Ephesians – Chapter 1, Part 3
God’s Plan for Salvation, Eph 1:1-23
Eph 1:9, “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”
“He made known” is the Aorist, Active Participle in the Nominative Singular, of GNORIZO, γνωρίζω that means, “make known, reveal or declare.” It should be translated, “having made known.”
The ones God has revealed His great plan of redemption and blessings to are you and I, the believer, i.e., “to us” HEMEIS, ἡμεῖς in the Dative. This is a Dative of indirect object indicating the one in whose interest the action is being performed. From this we get the Dative of advantage. It is advantageous for us to learn “the mystery of His will,” which He has revealed to us.
“The mystery of His will,” is HO MUSTERION HO THELEMA.
MUSTERION, μυστήριον means, “secret, secret teaching, mystery, anything hidden, or unrevealed.” It refers to something kept hidden until a certain time, something only God could reveal. It does not describe something mysterious, but something that remains hidden until God chooses to reveal it.
Primarily, Paul used this word for the fact that there is no distinction in the New Testament Church Age between Jews and Gentiles. We are one body in Christ. In this verse the mystery reveals the predesigned plan of God for all of mankind’s redemption through the blood (sacrifice) of Jesus Christ that He has given to anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Him. This includes “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies,” vs. 3, emphasized by their sanctification, vs. 4.
This word was first used by our Lord in the parable of the seeds sown into different soils in Mat 13:12, Mark 4:10-11, prophesying that the disciples would soon know the details of God’s plan for salvation.
Mat 13:11, “And He answered and said to them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted’.”
MUSTERION refers to the classification of Bible Doctrine known as Church Age truth. This was hidden from the O.T. saints but is now revealed through the Church Age apostles, cf. Eph 3:1-5.
“His will,” THELEMA, is used for the sovereign free will volition of God. MUSTERION and THELEMA combined stand for God the Father’s great plan of Salvation for mankind through His Son Jesus Christ, which is indicated in the last phrase, “which He purposed in Him.”
“Purposed” is the Aorist, Middle, Indicative of PROTITHEMI, προτίθημι that means, “set forth, display openly; plan, purpose, design beforehand, or predetermine.” It stands for God’s Divine Decree from eternity past; the Predesigned Protocol Plan of God cf. Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28.
“In Him” once again emphasizes our Union with Jesus Christ, and that everything that God has done for us is based on the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross.
This was all done, as in vs. 5, “according to His kind intention,” KATA HO EUDOKIA AUTOS, i.e., “according to His good pleasure,” or better, “according to the standard of His good thinking.”
The Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age
As stated above, a mystery refers to something that was held in secret, known to only a select few. MUSTERION, used 27 times in the N.T. is an ancient Greek word from the old Babylonian and Roman pagan cults and modern lodges or fraternities that had/have secret rights and rituals that only the initiated knew. It was the imparting of secret knowledge. The popular use is that which is mysterious or unknowable, but that is not how it is used in the N.T., because these doctrines are revealed and knowable.
God chose to use this word to explain the doctrines of the Church Age that He withheld from the O.T. saints. The N.T. mysteries are not indeed secrets to be withheld, but things to be published and revealed in the N.T. In fact, Jesus Christ first used this terminology in Scripture to indicate that the Church Age disciple would soon understand Bible doctrines that the unbeliever cannot understand, Mat 13:11; Mark 4:10-11; Luke 8:10. Paul uses it 21 times.
Even though these things are called a mystery, they have been revealed to the Church Age believer in the N.T. The “mysteries” comprise practically all the added truth found in the N.T., including the march of lawlessness towards the Tribulation, 2 Thes 2:7.
The primary mystery that has been revealed is that Jesus Christ personally indwells every believer and that every Church Age believer is in union with Jesus Christ, Col 1:25-27; Eph 5:32, whether he is Jewish or Gentile, Eph 3:1-6, cf. 1 Tim 3:16. Therefore, it reveals the great power experiment of the Church Age.
Col 1:25-27, “Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, 27to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Eph 5:32, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
During the O.T. Dispensation less than 1% of the believers where endued with the Holy Spirit. But in the Church Age 100% of believers are indwelt with not only the Holy Spirit but also Jesus Christ and God the Father.
The Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age was not revealed in the O.T.; Church Age doctrine was blacked out in the O.T. In the epistles of the N.T. the word “mystery” refers to various aspects of Church Age doctrine that has now been revealed, Eph 3:2-6. It refers to the great power experiment of the Church Age, which was totally unknown to the O.T. writers, yet is now revealed to Church Age believers through the N.T., Rom 16:25‑26; Col 1:26‑27.
Romans 16:25-26, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.”
Mystery Doctrine includes the blindness or hardness of Israel during the Church Age, which is part of the Fifth Cycle of Discipline for Israel, Rom 11:25.
Rom 11:25, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
The mystery as Church Age doctrine was a part of the Divine decrees in eternity past, 1 Cor 2:7.
1 Cor 2:7, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”
The pastor or minister is responsible for communicating Church Age doctrine. This is called the stewardship of the mysteries, 1 Cor 2:7; 4:1.
1 Cor 4:1, “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
The Rapture of the Church is a part of the Mystery doctrine, 1 Cor 15:51. This means that the Rapture of the Church was not revealed in O.T. times.
1 Cor 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
Mystery doctrine is always related to the Dispensation of the Church and only to the Church Age, Eph 1:9; 3:2-3.
Mystery doctrine is understood through the function of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP), Col 2:2; 1 Tim 3:9.
Col 2:2, “That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself.”
1 Tim 3:9, “Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”
The Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age is one of the “Ten Unique Factors of the Church Age.”
The Ten Unique Factors of the Church Age
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Prophesied in John 14:20; Acts 1:5, and fulfilled in Acts 2:4 on the Day of Pentecost.
This is the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation coupled with the ministry of God the Holy Spirit; whereby, at salvation He takes every person who believes in Jesus Christ during the Church Age and enters them into union with the person of Jesus Christ. By this we become Royal Family of God.
1 Cor 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Cf. Gal 3:26-28.
This is the transitional link between the great power experiment of the hypostatic union and the great power experiment of the Church Age.
It is the basis for creating a new spiritual species, (New Creation/New Creature), for the utilization of Divine power, available in three categories to every Church Age believer, regardless of any other factor, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15.
The Unique Predesigned Protocol Plan of God (PPPG or P3G). We are in a unique Dispensation called the Church Age or the Age of Grace, Eph 3:2, “Stewardship / Dispensation of God’s Grace.”
Because the Church Age believer is royalty, he functions under protocol. You must learn the mechanics of how to live as royalty. Protocol is how to live and not to live, how to think and what not to think, and what your proper motivation should be. God has given you the Divine Power System (GPS) as a palace in which to live. Everything you do in that palace is by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Perfect God has provided His own perfect truth and perfect power for the execution of the protocol plan of God for this Church Age. The Predesigned Protocol Plan of God was designed in eternity past exclusively for the Royal Family of God in the Church Age, making the Church Age absolutely unique.
1 Cor 1:25, (NLT), “This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.”
The Unique Equality Factor related to Election and Predestination of the PPPG.
Rom 10:12, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him.” Cf., Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; Rom 8:29-30, 33; Eph 1:4.
- Election expresses the sovereignty of God for every Church Age believer. It provides equal privilege in our Royal Priesthood and equal opportunity in our logistical grace support. It is your privilege and support to live in His Plan
- Predestination is the provision of the sovereignty of God for each member of the Royal Family. It provides equal privilege in the Baptism of the Spirit and equal opportunity inside God’s power system (GPS). It is your privilege and opportunity to function in His Plan.
Our Portfolio of Invisible Assets.
God is perfect, His plan is perfect. Since we are incapable of executing a perfect plan, it is necessary for God to provide us with the assets to execute His plan. Therefore, God provided for every believer his very own unique Portfolio of Invisible Assets billions of years ago in eternity past, Eph 1:3‑7. It is defined by the “Riches of His Glory,” Eph 3:16, which includes:
- Primary Assets: Escrow blessings and assets of Election and Predestination.
- Secondary assets: Volitional assets, production assets, the assets of undeserved suffering for blessing, and the assets of invisible impact, (i.e., personal, national, international, and angelic).
- Personnel Assets: Spiritual gifts.
- Unique Assets: (points 1-3, 5-8 of this doctrine).
The Unique Royal Commission, whereby, every believer is a Royal Priest, representing himself to God, and a Royal Ambassador, representing God to man, 1 Peter 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 2 Cor 5:20; Eph 6:20; Philemon 1:9.
The Unique Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age is now revealed in the epistles of the New Testament, 1 Cor 2:7; Rom 16:25‑26; Eph 1:9; 3:1-6, 9; Col 1:25-27; 1 Tim 3:9.
Church Age doctrine, now revealed in the New Testament epistles, was unknown to the writers of the Old Testament scriptures. The uniqueness of the Church Age was kept totally secret from previous Dispensations. No Church Age doctrine or characteristics are ever mentioned in the O.T. Therefore, we have been provided with a destiny from eternity past designed for the glorification of God and blessing for the believer that is “exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think.” The only way to walk in your destiny is to know the mystery Doctrines for the Church Age.
The Unique Indwelling of All Three Persons of the Trinity, John 14:20-26; Rom 8:10-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20; 2 Cor 3:6; 6:16; Eph 1:3, 6, 12; 4:6.
Never before in history and never after the Rapture is the believer indwelt by God the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. But now we have the indwelling of all three members of the Trinity, giving us a unique relationship with God with unique power to fulfill God’s plan for our lives to His glory.
The Unique Availability of Divine Power to Every Believer, (GPS), Eph 1:19-20; 3:16, 20.
Divine power has always been available to a few believers in every Dispensation but never before in history has there been maximum availability of Divine power and maximum emphasis on the use of Divine power to fulfill God’s purpose, plan, and will for your life. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to us, Eph 1:19-20.
- The omnipotence of God the Father is related to our Portfolio of Invisible Assets, Eph 3:14-21.
- The omnipotence of God the Son preserves and perpetuates human history, Deut 33:26; Rom 13:1-7; 1 Tim 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13.
- The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit is the power inside our very own palace, God’s Power System (GPS) for you, Acts 1:8; John 14:26; Rom 15:13; 1 Thes 1:5.
This is the only Dispensation of No Prophecy, only historical trends. The Church Age is the only Dispensation where there is no prophecy during the course of the Dispensation. There are only two prophecies in the Church Age, which are its book ends.
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which began the Church Age, was prophesied by our Lord in John 14:20; Acts 1:5, (just before He ascended).
- The Rapture of the Church is the next prophetical event, 1 Cor 6:14; 15:50-52; Phil 3:11; Titus 2:13; 1 Thes 4:13‑18; 5:9‑10; 1 John 3:2‑3; 2 Thes 2:1-9.
Rev 3:11, “Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (2) must be converted manually.I will be coming soon; seize what you have so that no one may take away your crown.”
This is why the Rapture is always called imminent, because there is no intervening prophecy to be fulfilled.
This is the Only Dispensation of Invisible Heroes, Eph 3:1-13; 4:11-16.
These passages emphasize the principle of the invisible hero. Other Dispensation are dominated by visible heroes; the Church is that of the invisible hero. Invisible God, plus invisible assets, plus invisible power, equals invisible heroes. An invisible hero is a mature believer who has advanced to spiritual adulthood and has a five-fold impact on history: Personal, National, International, Angelic, and Heritage impact.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you can be an invisible hero; for the great power experiment of the Church Age is designed to make an invisible hero out of you. But it requires your perception of Bible doctrine, especially the Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, and your utilization of Divine omnipotence inside GPS.
So these are ten unique factors that make the Church Age, Age of Grace, unique from other Dispensations. The uniqueness lies primarily in the assets and power God has uniquely given to every believer, so that they can execute and fulfill His Predesigned Protocol Plan for their lives; all to His glory. The uniqueness includes:
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- The Predesigned Protocol Plan of God.
- The Equality Factors of Election and Predestination.
- The Portfolio of Invisible Assets.
- The Two Royal Commissions: Royal Priesthood and Royal Ambassadorship.
- The Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age.
- The Indwelling of all Three Persons of the Trinity.
- The Availability of Divine Power.
- The Dispensation of No Prophecy.
- The Dispensation of Invisible Heroes.
Eph 1:10, “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth, in Him.”
In this passage we have some added words for emphasis. The King James Version has it closer to the Greek with, “That in the Dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
“With a view to” is actually the Preposition EIS, which means, “in, into, to, toward, etc.” In the Accusative it means, “with reference to.”
“Administration” is the Accusative Singular Noun OIKONOMIA, οἰκονομία that means “stewardship, administration, management, and Dispensation.” It is derived from OIKOS that means, “house” and NEMO that means, “to deal out or administrate.” Some think it also comes from NOMOS that means, “law.” Therefore, OIKONOMIA means, “house law.” From the time of Xenophon and Plato, four centuries before the New Testament was written, it represented household administration, the management of a household, or of household affairs.
From this we see that it represents how God is administering or managing His household as it describes His Divine administration of human history with distinct historical eras, 1 Cor 9:17; Eph 1:8-10; 3:2-3, 8- 9; Col 1:25-29; 1 Tim 1:3-4. In many of these passages it identifies the Church Age, during which God administers a set of Divine policies and provisions unique to the Church, including the Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age and the Ten Unique Factors of the Church Age, which we have noted above.
Paul uses this word in Col 1:25, to indicate that he had been entrusted to impart to the Colossians the unfolding of the Plan of God that has been consummated in the Church, the body of Christ. cf. Eph 3:2-9, (i.e., “the Dispensation of God’s Grace” and “the administration of the mystery”).
Eph 3:9, “And to bring to light what is the administration (Dispensation) of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things.”
In our verse, it denotes the administration of the Plan of God, hidden from eternity in God, by which He, in the fullness of time, will sum up all things in Christ.
Here Paul uses the phrase, “fullness of times,” PLEROMA, πλήρωμα KAIROS, καιρός that refers to the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ and on into eternity future. Along with OIKONOMIA, KAIROS is another Greek word used to indicate Dispensations. KAIROS meaning, “time, a fixed time, season, epoch, etc.” is in the plural and means “times.” It represents the culmination of all the previous times or Dispensations that are gathered together to bring glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
KAIROS is used in 1 Thes 5:1 for the word “epochs” as the organization of historical events into their Dispensational categories.
1 Thes 5:1, “Now as to the times (KRONOS) and the epochs (KAIROS), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.”
Therefore, in our verse, Eph 1:10, we could say, “in the fullness of the Dispensations,” that is, at the end of human history here on the present earth, which culminates at the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.
“The summing up of all things in Christ” begins with the Aorist, Middle, Infinitive of the verb ANAKEPHALAIOO, ἀνακεφαλαιόω that means, “Sum up, gather up, bring together, or unite.” It comes from the root Preposition ANA that means, “up or upwards,” and the Noun KEPHALE that means, “head or authority.” It is only used here and Rom 13:9. In classical writings, this word means, “to bring under one head,” thus “to summarize.” “It became a term in rhetoric for an orator’s “recapitulating” or “summarizing” his arguments.” (Liddell-Scott).
So here Paul uses it to mean to bring all things together under one head, i.e., Christ, which is EN HO CHRISTOS, Χριστός for, “in the Christ.” It implies all who are dead and all who are alive, as we will note below. Therefore, everything pertaining to God’s will for mankind has been “summarized or condensed” in Christ, but more importantly for Paul here, all things are subordinate to Christ as the head of all things.
Phi 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.”
As noted in Phil 2:10 and our verse, all things brought together under the One Head, Jesus Christ, include, “things in the heavens and things upon the earth.” HOURANOS οὐρανός is used for “heaven” and GE γῆ is used for “earth.” Those in heaven are those believers who have already died plus the angels. Those on the earth are those believers still alive at His Second Coming.
This verse doubly emphasizes that fact by ending with “in Him,” EN AUTOS, speaking once again about the believer’s union with Jesus Christ. It is by Him and through Him that all things are gathered up and given to the authority of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:8.
Eph 1:22, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”
In this verse we have two of the four Greek words used in the NT to indicate “Dispensations.”
- OIKONOMIA – Dispensations; means, “the administration of a business or an estate, the management of a household.”
- KAIROS – Time; means, “an epoch or era, a chronological order or system, a period of time characterized by distinctive development within that period.”
- AION – Age, means, “a Dispensation as a category of human history,” cf. Rom 16:25; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26.
Eph 3:9, “And to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages (AION) has been hidden in God, who created all things.”
- CHRONOS – Time, means, “time as a succession of events or age.” It is used to portray the chronology of history or time as a series of points. Occasionally, it is used for a section of time in chronology, which then refers to a Dispensation. In Rom 16:25, CHRONOS is used for all Dispensations prior to the Church Age (combined with AION). Peter also used this word for Dispensations in 1 Peter 1:20. So this word is used three ways:
- Time in its course.
- A section of time, i.e., a Dispensation.
- A point of time.
Rom 16:25, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages (CHRONOS) past.”
1 Peter 1:20, “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times (CHRONOS) for the sake of you.”
Doctrine of Dispensations
Definition and Description:
Vine comments appropriately regarding OIKONOMIA: “A Dispensation is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous, use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement or administration of affairs,” (Expository Dictionary).
Therefore, we note that it is more than just a period of time, but is the way in which God has designed from eternity past to administer His plan for humanity and the affairs of human history, which administration has changed over history and has definable beginnings and endings according to Scripture. That is why we can put time frames associated with the various ways God has administered His Plan inside of human history, which we call “Dispensations.”
Dr. Charles Ryrie in (Dispensationalism) cites Clarence Mason for his definition. “Dispensation means a stewardship or administration. In the Bible a Dispensation is a divinely established stewardship of a particular revelation of God’s mind and will, which brings added responsibility to the whole race of mankind or a particular portion of the human race.”
Another definition cited by Ryrie goes like this, “A Dispensation is God’s distinctive method of governing mankind or a group of men during a period of human history, marked by a crucial test, failure, and judgment.”
Ryrie himself defines a Dispensation as “a stewardship, an administration, oversight, or management of others’ property…. This involves responsibility, accountability, and faithfulness on the part of the steward.” The first definition emphasizes stewardship, and the second one emphasizes God’s governing. Both definitions have some merit.
L.S. Chafer defines Dispensation as, “a specific, divine economy, a commitment from God to man of a responsibility to discharge that which God has appointed him.”
Dr. H.A. Ironside defines Dispensations as, “An economy or a particular order or a condition of things prevailing in a special age which does not necessarily prevail in another age.”
The doctrinal statement of Dallas Theological Seminary notes, “Dispensationalism is a form of stewardship or responsibility of humanity to obey God and to honor Him. Each Dispensation recorded in the Bible ends in failure, thus proving that no one under any arrangement can achieve perfection or salvation. Even in the millennial kingdom, with its near-perfect circumstances, humanity will still fail.”
R.B. Thieme Jr. defines Dispensation as, “A period of time in human history expressed in terms of Divine revelation. It is a technical theological term used primarily by the apostle Paul in the presentation of the Mystery Doctrine of this Church Age. Traditionally it is a period of time during which a particular revelation of God’s mind and God’s will is operative, and during which man is tested as to his obedience to that specific manifestation of God’s will, purpose, and plan. It is a Divine category of human history; therefore, both the Divine outline and the Divine interpretation of human history. It constitutes the Divine administration of history. The believer’s orientation to both time and to human history is vitally necessary for understanding God’s plan and God’s purpose.”
An important aspect to remember is that in every Dispensation, salvation is always by grace through faith made possible by the death of Christ. On the one hand, the Dispensations have diversity of requirements for human conduct, but on the other hand, salvation is always by God’s grace. Salvation is the unifying factor in Scripture.
Therefore, Dispensations are the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time in history can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for their lives. God’s plan is not the same for every Dispensation. In fact, it is quite different in each Dispensation. Nevertheless, His plan for salvation is the same in each and every Dispensation, faith in the sacrificial work of the Messiah, (i.e., Jesus Christ upon the Cross), for the forgiveness of sin.
The Various Dispensations:
Ryrie and most Dispensationalists point out there are three major Dispensations in the Scriptures, “At least three Dispensations (as commonly understood in Dispensational teaching) are mentioned by Paul.”
- In Eph 1:10, our verse, Paul says of “an administration, (Dispensation), suitable to the fullness of the times,” which is a future period beginning with the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ and is part of the eschatological centric ages.
- In Eph 3:2, he designates the “stewardship, (Dispensation), of God’s grace,” and in Eph 3:9, “administration, (Dispensation), of the mystery,” which was the emphasis of the content of his preaching at that time and meaning the Church Age.
- In Col 1:25–26 it is implied that another Dispensation precedes the present one in which the mystery of Christ in the believer is revealed. This would be specifically the Jewish Dispensation or the Dispensation of the Law, but also includes all prior Dispensations as well.
Only three Dispensations are discussed extensively in the Scriptures, the Law, Grace (Church), and the Kingdom (the Millennium), though others are indicated in the Scriptures. A more consistent scheme is to identify/name Dispensations according to the administration of God’s plan of worship and service towards Him and the group or body associated with that scheme, which has distinct changes one from the other.
As such there are five main Dispensations as follows:
- The Dispensation of Innocence – Creation of Adam to his Fall.
- The Dispensation of the Patriarchs – The Exit of Eden to the Giving of the Law.
- The Dispensation of Israel/Jews – The Giving of the Law to Pentecost, (including the Tribulation)
- The Dispensation of the Church – Pentecost to the Rapture.
- The Dispensation of Christ – Millennium.
The unifying thread from the beginning to the end of the Biblical record is the manifestation of God’s attributes, namely, His love, justice, faithfulness, and sovereignty as He reveals His great plan of salvation for all of mankind. By way of Dispensations, God also demonstrates throughout the ages that He is in control, although there are periods of time when it may not appear that way. These elements are essential for seeing the continuity and progression of Scripture and for understanding the major areas of Truth revealed in the Word of God.
As Thieme notes, “Evangelical Christianity, covenant theology, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, fundamentalism, and the holy rollers, who erroneously call themselves charismatics, have all failed to define the Christian way of life in terms of the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age. Because of this, legalism is the order of the day. The legalism which has come out of the reformation is different from the Roman Catholic legalism; both are equally ineffective in defining the Christian way of life. None of the denominations have properly defined the Christian way of life. Therefore, they are ineffective in post-salvation Christian experience. The only answer to the question, “after salvation – what?” is found in the Protocol Plan of God for the Church Age.” R.B. Thieme Jr.
Traditional Dispensationalism includes eight Dispensations as follows:
- Innocence, (Garden of Eden).
- Conscience (After Eden to Flood).
- Civil Government (Flood to Tower of Babel).
- Promise, (Tower of Babel to Law).
- Law, (Law to Pentecost).
- Church, (Pentecost to the Rapture).
- Tribulation, (Rapture to Second Advent).
- Kingdom, (Second Advent to Great White Throne Judgment).
The Scofield Reference Bible lists seven Dispensations, excluding the Tribulation as a separate Dispensation. The seven are:
- Innocence, Gen 1:28.
- Conscience or Moral Responsibility, Gen 3:7.
- Human Government, Gen 8:15.
- Promise, Gen 12:1.
- Law, Ex 19:1.
- Church, Acts 2:1.
- Kingdom, Rev 20:4.
This also aligns the Dispensations with the Covenants God has made with man. As Kevin J. Connor in “Foundations of Christian Doctrine” states, “The various Dispensation or arrangements cannot be separated from the Divine covenants. Each covenant was a particular arrangement between God and man, having its own distinctive emphasis. Therefore, the word “Dispensation” refers to the dealings of God with man under their respective covenants.” As such it includes:
- Innocence – Edenic Covenant.
- Conscience – the Adamic Covenant.
- Human Government – the Noahic Covenant.
- Promise – the Abrahamic Covenant.
- Law – The Mosaic Covenant.
- Grace – The New Covenant.
- Kingdom – The Everlasting Covenant.
In addition, Covenant Theology also recognizes the giving of the Davidic Covenant as the beginning of an additional covenant. But that covenant really emphasizes the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ and beyond.
Clarence Larkin in Rightly Dividing the Word states there are eight “Dispensations” over three “Ages.” This difference includes as a separate Dispensation for eternity future. They are:
- Edenic, (Eden to the Fall).
- Ante-Diluvian, (Adam to Noah).
- Post-Diluvian, (Noah to Abraham).
- Patriarchal, (Abraham to Moses).
- Legal, (Moses to Christ).
- Ecclesiastical, (Christ to Antichrist).
Age of Ages;
- Millennial, (Messianic).
- Perfect Age, (Dispensation of the “Fullness of Times” – Creation of the new heavens and earth).
Wilmington, in his “Guide to the Bible,” lists nine Dispensations by keeping “Civil Government” and “Eternity Future,” (i.e., New creation of the Lamb), when God will create a new heavens and a new earth, to the list. They included.
- Innocence (from the creation of man to the Fall of man, Gen 1:28-3:6.
- Conscience (from the Fall to the flood, Gen 4:1-8:14.
- Civil government (from the flood to the dispersion at Babel), Gen 8:15-11:9.
- Promise or patriarchal rule (from Babel to Mount Sinai), Gen 11:10; Ex 18:27.
- Mosaic Law (from Mount Sinai to the upper room), Ex 19; Acts 1:26.
- Bride of the Lamb, the Church (from the upper Room to the rapture), Acts 2:1; Rev 3:22.
- Wrath of the Lamb—the tribulation (from the rapture to the Second Coming), Rev 6:1-20:3.
- Rule of the Lamb—the Millennium (from the Second Coming through the great white throne judgment), Rev 20:4-15.
- New creation of the Lamb—the world without end (from the great white throne judgment throughout all eternity), Rev 21-22.
As you can see, they are all very similar with a few additions and omissions here and there. Yet, as has been pointed out above, there are only five true Dispensations based on the changes in God’s administration of worship and service towards Him by man. Even though there have been major historical events and various promises/covenants made to individuals, God’s dealing with all of humanity in these five Dispensations remained constant until He ushered in the next Dispensation. In addition, at the close of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, human history is complete and concludes God administration of humanity as He ushers in eternity future. Therefore, eternity future is not considered a Dispensation. They include:
- The Dispensation of Innocence – Creation of Adam to his fall.
- The Dispensation of the Patriarchs – The Exit of Eden to the Giving of the Law.
- The Dispensation of Israel/Jews – The Giving of the Law to Pentecost, (including the Tribulation)
- The Dispensation of the Church – Pentecost to the Rapture.
- The Dispensation of Christ – Millennium.
Clearly the Tribulation will be a unique time in the history of mankind and can constitute its own Dispensation, but it is also the last seven years of the Jewish Dispensation, as noted by prophecy. Therefore, we include it in the Dispensation of Israel.
Some have associated the progression of the six Dispensations, (the Tribulation as its own), with the progression of man’s life as follows:
- Garden of Eden: In the Womb – given the appropriate vitamins and minerals to ensure healthy start and growth.
- Patriarchs / Gentiles: Toddlers – Basic nurturing and caring with basic instructions.
- Israel / Jewish: Childhood – rules and regulations to establish norms and standards in the child for application as an adult with clear lines and boundaries, and appropriate spanking when going outside of boundaries.
- Church / Grace: Adulthood – A time of application of norms and standards having a base or foundation firmly rooted; a time to experience life.
- Tribulation: Regressive Adult – For the child who never grew up, a last chance to learn norms and standards but having to learn them the hard way.
- Millennium: Senior citizen – A time to rest and enjoy what life has given. A time to reflect on your relationships and enjoy the results of the fruit you have produced.
Why Dispensations? The Angelic Conflict.
Dispensations are God’s management of His household inside of human history, which He has altered by means of various administrations to reveal His unchanging glory, wisdom, and power under different conditions. His ultimate and eternal purpose throughout all ages is to demonstrate His character and in our Dispensation this is accomplished by means of the relationship between Christ and the Church, in which the believer is in union with Christ, Eph 1:17-23; 3:10, 21. The explanation for the multifaceted Divine revelation, which unfolds throughout human history called Dispensations, lies in an ancient conflict.
Before the restoration of planet earth and the creation of mankind, Satan revolted against God, Isa 14:13-14, along with a host of angels, cf. Rev 12:4. As a result of this rebellion, they were evidently brought to trial and convicted, Ezek 28:16-18. Their sentence is recorded in Scripture, Mat 25:41. Before mankind existed, the sentence was pronounced on fallen angels, which was to “eternal fire.” Yet, the execution of the sentence was postponed, until after human history ends, Rev 20:10.
Mat 25:41, “Depart from me, you who are cursed (Tribulation unbelievers) into eternal fire (judgment of baptism of fire at Second Advent) which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Apparently, Satan objected to God’s verdict, just as he continues to contend against God today. Objection to the perfect Divine judgment of God slanders the character of God. Nevertheless, God convened an appeal trial in which He would demonstrate His perfect character, Psa 145:21; Zech 3:1-10; Luke 2:14; Rom 9:23; 11:25-36, while allowing Satan the opportunity to prove his own case, Job 1:12; 2:6; Mat 4:1-11.
As a result, God created mankind to resolve this Angelic Conflict. In human history, God magnificently answers every aspect of Satan’s objection in the prehistoric trial, not only for the benefit of the angels, but for our benefit too. At the same time, Satan is attempting to prove himself equal with God, Isa 14:14, but he only displays his arrogance, incompetence, and evil, which confirm his guilt.
Therefore, the appeal trial is occurring in human history between the passing of the sentence in eternity past and the execution of that sentence at the end of the Millennium; just after the Gog revolution. As such, it is concluded that human history is not only running coterminous with the appeal trial of Satan and his fallen angels, but human history is the actual function of that trial, and that mankind was created to resolve that trial.
In the function of Satan’s appeal trial, God introduces changes into His administration of human history in order to present His case, disprove Satan’s case, and deliver a decisive closing argument and decision. These changes produce the Dispensations. Therefore, human history is the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict and as the appeal trial of Satan unfolds, the grace of God and the perfect justice of His verdict are proven over and over again. The “numerous and diverse aspects of God’s wisdom” are revealed most dramatically through the Church, “to the rulers and the authorities (fallen angels) in the heavenly places,” Eph 3:10; cf. 6:12.
The Order of Events in the Appeal Trial.
The Formal Phase of the appeal trial begins with the fall of man and continues until the beginning of the Dispensation of the Church. Mankind was created and human history began in order to duplicate the conditions of the prehistoric Angelic Conflict.
Since the issue was angelic volition, and since volition is an attribute of the soul, mankind was created with a rational soul similar to that of angelic creatures, but without their physical attributes and capabilities. Therefore, since mankind is a rational being, and not exactly like angelic creatures, his thoughts, motives, decisions, and actions are entered as evidence, exhibits, precedence, and arguments for either the prosecution or the defense. This provides both evidence and precedence for Satan’s appeal trial during human history.
In the formal appeal trial, the prosecution, God, presents His case, and the defense, Satan, cross‑examines many of the witnesses, mature believers entered as evidence, Heb 11. The fall of man duplicates the fall of Satan, as both falls occurred during perfect environment. Then the trial phase in the court of appeals is essentially Old Testament history, which is now over. Satan has presented his case, (e.g., the infiltration of fallen angels in Gen 6, the suffering of Job and the cross-examination of the high priest Joshua in Zech 3:1‑2).
The Rebuttal Phase of the prosecution is coterminous with the Christocentric Dispensation, the Church Age, and includes the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ. The rebuttal phase starts with the two rebuttal arguments of the prosecution: the great power experiment of the hypostatic union, resulting in our Lord’s strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict, and the great power experiment of the Church Age, in which some mature believers win tactical victories of the Angelic Conflict. When any Church Age believer utilizes the omnipotence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit to advance to spiritual maturity, there is a tactical victory in the Angelic Conflict. Therefore, our Lord and the invisible heroes of the Church Age are the witnesses for the prosecution.
The Church Age is the most intensive time of the Angelic Conflict to date. This is followed by the rebuttal arguments of the defense, Satan, which is the violence of the Tribulation. Violence is all that is left to Satan, which is a demonstration that he has lost the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict and tactical victories of the Church Age.
Satan’s Rebuttal is presented during the Tribulation. All of Satan’s rebuttal arguments come in the form of violence and anti-Semitism.
The Closing Arguments and Summary of the prosecution includes the Second Advent and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. This duplicates the conditions before the fall of Satan and before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Satan and all fallen angels are incarcerated for 1000 years, so that all violence ceases. There is no violence in the Millennium. In contrast to the terrible violence during the Tribulation, the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ will be one of perfect environment in every way.
The Defense’s Closing Argument will once again be violence at the end of the Millennium with the Gog and Magog revolution, Rev 20:7-9. Just as Satan and fallen angels revolted against perfect environment in eternity past, so will unregenerate mankind revolt against the perfect environment of the Millennium when coaxed by Satan.
Final Sentencing. After the final revolution, God carries out the pre-historic sentence against Satan and all fallen angels, Mat 24:41, when they are cast into the Lake of Fire forever, Rev 20:10. God then convenes the Great White Throne Judgment seat of Jesus Christ that ends the Angelic revolution for all of eternity, when unbelievers of the human race are resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire forever, Rev 20:11-15. Then the entire universe of mankind is destroyed by fire and human history comes to a dramatic close. Planet earth and the universe which were used for the courtroom are destroyed and God creates a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem to be enjoyed forever by elect angels and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, as part of the eternal state, Rev 21-22.
History is a very short time compared to all eternity. Your time on earth is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. All of you, who place other things in life above Bible doctrine in your false scale of values, are losing all the equal privilege and opportunity God has provided for you in time to advance spiritually. All those “other things” will become very meaningless to you in eternity, at most, adding up to your regret in eternity. The Latin phrase, sic transit gloria mundi, means, “the glory of this world passes away.” In eternity, you will realize that the things you considered important were not important at all. Although you cannot lose your salvation, you are a loser. A part of the agony of the Sin Unto Death is to realize that you had an opportunity to make your life count in a fantastic way. Instead, you chose to follow the plan of Satan for human life on this earth.
This study sheds light on the importance of mature Church Age believers glorifying God by tactical victory. The suffering the mature believer endures under Evidence Testing is a major factor in breaking the back of Satan. Two things break the back of Satan: a) The strategic victory of our Lord on the Cross, b) The tactical victory of those who advance to maturity. Therefore, you should strive each day to become a witness for the prosecution, by becoming an invisible hero, by winning the tactical victories in your life during your advance to spiritual maturity as you glorify God and His great plan of salvation.
Doctrine of the Millennium
In our study of Eph 1:10, “With a view to an administration (Dispensation) suitable to the fullness of the times (the Millennial reign), that is, the summing up of all things in Christ (eternity future), things in the heavens and things upon the earth in Him.”, we have a reference to the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we will note a description and the characteristics of the Millennium Dispensation.
But first, we need to understand the three views of the Millennium found in Christianity.
Three views on the Millennium:
The word Millennium means thousand years. In the New Testament, the Greek word for “one thousand” is CHILIAS, χιλιάς. Therefore, the study of the Millennium is also called Chiliasm. While the word Millennium never occurs in the Bible, it refers to the thousand-year reign of our Lord here on earth mentioned six times in Revelation 20. By both Jews and Christians, this Dispensation is often identified with the many promises of the Old Testament of a coming kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth in which the Jews would be leaders and all the nations would have great blessing both spiritual and economic.
Since the early church, many have written about this Dispensation with varying opinions. Some believe we are in the Millennium now, others expect it to come to pass in the future before Christ returns, and some, as we do, expect that Christ must return first before this kingdom can come. These views are respectively called amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism. We believe from rightly dividing the Word of God in “premillennialism,” as noted below.
Amillennialism. A view popularized by the early church writers Augustine and Origen, (third and fourth centuries), and its subsequent rise in the Roman Catholic Church. Its most general character is a denial of the literal reign of Christ upon the earth after His Second Advent. It is Amillennial or Nonmillennial because it denies such a literal reign of Christ on earth and states that the eternal state will immediately follow the Second Coming of Christ. “A” millennial means, “without a Millennium,” as they do not believe in a literal 1,000-year reign by Jesus Christ on earth. As such, the present age between the first and second comings is the fulfillment of the Millennium.
There are varying interpretations of what the Millennium is. Some believe, as Augustine did, that it is fulfilled on earth running coterminous with our current age in the inter-advent period and will terminate with the Second Advent, while others believe it to be spiritually fulfilled in heaven by the saints. Augustine thought that human history would be completed in 6,000 years, and the 7th was the eternal state. In order to accommodate his point of view in regard to Revelation 20, he held that “the first resurrection” is a spiritual resurrection which occurs when a person is regenerated by faith in Christ, while the second resurrection described in Revelation 20 occurs at the time of the Second Advent. Most schools of thought which oppose premillennialism are derived in some measure from Augustinian theology. Many modern scholars of amillennialism hold with some minor variations to Augustinian amillennialism.
A modified Augustinian interpretation of the Millennium is probably the most popular Amillennial viewpoint today. Like Augustine, they believe that Revelation 20 parallels the earlier chapters of the book of Revelation and constitutes a recapitulation. Unlike Augustine; however, they believe the Millennium refers to the saints reigning in heaven with Christ. In contrast to Augustine, they do not make any attempt to make the thousand years a literal period. As this was made impossible after A.D. 1000 had come to pass, their “Millennium” accordingly runs from the death of Christ to His Second Coming
Regarding Satan being bound, they believe he was bound at the first coming of Christ, consisting in Christ’s triumph over him, first in His temptations and later in every triumph which stems from Christ.
Regarding resurrection, the first resurrection occurs when the Christian’s soul is taken from earth to heaven at his death. The second resurrection relates to the resurrection of all men.
Most Amillennialists consider the Second Advent of Christ a distinct future event just as do the Premillennialists. Some modern Amillennialists; however, spiritualize not only the Millennium but also the Second Advent. This view of the Lord’s return identifies the coming of Christ as a perpetual advance of Christ in the church that includes many particular events. As such, they believe until the Christian’s clean up or Christianize the world, Christ will not come back. Even others like William Newton Clarke, hold that the promises of the second coming are fulfilled by “His spiritual presence with His people,” which is introduced by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, accompanied by the overthrow of Jerusalem, and ultimately fulfilled by continual spiritual advance in the church. (William N. Clarke, An Outline of Christian Theology, fifth edition, pp. 443-46.)
Postmillennialism. This is one of the most recent points of view. Originating in the writings of Daniel Whitby (1638-1726), a Unitarian of England, postmillennialism holds that the present age will end with a period of great spiritual blessing corresponding to the millennial promises accomplished through preaching the gospel. The whole world will be Christianized and brought to submission to the gospel at the end of this age, which will usher in the return of Christ. The name is derived from the fact that, in this theory, Christ returns after the Millennium (hence, post Millennium). A great many variations of this view exist and some forms of amillennialism are closely akin to it. They regard the 1,000-year reign as being completed prior to the Second Coming of Christ. It is very similar to Amillennialism but views the Millennium as the final triumph of the gospel in the present age. It is usually a literal view that considers the Millennium to be a thousand years. Those who believe this view include Charles Hodge, A. H. Strong, C. A. Briggs, and David Brown. Most of them trace their view to that of Daniel Whitby. Postmillennialism today is not commonly held, and the controversy that continues is principally between amillennialism and premillennialism.
Premillennialism. Just about every student of the early church agrees that premillennialism or chiliasm was the view held by many in the apostolic age. It is the oldest of the various millennial views. It is the teaching that Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years following His Second Advent. It is the belief that the Second Advent of Christ will be before this Millennium, and therefore premillennial. As a system of doctrine, premillennialism is necessarily more literal in its interpretation of prophecy than the other viewpoints that are more spiritual or symbolic. It views the end of the present age as sudden and catastrophic, with great judgment upon the wicked and the deliverance of the righteous.
Premillennialism distinguishes the dealings of God as separate with Israel and with the church. There will be a Jewish nation and their repossession of their ancient land when Christ returns. Satan will be bound, Rev 20:2, and a theocratic kingdom of righteousness, peace, and tranquility will ensue. The righteous are raised from the dead before the Millennium and participate in its blessings. The wicked dead are not raised until after the Millennium. The eternal state will follow the judgment of the wicked.
Premillennialists of the historical school tend to interpret Revelation 6 through 19 as largely fulfilled in history prior to our Lord’s Second Advent, but hold that chapter 20 and following are future and are to be interpreted literally. This view holds that the Millennium is a period in which Christ will literally reign on earth as its supreme political leader and that the many promises of the Old Testament relating to a kingdom on earth in which Israel will be prominent and Gentiles will be blessed will have complete and literal fulfillment. Because of this, the millennial reign of Christ is maintained in contrast to the present age, and is designated as the Dispensational interpretation. As such, all material from Rev 4:1 on is considered as future, which often leads to being named futurists.
The Millennial Doctrine determines large areas of Biblical interpretation which are not in themselves prophetic in character. The distinctions in Dispensational dealings of God, the contrasts between the Mosaic period, the Abrahamic promises, the present age of grace, and the unfulfilled prophecies about the coming kingdom are of major importance in Biblical interpretation and systematic theology. Many of these issues are largely determined by the Millennial Doctrine one holds to. And as stated above, a premillennial viewpoint is the one which is rightly divided by the Word of God, as is pretribulation resurrection of Church Age saints.
In regard to the resurrection of the saints, the three views regarding the Millennium are as follows.
- The Amillennial view is that the resurrection is spiritual, that is, the new birth, and the Millennium began with the first coming of Christ, a view popularized by Augustine, or that the first resurrection was Christ’s resurrection and the second is that of all men.
- The Postmillennial idea introduced by Whitby and advocated by Vitringa, which understands the resurrection to signify a resurrection of the principles, doctrine, spirit, and character of the Christian martyrs and saints departed: being thus one in part spiritual, in part ecclesiastical, and indeed in part too national; inasmuch as it is supposed that the Jews will be then nationally restored, as well as, converted to take a share of it.
- The literal and Premillennial interpretation followed by Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian holds to a literal period of a thousand years preceded and followed by resurrection and judgment.
The Millennium: (as noted in R.B. Thieme Jr.’s Doctrine)
- The Millennium is promised to Israel in the Davidic covenant, 2 Sam 7:8‑17, Psa 89:20‑37.
- The Millennium is prophesied in Isa 2, 11, 12, 35, 62, 65.
- The Millennium was presented during the First Advent of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ presented the conditions of the perfect environment that would exist during the Millennium in the Sermon on the Mount.
- The Millennium is postponed by the rejection of Christ as the Son of David and the legitimate Messiah. In its place, we have the calling out of the Royal Family of God; the Church Age believer.
- The Millennium is plagiarized by Satan’s attempt to create perfect environment on the earth, not only during the Church Age, but especially in the Tribulation.
- The Millennium is proclaimed by angelic heralds in Rev 10 and by human heralds in Rev 11.
- The Millennium is provided by the Second Advent of Christ, Rev 11:15‑19, Rev 19.
- The Millennium begins with the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to establish and begin a literal 1000-year reign here on planet earth. He ends the Tribulation with the battle of Armageddon, the incarceration of Satan, and the resurrection of martyred Tribulational saints, Rev 19:11-20:4.
- Christ then removes all unbelievers from earth and the nations that were antagonistic to Israel, by the Baptism of Fire. Jewish unbelievers are removed in Ezek 20:34‑38. Gentile unbelievers are removed in Mat 25:31‑46.
- Therefore, the Millennium starts out with believers only and the earth will need to be repopulated. Many of their children will turn out to be unbelievers. Therefore, the salvation message of Christ crucified and risen continues to be presented to the new population of the Millennium. Evangelism reaches its peak during the Millennium. There is a giant population explosion.
- Jesus Christ will rule the earth. There will be a perfect world government under the leadership of Christ and the delegation of authority to invisible heroes of the Church Age and Tribulational saints to rule nations, Isa 11:1‑2; Zech 14:9; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:25‑28, 3:21, 5:10, 20:4, 6.
- Israel is regathered and restored as a client nation and all the unconditional covenants are fulfilled to Israel. There will finally be peace in Jerusalem. The peace of Jerusalem can be a matter of prayer when the Tribulation begins because it will be fulfilled by the Second Advent. Israel is currently under the fifth cycle of discipline until Christ returns. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who will finally deliver and regather Israel, Dan 9:24; Isa 5:26‑30; 10:19‑23; 11:11‑16; 14:1‑3; 60:4‑6; 65:19; Joel 2:16ff; Zech 8:20‑23; 10:6‑12; 14:9.
- The nations will enjoy, for the first time since Adam’s innocence, perfect environment under the reign of Christ. There will be perfect environment because Satan is bound and demons are removed. As a result, there is no religion on the earth, Rev 20:1-3. Remember that Jesus Christ supersedes Satan as the ruler of this world at the Second Advent. Religion is part of human good and evil. It combines the functions of human good with evil. As long as Satan is the ruler of this world, religion will exist. This perfect environment is described in many ways.
- Universal peace, Isa 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Psa 46:9; Micah 4:3.
- Universal prosperity, Psa 72:7, 16. Free enterprise will operate worldwide. Competition from motivation and profit will exist, creating a perfect economy.
- Perfect world government because the government is run by the Lord Jesus Christ, Isa 11:1-2; Zech 14:9.
- Everyone will understand Bible doctrine in those days. They may not accept it or agree, but there will be a universal knowledge of God, Isa 11:9; Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:14; 10:15‑17. You have the option of the spiritual life or not.
- Perfect environment will exist in nature.
- Creation is released from the bondage of man’s sinfulness, Rom 8:19‑22.
- Plant and animal life abounds, Isa 35:1‑27.
- Animals lose their ferocity, Isa 11:6‑9; 65:25.
- There will be an optimum spirituality upon the earth, Isa 65:24; Zech 14:16-17.
- Believers in the Millennium are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Ezek 36:27; 37:14.
- Believers are filled with the Spirit in the Millennium, as well as indwelt, Joel 2:28-29; Isa 32:15; 44:3; Zech 12:10. Spirituality in the Millennium is by the filling of the Spirit and is characterized by ecstatics. Ecstatics are produced by the filling of the Holy Spirit; this is legitimate because Christ is present on earth.
By way of contrast, there are no ecstatics during the Church Age since Christ is absent. During the Church Age, the filling of the Spirit is designed to produce the character of the humanity of Christ, compare Eph 5:1 with Gal 6:19; 5:22‑23. The filling of the Spirit is not ecstatics today. In the Millennium, the filling of the Holy Spirit has an effect on the body which it does not have at present.
Joel 2:28-29 is a very critical passage because it describes the filling of the Spirit in terms of ecstatics. The filling of the Spirit in the Millennium produces an ecstatic experience. Why? This is a part of appreciation of Christ while He is present on the earth. But in the Church Age, the filling of the Spirit is never said to produce any emotion; it produces the character of Christ minus emotion. Ecstatics and emotion are not bona fide functions in the Church Age, they are in the Millennium.
- There will be longevity in the human race, Isa 65:20, death will be abolished except in cases of capital punishment. There will be perfect health, so that people will have capacity for perfect environment but this is not the same as capacity for life. The only reason people will die is capital punishment. No disease.
- Perfect objectivity in justice, Isa 11:3-5; Psa72:12-14.
- Conditions existing within the Millennium for those on the earth include untold blessing and glory poured out upon them through the Lord Jesus Christ, showing the “greatness of the kingdom,” Dan 7:27.
Peace. The cessation of war through the unification of the kingdoms of the world under the reign of Christ, together with the resultant economic prosperity, since nations need not devote vast proportions of their expenditure on munitions, is a major theme of the prophets. National and individual peace is the fruit of Messiah’s reign, Isa 2:4; 9:4-7; 11:6-9; 32:17-18; 33:5-6; 54:13; 55:12; 60:18; 65:25; 66:12; Ezek 28:26; 34:25, 28; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:2-3; Zech. 9:10.
Joy. The fullness of joy will be a distinctive mark of the age, Isa. 9:3-4; 12:3-6; 14:7-8; 25:8-9; 30:29; 42:1, 10-12; 52:9; 60:15; 61:7, 10; 65:18-19; 66:10-14; Jer 30:18-19; 31:13-14; Zeph 3:14-17; Zech 8:18-19; 10:6-7.
Holiness. The theocratic kingdom will be a holy kingdom, in which holiness is manifested through the King and the King’s subjects. The land will be holy, the city holy, the temple holy, and the subjects holy unto the Lord, Isa 1:26-27; 4:3-4; 29:18-23; 31:6-7; 35:8-9; 52:1; 60:21; 61:10; Jer 31:23; Ezek 36:24-31; 37:23-24; 43:7-12; 45:1; Joel 3:21; Zeph 3:11, 13; Zech. 8:3; 13:1-2; 14:20-21.
Glory. The kingdom will be a glorious kingdom, in which the glory of God will find full manifestation, Isa 24:23; 4:2; 35:2; 40:5; 60:1-9.
Comfort. The King will personally minister to every need, so that there will be the fullness of comfort in that day, Isa 12:1-2; 29:22-23; 30:26; 40:1-2; 49:13; 51:3; 61:3-7; 66:13-14; Jer 31:23-25; Zeph 3:18-20; Zech. 9:11-12; Rev. 21:4.
Justice. There will be the administration of perfect justice to every individual, Isa 9:7; 11:5; 32:16; 42:1-4; 65:21-23; Jer 23:5; 31:23; 31:29-30.
Full knowledge. The ministry of the King will bring the subjects of His kingdom into full knowledge. Doubtless there will be an unparalleled teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, Isa 11:1-2, 9; 41:19-20; 54:13; Hab 2:14.
Instruction. This knowledge will come about through the instruction that issues from the King, Isa 2:2a; 12:3-6; 25:9; 29:17-24; 30:20-21; 32:3-4; 49:10; 52:8; Jer 3:14-15; 23:1-4; Mic 4:2.
The removal of the curse. The original curse placed upon creation, Gen 3:17-19, will be removed, so that there will be abundant productivity to the earth. Animal creation will be changed so as to lose its venom and ferocity, Isa 11:6-9; 35:9; 65:25.
Sickness removed. The ministry of the King as a healer will be seen throughout the age, so that sickness and even death, except as a penal measure in dealing with overt sin, will be removed, Isa 33:24; Jer 30:17; Ezek 34:16.
Healing of the deformed. Accompanying this ministry will be the healing of all deformity at the inception of the Millennium, Isa 29:17-19; 35:3-6; 61:1-2; Jer 31:8; Mic 4:6-7; Zeph. 3:19.
Protection. There will be a supernatural work of preservation of life in the Millennial Age through the King, Isa 41:8-14; 62:8-9; Jer 32:27; 23:6; Ezek 34:27; Joel 3:16-17; Amos 9:15; Zech 8:14-15; 9:8; 14:10-11.
Freedom from oppression. There will be no social, political, or religious oppression in that day, Isa 14:3-6; 42:6-7; 49:8-9; Zech 9:11-12.
Longevity of Life will be restored, Isa 65:20.
Reproduction by the living peoples. The living saints who go into the Millennium in their natural bodies will bear children throughout the age. The earth’s population will soar. These born in the age will not be born without a sin nature, so salvation will be required, Jer 30:20; 31:29; Ezek 47:22; Zech 10:8.
Labor. The period will not be characterized by idleness, but there will be a perfect economic system, in which the needs of men are abundantly provided for by labor in that system, under the guidance of the King. There will be a fully developed industrialized society, providing for the needs of the King’s subjects, Isa 62:8-9; 65:21-23; Jer 31:5; Ezek 48:18-19. Agriculture, as well as, manufacturing will provide employment.
Economic prosperity. The perfect labor situation will produce economic abundance, so that there will be no want, Isa 4:1; 35:1-2, 7; 30:23-25; 62:8-9; 65:21-23; Jer.31:5, 12; Ezek 34:26; Mic 4:1, 4; Zech 8:11-12; 9:16-17; Ezek 36:29-30; Joel 2: 21-27; Amos 9: 13-14.
Increase of light. There will be an increase of solar and lunar light in the age. This increased light probably is a major cause in the increased productivity of the earth, Isa 4:5; 30:26; 60:19-20; Zech 2:5.
Unified Language. The language barriers will be removed so that there can be free social intercourse, Zeph 3:9.
Unified Worship. All the world will unite in the worship of God and God’s Messiah, Isa 45:23; 52:1, 7-10; 66:17-23; Zech 13:2; 14:16; 8:23; 9:7; Zeph 3:9; Mal 1:11; Rev 5:9-14.
The manifest presence of God. God’s presence will be fully recognized and fellowship with God will be experienced to an unprecedented degree, Ezek 37:27-28; Zech 2:2, 10-13; Rev 21:3.
The fullness of the Spirit. Divine presence and enablement will be the experience of all who are in subjection to the authority of the King, Isa 32:13-15; 41:1; 44:3; 59:19, 21; 61:1; Ezek 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Ezek 11:19-20.
The perpetuity of the Millennial state. That which characterizes the Millennial Age is not viewed as temporary, but eternal, Joel 3:20; Amos 9:15; Ezek 37:26-28; Isa 51:6-8; 55:3, 13; 56:5; 60:19-20; 61:8; Jer 32:40; Ezek 16:60; 43:7-9; Dan 9:24; Hos 2:19-23.
The wide diversity of the realms in which the blessings of the King’s presence is felt is thus clearly seen.
- Not all will be believers. Because of perfect environment, there will be a tremendous population explosion, so that by the end of the Millennium, there will exist many unbelievers on the earth who have rejected the gospel and who will have joined the Gog revolution of Satan against the rule of Jesus Christ, even though there is perfect objectivity in the administration of justice, Isa 11:3‑4; Psa 72:12‑14.
- At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released and there will be a revolution. It will be very brief, Rev 20:7-10. The Gog Revolution, as Satan’s closing argument in the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict, terminates the perfect environment of the Millennium. Satan is released from prison after one thousand years and immediately starts a revolution to overthrow our Lord’s reign. Satan does not attempt to improve the environment in this revolution; this is simply a power grab. This revolution proves that perfect environment is not the solution to man’s problem of the Old Sin Nature and spiritual death. Only those who are regenerate can appreciate perfect environment and the One who provides it. Regeneration is the only solution to man’s problem. So this revolution indicates that perfect environment is not the solution to man’s problems. This will be the final demonstration of the Millennium.
- The universe is destroyed and a new heaven and earth is created, 2 Peter 3:7‑10; Rev 21:1.
The place of the Millennium in scripture should be very clearly delineated. Wherever you find Old Testament passages dealing with the Millennium, these are all prophecies. None of them are fulfilled in Old Testament times. Whenever you find Millennial passages in the Gospels, they are still prophecy, but like the Sermon on the Mount, the Millennium was offered with the reign of Christ. Christ offered Himself to the Jews as their King. The Sermon on the Mount is the platform for the Millennium; it is not for the present. There are certain paragraphs in the Sermon on the Mount which have application today, but only application and the application comes through reiteration in parallel passages dealing with the Church Age. The Millennium is proclaimed in the Gospels as “at hand.” It is postponed in the Epistles. Due to the rejection of Christ, the Millennium is not a reality in the Church Age.
In wrapping up vs. 10 there is one more topic we will note because of the final phrase in Eph 1:10, “… the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth in Him.” Therefore, we will note the delegated authority given to Jesus Christ, also called “Operation Footstool.”
As noted above, the “things in the heavens and upon the earth” include:
Those in heaven are the Old Testament saints, Church Age believers and Tribulational martyrs. By the Second Advent, (i.e., the end of the Tribulation and beginning of the Millennial reign), all these categories will be in resurrection bodies.
Those on the earth are Tribulational believers alive and delivered on the earth at the Second Advent, who will enter into the Millennium. They become the basis of a Millennial population and they will not receive resurrection bodies until the end of the Millennium, along with all Millennial saints.
Therefore, at the establishment of our Lord’s reign here on earth, Operation Footstool commences; “the summing up of all things in Christ”, i.e., Christ’s delegated authority.
L.S. Chafer notes, “An inscrutable mystery is present in the fact that all authority is committed by the Father to the Son. In the light of the complete evidence that the Son is equal in His Person with the Father, it is difficult to understand how authority could be committed to the Son which was not properly His in His own right.”
So how is this completed? Our Lord, due to His virgin birth, is now in hypostatic union meaning He is 100% God and 100% humanity. It is this hypostatic union emphasizing the humanity of Jesus Christ that is in view, as the Father delegates all authority to the Son, Eph 1:20-22, cf. Mat 28:18.
Regarding Christ’s deity Chafer notes, “And that power, while it was used in the beginning for the creation of all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, including thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, is exercised now to the end that all things may hold together, Col 1:16-17.”
Regarding Christ’s hypostatic union Chafer then notes, “The very seating of Christ far above all intelligences, Eph 1:20-21, implies that He is over them in complete authority. Thus, in a similar way, it is written that the Father hath put all things under the feet of the Son, excepting of course Himself, 1 Cor 15:27.”
1 Cor 15:27, “For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.”
So when does this authority take affect? It began at the session of our Lord, when God the Father seated Him at His right hand, subsequent to our Lord’s victory at the Cross, His death, resurrection, and ascension and will continue at the commencement of Operation Footstool! Heb 10:12-14.
Heb 10:12-14, “But He, having offered one sacrifice as a substitute for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies were made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has brought to completion for all time those who are sanctified.”
Chafer notes, “This power will be exercised in the coming kingdom age to the end that all rule, authority, power, and every enemy, even death, shall be subdued, 1 Cor 15:24-28.”
Therefore, from the beginning of the Millennial Reign and running coterminous with it, Operation Footstool is enacted.
The authority exercised by Christ is said by Chafer to be, “that same authority possessed by the Son inherently is then exercised in those ways in which it is required. It is, therefore, essential that when drawing a picture of the exalted Christ and in contemplating His Person and present activity He should be seen as the One who, under the Father, is above and over all things in the universe in the sense that they owe their very existence to Him, are held together by Him, and are governed by Him.” (Systematic Theology, Vol. 5, Chapter 10.)
Operation Footstool refers to the consummation of the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict, by which the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth to establish His kingdom and to remove Satan and all fallen angels. It constitutes our Lord’s overthrow of Satan; whereby, Satan loses the rulership of the world to Him.
This recapturing of rulership over humanity and angelic kind is noted in many passages of scripture including, the Old Testament prophecies of Psa 110:1; Dan 7:13-14; and New Testament Luke 22:66; Eph 1:10, 20-22; 4:9; Phil 2:5; Col 3:1; Heb 1:1; 2:8.
Psa 110:1, “The LORD (YHWH – God the Father), says to my Lord (Adonay – Jesus Christ): ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’.”
Psa 110:1 is quoted in the gospels, Mat 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42. It is quoted in Acts 2:34-35. It is quoted in the Epistles, Heb 1:13; 10:13.
God the Father is going to subordinate everything in the world to Christ, and only the humanity of Christ can sit down in one location at the right hand of God the Father. Our Lord is invited to sit down with His human body because in His body, He won the victory of the Cross.
Our Lord’s royal title in relation to Operation Footstool is “King of kings, Lord of lords, the Bright Morning Star.” This title is found in four passages, 1 Tim 1:17, 6:15; Rev 7:14, 19:16.
The enemies of Jesus Christ will all be placed in subjection to Him. Who are the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Satan, Isa 14:13-14 mentions the revolution of Satan.
- All fallen angels.
- All religion is the enemy of God. Religion is man, by man’s work, trying to gain the approbation of God. Christianity is not a religion. In Christianity, God seeks mankind through the salvation ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Carnal believers or believers in perpetual carnality. In Phil 3:18 believers in a state of carnality are called “the enemies of the Cross.” Perpetual carnality is emotion instead of the application of Bible doctrine from your soul.
- All unbelievers, Rom 5:10, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be delivered through His life.” We were all born spiritually dead in total separation from God and enemies of God.
- Death, 1 Cor 15:23-28, vs. 25-26, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” Death is abolished for the unbeliever by being cast alive into the Lake of Fire, “the second death”, Rev 20:10, 14; Mat 25:41; and for believers, Rev 21:4, “There shall no longer be any death.”
In Operation Footstool:
First comes the triumphal procession in which all demons are disarmed by Jesus Christ and publicly displayed, Col 2:15.
Then Satan is imprisoned for one thousand years, Rev 20:1-3.
The removal of Satan and all fallen angels, plus the rulership of Christ, that changes the environment of the earth during the Millennium.
- Religion is eradicated, 1 Cor 10:20-21.
- False doctrine is removed, 1 Tim 4:1.
- Spirituality changes to include ecstatics, since Christ is personally present on the earth, Joel 2:28-29.
- Perfect environment will exist on earth until Satan is released to foment the Gog revolution, Rev 20:7-10.
Operation Footstool was decided in eternity past as a part of the Divine decrees, but cannot be fulfilled in time until the prerequisites have been fulfilled. Human history cannot be fulfilled until Operation Footstool is completed. It will take one thousand years to complete Operation Footstool once it starts. Operation Footstool cannot even begin until two more prophecies are completed. Originally there were three prophecies that had to be fulfilled before Operation Footstool could begin: 1) the victory of the Cross, 2) the formation of a Royal Family of God, and 3) the Tribulation. So far, in history one prerequisite is completed, the Cross, and two prerequisites still need to be completed. The Church Age must be completed and Satan must receive the rebuttal phase of his appeal trial; the Tribulation.
In Eph 1:22, “And He (God the Father) put (has subordinated), all things in subjection under His feet and gave (appointed) Him as head (ruler) over all things to the church.”
The rulership of Christ over the Church includes the fact that He is a ruler with another special title. He is a Royal High Priest, Heb 2:17; 3:1; 5:6, 10; 1 Peter 2:9. Because He is a royal High Priest, every believer in the Church Age is a priest. We are called a kingdom of priests, Rev 1:6, 5:10. In 1 Pet 2:5, we are called “holy priests” in the sense of being separated unto God for a special purpose.
Every believer who reaches spiritual adulthood status will rule with Christ during Operation Footstool. Every Church Age believer has equal privilege and equal opportunity to reach spiritual adulthood status.
At the completion of Operation Footstool, the end of the Millennial Reign, Jesus Christ will give His delegated authority back to God the Father, 1 Cor 15:24-25.
1 Cor 15:24-25, “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”
Next in Part 4 of Ephesians, Chapter 1, we will study:
The Doctrine of Glory
Doctrine of the Sealing Ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Doctrine of Inheritance
The Doctrine of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.