A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (4)

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CHAPTER I

THE PREPARATORY PERIOD

RESUME

What we have called the Preparatory Period includes the Introductions to the Gospel accounts, the Genealogies of Jesus, the Annunciation and Birth of both John the Baptist and of Jesus, the Infancy of Jesus, His childhood until the age of twelve when He visited Jerusalem with His parents, and the silent years at Nazareth until the age of thirty.

EXPOSITION

  1. Introductory Statements References: Matt. 1:1-17; Mk. 1:1; 1:1-4; 3:23-38; John 1:1-13

Each of the Gospels presents certain introductory materials.

Matthew begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham through David down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. The genealogy is given in three sections of fourteen generations each: from Abraham to David, from David to Josiah, and from Josiah to Jesus. Actually, there are more than fourteen generations in each, according to the O.T., but for purposes of design, some of the generations were dropped by Matthew. It should be noted that in every case from Abraham to Joseph the expression “begat” is used, but it is not said’ that Joseph begat Jesus, for Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit before Joseph and Mary came together. Joseph is said to have been the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.

Mark begins very bluntly without any introduction: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Servant is the Son of God.

Luke begins by informing us of the source of his information about Jesus. He addresses his Gospel to Theophilus. The name may refer to an individual, or the address may be to any lover of God, for that is the meaning of the name. We learn from Luke that many men had attempted to set in order a narrative of Christ’s life. He was not speaking of either Matthew’s or Mark’s Gospel, but of uninspired, pseudo-gospels. Luke was a man of science and he collected his information in a scientific manner. He interviewed those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning of the life of Jesus. He claims to have had perfect understanding of all things from the very first. The expression “from the very first” is the Greek word anothen, which is translated elsewhere “from above,” five times, and “the top,” three times. If this more usual meaning is applied to this passage, it makes Luke say that he had received perfect knowledge of these things from above, that is, by Divine revelation. This view is adopted in the Scofield Reference Bible.

Luke also gives a genealogy, but it is placed later at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, (3:23-38). It begins with Jesus and traces His line all the way back to Adam, the first man. It is instructive to note that Paul goes back to Adam when teaching the subject of reconciliation. Paul comprehends the whole human race under the headship of one or the other of just two men: the first man Adam, and the second man, the Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. 15:22,45-47; Rom. 5:12-19). Matthew traces Christ’s genealogy through David’s son, Solomon; whereas Luke carries it through another son of David, Nathan. Matthew states that Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary; whereas Luke states that Joseph was the son of Heli. Heli was apparently the father of Mary and Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli. Thus, the genealogy is Mary’s line of descent. Thus both Joseph and Mary were descendants of King David. It should be noted that in Joseph’s genealogy there is a king by the name of Jeconiah, or Coniah, as he is called in Jer. 22:28- 30, who was the last of the Davidic line to reign over Judah. In the Jeremiah passage it is stated: “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” Had Joseph been the actual father of Jesus (he was His legal father), this curse would have fallen upon Jesus. But the mother of Jesus was also descended from David through a line ‘that is free from this curse. Thus, it was not an arbitrary choice which God made for the human mother of His Son. She was the only one, married to Joseph, who would have overcome this curse.

John introduces Jesus as the Word or Logos, as having eternally existed with God. The term “Logos” was used by the philosophers of the day to signify impersonal Reason which operated between God and the material creation as the mediating principle. But John shows the true Logos to be personal, the eternal Son of God who communicates God to man. Just as words are the means of communicating one’s thoughts to another, so Christ as the Word is the Revealer of God to man.

When John says that the Word “was” in the beginning, the verb used means “existed,” without any thought of coming into being. This is in contrast to the word used in 1:14,’where the Word “was made” or “became” flesh. The Word as a Person always existed, but as a Man He became or came into being. That the Word is co-existent with God is also seen in the fact that He made everything that has ever been made, which must exclude the Maker from having been made, and in the further fact “that in him was life.” He was not merely alive: He is life, the originator and giver of life. Translate vs. 9: “That was the true Light coming into the world, which enlightens every man …”

It should be noted that John begins where the other Evangelists leave off, for in the very first chapter he announces Israel’s rejection: “He came unto his own and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John wrote his Gospel near the end of the first century, well into the present Church Age. For that reason, it seems to be a sort of bridge from the earthly, life of Christ to the present Divine order. John places special emphasis upon the death of Christ and upon belief or faith as the basis of salvation, truths which are especially emphasized by Paul in the gospel of the grace of God.

Thus, we can see that John’s Gospel has a much closer relationship and application to believers in this present Pauline dispensation of the grace of God than do the Synoptics. John wrote to people who were living almost thirty years after the death of the Apostle Paul, which was many years after the new revelation was given through. It is our belief that John was guided by John does not reveal Body of truth, as such, but, as stated earlier, he begins where the Synoptics end, and places special emphasis upon believing, upon the Deity of Jesus Christ, upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, upon the oneness of believers in Christ, upon the universality of the Gospel. It is for these and similar reasons that the Gospel of John has been distributed so widely as a separate Scripture portion in evangelistic efforts. And it is for this reason we have expressed the belief that John’s Gospel provides a bridge between the former and the present dispensations.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (3)

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BACKGROUND (Continues)

The Design of the Gospels

Why do we have four separate records of the life of Christ instead of just one? Would it not have been better to have one complete record instead of four incomplete ones? The Old Testament sets forth the character of the promised Messiah in a four-fold fashion.

  • Matthew – One of the Old Testament titles for the Messiah is “the Branch,” meaning that which sprouts or springs forth. In Jer. 23:5 the Messiah is called, “the Branch of David.” David was the King of Israel with whom God had made a covenant concerning an everlasting King and Kingdom. Matthew introduces Jesus as the Son of David in his opening sentence, and emphasizes the truth concerning the Messianic Kingdom.
  • Mark – The Messiah is called “Jehovah’s Servant the Branch,” in Zech. 3:8Mark presents Jesus especially in this character. Unlike Matthew; who traces the genealogy of Jesus in the kingly line back to David and Abraham, Mark says nothing about His line of descent, which is of little importance for a servant. He does introduce Jesus in the first verse as the Son of God, but nothing is said about the origin of His humanity. The activity of Jesus is swift and moving in Mark. Over and over Mark used the word translated, “immediately,” “straightway,” giving the impression that Jesus was constantly serving God. Jesus was the ideal Servant of God, always doing the Father’s will, and is thus an example for all servants of God in all ages, as far as devotion and dedication are concerned. Since He was living under the Mosaic Law dispensation and was introducing the Messianic Kingdom, the type of His ministry varies in many respects from that which God has ordained for today.
  • Luke – The Messiah is also set forth as “the Man whose name is the Branch,” (Zech. 6: 12). The emphasis in Luke’s Gospel is on Jesus as the Son of man. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam, the first man. He gives many details about the birth and childhood of Jesus which are omitted by the other writers. The favorite title of Jesus for Himself was “the Son of man.” It is not recorded that anyone else called Him by this name.
  • John – Finally, Isa. 4:2 speaks of the Messiah as “the Branch of Jehovah.” John was written to exalt Jesus especially as the Son of God. He states the purpose of his Gospel to be “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name,” (John 20:31). He establishes the Deity of Jesus Christ in the very first verse of his

John makes it evident that the Gospels contain only a partial record of all that Jesus said and did, for he states: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world could not contain the books that should be written,” (John 21:25). Each of the Gospel writers chose only those words and events which contributed to the design of his Gospel. It is as though four men were stationed on four sides of a building and each asked to write a description of the building. They would all be writing about the same building, but each would see features not apparent to the others, and in places their descriptions might vary to the extent that they were describing entirely different buildings. Thus there are differences between the four Gospels, but the differences are not contradictions or errors on the part of the writers, but rather are evidences of design.

The Synoptic Problem

The word “synoptic” means “seen together.” It is applied to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, because these three Gospels are very similar in content and order. The problem is, that we have three separate records of the life of Jesus which are so similar and yet have distinct differences.

Part of the Synoptic problem stems from defective views of inspiration. All Scripture is God-breathed and therefore inerrant. If this claim of Scripture for itself is denied or compromised, then some questions about the differences are valid. Inspiration does not exclude the use of human sources; in fact, Luke tells us that he received his information from those who were from the beginning eyewitnesses. Inspiration would not rule out the theory commonly held that one writer used an earlier written Gospel as a model. Inspiration demands that the Holy Spirit superintended what these men wrote. They were led to sources and selected such materials which would fulfill God’s purpose in having each of the four Gospels written. Not only so, but there must have been a certain amount of direct revelation of facts to them of things they could not have known otherwise. How could they have known what words were spoken between Christ and Satan in the temptation when no one else was present; or how could they have known what Christ prayed in the garden while they were asleep? Actually, Matthew and John were apostles and were personal witnesses of practically all that Jesus said and did, so that they would have had little need for outside sources of information.

There are differences in wording and in the chronological arrangement of parallel passages in the Synoptics which need to be explained. E.W. Bullinger argues that each of the Synoptics give exactly the same chronological order and that what appears to be parallel passages in the three Gospels are only similar and not identical events. He claims, for example, that instead of there having been three temptations of the Lord as commonly believed, there were six: Matthew mentions three and Luke the other three. Instead of there having been two others crucified with Jesus, there were four: two thieves and two malefactors. While it is evident that there are cases of similar sayings and events which are not identical in the Synoptics, it appears unreasonable to explain every difference on this basis.

None of the Gospel writers made mistakes, and any differences in their accounts could be reconciled if all of the facts were known. A great deal of textual criticism has proceeded on the basis that the differences are due to erroneous information the writers received from their various sources, but this approach is purely naturalistic and is opposed to Divine inspiration. Others hold the inconsistent view that the important spiritual truths are inspired but the less important historical parts are not inspired and therefore open to mistakes.

There are numerous factors which may explain the differences between the Gospels. Christ no doubt spoke to His people in Hebrew or Aramaic. We know that Paul spoke to the Jews in Hebrew (Acts 22:2), so it is reasonable to suppose that Christ did likewise. The Gospels were written in Greek. Translating from Hebrew into Greek could explain the difference in words or order of words. Pilate wrote the inscription over the Cross in three languages: Hebrew, the national language, Latin, the official language, and Greek, the common language (John 19:20). It is possible that the differences in the wording of this inscription in the four Gospels is due to translation from the Hebrew or the Latin. It is evident also that Jesus often repeated parables and other sayings, so that what may appear to be a part of the Sermon on the Mount misplaced in Mark or Luke, may in fact have been part of another discourse. An evident example of this may be seen in the parable of the candle. In Lk. 8:16 we read: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they that enter in may see the light.” Then in the same Gospel of Luke (11:33), we read: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” Here in the same Gospel we find a parable repeated in slightly different words and on an entirely different occasion, with a different application. Had one of these parables been found in Matthew and the other in Luke we might have been tempted to conclude that one or the other of the writers was mistaken in his chronological arrangement of the parable, and that there was a mix-up on whether the Lord spoke of putting the candle under a vessel or a bushel, or in a secret place or under a bed. No doubt if we knew all of the circumstances surrounding the writing of these Gospel accounts, we would have no need for harmonizing them; rather we would discover that are in perfect harmony in the way God has given them to us.

The author is inclined to agree with the following statement of William Kelly:

“It is to me certain that Matthew and Luke were led to follow an exact order, one dispensational, the other moral; that they are more profoundly instructive than if one or the other, or both, had adhered to the very elementary manner of an annalist; and that it is a mere blunder therefore to characterize any resulting difference of arrangement (such as Matt. 8:28, etc., compared with Mk. 5:1, etc., and Luke 8:26, etc.) as a real discrepancy.”

The Relation of the Gospels to the Church

To set forth the relation of the Gospels to the Church we must first define what is meant by the Church. The Greek word translated church occurs 116 times in the N.T., and some 70 times in the Greek translation of the O.T. Some theologians believe God has had but one church from the beginning of time, which is composed of all of the redeemed of all ages – past, present, and future. Under this view the Gospels would be completely related to the Church. Other theologians do not recognize the existence of a church in the O.T., believing that John the Baptist and Jesus founded the Church, and therefore accordingly this view relates the Gospels completely to the Church. Another group of theologians teach that there was no church until the Day of Pentecost after the close of the Gospel records. This view makes at least part of the Gospels apply to Israel’s Kingdom teaching, and other parts to anticipate the formation of the Church.

There seems to have been some sort of an O.T. Israelitish “Church” (Acts 7:38), the existence of a “church” of believers on the day of Pentecost, and the prediction of a “Church” in the Millennial Kingdom (Heb. 2:12 cf. Ps. 22:22). God suspended His dealings with this Kingdom Church when the nation of Israel rejected the Kingdom Gospel which was preached in the early chapters of the Acts, and God began a new Church with the out calling of the Apostle Paul, which is designated “the Church which is His (Christ’s) Body” (Eph. 1:22,23). This Church and its administration is said to have been a secret never before made known to the sons of men in other ages and generations until it was revealed to Paul (Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-26).

According to this view the primary interpretation of the Gospels relates entirely to the nation of Israel and its Messianic Kingdom expectations. However, this does not mean that there is nothing in the Gospels for members of the Body of Christ, for there are many moral and spiritual truths which apply equally to Israel and the Body of Christ. Paul states that the Gentiles in this present Church age have been made partakers of Israel’s spiritual things (Rom. 15:27). Therefore, as we study the Gospels, we must carefully distinguish those truths which apply only to the people of Israel and the teaching which may apply equally to us today. It is necessary to recognize the fact that the Lord Jesus was born under and lived under the O.T. (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 4:4), and that the N.T., which was made with the house of Israel (Heb. 8:8), did not actually begin until the death of Christ at the very end of the Gospels (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:15-17).

The historic truth contained in the Gospels is foundational to the whole scheme of redemption as found in the Pauline epistles. Apart from this truth there could be no basis for the existence of the Body of Christ and of the present dispensation of the grace of God.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (2)

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BACKGROUND

The Old Testament and the Gospels

It is sadly true that many Christians never read or study the Old Testament, with the exception, perhaps, of the Book of Proverbs and Psalms. They believe that the Old Testament is simply a book of Jewish folklore which has little, if any, relationship to the New Testament.

There is also a large group of Christians, who applies allegorical interpretation to the Old Testament and spiritualize the content. They read things into Scripture that God never intended when the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures. They therefore never come to a proper understanding of the golden thread that starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation.

To start reading or studying the Bible with the first book of the New Testament is like starting to read a novel in the middle of the book. It is commonly supposed that Jesus came to introduce a new religion, but nothing could be further from the truth. The New Testament states that “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (the Jewish nation) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (in the Old Testament), (Rom. 15:8). In reading the Gospels one is struck by the number of times it is recorded that Jesus did this or said that, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by this or that Old Testament prophet.” Jesus Himself said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets (i.e., the Old Testament): I am not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Therefore, an understanding of the Old Testament is essential for an understanding of what Jesus was saying and doing in the four Gospels.

Peter sums up the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures under a two-fold theme: “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). The first was accomplished at His first coming; the second will be accomplished at His second coming. The glory that should follow refers to the Messianic, millennial Kingdom, which both John the Baptist and Jesus announced as being near at hand. The theme of the Gospels is the King and His Kingdom. These two words appear some 178 times in the Gospels.

The Kingdom is usually designated as the Kingdom of the Heavens in Matthew, and in the parallel passages in Mark and Luke as the Kingdom of God.

This Kingdom is not to be understood simply as a spiritual condition of the hearts, or as the general sovereignty of God over the universe. God’s Kingdom in this sense has always existed, but the Kingdom referred to in the Gospels had not yet come into existence. It was near at hand when the King came to earth, and the King taught His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This Kingdom is the Davidic, Messianic Kingdom, which is the subject of Old Testament prophecy and which is to be established upon the earth with the renewed nation of Israel, over which Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

But before that Kingdom could be established an important prophecy had to be fulfilled. Jesus must first suffer and die for the sins of the world, even as Peter had said, before the glory of the Kingdom could be realized. Therefore, it was not until after His death that the Kingdom could be offered to Israel in the sense that now nothing stood in the way of its establishment but the condition that the nation of Israel repent and be converted (Acts 3:17-26).

Thus, we do not believe, as some teach, that Israel was cast aside at Pentecost and the new and ”unprophesied” dispensation began in the formation of the Church which is Christ’s Body. In speaking to the leaders of Israel in Acts 3:26 Peter states: “Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you.” The message in Acts was still to Israel only. Israel rejected this offer of the Kingdom with the result that God temporarily suspended His purpose to establish Israel’s Kingdom on earth, and instead revealed an entirely new purpose which He had ordained before the beginning of time.

This purpose concerned the out calling of the Body of Christ, a truth never before made known to mankind and therefore designated as the Mystery or secret. This truth was revealed to the new Apostle Paul and is recorded in his epistles. While Israel and the Body of Christ are separate and distinct groups of the redeemed, both share equally in the redemptive work of Christ.

The Writers of the Gospels

The Author of the Gospels is the Holy Spirit: the human writers were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While each of the writers wrote in his own style, from his own point of view, selecting certain incidents and omitting others, the Holy Spirit so superintended their writing that the end product was exactly what God  wanted, and was thus inerrant as the Word of God.

Only two of the writers were apostles, Matthew and John. Matthew had been a publican, or tax collector for the Roman government. He is referred to as Matthew in Matt. 9:9, 10:3; Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13; and as Levi, the son of Alphaeus in Mk. 2:14; Lk. 5:27,29.

John was not only the writer of the fourth Gospel, but of three epistles and the book of Revelation. John and his brother James were sons of Zebedee, and were called by Jesus as they were in a boat mending their nets (Matt. 4:21,22; Mk. 1:19), although there seems to have been an earlier call as recorded in John 1:35. Peter, James, and John formed an inner circle of the disciples. James and John were named Boanerges by Christ, which means “sons of thunder,” a name which no doubt reveals much about their character. They wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village which had refused them hospitality (Lk. 9:54). This violent characteristic seems to be in sharp contrast to the other picture of John as the apostle of love. It was no doubt the regenerating work of the Spirit of God which transformed this son of thunder into a son of love.

John refers to himself in his Gospel as “that other disciple” and “the disciple that Jesus loved,” (John 18:16; 19:26; 20:2,3,4,8; 21:7,20,23,24). John is mentioned by Paul in Gal. 2:9 as one of the pillars of the church in Jerusalem. Tradition has it that John became a pastor at Ephesus and that he was later exiled to the Isle of Patmos off the West coast of Asia Minor, where he wrote the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:9). It is believed that his Gospel was written at a very late date, possibly around 90 A.D. He thus lived well into the new dispensation which was introduced by Paul, and this fact no doubt explains, in part at least, why John’s Gospel differs so widely from the other three.

Mark’s mother owned a home in Jerusalem where the disciples often met for prayer (Acts 12:12). He was a nephew of Barnabas and accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5,13). When the going got rough Mark deserted and went back home to Jerusalem. Paul’s refusal to take him on their next trip caused a rupture in the fellowship of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41). However, Paul later writes that Mark had proved himself faithful and that he had become profitable to Paul’s ministry (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11). Mark also had very close ties with Peter, who refers to him as “my son” (1 Pet. 5:13). It is believed by some that Peter related the facts to Mark, which he wrote down and which became the Gospel according to Mark. Many believe this was the first of the Gospels to be written.

Luke was not an apostle; in fact, as far as is known he had no connection with the Christian movement until he met the Apostle Paul. Many expositors believe he was a Gentile, and if so, he was the only Gentile writer of the Scripture. Others think he was a Jew of the dispersion, perhaps from Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas ministered. His name appears only four times in the N.T., (2 Cor., subscript; Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phile. 24). Luke first appears on the scene in the book of Acts where the narrative changes from the third person to the first person plural, when Luke apparently joined Paul’s party (Acts 16:10). From this point on Luke was one of Paul’s most faithful companions. Paul calls him “the beloved physician.” He was a medical doctor, as attested by the fact that his writings contain many medical terms. He tells us that he got his information about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from those who from the beginning had been eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.

The Apostle Paul seems to have had a marked influence upon Luke’s account. The Gospel of Luke itself sets forth that conception of Christ’s life and work which was the basis of Paul’s teaching. He represents the views of Paul, as Mark does of Peter… Some two hundred expressions or phrases may be found which are common to Luke and Paul, and more or less foreign to other New Testament writers.

An example of this influence may be seen in the use of the word translated grace. This is one of the predominant words in Paul’s vocabulary, occurring 100 times in his epistles (not counting Hebrews, where it occurs eight times). The word does not occur even once in Matthew or Mark, but Luke uses it eight times in his Gospel and sixteen times in Acts.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (1)

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INTRODUCTION

There is a great need for a commentary on the four Gospels which would have as its primary objective to show the relationship between the earthly teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and those of the Old Testament prophets, the Book of Acts, the Pauline epistles, and the future development of the Kingdom of God. It is of great importance to grasp the primary meaning of these teachings as they were intended to be understood by those who were actually addressed.

Most of the available commentaries on the Gospels deal with each of the books separately. Since there is so much in common between the four Gospels, especially between the first three, it is best suited to deal with the four collectively, instead of individually, thus following the form of a harmony.

The King James Version will be used as the basic text in this study.

It is not possible to arrange the events in the life of our Lord in an exact chronological order, and that for several reasons. The Gospel writers do not relate events in the same chronological order. Many events are recorded in only one of the Gospels, often making it difficult to place them in the correct order. Many events as recorded by each of the writers might appear to be identical, but may be only similar, having taken place on different occasions. But in a work of this kind some order must be decided upon, and the decision has been made to follow very closely the order as found in the gospel of Mark.

We adopt a literal type of interpretation of the Scriptures, as opposed to a spiritualizing principle. He accepts the principle enunciated by the Apostle Paul that the present divine economy was not made known to the sons of men in other ages and generations. He advocates the Pre-millennial view of the Second Coming of Christ and the Pre-tribulation view of the Rapture of the Church. In keeping with the views of most Pre-millennialists, he is committed to the dispensational principle of interpretation of Scripture. The dispensational principle is the recognition of the fact that God has from time to time, made certain administrational changes in His dealings with His people, an example of which is stated in Heb. 7:12: “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Dispensational hermeneutics seeks to discover such changes and to interpret the Scriptures accordingly.

Dispensationalists teach that the blood of Christ is the basis for man’s salvation in every dispensation (Rom. 3:25), and that faith in God and in His Word has been the human requirement for salvation in every dispensation (Heb. 11:6). However, the content of God’s revelation to man has varied from one dispensation to another. It was not possible that the Old Testament saints could have had as the conscious object of their faith the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we have today. Their faith in God was manifested in other  ways, as is clearly taught in the catalog of men of faith in Hebrews 11, beginning with Abel down to the last of the prophets. Faith always believes God; whether He says to bring a sacrifice or believe in the sacrifice of Christ.

While it is very important to understand to whom God is speaking in the various parts of the Bible, and thus keep the dispensations distinct, it is equally important to understand the purpose of the Bible, whatever dispensation is involved. The purpose of the Bible is stated very succinctly in 2 Tim. 3:16,17: “All scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Jesus came to save us from sin: not simply from the penalty of sin and to get us to heaven at last, important as that is; but to save us from sin itself. Unless our study of the Bible has a sanctifying influence upon our manner of life, unless it cleanses our lives from sinful acts and habits, unless it promotes the fear of God, unless it increases our love for Jesus Christ, unless it produces fruitful service for God, it is all in vain. We must know the Word of God in order for it to produce these results, as it is possible to know the facts of the Word without having our lives changed and conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom 8:29).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)