Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth—Distinguishing The Ages And Various Dispensational Covenants To Harmonise The Scriptures

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (AKJV).

The Bible contains the written word of God, which includes, among other things, God’s plan of salvation for mankind. God’s redemptive plan has spanned several thousands of years, starting from the very beginning of man’s existence in Eden. It has involved several dispensations and covenants with humanity, which in various ways foreshadowed the final work of salvation manifested in Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary. Every covenant God made with the human race before the coming of Christ pointed towards Calvary, and every covenant after Christ points back to Calvary. Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary is thus the centerpiece of God’s salvation plan.

The various covenants God has made with mankind do not apply equally to all ages and all times. Some (or parts of them) have served their purpose and are now obsolete and expired, while some are still extant and relevant. The greatest challenge confronting any student of Scripture is being able to distinguish the expired covenants (or their expired portions) from the extant ones, as well as the various covenants meant for different dispensations. Failure to understand God’s dispensational dealings with mankind and the obsolete nature of some word of God (because the covenants under which the words were given have expired) has created a lot of confusion among Christians. Not every word of God written in the Bible is still extant, relevant and to be observed in the current dispensation we’re in! Confusion in interpreting and applying Scriptures usually arises because people fail to distinguish the various ages/dispensations and the covenants that are unique to them. Because of this, a covenant meant for one age/dispensation can be wrongly applied to another age/dispensation, creating untold confusion thereby. As St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the early church fathers and revered theologian noted, “distinguish the ages and the Scriptures harmonise“. There is no conflict within the Scriptures and no disharmony in the Word of God. Any apparent confusion arises from people’s failure to rightly divide the word of truth along dispensational lines.

Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Ephesians 3:2 If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation he made known to me the mystery; (as I wrote before in few words,

Ephesians 3:4 Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effectual working of his power.

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God;

Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Colossians 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (AKJV).

Before we go any further, let’s briefly outline the various dispensational ages since creation of mankind, and the various covenants governing them. This will help us understand where exactly we are presently in God’s plan, and which covenants are still binding upon us. Understanding these simple facts will greatly reduce confusion and enhance correct interpretation and application of Scriptures. The dispensations that will be discussed here include those of innocence, conscience, human government, promise, the law, gospel (grace) and regeneration (kingdom age). These dispensations span from the creation of man to the second coming of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom on earth.

The first dispensation following the creation of man was that of innocence. It spanned from mankind’s creation to the fall. There was a covenant between God and humanity during this period of probation, whereby mankind was required to abstain from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in order to live eternally in bliss in paradise. Death was the penalty for disobedience. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought sickness, suffering and death upon the human race. Because Adam’s sin has been transmitted to every of his descendant, we all fell in Adam, and we all still suffer the consequences of Adam’s fall. The penalty for violating that covenant still applies to all of humanity today, and will continue till the regeneration or the kingdom age.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Genesis 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (AKJV).

The next dispensation following the fall was that of conscience. After the fall, mankind now had experiential knowledge of good and evil embedded in their conscience. Humanity now possessed the ability to do both good and evil, having lost our innocence in the fall. The law of conscience was now our guide. Knowing what constitutes good and evil innately, humanity was now at liberty to choose to do either. However, knowing something to be evil is not sufficient to keep men from indulging in it. The power of sin in the human heart made people to do evil even when they wanted to do good, as doing good now depended solely on the willpower, which has been significantly weakened by the sinful nature. This age ended with chaos, as unprecedented violence and wickedness engulfed humanity, forcing God to wipe out the entire human race (less Noah and his family) with the flood of judgement. The great deluge ended the age of conscience as the sole ruler of mankind.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.

Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:

Genesis 3:5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:11 And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?

Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life:

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life;

Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field;

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.

Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

Genesis 3:21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Genesis 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from from where he was taken.

Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (AKJV).

Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7:16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

Romans 7:17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Romans 7:18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do —this I keep on doing.

Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

Romans 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;

Romans 7:23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

Romans 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (NIV).

Romans 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Romans 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

Romans 2:15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

Romans 2:16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares (NIV).

After the age of conscience came the dispensation of human government. This started after the flood, with God recognising the need for human agents in administration, to punish law offenders and deter evil doers from inducing another total destruction of the race. Human governments would now be put in place to encourage and promote good behaviour, while adequately punishing evil doers, to serve as a deterrent to crime. Human societies would now be governed by law and order.

Genesis 8:20 And Noah built an altar to the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet smell; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, and on every fowl of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Genesis 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat.

Genesis 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Genesis 9:7 And you, be you fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Genesis 9:8 And God spoke to Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

Genesis 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Genesis 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Genesis 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Genesis 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Genesis 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

Genesis 9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Genesis 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look on it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

Genesis 9:17 And God said to Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth (AKJV).

Within the dispensation of human government, God made a covenant of promise with Abraham, promising to make him a father of many nations and to bless the whole world through his Seed—Jesus Christ. That covenant of faith and grace is one that, with little modification, has endured till date, though it was temporarily suspended during the subsequent covenant and dispensation of the law which followed it.

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you:

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing:

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be you perfect.

Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.

Genesis 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.

Genesis 17:5 Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made you.

Genesis 17:6 And I will make you exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you.

Genesis 17:8 And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Genesis 17:9 And God said to Abraham, You shall keep my covenant therefore, you, and your seed after you in their generations.

Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your seed after you; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

Genesis 17:11 And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you.

Genesis 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of your seed.

Genesis 17:13 He that is born in your house, and he that is bought with your money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Genesis 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

Genesis 17:15 And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

Genesis 17:16 And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her: yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her (AKJV).

About 430 years after God made the covenant of promise with Abraham, Jehovah made a special covenant of the law with the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai (Horeb), wherein God promised to be Israel’s God and benefactor, as long as they kept and observed his special laws which he gave to them through Moses. Strict obedience to the Mosaic laws was necessary to secure God’s favour for the Jews under this covenant. The dispensation of the law was brought to an end by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.

Deuteronomy 5:2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.

Deuteronomy 5:3 It was not with our ancestors that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

Deuteronomy 5:4 The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain.

Deuteronomy 5:5 (At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

Deuteronomy 5:6 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Deuteronomy 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 5:8 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Deuteronomy 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Deuteronomy 5:10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Deuteronomy 5:12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.

Deuteronomy 5:13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

Deuteronomy 5:14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.

Deuteronomy 5:15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 5:17 “You shall not murder.

Deuteronomy 5:18 “You shall not commit adultery.

Deuteronomy 5:19 “You shall not steal.

Deuteronomy 5:20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Deuteronomy 5:21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Deuteronomy 5:22 These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Deuteronomy 5:23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me.

Deuteronomy 5:24 And you said, “The LORD our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them.

Deuteronomy 5:25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer.

Deuteronomy 5:26 For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived?

Deuteronomy 5:27 Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”

Deuteronomy 5:28 The LORD heard you when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good.

Deuteronomy 5:29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 5:30 “Go, tell them to return to their tents.

Deuteronomy 5:31 But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.”

Deuteronomy 5:32 So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.

Deuteronomy 5:33 Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess (NIV).

The Mosaic covenant was abolished by Christ’s death, with a new covenant of grace instituted to take its place. This new covenant of grace in Christ Jesus was for the whole of mankind and not just for the Jews, as was the case with the Mosaic covenant. God’s salvation was now available to all of humanity as a free gift of grace through Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins. The covenant of grace in Christ was actually a resumption and continuation of the Abrahamic covenant of Promise, with Christ as the Seed of Abraham through whom the whole world would be blessed.

Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Hebrews 8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: why it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

Hebrews 8:5 Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount.

Hebrews 8:6 But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

Hebrews 8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Hebrews 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 8:13 In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away (AKJV).

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel (AKJV).

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

Matthew 26:27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it;

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (AKJV).

Finally, there’s the future age of regeneration or the kingdom age, which would be established during the millennial reign of Christ, during which Christ and the resurrected saints would establish a rule of righteousness on earth. During this period, all the effects of the fall would be undone, and there would be peace and righteousness on earth, with no more wars and violence. Even wild animals would become tame and none would hurt or destroy another. Paradise would be restored on earth. That’s when the meek would inherit the earth, as promised in the Scriptures.

Matthew 19:27 Then answered Peter and said to him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have therefore?

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred times, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Matthew 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first (AKJV).

Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

Isaiah 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

Isaiah 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

Isaiah 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious (AKJV).

Revelation 2:26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Revelation 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father (AKJV).

Isaiah 2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.

Isaiah 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come you, and let us walk in the light of the LORD (AKJV).

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

Isaiah 65:18 But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

Isaiah 65:19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

Isaiah 65:20 There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

Isaiah 65:21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

Isaiah 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Isaiah 65:23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, said the LORD (AKJV).

Having briefly outlined the various dispensational ages and the covenants regulating them, it’s important to highlight some key points here. Most of the terms of each covenant are carried or absorbed into the one succeeding it, with minor modifications and some additions. For instance, the death penalty for sin under the Adamic covenant of innocence, as well as sufferings and sicknesses that followed violation of that covenant, are still being experienced up till today, and are still operational even under the covenant of grace in Christ—people (including Christians) are still required to labour before they eat, and women still pass through labour pains before delivery (including born-again women). Conscience still guides us, and is taken into account by God in judgement of individuals, though it can be seared and become deadened or insensitive to sin, by continuous wilful sinning. Human governments still operate to ensure law and order and to deter crime. They are to be obeyed as God’s ministers of righteousness. The promise of salvation by faith made to Abraham is fulfilled in Christ and is being enjoyed by all believers today. The most notable exception is the Mosaic covenant which was abolished almost in its entirety (with only a few components absorbed into the new covenant of grace), and is no longer binding on God’s people. It must be remembered that the Mosaic covenant, in the first place, was a narrow covenant between just Israel and God, and did not involve the rest of humanity ab initio. It wasn’t a universal or an everlasting covenant like all the others before and after it.

To divide the word of truth rightly, we need to carefully identify which dispensation a particular word of God refers or applies to, so as not to translocate what was meant specifically for one dispensation or covenant to another one. Though some word of God are universal and apply to all dispensations and covenants, some are specific to particular dispensations, and cannot be applied across board to others. For instance, though the Noahic covenant is a universal and everlasting covenant of grace, Noah’s sacrifice of animals for offering, as well as his being forbidden to eat certain unclean animals, are not applicable to us today. These portions of the Noahic covenant are obsolete and expired, though the other parts remain extant. Also, although the Abrahamic covenant is still valid (being continued by Christ, Abraham’s Seed), some portions of it are no longer valid. Circumcision of male infants was a key component of the Abrahamic covenant (in fact, it was the seal of that covenant). Any male descendant of Abraham who was not circumcised was to be cut off from among his people. Now, in Christ, circumcision of the foreskin is no longer a mandatory religious requirement.

Some promises in the Scriptures were made to particular individuals and have been fulfilled. Such promises do not necessarily apply to all persons and cannot be so stretched, though we can learn important lessons about God’s faithfulness from such. God’s individual covenant with David or Phinehas, for instance, cannot be applied to all men, but we learn from such covenants how God faithfully rewards fidelity to him and zeal for his word. Similarly, some divine promises are for the future kingdom age, and cannot be applied to our present age. For instance, the promise of not dying physically, of a violence-free world and obliteration of all the effects of the fall can only apply in the kingdom age. The promise of believers or the meek inheriting the earth and ruling in it is also for the kingdom age, not now.

In conclusion, rightly dividing the word of truth entails having a global, dispensational view of the Scriptures and of the plan of salvation. It entails understanding the various dispensations/ages and the promises unique to each, while acknowledging what’s universal for all ages. It also requires separating promises specific for certain individuals from general ones meant for all believers. Knowing what has expired in each dispensational covenant, and what is still extant and relevant is also key to rightly dividing the word of truth. Some covenants, like the Adamic, Noahic and Abrahamic covenants are everlasting, spanning many dispensations, and are still operational, with minor modifications. The Mosaic covenant, however, was a temporary stopgap measure that has expired and has been abolished. It was only intended to administer God’s people until the promised Seed of Abraham (Christ) would come to fulfil the Abrahamic covenant. Finally, reading each passage of the Bible in context, and making effort to locate its rightful place in the plan of salvation is necessary to ensure a balanced view of the Scriptures, in order to divide the word of truth aright. Every word of God is truth, but not all truth of Scriptures are current, as some truths have expired, while others are futuristic. Thus, only by rightly dividing the Scriptures can we know the present truth and be firmly established in it!

2 Peter 1:12 Why I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and be established in the present truth (AKJV).

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Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr Ojo is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a student of the Word of God, who believes firmly in the original apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian conduct, order and doctrine.

2 thoughts on “Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth—Distinguishing The Ages And Various Dispensational Covenants To Harmonise The Scriptures

  1. This is such an incredible helping of meat…not milk. I have so much to learn in regards dispensational thinking.

    Your work is such a rare blessing my friend! I am grateful for the time you spend to offer students of the word important tools for thier study.

    I will try to slow down and consider how a dispensational reading might influence my understanding for the better.

    I’m look forward to reading your next post.

    Many blessings to you dear Brother in Christ!

    Liked by 1 person

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