and the Church [following the adoption]) will be
raised up to live in His sight, which will be after two days,
on the third day.
a) At a time following the creation of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens . . . of old” and “the world that then was [the world existing at the time of ‘the heavens . . . of old’ (in Genesis 1:1, not during the days of Noah)]” [2 Peter 3: 5, 6]).
At a time following the restoration of the heavens and the
earth (“the heavens and the
earth that are now,” existing since the restoration in
Genesis 1:2b-25 [2
Peter 3: 7]).
The destruction of the former is seen in
Genesis 1:2a (“But
the earth had become without form,
and void; and darkness [the sun had ceased to give
its light] was upon the face of
the deep [the raging waters]”), and the destruction of
the latter — destruction by fire — is seen in succeeding verses in
2 Peter (3:10ff).
(Note one thing about the restoration in Genesis 1:2b-25 that should be understood. This restoration could only have been a complete restoration. No trace of “the world that then was” [the world preceding the ruin seen in Genesis 1:2a], or the subsequent ruined earth [in Genesis 1:2a], can be seen in “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
A complete restoration would have removed all traces of anything having to do with “the world that then was” or with that world during that time when it lay in a ruined state. That is to say, geology today cannot show evidence of any type ruin of a pre-existing creation, for a complete restoration — the only type restoration possible through the divine work seen in Genesis chapter one — would have removed all traces of the ruin occurring in Genesis 1:2a.
In this respect, all that exists in the present secular world of history and science — e.g., the complete fossil record, the dinosaurs, topographical formations such as the Grand Canyon, etc.— would all have to be placed this side of the restoration seen in Genesis 1:2b-25, within time covered by “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
That which occurred during and which resulted from the Noachian Flood, 1656 years following the restoration of the earth (Genesis 6-8), along with later topographical changes on the earth during the days of Peleg [born 100 after the Flood (Genesis 10:25), must be looked to for an explanation of numerous things of the preceding nature, not to a world lying in ruins in Genesis 1:2a, or to a world existing prior to that time.)
By viewing the whole of Scripture, the correct interpretation of the opening verses of Genesis can be clearly and unquestionably presented through:
1) The manner in which the Hebrew words from Genesis 1:2a, tohu wavohu, are used elsewhere in Scripture (interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture [Isaiah 34:11; 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23]).
2) And through the typical nature of Old Testament history (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11), which has been set forth in a very evident divinely established septenary arrangement.
And these opening verses, providing the
divinely established basis for that which follows, must be
“The thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation . . . is . . . required by the typical view [that is, the earth’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration forms a type of (foreshadows) man’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration].”
Accordingly, the opening verses of
Genesis cannot deal
strictly with Creation; nor can these verses deal
strictly with Restoration. Either view would be out of line
with the whole of Scripture, beginning with the central theme of
Scripture, the message of redemption.
absolute beginning, and a perfect creation [v.
Beginning and Continuing
The structure of the Word — i.e., the entire layout of the Word, from beginning to end — can be likened unto the human anatomy after the preceding fashion. And this is not pressing an issue. God uses the human anatomy numerous places in Scripture to set forth spiritual truths.
Beginning in Genesis chapter two Adam was put to sleep, and God removed that portion of Adam’s body that He used to bring Eve into existence. This foreshadowed Christ’s death and the subsequent removal of the element from Christ’s body, blood and water, that God would use to bring Christ’s bride into existence (cf. Ephesians5:30; Colossians 1:18). Or in the text from Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven, the human anatomy is used to describe how God will one day bring about the restoration of “the whole house of Israel.”
And in the New Testament, the relationship of
Christ to the Church is depicted as that of the Head to the body,
with individual Christians likened to different parts of the body,
possessing different functions (1
Ephesians 5:22-30). Then, in a matter closely aligned
with the present study, growth in the spiritual realm is likened to
growth in the physical realm (1
Corinthians 3:1-3; 1
Peter 2:1, 2).
So, the question: Where and how does one begin
a study of the Word of God? The question, in connection with the
background material, is really self-answering. Where and how did
God begin when He revealed His Word to man?
There’s only one place and way to begin. A person must begin at the beginning. A person must begin where the foundation has been laid. A person must begin where the skeletal framework has been given.
In short, a person must begin where God
began. If one begins elsewhere, he will have nothing upon which to
build the structure; he will have nothing upon which to attach the
sinews, flesh, and skin.
A person doesn’t begin with the gospel of
John or one of the
Pauline epistles. Those are not beginning points. Rather, this
gospel and these epistles have to do with the structure being built
upon the foundation. This gospel and these epistles have to do with
the sinews, flesh, and skin being placed on the bones.
a) A person must begin where God began.
b) And a person must, aside from beginning where God began, understand aright that which God has revealed in these opening verses.
Genesis 1:1-2:3 begins with a simple statement concerning God’s creation of the heavens and the earth (1:1). Then disorder entered where only perfect order had previously existed (1:2a). The reason for this disorder is revealed elsewhere in Scripture. Satan, God’s appointed ruler over the earth, sought to exalt his throne and be “like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-17). And, as a result, his kingdom — the province over which he ruled, i.e., the earth (Ezekiel 28:14-16) — was reduced to a ruined state. In the words of Scripture,
The earth was
[lit., But the earth became] without form, and void;
and darkness was [became] on the face of the deep. . . .
All of this occurred over 6,000 years ago,
during a dateless past. That’s really all man can know about “time”
concerning that which is revealed in
Genesis 1:1, 2a. The
things revealed in these verses could have occurred over aeons of
time or they could have occurred over a relatively short period
within one aeon. We’re simply not told.
(For a more detailed exposition of Genesis 1:1-2:3 — allowing one to see how the remainder of Scripture must relate to this opening section of Genesis — refer back to chapter 2 of this book.)
a) Genesis 1:1-2a.
b) Genesis 1:2b-2:3.
c) Genesis 2:4-11:26.
d) The remainder of the Old Testament and the gospel accounts in the New Testament.
e) The book of Acts through Revelation chapter nineteen.
f) Revelation 20:1-15.
g) Revelation 21:1-22:21.
The first and second divisions, as has
been demonstrated, cover the skeletal framework upon which the
The fourth division actually ends with the
establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, at the conclusion of
Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy (Daniel
9:24-27) — a prophecy forming the concluding 490 years of
this 2,000-year period. But God stopped the clock marking time in
this prophecy seven years short of completion, which coincided with
Christ’s death — with Messiah being “cut
off” in Daniel’s prophecy (v.
26) — and began an entirely new 2,000-year
Following the Spirit procuring a bride for God’s Son, the Church will be removed, God will resume His national dealings with Israel, and the last seven years of the previous dispensation will be brought to pass. This period is referred to in Scripture as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), and this final seven years of the past dispensation will complete man’s 6000-year day, allowing the Messianic Era to be ushered in, exactly as seen in Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy.
(For additional information on these final seven years, refer to the author’s book, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble)
(The pattern was set perfect in the beginning. And the latter restoration and rest must follow the former restoration and rest in exact detail, in every respect. The thousand years in Revelation 20:1-7 [which follow 6,000 years of work] carry exactly the same relationship to Genesis 2:1-3 as the Sabbath given to Israel [which followed six days of work] carried to these verses. “There remains therefore a rest for [lit., a Sabbath rest for] the people of God” [Hebrews 4:9; cf. v. 4].)
And on and on one could go with that which God
has revealed in His Word about that coming seventh day.
“What we find in the New Testament as its outcome in respect to the ages and the kingdom, has already lain in the bosom of the Old Testament from the beginning . . . . Nothing appears in the later revelation that was not hid in the earlier, nothing in John that was not in Moses . . . . If we study the eschatology of the Old Testament, we will find the Eschata there identical with the Eschata of the New Testament, and the Eschatology of both Testaments the same . . . if ‘the thousand years’ are not in Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, they have no right to be in John.”
Sinews, Flesh, Skin
Once God had set forth the skeletal structure
of Scripture at the beginning, He then began to place upon the
structure that which could only be considered as foundational
sinews, flesh, and skin. And, in this respect, the importance of
seeing and understanding the proper relationship of the section that
immediately follows to the preceding skeletal structure cannot be
overemphasized. God began to build upon the structure, and that
which He set forth at the beginning forms unchangeable patterns,
molds, etc.; and all subsequent Scripture must not only attach
itself after some fashion to the skeletal structure but it must also
be in perfect accord with all subsequent foundational material.
Adam could only cleave unto his wife, as God
had also previously commanded, placing himself in a fallen state as
a complete being; and this would be with a view to
redemption, wherein the man, as a complete being, might one
day eat of the tree of life. That would be to say that Adam
partook of sin to affect Eve’s redemption, with a view to both
of them one day partaking of the tree of life together (2:9,
(Partaking of the tree of life has to do with the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge to rule and reign [see the author’s book, Judgment Seat of Christ, chapter 5]. Christ Himself, being very God of very God, possesses such knowledge apart from partaking of the tree. But His bride doesn’t. However, as He partook of food following His resurrection, He can just as easily partake of the tree of life with His bride should He so choose.)
Genesis chapter three,
death and shed blood relative to man’s salvation,
restoration, are introduced. And, with the introduction of shed
blood, more foundational material is placed on the skeletal
structure. And beyond this one finds more and more and more
. . .; but all subsequent references to salvation, adding details to
the structure, must be in perfect accord with previous revelation,
always going back to and beginning with
All of the surrounding Gentile nations are without God, without hope, and can partake of blessings associated with Shem and his God only one way, spelled out in Genesis chapter nine — through dwelling in the tents of Shem. The Gentile nations must go to Israel, the nation in possession of a God, the nation that brought forth the Messiah. This is fundamental and basic (cf. Genesis 12:2, 3; Jonah 2:9; John 4:22), and the matter is set forth in an unchangeable fashion in the early chapters of Genesis.
The whole of the matter set forth in
nine has to do with truths surrounding the past
dispensation, the present dispensation, the end of the present
dispensation, the coming Tribulation (which will comprise the last
seven years of the past dispensation), the end of the age, and the
Messianic Era. But viewing these things in the light of
Hebrews 11:4-7, which
draws from the overall type in
Genesis chapters four
through nine, that are
foreshadowed in the antitype and are centrally in view, is that
period extending from Christ’s crucifixion to His second coming.
a) Salvation through shed blood (Abel).
b) The removal of a man from the earth, apart from death, preceding the Flood (Enoch).
A man remaining behind and being saved through the Flood
Thus, these three things have to do with:
a) Man’s salvation (dealt with in Genesis 1, 3, and 4 at the beginning).
b) The removal of the Church preceding the Tribulation (dealt with in Genesis 5 at the beginning).
Israel being saved through the Tribulation (dealt with in
Genesis 6-8 at the
(Note that “Enoch” foreshadows the
“one new man” in Christ, which would encompass all
Christians; and both “Noah” and his “house” are seen, together,
foreshadowing “the house of Israel.”)
And, beyond that, there is the matter of a new
beginning in Genesis
chapter nine, with the
Shemites (saved through the Tribulation [while the Gentile nations
of the earth suffer destruction]) as previously stated, being the
only people having a God (cf.
Isaiah 2:2, 3; 14:1; Ephesians 2:12, 13).
a) Give man the Word of God.
b) Bring forth the Messiah.
Bring forth a people (both heavenly and earthly) through whom
the nations of the earth would be blessed.
And revelation relating to events following
this time (Genesis 11:27ff)
is as revelation relating to events preceding this time (Genesis
1:1-2:3 and Genesis
2:4-11:26). That which God revealed following Abraham’s
call only continues to add more sinews, flesh, and skin to the
skeletal framework set forth at the beginning — continuing to
progressively clothe the skeletal framework, little, by little, by
little. . . .(cf. Isaiah 28:10,
(Ref. the author’s book, Search
for the Bride, for a detailed exposition of Genesis 21-25,
particularly chapter 24.)
And that’s the way it is. Scripture has been structured after a particular fashion, and it must be studied after the fashion in which it has been structured. A person must begin where God began and continue after the manner in which God continued — with the foundation, then build upon the foundation.
Remaining within a completely biblical
framework, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!
I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:6)
Building on the Foundation
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
Scripture begins with the creation of all that exists (Genesis 1:1), the ruin of one part of that creation (1:2a), the restoration of that one part (1:2b-25), the creation of man to rule the restored domain (1:26-31), and then God resting (2:1-3).
These opening verses of Genesis provide not only one complete section of Scripture but also the foundational structure upon which the whole of all subsequent Scripture is built and must be understood. There is a creation, a ruin of a part of that creation, a restoration of the ruined portion occurring over six days of time, and then God resting on a seventh day.
And to illustrate how these verses establish the foundation for the whole of Scripture, note events surrounding man’s creation, his ruin, the time that God takes to restore man, and that which will occur following man’s restoration.
It has all been set forth at the very beginning.
God took six days to restore the ruined material creation (ruined because of the sin of the incumbent ruler, Satan [Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:14-19]); and God, in accord with the pattern that He Himself established at the very beginning, is presently taking six days to restore two subsequent ruined creations — man and the material creation once again (both ruined because of the sin of the one created to take the scepter, ruined because of man’s sin [Genesis 3:1-7, 17, 18; Romans 8:20]). And then, in accord with the pattern established at the beginning, there will be a seventh day that will be a day of rest (Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:4, 9).
Each day in the former restoration and rest was twenty-four hours in length, but each day in the latter restoration and rest is one thousand years in length (Genesis 1:14-19; Matthew 17:1-5; 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:5-8). Just as God restored the ruined creation at the very beginning in six days comprised of twenty-four hours each, He is going to restore the two subsequent ruined creations in six days comprised of one thousand years each. Then, just as God rested for one twenty-four-hour day at the completion of his restoration work in Genesis, He is going to rest for a one-thousand-year day at the completion of His subsequent restoration work.
Accordingly, the whole of the latter restoration and rest is set forth in foundational form at the very beginning. The six days of work and one day of rest foreshadow six thousand years of work and a thousand years of rest. And this covers the whole of God’s revelation to man (save for several brief instances of events either preceding or following the 7,000 years, given so man can place events occurring during the 7,000 years within their proper perspective).
Thus it is easy to see and understand how all Scripture following Genesis 1:1-2:3 must relate to this opening section of Scripture, which forms the foundation. The whole of Scripture, as this opening section, covers events relating to restoration and rest during six and seven days (six and seven thousand years). The latter is patterned after the former; and to properly understand the latter, one must have a proper understanding of the former.
A solid foundation must first be laid (Genesis 1:1-2:3) before a stable superstructure can be built (Genesis 2:4ff). And note that any stable structure must always rest on its foundation.
God didn’t place Genesis 1:1-2:3 at the very beginning of His revelation to man and structure the material in these verses after a certain fashion for man to ignore; nor would God expect man to begin his study of Scripture elsewhere. Rather, the opposite is true. God structured His revelation to man after a particular fashion for a reason, and man is to begin where God began.
The “Why” of Error
God tells man in the opening two chapters of His revelation what the whole of His plans and purposes is all about, with the remainder of Scripture simply clothing (adding all the various details to, etc.) that set forth in skeletal form at the beginning. And if material comprising the foundation is ignored or improperly understood, one can never properly relate material comprising the superstructure to its correct place of origin. All error in biblical doctrine can ultimately be traced back to either this point or the point of ignoring or improperly understanding subsequent preliminary foundational material built immediately and directly on the foundation itself.
That would be to say again, there must be a solid, stable foundation for a solid, stable superstructure to exist. And, again, the structure must rest on the foundation.
In the main, within Christian circles over the years, this has not been done; and tragic consequences have resulted. Not only is there a multiplicity of doctrinal thought in numerous areas (some of it being quite dangerous) but there is a general lack of knowledge in the same areas. Examples from several areas of biblical doctrine should be sufficient to illustrate the point:
The word, “soteriology,” comes from the Greek word, soteria, which means “salvation.” The word is used in theology to refer to doctrinal teachings surrounding salvation.
The Bible is a book of redemption; and basic, unchangeable teachings surrounding redemption are set forth in Scripture, at the very beginning, revealing a purpose in view.
In the first chapter of Genesis God sets forth the unchangeable manner in which He, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom, restores a ruined creation. There is a restorative work that follows a specific pattern, and the matter is accomplished entirely through divine intervention. And within this unchangeable pattern set forth at the very beginning, God reveals how any subsequent ruined creation would, of necessity, have to be restored. It would have to be restored after a certain order, entirely through divine intervention, over a six-day (six-thousand-year) period.
Thus, to establish correct thinking relative to the fundamentals of salvation, one must begin in Genesis. If all those holding erroneous views had begun in Genesis, chapter one and understood and adhered to that which God set forth at the very beginning concerning how a ruined creation is to be restored, the numerous, erroneous views that man holds concerning salvation wouldn’t exist. They couldn’t exist.
And, going to more specific thoughts concerning salvation, the preceding would equally apply to not only the salvation of the spirit but the salvation of the soul as well. Within the structure of the foundational framework, the salvation of the spirit (the salvation that we presently possess) is realized at the very beginning of the six days, through that which is foreshadowed by events occurring on day one; but the salvation of the soul (a salvation occurring at the end of one’s faith, or as the goal of one’s faith) is an on-going process and is to be realized at the end of the six days, on the seventh day, through that which is foreshadowed by events occurring during days two through six.
In this respect, the unchangeable basics pertaining to salvation in relation to the whole of that which, in reality, is the man himself (both spirit and soul) have been set forth at the very beginning of Scripture, in Genesis 1:1-2:3. And if a person would understand salvation within its correct perspective, avoiding all error, he must begin here. Here — and only here — can a person see the unchangeable foundation, setting forth the unchangeable basics, laid down at the very beginning.
A) Salvation of the Spirit
Hebrews 4:12 reveals a division being effected by the Word of God between man’s “soul and spirit.” And this is a teaching drawn from the very opening verses of Genesis (as seen earlier in this same section in Hebrews chapter four relative to the “rest” set before “the people of God” [vv. 4, 9]). The Spirit of God moves in Genesis 1:2b and God speaks in Genesis 1:3. In relation to man’s salvation, it is at this point (in what would be seen as the foundational type) that a division is made between man’s “soul and spirit” (in what would be called the antitype).
In the type, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence. Genesis 1:2b, 3 records the initial act of the Triune Godhead in bringing about the restoration of the ruined material creation, an act in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each participated (note that nothing can come into existence apart from the Son [John 1:3]).
In the antitype, within the framework of man’s salvation experience, the matter is identical. There must be an act of the Triune Godhead, for this is how God worked to restore a ruined creation in the Genesis account, establishing an unchangeable pattern for a later work. The Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence. The matter is that plain and simple.
Everything is based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary. The Spirit moving and God speaking are both based on that which occurred almost 2,000 years ago.
When the Son cried out from the Cross, “It is finished,” He meant exactly that [a perfect tense is used in the Greek text, referring to action completed in past time and existing during present time in a finished or completed state — lit., “It has been finished,”] (John 19:30; cf. Luke 23:46); and when the Word of God reveals that we have a salvation of divine origin, based entirely on the Son’s finished work, the Word of God means exactly that as well.
When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually; and when unregenerate man, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), is made alive today, he is made alive spiritually. The movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2b) and God speaking (Genesis 1:3) in order to restore the ruined creation are seen, in relation to ruined man, as simultaneous events.
It is the Spirit using the God-breathed Word to effectually perform a supernatural work in unredeemed man. It is at this point — through the inbreathing of God — that life is imparted to the one previously having no life. God breathes into dead man (the Spirit using the God-breathed Word, based on the finished work of the Son, the living Word), and man is “quickened [‘made alive’]” (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
At this point, light shines “out of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6), a division is made between the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:4), and the darkness has no apprehension or comprehension of that which is light (John 1:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).
It is at this point in man’s salvation that the spirit is separated from the soul. The “spirit” in unsaved man is dead. It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of . . . death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Romans 7:18, 24). With the movement of the Spirit, using the God-breathed Word, man's spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul.
The “soul” remains within the sphere of darkness, which is why “the natural [Greek: psuchikos, soulical] man” cannot understand “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). That which remains in the sphere of darkness can have no apprehension or comprehension of that which has shined out of darkness. There is a God-established division between the spirit and the soul that cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).
B) Salvation of the Soul
God, through the preceding process, delivers the spirit from the level into which it fell, resulting from Adam’s sin. And because the spirit has been delivered, there can once again be communion with God, man can now comprehend spiritual things, and there can now be a progressive, continued work by the Spirit of God within man so that man can ultimately be delivered to the place that God has decreed that he occupy at the end of six days, at the end of six thousand years.
Within the framework of the type in Genesis, chapter one, this is the very first thing that is foreshadowed. This had to be set forth first, for man had to first be made alive — he had to first pass “from death to life” — before anything else in the restorative process could occur. Thus, this is foreshadowed at the very beginning of the six days that God, in accordance with the established pattern, would use to bring about man’s complete restoration — “spirit, soul, and body” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
To briefly illustrate how God’s complete restoration of man is patterned after God’s complete restoration of the material creation in Genesis, chapter one, note two things: 1) that which occurred on each day, and 2) the place where the whole of the restorative process was leading.
Within a type-antitype framework — pertaining to man’s salvation in the antitype — as previously stated, that which occurred in the type on day one pertains to the salvation of man’s spirit, and that which occurred in the type on days two through six pertains to the salvation of man’s soul.
The salvation of the spirit is an instantaneous event where one passes “from death to life,” but not so with the salvation of the soul. It is a progressive event. It is an event that begins at the point one is made alive spiritually, and it will not be realized until the end of the six days of restorative work (the end of six thousand years of restorative work).
(The issues of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the present dispensation — that will occur at the end of the six days, the end of the 6,000 years — will have to do with issues surrounding the salvation [or loss] of the soul/life. It will be here — not before — that the man will realize [or fail to realize] the salvation of his soul/life.)
Since the salvation of the spirit cannot occur apart from an exact duplication in the antitype of that which occurred in the type during day one of the restoration in Genesis, how could the salvation of the soul, in relation to that which occurred on days two through six, be looked upon after any different fashion? It couldn’t. The latter must follow the pattern to the same degree as the former. There can be no difference in this respect.
And since this is the case, note what occurred on days two through six in the restoration of the ruined material creation in Genesis. Then, to see the overall picture of that which must be done to bring about the salvation of redeemed man’s soul, these same events can be viewed in relation to God’s present restoration of man, a subsequent ruined creation.
Events on days two and three (as events on the first day) have to do with divisions. On the second day God established a division between the waters (vv. 6-8), and on the third day He caused the dry land with its vegetation to appear, separating the dry land from the waters (vv. 9-13).
Then events on days four through six belong together as another unit, depicting things beyond the divisions previously established. On the fourth day God placed lights in the heavens to give light upon the earth (vv. 14-19), on the fifth day He created birds that could soar above the earth and marine life that could move throughout the depths of the sea (vv. 20-23), and on the sixth day He created the land animals, which included great creatures capable of roaming the earth (vv. 24, 25).
And the whole of God’s restorative work relative to the material creation in Genesis foreshadows the whole of God’s restorative work relative to man. After man has “passed from death to life,” wherein the spirit is separated from the soul — wrought entirely through divine intervention — man finds himself in a position and condition where a continued divine work not only can occur but is vitally necessary. And only through this continued divine work can the whole of God’s restorative work, as it pertains to man, be realized.
(As seen in God’s initial restorative work surrounding the material creation, man must be completely passive in relation to the salvation of the spirit [he is dead, rendering him incapable of acting]. But man, as the material creation [“And the earth brought forth . . .”] must then be active. He must be active in relation to the salvation of the soul [he now has life, allowing him to act]. But, as in the restoration of the material creation, the entire salvation process [spirit and soul, and ultimately the body] is a divine work.
It has to be a divine work, for that is the manner in which it is set forth in the opening type. It must be as Jonah stated immediately prior to deliverance: “Salvation [deliverance, restoration] is of the Lord” [Jonah 2:9].)
Events occurring during the first three days in Genesis, chapter one would point to elementary things or the basics in one’s spiritual life and growth. Events occurring during day one would point to a division having to do with the impartation of life. Then events occurring during days two and three would point to divisions, distinctions as one begins to progressively grow within the framework of the new life brought into existence on the first day. One would learn to distinguish between the soulical and spiritual, spiritual and carnal (fleshly), Jew, Gentile, and Christian, the dispensations, etc.
Only when one learns the distinctions, divisions depicted by that which was brought to pass on days two and three is he in a position to move on into the things depicted by that which was brought to pass on days four through six. On these three days, light was restored to the sun and moon (day four, vv. 14-19); sea life and the birds of the air were created (day five, vv. 20-23); and then God created all the living creatures that roam the earth, followed by His creation of man (day six, vv. 24-27).
That depicted by the work of the Triune Godhead during these three days points to things beyond elementary truths in the antitype. After one has passed “from death to life” and has been instructed in the elementary truths (days one through three) — after he has been “born from above” and has grown to a degree in his Christian life — he can then begin to view with understanding deeper spiritual truths of the Word. He can then begin to view with understanding those things in the Word depicted by events on days four through six of Genesis, chapter one.
An individual in this position can then begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures. He can look into the Word and understand that depicted by the lights in the heavens. He can in the true sense of the Word, “mount up with wings as eagles . . . run, and not be weary . . . walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31), as he scales the heights; or he can scale the depths of the Word as the sea creatures plunge to the depths of the sea; or he can roam through the Word as the land creatures roam the earth.
In short, the more a person progresses from immaturity to maturity the more he comes into a position where he becomes unlimited in that which he can mine from the God-breathed Word in his possession. And the whole matter is with a view to man, at the end of six days (at the end of six thousand years), being in a position to realize the purpose for his very existence: “Let them have dominion . . . .” (Genesis 1:26, 28).
And to tie it all together in order to show the connection between maturity in the faith (present) and occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in the kingdom (future) is very simple. The salvation of the soul — allowing Christians to have the dominion for which man was created — will be realized by those who, during the present time, patiently endure, by faith (Hebrews 6:12ff; 10:36ff), the trials and testings of life as they keep their eyes fixed upon the same thing Christ kept His eyes fixed upon as He endured the sufferings of Calvary — the joy “set before him” (Hebrews 12:1, 2; cf. Matthew 25:19-23). And this cannot be successfully accomplished apart from some element of maturity in the faith.
. . . faith comes by [Greek: ek, out of] hearing, and hearing by [Greek: dia, through] the Word of God (Romans 10:17)
“Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say about a matter. Thus, walking by faith is walking in accordance with that which God has said; living by faith is living in accordance with that which God has said, etc.
And it all comes down to this:
To act, “by faith,” in any realm of life, one must know and understand that which God has said relative to the matter at hand. In other words, such a person must be conversant with the Word of God; and the more conversant he is with this Word, the better equipped he will be to act “by faith.”
The pilgrim walk is a walk solely “by faith,” never by sight. There is only one hope for victory, and that is a continuous walk by faith with one's eyes fixed on the goal out ahead.
There will be attacks by Satan time after time after time throughout the Christian life, and the only recourse that Christians possess to assure victory is a knowledge of the Word of God, an ability to use the Word, and an adherence to that which the Word states. Otherwise defeat can only be inevitable, with the Christian being overcome by the enemy rather than overcoming the enemy.
And that’s why the salvation of the soul — having to do with a participation with Christ as co-heir in events occurring on the seventh day — cannot be realized apart from a realization in one’s life of that portended by events on days two through six in the Genesis account. The journey from day one to day seven can be successfully accomplished only by traveling through days two through six.
Days two through six lie between days one and seven in a parallel respect to the Red Sea and the Wilderness lying between Egypt and Canaan. No route exists that carries one directly from the beginning point to the end point without passing through that which lies between. All six of the days must be passed through to reach the seventh day, and the route extending from the death of the Passover Lamb in Egypt through the Red Sea and the Wilderness must be traversed in order to reach the land wherein one’s inheritance lies.
This is the revealed way that God has outlined for man to travel. And as there is only one revealed way of eternal salvation (man made alive spiritually), there is only one revealed way in which redeemed man can traverse the pilgrim path if he would one day realize the salvation of his soul.
One Way! One Way! That’s it! There is no other.
The word, “anthropology,” comes from the Greek word, anthropos, which means “man.” The word is used in theology to refer to doctrinal teachings surrounding man.
The origin and reason for man’s existence are set forth in the first chapter of Genesis (vv. 26-28), and additional details concerning how God created man are set forth in the second chapter (vv. 7, 21-25). Then man’s fall is dealt with in the third chapter, along with God’s promise of a coming Redeemer, followed by an immediate provision of redemption via divine intervention (vv. 1-21). And the remainder of Scripture (3:22ff), covering 6,000 years of time, deals with God’s restoration of the ruined creation, for a revealed purpose.
The purpose for man’s redemption cannot be separated from the purpose for his creation. He was brought into existence to rule and reign. God created man, He put the man to sleep, He removed from the man that part of his being that was used to bring the woman into existence, and He then presented the woman back to the man in order that the man might be complete (Genesis 2:7, 21-25).
And this was done (setting forth great foundational truths surrounding Christ and His bride) in order that the man and the woman might rule the restored domain together — the King, with his consort Queen.
And all these things provide God’s unchangeable foundational revelation surrounding man:
a) Man’s creation (the man and the woman — the woman created in the man and then removed from the man).
b) God’s purpose for bringing man into existence (to ascend the throne and rule the earth [the king with his consort queen]).
c) Satan’s purpose for bringing about man’s fall (to disqualify man [through sin, as he himself had previously been disqualified] and, resultantly, retain his position on the throne.
d) God’s purpose surrounding man’s redemption (to ultimately place man on the throne, in the stead of Satan, allowing man to hold the scepter and realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning).
And any later revelation concerning man cannot be understood in its proper perspective apart from beginning where God began — at the beginning — and understanding the Word in this light, for that is where God has placed the unchangeable foundational material upon which His later revelation rests.
(A principle of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler, though disqualified, continue to hold his position until his God-appointed successor is not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne. Only at that time will God remove one ruler from the throne [the first] and establish the other [the second] on the throne, in accord with Daniel 4:17, 23-25.
Refer to the account of Saul and David in the books of 1, 2 Samuel, foreshadowing that which has happened, is happening, and will happen relative to Satan and Christ.)
The word, “eschatology,” comes from the Greek word, eschatos, which means “last.” The word is used in theology to refer to doctrinal teachings surrounding future events (last things), i.e., prophecy.
And, if a person would have a proper grasp of that which is being dealt with on the subject of eschatology at points throughout Scripture, his study must begin in the opening chapters of Genesis. The whole of the eschatological framework is set forth within the foundational framework surrounding that which God has revealed about the six and seven days in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
From within that which is taught in the framework, a person can begin to move forward and see any biblical doctrine (doctrine of man, salvation, angels, etc.) within its correct perspective. Apart from beginning after this fashion, such can never be the case.
In eschatology, everything moves toward that coming seventh day; but it begins on the first day. And a person works his way toward that seventh day in Scripture by moving through the previous six, viewing man’s fall and God’s redemptive work throughout the six days (throughout 6,000 years of redemptive work), with a view to the seventh day (the coming 1,000 years of rest).
(Eschatology in relation to man begins on the first day. Scripture though reveals a few things occurring prior to the events of day one, in eternity past, which must be understood if all things in Genesis 1:1-2:3 are to, in turn, be properly understood. These things would include God placing Satan over this earth as its first provincial ruler, Satan seeking to exalt his throne, and the ruined kingdom which resulted [over which Satan continued to rule, which he continues to rule today].
And a person understanding these things is then in a position to begin in Genesis 1:2 [where the kingdom is seen falling into this ruined state] and move forward.)
Starting at the beginning within the foundational structure, following man’s creation and fall, two days pass, 2,000 years pass, and Abraham appears (allowing the nation of Israel to later appear); then two more days pass, 2,000 additional years pass, and Messiah appears (followed by His death, burial, and resurrection, allowing the Church to be brought into existence [a Scriptural truth that has its foundational teachings within God’s action in Genesis 2:21-25 and Adam’s action in Genesis 3:6]). And events surrounding Messiah’s appearance all rest on the foundation established in Genesis chapter one, with a view to realizing that which is foreshadowed by events on the seventh day in chapter two.
And that’s the way it is with soteriology, anthropology, eschatology, or any other biblical doctrine (Ecclesiology [doctrine of the Church], Christology [doctrine of Christ], Pneumatology [doctrine of the Holy Spirit], etc.). The foundational teachings for all biblical doctrine can be found in the opening chapters of Genesis, and particular attention has been called to three (soteriology, anthropology, and eschatology) only to illustrate the point.
The “Result” of Error
There exists in the world today every conceivable difference in biblical interpretation that man can possibly imagine. This ranges all the way from what might be considered minor differences existing among Christians in the various denominational and independent groups to major differences exhibited by the cults. But, viewing these differences as a whole, things often become clouded. A sharp line in doctrinal thought between the cults and the denominational or independent groups (usually considered to be generally sound) is not always so evident.
In fact, the absence of sharp distinctions in various types of unsound doctrinal thought proclaimed by different groups of this nature is far more prevalent than many may realize. The leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33, apparently very early in the dispensation, is no respecter of names or any other type divisions among Christian groups; and this leaven, which has been working since possibly the very inception of the Church, is going to continue doing its damaging work until “the whole” has been leavened, i.e., until “the whole” has been corrupted.
One of the best examples of the outworking of the leaven within the mainstream of Christendom today would be the widely accepted Lordship Salvation teaching, a teaching that has infiltrated practically all denominational and independent groups. And a high percentage of those holding to this line of thought today are to be found in the so-called fundamental circles. The teaching itself though undermines the whole of God’s restorative work throughout Man’s Day, for it not only corrupts the gospel of the grace of God (negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of day one in Genesis chapter one) but it obscures the gospel of the glory of Christ (negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of days two through six in Genesis chapter one).
Then another example would be the lack of (and, really, “aversion to” in many instances) teachings dealing with the salvation of the soul within the same so-called fundamental circles (again, negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of days two through six in Genesis chapter one). This is the message that Satan hates, and he will do everything within his power to prevent its proclamation or understanding (cf. Matthew 13:3-7, 18-22; 2 Corinthians 3:3-6).
(“So-called fundamental circles” because the name fundamentalism portends a return to the fundamentals of the faith, which, in turn, portends a return to the foundational truths in Genesis. Such a return would be true fundamentalism, in which the manifested errors among many using this name today would not — they could not — exist.)
So that’s where we are today. Men have gone astray because they have ignored that which God established, after one fashion, at the beginning. There has been a departure from the established foundation and subsequent preliminary foundational truths, which has resulted in the manifested error.
And that’s it! The matter is that simple. If you want to remain correct as you work your way through Scripture, then it is absolutely necessary that you start out in a correct manner at the beginning.
Begin at the beginning, find out how God structured His Word, study it after that fashion, and you will not go wrong.
Ages and Dispensations
If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,
how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery . . . .
And to make all see what is the fellowship [dispensation] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ,
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by [might be made known through] the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
according to the eternal purpose [According to a purpose of the ages] which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:2, 3a, 9-11)
The words “age” and “dispensation” do not refer at all to the same thing; nor are they even closely related. The former has to do with a period of time, but the latter does not refer to time. It refers to a “stewardship” occurring within time — within part of an age, a complete age, or even possibly a sequence of ages.
Thus, there are ages, and there are dispensations within the framework of these ages.
The ages began at the time of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the dispensations could only have at the same time or shortly thereafter, at the time God established His universal government. And, as matters in this respect relate to the earth — one province in God’s universal kingdom — there would have been at least one dispensation, possibly more, within God’s economy in association with Satan being placed over the earth as its first provincial ruler (at a time preceding his fall and man’s subsequent creation); and this dispensation, or these dispensations, could have covered one or more ages.
But insofar as man is concerned, ages and dispensations began with the restoration of the earth and the creation of Adam. We are living during a present age and dispensation (though the present dispensation only covers a part of the present age [Ephesians 3:2, 9]), and Scripture reveals and names both a succeeding age and dispensation (Mark 10:30; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 5:6). Then, beyond this succeeding age and dispensation, there is an unending array of future ages (Ephesians 2:7; 3:21; Revelation 1:6); and there would be one or more dispensations occurring within God’s economy during the course of these future ages.
Though we are living during an age, this present age is not “the Church Age” as it is often called. There is no such thing as “the Church Age.” The age during which we live began long before the Church was brought into existence, and it will continue at least seven years following that time when the Church is removed from the earth.
Rather, the existence of the Church during the present time (during part of an age) has to do with a “dispensation.” It has to do with “the dispensation of the grace of God,” “the fellowship [dispensation] of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:2, 9).
And “the mystery” is explained in very simple terms in both Ephesians and Colossians.
In Ephesians it has to do with the “Gentiles [who are ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’]” being made “fellow heirs [with Jewish believers], of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (2:12; 3:6).
And in Colossians reference is again made to the Gentiles, with the mystery being defined as “Christ in you [lit., contextually, Christ being proclaimed among you], the hope of glory” (1:25-28).
The mystery — though “hid in God” from the beginning (the beginning of the ages) and, of necessity, forming an integral part of the Old Testament foundational material, particularly material in Genesis (seen in the types) — was not fully revealed to man until the days of the apostle Paul. Though God had chosen Moses, and then others, to lay this foundational material and/or build upon the foundation, He waited until the days of the apostle Paul (1,500 years removed from Moses) to provide the necessary additional revelation, which opened the previous revelation surrounding the mystery to one’s understanding.
This is somewhat similar to the angels referred to in 1 Peter 1:12 desiring “to look into” the things surrounding the salvation of the soul (cf. vv. 3-11). They apparently had seen these things in the Old Testament Scriptures but could not fully understand them because the full revelation of God had not yet been given.
But why bother with the Old Testament Scriptures once the matter to which this foundational material refers has, at a later time, been revealed (as, for example, the mystery)? The answer is very simple. The later revelation opens the earlier after a fashion that the earlier will shed additional, necessary light on the later. And, aside from that, the unchangeable basics are set forth in the earlier revelation. Both must be viewed together in order to grasp the complete picture after a correct fashion.
(A “mystery [Greek: musterion, meaning, a hidden thing, a secret]” in the New Testament is usually defined as something previously hidden but now revealed [cf. Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4, 5]. This definition though should not be thought of along the lines of something not found in previous revelation, for there is nothing in the New Testament that does not have its roots somewhere in the Old Testament. Rather, a “mystery,” in reality, pertains to something previously revealed [seen mainly in the types] but not opened up [or fully opened up] to one’s understanding until a later point in time.
The making known of a mystery requires divine action [e.g., Christ, in time past, opened previously revealed revelation surrounding mysteries to His disciples’ understanding (cf. Matthew 13:10, 11; Ephesians 3:2, 3); and the indwelling Spirit, today, leads individuals “into all truth” surrounding mysteries (cf. John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 13:2)]. Such a making known takes something in the Scriptures that cannot be understood [or fully understood] in and of itself and, through divine leadership [using additional revelation that casts light on the earlier revelation (today, comparing Scripture with Scripture under the leadership of the indwelling Spirit)], the matter is opened to one’s understanding.)
(“These are ‘mysteries’ [a reference to ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens’ in Matthew 13] because men by nature and by their own abilities are unable to discover and to know them. It must ‘be given’ to a man ‘to know’ them. This divine giving is done by means of revelation . . . .” [R. C. H. Lenski].)
The Greek New Testament uses the word for “age” (aion) one hundred twenty-six times. And a major problem in understanding “ages” surrounds the translation of aion. The word has, numerous times, been translated either “world” or “forever” (e.g., Matthew 12:32; 13:22, 39, 40, 49; 21:19; Mark 4:19; 10:30; 11:14; Hebrews 1:2; 5:6; 6:5, 20, King James Version [KJV} of the Bible). Actually, in the KJV, there are only two instances in the entire New Testament where aion has been translated “age” (Ephesians 2:7; Colossians 1:26). Other versions (e.g., New American Standard Bible [NASB], New International Version [NIV]) have, on the other hand, rendered the word as “age” in many instances, though still frequently remaining with the KJV translations “world” and “forever.”
Then, to further complicate the issue in the KJV, the Greek word genea (appearing in a plural form and meaning “generations”) has been translated “ages” twice (Ephesians 3:5, 21), and the former mistranslation leaves a very misleading thought.
Actually, in Ephesians 3:21 both aion and genea appear together, and both have been mistranslated in the KJV. Genea, appearing in a plural form, has been translated “ages”; and aion, appearing twice and meaning within its structured usage, “of the age of the ages” (referring to the climactic age in a sequence of ages, i.e., to the Messianic Era [which is the subject matter leading into this verse — vv. 1-11]), has been translated “world without end.”
(Aion and genea also appear together in Colossians 1:26; and, unlike Ephesians 3:21, both words have been translated correctly in the KJV — “. . . hid from ages and from generations . . . .”)
To translate genea as “ages” in Ephesians 3:5 sets forth an issue concerning ages that is not at all in accord with the teaching of other Scripture. Scripture sets forth the thought of a series of ages beginning at the time of the creation of the heavens and the earth (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2), which move toward and climax with the coming Messianic Era. That is, the 1000-year Messianic Era is the climactic age in a series of ages that began with the creation of the heavens and the earth and the placing of Satan over the earth as the earth’s first provincial ruler.
The basic problem though with understanding the word meaning “generations” as ages in Ephesians 3:5 has to do with the thought that many generations come and go during Man’s Day, but not so with ages. The whole of Man’s Day — 6,000 years — actually covers only one age, not many ages as Ephesians 3:5 in the KJV would lead one to believe.
Scripture makes it quite clear that only two ages exist within the framework of the 7,000 years referred to by the seven days in Genesis 1:1-2:3. One age covers the first 6,000 years, and the other age (the climactic age) covers the last 1,000 years.
To understand this within its scriptural framework, begin with Matthew 12:31, 32. These verses, dealing with what is called “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit [attributing to Christ an exercise of supernatural power emanating from Satan rather then from the Holy Spirit],” refer to two ages. And the sin of committing this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by the religious leaders in Israel was such that it would not be forgiven them, “either in this age, or in the age (not in the Greek text, but implied)] to come” (v. 32).
That is, there would be no forgiveness during either the age in which they lived or in the age that would follow. And, the action by the religious leaders in Israel (looked upon in a larger sense as action by the entire nation [cf. Matthew 23:34-39]), followed by Christ’s announcement to them, forms the major turning point in Matthew’s gospel.
It was on “the same day” in which this occurred that “Jesus went out of the house [a reference to the house of Israel], and sat by the seaside [a reference to the Gentiles]” (Matthew 13:1; cf. Daniel 7:2, 3; Matthew 23:38; Revelation 13:1). It was also on this same day that He began to speak in parables, something new in His ministry. Then it was shortly after these things occurred that the Church was first mentioned and the ministry of Christ moved more toward the thought of the Cross rather than the Crown (cf. Matthew 16:17-23; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19).
And then, anticipated by all the preceding, the announcement was finally made by Christ in Matthew 21:43 that the kingdom (the proffered heavenly sphere of the kingdom that had been rejected) would be taken from Israel and be given “to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
The two ages referred to in Matthew 12:32 cover 7,000 years of time — the age that covers Man’s Day, and the age that covers the Messianic Era. And this is quite easy to illustrate.
(Note that the non-forgiveness associated with a particular sin and two ages in Matthew 12:31, 32 has to do with the heavenly sphere of the kingdom, not the earthly sphere, the kingdom covenanted to David. The earthly sphere of the kingdom can never be taken from Israel.
Refer to chapter seven for information about and distinctions between the earthly and the heavenly spheres of the kingdom, both present and future.)
1) Looking Forward in Time
First, note the account of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-30. This ruler approached Christ with the question, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life [lit., life for the age]?” (v. 17). And Christ told him exactly what he must do (vv. 19-21). Christ’s answer had to do with obedience to that which God had commanded, denying self, taking up one’s cross, and following Christ (cf. Matthew 16:24-27).
Confusion arises when a person attempts to read into this passage that which is not there, while ignoring that which is there. The subject is entrance into the kingdom during the coming age, not eternal life that exists during the present age and extends not only throughout the coming age but throughout the subsequent endless ages of eternity.
As previously indicated, from a contextual standpoint, the words “eternal life” in verse seventeen, a translation of the Greek word aionios, could be better translated, “life for the age.”
(Aionios is the word usually translated “eternal” or “everlasting” in English versions, though aion is occasionally translated in a similar sense — “forever.” Aionios is the adjective form of the noun aion, from which we derive our English word “aeon.” Neither the adjective nor the noun means “eternal.” Rather, the two words really have to do with “a long period of time,” usually thought of as “an age.”
The only way the Greek language can express “eternal,” apart from textual considerations, is by using the noun form of aionios [aion] in the plural [ages (e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8)], or by using aion twice in the plural [“unto the ages (aionas) of the ages (aionon)” (e.g., Revelation 1:6, 18; 4:9, 10; 5:13, 14; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5)]. A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of “ages,” with eternity being thought of in the sense of “endless ages,” i.e., “aeons,” or “the aeons of the aeons.”)
Mark 10:30 clearly shows that “age” (a singular noun in the Greek text) has to be the correct understanding of aionios in verse seventeen. In verse thirty, following the translation in most English versions, reference is made to “eternal life” in the “world to come [some versions read, ‘age to come’] (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV).”
This though is not what the Greek text states at all. In the Greek text, aion and aionios both appear together, referring to the same period of time. Aion has been translated “world” (or correctly, “age” in some versions); and aionios has invariably been translated “eternal” (as in v. 17).
The latter part of Mark 10:30 should literally read, “. . . and in the age to come age-lasting life,” or, “. . . and in the age to come life for that age.” “Eternal life,” as previously stated, is not even in view. There is no such thing as inheriting “eternal life” (v. 17) in the “age to come [or ‘world to come’ as some translations erroneously read].”
Eternal life is not inherited; it is a free gift, and it is a present possession rather than a future hope. The possession of eternal life (present) and coming into possession of an inheritance (future) — both spoken of numerous times in Scripture — are two different things entirely. That which is in view in Mark 10:17-30 is an inheritance with Christ as co-heir in the 1000-year kingdom during the coming age.
But that which we want to see here is a reference to the same two ages referred to in Matthew 12:32. The coming age is, in Mark 10:30, specifically identified as the Messianic Era; and the present age, in existence at a time preceding Calvary in Matthew 12:32, lasts until the Messianic Era.
2) Looking Back in Time
Now, with that in view, note several scriptures that show that the age in existence at a time prior to Calvary — an age that extends forward to the Messianic Era (the end of Man’s Day) — also extends back to the very beginning of Man’s Day. That is, comparing several other references with Matthew 12:32 and Mark 10:17, 30, it can unquestionably be shown that one age covers the whole of Man’s Day — the whole of the 6,000 years foreshadowed by the six days in Genesis chapter one.
Aion, translated “world” in the KJV, appears in each of the following verses:
As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world [age] began. (Luke 1:70)
Since the world [age] began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. (John 9:32)
Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world [age] began. (Acts 3:21)
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world [age]. (Acts 15:18)
The reference to God’s “prophets” in two of the preceding verses (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21) should be understood in a somewhat broader sense than the word “prophet” is usually thought of today. The word appears quite often (about 150 times in the New Testament) and is used as a title given to the person whom the Lord had chosen to communicate — “announce,” “declare” — His message to the people; and the message need not necessarily have to be prophetic per se for the title “prophet” to be used of the messenger.
This title is used referring to those chosen at different times to declare the will and purpose of God through either a written revelation or a verbal expression. It is used of individuals preceding the existence of the nation of Israel (Jude 14), of individuals in Israel (Matthew 23:37; Luke 24:27), of individuals in the first century Church prior to the completion of the canon of Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:28; 13:9, 10; Ephesians 4:11), and of individuals in Israel once again yet future (Joel 2:27, 28; Revelation 11:3, 10).
In this respect, all of those chosen to write portions of the Word of God, beginning with Moses and ending with John, could be called “prophets.” And others, such as Enoch or Noah who communicated the message of God in an oral manner to the people of their day — though they were not chosen to write particular sections of Scripture — could also be looked upon after this same fashion (cf. 2 Peter 2:5; Jude 14). In fact, this word, in its strict Scriptural usage, could be used referring to certain individuals all the way back to and including Adam himself.
(The first recorded statement by Adam, which concerned an existing relationship between him and Eve, has far-reaching ramifications. It has to do with “a great mystery” that God desires His people to know and understand, for it concerns an existing relationship between Christ and the Church.
The former forms the type and the latter the antitype; and this mystery can be seen in its correct proper perspective only through viewing both the type and antitype together [cf. Genesis 2:23, 24; Ephesians 5:21-32].)
The age in which Jesus lived at the time of His earthly ministry is, thus, not only seen in Scripture as extending forward to the beginning of the Messianic Era but it is also seen as extending back to the beginning of man’s existence on the earth.
Comparing the different ways aion (age) is used in Luke 1:70; John 9:32; Acts 3:21; 15:18, a person can arrive at only one conclusion. The present age, looking back in time, covers the entire period of the “prophets,” which, of necessity, would have to include not only Enoch (who “prophesied” over 1,500 years prior to the appearance of Moses [Jude 14]), but also Adam.
3) The Complete Picture
God knew all of His works that would transpire within the framework of the ages at the time of man’s creation (Acts 15:18). And this was something known at a prior time when He designed and made the ages with the thought in mind that His Son would, in the climactic age of the sequence of ages in view, inherit “all things” (Hebrews 1:2). And God — being both Omniscient and the Architect of the ages — in order to make His will known and reveal events transpiring during the ages, simply “spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,” beginning with Adam.
Accordingly, at least three ages in relation to the earth can be seen in Scripture. At least one age (and there may have been more than one) existed between the creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1 and the beginning of the restoration of the ruined creation in Genesis 1:2b. Then another age began at that point that covers the next 6,000 years. And, to bring the first sequence of ages to a close, the climactic age of the ages will be ushered in at the completion of the 6,000 years, an age that will cover the next 1,000 years.
Then, at the end of the 1,000-year Messianic Era, the present heavens and earth will be destroyed and be replaced with a new heavens and a new earth, and a new age will begin (that will apparently be the first in a new sequence of ages). How long that age will last is unrevealed. But it will have a beginning point and an ending point.
And following that age will be another age, and then another, and then another, forming an unending God-designed and arranged sequence or sequences of ages comprising eternity.
“Dispensation” is the term used in Scripture to show distinctions in God’s dealings with different groups of mankind during Man’s Day, along with the Messianic Era. As previously shown, one age covers the whole of Man’s Day and another age covers the succeeding Messianic Era; but, as will be shown, there are more than two dispensations within the framework of these two ages.
The word “dispensation” is the translation of the Greek word, oikonomia. A cognate form of the word is oikonomos, which is made up of two words — oikos (house) and nemo (to manage). Thus, oikonomos has to do with the management of a house, referring particularly to the person (the manager, the steward) placed in charge of the house. And oikonomia (the word used for “dispensation”) carries the same basic meaning.
Oikonomia has been translated “stewardship” in three instances in the New Testament (Luke 16:2-4, KJV); and the word actually only appears five other times, translated “dispensation” four of the times (1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; 3:2; Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 1:4, KJV).
“Stewardship” has to do with household management. Christians are stewards in this respect since they are members of a household, have been placed in charge of a portion of the Owner’s goods, and are expected to manage those goods within the household (under the leadership of the Holy Spirit) after such a fashion that there will be an increase (cf. Matthew 25:14ff; Luke 19:12ff).
Thus, a “dispensation” simply has to do with the management of the Lord’s household affairs through those whom He has placed in His house (stewards). And when there is a stewardship change within God’s dealing with mankind, there is, correspondingly, a change in the dispensation. This would have to be the case, for stewardship and dispensation are synonymous in this respect.
Within the scope of the 7,000 years set forth through that which is foreshadowed by the seven days in Genesis 1:1-2:3, there are at least four different dispensations. There is a present dispensation (during which God is dealing with Christians), there were at least two past dispensations (one in which God dealt with Israel, and the other in which He dealt with mankind at large prior to His dealings with Israel), and there is a future dispensation (the Messianic Era).
Then, the period prior to the creation of Adam in which Satan ruled over the earth apart from a successor being present could only be referred to as a dispensation in the strict sense of the word (for a stewardship did exist, one in which Satan rebelled against the Lord within his assigned position and trust). And on the other side of the 7,000 years a similar situation exists with respect to the thought of dispensations, with man then occupying positions in God’s government of the universe.
However time and events both before and after the 7,000 years are spoken of in Scripture only to an extent that will allow man to properly understand time and events during the 7,000 years. Scripture deals with the latter almost exclusively (with events occurring during the 7,000 years), having very little to say about the former (with events occurring outside the scope of these 7,000 years).
Thus, to speak of dispensations outside the framework of the 7,000 years is doing little more than surmising. We have very little revelation to work with in this respect, and the subject has been mentioned only to carry some continuity of thought from the past age or ages into the 7,000 years and from the 7,000 years into the future ages.
1) The Normal Dispensational Outlook
When referring to dispensations, The Scofield Reference Bible is usually looked to more than any other source, for its references follow, to a large extent, a dispensational framework set up at different places in the footnotes. And this is the same dispensational framework that is usually taught in Bible colleges and seminaries when viewing Scripture after a dispensational fashion.
Footnotes in The Scofield Reference Bible call attention to seven dispensations:
a) Innocence (from the creation to the fall).
b) Conscience (from the fall to the Flood).
c) Human Government (from the Flood to the call of Abraham).
d) Promise (from the call of Abraham to the giving of the Law at Sinai under Moses).
e) Law (from Sinai to Calvary).
f) Grace (from Calvary to the Kingdom).
g) The Kingdom (the 1000-year Messianic Era).
The preceding though, in The Scofield Reference Bible, is based on an incorrect understanding of what constitutes a dispensation. Dr. Scofield, for example, defines a dispensation as “a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God” (footnote to heading of Genesis 1:28ff).
Then, commenting on “the dispensation of the fullness of times” in Ephesians 1:10, Dr. Scofield states, “This, the seventh and last of the ordered ages which condition human life on the earth, is identical with . . . .”
(The preceding quotations were taken from The Scofield Reference Bible of 1909, the original edition. The same definition of a dispensation was retained by the editors in The New Scofield Reference Bible of 1967, the updated edition; but the footnote commenting on “the dispensation of the fullness of times” in Ephesians 1:10 was deleted in the later edition.)
Thus, in both editions of The Scofield Reference Bible, there is an incorrect definition of a dispensation. And in the original edition, in the footnote commenting on Ephesians 1:10, “dispensation” and “age” are made synonymous, i.e., the seven dispensations are set forth as seven ages.
This is probably the point to which a high percentage of the existing confusion concerning both dispensations and ages can be traced, for footnotes in The Scofield Reference Bible, rather than Scripture itself, have, in many instances, set the mold for much of the dispensational thought in Christendom today. And this is also probably why the present dispensation is, more often than not, erroneously called “the Church Age” by many Christians.
2) The Scriptural Divisions
Using the strict definition of the Greek word oikonomia (dispensation), Scripture will logically divide itself into four dispensations during the 7,000 years extending from the creation of Adam to the end of the Messianic Kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 10:32 mankind is divided into three groups, and God’s dealings with these three groups — separately during Man’s Day, and together during the coming Messianic Era — establish the only biblical dispensational scheme of the matter.
Give none offense [do not be offensive or provide a cause for stumbling], neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God. (1 Corinthians 10:32)
God deals with mankind in cycles of time. There were 490-year cycles in which He dealt with Israel (e.g., Daniel 9:24-27), and these cycles occurred within a larger 2,000-year cycle in which He dealt (and will deal) with the nation (seven years yet remain — the seven years comprising the coming Tribulation, Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week — to complete not only a final 490-year cycle but the full 2,000-year cycle).
There are actually three of these 2,000-year cycles (though only one pertains to Israel); and the three 2,000-year cycles, comprising the whole of Man’s Day — covering God’s dealings with the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God (His dealings with each occurring separately within one of the 2,000-year cycles) — is followed by the last cycle of time, lasting 1,000 years. This will be the 1,000-year Messianic Era in which God will deal with the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church of God together at the same time. And all of this has been foreshadowed by the seven days which God placed at the very beginning of His revelation to man, in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
That would be to say, God, throughout the 6,000 years comprising Man’s Day, deals with the three divisions of mankind on an equal time-basis — for 2,000 years each. Then, following the 6,000 years He will continue His dealings with these three divisions on an equal time-basis. He will deal with all three together, at the same time, for 1,000 years. And these four divisions comprise the dispensational divisions that Scripture itself provides. This is how the 7,000-year period, foreshadowed at the beginning, in Genesis 1:1-2:3, logically divides itself into four dispensations.
God began His actions after this fashion through dealing with mankind at large — through what would be considered His 2000-year dealings with the Gentiles — though during the first 2,000 years of human history there was, in the strict sense of the word, no such thing as Gentiles. A Gentile in Scripture is simply someone who is not a Jew (or today, when the expression “in Christ” is used, not a Christian as well [Galatians 3:28]); and prior to the call of Abraham and the separate creation that emanated from his seed through Isaac and Jacob (Isaiah 43:1), a division within mankind of this nature did not, it could not, exist.
However, God’s dealings with mankind in general during the first 2,000 years of human history were, in the main, with those who would later be looked upon as Gentiles. And His dealings with this division of mankind must either be placed in the first 2,000-year period or not be placed at all. Or, to turn that around, the first 2,000-year period must either relate to the Gentiles or not relate to any one of the three divisions of mankind.
Then God dealt another 2,000 years (seven years yet remain) with those called Jews, or Hebrews (Abraham was not a “Jew” [a name derived from Judah], but he was the first person in Scripture called a “Hebrew,” with his descendants being called “Hebrews” [a name thought to mean “the one who crossed over,” i.e., over the Euphrates in route to the land to which he had been called, with his descendants looked upon as crossing over with him — Genesis 14:13; 40:15; 43:32; Exodus 2:11; Joshua 24:2, 3]).
After that, which brings us into the present 2,000 years, God is dealing with a new creation “in Christ” — with Christians — called into existence for a specific, revealed purpose. And we are today living very near the end of the present two millenniums, which would also place man (Jew, Gentile, and Christian) very near the end of the entire triad of three 2,000-year periods.
That which will end the 6,000 years though, as previously shown, is not the completion of the present 2,000-year period but the completion of the previous 2,000-year period (for seven years yet remain to complete that period, which will run their course after the completion of the present period). These final seven years, completing Man’s Day, will complete Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy. One Week — the Seventieth Week, a period of seven years comprising the coming Tribulation — remains to be fulfilled in the prophecy given to Daniel concerning his people.
Then, and only then, will God deal with all three divisions of mankind together, at the same time. And He will, at that time, deal with these three divisions after this fashion for 1,000 years, completing the full 7,000 years.
Thus, Scripture begins with a 2,000-year dispensation having to do with God’s dealing with the Gentiles (though, again, in the strict sense of the word, there were no Gentiles before there were Jews), it continues with another 2,000-year dispensation having to do with God’s dealings with the Jews, it continues with another 2,000-year dispensation having to do with God’s dealings with Christians, and it concludes the 7,000 years with a 1,000-year dispensation in which God will deal with all three groups of mankind, together at the same time.
This is the manner in which Scripture naturally divides itself, which is in perfect keeping with the framework of time foreshadowed by the six and seven days opening the book of Genesis. And following these natural divisions is really the best way to divide the whole of Scripture to show an overall dispensational picture that can be easily understood:
a) From Adam to Abraham.
b) From Abraham to Calvary (plus the future seven-year Tribulation).
c) From Calvary to the Kingdom.
d) The 1,000 years toward which everything has moved since God, in the beginning, “made the worlds [ages]” (Hebrews 1:2).
Jew, Gentile, Christian
Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the Church of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:32)
The Word of God divides the human race into three separate and distinct groups of individuals, forming three creations. There are the Jews, the Gentiles, and those comprising the Church of God, the Christians; and these three creations, brought into existence at different times, will exist separate and distinct from one another throughout not only the present dispensation but also during the coming Messianic Era and the endless ages comprising eternity that follow.
Mankind began and remained as only one creation for two millenniums. Then, a second creation was brought into existence after the first two millenniums had run their course, and a third creation followed after two more millenniums.
But within the plans and purposes of God, all three were seen in the beginning, prior to the creation of Adam. In the beginning, when God made and arranged the ages around the preplanned work of His Son within the framework of these ages (Hebrews 1:2), He had these three divisions of the human race in view.
And nothing can ever thwart the plans and purposes of God. Man — ignoring God’s revealed plans and purposes through the three segments into which He has divided mankind — talks about the human race in a global, oneness sense, with time and conditions as we know them today going on and on indefinitely. But God deals with the matter in His Word after a completely different fashion. God deals with the matter through three separate and distinct groups of individuals on a 6,000-year redemptive timetable, with a seventh 1,000-year period lying beyond the 6,000 years (with this seventh millennium to be followed by an unending sequence of ages, comprising eternity).
God established and revealed His timetable, along with His redemptive work within this timetable, at the very beginning of His Word. But the ones to whom God revealed His plans and purposes after this fashion have, for the most part, ignored them. Resultantly, man in this respect, remaining ignorant of God’s plans and purposes — goes about following his own plans and purposes, little realizing that his own plans and purposes will shortly and suddenly be interrupted and be completely done away with (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-8).
When man ignores the revealed Word of God, tragic consequences always follow. Such consequences may not be ushered in immediately. In fact, they seldom are. But consequences of this nature must always ultimately follow unbelief.
There is a God-established law of the harvest — sowing and reaping — which must come to pass. A person always reaps what he sows, a person always reaps more than he sows, and the reaping occurs at a later time than the sowing.
The 6,000-year history of man is replete with examples, but the climactic consequence, climaxing the entire 6,000 years, awaits a future day. The coming “time of Jacob’s trouble” will affect not only Israel but the entire Gentile world (Jeremiah 30:7; Revelation 6:1-17). And during this time — God, through bringing to pass a time of trouble “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21, 22) — will climax His dealings with man during man’s 6,000-year day.
God began the human race through the creation of one man. Then He put the man to sleep, removed a rib from his side, built a woman from the rib, and presented her back to the man in order to complete the man and to provide a helpmate for the man (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7, 18, 20-25).
Thus, in the beginning there was simply the man, Adam, the woman, Eve, and their progeny that followed. And any thought of a division within mankind had to wait 2,000 years of human history, though certain events during this period did portend the divisions that followed.
1) Saved and Unsaved
A division after a fashion could be looked upon through viewing man as either saved or unsaved during this time, but, this was not the same type division that God later effected through bringing into existence a second creation within mankind, and then a third creation. Rather, viewing a distinction between saved and unsaved individuals during the first 2,000 years of human history would be similar to viewing a distinction between saved and unsaved individuals among the Gentile nations during the coming Tribulation.
The salvation of Gentiles during the coming Tribulation will not separate them from their Gentile heritage in the same sense that it does during the present dispensation (cf. Galatians 3:28). During the present dispensation, when a Gentile (or Jew) is saved, that person becomes part of an entirely new creation, the one new man, the new creation “in Christ.” But during the coming Tribulation — which will be the fulfillment of the last seven years of the previous dispensation (ref. chapter 5 of this book) — this will not be the case.
Though individuals will be saved during the Tribulation exactly the same way man has always been saved — through the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life, on the basis of death and shed blood — these individuals will not become part of the new creation “in Christ” (as any believing Jew or Gentile becomes today). The new creation “in Christ” (God’s third creation in the human race) will have previously been removed from the earth, leaving only two creations — Jew and Gentile — on the earth.
Thus, a Gentile being saved in that coming day, remaining on earth, could not become part of a creation no longer present on the earth. Consequently, he will simply remain a Gentile, though saved. And if he survives the Tribulation he will be among those Gentiles entering into the kingdom, forming a part of the Gentile nations that will populate the earth at the beginning of the millennium.
And so will it be with unsaved Jews at the end of the Tribulation who look upon their Messiah, believe, and are saved. They will not relinquish their national identity, as does a believing Jew today. Rather, they will remain Jews (as during Old Testament times), forming a part of the Jewish nation (along with resurrected Jews from Old Testament days) who will enter the kingdom here on the earth.
In this respect, during the first 2,000 years of human history, though there was a division between saved and unsaved segments of mankind, a type division such as God later brought into existence (Jew and Gentile; then, Jew, Gentile, and Christian) did not exist. There was simply man in his fallen state (saved or unsaved) belonging to one creation, the only one that existed.
And this one creation in which mankind found itself was not really “Gentile” per se, though it was later looked upon as Gentile after God brought a second creation (through Jacob) into existence (Isaiah 43:1), forming two divisions within mankind. Following that, Jacob and his progeny were looked upon as a separate and distinct creation, and all the other nations comprised the creation that had existed throughout the prior 2,000 years.
Only after God produced a special creation in the person of Jacob did a division exist in the human race of a nature that allowed the word “Gentile” to be used — a name referring to someone outside the lineage of Jacob through his twelve sons, later called “Jews.”
And going 2,000 years beyond that to the time God brought a third creation into existence — the new creation “in Christ” — the word “Gentile” then distinguished that one segment of mankind from two other segments — both Jews and Christians. A “Gentile” was then/is now looked upon as someone who was/is not a Jew or a Christian.
2) Portending Divisions, Types, and Antitypes
Though there were no divisions within mankind per se during the first 2,000 years of human history (other than saved and unsaved, as previously discussed), there is the matter of certain events occurring during this time that portended the existence of the nation of Israel, prior to its actual existence.
Those comprising the nation of Israel are Semites, descending from Shem, one of Noah’s three sons. And following the Flood, Shem was the only one of Noah’s sons said to have a God, with God’s blessings to either of the other two sons flowing only through
Shem, as they dwelled “in the tents of Shem” — i.e., as they came in contact with and associated themselves with Shem, the only one with a God and the only one through whom God had and has chosen to channel His blessings for mankind (Genesis 9:26, 27).
Though this seeming division within mankind can be seen following the Flood, portending the existence of the nation of Israel centuries later, all three sons of Noah remained of the same creation. Again, the separate and distinct creation, forming two divisions within mankind, did not exist until Jacob appeared.
That which is revealed in Genesis 9:26, 27 though sets forth a central purpose surrounding Shem’s descendants, the nation of Israel, which would form a second creation within mankind. With respect to that seen in this section of Scripture, the nation of Israel was called into existence to be the channel through which God would bless all the Gentile nations. Following Noah’s statement in Genesis 9:26, 27, there can be no such thing as blessings flowing out to the remainder of mankind except through Shem and his descendants.
Then, viewing the matter after a different fashion, though the whole of mankind comprised only one group during the first 2,000 years of human history, both the second and third groups (yet to be brought into existence) can be seen in different accounts of the history of the first group (which formed types of the second and third groups).
Israel can be seen in the account of Cain slaying Abel, foreshadowing Israel slaying Christ (Genesis 4).
Or, Israel can be seen again in the account of Noah passing safely through the Flood, foreshadowing Israel passing safely through the coming Tribulation (Genesis 6-8).
Or, note the previously mentioned account of Noah’s sons, Shem and His God-appointed position relative to Ham and Japheth following the Flood; this foreshadows Israel’s future God-appointed position among the nations following the Tribulation (Genesis 9).
Then, the Church, as Israel, can be seen in this same manner before its actual existence as well.
Note the account of Eve being removed from Adam’s body and presented back to Adam to reign with him as his bride, as consort queen, foreshadowing the called out group of firstborn sons (Hebrews 12:23) who will be removed from Christ’s body and presented back to Christ to reign with Him as His bride, as consort queen (Genesis 2).
Or, the Church can be seen again in the account of Adam finding Eve in a fallen state and partaking of sin to affect her redemption so that both together might one day eat of the tree of life. This foreshadows Christ finding His bride in a fallen state and being made sin to affect her redemption so that both the Redeemer and the redeemed together might one day eat of the tree of life (Genesis 3) — with the tree of life providing the required wisdom and knowledge to rule and to reign for those Christians forming Christ’s bride in that day (ref. the author’s book, Judgment Seat of Christ, chapter 5).
Or, the Church can be seen again in the account of Enoch being removed from the earth alive preceding the Flood, foreshadowing the Church being removed from the earth alive preceding the Tribulation (Genesis 5).
The beginning of the nation of Israel is usually looked upon as originating with Abraham, the father of the nation. He is the one who was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, crossed the Euphrates, and was the first person to be called an “Hebrew” (thought to mean, “the one who crossed over,” i.e., the one who crossed the Euphrates in route to the land of Canaan [cf. Genesis 14:13; 40:15; Joshua 24:2, 3]).
1) Abraham and Isaac
Abraham though became the father of many nations after he entered the land of Canaan. He fathered a son by Hagar (Ishmael [Genesis 16:16]), through whom, for the most part, the present-day Arabic nations sprang. Then he fathered a son by Sarah (Isaac [Genesis 21:5]), through whom the nation of Israel sprang. And, following the death of Sarah, he fathered six sons by Keturah (Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah [Genesis 25:1, 2]), through whom other Arabic nations sprang (though, for the most part, apparently later assimilated into the Ishmaelite Arabic nations).
Then Abraham’s grandson, Esau, became the father of the Edomites (Genesis 36:9), a nation whose history can be traced up to but not beyond the first century A.D.
Abraham was the person whom God called out of Ur to be the channel through whom He would bring His plans and purposes surrounding man to pass.
a) To bring forth the Redeemer.
b) To give man the Word of God.
c) To be the channel through which blessings would flow out to mankind.
And these plans and purposes were to be realized through one nation, the nation of Israel.
But to complicate the matter somewhat, Abraham, as previously stated, became the father of many nations. Scripture though leaves no room to question which of the nations God recognized as “Abraham’s seed” insofar as His plans and purposes were being brought to pass.
God rejected Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, at the time Isaac’s birth was announced (Genesis 17:15-19); He again rejected Ishmael following Isaac’s birth, at the time Isaac was weaned (Genesis 21:5-12); and nations descending from the sons of Keturah or the Edomites descending from Esau, though all Abraham’s seed, are not seen in Scripture as even being mentioned relative to the matter (as was Ishmael).
From the birth of Isaac forward, the Old Testament centers on one nation — the nation descending from Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons. Nations descending from the other sons of Abraham, along with the Edomites, though Semitic nations, were looked upon as being among the Gentile nations. And these nations, as all the other Gentile nations, occupy a place in Scripture only as they come in contact with and/or have dealings with the nation of Israel.
(The preceding, for example, is why modern-day Russia is mentioned extensively throughout two chapters in Ezekiel [38, 39], but the United States — a nation that has befriended Israel over the years — if mentioned at all, is mentioned only in an indirect way in one verse in these chapters [38:13]. Russia is the nation that will lead an invasion into the land of Israel during the Tribulation, but the United States will not be directly involved. The United States, if the nation’s origin can be traced to one of the nations listed in Ezekiel 38:13, will, with other nations, voice a protest; but before action can be taken, God will intervene and take care of the matter Himself, personally.
Thus, assuming that the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:13 do include the United States, since this nation will not have a direct part, the United States is not mentioned except for the one small part that the nation will play.
And today, since the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy waits for that time when God begins dealing with Israel on a national basis once again — though the United States has had and presently continues to have a direct part in the Gentile nations’ dealings with Israel, prophecy does not cover the matter. Prophetic revelation of a nature that covers events in the Middle East today — allowing the United States to be mentioned — simply does not exist, contrary to the attempt by some to make Scripture say and mean things that it doesn’t say and mean at all.)
There is a special creation involved insofar as the nation of Israel is concerned; and accordingly, as in Adam’s creation, the time when two divisions within mankind would exist had to, of necessity, await that day when a divine work could be wrought in a particular person at a particular time.
Such a creation could not have been brought to pass in the person of Abraham, for he was the father of many nations. Thus, had God performed a special creative act at this point in the genealogy, it would have resulted in all of the Semitic nations descending from Abraham being looked upon as separate from the Gentile nations. That is, all of Abraham’s descendants — through Ishmael, Isaac, and the sons of Keturah — would be part of a separate (single) creation, separate from all the other nations.
Accordingly, this special creative act could not have been brought to pass in Abraham’s son, Isaac, for he had one son (Esau) outside the correct lineage. Had God performed a special creative act in the person of Isaac, the descendants of Esau as well as the descendants of Jacob would form a separate (single) creation, separate from the remaining nations.
Such a creative act, of necessity, awaited Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. And this special creative act, which occurred just as much within a physical sphere as Adam’s creation, was then passed on to his descendants.
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Following the point in time referred to in Isaiah 43:1, mankind found itself divided into two segments — those in Adam and those in Jacob. The special creation in Jacob (as the later special creation “in Christ,” forming a third creation within mankind) wrought no change in man’s fallen condition inherited from Adam (retention of the old sin nature, with all of its ramifications).
Whether dealings with the Jews, Gentiles, or Christians, when the old sin nature is in view (which is associated with and can only result in death), the matter is always taken back to Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22).
But in God’s separate and distinct creation surrounding Jacob, though it produced a change in the physical realm, the old sin nature inherited from Adam was retained (as it is today by Christians). And this change that God brought to pass in Jacob is passed on through procreation from one generation to the next.
Thus, by means of this special creation, because it had occurred in the physical realm, God could bring forth a nation through which His plans and purposes would be realized. The nation emanating from Jacob would be separate and distinct from all the other nations (now looked upon as Gentile nations in the true sense of the word), and God would bring His plans and purposes to pass through this nation. In this respect, though the nation of Israel looks back to Abraham as the father of the nation, the special creative act — separating this nation from all the surrounding nations — did not, it could not, occur until Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, appeared.
From Jacob sprang twelve sons. And from these twelve sons sprang the twelve tribes of Israel, forming the nation through which God gave man the Redeemer, the written Word of God, and through which all blessings for mankind have flowed and will continue to flow.
(Of interest to note: The name “Israel” is derived from a combination of two Hebrew names — Sarah and El. The name Sarah means “princess,” and El is the Hebrew singular form for “God” [Elohim is the plural form found throughout the Old Testament].
El is a common ending for many Hebrew names, combining different meanings of names with the word for God [e.g., Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel]. Thus, the meaning of “Israel,” as seen in Genesis 32:28 is derived from the name meaning: “a prince,” who has “power with God and with men” [power with men because of power with God].
And, with this in mind, note the typology of Genesis 21-23, where Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is seen as a type of Israel, the wife of God.
Regal implications are seen throughout, whether in the type in Genesis or in that which the type foreshadows. It is “Israel” who is destined to one day possess princely [regal] “power with God and with men” [cf. Genesis 35:10-12].)
The Church of God
This then brings us to the third and last of the special creative acts of God within the human race, leaving mankind divided into three separate and distinct segments rather than the previous two. And this creation, rather than occurring in the physical realm,
occurred in the spiritual realm. The former two creations (Jew and Gentile) could be passed on through one’s progeny, but not the third creation (Christian).
1) Purpose for
Before seeing the different things about this creation as Scripture presents them, a purpose for the new creation’s existence needs to be seen. After all, God’s plans and purposes, resulting in spiritual blessings for mankind, were to be realized through
Abraham and his seed (something that could never change). So, why call a third creation into existence?
And, again, if this third creation is to be placed, after any fashion, as another channel (as Israel) through which God’s plans and purposes are to ultimately be realized, this creation must somehow be “Abraham’s seed,” though, at the same time, be separate and distinct from the nation of Israel (or the Gentiles). Such a relationship must exist, for spiritual blessings can flow out to mankind only through the seed of Abraham. And a separation from Israel (or the Gentiles) must exist as well, with this third creation being separated from the creation in Jacob (or in Adam) and existing solely as a separate and distinct creation, a new creation “in Christ.”
The purpose for the existence of the third creation in the human race goes all the way back to the beginning within the mind of God, when He made and arranged the ages around the preplanned work of His Son within the framework of these ages. This is why the third creation (along with the second) is seen time after time in Old Testament typology. But the working out of matters and the bringing into existence of this third creation — the one new man “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:13-15) — did not occur until Israel’s Messiah had been sent to the earth, had offered the kingdom of the heavens to the nation of Israel, had been rejected, had been crucified, and had been raised from the dead.
In the Old Testament, Israel was made the repository for both heavenly and earthly promises and blessings. And these promises and blessings — to be realized by Israel, resulting in the Gentile nations being blessed — were to flow out to the Gentile nations
through Abraham and his Seed from two spheres, heavenly and earthly (Genesis 12:1-3; 14:17-22; 22:17, 18).
This is the manner in which God decreed the matter to exist, it has been established in this manner, it can never change, and there can never be an exception.
When Christ appeared on earth the first time, His message to Israel (a message proclaimed first by John the Baptist, followed by Christ and His disciples) was,
Repent you [a plural pronoun, referring to the entire nation]: for the
kingdom of the heavens is at hand. (Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:17; 10:1-8)
That would be to say, the nation was called to national repentance in view of the Israelites occupying proffered positions in heavenly places in the kingdom; and these positions were to be occupied at a time in the immediate future (the kingdom was “at
hand [or, ‘had drawn near’]”), for the King Himself was present, proclaiming the message and extending the offer. And the establishment of the proffered kingdom was contingent on the nation’s positive response to the King’s call.
Then it must be recognized that the passing of this part of the kingdom (the heavenly realm, then in the hands of Satan and his angels, as it is today) into the hands of the seed of Abraham could only have been accompanied by the earthly part of the kingdom
being established as well (necessitating the overthrow of Gentile world power, also under Satan). It is one kingdom with two realms or facets, and there could have been no such thing as one realm of the kingdom being established without the other realm also being established.
The nation as a whole though was not interested in the proffered heavenly portion of the kingdom. And regardless of what the people of Israel understood or didn’t understand relative to the complete scope of the proffered kingdom (one kingdom with two parts, which must be established together), the nation subsequently not only rejected the offer but the Jewish people crucified the One who made the offer.
All of this provides the backdrop for the new creation “in Christ” that was brought into existence.
Israel’s rejection of the proffered kingdom provides the reason for God bringing a third creation within the human race into existence. This third creation, the new creation “in Christ,” the “Church of God,” was brought into existence to be the recipient of that which
Israel had rejected, i.e., the heavenly sphere of the kingdom (cf. Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
Then, again, there is another side to the matter. Israel’s rejection of the heavenly sphere of the kingdom allowed God to bring a third creation into existence. This new creation, occupying the position “in Christ,” was Christ’s body; and Christ was the Head of the body (Ephesians 1:22, 23). And according to the original type (seen in Adam and Eve [governing all subsequent types, along with the antitype]), Christ’s bride — the one who is to reign as consort queen with Him from the heavens over the earth during the coming age — is to be removed from His body (cf. Genesis 2:21-23; Ephesians 5:23-32).
This was something not possible for Israel (for Israel was God’s wife and did not comprise Christ’s body). And no Gentile nation could even come under consideration (for all the Gentile nations were further removed yet, without God, and without hope [Ephesians 2:12]).
Thus, a third creation had to be brought into existence.
And that’s exactly what God did following the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son. God brought the one new man “in Christ” into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected, and He performed this act in such a way that His Son’s bride could also be removed from this new creation, in accord with the original type in Genesis 2:21-23.
Christ, God of very God, knew at the time He offered the kingdom of the heavens to Israel that Israel wouldn’t — the nation couldn’t — accept the offer, though a bona fide offer was made.
This is why the Son could tell the religious leaders in Israel that the sin they had committed, in Matthew 12, attributing Christ’s power to perform miraculous works to Satan rather than to the Spirit of God (referring to a miraculous work performed in connection with the proffered kingdom), would not be forgiven Israel for two ages — the present age, Man’s Day, and the coming age, the Lord’s Day, the Messianic Era (vv. 22-32).
This is also why Christ could later call Peter’s attention to the fact that the Church was about to be brought into existence (Matthew 16:18).
And this is why Christ could still later announce to the religious leaders in Israel that the kingdom (the proffered heavenly portion) would be taken from Israel and given “to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
2) In Christ
The existence of the one new man “in Christ” could not be just another creation, separate from Israel and the Gentile nations. As previously stated, the new creation had to be both Abraham’s seed and Christ’s body.
This new creation had to be the former (Abraham’s seed) because the heavenly sphere of the kingdom, as the earthly, could not be inherited by individuals who were not of Abraham’s seed. Blessings during the Messianic Era are to flow out to the Gentile nations from both heavenly and earthly spheres, and Scripture is very clear that blessings of this nature can flow out to the Gentile nations after this fashion only through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 12:2, 3; 22:17, 18).
Then this new creation had to be the latter (Christ’s body), for the bride who is to reign as consort queen with Christ from heavenly places is to be taken from His body (cf. Genesis 2:21-24; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Ephesians 5:22-32).
And, along with the preceding, this new creation could be neither Jew nor Gentile, though it had to be removed from one or both of the former creations. And, in this case, as the second creation (Jew) was removed from the first (Gentile), the third creation (Christian) was/is removed from the previous two (both Jew and Gentile).
Fifty days following His Son’s resurrection, God established this creation at events surrounding Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff). Events on this day occurred in connection with a Jewish festival portending the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy and with individuals being
filled with the Spirit in keeping with Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:4 [ref. the author’s book, From Acts to the Epistles, chapter 1]).
But this is the point as well where God began a work, through His Spirit, which also included the Gentiles (note the words “all flesh” in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17). And though there was a re-offer of the kingdom to Israel during about the first thirty years of this new
dispensation (in keeping with a beginning fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy [cf. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21]), with the message “to the Jew first,” the message was now “also to the Greek [‘Gentile’]” (Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10).
The latter is why God chose and called Paul about five years following Calvary. Paul was chosen and called forth to proclaim the message to “the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:2, 7).
Apart from a new creation, the message could not have been “also to the Greek [‘Gentile’]” after the manner seen (Gentiles brought in after such a fashion that they found themselves associated with heavenly positions in the kingdom). There was a baptism, an immersion, in the Spirit (Acts 1:5); and, aside from its connection with Joel’s prophecy in Acts 2:4 (because the kingdom was being re-offered to Israel), this immersion in the Spirit that occurred on the day of Pentecost in 33 A.D. could only have been the same as the Christian experience today — bringing into existence the one new man “in Christ” on that day (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:15).
(Note that those baptized [immersed] in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost were not unsaved individuals. The immersion in the Spirit had nothing to do with eternal salvation then; nor does it have anything to do with eternal salvation today. The work of the Spirit relative to eternal salvation — salvation by grace — was set forth in an unchangeable manner at the beginning, in Genesis 1:2b-5; 2:7; 3:21; 4:8-10; and, accordingly, this work of the Spirit has always been the same.
Salvation by grace is affected through the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life, on the basis of death and shed blood. The baptism [immersion] in the Spirit is something additional [peculiar to the present dispensation], which, today, could only have been seen as occurring in conjunction with and at the same time as the Spirit’s work surrounding salvation.
One produces life [the Spirit breathing]; and the other brings about the new creation [immersion in the Spirit], placing the person “in Christ.”)
In this respect, the bringing into existence of the new creation “in Christ,” the beginning of the present dispensation, or the beginning of the fulfillment of the antitype of Genesis chapter twenty-four (the Spirit’s search for a bride for God’s Son) can only be placed in Acts chapter two.
But aside from the preceding, and looking at the matter as it has existed throughout the present dispensation, a Jew or a Gentile can become a new creation “in Christ” simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30, 31). Through believing, as the Spirit
breathes life into the one possessing no life, he passes “from death unto life.” And the person — whether Jew or Gentile — is, at the same time, immersed in the Spirit, allowing him to occupy a positional standing “in Christ.” The person becomes a new
creation, in the spiritual realm under discussion; and, within this realm, he is no longer associated with his prior creation (whether Jew or Gentile).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
If he were a Jew prior to the time of belief, he ceased to be a Jew. He relinquished his national identity and became a new creation “in Christ.”
“Old things [having to do with the old creation in Jacob] have passed away,” and “all things [having to do with the new creation ‘in Christ’] have become new.” The latter part of the verse should literally read, “. . . behold, he has become new [i.e., he has become
a new creation].”
On the other hand, if he were a Gentile prior to the time of belief, exactly the same thing occurred as happened to a believing Jew. He relinquished his national identity and became a new creation “in Christ.” And 2 Corinthians 5:17 applies to him in exactly the same fashion as it applies to a believing Jew.
Both believing Jews and believing Gentiles become part of the one new man “in Christ,” where there is neither Jew nor Gentile. And together they become “fellow-heirs [in relation to heavenly promises and blessings], and of the same body [Christ’s body]. . . .”
(Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 2:13-15; 3:1-6).
A Jew, relinquishing his national identity, relinquishes his place among a nation destined to one day realize earthly promises and blessings. But, by so doing, he comes into possession of a higher calling. He now finds himself part of a nation destined to one day realize heavenly promises and blessings (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
A Gentile, relinquishing his national identity, relinquishes his place among the nations without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). Thus, by so doing, he simply comes into possession of a calling, having possessed no previous calling. He, as the believing
Jew, now finds himself part of a nation destined to one day realize heavenly promises and blessings (Ephesians 3:5).
And this has all been made possible because, being “in Christ [who is Abraham’s Seed],” individuals are looked upon as being “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:16, 29).
“In Christ” is the key expression involving the one new man. This is a positional standing, wrought through a baptism (an immersion) in the Spirit, which occurs at the same time that the Spirit breathes life into the one having no life, on the basis of the
Son’s finished work at Calvary.
Thus, the matter surrounding the new creation “in Christ” is spiritual, and the matter surrounding the prior two creations (in Adam, in Jacob) is physical, or natural. The first two creations can be passed from one generation to the next via the natural birth, but
the latter creation cannot. The latter is spiritual, completely separate from the natural, and it must be experienced on an individual basis through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accordingly, the Spirit’s work in the individual — breathing life into the person on the one hand and bringing about the new creation on the other — results in no change in the physical. Paul, a new creation “in Christ,” could also refer to himself as “an Israelite” (Romans 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:22), “a Jew” (Acts 21:39; 22:3), and “a Hebrew” (2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5). The former (the Spirit’s work) had to do with his identity through being “in Christ,” associating him with that which was spiritual, that which was from above; and the latter (natural birth) had to do with his identity outside of Christ, associating him with that which was natural, that which was from below.
(Note that the old sin nature is associated only with the latter [the natural], never with the former [the spiritual]; and being born from above, brought forth out of God [John 1:13; 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 3:9; 5:1] is associated only with the former [the spiritual], never with the latter [the natural].)
Within a type-antitype framework, the former [the spiritual] had to do with “Isaac” and the latter [the natural] with “Ishmael” — individuals typifying the man of spirit and the man of flesh respectively, which cannot co-exist harmoniously or after an inseparable fashion with one another (cf. Genesis 21:9, 10; Galatians 4:22- 31). That’s why there can be no such thing as a Jewish Christian or a Gentile Christian, for that would be placing Ishmael and Isaac together, as a single entity.
Rather, there are Jews, Gentiles, and Christians; and that’s the way it must remain, with each of the three creations looked upon as separate and distinct from one another.
Heavenly and Earthly
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. (Genesis 14:18-20)
In blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your seed [descendants] as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22:17, 18)
The coming kingdom of Christ, toward which the whole of Scripture moves, will be one kingdom with two realms — a heavenly realm, and an earthly realm. Christ, the Seed of Abraham, will be the Supreme Ruler; and occupying positions of power and authority with Him will be the seed of Abraham (the Church) ruling from a heavenly realm and the seed of Abraham (Israel) ruling from an earthly realm.
Christ, after this fashion, will have a dual reign, both from His own throne in the heavens and from David’s throne on the earth (Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 3:21). There will be a Jerusalem above and a Jerusalem below. The New Jerusalem will rest in a heavenly position above the earth, as the capital of the earth from above (apparently a satellite city that those on the earth can behold); and the city of Jerusalem on the earth will be restored, existing as the capital city of the earth from below.
Christ with His co-heirs will exercise power and authority from the New Jerusalem above the earth; and Christ in the midst of and with His people, Israel, will exercise power and authority from Jerusalem below. Power and authority from above will emanate from Christ’s own throne, and power and authority from below will emanate from David’s throne, which will be given to Christ.
That will be the basic structure of the coming kingdom of Christ, in which both the heavenly seed and the earthly seed of Abraham will “possess the gate of [rule over]” the Gentile nations of the earth. And this rule will result in not only the nations being blessed but the kingdom ultimately (at the end of 1,000 years) being brought back into a state where it can be delivered up to the Father so that “God may be all in all [‘God may be all things in all of these things’]” (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; cf. Colossians 1:16, 20).
The Present Kingdom
The earth is a province in the kingdom of God, and Satan holds the position of Messianic Angel (the provincial ruler) over the earth. He has held this position since the time of his appointment by God in the beginning, prior to his fall; and he will continue holding this position until he is one day replaced by Man — the second Man, the last Adam, with His co-heirs, redeemed from the lineage of the first man, the first Adam (Ezekiel 28:14-16; Hebrews 2:5-10).
Satan’s fall produced no change in his appointed position, for a principal of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler hold his appointed position until his successor not only appears but is ready to take the scepter. There is no such thing as
God removing a ruler from a province in His kingdom and not, at the same time, appointing another ruler.
Though Satan’s fall produced no change in His appointed position, it did bring about a change in the kingdom over which he ruled. The material kingdom itself was destroyed.
The earth was [The earth became] without form, and void; and darkness was [and darkness became] on the face of the deep. (Genesis 1:2a; cf. Ezekiel 28:18b)
From that time until immediately prior to the creation of Adam, though Satan continued to occupy his appointed position, he ruled over a ruined kingdom shrouded in darkness.
Then, approximately 6,000 years ago God restored the earth, along with the light of the sun and moon, and brought man into existence with a view to man taking the scepter held by Satan. This is the way Scripture begins.
However, the incumbent ruler, Satan, brought about the first man’s fall; and this necessitated the appearance of the second Man to provide redemption before fallen man could one day hold the scepter, as God had originally intended. Satan, bringing about the first man’s fall, followed by God’s redemption of fallen man, follows the pattern previously established in the first chapter:
The earth had been brought into existence for a purpose — “to be inhabited,” i.e., to be an inhabited province in God’s kingdom (Isaiah 45:18); and, following its ruin, the earth was restored in order that God’s purpose for the earth might be realized.
Man, likewise, had been brought into existence for a purpose (Genesis 1:26-28); and following man’s ruin, God began a work of restoration in order that His purpose for man’s existence might be realized. As God (following Satan’s fall) restored the ruined material creation over a six-day period, He (following man’s fall) is presently restoring another ruined creation — ruined man — over the same length of time, with each day in the latter restoration being 1,000 years in length. Then, as God rested for a day following the prior restoration (Genesis 2:1-3), He will rest for a day, for 1,000 years, following the present restoration (Hebrews 4:4-9).
The pattern concerning how God restores a ruined creation was set at the very beginning, in the opening verses of Genesis. And man, a subsequent ruined creation, must be restored in exact conformity with the God-established pattern. As this restoration pertains to “time,” it will be over six days, over six thousand years (cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5; 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8). And there will then be a day of rest which will last for one day, for one thousand years. This is the earth’s coming Sabbath, toward which every earthly Sabbath pointed (Exodus 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Hebrews 4:4-9).
The whole of Scripture, progressing through six days of redemptive work, moves toward that coming Sabbath of rest. The skeletal structure was set in perfect form in the beginning, and the whole of Scripture beyond that point must rest on this structure.
The whole of Scripture moves toward that coming seventh day when Christ and His co-heirs will take the scepter and rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels.
(For additional details concerning a correct interpretation and understanding of Genesis 1:1-2:3, refer to chapters 2-4 in this book.)
From what realm though do Satan and his angels presently rule? It is clear from both Old and New Testament scriptures that they rule from a heavenly realm over the earth. Satan and his angels have access to the earth (Genesis 6:2-4; Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8; Jude 6), but they do not rule on the earth.
1) Location of Satan’s Rule — Old Testament
Daniel chapter ten presents certain insights into how the present kingdom of Satan is structured, along with the location of those administering power and authority in the kingdom. In this chapter, a heavenly messenger who had been dispatched to Daniel on the earth from that part of the heavens where God resides and rules (the northernmost point in the universe in relation to the earth [Isaiah 14:13, ASV]) was detained at a point in-route. This messenger was detained in the heavens above the earth by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” Then Michael was dispatched from heaven, and the messenger remained there with “the kings of Persia” while Michael fought with the prince of Persia for his release (v. 13).
The picture presented is that of powerful angels in the kingdom of Satan ruling the earth from a heavenly realm through counterparts in the human race on earth. There was a prince (ruler) of Persia in the heavens, and there was a prince (ruler) of Persia on the earth. Then, in the heavens, there were lesser rulers associated with Persia (the kings of Persia); and the same would have been true in the earthly kingdom (cf. Daniel 2:39; 5:28-31; 7:5; 8:3-6, 20).
Then beyond that “the prince of Greece” is mentioned — another heavenly ruler, the angelic heavenly ruler over the Grecian kingdom on earth (v. 20). And the reason why attention is called to this heavenly ruler is easy to see and understand. Daniel, throughout his book, deals with the kingdom of Babylon, from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Antichrist; and Dan. 10:20 (“. . . the prince of Greece shall come”) anticipated that day when Alexander the Great in the Grecian kingdom on earth would conquer the kingdom of Babylon under the Medes and the Persians (cf. Daniel 2:39; 7:6; 8:7, 8, 21, 22).
Thus, there is not only a breakdown of powers in the heavenly kingdom under Satan corresponding to a breakdown of powers in various earthly kingdoms under fallen man but there is also a shifting of powers in the heavenly kingdom corresponding to a shifting of powers in the earthly kingdoms. In this respect, any person occupying a position of power in any Gentile earthly kingdom during the present age is merely occupying a position of power under Satan and his angels, as they rule from the heavens through counterparts on the earth.
(Note that the nation of Israel is the lone exception among nations on earth whose rulers presently hold positions of power and authority under fallen angels in the kingdom of Satan. The prince over Israel is Michael [Daniel 10:21], an angelic prince in the heavens who is not numbered among those ruling in Satan’s kingdom, as Israel is not numbered among the nations [Numbers 23:9].)
2) Location of Satan’s Rule — New Testament
The book of Ephesians presents the same picture of Satan’s present kingdom as the book of Daniel, though from a different perspective. Ephesians is a book dealing with the heavenlies, pointing to the place where the Christians’ future inheritance lies (Ephesians 1:3-23). Christians have been saved with a view to realizing an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ in a heavenly kingdom at a future date. That is one of two central messages in this book.
The other central message has to do with the present inhabitants of that heavenly sphere — Satan and his angels (1:21; 3:9-11; 6:11ff). They are said to reside “in heavenly places” (3:10), and Ephesians chapter six presents an existing, ongoing warfare between Christians and these angels.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (6:12)
(The words “in heavenly places” [3:10] and “in high places” [6:12] are both translations of the same Greek words, referring to a heavenly sphere. The reference, in both instances, is to angels exercising positions of power and authority from places in the heavens within the kingdom under Satan — the present existing kingdom of the heavens.
For additional information in this realm, refer to the author’s books, The Spiritual Warfare and The Most High Ruleth.)
Thus, there is a present existing warfare between the heavenly rulers and Christians; and that warfare rages because Satan and his angels know the reason that the “one new man” in Christ has been called into existence (cf. Ephesians 3:9-11). The one new man will comprise the co-heirs ruling with Christ in that coming day, following the time Satan and his angels will have been put down. And Christ, with His co-heirs, ruling in the stead of Satan and his angels, will exercise power and authority from the same realm where Satan and his angels presently rule.
Thus, the warfare rages because Satan and his angels will do everything within their power to prevent this transfer of power and authority; and it will continue to rage until Christians have been removed from the earth, anticipating Satan and his angels being removed from their heavenly realm (“cast out into [‘unto,’ ‘upon’] the earth” [Revelation 12:4, 7-10; cf. Ezekiel 28:16b-19]) in view of Christ and His co-heirs taking the kingdom (Revelation 19:11-20:6; cf. Revelation 11:15).
These things will occur at the end of the present dispensation (which has lasted almost 2,000 years) and near the end of the present age (which has lasted almost 6,000 years). Then, and only then, will redeemed man realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning — “. . . let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26-28).
(The present dispensation covers time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week in Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy [Daniel 9:24-27], though not time related to the prophecy. The present dispensation comprises a 2,000-year period separate from time in Daniel’s prophecy. God’s chronometer, marking time in the prophecy, has [so to speak]
stopped, allowing the present dispensation to run its course. Then, once the present dispensation has been completed, the Church will be removed, and God will complete His dispensational dealings with Israel through the fulfillment of that seen in Daniel’s prophecy.
God’s chronometer relating to the Jewish people will then mark time in Daniel’s prophecy once again, fulfilling the final week, the final seven years. This final unfulfilled week is the coming seven-year Tribulation. And the fulfillment of this final week will not only complete seven unfulfilled years of the previous dispensation but also the final seven years of the age covering Man’s 6,000-year Day.
For more information on Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy, refer to the author’s book, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
For information on distinctions between ages and dispensations, refer to chapter five of this book.)
The Proffered Kingdom
Israel was called into existence to be the nation that God would not only bless but would, in turn, through this nation, bless all the other nations as well. In this respect, Israel was called into existence to be the channel through which God would bless all of mankind (Genesis 12:1-3).
In order for these blessings to ultimately be realized in their fullness, man must occupy the position for which he was originally created. Man must hold the scepter. There can be (there have been and presently are) blessings for mankind, through Israel, as man moves toward that end; but the fullness of blessings that God has in store for mankind, through Israel, cannot be realized until Israel has been restored and man actually holds the scepter.
To effect the whole of the matter, Israel’s calling involved giving man the Redeemer, giving man the Word of God, and being made the repository for both heavenly and earthly promises and blessings.
Through Israel God has given to man the Redeemer and the Word of God, revealing His plans and purposes. But the heavenly and earthly promises and blessings, other than a foretaste, have yet to be realized. Such a realization awaits Israel’s restoration and man holding the scepter during the coming Messianic Era.
1) Israel and the Proffered Kingdom — Past
There were two times in history when the nation of Israel was placed in a position where the people of Israel could enter into and occupy the kingdom. The first was under Moses and later Joshua following the Exodus from Egypt, and the second was under Jesus the Christ 1,500 years later.
A) The Earthly
The proffered kingdom during the days of Moses and Joshua had to do with the earthly segment of the kingdom. The Israelites had been called out of Egypt to realize an inheritance in another land, and that other land was the earthly land of Canaan.
The nation under Moses, at Kadesh-Barnea, rebelled against God and His appointed leader Moses. Because of unbelief, they refused to enter the land and, under God, take the land; and, within their actions, they even went so far as to seek to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (Numbers 13:26-14:4).
This resulted in the entire accountable generation, save Caleb and Joshua (because they possessed “another spirit” relative to entering the land), being overthrown in the wilderness during the next thirty-eight and one-half years (Numbers 14:5-38). And then
Joshua, after the overthrow of the entire accountable generation and after the death of Moses, led the second generation of Israelites into the land (Joshua 1:1ff).
The Israelites entering the land under Joshua though, along with succeeding generations of Israelites, never realized the fullness of the purpose for their calling. This failure was the result of unbelief and disobedience at different times on the part of the people. And the attitude and action of the people in this respect governed the attitude and action of God in this same respect (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
God’s blessings would follow Israel’s belief and obedience, resulting in the surrounding Gentile nations also being blessed. But exactly the opposite would result from unbelief and disobedience. There were curses rather than blessings, and a withholding of blessings from Israel resulted in a withholding of blessings from the surrounding Gentile nations as well.
The kingdom reached its heights during the days of David and his son, Solomon. But following the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death, things took a different turn entirely. The nation, through disobedience, became entrenched in a downward course from which there would be no return, leading to Gentile captivity and the “times of the Gentiles.” God’s call to His people to “humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways” (2 Chronicles 7:14) — through the ministry of men such as Elijah and Elisha — went unheeded.
Thus, Gentile powers were eventually allowed to enter the land and take the people captive, uprooting the Jewish people from their own land and transporting them to Gentile lands. The Assyrians came down and took the northern ten tribes into captivity about 722 B.C., and the Babylonians came over and took the southern two tribes into captivity beginning about 605 B.C.
The removal of the southern two tribes, completing the captivity and removal of the Jewish people from their land by Gentile powers, began the period known as the “times of the Gentiles,” which extends from that point until the end of the coming Tribulation.
The kingdom was taken from Israel at this time, along with the Glory; and neither will be restored to Israel until the coming Messianic Era (Ezekiel 10:4, 18; 11:22, 23; 43:1-5; cf. Luke 9:32; Acts 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:16). Though the Jewish people were allowed to return from captivity seventy years following the Babylonian captivity, only a remnant returned; and though the temple was rebuilt, it housed no Glory.
And the same holds true today. Though the nation has been allowed to return, only a remnant has done so; and though Israel will shortly rebuild her temple, it will house no Glory.
Another parallel relative to Israel past and present also holds true. The remnant forming the present nation, as the remnant forming the past nation, will be uprooted and driven to the ends of the earth. The former occurred under the Romans, beginning in 70 A.D., and the latter will occur under Antichrist, beginning in the middle of the Tribulation.
And as the temple built by the remnant returning to the land following the Babylonian captivity was later destroyed (in 70 A.D.), so will it be with the temple that Israel is about to build. It too will be destroyed (Daniel 9:26; Matthew 24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24).
Israel, with her temple (housing the Glory of God once again), will be restored only after the “times of the Gentiles” has run its course and after Messiah returns. Christ, Himself, will personally restore the nation (Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Matthew 24:30, 31), and He, Himself, will personally build the temple (Zechariah 6:11-13).
B) The Heavenly
The preceding forms a brief historic and prophetic overview of the earthly segment of the kingdom, which could be understood following the days of David as the kingdom covenanted to David (2 Samuel 7:4-17; cf. Luke 1:31-33).
However, there is another segment of the kingdom which also, of necessity, had to be offered to Israel; and that other segment is the heavenly.
This segment of the kingdom was offered to Israel at the time of Christ’s first advent. Scripture clearly reveals that the earthly segment of the kingdom was not in view at all at this time. Only the heavenly segment was in view.
John the Baptist preceded Christ with the message,
Repent you [a plural pronoun in the Greek text, referring to the entire nation]: for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand. (Matthew 3:1ff)
John was the forerunner of the Messiah (v. 3); and he appeared, calling the nation to repentance (a change of mind), announcing that the kingdom of the heavens (the rule of the heavens over the earth) was at hand (i.e., had drawn near and could have been established because Messiah was present).
(The expression, “the kingdom of heaven,” appearing thirty-two times in Matthew’s gospel [KJV, et al.] should literally be translated, on every occasion, “the kingdom of the heavens.” The word “heaven” is always plural and proceeded by the definite article in the Greek text.)
Then after John was imprisoned, Jesus took up the message (Matthew 4:12, 17), later He called out twelve disciples to carry this same message to the people throughout the land of Israel, and later yet He called seventy others for the same purpose (Matthew 10:1ff; Luke 10:1ff).
Thus, the offer of the kingdom of the heavens was extended to Israel initially by John the Baptist and for a subsequent three and one-half years by Christ and His disciples — the “twelve,” and then the “seventy.” But, after all had been said and done, the nation, because of the attitude of the religious leaders in Israel, rejected not only the offer but even went so far as to reject and crucify the One who made the offer (Matthew 12:22-32; 23:1ff; 27:17ff).
(An offer of the heavenly segment of the kingdom was a matter that the religious leaders in Israel should have been quite familiar with. This segment of the kingdom, though not dealt with as extensively in the Old Testament as the earthly, was still a major subject of Old Testament Scripture [Genesis 14:18-22; 15:5; 22:17, 18; 26:4; Daniel 7:18-27; 10:13-21; cf. Job. 1:6-12; 2:1-6]. And many Israelites throughout Old Testament history, understanding these things, looked beyond the earthly to the heavenly [cf. Matthew 8:11; Hebrews 11:8-16].)
Israel’s rejection of the kingdom of the heavens anticipated the Church being called into existence to be the recipient of that which the nation had rejected (Matthew 16:1-18). And the announcement concerning the matter was subsequently made to the religious leaders in Israel, as recorded in Matthew 21:43, immediately prior to the events of Calvary:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God [that part of the kingdom which had been offered, the heavenly] will be taken from you, and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:43)
The heavenly segment of the kingdom was taken from Israel in view of the Church being called into existence to be the recipient of that offer. And Israel, from that point forward, in line with Matthew 12:31, 32, could not bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens.
Israel, relative to this segment of the kingdom, could no longer bear fruit, “either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). That encompassed the two ages covering the whole of the time set forth by the seven days in Genesis chapters one and two, which covers the 6,000 years comprising Man’s Day and the 1,000 years comprising the Lord’s Day, the Messianic Era.
But note that this is relative to the kingdom of the heavens only. It has nothing to do with the kingdom covenanted to David, the earthly segment of the kingdom. This can never be taken from Israel, and Israel will one day be very fruitful, on the earth, when Messiah returns and this segment of the kingdom is restored to the nation.
2) The Church and the Proffered Kingdom — Present
When Christ announced to the religious leaders in Israel that the kingdom would be taken from Israel and be given to “a nation bearing the fruits of it,” that nation — the Church (1 Peter2:9) — did not then exist. But though the Church had not yet been called into existence, it had previously been mentioned by Christ (Matthew 16:18) and had been anticipated by events leading into Matthew 21:43 (Matthew 12:22-32; 13:1ff; 21:18-42).
The first mention of the Church though, in reality, actually precedes these events in Matthew’s gospel by one and one-half millennia in one respect and by four millennia in another respect.
Moses, 1,500 years before Christ’s first appearance and 1,500 years before the Church was brought into existence, provided the first recorded information concerning the Church. And this information is provided by way of typology in Genesis chapters two and three, drawn from events occurring 2,500 years before Moses recorded them (Eve removed from Adam’s body, Christ’s bride removed from His body, etc.).
Then another interesting matter surrounds the fact that the Church is presented in biblical typology prior to any mention of Israel after this fashion. Israel is not seen in biblical typology until the events recorded in Genesis chapter four (Cain slaying Abel, Israel slaying Christ). And events in chapter four parallel events in the previous chapter, in chapter three, where Adam partakes of sin to effect Eve’s redemption, foreshadowing Christ becoming sin to effect our redemption (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Thus, matters surrounding Israel rejecting the offer of the kingdom of the heavens, climaxed by the crucifixion of the One who made the offer and necessitating the calling into existence of the Church, all have their roots back in the opening chapters of Genesis. The Church is that “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) spoken of in type by Moses, referred to by Christ in Matthew 16:18, and in the mind of Christ in Matthew 21:43 when He announced to the religious leaders in Israel that the kingdom would be taken from them and be given to “a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
The Church is comprised of a heavenly people with heavenly promises and blessings, and these promises and blessings will be realized during a future day (the Messianic Era), in the heavens, not on the earth. Contrariwise, Israel’s future promises and blessings are earthly alone, for the heavenly promises and blessings have been taken from Israel.
Accordingly, viewing the matter after the preceding fashion leaves no room to question which facet of the kingdom (heavenly or earthly) was offered to, rejected by, and taken from Israel. The Word clearly states which facet: “the kingdom of the heavens,” referring to the heavenly sphere of the kingdom.
(The confusion in this realm usually emanates from erroneously understanding the expression, “the kingdom of the heavens,” as referring only to a kingdom having its origin in the heavens, where God dwells, not to a kingdom located in a heavenly sphere.
Then, beyond these clear statements concerning which facet of the kingdom was in view at the time of Christ’s first coming, exactly the same thing can be seen and understood when viewing the matter from the standpoint of the whole of Scripture.)
The earthly segment of the kingdom had been covenanted to David via an unconditional covenant and could not have been, nor can it ever be, taken from the nation of Israel. Christ’s announcement to the religious leaders in Israel could not have had anything
to do with the earthly segment of the kingdom; nor was the earthly segment of the kingdom even in view in the offer of the kingdom to Israel, beginning with John and continuing with Christ and His disciples.
The heavenly segment of the kingdom alone was in view in the offer to Israel, the rejection by Israel, the removal from Israel, and the offer to another nation. And the Church alone — “Abraham’s seed [because of the Christians’ position ‘in Christ’], and heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:29) — is in view as this new nation, clearly identified as the one presently being extended the opportunity to bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens.
And the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire present dispensation revolves around this whole overall thought. Redeemed man, removed from both Jew and Gentile, has been saved (has become a new creation, a part of the one new man “in Christ”)
for a purpose; and that purpose has to do with bringing forth fruit (present) with a view to occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in “the kingdom of the heavens” (future).
The Future Kingdom
Satan and his angels are to be put down, and Christ and His co-heirs are to take the kingdom. That is the clear testimony of Scripture, beginning in Genesis and concluding in Revelation. The matter will occur after exactly the same fashion set forth in Daniel
. . . by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will . . . . (Daniel 4:17)
The Most High will one day give the kingdom to His Son (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Revelation 11:15), Satan and his angels will be put down (exactly as Nebuchadnezzar in history was put down, for that will be “the decree of the most High” [Daniel 4:23-31]), and the Son will then take the kingdom and rule, holding the scepter.
At that time God will place redeemed, qualified individuals in positions of power and authority as co-heirs with His Son (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32; Matthew 20:23); and Christ, with His co-heirs, will hold the scepter (cf. Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27).
Christ’s co-heirs will have previously been shown qualified at the judgment seat; and following the Father positioning these co-heirs on the throne with His Son, Christ and His co-heirs (who will form His wife in that day) will then rule the earth from His throne
in the heavenly Jerusalem for 1,000 years.
Israel will have been restored to the nation’s earthly land, and the kingdom covenanted to David will have been restored to Israel. David’s throne will have been given to Christ, and He will rule from this throne on the earth as well as from His Own throne in the heavens.
Thus, Christ will have a dual reign during the Messianic Era. And it will be after this fashion that Christ will exercise power and authority over the earth for 1,000 years.
Christ’s rule from the heavens will involve His co-heirs (His wife), who will exercise power and authority with Him over the nations. And Christ’s rule on the earth will involve the Jewish people (the restored wife of Jehovah) who will also exercise power and authority with Him over the nations.
Accordingly, the Gentile nations, in this manner, will be governed from two realms during this time — heavenly and earthly; and blessings will flow forth through Abraham’s Seed from both realms (cf. Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18; Romans 9:4, 5; Galatians 3:16, 29).
And the object of Christ’s rule after this fashion will be to bring order out of disorder, to effect a cosmos out of a chaos.
“All rule and all authority and power” must be put down; “all enemies” must be put “under His [under Christ’s] feet,” even “death.” And when “all things shall be subdued to Him [to Christ],” the kingdom will be “delivered up” to “God, even the Father” in order that “God may be all in all [‘God may be all things in all of these things’]” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
This is what the whole of Scripture, beginning in the opening verses of Genesis, anticipates; and to bring the matter to pass, the Son, in conjunction with His co-heirs in the heavens and the nation of Israel on the earth, will rule the earth for the duration of that seventh day — for 1,000 years — foreshadowed by the seventh day seen at the very beginning, in Genesis 2:1-3.
Types and Antitypes
Then He said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?”
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Now these things were our examples [Now these things happened as types for us], to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted . . . .
Now all these things happened to them for examples [Now all these things happened to them for types’]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [the ages] are come. (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11)
Three things above all else must be adhered to in the study of Scripture.
1) A person must recognize that all Scripture is God-breathed.
2) A person must begin where God began.
3) A person must study Scripture after the fashion in which it was written.
God gave His Word to man through man in a particular manner:
. . . holy men of God spoke as they were moved [borne along] by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:21b)
The manner in which God revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes in His Word (a God-breathed revelation, penned as the Spirit moved men to write) is what makes Scripture different from all other writings. Scripture stands in a category solely by itself,
completely alone; and all other writings stand in a completely separate category (ref. chapter 1 of this book).
Then, in the process of giving to man, through man, the God-breathed Word, at the very outset God set forth a skeletal structure covering the whole panorama of revelation that was to follow, along with foundational building material. And if a person would understand Scripture correctly, he must begin where God began and follow that which God has set forth, after the manner in which He Himself established the matter.
The person must follow the skeletal structure and build upon this structure after the manner in which God Himself began and set matters forth, establishing them in a particular manner at the outset. At any point in the whole of Scripture, any teaching must have a connection with and be in complete agreement with the God-established skeletal structure and subsequent foundational material set forth at the beginning (ref. chapters 2-4 in this book).
Then, beyond that, God structured His revelation to man after a particular fashion, alluded to in Luke 24:25-27, 44 and stated in so many words in 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11. Scripture not only deals with a completely accurate history of certain events surrounding God’s dealings with the earth, angels, and man, but biblical history has been recorded after such a fashion that it is highly typical as well. God has established His primary means of teaching, not through history per se, but through inherent types (seen in past history) pointing to antitypes (seen in later history and/or prophecy).
The manner in which God revealed Himself to man is as stated in 1 Corinthians chapter ten:
Now all these things happened to them for examples [Greek: tupos, for “types”] . . . .
(1 Corinthians 10:11a)
The reference is to events during Moses’ day, drawing from the wilderness journey of the Israelites. But the reference would, of necessity, have to go far beyond simply the specific events listed in verses one through ten, preceding the statement in verse eleven. In the light of other Scripture, as becomes increasingly evident when one views the whole of Scripture, the reference would have to be enlarged to encompass not only all biblical history during Moses’ day but all biblical history beginning with Genesis 1:1.
That would be to say, God has structured His revelation to man after a fashion in which not only true, correct history is presented but this history is presented in such a manner that it is highly typical in nature. God, within His sovereign control of all matters, brought things to pass after such a fashion (within the history of the earth, angels, and man) that He could, at a later time, have these events to draw upon in order to teach His people the deep things surrounding Himself, His plans, and His purposes. And this would be accomplished mainly through types and corresponding antitypes.
Thus, God draws not so much from history per se as He does from the spiritual content set forth in the historic accounts — the great spiritual lessons, taught mainly from types pointing to corresponding antitypes.
Anyone can understand facts within revealed biblical history (saved or unsaved man). This would pertain more to the letter of the matter. But only saved man can go beyond the letter to the spirit of the matter (2 Corinthians 3:6-16). Only the saved can understand the spiritual lessons drawn from history. Only the saved can look within biblical history and see spiritual content (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
For the unsaved, things beyond the simple, historical facts are completely meaningless. They can’t see these things; nor can they know them. Spiritually, they are dead; and these things are “spiritually discerned.” They can view Scripture only from a “natural [‘soulical’]” standpoint (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But for the saved, the matter is entirely different. They, through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, have been made alive spiritually. The Spirit has breathed life into the one having no life, and they have “passed from death unto life.” And they have this same Spirit — the One who gave the Word to man through man — indwelling them to lead them “into all truth” (John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, 20; 1 John 3:24). Accordingly, the saved possess the ability to see beyond the facts of history and view the spiritual lessons inherent therein.
This is what is meant by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” It is within this facet of Scripture that man can see the things which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard . . . .” It is within this facet of Scripture that “God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
And it is within this complete, overall thought that one finds the whole of biblical history filled with types and meanings. This is the manner in which God has structured His Word. It has been given to man after this fashion, and if man would properly understand that which God has revealed in His Word, he must study it after the fashion in which it was given.
The Central Person of Scripture
Viewing Scripture after the preceding fashion, a complete word picture is presented of the central Person of Scripture — the Lord Jesus Christ. This word picture begins in the opening chapter of Genesis and continues uninterrupted until the Living Word Himself appears on the scene 4,000 years later. In this respect, the Old Testament forms a complete introduction to and revelation of the One who would appear on the earth, intervening in the affairs of man, 4,000 and 6,000 years beyond the creation of man in the opening chapter of Genesis.
This is really the underlying thought behind Christ’s rebuke of the two disciples on the Emmaus road, following His resurrection. They didn’t know the spiritual content of their own Old Testament Scriptures, though they undoubtedly would have been familiar with the letter of the matter, the historical facts. Had they known the spiritual content of the historical facts, they would, in turn, not only have known the exact identity of the person standing in their midst but they would also have known exactly what had occurred, was occurring, and would yet occur.
But “their eyes were restrained [their vision was ‘restrained,’ ‘held back’]” (Luke 24:16). Insofar as these things were concerned, they were spiritually blind. These two disciples hadn’t seen — they couldn’t see — the spiritual content in their own Scriptures; and,
consequently, their own resurrected Messiah was a stranger in their midst, with the events surrounding Calvary and the glory to follow involving things that they didn’t understand at all.
This is the reason Christ referred to the two as not believing “all that the prophets have spoken.” They should have known that Christ would appear a first time to suffer prior to a later appearance to enter into His glory. That which they had witnessed (His sufferings), were witnessing (the results of His resurrection), and that which lay ahead (His glory), were all foretold in minute detail, time after time, by the Old Testament prophets (in the types [e.g., Genesis 22-25; 37-45] and through other means [e.g., Isaiah 52-54; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6; 14:1ff]). And these disciples should have known these things, but they didn’t know them (Luke 24:25, 26).
Thus, in order to instruct these disciples (showing them who He was, what had happened, was happening, and would yet happen), Christ went to the one God-revealed account covering the whole of the matter, an account that had been in the possession of the Jewish people for hundreds of years. He went to the Word given to man through man by the Holy Spirit over a period of about a millennium (approx. 1445 to 400 B.C.), beginning with Moses (i.e., the writings of Moses).
And Christ began exactly where the Spirit had begun 1,500 years before when He began giving the Word through man to man. Christ began at revelation given through Moses. Then He moved on to revelation given through other prophets. And through so doing, Christ “expounded unto them [the two disciples] in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
Then later that day, when Christ “took bread, and blessed it, and broke” the bread before giving it to these two disciples, “their eyes were opened, and they knew Him” (Luke 24:30, 31). Their eyes were opened because they, at that time, had come to know certain
things that the Old Testament Scriptures taught concerning Israel’s Messiah. And that which allowed the two disciples to put these things together in a correct framework and see them after a correct fashion appears to have been triggered by Christ breaking bread,
blessing it, and giving it to them, exactly as He had done in the presence of the twelve disciples immediately before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-29; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Christ is the “bread of life” (John 6:33-35), referred to by the use of “bread” at various times throughout the Old Testament (for example, the manna, or the bread on the table in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle). Christ was the One who, as the Bread, had been broken; and the bread being given to the two disciples following Christ breaking it pointed to the true Bread from heaven having been broken (or, as in the case of the bread being broken and given to the twelve preceding Calvary, about to be broken) on their (and our) behalf.
And the two disciples seeing Christ Himself do this — the One who had just been broken, as the bread had been broken, for them — and having had Christ, immediately prior to this, instruct them from the Old Testament Scriptures (relating, among other things, the sufferings of Christ, which had just occurred), they were then able to put it all together. It was at this point that “their eyes were opened,” and it was at this point that “they knew im.”
They, at this point, knew the Christ of the Old Testament, the One standing in their midst. They, at this point, knew the One spoken of “in all” of the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses.
(Note the statement concerning “the rulers of this age,” referring centrally to the Jewish religious leaders]” in 1 Corinthians 2:8 who “crucified the Lord of glory” [Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14, 15]. Had they previously gone beyond the letter into the spirit of that which the Old Testament reveals concerning Christ — had they known the things from the Old Testament Scriptures that Christ revealed to the two
disciples on the Emmaus road — Scripture clearly states that “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
It is clearly revealed that the religious leaders in Israel knew Christ’s identity [cf. Matthew 21:38, 39, 45; John 3:2], which accounts for their actions. But they didn’t know Him in the sense spoken of in 1 Corinthians 2:8 [note context of the verse], else, as stated, they would not have crucified Him.)
1) How Much of the Old Testament?
How much of the Old Testament deals with the person and work of Christ? And how much of the Old Testament is typical in nature? The two questions do not cover the same scope. The former is more extensive than the latter and is really all-inclusive. However, the typical nature of Old Testament Scripture is far more extensive than many may realize or are prone to admit.
How though can one know the extent of typical teachings in the Old Testament Scriptures? The answer to that is very simple. Scripture itself reveals the extent.
A) Christ in the Old Testament
Christ, dealing with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “expounded to them in all the Scriptures [the Old Testament Scriptures] the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Note that it is not “in the scriptures all . . . .” but “in all the scriptures . . . .” The simple statement is made that “all the scriptures” — all of the Old Testament Scriptures — are about the person and work of Christ. He can be seen on every page and in every part of Scripture on that page.
But, the way Christ is presented in the Old Testament Scriptures is in the spirit rather than in the letter of the manner in which Scripture has been structured. Insofar as Old Testament history is concerned, that would be to say, Christ is really not seen in the strict letter of the historic account per se.
A person can read Old Testament history from one end to the other and never see the person and work of Christ within that history. In this respect, the person would be reading the letter of Scripture, failing to see anything beyond. In order to truly see the Christ of the Old Testament, a person must see beyond the letter to the spirit.
Christ is seen mainly within the inherent types set forth by the historic accounts rather than in the actual historic accounts themselves. All Old Testament history is, after some fashion, about the person and work of Christ; but this same history must be “spiritually discerned,” “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13, 14).
And this can be illustrated after several fashions at the very beginning of Scripture. The first verse in Scripture forms a direct statement concerning the work of the triune Godhead in creation; and, looking beyond the direct statement, this verse is also the beginning point in the overall type encompassed in Genesis 1:1-2:3. Accordingly, Christ is revealed at the very beginning of Scripture, in the opening verse, after this dual fashion.
“In the beginning God created . . . .” The word “God” is a translation of the Hebrew word Elohim, a plural noun which, in complete keeping with related Scripture, would include all three members of the Godhead — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Everything that exists in the material universe came into existence “by [through] Him [the Son]”; and apart from Him “was not anything made that was made [i.e., apart from the Son, not one thing that presently exists was (or could have been) brought into existence].” It was all done through the Son, present with the Father in the beginning (John 1:1-3; cf. Colossians 1:16, 17).
Then in verses two and three of the opening chapter there is a ruin of the creation (from v. 1) and a beginning restoration. And in a type-antitype structure — going beyond the letter to the spirit, as it would pertain to the ruin and beginning restoration of man (a subsequent ruined creation) — the Spirit moving (v. 2) and God speaking (v. 3) are based on death and shed blood, ultimately and finally on death and shed blood through the finished work of the Son on Calvary, 4,000 years beyond the historic-typical account.
In this respect, the typical reference is to the manner in which God restores ruined man, based today on the Son’s finished work. The Spirit moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence (ref., the author’s book, From Egypt to Canaan, chapters. 7, 8).
Moving on to Genesis chapter two, Christ and His bride can be seen in the person of Adam with his bride. Eve was formed from a part of Adam’s body, as the bride of Christ (the bride of “the second Man,” “the last Adam” [1 Corinthians 15:45-47]) will be formed from a part of His body. And as Eve was presented back to the first man, the first Adam, to complete Adam and to reign as consort queen with him, so will it be with the second Man, the last Adam. The bride will be removed from His body and be presented back to
Christ to not only complete Christ but to reign as consort queen with Him.
Then in chapter three, Adam partook of sin to effect Eve’s redemption, as Christ became sin to effect our redemption. The first man, the first Adam, found his bride in a fallen state and followed the only avenue open to bring about her redemption.
And the second Man, the last Adam, did exactly the same thing. He found His bride in a fallen state and procured her redemption through the only means available, through an act that had been predetermined in the eternal council chambers of God before the ages even began (Hebrews 1:2, 3; Revelation 13:8; cf. Romans 5:12-14).
Then chapter four provides additional details to that previously revealed in chapter three. In this chapter Cain slew Abel, pointing to Israel, 4,000 years later, slaying Christ. One brother slew the other brother in both type and antitype. The blood of Abel cried out “from the ground” (Genesis 4:10), but the blood of Christ speaks “better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24).
And on and on one could go with Old Testament history after this fashion. Exactly what portions of the Old Testament Christ called to the attention of the two disciples on the Emmaus road is unrevealed. He may have called their attention to Joseph, who first suffered prior to his exaltation over all Egypt (a type of the world); or He may have called their attention to the story of Moses who suffered rejection by his brethren prior to their acceptance of him.
Note that Stephen, in Acts chapter seven, singled out both of these types as he revealed Christ’s identity from the Old Testament Scriptures. Suffice it to say that Christ, in Luke chapter twenty-four, could have referenced any account in Old Testament history and, through this account, revealed things concerning Himself to these two disciples.
We can only know that He did reference different historic accounts in the Old Testament (and possibly Old Testament prophecies and/or statements in the Psalms or Proverbs [cf. v. 44]), beginning with Moses; and, from these accounts, He revealed things concerning
Himself to these disciples, especially as these things pertained to His past sufferings and His future glory (v. 26). And, as a result, in the subsequent breaking of bread, “their eyes were opened” (v. 31).
B) Types in the Old Testament
Though all of the Old Testament is, after some fashion, about Christ, not all of the Old Testament is typical in its structure. Types have to do with history, not prophecy, Proverbs, or many of the Psalms.
The statement, “Now all these things happened to them for examples [types] . . . .” (1 Corinthians 10:11; cf. v. 6), refers to recorded events in Old Testament history. And, as previously stated, though the contextual reference is only to a select number of events during Moses’ day, the statement concerning types in connection with Old Testament history could, by no means, be limited only to these contextual references. It must be looked upon as far broader than this.
In fact, drawing from Luke 24:25-27, 44, one can arrive at only one conclusion concerning the extent of typology in connection with Old Testament history. It must be looked upon as all inclusive, for all of the Old Testament Scriptures are revealed to be about the central Person of Scripture, Jesus the Christ.
The story of Joseph (ref., Genesis 37-45), for example, is about the Person and work of Christ, though there is no direct statement in the New Testament specifically naming Joseph as a type of Christ. But, comparing Luke 24:25-27, 44 and 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, one can be drawn to no other conclusion.
And so it is with numerous other portions of the Old Testament. Though no direct statement may exist in the New Testament specifying that a particular person or event forms a type of Christ, dealing with some facet of His person and work, that becomes meaningless in the light of Scriptures such as Luke 24:25-27, 44 and 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11.
In the light of these verses it becomes clear that any Old Testament historic account, of necessity, has to do, after some fashion, with the person and work of Christ (past, present, or future); and this has been accomplished centrally through the inherent typical nature of Old Testament history, established by a Sovereign God, in perfect keeping with that which is stated in 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11.
Then, beyond that, to climax the matter, this all becomes self-evident when one begins to study Old Testament history after this fashion. The whole of Old Testament history, so to speak, begins to come to life and open up as one views the Scriptures after the fashion in which they were written.
(Aside from the preceding, any segment of Old Testament history has to do with one part of a complete whole — one part of the complete Word, forming the complete Old Testament canon. And this complete Word [the complete Old Testament] was made flesh in the person of the Son.
There is the written Word, and there is the living Word; and the two cannot possibly be separated from one another, for the latter is simply a full manifestation of the former, in flesh, which would include the subsequent New Testament revelation as well.
In this respect, approaching the matter from another perspective, the question could be both asked and answered: “What part of the Old Testament is not about Christ?” And the answer: “No part, simply because the Old Testament [not part, but all] was made flesh in the person of the Son.”
That stated about or inherent in One [the written Word (John 17:14)] can be stated about and would be inherent in the Other [the Living Word (John 1:1, 14)]. For example, if perfection is seen in One [in Christ], then perfection must exist in the Other as well [the Scriptures]. And the reasoning behind that would emanate from the fact that the living Word is simply a manifestation, in flesh, of the written Word.)
2) Structure of the New Testament
But is typology limited to Old Testament history? What about the New Testament? Is it also highly typical in nature?
The passage already under consideration in Luke 24:13ff would perhaps address the issue about as well as any other part of the New Testament. There is nothing stated about this section forming a type, but it does. And the fact that it does is so evident that a person with any spiritual perception at all can’t fail to see it.
Events in Luke chapter twenty-four occur on the third day, dating from Christ’s crucifixion (v. 21), and have to do with the eyes of blinded Jews being opened through Christ personally appearing in their presence and revealing Himself to them. This
section of Scripture can only refer to one facet of the person and work of Christ. It can only refer to that future day when Christ appears in Israel’s presence — with Israel, as the two disciples in Luke chapter twenty-four, blinded (Romans 11:25) — and reveals Himself to the nation (Romans 11:26; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
And events of that future day will parallel events in Luke 24:13ff with respect to time as well. These events will occur after two days, on the third day. That is to say, they will occur after two thousand years, in the third one-thousand-year period (cf. Hosea
5:15-6:2; 2 Peter 3:8).
The nation will not know Christ in that future day, exactly as the two disciples on the Emmaus Road didn’t know Him; and He will reveal Himself to Israel exactly as He revealed Himself to these two disciples.
Christ, in that future day, will call the nation’s attention to their own Old Testament Scriptures — Scriptures that relate the entire story, from one end to the other — and He will reveal Himself to the nation from these Scriptures, exactly as He revealed Himself to the two disciples on the Emmaus Road in the historic account.
And exactly the same thing will occur in that future day which occurred in the type. Christ will appear in the antitype of Melchizedek, with bread and wine (Genesis 14:18-20; cf. Matthew 26:26-29), to bless Abraham and his descendants. And as there was a breaking of bread in the type, there will undoubtedly be a breaking of bread in the antitype.
Then Israel will recognize her Messiah, spoken of throughout the very Old Testament Scriptures that will have been in the possession of the Jewish people for almost two and one-half millennia, with parts of these Scriptures having been in their possession for almost three and one-half millennia. At that time — at the full end of Daniel’s Seventy Week prophecy — Israel’s blindness will be lifted, and a nation will be brought forth in a day (Isaiah 66:8; Romans 11:26).
Another facet of the matter can be seen in Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1ff. And, interestingly enough, Paul stated in 1 Timothy 1:15, 16 that his salvation experience was “a pattern [Greek: hupotuposis, referring to ‘an original pattern,’ ‘a prototype’] to [of] them which should hereafter believe on Him [on Jesus Christ] to life everlasting.” That is to say, the manner in which Paul was saved forms an original type of the manner in which others will be saved at a later time, forming the antitype.
Paul was saved through Christ personally appearing and revealing Himself to him, which is not the manner people have been saved throughout the present dispensation following Paul’s conversion. But this is the manner in which Israel will be saved at a future time, when Christ reappears to the nation. And it is this future event to which Paul’s salvation experience, in a God-ordained type, relates.
Paul was saved as a type of the future salvation of Israel. He, at this time, understood the letter of the Word but not the spirit of the Word. There was a veil over his eyes, which was “done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14). And so will it be with Israel in the antitype yet future.
There is a reading of the letter of the Old Testament in the synagogues today, as in Paul’s day, which leaves the “veil . . . unlifted.” Paul, typifying Israel in this respect, was blinded for two days (the veil was over his eyes for two days), with the blindness (the veil) being removed on the third day (Acts 9:8; cf. Genesis 42:17, 18; Esther 4:16-5:1; Matthew 27:63; Luke 24:7, 21, 46).
The Jewish people must see beyond the letter to the spirit. They must see the One concerning whom Moses and the prophets wrote. They must see their Messiah in their own Old Testament Scriptures, something that will occur when Christ returns and reveals Himself to them after this fashion.
And so it is with New Testament history. The New Testament has been structured after the same fashion as Old Testament history. It was given through Jewish prophets by the same One who gave the Old Testament Scriptures through Jewish prophets; and it has an evident inherent typical nature, established by the same sovereign God who first structured the Old Testament after this fashion.
The Central Focus of Scripture
As all Scripture revolves around a central Person, all Scripture also revolves around a central focus, which has to do with the central Person. Scripture concerns itself with time, and, in the main, this time has to do with the 7,000 years portended by the seven days opening Scripture. And, within this time, there is the thought of creation for a purpose, redemption for a purpose, and God’s work throughout the 6,000 years covering the present age (Man’s Day) for a purpose.
The purpose surrounding man’s creation has to do with the seventh day, a seventh 1,000-year period; and so does redemption; and so does God’s work throughout the six days, the 6,000 years of Man’s Day. The whole of Scripture moves toward that coming seventh day, a pattern established in the skeletal outline set forth at the very beginning.
Thus, the central focus of Scripture looks to that seventh day when the central Person of Scripture will be revealed in all His glory to bring about that for which man was created in the beginning and for which he has been redeemed. The Son is to exercise dominion over one province in His Father’s kingdom — for a revealed purpose (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) — and man is to have a part in this dominion.
In this respect, biblical history, within its established historic-typical framework, becomes largely prophetic within its scope of fulfillment. Biblical history, in this respect, revolves around the central Person and the central focus of Scripture.
And the central Person and the central focus of Scripture are so inseparably related that at times they are spoken of either in synonymous terms or both are understood to be in view though only one is mentioned.
Examples of both facets of the matter can be seen in Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45 and Hebrews 12:1, 2:
1) Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45
The Stone, “cut out of the mountain without hands,” in one respect refers to Christ and in another respect to the kingdom of Christ.
The Father will give the Son “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” (Daniel 7:13, 14). He will be the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” in the kingdom. He, as the King, as the Stone, will be the One who personally smites the image at its feet (Revelation 19:11-21).
But Daniel 2:44, 45, interpreting verses thirty-four and thirty-five, also refers to the kingdom of Christ itself breaking in pieces and consuming all the kingdoms comprising the one world kingdom of that day (cf. Revelation 11:15). The Stone, after smiting the image, will become “a great mountain” and fill the whole earth.
In this respect, the King of the kingdom is not to be thought of apart from His kingdom. All the various facets of His person and work, set forth in detail throughout Old Testament Scripture, have an end in view; and that end is the day when He will rule and reign over the earth.
Christ’s finished work at Calvary and His present work as High Priest — foretold in the Old Testament — have the same end in view. The Savior, who is presently exercising the office of High Priest, was born King (Matthew 2:2).
And the coming King and His Kingdom, in the overall scope of the matter, become inseparable; and this is the reason they can be spoken of in synonymous terms as in Daniel chapter two.
2) Hebrews 12:1, 2
Hebrews 12:1, 2, in the light of other Scripture, presents the same picture. In this section of Scripture a person is told to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
The thought from the Greek text is literally to look “from [from the things in the surrounding world system, the present kingdom under Satan] unto Jesus . . . .” But yet other Scriptures exhort us to look from this present world system “to the mountain [signifying the coming kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 2:35)]” (cf. Genesis 13:10-12; 19:1, 17).
Are we to look unto Jesus? Or are we to look unto the Mountain? The correct biblical answer would center on the thought that a person, within a proper biblical perspective, cannot look to one apart from looking to the other. That would be to say, in a proper biblical perspective, we cannot really look “from unto Jesus” apart from seeing Him in connection with His coming kingdom; and, conversely, we cannot really fix our eyes on “the mountain,” the kingdom, apart from seeing the King of the kingdom.
When Hebrews 12:2 states, “Looking to Jesus . . . .,” the thought would have to include, as well, the same thing contained in the remainder of the verse. Christ,
. . . for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame [considering it a thing of little import in comparison to the joy set before Him], and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrew 12:2)
The “joy that was set before Him” had to do with that day when He would rule and reign (cf. Matthew 25:21, 23). Christ had His eyes fixed on that day as He endured present sufferings; and we are to fix our eyes on the One who left us an example, after this same
fashion, as we endure present sufferings.
Christ, at the time of His sufferings on Calvary, had His eyes fixed on the coming kingdom, the day of His exaltation and glory. And that is exactly the place — the same place — we should have our eyes fixed as we look “from to Jesus” during present sufferings. He left us an example that we “should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). His eyes were fixed on that which lay ahead. And, as has been demonstrated, in the true biblical sense of the command, there can be no such thing as a Christian fixing his eyes on Jesus apart from seeing both the King and His Kingdom.
Parables, Figurative Language
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.
Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.”
The same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.
And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Then He spoke many things to them in parables . . . . (Matthew 13:1-3a)
Parables and figurative language (metaphors and other types of figurative expressions) are often thought of somewhat together, for parables usually employ a number of figurative expressions. But, whether appearing together or not, neither ever appears alone, apart from related Scripture.
Parables reflect on previous Scripture. They are given to explain, add further light to previously revealed truth. And the figurative expressions employed in parables or elsewhere in Scripture are always used after such a fashion that either the context renders them self-explanatory or they are explained in other portions of Scripture.
Individuals in the Western world do not normally think or express themselves in parabolic or figurative fashions nearly as much as individuals in the Eastern world. It is quite common for those in the East to speak somewhat in parabolic senses or use figurative language extensively, but less common for individuals in the West. In this respect, it sometimes becomes more difficult for those in the West to grasp certain things in Scripture when it comes to parables and figurative language than those in the East, who automatically think more along these lines.
(This is why those in the West often have similar problems with types and antitypes in Scripture. They find it difficult to think along these related lines as well. But for those in the East, seeing types and antitypes [or using parables or figurative expressions] is second-nature to the way they think.)
Parables and the use of figurative expressions — as the use of types in Scripture — form different methods of the way God gave His revelation to man. Parables and figurative expressions form necessary parts of this revelation and are given after particular God ordained fashions, in order to form the complete canon of Scripture, exactly as God would have it exist. They form integral parts of Scripture — parts of the whole — apart from which other portions of Scripture cannot be properly understood.
Then, putting it all together, one can, so to speak, run all the checks and balances he wants to run through “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” — whether parables, figurative language, types, etc. — and he will always end up with the same uniformity and consistency throughout. He must, for he is dealing with a Divine Revelation that, in actuality, has only one Author; and this revelation emanated from an infinite, omniscient mind wherein non-uniformity and inconsistency cannot exist.
And that will speak volumes when it comes to the interpretation of parables, figurative language, and types. All of these form just as much a part of the Word — they are just as valid, they are just as complete and accurate, and they can be relied upon to the same extent (completely) — as any other portion of the Word of God. They must be looked upon after this fashion, for the whole of Scripture forms one complete, Divine Revelation — given “in various ways . . . in time past” (Hebrews 1:1) — which can only be perfect, to the minutest detail, in every respect.
A scattering of parables can be found in the Old Testament (e.g., Judges 9:7-15; 2 Samuel 12:1-4; Isaiah 5:1-7), but parables are seen in their fuller use in the gospel accounts of the New Testament, during the latter part of Christ’s earthly ministry. And parables appear at this point in Christ’s ministry for a revealed reason and purpose.
Christ began to use parables during His earthly ministry only after Israel had rejected the offer of the kingdom of the heavens. Parables were first used after the events recorded in Matthew chapter twelve, having to do with the blasphemous act of the Scribes and the Pharisees against the Holy Spirit.
In this chapter, the fundamental religious leaders in Israel — the Scribes and Pharisees (vv. 14, 24, 38), the largest of the religious sects in Israel, who, because of their very numbers, controlled the religious life in Israel — attributed the source of Christ’s power, through which He performed miraculous works, to Satan. These miraculous works were supernatural signs performed for the Jewish people, having to do with the proffered kingdom. They were being performed, not through Christ’s own power, but through the power of the Spirit; and, accordingly, Christ looked upon this blasphemous act by these religious leaders as something directed not so much against Himself as against the Spirit of God.
And, through committing an act of this nature, these religious leaders had gone too far. They, in their rejection of the King and the kingdom, acted after a fashion that necessitated Christ announcing that this sin would not be forgiven them (which would also include the nation at large, on behalf of whom they were acting), “either in this age or in the age to come” (vv. 31, 32).
(Note that Christ was performing miraculous works through the power of the Spirit, though He Himself was in full possession of His Deity [cf. Matthew 16:21; Luke 22:61; John 1:48; 2:18-21; 18:5-8; Acts 20:28], being God of very God and omnipotent. Why was Christ performing these miraculous works through the power of the Spirit when He Himself possessed the power to perform them?
The answer can be seen in Genesis 1:2bff, through the Father having previously performed works in relation to the Spirit after the same fashion, at the beginning, showing the manner in which actions of the triune Godhead are brought to pass. This forms a first-mention principle within the types; and the Son, at a later time, would not — He could not — act after a different fashion than the Father in this respect.
Thus, though Christ was fully capable of performing miraculous works within His Own power, He couldn’t act after this fashion and remain within the confines of the manner in which Scripture is structured. His actions had to be in complete keeping with that set forth and established at the beginning, in Genesis. The unchangeable pattern had been set 4,000 years prior to that time, and the Son could only act in complete accord with this established pattern.)
Christ’s statement relative to Israel not being forgiven throughout two ages for the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit would encompass time covered by both the present age and the Messianic Era. This would include time covered in the antitype of the whole of the seven days in the opening two chapters of Genesis — man’s 6,000-year day (one age, covered by the six days), and the 1,000-year Lord’s Day (a subsequent age, covered by the seventh day).
And, for all practical purposes, this was the point in Scripture where the proffered kingdom was taken from Israel, though the announcement was not made until near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew 21:43).
According to Matthew 12:31, 32; 21:33-45, Israel, throughout time covered by any part of the six and seven days, the six and seven thousand years, would be estranged from having any part in the proffered kingdom of the heavens. This portion of the kingdom would be taken from Israel and would be “given to a nation bearing the fruits of it,” a nation which would, during the seventh day, the seventh one-thousand-year period, realize heavenly promises and blessings.
Once the kingdom had been taken from Israel, there was then a need for the extensive use of parables in Christ’s earthly ministry, something that would have been out of place prior to that time. And an introduction and use of parables immediately following Israel’s climactic rejection of the King and the kingdom, followed by Christ’s removal of the kingdom from Israel, is exactly what occurred. Immediately after the events of Matthew chapter twelve, Christ departed from the house, went down by the seaside, and began to speak to the multitudes in parables (Matthew 13:1ff).
The symbolism, the figurative expressions — in keeping with that which had occurred and that which is stated in Matthew 21:43 — is essentially prophetic in nature and has to do with Christ departing from Israel (departing from “the house,” having to do with Israel) and going to “a nation” that was not Jewish, but mainly of Gentile origin (going down by “the sea,” foreshadowing His going to the Gentiles [cf. Acts 15:14; Romans 11:25]). And that which had been offered to Israel — the kingdom of the heavens — after having been taken from Israel was to be offered to this other nation (cf. Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9).
The parables given by the seaside following Christ’s departure from the house are to be understood in this light, as are the subsequent parables in His ministry. They all have to do, essentially, with some facet of the message surrounding the kingdom of the heavens; and the different facets of this message within the parables center mainly around the Church (future) rather than around Israel (past or present).
Note the preceding in the very first of the parables, the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9. This parable has to do with four types of individuals sown out in the world, with a view to their bringing forth fruit for the kingdom. And in the interpretation (vv. 18-23), this whole overall message is specifically called “the word of the kingdom” (v. 19) — having to do with “the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens” (v. 11) — which would be associated with “the gospel of the glory of Christ” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ASV; cf. Acts 20:25, 32), not with “the gospel of the grace of God” in Ephesians 2:8, 9 (cf. Acts 20:24, 28).
(In the parable of the Sower, for a correct understanding of that which is in view, translate the words “received seed,” or “received the seed,” in vv. 19, 20, 22, 23 [KJV] as “was sown.” That is, “This is he who was sown . . . .” In each case, the Lord sows [places] a saved individual at some point in the world, with a view to that individual bringing forth fruit in relation to the proffered kingdom [cf. vv. 3, 37, 38; ref. ASV].)
And, at this point in Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel could no longer bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens. Only the Church, which was about to be called into existence, could do this (a completely new entity which would be mainly of Gentile origin — “The same day [referring to the time of the events back in chapter 12] Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the sea”).
With Christ’s departure from the house and His going down by the seaside — symbolizing His departure from Israel (the house) and His going to the Gentiles (the seaside) — the backdrop is set for this beginning parable. This parable can only have to do with the Church in relation to the kingdom of the heavens and fruit-bearing, not with Israel in relation to either one.
Then, the reason for parables, in response to the disciples’ question, is given immediately following the parable of the Sower, prior to the interpretation of the parable (vv. 10-17). Parables were given to further explain previously revealed truths; but whether or not the hearer understood the additional truths brought out by the parables was contingent upon whether or not the person had accepted the previously revealed truths. The latter was completely dependent on the former, which is why two classes of individuals were singled out in the Lord’s stated reason concerning why He spoke in parables at this time (those who understood, and those who didn’t understand).
(Note that the last three parables in Matthew chapter thirteen were given back inside the house, showing that Israel, regardless of circumstances, cannot be removed from the overall picture [13:36, 44-50; cf. Romans 11:11-26]. But, in relation to the kingdom of the heavens, Israel could only be as the fruitless fig tree in Matthew 21:18, 19. Israel cannot now bring forth fruit in relation to this facet of the kingdom. For additional information along the preceding lines, refer to the author’s book, Mysteries of the Kingdom.)
1) The Interpretation of Parables
The English word “parable” is an Anglicized form of the Greek word parabole, which is a compound word comprised of para (meaning, “alongside”) and bole (meaning, “to place,” or “to cast”). Thus, parabole simply means “to place [or ‘to cast’] alongside.” The word, when used relative to biblical teaching, refers to additional truths placed alongside of previously revealed truths in order to provide further light concerning the prior truths.
In this respect, parables in Scripture and the previous truths to which they relate are somewhat like types and antitypes. One will help explain the other, for they both relate to counterparts. And a rejection of one will negatively reflect on one’s understanding of the other.
So, what can be said about the interpretation of parables? The same thing that can be said about the interpretation of types can also be said about the interpretation of parables. Types and parables must be interpreted after the same fashion as that to which they relate is to be interpreted. And that to which they relate, generally, are not types or parables, though one type or parable could relate to another type or parable. But, with the existence of the latter, there must also exist a non-typical or a non-parabolic section of Scripture back behind that to which all the types or parables on a particular subject would relate.
A parable is not simply “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning,” as some state; nor, as stated by others, is a parable given only to illustrate “one central truth,” from which “details” cannot be gleaned.
The first statement really says nothing when it comes to the true nature of parables, and the second statement runs completely contrary to any correct thought about parables when viewed strictly from a Scriptural standpoint.
The reason for parables, as previously stated, was given by Christ Himself when He first began to teach through the use of parables (Matthew 13:10-17). Christ used parables during the latter part of His earthly ministry in order to reveal additional truths to those who had received His prior teachings, for, having received truths previously revealed they could then understand the additional related truths taught by the parables.
However, through this method of teaching, these additional truths were meaningless to those who had rejected His prior teachings. They had no point of reference, leaving the parables to stand alone; and, resultantly, they couldn’t understand that which was
(And teachings with this type dependency on other Scripture is not at all peculiar to the parables. Note the central subject matter of the parables in Matthew chapter thirteen — the Word of the Kingdom, and fruit-bearing in relation to the kingdom. Unless a person has some type of foundational understanding of this overall subject, he cannot begin at this point and expect to properly understand the subject at hand. He has no foundation as a point of reference, upon which he can build. After all, these parables appear at a point part way through the book of Matthew, and they are removed much farther yet from the foundational truths set forth by Moses in the beginning.
This will explain why certain biblical truths appear relatively simple for one person but seem next to impossible to grasp for another person. Understanding things relating to the Word of the Kingdom, for one “instructed concerning the kingdom of the heavens” [Matthew 13:19, 52] may appear relatively simple and easy. But for one not so instructed, the matter would not be that way at all.
And this is why God placed all of these foundational truths at the beginning of His revelation to man. God expects man to begin where He began, at the beginning of His revelation. And this is where man must begin if he is to properly understand the foundational truths as God set them forth, allowing a person to then correctly build thereon.)
The extent to which different parables deal with revealed truths could vary. A parable could reveal numerous detailed truths, providing numerous points of additional information to help explain the previously revealed truths (Scripture reveals nothing that would limit the use of parables in this respect). On the other hand though, the revealed, detailed truths covered in some parables could be considerably less than revealed, detailed truths covered in other parables.
They would be very much like types in this respect. A particular type deals with truth relating to only part of a complete picture (all the types together form the complete picture), but types vary as to the amount and what part of the complete picture each portrays.
The method of the interpretation of parables, as also previously stated, is simple. Though quite a bit of symbolism is usually involved (as is also present numerous other places in Scripture, types included), parables are to be interpreted and understood after the same fashion as the Scriptures to which they relate. As in the interpretation of types and antitypes, parables are to be interpreted in conjunction with their counterparts in other sections of Scripture.
The parable is not to be interpreted one way and that to which it relates another way, as the type is not to be interpreted one way and the antitype another way. In each instance, both are to be understood and interpreted in the light of one another after the same fashion as that to which they relate, and contrariwise, for they form inseparable units. The type and antitype, or the parable and the prior portion of Scripture to which it relates, in each case, deals with the same thing and is to be looked upon and understood after the same fashion.
Thus, to place parables in their correct perspective — beginning where Christ began, with His first parable — note that to which the previously revealed truth pertained and that to which Christ’s beginning parables pertained, that must, of necessity, be the same.
A) Christ’s Preceding Ministry
Christ’s ministry prior to the beginning of His use of parables was taken up almost exclusively with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel. True, He was presented during this time as the Savior, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29); but, though He was presented this way at times, His ministry, prior to the introduction of parables, centered on two things:
It was only after Israel’s climactic rejection of the King and the proffered kingdom in Matthew chapter twelve that the events of Calvary began to come more and more into the forefront and occupy a central place in Christ’s earthly ministry (cf. Matthew 12:40; 16:4, 21; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19; 21:33-39).
But note that the parables reflect back on Christ’s teachings during the first part of His ministry — teachings during that time when the kingdom of the heavens was offered to Israel, not during the following part of His ministry when the events of Calvary began
to come more and more into the forefront. This is the way parables not only begin in the gospel accounts (Matthew 13:1ff) but remain as well; and this can be easily seen by following Christ’s use of parables from beginning to end (cf. Matthew 21:33-43; 22:1-14; 24:40-25:30).
Thus, since the parables reflect on Christ’s ministry during that period in which the kingdom of the heavens was offered to Israel and anticipate a new nation — the Church — being called into existence, they should be understood after a dual fashion. They should be understood:
B) The Goal in View
Basic issues surrounding the salvation that we presently possess enter into the subject matter within parables only to the extent that such is necessary for the parables to show, within a correct perspective, the purpose for man’s salvation, the reason man has been saved.
That would be to say, there has to be a beginning point — salvation, the passing of the man “from death to life.” And the parables sometimes drop back to this point and deal with man’s salvation in order to place the message surrounding the kingdom in its proper perspective in relation to man being redeemed.
To state the matter another way, though teachings within the parables center mainly around the saving of the soul (which reflects back on and draws from events during days two through six of the original type [Genesis 1:6-25]), the passing of man “from death to life” must occur first (which reflects back on and draws from events during day one of the original type [Genesis 1:2b-5]). And events surrounding the salvation that we presently possess (events occurring first) are sometimes dealt with in the parables in order to present matters surrounding the salvation of the soul in their proper perspective (as Christ was, at times, presented as “the Lamb of God” during the first part of His ministry — during the time He offered the kingdom of the heavens to Israel — for an apparent similar reason).
And comparing the original type (Genesis 1:1-2:3) with the whole of the antitype (the whole of Scripture), everything set forth through events of the first six days always anticipated events of the seventh day. Thus, it matters not where teachings begin in the parables (whether pertaining to man’s salvation or to issues beyond), the goal toward which everything moves is always the same. The goal always has to do with the seventh day, the earth’s coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era — a fundamental truth established in the original type, in the opening two chapters of Genesis, which must remain unchanged throughout Scripture.
2) The Value of Parables
Recognizing the value of parables is simple, and it can be stated in terms equally as simple. As previously stated, parables provide further light, that is they help explain previously revealed truth. That’s really their sole purpose, and that’s why the Lord used them. Parables constitute part of the different ways in which Scripture has been structured. They simply form additional revelation given to man, after a particular fashion, in order to help man see and understand the larger picture covered by the whole of Scripture.
A) Given During a Traditional Period
The parables in the New Testament are quite unique. They fit within that period between the removal of the kingdom of the heavens from Israel (removed following the events in Matthew chapter twelve, though not announced until Matthew 21:43) and the calling into existence of the Church to be the recipient of that facet of the kingdom removed from Israel. And the parables, not only fitting within this period but also having to do with the kingdom of the heavens, reflect upon that which had happened to Israel (in relation to this facet of the kingdom) and anticipate the Church being called into existence (also in relation to this facet of the kingdom).
Thus, the parables within the gospel accounts become a primary means that God uses to reveal truths surrounding the kingdom of the heavens during a transitional period as these truths pertain to both Israel and the Church. The parables, given during that period between the removal of the kingdom from Israel and the calling into existence of the Church to be the recipient of that which was taken from Israel, could be viewed in a fourfold aspect:
(As previously seen, the parables are truths placed alongside of previous truths to provide additional light. But in the sense that they fit within a transitional period and have to do mainly with the kingdom of the heavens in relation to the Church yet future, they actually relate previous truths to present and future truths. They take previous truths surrounding Israel and the kingdom of the heavens and relate these truths to the Church, about to be called into existence.
That is, the parables take truths having to do with Israel and the kingdom in past time and present truths having to do with the Church and the kingdom in future time [future from the time when the parables were given, i.e., referring to time throughout the present dispensation and beyond]. They help explain previously revealed truths surrounding the kingdom of the heavens as these truths now relate to the Church.
And these truths center on “the word of the kingdom” [Matthew 13:8, 22, 23], which has to do with fruit-bearing [Matthew 13:19], with the Messianic Era in view [Matthew 13:19-23; 24:47-51; 25:19-30]).
B) Different Parables
Note again the very first of the parables in this respect, the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9). This parable has to do with fruit-bearing in relation to the kingdom of the heavens (cf. vv. 11, 19, 22, 23). This would be a reflection on the previous message
concerning fruit-bearing as it pertained to Israel and the kingdom, and the parable would relate this past fruit-bearing to a future fruit bearing as it would pertain to the Church and the kingdom (cf. Matthew 3:8; 21:19, 34, 41, 43).
That would be to say, because of the immediately preceding events (in chapter 12), events set forth in the parable could no longer have to do with Israel bringing forth fruit, for Israel could no longer bring forth fruit relative to the kingdom of the heavens. Thus, events in the parable, of necessity, would have to do with the new “nation” — the Church — about to be called into existence and mentioned shortly thereafter (Matthew 16:18).
And the parable itself, consisting of one truth placed alongside of a previous truth, would simply relate things past to things future — things having to do with Israel and the kingdom (past) to things having to do with the Church and the kingdom (future). Or, take the parable of the marriage festival in Matthew 22:1-14 to illustrate a somewhat different facet of the matter, though still remaining within the thought of one truth being placed alongside of a previous truth.
In this parable, mention is made of the offer of the kingdom to and the rejection of the kingdom by Israel first (vv. 2-7 [note also that v. 7 anticipates events of 70 A.D., about thirty-seven years later, which were future destructive events resulting from Israel’s past rejection]). Then the remainder of the parable pertains to the Church (vv. 8-14). And one previous truth to which the parable relates can be found in Matthew 8:11, 12, the only prior mention of “outer darkness.”
In Matthew 8:11, 12, outer darkness, a negative aspect of the message having to do with the kingdom of the heavens, had to do with those in Israel; but in Matthew 22:8-14, outer darkness is used to pertain to those in the Church (though not yet called into existence), those to whom the kingdom was to be offered following Israel’s rejection. This is how parables form additional truths placed alongside of previously revealed truths in order to cast additional light on the previous truths, light that invariably has to do with some aspect of how the offer of the kingdom now relates to the Church.
(The whole of the matter surrounding Israel’s rejection [as set forth in Matthew 22:2-7] can be seen in the previous chapter of Matthew’s gospel in the parable leading into the announcement concerning the kingdom being taken from Israel, in the parable of the Householder and His vineyard [21:33-41; cf. vv. 42-45]. And this parable reflects back on a large segment of Israel’s history, which reached an apex [as it pertained to unfaithfulness] through the events of Matthew chapter twelve, which led to and anticipated that seen throughout succeeding chapters, leading to the crucifixion [cf. Matthew 23:37-39].)
Then in the Olivet Discourse parables (Matthew 24:32-25:30) everything is projected out into the future. These parables begin with a reference to Israel (24:32-36), seen in the latter days (during the Tribulation) with “leaves” but no fruit. In relation to the kingdom of the heavens, Israel will not be allowed to bear fruit; but in relation to the earthly segment of the kingdom, Israel will one day be very fruitful. And this parable reflects back on — providing additional light for — that seen in the preceding part of the Olivet Discourse (vv. 3-31).
The parables then continue with a reference to the days of Noah (24:37-39). The judgment of the Flood, as seen in Genesis chapters six through eight, appears as the central subject from which foundational truths pertaining to “the coming of the Son of
Man” are drawn. The “Flood,” in the typical structure of Genesis chapters five through nine, foreshadows the coming Tribulation (with “Israel,” typified by Noah, passing safely through the Tribulation). Thus, that seen in the parable referencing the days of
Noah provides additional information relating to the preceding parable and that to which it relates — information particularly surrounding Israel during the Tribulation.
(For more information on the preceding, refer to the author’s books: Had Ye Believed Moses or Seven, Ten Generations.)
Then, the remaining four parables (Matthew 24:40-25:30), having to do with the kingdom of the heavens (25:1), have to do with those to whom the kingdom was offered following that time when it was taken from Israel. These parables can only have to do with Christians, for, since the kingdom of the heavens is in view, these parables can’t possibly relate to Israel.
These parables have to do with Christian activity during the present dispensation, in relation to judgment and the outcome of that judgment at a future time (referring to events surrounding the judgment seat of Christ and beyond). And the entirety of that dealt with in these parables has to do with the kingdom that follows (the kingdom of the heavens, which is not only the central subject throughout Matthew’s gospel [and the other gospel accounts] but is clearly stated to be the central subject during the course of these parables).
And, beyond the preceding, each of these parables has to do with different facets of truth dealing with the same subject. Note for example how the last of these four parables, the parable of the talents, begins in Matthew 25:14. Literally, from the Greek text, the verse would read:
“For it [the parable of the ten virgins immediately preceding] is just
as a man . . . .”
That which follows in the parable of the talents is simply another facet of that which has proceeded in the parable of the ten virgins. It is an explanation of the preceding parable, using another parable. That is to say, the parable of the talents has been placed alongside the parable of the ten virgins to provide additional light, to help explain the parable of the ten virgins.
And that is the manner in which all four of the parables in Matthew 24:40-25:30 are structured. The first would be placed alongside of preceding revelation to help explain that revelation. Then each of the following three parables would be placed alongside of a preceding parable to help explain that parable.
Thus, to summarize, the parables in the gospel accounts have to do with both Israel and Christians in relation to the kingdom of the heavens. In this respect, they are inseparably connected with the removal of the kingdom from Israel and the offer of the kingdom to “a nation bearing the fruits of it”; and they provide innumerable truths surrounding the offer of the kingdom to this new nation, drawing from the previous offer to Israel.
To overlook, ignore, misunderstand, or limit the use of parables is to fail, in varying extents, to provide oneself with a series of explanatory helps that the Lord has provided. And doing such will always be to one’s own detriment in biblical study.
Figurative language really need not occupy that much space in this study. Figurative language is used extensively throughout Scripture — in types, parables, and elsewhere. But one is never left to his own imagination insofar as interpretation is concerned.
Scripture itself always provides the interpretation, as in the interpretation of types, parables, or any other portion of Scripture.
Scripture is always completely consistent when it uses language in a figurative manner. There is always uniformity throughout. “Leaven,” for example, is always used the same way. A “mountain,” the “sea,” “Egypt,” “Canaan,” etc. always represent the same things.
And the figurative expressions never detract from the literality of the subject matter under discussion, no more so than types or parables detract from the literality of that to which they relate. Things very real are depicted through the use of figurative expressions, things just as literal as that seen in the Scriptures to which the expressions relate.
Matthew 17:1-5 would present a good example of a figurative expression appearing in a type, with the whole event both reflecting back on the original type in the opening two chapters of Genesis and pointing to something very real out ahead.
It was after six days, on the seventh day, that Christ took Peter, James, and John up on “a high mountain” and was “transfigured before them.” The “high mountain” is used in the type in a figurative sense, representing a kingdom, the coming kingdom of Christ (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 2:31-45). And the kingdom will appear, as in the type, after six days (after 6,000 years) on the seventh day (on the seventh 1,000-year period), which reflects back on and draws from the original type in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
Matthew 24:45-51 would present a good example of figurative language used in a parable, with the same figurative language used in another section of Scripture (non-parabolic) after the same fashion. Note the use of “meat” in Matthew 24:45 and also in Hebrews 5:12, 14. Both refer to the same thing, as does the use of “meat” after this fashion in any other portion of Scripture. “Meat,” used after this fashion, is always a reference to biblical teachings, referring particularly to things surrounding Christ’s return and the establishment of His kingdom (cf. Matthew 24:46, 47; Hebrews 5:10-14).
And, as in the extensive use of figurative language in accounts such as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the “great image” in Daniel 2:31-35, Daniel’s vision of the “four great beasts” in Daniel 7:2-7, or the use of a “dragon,” “woman,” and “man child” in Revelation 12:1-5 to depict different things, the interpretation of figurative language is always revealed other places in Scripture (cf. Daniel 2:36-45; 7:16ff; Revelation 12:6ff).
Whether types, parables, figurative language, or any other method that God used in His revelation to man; a person is never left in the dark or to his own imagination in interpreting the passages. God has provided other Scripture to cast light upon, help explain, that which He has revealed through different methods at different times, through different individuals.
 The Study of Scripture by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2005, pages 1-156