Dr. Mike Johnston
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) [italics added].
The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6), “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth involves prophecy for Israel concerning the coming Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; see end time’s kingdom in Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14) aka the Millennial Reign of Christ prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34), promised and propagated through His Covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, 17). From there, Israel’s earthly future has progressively unfolded to her “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70) in “time past” (Eph. 2:11-12; see Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 14:16; Heb. 1:1) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7).
The Covenant Kingdom will be inaugurated following the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to Israel (Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-21) which occurs “immediately after the Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:29) or Daniel s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), a time when God will punish the world for sin while preparing Israel for the Kingdom (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Hos. 5:15). If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it.
To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth in Tribulation “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1) passages of Scripture (Deut. 4:30-31; Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1) – the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and unequivocally placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s holocaust without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation are specifically linked to Israel.
The Prophecy Program
The prophecy program concerns an earthly kingdom for the nation of Israel spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21).
|Prophecy >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Kingdom|
|“spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began”
(Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21)
As introduced in a previous chapter, the Prophecy Program is God’s plan for earth featuring the nation of Israel and her Covenant kingdom that God “spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,  which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; see Matt. 25:34).
The prophecy program – which unfolded to Israel from the prophets – continued through the apostles (Acts 1-8) who not only preached the Kingdom Gospel message with Christ, but witnessed His rejection and crucifixion. Peter their representative explained to the Jews the gravity of what they had just done. By crucifying Christ, they had likewise rejected the Abrahamic Covenant postponing the kingdom they claimed to be waiting for. Peter didn’t let them off the hook when he said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (Acts 3:24-25; see Gen. 12:1-3; 22:18). Paul later revealed that Israel’s rejection of the Messiah actually caused her diminishing and blindness (Rom. 11:7, 12, 25). 
Importance of the prophets to Israel
God never advanced His program for Israel or earth without revealing it to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Additionally in the overwhelming number of prophesies given to Israel we find that eighty percent of the Bible is to Israel from which the prophets were an indispensable part.
The prophets predicted a future where King Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem, Israel. The Body of Christ is merely provisional “fill in” on earth during Israel’s blindness, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Once we are removed, Daniel’s  prophecy clock which paused at Christ’s rejection by Israel (Dan. 9:24-27) will begin ticking again. Until that time, we will remain on earth – an unknown entity to any of the prophets – provoking Israel to jealousy.
Fact: It was prophecy – not mystery – that pronounced the upcoming Day of the Lord –that includes Israel’s Tribulation for Israel first prophesied to her by Moses (Deut. 4:30). The prophets never saw the Body of Christ and thus didn’t include it in their writings. Since Israel is destined for her earthly kingdom, God must ultimately reinstate her to prophetic significance, which fits perfectly with Daniel’s seventieth week. In a precious twist of divine irony, prophecy (Israel, earthly) gave way to mystery (the church, heavenly) at Daniel’s 70th week; now mystery must give way to prophecy, which will resume for the one week still future.
Fact, the foremost intention of the prophecy program is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as promised to Israel in the Covenants. Peter explained this,
“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses … But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” (excerpted from Acts 3:13-18).
Then, in another show of mercy and grace, God through Peter offered Israel another chance to receive the Messiah and the kingdom:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
Again, Israel refused her King (Acts 4-7); Paul was saved (Acts 9), and a new dispensation emerged the prophets were not privy to.
The Mystery Program
The Mystery program concerns a heavenly inheritance for the Church Body of Christ kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25).
|Mystery >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Inheritance|
|“the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began”
The Mystery Program is God’s plan for heaven featuring the Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ given to Paul in “the revelation  of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).
When studied in its entirety we discover the Mystery is that body of truth revealed to and proclaimed by the Apostle Paul alone (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9-10; 3:1-11) concerning Heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ together in Heaven with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4; also read carefully Col. 3:1-6). The student who understands the distinction between prophecy for Israel and earth, along with the mystery of the Body and heaven, is thoroughly equipped to avoid conflating Israel’s expectation of a coming Revelation of a King and kingdom – with His parenthetical plan for the Body. The blood bought, born again church (ekklesia- called out assembly) is the Body of Christ (Col. 1:18, 24). Since she has NO inheritance on earth there’s no reason for us to be here during a single moment of Israel’s Tribulation (study Eph. 1-3; Col. 3:1-6) trying to eke out a safe existence in order to earn an earthly kingdom.
God carefully hid the mystery Body of Christ from the prophets until it was unveiled to Paul by our heavenly risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). The mystery features the Church as the Lord’s BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6) and the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33; Rev. 21:9) in a “but now” time-period (Eph. 2:13). I repeat, the prophets didn’t know about us and never mentioned us in any of their writings, so we aren’t included in the promises and prophecies concerning earth and the future of the NATION Israel. The fact is, even Peter and the apostles didn’t know this new doctrine until Paul taught them (Gal. 1:12; 2:6-7) later admitting how hard it was to understand and yet theologically destructive it was for all who fought against it (2 Pet. 3:15-16).
Here’s Paul’s explanation of the mystery exclusivity:
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10-12).
In chapter two, he continued defining the distinctiveness of his doctrine by contrasting the gospel he preached with the one Peter preached:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” (Galatians 2:6-9)
Fact: The dispensation of the mystery of the church  isn’t Jewish and it wasn’t known by any of the prophets or the twelve apostles until Paul taught them (Gal. 1:11-12; 2:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:15-16; see also 1 Thess. 2:13). It was secretly revealed by the Lord Jesus to Paul – the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:3) – literally as a mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:4-5, 9) – after the Lord temporarily set aside Daniel’s prophecy at the end of the 69th week (Dan. 9:24-27). Sadly, this very special revelation of the mystery given by Jesus to Paul has been the object of defiance and disdain accompanied by bitterness, badgering, and blackballing on the part of inflexible men who fight tooth and nail against it even though it is specifically for this dispensation. Recognizing the damage this causes, Peter lamented,
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Fact: The Church is the Lord’s heavenly BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6); a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), given to Paul alone by our risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) during His current heavenly ministry in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). Once the mystery Body of Christ (Rom. 16:25) is removed at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), Israel’s prophecy clock will resume at Daniel’s seventieth week (one week of seven years – see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3), the time of Jacob’s trouble that Jesus referred to as (great) Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29).
Consider the following facts about the church Body of Christ:
- Presented as a Body where Christ is Head [no laws, land, or covenants] 
- The Body exists as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) that will one day disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).
- The Body of Christ was unknown by the prophets and has no association with prophecy or future Tribulation. [Our salvation is secure; sealed forever in Christ (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30) with no further purification required].
- Our inheritance is not in the earth, but in heaven with Jesus where we spiritually exist in Him (Eph. 1:3-4, 10; 2:6; col. 3:1-3)  at this moment, awaiting the promise Jesus made to return and take us to heaven (John 14:2-3; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This will happen at some undisclosed time in the future when the “fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).
- Paul is our apostle (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:7-8). His epistles (Romans-Philemon) provide all doctrine and duty for those in this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2) personally given to him by Jesus in the “revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25).
- Occupies a temporary position on earth during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27)
- Was established by God to provoke Israel to jealousy leading to her conversion (Rom. 11:11).
- Was unknown to any of the prophets (Col. 1:26)
- Was never included in earthly prophecies featuring Israel’s Davidic Kingdom, and Tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble” – Jer. 30:7) preceding it.
- Appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25)  during Israel’sblindness (Rom. 11:7),
- Will disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).
- Cannot be seen anywhere in Israel’s Tribulation! 
Time to reflect on something: the necessity of God’s revelation for the future, must include the prophetic word: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Since Israel’s Tribulation is prophecy for Israel, it cannot begin while the mystery Body of Christ is here. The church Body of Christ is NEVER MENTIONED anywhere in prophecy and thus the church which appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) after Daniel’s prophecy clock stopped after the 69th week must be removed in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51; see 2 Thess. 2:7) in order to restart that prophecy clock at the 70th week. That event is imminent; it’s the rapture of the church in the heavenlies by Christ and it removes us before Antichrist  is revealed and the time of Jacob’s trouble begins with the signing of a seven year covenant of peace (2 Thess 2:6-8; see Dan. 9:27). The Revelation of Christ occurs on earth immediately after Israel’s Tribulation (Matt 24:29) and just before the kingdom begins (Matt 25:31-46). The fact that the Body of Christ returns with Him at the Revelation demands that we be removed prior to that event. Although PreWrath  advocates argue for a removal of the church about ¾ of the way through Israel’s Tribulation their charts are perplexing and pretentious.
Chart: Prophecy and Mystery
|Prophecy – Israel – Earth||Mystery – Church – Heaven|
|Concerns a kingdom; a political
Organization (Dan. 2:44; Matt.6:10).
|Concerns a body; a living organism (I Cor.12:12,27;Eph.4:12-16).|
|The kingdom to be established on earth
(Jer. 23:5; Matt.6:10).
|The body given a position in heaven (Eph.
1:3; 2:5-6; Col.3:1-3).
|Christ to be its King (Jer.23:5; Isa. 9: 6-7).||Christ its living Head (Eph.1:19-23; Col. 1:18).|
|The kingdom prophesied “since the world
began” (Luke 1:68-70;Acts3:21).
|The body chosen in Christ before the world began, but “kept secret since the world began”
|Israel to be given supremacy over the
Nations (Isa. 60:10-12; 61:6).
|Jew and Gentile placed on the same level
Before God (Rom.10:12; 11:32; Eph.2:16-17).
|The Gentiles to be blessed through
|The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s
Obstinacy (Acts13:44-46; Rom.11:28-32).
|The Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s
Rise (Isa. 60:1-3; Zech.8:22, 23).
|The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s fall
(Acts28:27-28; Rom. 11:11-12, 15).
|Prophecy mainly concerns nations as such (Isa. 2:4; Ezek.37:21-22).||The mystery concerns individuals (Rom.
10:12-13; II Cor.5:14-17).
|Prophecy concerns blessings, both material and spiritual, on earth (Isa. 2:3-4; 11:1-9; etc.).||The mystery concerns “all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies” (Eph.1:3; Col. 3:1-3).|
|Prophecy concerns Christ’s coming to the
Earth (Isa. 59:20; Zech. 14:4).
|The mystery explains Christ’s present absence from the earth (Eph.1:20-23; Col.3:1-3).|
|In prophecy salvation by grace through
Faith alone is not contemplated.
|Salvation by grace through faith alone lies at the very heart of the mystery (Rom.3:21-26; 4:5; Eph.2:8-9).|
|The proclamation of the prophetic program Committed particularly
to the twelve
(Matt.10:5-7; Acts1:6-8; 3:19-26).
|The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to Paul (Eph.3:1-3, 8-9; Col.1:24-27).|
|The prophetic program revealed through Many of God’s servants (Luke1:70; II Pet. 1:21).||The mystery revealed through one man: Paul (Gal.1:1, 11-12; 2:2, 7, 9; Eph. 3:2-3).
|Old testament writers frequently did not under- stand the prophecies made known through them
(Dan. 12:8-10; I Pet. 1:10-12).
|Paul longed that others might understand the mystery revealed to and through him
(Eph.1:15-23; 3:14-21; Col.1:9-10;2:1-3).
This chart adapted from Cornelius Stam
God’s program for earth comes from prophecy revealed in His Word by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began. It’s main subject is the inauguration of a Kingdom with His Son as King in a nation He chose specifically for this purpose. This is the subject of our next chapter.
 Prophecy is the distinguishing factor separating the Bible from all “religious” books in the world. Prophecy is what drew my dad to Christ in 1975 and kept him excited about the Lord’s return until April 10, 2009 when the Lord took him home. In short, prophecy for Israel is the main subject connecting our tribulation trilogy together.
 Romans 9-11 Explains Israel’s past, present and future. Regardless of the tradition that told you otherwise, none of the Covenants God made with Israel were ever retracted nor given to the Body of Christ in the revelation of the mystery Paul received (Rom. 16:25). The Body of Christ is merely the provisional beneficiary of His work through Israel during this her diminishing (Rom. 11:12) and blindness, only however, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Indemnifying this are prophesies God gave Israel for her future which still includes the seventieth week (7 years) of Daniel’s prophecy that must be fulfilled by her (see Dan. 9:24- “thy people”). Paul’s explanation in Romans 9 through 11 makes clear God’s intention for Israel in the future. Romans 9 tells us the Covenants of Israel are not set aside by Gospel, and the blinding of Israel led to God’s mercy to the Gentiles. Romans 10 proves Israel’s attempt at law keeping wasn’t accepted because self-righteousness is not a ground of salvation and provides a way for Gentiles to be saved. Only our humble faith in Christ’s satisfaction of the law, and so be “justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Finally, Romans 11 warns against boasting the church replaced Israel. It reveals although temporarily blind, God’s program for Israel is still on. In due time she will emerge when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) and the church is gone.
 Daniel is part of the prophetic landscape of earth and thus features Israel. In order to fit the pieces together leading to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks. Remember, the vision was delivered by the angel Gabriel (Dan. 9:21), to the prophet Daniel, for “thy people” (Jews) concerning “thy holy city” (Jerusalem; see Dan. 9:24). Although it is a comprehensive narrative, the prophecy is incomplete; it’s missing a single week of seven years that must be fulfilled through Israel according to the Davidic Covenant and the prophetic Word (Dan. 9:24-27). The Jewish prophet Daniel saw the Lord’s first presentation of the Kingdom in a prophecy he foretold of seventy weeks of seven years (for Israel) leading to the cutting off of the Messiah (Dan. 9:24-26). With the Davidic Covenant in mind, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ began preaching “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This of course was God’s offer to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. When Jesus was officially rejected on the exact day Daniel’s seventieth week was to begin, the prophetic calendar for Israel stopped; allowing for a parenthetic body to be inserted into the fabric of God’s providence- a mystery that was unknown by the prophets- called the church. However, this left unfulfilled one seven year period the prophets and dispensational scholars refer to as the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble (Jer. 30:7); the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the day of the Lord is a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Rev. 12: the focus is Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation in the Temple Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). The Body of Christ is NOT in view during the time of Jacob’s trouble!
 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).
 Cornelius Stam has written extensively on this. PMI also offers more on Prophecy and the Mystery.
 Our inheritance is NOT earth. It exists “in heavenly places” where we are spiritually sealed (Eph. 1:13-14) and seated in Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; Col. 3:1-2; Phil. 3:20). We are simply occupying a provisional position on earth during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27) to provoke her to jealousy (Rom. 11:11) until “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). At that precise point, the church which appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will suddenly disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) wherein Israel’s prophecy program will resume at Daniel’s 70th week where it was halted.
 Paul explains this very clearly in Ephesians 3:1-9.
 God made 5 unilateral covenants with Israel, none with the Body of Christ. We are merely the beneficiaries through Jesus.
 In Christ: 1:1,3,10,12,20; 2:6,10,13; 3:6,11; In the Lord: Ephesians 1:15; 2:21; 4:17; 5:8; 6:1,10,21;
 More information on the mystery nature of the Body of Christ discussed in Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-27.
 TO REITERATE IN TERMS AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE: If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Zeph. 1-2), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15), the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). Since we are not mentioned anywhere, it is clear to objective minded students the Lord has mysteriously removed us, “in a moment in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51). Hallelujah to the Lamb, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Antichrist, aka the beast. This “Beast” is the “little horn” of (Dan_7:24-26), and “desolator” of (Dan_9:27), the “abomination of desolation” of (Mat_24:15), the “man of sin” of (2Th_2:4-8), earth’s last and most awful tyrant, Satan’s fell instrument of wrath and hatred against God and the Jewish saints. He is, perhaps, identical with the rider on the white horse of (Rev_6:2), who begins by the peaceful conquest of three of the ten kingdoms into which the former Roman empire will then be divided, but who soon establishes the ecclesiastical and governmental tyranny described in Daniel 7, 9, 11; Revelation 13. To him, Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ. (Mat_4:8); (Mat_4:9); (Rev_13:4). (Old Scofield Study Bible)
We have information explaining the facts while exposing the fallacies of this confusing ruse.
Dr. Mike Johnston
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Rightly dividing is more than a familiar verse. It’s an underlying hermeneutic recognizing division as a basic Bible principle God introduced in Genesis when He divided:
- “the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:4)
- “the waters from the waters” (Gen. 1:6-7)
- “the day from the night” (Gen. 1:14)
- “the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:18)
- “good from evil” (Gen. 2:9)
- and much more.
God also espoused division by dispensing His Word to a variety of men “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10, 13) covering a sweeping time triad of past, present, and future narrative. This discrete dispensing of truth is the essence of what’s known as dispensationalism, and God’s word provides us with many examples of how this was accomplished:
- God instructed Adam not to eat from a particular tree
- God commanded Noah to build an ark
- God directed Abraham to circumcise his progeny
- God told Moses to lead His elect people Israel and gave Him 613 Laws to do it with; and
- Jesus revealed the mystery Body of Christ to Paul, who revealed it in 13 epistles – Romans through Philemon. [IMPORTANT: This is Scripture written specifically to us as the Body of Christ].
Studying the responses to God’s will for great men of the Bible is a blessed lifetime endeavor. In that light, it becomes profitable for us,  without having to be personally to us. Right division will keep us from cross-pollinating commands God issued to other people in other dispensations from that which He gave to us through Paul (Romans – Philemon).
Rightly Dividing Between Two Overarching Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery
God’s primary division for studying His Word is hidden in plain sight in the opening verse of Scripture: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Although Bible scholars like Darby, Scofield, Torrey and many others have recognized a number of dispensations (see Appendix [i]) two dominant programs God has used since the world began:
1. The Prophecy program for Israel predicting a coming earthly kingdom:
“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21)).
2. The Mystery program for the Body of Christ promising a heavenly inheritance:
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).
Both of these programs – or dispensations – have separate participants, purposes and ordinances (Jer. 33:25); existing “since the world began” (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), which more detail will be given later.
Now here’s the essence of right division: God’s plan is to rule earth for one thousand years. In the Providential panorama, all non-Pauline Scripture exists to explain or enhance the prophetic program for Israel leading to the coming King and earthly kingdom.
God’s Earthly Program
Prophecy – Earth – Israel King – Kingdom
The Body of Christ is a temporary mystery God set in place at Israel’s rejection of the Messiah which produced Israel’s blindness, to remain here “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). At that point, the Body that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).
In short, the plan is underway and the Kingdom is still on!
Rightly Dividing Between a Time Triad:
Time past, but now, ages to come
The two programs – heaven (mystery-Body) and earth (prophecy- Israel) – extend across three periods: Past, Present, Future. Our Apostle Paul (Rom. 11:13) reveals them in context as follows:
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus … Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (excerpted from Ephesians 2:7-13).
1. Time Past (Eph. 2:11-12)
Part of the Prophecy Program for the nation Israel (which includes her history) – (Genesis – Acts)
2. “But now” (Eph. 2:13)
Part of the Mystery Program of the Body of Christ exclusive of the nation Israel – (Romans – Philemon)
3. “Ages to come” (Eph. 2:7)
Part of the Prophecy Program to be fulfilled through the nation Israel – (Hebrews – Revelation)
Chart of Time Triad
for Israel, a Nation
[Kingdom presented and rejected]
Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his
since the world began
(Acts 3:21; see Luke 1:70)
of the Church, a Body
<- [Began at the death of Christ] ->
… according to the revelation of the mystery, which was
since the world began
(Rom. 16:25; see Eph. 3:1-9)
for Israel, a Nation
Old Covenant (continues)
[to be ratified at the Revelation]
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things
which are written
may be fulfilled
Christ prophesied as Messiah
Dispensation of the Law
Gospel of circumcision
Gospel of the kingdom
(Matt. 4:23; 9:35)
Revelation (Zech. 14:3-4)
Christ is Head of Body
Dispensation of Grace
Gospel of uncircumcision
Gospel of the grace of God
(Acts 20:24; see 1 Cor. 15:1-4)
Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
Christ becomes the Messiah
Dispensation of the Law
Gospel of circumcision
Gospel of the kingdom
Revelation (Rev. 19:11)
Blind, asleep, lost
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery … that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Revelation 3:10)
Aware, awake, saved
(Dan. Rom. 11:25-26)
Daniel’s 70 Weeks – Dan. 9:24-27 Jacob’s trouble/Day of
trouble/Day of the Lord
Coming of the Messiah
Davidic Covenant/New Covenant
Resurrection (John 5:28-29)
Revelation of Christ
Resurrection (Rev. 19-20)
Rightly Dividing Between the Two Testaments
Understanding right division as given us through prophecy for Israel and mystery for the Body, is the proper foundation for rightly dividing between the Old and New Testaments. But this division has caused other division as Bible teachers have reduced Second Timothy Two fifteen to a catch phrase without really employing it in their studies. The result of this has rendered to us conclusions suspect from the outset since they were obtained from study using an improper dichotomy between the Testaments as I’m about to explain.
Conventional wisdom convinced us that the Old Testament is for Israel – which is true, but that it ended with Malachi, which is NOT true. The New Testament didn’t begin until the death of Christ the Testator (Matt. 27; see Hebrews 9:16-17). Now traditionalists will contend this is inconsequential nonsense – and for them it probably is. However, for those of us committed to right division, we understand that ignoring this facilitates error by basing our study on an improper division between testaments that can only lead to wrong interpretations and improper conclusions. One example ignored routinely is the division between the Testaments.
Since the NT didn’t begin until sometime after the crucifixion, Jesus’ teachings are a furtherance of the Old Covenant narrative (we will discuss later) extending through the Gospel of John. This includes the Sermon on the Mount, Mysteries of the Kingdom, and the Olivet Discourse. 
Rightly dividing the word of truth begins by understanding the right division between the Old and New Testaments then employing the right principles to identify the correct program, covering the proper time period, employing the appropriate gospel message which further demonstrates why the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s tribulation. (see Appendix [ii]).
We now come to a critical yet controversial subject regarding …
Rightly Dividing Between Two Primary Gospels:
Gospel of Circumcision and the Gospel of Uncircumcision
|2 Primary Gospels|
|“Time past” (Eph. 2:11-12)
Genesis – John
Kingdom gospel to the circumcision
|“But now” (Eph. 2:13)
Body of Christ, Heaven
Romans – Philemon
Grace gospel to the uncircumcision
|“Ages to come” (Eph. 2:7)
Hebrews – Revelation
Kingdom gospel to the circumcision
If you’re ever itching for a fistfight, explain to a carnal Christian that God changed the gospel message from what it was in time past to what it is in the but now dispensation. Let me explain.
The word gospel means “a good message” (Strong), not necessarily the plan of salvation as it has often represented to be. The fact is, there are several of them listed in the Bible  that God dispensed to and through people in specific time periods. In his superb book “Why So Many Churches”, Dr. Noah Hutchings, one of my favorite Bible teachers, writes, “It is important for Christians to understand … Paul and Peter did not preach the same message. They preached the same Christ, but not the same gospel.” [You will understand this shortly when I unfold this].
Two primary Gospel messages exist within the harmonious framework of the three specific time periods:
1. The Gospel of the Kingdom during the Prophecy Program – (time past, ages to come)
The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) – is good news to the Jews which Christ preached “in time past” connecting Israel to the Abrahamic Covenant and the circumcision (Gen. 17; Gal. 2:7) and Davidic Covenant (earthly Kingdom from David’s seed (2 Sam. 7:8-16).  Bear in mind the church must be removed at the rapture allowing for Jewish tribulation evangelists in the “ages to come” to once again preach this gospel of the kingdom message heralding the Lord’s return to inaugurate His Davidic Kingdom in Jerusalem (Matt. 24:14). 
2. The Gospel of the grace of God during the Mystery Program – (but now)
The gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) – is good news for Jews and Gentiles who come to Christ by faith and are saved, justified, sanctified, glorified, and spiritually baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) where we are seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) and sealed forever (Eph. 1:13-14) apart from anything other than faith in Christ’s shed blood which permanently removes our sin from us.
By Paul’s own words this was a “but now” gospel unique for the uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), never before preached or taught: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Dr. William MacDonald observes that this “is the thrilling message of God’s undeserved favor to guilty, ungodly sinners who deserve nothing but everlasting hell. It tells how the Son of God’s love came from heaven’s highest glory to suffer, bleed, and die on Calvary in order that those who believe on Him might receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, 1995) This is the only gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13; see 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Gal. 1:6) for this dispensation. 
Rightly Dividing Between Three Study Principles
This principle is somewhat reactionary and predicates itself on the ones preceding it. Having come face to face with the truth a decision must be made regarding how you – as an honest student of the Bible will approach Scripture from this point forward.
My experience tells me students – knowingly or unknowingly – study Scripture through one of two lenses: the objective lens (exegesis), or the outcome lens (eisegesis). Every time you pick up your Bible, you view it through one of these two perspectives.
Principle 1. Exegesis over Eisegesis
Exegesis is the fact based analytical explanation of a text
In a Scriptural context, exegesis means “evidence driven Bible study.” It is the proper interpretation of a passage of Scripture as it appears with cumulative Biblical support. It rejects emotion in favor of evidence. Exegesis, therefore, is incorruptible, objective, reliable, and principled. It greets facts with humility and views Scripture corporately and in context without cheapening or changing it because it lays no claims to a preconceived conclusion. In short, it follows the text wherever it leads and reports its findings with honesty and humility.
Eisegesis is the feelings based argumentative explanation of the same text
Eisegesis is driven by emotion so it greets opposing facts with suspect and hostility. Eisegesis is corrupt, subjective, unreliable, and unprincipled. Since it approaches Scripture as a means to an end, and therefore feels no compunction about distorting data to ensure a desired conclusion. In short, it flouts the text wherever it’s necessary, and misrepresents its findings with regularity.
The number of students viewing eschatology through this latter lens is scandalous. I know from experience with them that they willingly compromise integrity to arrive at preconceived conclusions otherwise impossible if employing exegesis as the basis for their analyses.
|Optional Means of Studying Scripture|
|Option #1: Exegesis||Option #2: Eisegesis|
Relies on evidence
Context is critical
Follows the truth
Israel and the Church distinct 
Ends with a conclusion
Relies on emotion
Critical of context
Fudges the truth
Israel and the Church not distinct
Begins with a conclusion
Viewing the Bible from the objective lens – exegesis – is the right choice and will provide us with the right perspective to make the following choice between …
Principle 2. Context over Pretext
Exegesis will determine the precise meaning of any Bible Book, verse, or passage. Its preliminary inquiry is ascertaining the specific circumstances encapsulating it. That’s the context.
In every passage you have to ask yourself who, what, when, where, and why. This is the setting. The 16th Century Bible translator Myles Coverdale put it like this (sic): “It shall greatly helpe ye to understand Scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or wrythen, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth.” (The Structural Principles of the Bible, 1969, p. xiii).
Essentially, Mr. Coverdale was advocating the need for interpreting the Bible – not from one’s experience, shrewdness, or theological perspective – but solely from its divinely orchestrated setting in which each of the sixty-six Books exists and from which an impartial interpretation can spring forth when studied contextually. This setting consists of the following factors: The person who wrote or dictated it; the purpose for writing it (concern, conflict, correction, compassion, etc.); the people receiving it (Israel or the Body of Christ); the period covered – past, present, or future which we’ll discuss shortly. Armed with this information, we need to draw a distinction between …
Principle 3. Truth over Tradition
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Tradition comes to us with strong emotional attachments. Caution is needed here because tradition becomes idolatry when it stands in the way of the clear teaching of Scripture. What most Bible students fail to understand – and which leads them into confusion and heresy – is that Jesus’ mission was under the Old Covenant as “minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). Believe me, conversations about this begun in innocency can explode into major confrontations rather quickly when the golden calf of tradition is threatened.
In Christ’s day, those controlled by tradition often victimized Him. Clearly, He was the subject of the prophets (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Matt. 2:23; 5:17; 26:56; etc.) throughout the Old Testament, pictured as the loveliness of God incarnated in the Son, Israel’s Messiah. However even though Jesus’ mission was under the Old Covenant as “minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8), He was viewed as an illegitimate inconvenience to the religious community who would have recognized Him had it not been for their Fascist Torah traditions.  Since highbrow Pharisees considered religious duties equal to Scripture, they held congregants hostage by enforcing them through various means including extortion (John 9:22; 12:42). Therefore, when their fuming at Christ’s refusal to respect their rituals surfaced, He warned them that their cold tradition would result in their inability to recognize and obey clear teaching from God’s Word (Matthew 15:3) which of course included what Scripture said about Him.
Unfortunately, these traditionalists also sought opportunity to nullify Paul’s ministry as well (Acts 15; 21:21; 25:7-8; etc). Although his doctrine remained a mystery hidden from the prophets since world began (Eph. 3:9; see Rom. 16:25; Col. 1:26) in due season it too was rejected by the same cabal that hated Jesus and rejected Him (Acts 13:43, 50; 14:4-5; 17:5; etc).
Albeit, while rejection from the unsaved is to be expected, what is most troublesome is the violent opposition Paul received from brothers who refused out of hand the mystery Jesus revealed to him (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9). In fact it became so problematic, Peter – apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:8) – penned a note of warning to all the brethren who were fighting against Paul’s mystery doctrines (Rom-Phile), that they were actually destroying themselves  in the process:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
I’ll go into more detail as this treatise unfolds.
With this as our backdrop, we will move into deeper discussions of many of the subjects introduced in this chapter beginning with highlighting the premier distinction of Israel in God overarching program for the coming kingdom on earth.
(see Chart of Exegesis in Appendix [iii])
 This is most certainly what Paul had in mind when he wrote: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
 Pause to remember the number of times Matthew 24 is offered in proof of a post trib rapture when the fact is, the passage is Jewish and has no bearing on the Body of Christ whatsoever. We will discuss this much more in depth later in our treatise.
 Salvation in God’s economy has always involved faith and grace that He dispensed separately to particular individuals at any given time. For instance, Adam and Eve never heard the Name Jesus Christ, but God pictured His sacrifice by shedding the blood of innocent animals to cover their sin (Gen. 3:21). They apparently demonstrated their faith the moment they put on this new clothing.
 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: (Psalms 105:6-11)
 God made 5 unilateral Covenants with Israel and none with the Body of Christ. Bear in mind our status: “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise …” (Ephesians 2:12).
 This includes the gospel of circumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is good news for the Jews preached “in time past” linking them to the Abrahamic Covenant, the foundational contract for Israel’s relationship with God. It formed the groundwork for the promises that would be revealed in the other covenants. The Lord Jesus Christ, James, Peter (Cephas) and John were all ministers of the circumcision (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 2:7-9). [Old Covenant, Dispensation of the Law]
 This includes the gospel of uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is is good news for Gentiles as Paul explains, “Ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13). [No Covenant, Dispensation of Grace]
 Most doctrinal disagreements stem from men conflating God’s prophetic program for Israel and her earthly kingdom, with His mystery program for the Body of Christ and our heavenly inheritance.
 The major repositories of the Oral Torah are the Mishnah, compiled between 200–220 CE by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, and the Gemara, a series of running commentaries and debates concerning the Mishnah, which together are the Talmud, the preeminent text of Rabbinic Judaism. In fact, two “versions” of the Talmud exist: one produced in Jerusalem c. 300–350 CE (the Jerusalem Talmud), and second, more extensive Talmud compiled in Babylonia and published c. 450–500 CE (the Babylonian Talmud). Belief that the Oral Torah was transmitted orally from God to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Exodus from Egypt is a fundamental tenet of faith of Orthodox Judaism, and was recognized as one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith by Maimonides. However, not all branches of Rabbinic Judaism accept the divine provenance of the Oral Torah, such that Conservative and (to a greater extent) Reform Jews give deference to the Talmudic sages while empowering themselves to formulate and adopt their own rulings and interpretations. – Source: Wikipedia
 This is evident in the Body of Christ today. Bible teachers totally ignoring the difference between prophecy for Israel and the mystery of the Church, often try to disparage us with names such as “hyper” dispensationalists, and “Bullingerites” to name a few. Scoffing at the Word of God is never wise.
[i] 7 Dispensations
Dr. C.I. Scofield
From his classic work Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Dr. CI Scofield writes: The Scriptures divide time (by which is meant the entire period from the creation of Adam to the “new heaven and a new earth” of Rev. 21: 1) into seven unequal periods, usually called dispensations (Eph. 3:2), although these periods are also called ages (Eph. 2:7) and days, as in “day of the Lord.”
These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, or a portion of mankind, in respect of the two questions: of sin, and of man’s responsibility. Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment, marking his utter failure in every dispensation. Five of these dispensations, or periods of time, have been fulfilled; we are living in the sixth, probably toward its close, and have before us the seventh, and last: the millennium.
From the Old Scofield Study Bible: [i] dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture. (see Gen_1:28)
The First Dispensation: Innocence (Gen 1:28). Man was created in innocence, placed in a perfect environment, subjected to an absolutely simple test, and warned of the consequence of disobedience. The woman fell through pride; the man deliberately. (1Ti_2:14) God restored His sinning creatures, but the dispensation of innocence ended in the judgment of the Expulsion (see Gen_3:24)
The Second Dispensation: Conscience (Gen 3:23). By disobedience man came to a personal and experimental knowledge of good and evil — of good as obedience, of evil as disobedience to the known will of God. Through that knowledge conscience awoke. Expelled from Eden and placed under the second, or ADAMIC COVENANT, man was responsible to do all known good, to abstain from all known evil, and to approach God through sacrifice. The result of this second testing of man is stated in (Gen_6:5) and the dispensation ended in the judgment of the Flood. Apparently “the east of the garden” (Gen_3:24) where were the cherubims and the flame, remained the place of worship through this second dispensation.
The Third Dispensation: Human Government (Gen 8:21). Under Conscience, as in Innocency, man utterly failed, and the judgment of the Flood marks the end of the second dispensation and the beginning of the third. The declaration of the Noahic Covenant subjects humanity to a new test. Its distinctive feature is the institution, for the first time, of human government — the government of man by man. The highest function of government is the judicial taking of life. All other governmental powers are implied in that. It follows that the third dispensation is distinctively that of human government. Man is responsible to govern the world for God. That responsibility rested upon the whole race, Jew and Gentile, until the failure of Israel under the Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 28 – (Deu_30:1-10)) brought the judgment of the Captivities, when “the times of the Gentiles” (See); (Luk_21:24); (Rev_16:14) began, and the government of the world passed exclusively into Gentile hands; (Dan_2:36-45); (Luk_21:24); (Act_15:14-17). That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is sadly apparent. The judgment of the confusion of tongues ended the racial testing; that of the captivities the Jewish; while the Gentile testing will end in the smiting of the Image (Da 2.) and the judgment of the nations (Mat_25:31-46).
The Fourth Dispensation: Promise (Gen 12:1). For Abraham, and his descendants it is evident that the Abrahamic Covenant (See Scofield) – (Gen_15:18) made a great change. They became distinctively the heirs of promise. That covenant is wholly gracious and unconditional. The descendants of Abraham had but to abide in their own land to inherit every blessing. In Egypt they lost their blessings, but not their covenant. The Dispensation of Promise ended when Israel rashly accepted the law (Exo_19:8). Grace had prepared a deliverer (Moses), provided a sacrifice for the guilty, and by divine power brought them out of bondage (Exo_19:4) but at Sinai they exchanged grace for law. The Dispensation of Promise extends from (Gen_12:1) to (Exo_19:8); and was exclusively Israelitish. The dispensation must be distinguished from the covenant. The former is a mode of testing; the latter is everlasting because unconditional. The law did not abrogate the Abrahamic Covenant (Gal_3:15-18) but was an intermediate disciplinary dealing “till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made”; (Gal_3:19-29); (Gal_4:1-7). Only the dispensation, as a testing of Israel, ended at the giving of the law.
The Fifth Dispensation: Law (Exo 19:8). This dispensation extends from Sinai to Calvary — from Exodus to the Cross. The history of Israel in the wilderness and in the land is one long record of the violation of the law. The testing of the nation by law ended in the judgment of the Captivities, but the dispensation itself ended at the Cross.
(1) Man’s state at the beginning (Exo_19:1-4).
(2) His responsibility (Exo_19:5); (Exo_19:6); (Rom_10:5).
(3) His failure (2Ki_17:7-17); (2Ki_17:19); (Act_2:22); (Act_2:23).
(4) The judgment (2Ki_17:1-6); (2Ki_17:20); (2Ki_25:1-11); (Luk_21:20-24).
The Sixth Dispensation: Grace (Joh 1:17).
(1) Grace is “the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man. . . Not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Tit_3:4); (Tit_3:5).
It is, therefore, constantly set in contrast to law, under which God demands righteousness from man, as, under grace, he gives righteousness to man (Rom_3:21); (Rom_3:22); (Rom_8:4); (Phm_3:9). Law is connected with Moses and works; grace with Christ and faith; (Joh_1:17); (Rom_10:4-10). Law blesses the good; grace saves the bad; (Exo_19:5); (Eph_2:1-9). Law demands that blessings be earned; grace is a free gift; (Deu_28:1-6); (Eph_2:8); (Rom_4:4); (Rom_4:5).
(2) As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom_3:24-26); (Rom_3:4); (Rom_3:24); (Rom_3:25). The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation, (Joh_1:12); (Joh_1:13); (Joh_3:36); (Mat_21:37); (Mat_22:24); (Joh_15:22); (Joh_15:25); (Heb_1:2); (1Jo_5:10-12). The immediate result of this testing was the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and His crucifixion by Jew and Gentile (Act_4:27). The predicted end of the testing of man under grace is the apostasy of the professing church:
(See Scofield) – (2Ti_3:1); (2Ti_3:1-8); and the resultant apocalyptic judgments.
(3) Grace has a twofold manifestation: in salvation (Rom_3:24) and in the walk and service of the saved (Rom_6:15).
The Seventh Dispensation: the fullness of times (Kingdom) (Eph 1:10)
The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. This, the seventh and last of the ordered ages which condition human life on the earth, is identical with the kingdom covenanted to David. (2Sa_7:8-17); (Zec_12:8).
(Luk_1:31-33); (1Co_15:24); and gathers into itself under Christ all past “times”:
(1) The time of oppression and misrule ends by Christ taking His kingdom. (Isa_11:3-4).
(2) The time of testimony and divine forbearance ends in judgment. (Mat_25:31-46); (Act_17:30-31); (Rev_20:7-15).
(3) The time of toil ends in rest and reward. (2Th_1:6-7).
(4) The time of suffering ends in glory. (Rom_8:17-18).
(5) The time of Israel’s blindness and chastisement ends in restoration and conversion. (Rom_11:25-27);
(6) The times of the Gentiles end in the smiting of the image and the setting up of the kingdom of the heavens.
(Dan_2:34); (Dan_2:35); (Rev_19:15-21).
(7) The time of creation’s thralldom ends in deliverance at the manifestation of the sons of God. (Gen_3:17); (Isa_11:6-
Prophecy is for Israel and the Tribulation exists purely as prophecy. Moses was the first to reveal it (Deut. 4:30). Through the years – by means of Progressive Revelation – the prophets unfolded it to Israel. However, in doing so, God never revealed His mystery Body to any of them; reserving it for Paul alone.
We would do well to study carefully the words of Zephaniah as he uses many terms for the tribulation for Israel: “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.” (Zephaniah 1:14-18). (See: Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19)
Coinciding with Zephaniah’s prophecy, the book of Revelation delineates the tribulation as a time of “wrath” by using the word at least 10 times. It is called “the wrath of God” five times (Revelation 14:10, 19; 15:1,7; 16:1) and “the wrath of the Lamb” once (Rev. 6:16 see v 17). Opening the first seal unleashes the tribulation [ii] which continues 7 years (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6, 14) and concludes with “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev. 19:15) when Christ returns to fight the armies gathered against Israel at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21).
The following info is from the Old Scofield Study Bible.
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. These are “weeks” or more accurately, sevens of years; seventy weeks of seven years each. Within these “weeks” the national chastisement must be ended and the nation reestablished in everlasting righteousness (Dan–9:24). The seventy weeks are divided into seven = 49 years; sixty-two = 434 years; one = 7 years (Dan – 9:25-27). In the seven weeks = 49 years, Jerusalem was to be rebuilt in “troublous times.” This was fulfilled, as Ezra and Nehemiah record. Sixty-two weeks = 434 years, thereafter Messiah was to come (Dan – 9:25). This was fulfilled in the birth and manifestation of Christ. (Dan_9:26); (Dan–9:26) is obviously an indeterminate period. The date of the crucifixion is not fixed. It is only said to be “after” the threescore and two weeks. It is the first event in (Dan 19:26). The second event is the destruction of the city, fulfilled A.D. 70. Then, “unto the end,” a period not fixed, but which has already lasted nearly 2000 years. To Daniel was revealed only that wars and desolations should continue (Compare (Mat-24:6-14).
The New Testament reveals, that which was hidden from the Old Testament prophets; (Mat – 13:11-17); (Eph–3: I – 10) that during this period should be accomplished the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven (Mat – 13:1-50) and the out-calling of the Church; (Mat – 16:18); (Rom – 11:25). When the Church-age will end, and the seventieth week be- gin, is nowhere revealed. Its duration can be but seven years. To make it more violates the principle of interpretation already confirmed by fulfillment. (Dan–9:27) deals with the last week. The “he” of (Dan – 9:27) is the “prince that shall come” of (Dan_9:26); 9:26); whose people (Rome) destroyed the temple, A.D. 70. He is the same with the “little horn” of chapter 7. He will covenant with the Jews to restore their temple sacrifices for one week (seven years), but in the middle of that time he will break the covenant and fulfill; (Dan – 12:11); (2Th – 2:3); (2Th_2:4). Between the sixty-ninth week, after which Messiah was cut off, and the seventieth week, within which the “little horn” of Daniel 7. will run his awful course, intervenes this entire Church-age. (Dan – 9:27) deals with the last three and a half years of the seven, which are identical with the “great tribulation.” (Mat–24:15-28) “time of trouble” (Dan_12:1) hour of temptation- (Rev_3: 10).
The Time of the End
Daniel 11:35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed Here the prophetic foreview, having traced the history of the two parts of Alexander’s empire which had to do with Palestine and the Jews, namely, Syria and Egypt, to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and having described his career, overleaps the centuries to “the time of the end,” when he of whom Antiochus Epiphanes was a type, the “little horn” of (Dan – 7:8) the “Beast out of the sea” of (Rev – 13:4- 10) shall appear (cf) (See Scofield) – (Dan–7:8). Prophecy does not concern itself with history as such, but only with history as it affects Israel and the Holy Land. Antiochus Epiphanes was insignificant as compared with historical personages whom the Bible does not mention, but he scourged the covenant people and defiled God’s altar, thus coming into prophetic light. From verse 36 (Dan – 11:36), the “little horn” of (Dan–7:8); (Dan–7:24-26) fills the scene. His prosperity lasts until “the indignation” (the “time of trouble” of, (Dan – 12: 1); (Mat–24:2 1) is accomplished (Dan – 11:36). This is parallel with; (Rev – 17:10-14); (Rev–19:19-21). (Dan_11:37-45) supply details not mentioned in the New Testament The expression “God of his fathers” (Dan –I 1:37) has been held to indicate that the “king” is an apostate Jew, but this does not accord with (Dan_9:26) which was fulfilled by the Gentile armies of Rome. The “little horn” is an apostate, but from Christianity, not Judaism (compare Ho – 2:18); (1Jo_2:19). (Dan–I 1:38-45) describe his career. Substituting “the god of forces” (that is, Forces of nature) for the true God (Dan –I 1:38); (Dan–1 1:39), he soon presents himself as that god (cf) (2Th 2:3); (2Th–2:4). While his career lasts he is an irresistible conqueror (Dan –I 1:40-44). He established his palace in Jerusalem, probably at the time of his supreme act of blasphemous impiety; (Dan T 9:27); (Dan – 12:11); (Mat 24:15); (2Tb–2:4). From this time begins the great tribulation; (Dan_12:1); (Mat–24:21) which runs its course during the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week, namely, three and one half years; (Dan–7:25); (Dan_12:7); (Dan_12:11); (Rev_13:5).
Isaiah 10:20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. “That day”: often the equivalent of “the day of the Lord” (Isa_2:10-22); (Rev–1 9:11-2 1). The prophecy here passes from the general to the particular, from historic and fulfilled judgments upon Assyria to the final destruction of all Gentile world-power at the return of the Lord in glory. (See “Armageddon,”; (Rev –16:14); (Rev – 19:21) “Times of the Gentiles,”; (Luk–21:24); (Rev–16:19); “The great tribulation,”; (Psa–2:5); (Rev_7:14)
Revelation 7:14 And 1 said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The great tribulation is the period of unexampled trouble predicted in the passages cited under that head from (Psa_2:5) to (Rev_7:14) and described in Revelation 11-18. Involving in a measure the whole earth (Rev –3: 10) it is yet distinctly “the time of Ja- cob’s trouble” (Jer – 30:7) and its vortex Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It involves the people of God who will have returned to Palestine in unbelief. Its duration is three and a half years, or the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel. (See Scofield) – (Dan – 9:24). (Rev_11:2); (Rev–1 1:3) [Editor’s note: Please never forget that the Lord Jesus promised to keep us from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth Rev. 3:10].
The elements of the tribulation are:
- The cruel reign of the “beast out of the sea” (Rev – 13: 1) who at the beginning of the three and a half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the temple worship, (Dan –9:27) and show himself in the temple, demanding that he be worshipped as God. (Mat – 24:15); (2Th-2:4).
- The active interposition of Satan “having great wrath” (Rev–12:12) who gives his power to the Beast. (Rev – 13:4); (Rev_13:5).
- The unprecedented activity of demons (Rev – 9:2); (Rev_9:11), and
- the terrible “bowl” judgments of Revelation 16.
The great tribulation will be, however, a period of salvation. An election out of Israel is seen as sealed for God (Rev_7:4-8) and, with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles (Rev–7:9) are said to have come “out of the great tribulation” (Rev_7:14). They are not of the priesthood, the church, to which they seem to stand somewhat in the relation of the Levites to the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. The great tribulation is immediately followed by the return of Christ in glory, and the events associated therewith. (Mat 24:29); (Mat-24:30).
- The time of the end in Danielbegins with the violation by “the prince that shall come” (that is, “little horn,” “man of sin,” “Beast”) of his covenant with the Jews for the restoration of the temple and sacrifice (Dan–9:27) and his presentation of himself as God; (Dan – 9:27); (Dan_11:36-38); (Mat–24:15); (2Tb–2:4); (Rev–13:4-6) and ends with his destruction by the appearing of the Lord in glory. (2Th_2:8); (Rev 19:19); (Rev-19:20).
- The duration of the “time of the end”, is three and one half years, coinciding with the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel. (Dan – 7:25); (Dan_12:7); (Rev_13:5). This “time of the end” is the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” (Jer – 30:7) “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan 2: 1) “great tribulation such as was not from the beginning of the world… nor ever shall be” (Mat–24:2 1). The New Testament, especially the Book of the Revelation, adds many details. [ii] The churchis never mentioned- nor can it be clearly identified- in any part of the 7 year tribulation.
AntiPreTrib Problems Associated with the Tribulation
The Tribulation is a ubiquitous term that has become a well-known doctrine. Prophecy is for Israel and the Tribulation exists purely as prophecy. It was well known by the prophets (Deut. 4:30) so it was never a part of the mystery. That being said, there isn’t a prophecy or verse for that matter anywhere in Scripture: (1) clearly consigning the mystery Body of Christ to the time of Jacob’s trouble, or (2) revealing her as being on earth for a single hour during this time [unless two terms used for Israel, “elect” and “saints” are pulled from their context to prove something that simply is not provable in any other fashion].
There are several problems AntiPreTrib advocates have with the Tribulation.
- Their first problem is what to call it.
The term tribulation, which includes the great tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29), is part of “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 2; 13; 34; Jer. 30-31; 46; etc). It is also called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) [Jacob is Israel], “Daniel’s Seventieth Week” (Dan. 9:24-27), and the “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), and “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10).
- Their second problem is the length of it.
The first mention of seven in the Bible tells us how it stands connected in God’s mind. “. . . on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made” (Gen. 2:2). Seven from that point on signifies something started and finished. Since Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks is our Rosetta Stone for interpreting the tribulation trilogy, we have one seven year period still future, dispensational Bible scholars view in connection with the beginning and ending of tribulation and great tribulation period; Scripture bearing witness. In the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:21; 29), and the Book of Revelation, two separate three and one-half year periods form one whole seven year tribulation: 42 months (Rev. 11:3); 1260 days (Rev. 11:3, 12:6); and time, times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14).
However, in a concerted contrarian effort to thwart scholarly teaching, you’ll find antiPreTrib proponents to be of the most creative antagonists on the planet; especially those espousing the most recent – and perhaps most confusing – PreWrath rapture ruse. Their claim to fame is in arbitrarily placing the church into the time of Jacob’s trouble for most of seven year period with nothing more than bizarre calculations and misguided outcomes they arbitrarily apply to the Body of Christ without ever proving she is here during any part of the Tribulation aka Jacob’s trouble.
- Their third problem is not accepting its origin and purpose.
The Tribulation is for Israel through prophecy; Moses being the first prophet to reveal it (Deut. 4:30). The purpose of the tribulation is to punish sin and purify Israel and her supporters for the Millennial Kingdom (Jer. 30-31; Obad. 1:15; Zech. 13:9; Matt. 25:31-46; study the great catastrophes in Rev. 6-19). “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city . . . to seal up the vision and prophecy …” (Dan 9:24). Although Daniel prophesied that the seventy weeks would seal up the vision and prophesy, there appears to be a secondary reference here to a cessation of prophecy which occurred at the 69th week and will last for an unspecified time. Knowing what we now know, that happened when God moved from prophecy to mystery at the rejection of Jesus’ Kingdom offer. Interestingly, the corollary to this rejection brought about a dual blindness each leading in separate directions for distinct purposes.
- Their fourth problem is consigning the Body of Christto it.
The tribulation is a watershed for Israel given through prophecy before she ever knew about the coming kingdom (Deut. 4:30). It was later expanded upon by the prophets (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc) through Progressive Revelation. When the Lord summed up Israel’s end time’s scenario in Luke 21:22, He referred to this epoch as “the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” The days of vengeance is the tribulation – aka the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), and the “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), also referred to as Daniel’s Seventieth Week for Israel and Jerusalem. All things fulfilled refers to Israel’s prophets. The notion that the Body of Christ will share in the prescribed horrors of the Jewish tribulation is an invented doctrine without clear Scriptural support.
There are only three ways to place the church in the tribulation:
(1) by wresting Scripture from its context where it clearly can be found implicating Israel and the Gentiles, not the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:9; 21:2,9; 22:17);
(2) by superimposing the church over the top of Israel, which is Satanic Replacement Theology condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 2:9; 3:9); or
(3) by a dogged determination to maintain the anti-rapture mantra even when presented with clear evidence refuting it. The tribulation is for Israel (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1, etc) and placing the Body of Christ here during that time is a manmade doctrine devoid of integrity and Biblical authority.
In summary, the tribulation – known by other names – covers Daniel’s Seventieth Week and as such is seven years in length. Its purpose is to punish sin and prepare Israel for the Revelation of the Messiah and the Davidic Kingdom on earth which the prophets applied exclusively to Israel. Any suggestion that the Body of Christ will be here for a moment of the time of Jacob’s trouble is without Scriptural authority and should be rejected out of hand with no more ink devoted to it.
|Chart of Exegesis – 2 Tim. 2:15|
|Time past – ages to come
(Eph. 2:11-12; Eph. 2:7; Heb. 1:1)
(Eph. 2:13; 5:8; Col. 1:26)
|Israel||Church (Body of Christ)|
|Nation of Jews||Body of Believing Jews and Gentiles|
|Christ is Messiah of the Nation||Christ is Head of the Body|
Ministry to: Christ, Peter, James, John, etc
(Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:7-9)
|Spoken since the world began
(Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21)
|Kept secret since the world began
(Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:26)
|Kingdom in Earth||Inheritance in Heaven|
Dr. Mike Johnston
The Revelation is part of the prophecy program in the “ages to come” category. It’s the deliverance of Israel following “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. It is a well-known Jewish teaching (Psa. 102:16; Isa. 66:15-18; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:3-4; etc). It originated through the prophets, centers around earth, concerns the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem, and occurs at the completion of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:29) also known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27, “the day of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10, etc), a “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), and “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10). [Continued discussion in Annotation ]. His purpose is completely separate from what we know to be the Rapture.
In an article entitled The Glorious Appearing of Christ, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost wrote: “When the Son returns in glory (Rev. 1:13-16 He is fulfilling His God given role as Judge (John 5:27). He is portrayed in that role throughout the book of Revelation. Christ is the one (Rev. 5:5) who looses the series of judgments described in the breaking of the seals (Rev. 6:1-17) and the blowing of the trumpets (Rev. 8:2-9:21) . . . Upon the Second Coming, He will assemble living Israel for judgment (Matt. 24:31; 25:1-30) and will judge living Gentiles to determine who will enter the covenanted kingdom.”
Chart: Revelation vs. Rapture
|Revelation of Christ (prophecy)
“Ages to come”
|Rapture by Christ (mystery)
|“Ages to come” (Eph. 2:7)
Occurs after the time of Jacob’s trouble aka Daniel’s 70th week
Dan 7:9,22; Matt 24:29-31;
|“But now” (Eph. 2:13)
Occurs before the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) aka Daniel’s 70th Week (Dan 9:24-27)
Luke 21:36; Rev 3:10
|A prophecy given to Israel by the Lord Jesus Matt 24:29-31; Mark 13:26||A promise given to the church by the Lord Jesus John 14:2-3; Rev 3:10|
|Was well known to the prophets
1 Chron 16:33; Isa 26:21; Dan 7-13-14; Zech 14:4-5
|Was a mystery unknown to the prophets
1 Cor 15:51
|In the day of the Lord
Isa 2:12; Jer 46:10; Ezek 30:3; Joel 2:11
|In the day of Christ
2 Thess 2:1-2; 1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; Phil 1:6
|Christ comes with His own
|Christ comes for His own
John 14:3; 1 Thess 4:17
|He comes to the earth
Zech 14:4-5; Acts 1:11
|He comes in the air
1 Thess 4:17
|He comes with His Bride
|He comes to claim His Bride
1 Thess 4:16,17
|Public: Every eye shall see Him
Rev 1:7; Matthew 24:30
|Private: Only His own see Him
1 Thess 4:13-18
|A time of mourning and wailing
Psa 114:7; Isa 26:21; Matt 24:30; Rev 1:7
|A blessed hope Titus 2:13|
|Unsaved have experienced wrath
Rev 6:12-17; see Nahum 1:2
|Saved are delivered from wrath
1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10
|Signs precede the Second Coming
Matt 24; Mark 11; Luke 21
|No signs precede the Rapture
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
|Focus: Israel and Kingdom
|Focus: Lord and Church
1 Thess 4:13-18
|Followed by sheep and goat judgment
|Followed by judgment seat of Christ
Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10
|Millennial Kingdom begins
|Daniel’s 70 week begins sometime after
2 Thess 1:6-9
The Rapture is part of the mystery program. It delivers the Body of Christ from “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Luke 21:36; Rev. 3:10). It was taught by Paul, was unknown to the prophets, centers around heaven, and is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) that removes the mystery Body of Christ (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-11) at the day of Christ, prior to Daniel’s seventieth week, and the day of the Lord. 
- Mystery appearance of the Body of Christ: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of JesusChrist, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25; see Gal. 1:12)
- Mystery disappearance of the Body of Christ: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1Co 15:51-52). [SIDENOTE: I find the allusion to the eye quite interesting in that Israel is currently blind. Could this twinkling be in the Jewish eye? Time will tell].
Once the mystery Body of Christ is removed – which will occur when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) – the prophecy clock and final preparations for the Kingdom can once again get underway. 
The Revelation was well known by the prophets, is for Israel, and occurs after “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. The Rapture is the final mystery in the mission of the mystery Body (Eph. 3:1-11), and it occurs prior to “the time of Jacob’s trouble”.
Summary: The Rapture and the Revelation (see Appendix [i]) are different; therefore, they are not the same!
 In order to fit the pieces together leading to restarting the prophecy clock and ultimately to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks, which we will study shortly. Daniel – a Jewish prophet – saw the Lord’s first presentation of the Kingdom in a prophecy he foretold of seventy weeks of seven years (for Israel) leading to the cutting off of the Messiah (Dan. 9:24-26). With the Davidic Covenant in mind, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ began preaching Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This of course was God’s offer to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. When Jesus was officially rejected on the exact day Daniel’s seventieth week was to begin, the prophetic calendar for Israel stopped making way for a parenthetic body to be inserted into the fabric of God’s providence- a mystery that was unknown by the prophets- called the Body of Christ (aka the church). However, this left unfulfilled one seven year period the prophets and dispensational scholars refer to as the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble (Jer. 30:7); the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the tribulation is part of the day of the Lord; a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Revelation 6-19), where the focus is Jerusalem, and the abomination of desolation in the Temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). Not surprisingly, Daniel’s seventieth week – which the Olivet Discourse outlines and the Book of Revelation reveals – will be the worst period of devastation and anti-Semitism in world history. It will be a time when a sinister figure called Antichrist and the Beast leads a carnage against the saints of God (Jews: Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 25,27; Rev. 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:16; 17:6; 18:24, etc). In the end, Israel- at the point of utter annihilation at Armageddon (Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:1-3; Rev. 14:20; 16:16; 19:11-21) – will look up to see a white horse in the sky carrying the glorious Messiah Jesus who is returning in glory to rescue them from total destruction. His feet will split open the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4) and He will gather earth’s survivors, separating the sheep from the goats in judgment (Matt. 25:31-33), therein establishing the Covenanted Kingdom of David (2 Sam. 7:16) in Jerusalem. This visible, triumphant return to Israel- called the Revelation is an event the prophets of Israel saw (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech 14). What they didn’t see was the mystery; the church playing a parenthetic role during Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:25). It was Paul – the converted Jewish scholar- that taught two separate comings of the Lord; one for Israel on earth which he’d learned in his Jewish studies (Dan. 7:13-14) at the feet of the brilliant Gamaliel (Acts 22:3); and one in the heavens for the church he learned from Jesus in the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:3) separated by at least seven years that could begin shortly. The former called the Revelation (aka Second Coming) happens on earth and is for Israel; it will be seen by everyone in the world (Rev. 1:7). The latter called the Rapture happens in the heavens and will be seen by all who have trusted Him (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; Heb. 9:28). In divine irony, the church- which began in a mystery- will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).
 Anti-PreTrib proponents claim the church needs to endure the tribulation to prove herself worthy. How can Bible teachers in good conscience subject the church to any of the earthly tribulation hell knowing Christ’s bride has been redeemed (Eph 1:7), justified (Rom 3:28), and glorified (Eph 1:20; 2:6) by faith in our Saviour’s shed blood – with no subsequent requirement to “prove herself worthy”? They pull this sleight of hand trickery simply by redefining a couple words most who read this have never really studied- saints and elect.
 At some point in the future, God’s program will once again feature Israel. Anti-PreTrib rapturists have identified no starting point for this.
The Revelation- also called the Second Coming – is for Israel. Keep this in mind and prophecy becomes clearer. It originated through the prophets, centers around earth, concerns the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem, and occurs at the completion of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:29) also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), and the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10, etc).
The Rapture is for the church. It originated with Paul, centers around heaven, and is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) that removes the church (also a mystery) prior to the day of the Lord, at the day of Christ. Once the church is removed, the prophecy clock and final preparations for the Kingdom can once again get underway.
In order to fit the pieces together leading to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks. Remember, the vision was delivered by the angel Gabriel (Dan. 9:21), to the prophet Daniel, for “thy people” (Jews) concerning “thy holy city” (Jerusalem; see Dan. 9:24). Although it is a comprehensive narrative, the prophecy is incomplete; it’s missing a single week of seven years that must be fulfilled through Israel according to the Davidic Covenant and the prophetic Word (Dan. 9:24-27).
The Jewish prophet Daniel saw the Lord’s first presentation of the Kingdom in a prophecy he foretold of seventy weeks of seven years (for Israel) leading to the cutting off of the Messiah (Dan. 9:24-26). With the Davidic Covenant in mind, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ began preaching “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This of course was God’s offer to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy.
When Jesus was officially rejected on the exact day Daniel’s seventieth week was to begin, the prophetic calendar for Israel stopped; allowing for a parenthetic body to be inserted into the fabric of God’s providence- a mystery that was unknown by the prophets- called the church. However, this left unfulfilled one seven year period the prophets and dispensational scholars refer to as the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble (Jer. 30:7); the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29).
Bear in mind, the day of the Lord is a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Rev. 12: the focus is Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation in the Temple Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). The Body of Christ is NOT in view during the time of Jacob’s trouble!
See Chart of Differences between the Revelation and the Rapture on the next page
Unrevealed and not predicted in O.T. Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:51 – “mystery” compare Eph. 3:9 – “which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God”)
No mention of Satan (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
Revealed and predicted often in O.T. Scriptures (Isa. 9:7; 11:4; 26:19-21; 63:1-4; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-12; Zech. 14:1-9; Ma. 4:2-3)
Christ comes back to earth (Zech. 14:4)
Christ comes with His bride (Rev. 19:7-9; 11-14)
Christ comes as the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2)
Earth judged (Rev. 16:14-20; 19:15; Isa. 11:4)
Follows definite predicted signs (signs occurring during the Tribulation Period – Matt. 24:29-34)
Satan is bound (Rev. 20:1-3)
Dr. Mike Johnston
If you’ve studied the Bible for any length of time, you probably know that the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) – is a grossly misunderstood, gravely misapplied end-time’s doctrine. One of the major misrepresentations of the tribulation comes from ardent PreTrib rapture opponents who inauspiciously link it to the Body of Christ with nothing more than a wink, hope and heavy-handed haranguing. Their confusion originates in a hermeneutic gaffe I once employed by ignoring the clear distinction God’s Word makes between Israel, the Body of Christ, and the two distinct programs governing them.
The first program is for Israel and exists from prophecy “which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). The second is for the Body of Christ and exists from the mystery “which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). The division is a necessary component for unlocking end time’s Scripture separating the Body of Christ from Israel, and her coming tribulation. However, ignoring it leads to several blunders.
First, trivializing the doctrine of the tribulation. Anti-PreTrib proponents claim it’s nothing more than the common trials every Christian faces. The tribulation that Moses, Jesus, and John warned Israel about (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14) is an epic future event which was progressively revealed in Scripture as “tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14); “the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15); Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27); “a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zephaniah 1:15), and “the hour of temptation” to try earth dwellers (Rev. 3:10). You see anything trivial here?
Second, twisting the purpose for Israel’s tribulation; which is to punish sin and sinners (Deut. 4:30-31; Jer. 30-31; Joel, Zeph; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19), and prepare earth and Israel for the Revelation of the Messiah (Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11) and the Jewish Davidic Kingdom following (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 11; 65; Matt. 25:34; Rev. 20).
However, the greatest “sleight of … cunning craftiness” (Eph. 4:14) used by anti-PreTrib advocates has to be their “Houdini hermeneutics” whereby they make discordant facts appear or disappear as need arises. One glaring example concerns the slipshod treatment of the mystery Body of Christ the prophets never saw and never mentioned (Rom. 16:25; (Eph. 3:5; Col. 1:26).
Consider this. Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations can be clearly identified during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) while the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from it (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). Was this an oversight from the Holy Spirit? Was He unaware the church is included in this epoch of evil? Or – even worse – did He purposely hide this in order to advance some secret conspiracy to deceive us? Hardly!
The fact is, by design there isn’t a single prophecy or verse anywhere in the Bible conclusively consigning or identifying on earth for a single moment of Israel’s tribulation the Body of Christ without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints” and “elect” – which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation specifically refer to Israel.
Rightly Dividing Between God’s Two Overarching Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery (scroll down for videos)
Dr. Mike Johnston, Editor
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
God has two overarching programs discussed fully in the videos below: One from prophecy for Israel and earth, and the other from mystery for the Body of Christ and heaven. Both of these programs have separate participants, purposes and ordinances (Jer. 33:25); existing “since the world began” (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25).
In the Providential panorama, all Scripture exists to either explain or enhance the propheticprogram for Israel concerning earth, or the mystery program for the Body of Christ concerning heaven.
The Prophecy program:
“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70). “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).
The Mystery program:
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).
How to Understand the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwOtKMO1h6s
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OEsGFOMBU&nohtml5=False
Rightly Dividing and Following Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0abp15uLFT8
God’s Three Programs- Time past, but now, ages to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhd5kMeHoQ
Complete Bible Overview in one hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVmCChH0MJE
Hyper Dispensationalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpgxaj8sXnI
Knowing God’s Timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2pq8FRYKI8
Rightly Dividing the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4GQB4UOpMk
Rightly Dividing of the Dispensations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy0G9x8EYI
Matthew 24 Explained Rightly Divided Proving PreTribulation Rapture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxIUpkLi7Ck
The Grace Message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH8qy5NCwXw
Standing for the Truth of the Mystery is no easy task: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UMauSZj-Vw
Thy Kingdom Come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii0y0BVpEUQ
Mystery Body of Christ – the Gospel of Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRwStPIDPNs
Only Paul’s Gospel Saves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcTI-T-SJAE
How to Read and Understand your Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxBpRzhTko&nohtml5=False
What is Satan Thinking About Right Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWdrQ3yVHa4&nohtml5=False
Peter vs. Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQhaOCKswnk
Dr Mike Johnston
You can’t discuss the tribulation without discussing the rapture.  Moreover, you can’t discuss the rapture without hearing that it’s a satanic plot that never existed until 1830. (see rebuttal in Appendix [i]). This argument forms the crux of a hook or crook campaign waged by a vast majority of rapture antagonists wishing to wedge the church into the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) – where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong. Paradoxically, while their battle boasts strict Biblical auspices it hasn’t been waged sola scriptura. It has risen instead on the back of untruthful accusations disguised as “scholarship” from men conflating God’s plan for Israel with His plan for the church that over time has proven to be part of the an unhinged scheme with impure motives.
The plot began as an allegation beaten like a jungle drum since the 1970s by a neurotic  rapture-loathing newsman named Dave MacPherson.[ii] Borrowing and twisting the undocumented claims of Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles – MacPherson has amassed a cult like following for what has become a franchise of slanderous  writings  presenting the rapture  as a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up hiding a dubious origin.
Postulating without proof
The alleged conspiracy – now ballyhooed by a crowing coterie of contrarians – centers around a demon possessed charismatic girl named Margaret MacDonald  who in 1830 is said to have conjured up the PreTrib rapture  in a dream while a member of Edward Irving’s  Catholic Apostolic Church.  According to MacPherson’s mythos, that’s when dispensationalist John Nelson Darby pirated it for his own use then gave it to CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible as part of a sinister plot to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people.  To make matters worse, no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their lackey loyalists – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield directly to plagiarizing MacDonald or to any of these appalling activities. Commenting on the entire charade, Dr. John Walvoord wrote, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face.” Walvoord continues, “Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.”
Sadly, proof is secondary to an activist with an agenda. In the absence of evidence, MacPherson’s minions fill their books with a daisy chain of chicanery from bibliographical references listing him and one another as their sources.  This then is glibly passed off as scholarship to their low information audience who don’t give a rip about Biblical integrity as long as it comes to the agreed upon anti-rapture conclusion their contentious cabal coagulates around. After a lengthy examination of the “facts” linking Darby to a demonic charismatic vision, post-trib proponent John Bray conceded, “He [Darby] rejected those practices, and he already had his new view of the Lord coming FOR THE SAINTS (as contrasted to the later coming to the earth) which he had believed since 1827. It was the coupling of this “70th week of Daniel” prophecy and its futuristic interpretation, with the teaching of the “secret rapture,” that gave to us the completed “Pre-tribulation Secret Rapture” teaching as it has now been taught for many years. . . . (and) makes it impossible for me to believe that Darby got his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching from Margaret MacDonald’s vision in 1830. He was already a believer in it since 1827, as he plainly said.”
A Twist in the Incredible Cover Up
While MacPherson – a seasoned reporter – must have expected scrutiny from PreTrib scholars like Dr. Walvoord and others – he apparently hoped his post trib fraternity would hold their nose and cover for him. But they didn’t. After discovering his charges were creative at best, they did what credible journalists do and unmasked his deceptions for what they really were. Ultimately, when the ink dried, MacPherson’s “scholarship” became a laughing stock under a scrutiny from fellow Post Tribulationists he hadn’t anticipated and couldn’t refute. Still, with the extant evidence against him, the disingenuous and devious MacPherson continues to this day cranking out money generating books and blogs bloviating over the same false charges that have been disproved time and again by honest scholars on both sides of the rapture issue.
What to do with the truth
Here’s the bottom line. MacPherson’s rapture hoax is itself a hoax; a prefabricated iconic irony featuring an elaborate 40-year scheme representing the rapture as a big lie only to be unmasked as a hubris hypocrisy using a bigger lie to do it; a tactic eerily reminiscent of one outlined in the Josef Goebbels Propaganda Playbook. 
A slam dunk for integrity? For those with ears to hear, yes. For the others, no!
I’ll close this section with this provocative quote from researcher writer Frank Morotta, “It is significant that MacPherson is the lone ‘historian’ who has argued a connection between MacDonald and Darby.  Considering that there have been numerous historical examinations of both the Irvingites and the Brethren, yet MacPherson stands alone in exposing the “plot,” is rather a testimony to polemical bias, not the facts. Those anti-pretribulationists who have adopted MacPherson’s revision have done so merely on the basis of his word, not as a result of original research.”
 When using the term “rapture” I mean PreTrib removal of the Body of Christ by Jesus in the air.
 If you‘ve read his materials you would know what I’m talking about. MacPherson actually blames proponents of the PreTrib rapture for all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from Bible college, a drunken binge in Mexico, a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, and all his father’s woes.
 Dave vilifies all who disagree with his questionable conclusions in a signature unchristian assault. It begins by impugning the person’s character and credentials and ends with condemning their souls to Hell forever.
 Titles include “The Incredible Cover-Up”, “The Great Rapture Hoax”, “The Rapture Plot”, ad nauseum.
 Since our opponents’ case is weak, they grab for straws. One tactic they love to employ is the notion that “rapture” isn’t found in the Bible as if that would disqualify it as a doctrine. We remind them neither is the word Bible in the Scriptures. Rapture is transliterated from the Latin repere or rapto found in 1 Thess. 4:17 where the King James renders it “caught up.”
 The outrageous nature of MacPherson’s prevarications have increased over time as books emerge under his name charging new cover ups that unbiased scholarship finds laughably ludicrous. Frank Marotta of according2prophecy.org writes: His latest book is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.
 The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a (alleged) spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept” [Hommel, Jason. “Margaret MacDonald’s Vision” – Jason Hommel’s Bible Prophecy Study on the Pre Tribulation Rapture. Grass Valley, California. Retrieved 23 January 2011. Quotes the account in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861).]
 “It is only with some difficulty that one can identify what MacPherson calls her ‘pretribulationist’ teaching in the transcript of 1840, and when in 1861 Norton quoted from her prophecy he omitted the passage which referred to ‘the fiery trial’ which ‘will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus’—a passage which clearly assumes that Christians will go through the tribulation.” [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]
 Edward Irving was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church which believed in modern day apostles and sign gifts. In other words they were charismatics. [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]
 Here’s a few problems. First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain any elements related to a pre-trib rapture [Read her prophecy and you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist]. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, he had to conflate the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not. There is evidence that Darby heard about Miss MacDonald’s strange vision and labeled it demonic. Third, according to biographer historian Roy Huebner R. A. Huebner, “Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby”, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991), Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830. John Walvoord has said, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” More information available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_MacDonald_(visionary).
 This is another desperate and disingenuous deception from the other side. Roy Huebner documented from Darby’s writings beginning as early as 1827 that he was teaching a PreTrib rapture.
 And this they want you to believe is scholarly reporting.
 Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, pp. 24-25, 28.
 Drs. Thomas Ice and Gerald Stanton among them.
 Post tribulation rapture author Ernest Sandeen wrote: “This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence. Others include Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber to name a few. Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/part-2-myths-of-origin-rapture
 One of the most successful strategies Josef Goebbels facilitated in the Nazi rise to power over Germany was the “Big Lie” propaganda ploy. Briefly, he believed if a lie was big enough and told often enough the people would eventually embrace it. The fact that Hitler slaughtered 6 million Jews virtually uncontested by Germans proves just how powerful this strategy is.
 Excuse my reiteration of some of this material, but it is vital that you recognize and refute the prejudicial arguments these people have invented. Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documents his belief that J.N. Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827.12 If this is true, then all of the origin-of-the-rapture-conspiracy-theories fall to the ground in a heap of speculative rubble. Darby would have at least a three-year jump on any who would have supposedly influenced his thought, making it impossible for all the “influence” theories to have any credibility. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.” 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.” 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'” 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827. 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” [Dr Thomas Ice- https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/tt11.html%5D
[i] The Rapture
After animated author and apologist Doc Marquis had his fill of this feckless flimflam he wrote, “The blatant lie (knowingly or unknowingly) that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is a new concept that can only be traced back to 1830 is simply that … a lie! I shall now present to you good people another literary list and, this one will prove, once and for all, that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is “not” a new concept, but was a teaching that came directly from the Apostles themselves (dating back) “before” 1830” . . . to the 1st Century A.D.”
1) 1792 – Thomas Scott – he taught that the righteous will be carried to Heaven where they will be secure until the time of the judgment is over.
2) 1763 – James Macknight – he also taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven until the judgment is over with.
3) 1748 – John Gill (Commentary on the New Testament) – teaches of the imminent return of Christ, firstly in Rapture, and then He will return again to judge the earth (Armageddon).
4) 1744 – Morgan Edwards (founder of the Ivy League School, Brown University) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” beliefs.
5) 1738 – Phillip Doddrige (Commentary on the New Testament) teaches along the same lines of John Gill; a “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” perspective.
6) 1687 – Peter Jurieu – (“Approaching Deliverance of the Church”) Christ would return during the Rapture and take His saints to Heaven and later return at the Battle of Armageddon.
7) 1674 – 1748 – Isaac Watts (known as the Father of the English Hymn) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” belief. (As a side note, Isaac Watts was solely responsible for writing over 1,000 Christian hymns if I recall the numbers correctly. Study his life because it was truly a miraculous one by all definitions of the word).
8) 1674 – Thomas Collier – makes reference in the belief to the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture”.
9) 1532 – 1591 – Francisco Rivera wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church beliefs
10) 431 – 1500 – Any mention of Pre-Tribulation (Millennial) Rapture of the Church perspectives are outlawed by the Catholic Church and deemed heretical and punishable by death!!!
11) 431 – The Council of Ephesus; the Catholic Church decrees and condemns Pre-Millennial views as heresy. Books and such are destroyed or altered.
The following all wrote of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church:
12) 354 – 430 – Augustine, Bishop of North Africa
13) 306 – 373 – Ephraem of Nisibus
14) ? – 204 – Victorinus, Bishop of Petau
15) 200 – 258 – Cyrian
16) 170 – 236 – Hippolytus of Rome
17) 150 – 272 – Apocalypse of Elijah (an Extra-Biblical book)
18) 120 – 202 – Ireaneus (“Against Heresies”)
19) 36 – 108 – Ignatius of Antioch, the Third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch (who as a student of John the Apostle) – His “Letters of Extra-Biblical works are:
- Letter to the Ephesians
- Letter to the Magnesians
- Letter to the Trallians
- Letter to the Romans
- Letter to the Philadelphians
- Letter to the Smyrnaeans
- Letter to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna
- ? – 99 A.D. – Clement of Rome, “Letter to the Corinthians” also known as “I Clement” (an Extra-Biblical book).
John Bray’s $500 Folly
Arrogant and antagonistic describes the majority of the anti-PreTrib gang I’ve encountered, personally and by reading their books and blogs. Most are so certain of MacPherson’s unproven allegation of an 1830 rapture origin they link their entire journalistic integrity to it by making outlandish statements that have been refuted hundreds of times by PreTrib rapture scholars.
One of the more foolhardy stunts came from John L. Bray, a Southern Baptist evangelist, who offered $500 to anyone who could prove that someone taught the rapture doctrine prior to MacDonald’s 1830 vision. Interestingly, Bray displayed a modicum of integrity when his own research proved himself wrong. He wrote, “Then my own research indicated that it was Emmanuel Lacunza, a Jesuit Catholic priest, who in the 1812 book The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, first taught this theory.”
However, Bray – like those of his stubborn ilk – was determined to win the bet and he stuck his neck out again with another $500 offer to anyone who could provide a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s 1812 writings. Apparently he had to cough up the 500 bucks. I quote him again: “I offered $500 to anyone who would give a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s time which taught a two-stage coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time.” No one claimed that offer until someone found writings that forced Bray to write the following: “Now I have the Photostat copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the pretribulation rapture before Lacunza.” [i]
[ii] Dave MacPherson’s the
Rapture plot: weighed and found wanting
by Frank Marotta
Since the early 1970’s, Dave MacPherson has aggressively attacked the pretribulation rapture by attributing its origin to Margaret Macdonald, whom MacPherson considers to be occult influenced. He claims J.N. Darby derived the pretribulation rapture from her and this was done secretly, lest the true origin of the rapture be discovered. MacPherson develops this idea in his books The Incredible Cover-Up and The Great Rapture Hoax. It has been successfully demolished in works by R. A. Huebner, Thomas Ice, and Gerald Stanton,1 to name a few.
MacPherson’s Seventh Version
(One of) MacPherson’s latest (books) is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.
In our research on Catholic Apostolic and Irvingite works, we have never found a claim that anyone outside their group “stole” their doctrines. Consider the Catholic Apostolic apologist William Bramley-Moore, a contemporary of William Kelly. In his work The Church’s Forgotten Hope, (a significant work never discussed by MacPherson) Bramley-Moore skips over Margaret Macdonald and credits John Asgill in 1703 as “. . . the only individual who, since the Reformation [until 1830] had given a clarion testimony” to the hope of translation (p. 251)! We will not manufacture a “plot” or “cover-up” regarding the failure of MacPherson and others to credit Asgill. (Asgill taught that individual translation was possible, similar to Enoch or Elijah. His view is distinct from pretribulationism.) More relevant to our discussion, Bramley-Moore never claimed the brethren or anyone else “stole” the Irvingite prophetical views.
Recently, the most extensive critical analysis ever produced on Irvingite doctrine declared that they were still primarily historicist, while Darby and the Brethren had become futurist. Further, Columba G. Flegg notes that the Brethren teaching on the rapture and the present invisible and spiritual nature of the church, were in sharp contrast to Catholic Apostolic teaching, . . . There were thus very significant differences between the two eschatologies, and attempts to see any direct influence of one upon the other seem unlikely to succeed-they had a number of common roots, but are much more notable for their points of disagreement. Several writers [referring specifically to MacPherson] have attempted to trace Darby’s secret rapture theory to a prophetic statement associated with Irving, but their arguments do not stand up to serious criticism. Source: http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html
By Justin Johnson
As far as I know, there has been no direct response to his challenge, though what a shame it would be if I were the first.
Is there proof that to Paul exclusively was revealed the mystery of the church? I believe so, and according to Dr. Ryrie, if there is, then the church began with the Lord’s revelation to Paul.
What a great opportunity from one of the most esteemed living dispensational theologians to consider the Biblical evidence for mid-Acts Pauline dispensational right division!
Revelation to Paul
Before dealing with the central element of the challenge all doubt as to Paul receiving special revelation concerning the mystery of the church must be removed.
On this point it is admitted by Dr. Ryrie and most other students of scripture that Paul did receive revelation concerning the mystery of the church. There is abundant proof for this found most notably in passages such as 2 Cor 12:7; Gal 1:12; Eph 5:32; Col 1:25-27, and most clearly in Ephesians 3:3-4.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” – Ephesians 3:3-4
If words mean anything, it is true that Paul received revelation concerning the mystery of the church. However, the central point of the challenge is not to question the special revelation to Paul, which is commonly agreed upon, but rather whether this revelation was exclusive to Paul.
What Exclusive Means
The popular response to the claim of exclusive revelation to Paul, and the response in Ryrie’s book, is that Ephesians 3:5 proves that other apostles and prophets received the revelation of the mystery:
“Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” – Ephesians 3:5
Clearly, Paul was not the only apostle or prophet to whom the revelation was ever revealed, but this fact alone does not adequately diminish the claim of Pauline exclusivity.
Exclusive revelation to Paul only requires that he be the first, chief, or sole source of information concerning the revelation, not the only recipient of the revelation.
Pauline dispensationalism does not initially seek to prove that Paul was the only apostle or prophet at any time to receive revelation of the mystery, but that he was first, chief, and our sole source of information about it.
In this way, the revelation of the mystery church is exclusive to the apostle Paul.
Paul the First
George Washington was the first American president. That there was another president in his lifetime does not repeal the historical reality that the presidential office began with him: George Washington was the first.
In a similar way, Ephesians 3:5 simply communicates that the mystery was revealed to other apostles and prophets, but not when, nor specifically to who.
It is assumed that these apostles are the twelve apostles before Paul, but the passage does not identify these apostles and prophets. They could be, and most likely are, the same apostles and prophets of the mystery one body church Paul discusses in 1 Cor 12:28.
Even if these other apostles are the Twelve (a position I do not hold for important reasons), Eph 3:5 does not indicate when the other apostles received it. If every apostle in Eph 3:5 received revelation after Paul, the mystery would have been exclusively revealed to Paul until it was revealed to others.
Is there any time before Paul (Acts 9) that an apostle taught the mystery of a new creature made of Jew and Gentile, saved without the law, without Israel, apart from their covenants?
The early chapters of Acts and the Hebrew epistles will be searched in vain for such teaching. There we find only the teaching of Jesus Christ as Lord and King of Israel’s kingdom, as part of Israel’s prophetic covenants, and the necessary obedience to Israel’s law.
The Jerusalem church did not go to Gentiles (Acts 11:19). Peter is still keeping the law in Acts 10, and separates from Gentiles in Galatians 2. John writes of the necessity of keeping the law in his epistles, and James and Hebrews is written to the nation of Israel about their covenant and kingdom.
How can we prove that Paul was first? It is proven by a lack of evidence to the contrary.
A Note on 1 Timothy 1:16
“…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” – 1 Timothy 1:15-16
Critics of the mid-Acts interpretation of 1 Tim 1:16 like to point out that “first” here may not mean chronological but categorical as in the word “chief”. But this does not change the meaning of the word “pattern” which connotes that Paul was the one that others imitated. A pattern is the original. Paul was the original to exemplify the cause of Christ to save sinners. A pattern is before the rest, it is first.
Since the pattern was for them “which should hereafter”, Paul is speaking about a point in time where he became the pattern. The pattern for this cause of Christ could come no earlier than Paul. It is right that the word “first” be used in reference to Paul as a pattern.
Paul the Chief
Another way to prove the exclusivity of Paul is to prove his being the chief, or highest in rank in making known the revelation of the mystery. If he was the chief apostle of the mystery church, then he held exclusive authority concerning those things.
Amazingly, this is all but admitted in Dr. Ryrie’s book as he quotes Erich Sauer that Paul held a chief position because of Ephesians 3:8.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” – Ephesians 3:8.
Saur makes this chief position the “chief herald of the gospel to the peoples of the world” (Ryrie, p.237).
While this is a magnanimous admission that Paul was the chief herald of the gospel (even surpassing the twelve apostles in this regard), it ignores the rest of what Paul said was given “unto me” in the following verse:
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” –Ephesians 3:9
If it is true that Paul was the “chief herald” because of Ephesians 3:8, he must also be the chief of Ephesians 3:9. Whether or not Paul was first, which I believe it is proven that he is, if he was chief, then there is no higher authority given by the Lord than Paul regarding the fellowship of the mystery of Christ and His church.
Proof of Paul’s Chief Position
Paul exclusively holds title to being the “apostle of the Gentiles” and magnifies his office (Rom 11:13).
Regarding the chiefest apostles Paul says, “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles”, and “for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor 11:5; 2 Cor 12:11). Paul was not inferior to any of the chiefest apostles, possessed no less authority, and even added something to their knowledge about what God was doing in the present dispensation.
“For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise…” – Gal 2:6
Concerning the major churches outside Jerusalem, Paul was responsible for their establishment, leadership, and care (2 Cor 11:28).
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” – 1 Cor 4:15
Paul being the father of the Corinthians spoke to his authority as the chief apostle of the mystery church. He held this position exclusively toward the churches outside of Israel.
When Peter came to Antioch, Paul withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed having no right to influence the church there against the mystery truth Paul had taught there (Gal 2:11).
Paul the Sole Source
Apart from the historical reality of Paul being first, or what chief authority Paul held concerning the revelation of the mystery, there is one final way in which it can be proven that to Paul exclusively was revealed the mystery of the church, the Body of Christ.
Where in the inspired word of God do we find information regarding the mystery of the church, the Body of Christ?
This question is more practical than historical. Nevertheless, the answer is extremely useful concerning where in scripture the church finds its doctrine, message, pattern, and commission. Locating the message in scripture is a powerful argument in that it is only through the lens of inspired scripture that we know the true teachings of the apostles.
The word “mystery” or “mysteries” appears 27 times in scripture. Paul exclusively holds every usage of the word in relation to Christ or the church (20 times), and he is the only writer to ever mention the “mystery of Christ” and “revelation of the mystery”.
John uses the word “mystery” to speak of the prophecies of God, Babylon, and the seven stars. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each use the word once in parallel passages concerning mysteries about Israel’s kingdom.
The phrase “body of Christ” is also used exclusively by Paul in reference to the church. Every reference to “body” from the Twelve apostles refers to a physical body and not the spiritual one body of the mystery church.
When we speak of the mystery church, the one body, the Body of Christ, we are using exclusively Pauline language. In this way, we do not know or learn about the mystery of the church apart from the revelation given to the apostle Paul.
If the twelve apostles knew the mystery information, they did not make it part of their inspired writings, and what they did say was often contrary to mystery truth. If Paul had not come on the scene, we would not have a written record of the revelation of the mystery of Christ.
This website is not a theological journal, nor is it an exhaustive response to all of Dr. Ryrie’s arguments, but it behooves me to consider the esteemed dispensational doctor’s proposition since I am persuaded from scripture that “to Paul exclusively was revealed the mystery of the church.”
While I certainly do not have Dr. Ryrie’s pedigree2, nor do you, we are all provided scripture to study to show ourselves approved unto God (2Tim 2:15; 2 Tim 3:16). Consider the passages in this article along with Dr. Ryrie’s critique of Pauline dispensationalism, and be persuaded in your own mind about where the proof lies.
As Dr. Ryrie rightly said, if it is provable that “to Paul exclusively was revealed the mystery of the church, the Body of Christ… then the mystery church, the body, could not have begun until Paul came on the scene.”
The short list of evidence here is enough to persuade me. Be persuaded in your own mind.