What do we mean by Dispensational in Christian Teaching?

Biblical history is divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles

J N Darby is sometimes referred to as the father of dispensational theology.  Whilst the thought was not new, and it is clear from scripture, there was in his time (and still is) a lot on muddled thinking amongst believers.  Many teach that we are part of a steady continuum, with for example the church replacing Israel, and that Christ’s kingdom is present, and that the interpretation of periods is purely spiritual or figurative – sometimes called ‘covenant theology’.

In view of this, A Day of Small Things is presenting a short outline of what we mean by the term ‘dispensation’, and where we fit in now.

J N Darby’s teaching, and also that of many servants of the Lord, has been based on the understanding that Biblical history is divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles.  Dispensationalists’ presuppositions start with the harmony of history as focusing on the glory of God and put God at its centre – as opposed to a central focus on humanity and their need for salvation[*].

The Word ‘Dispensation’

The word, οἰκονομία/oikonomia/Strong 3622— (Eph. 1:10), and translated “dispensation” there — is a compound word “house” and “law – the rules or administration, of a household, as in our word  “economy.  In the phrase, “dispensational truth,” it looks at the world as a great household, in which God is dispensing, or administering, according to rule of His own establishing, and in whose order He has from time to time introduced certain changes, the understanding of which is consequently needful, both to the intelligent interpretation of His word and to intelligent action under Him[†]


List of Dispensations

There are several lists of dispensations, and to my knowledge, Darby did not produce a formal list, but the classic view lists the following, each associated with a covenant between God and man[‡]:

Innocence– Adam under probation prior to the Fall. Ends with expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Some refer to this period as the Adamic period or the dispensation of the Adamic covenant or Adamic law. (Gen 1:28)


Conscience– From the Fall to the Great Flood. Ends with the worldwide deluge. (Gen 3:7)

Human Government– After the Great Flood, humanity responsible to enact the death penalty. Ends with the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. Some use the term Noahide law in reference to this period of dispensation. (Gen 8:15)

Promise – From Abraham to Moses. Ends with the refusal to enter Canaan and the 40 years of unbelief in the wilderness. Some use the terms Abrahamic law or Abrahamic covenant in reference to this period of dispensation. (Gen 12:1)

Law– From Moses to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Ends with the scattering of Israel in AD70. Some use the term Mosaic law in reference to this period of dispensation. (Ex 19:1)

Grace– From the cross to the rapture of the church. The rapture is followed by the wrath of God comprising the Great Tribulation. Some use the term Age of Grace or the Church Age for this dispensation. (Acts 2:1)

Millennial Kingdom– The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth centred in Jerusalem. Ends with God’s judgment on the final rebellion. (Rev 20:4)




February 2019

[*]Elements of Dispensational Truth Volume 1 by R. A. Huebner, page 3

[†]From Edward Dennet The Christian Friend, pp. 67-69, 1876, referenced by Huebner above.

[‡]Wikipediabased on Schofield’s Reference Bible, published by Oxford University Press

Know God or Know about God

Branch of Theology Darby’s Probable Position
Hermeneutics  – concerning the Biblical text Qualified-literal – Passages are literal,  figurative or symbolic, and recognised as such.   Also, that which relates to Israel and the law (OT) is distinct from that which applies to the church and grace (NT).
Soteriology – concerning salvation Classic evangelical – God-given faith in the blood.  Without the atoning work of Christ, man must bear the guilt of his sin and remain at a distance from God without knowledge of Him or of His love. More Calvinist than Arminian but claiming neither

Should there be an Introduction to a Little Basic Theology?

At a discussion about ‘A Day of Small Things’ with a few friends, the suggestion was made that there should be an introduction to a little basic theology.  This is a subject many like myself have steered clear of, even regarding the term as a dirty word, and for very good reason.

–  We read the scriptures, we have bible readings and other occasions, and we pray with a view to ‘knowing God’ and in an assembly setting it can be said that we are ‘taught of God’ and guided by the Holy Spirit.

– On the other hand, theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine.  It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. (Wikipedia) – Trying to mentally encompass the inscrutable God is futile, even profane!

However, there are times when we desire to help fellow Christians who have been subjected to a different system of teaching.  It is then useful to understand lines of thought, which we might feel are not fully in accord with, or a misinterpretation of scripture, even when they are held by seriously devout godly believers.

So recently I have been seeking to produce a short guide to some of the theological terms that we might encounter – not to make theologians of us, wasting time on ‘foolish and unlearned questions (2 Tim 2:23)’.  But it is useful to know what is meant, for example, by the difference between Calvinism (and its five points) and Arminianism, pre-, post- and a-millennial eschatology etc.  Through this we can see how we might relate to those from Baptist (Calvinist), Wesleyan/Methodist/Pentecostal (Arminian), and other backgrounds, and to be able to bring in what is positive in a meek way without giving offence.  We are exhorted: ‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’  (2 Tim 2:25) – a scripture which follows the instruction as to separating from iniquity.

The Word

Love is of God, and every one that loves has been begotten of God, and knows God. He that loves not has not known God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 Darby)

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent(John 17:3)

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil 3:10) 

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (John 5:39).

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth(2 Tim 3:7)

Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Eccl 12:12)


A Call for Help

I am no theologian – I studied economics and statistics, not theology.  So I would like to invite several to review my draft when I have done my bit.  There are two or three persons I have already contacted, but if you feel you could help please let me know.

John Nelson Darby

Meanwhile, for a start, here is what might be written about Darby theology


Branch of Theology Darby’s Probable Position
Hermeneutics  – concerning the Biblical text Qualified-literal – Passages are literal,  figurative or symbolic, and recognised as such.   Also, that which relates to Israel and the law (OT) is distinct from that which applies to the church and grace (NT).
Soteriology – concerning salvation Classic evangelical – God-given faith in the blood.  Without the atoning work of Christ, man must bear the guilt of his sin and remain at a distance from God without knowledge of Him or of His love. More Calvinist than Arminian but claiming neither
Eschatology – concerning prophecy ‘The Father of Premillennial Dispensationalism’ – The pre-tribulation secret rapture with the Church returning with Christ at the start of the millennium
Ecclesiology – concerning the church and church form The true church is heavenly, unified and perfect – publicly it is in ruins – the call is to depart from iniquity and gather to the Lord’s name – without form, organisation or ordained leadership.
Christology – concerning the Person of Christ None! – How can the blessed Object of our worship be studied academically?

A Warning

This is no substitute for:
  • Reading, remembering the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Tim 3:15)
  • Knowing that your sins are forgiven and rejoicing in the Saviour (see 1 John 2:12)
  • Awaiting our Lord’s return with a heart aglow (see 2 Peter 1:19)
  • Enjoying a wonderful relationship with one another, with he Lord’s presence when two or three are gathered to His Name (see Matt 18:20)
  • Worshipping our great ‘God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13 Darby and others)
This is reality – not theology!

Your comments, please

God’s blessings for the holiday season

Your brother, Sosthenes



The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  –  The Rapture

The next event for us is the rapture. It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church. Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament. In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated ‘caught up’. The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians? This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear:

A few weeks ago I was talking to some of my younger Christian friends regarding the various things which had happened and were yet to happen.  They had little problem with the history – creation, the fall, the flood, the Exodus, Moses receiving the law,  David, the captivity, the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, Pentecost etc., but they had real problems with what is to come.  I thought therefore in this and a few coming letters to look at these future events so that we might be sure where we are in relation to them.


The Rapture

new-jerusalem-2sThe next event for us is the rapture.  It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church.  Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament.  In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated  ‘caught up’.  The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians?  This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear: ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them [Darby – are in no way to anticipate those] which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words’.  Look at a few phrases ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ – that encompasses all those who have been ransomed by His blood from creation onwards.  Whether we who are alive now will be taken before the rapture, none of us knows.  Paul referred to ‘we, the living’, as if he thought it would be within his lifetime.  Of course we know it was not, but he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming – we should be too.[1]

Paul also says, ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (v.17), and ‘them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’.  Now when Jesus comes (the public second coming, often referred to in scripture as ‘the appearing’) the dead in Christ will be with Him – and so will be those lovers of the Lord who were alive at the rapture.  Also, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory’ (Col 3:4).  Clearly, we could not come with Him, if we were still on the earth.

The church is heavenly entity: she belongs to Christ in heaven, and her hope and glory is Christ Himself.  She looks forward to and His return to take up His rights.   Therefore the church has nothing to do with the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture and return with Christ so simple and clear, as we see from Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ [2]

1 Cor 15:51-52 is another scripture which describes the rapture: ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ’  From this we can deduce that there will be a rallying trumpet, the whole event will be very quick, and our bodies will be changed.  The latter is also referred to in  Rom 8:23waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body’.

When the Lord was discoursing with his disciples immediately prior to the crucifixion, He tells them that a place was being prepared for the saints to be with Him, where He is.  ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2-3).


  • The rapture will be sudden
  • No one knows when the rapture will be
  • The rapture will be private
  • At the rapture there will be a voice (or trumpet sound) which only Christians will hear
  • At the rapture the Lord will not come quite to the earth – just to the air
  • The rapture will affect people, whether raptured or left here: the world carries on
  • At the rapture bodies will be changed

The question often arises as to what the effect of the saints being taken will be.  Suddenly millions of people will just vanish!  Hal Lindsey, who awakened many Christians to the rapture in the 1970’s in a popular book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, said that there would be confusion.  I doubt it.   Christians who are ‘not of the world’ will not be missed.  Writing about future events in his second epistle to the Thessalonians Paul said, ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thess 2:11).  The Antichrist will conjure up a satisfactory credible explanation which will be accepted universally.


The Rapture and the Appearing

We must not confuse the second coming with the rapture.  At the rapture the Lord comes to the atmosphere immediately above the earth.  At the appearing He comes to the earth. Here are some differences between the rapture and the appearing:


No one knows when it will be It will be 7 years after the rapture
It will be private It will be very public
The Lord comes to the air The Lord comes to the earth
He comes FOR His saints He comes WITH His saints
It is followed by the great tribulation[3] It is followed by the millennium
He is the Bridegroom He is the King
He is the Morning Star He is the Sun of Righteousness
It is for the Church It is not for the Church
There is little in prophecy There is much in prophecy
The world will carry on Christ will reign
The man of sin will be revealed Satan will be bound
There will be the judgment seat of Christ[3] The world will be judged
People will be translated Nobody will be translated
People will believe a lie The truth will be acknowledged


Two Resurrections

Something else many Christians do not realise is the fact there will be two resurrections.  The Old Testament did not distinguish between the two.  John made the distinction very clear.  When the Lord was here, He said ‘all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation’ (John 5:28-29).   Also in Revelation, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev 20:6).  The second death is to the Great White Throne – the resurrection of the dead for judgment[3].

The first resurrection (the resurrection of the just) is primarily at the rapture.  J N Darby says that it will be the consummation of our happiness[4].  Having given life to our souls, He will give life to our glorified bodies.

Satan is the author of this confusion.  He does not want Christians to burn with anticipation of the Lord’s immediate coming.  He certainly does not want us saying ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).

Dear Christian friends, may we keep near Him, and be assured as to the immediacy of His return.




December 2016


[1] See ‘ADOSS – The Lord is Coming Very Soon’

[2] Note that this is distinct from the individuals who, though not of this world have to do with things here.

[3] This will be addressed in a later note, God willing.

[4] Lecture 4 on ‘The Hopes of the Church of God’, summarised by ADOSS asThe First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’


See other references in ADOSS:


John Nelson Darby’s Prophetic Map

In 1828 or 1829 Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).

This article looks aback over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.

JohnNelsonDarbyIn 1828 or 1829 J N Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).  Of course he was well versed in Daniel 11

This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.  For example:

  • The break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of many independent states in the Middle East
  • The first and second World Wars
  • The Treaty of Rome and the European Union
  • NATO and allies
  • The United Nations and other treaty organisations
  • The rise and fall of the Russian (Soviet) Empire and its resurgent ambitions
  • Former Warsaw Pact nations aligning themselves with the West, joining NATO and the European Union
  • Colonial independence from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands etc
  • Post WW2 political and later economic migration
  • Formation of the State of Israel and territorial disputes
  • The growing significance of Islam, and the hostility between the Sunni and Shi’ite divisions
  • Islamic jihad terrorist organisations such as ‘Islamic State’, al Qaeda and  Boko Haram
  • The wealth of the Arabs etc. due to oil
  • Increased material wealth and generally reduced poverty
  • The dominance of the United States
  • Improvements in health care
  • Legalisation and even promotion of unorthodox/immoral lifestyles
  • Modern communications, radio, TV and the internet
  • The green movement
  • The large migration of Eastern people to Europe, America and elsewhere, bringing the influence of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.


I will treat the various areas of the world, citing Darby’s analysis and opinion and possible deductions in describing his Prophetic Map.  I have also noted a couple of things I do not understand.  Doubtless this could be a topic for discussion.

I might add that this does not involve the church.  However we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church .  Of course we will not be here!


JN Darby's Prophetic MapEurope, the ‘Western World’ and the Antichrist

Europeans are primarily descendants of Japheth,  Gomer (hence Germany also known as Cimmerians – from which Cimbri – Celts), and Magog (Scythians/Russians), and Madai (Medes), and Javan (Greece) , and Tubal (Tiblisi? i.e. the Caucuses), and Meshech Moschi – Armenians), and Tiras (probably Goths/Scandinavians) see Genesis 10:2-3 (and Elicott’s Ethnological Table.  However, with so much migration over the millennia, clear demarcations are impossible.

Darby believed that France, not the USA, would become the dominant Western power.  At the time France was in turmoil:  Napoleon, whose objective had been European integration, had been defeated, and there was continued unrest up to the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848.  France would not have been considered a potential leader of Europe at ay time during JND’s adult life, it being in trouble again in the 1870’s after the Franco-Prussian war.

In drawing up his Prophetic Map, Darby foresaw European unity – at least as nation states working together, and that is what we have.  At the time of writing Britain had just elected to withdraw from the European Union.  Nevertheless, it will remain in the larger political/military grouping of NATO and probably the European Economic Area.  However, it will not be in a position to lead Europe.  Indeed, in Darby’s paper England is described as a minor irritant – this must have been perceptive considering the world dominant position of the British Empire in the 1800’s.

Germany, whilst the largest economy, has never led, still being held back by the WW2 legacy.  Hitler, another prefigurement of the Antichrist had thankfully been defeated.   Darby referred to Austria.  Of course this country’s influence has become minor since the fall of the Hapsburgs, and even more so since Hitler (an Austrian) annexed the country to Germany.  It would remain part of the West European nations.  He was also critical of Poland and to date the role of this populous nation has been limited to its part in the downfall of the Soviet system, and to providing the Pope in office at the time.

Roman Catholicism will be the dominant religion, especially as so-called Protestant churches veer towards Rome.  Elsewhere Darby made it clear that this would be increasingly so despite the strength of atheistic secularism.  The large influx of Muslims, and those of Eastern religions will in time make way for the unified false Babylon religion.  Already, in the UK, Muslims represent about 10% of the religiously active population, with Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists making 5%.  There is even a trend to pre-Christian paganism.

Biblically the sphere of operations is the area covered by the Roman Empire and some extensions in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Outgoings of Europe in the rest of the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Latin America etc., are not part of the sphere or provide leadership, but can be regarded as part of the expanded Roman Empire in Revelation.

Did Darby foresee the modern advances in technology and its impact?  He saw the improvement in communications and was not ignorant of scientific thought.  What is clear from his writings is that he relates a lot to the influence of the East, embraced by the West.

So it is not impossible that France will be the dominant Western force, supporting Darby’s prediction that the Antichrist would come from that country, despite all that has happened in the last 200 years.  Who knows?


Russia and the King of the North

Darby was quite specific as to this area, drawing on Ezekiel and Daniel in particular.

On the European side we have Russia, referred to in prophecy as Rosh and Meshech (Moscow?) and Tubal.  He thought that Russia would come to dominate Turkey-in-Asia, but I believe that if it does, it will control the whole country.  Istanbul is as much Turkey as Ankara.  This is not impossible.  Whilst Turkey has been a member of NATO for decades, and would like to join the European Union, there are areas of tension with NATO and strong resistance to its joining the EU.   Like Russia it does not really have democratic government.  Having lost the Eastern European countries to the EU after the fall of communism, there is little doubt that Russia would like to extend its sphere of influence.  Russia’s influence and control would then extend from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.

The other area that Darby thought that Russia would dominate (though not control) is that of Persia (Iran) and Media the Japhetic children of Medai .  [Darby said that that Persia was a subservient Hamitic people, but their language does not bear this out.  Probably he was referring to what we now know as the Iraqis who speak Arabic, but would have been, like the Canaanites, descended from Ham – Sosthenes].   Darby’s map shows this area extending eastwards as far as the Indus River, and therefore embracing a lot of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and  south to include Syria and Lebanon.  Although those countries are mostly Sunni, Iran would like to control all the Muslim regions in that part of the world.

Significantly Darby hardly mentions Islam – just four passing references to the religion or to Mohammed.   Any review must take account of the increased profile of this religion, its divisions and the violent actions in its name.  He never referred to the two opposing Sunni and Shi’ite divisions of that religion.  The Shi’ite religion, with its observance of shrines and icons is probably more compatible with Orthodox Christendom, so there is a natural fit here.  The Assyrians are referred to a lot – basically the same people.

Finally, in this group are the descendants of Nimrod, the hunter.  These Hamites led to the Huns and the Magyars, now occupying Hungary and much of the Balkans.  Russia would have to wrest these countries from the EU and stop Serbia and the Ukraine from joining.


Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the King of the South

The area ‘between the two rivers’ (i.e. the Euphrates and the Nile) is occupied by descendants of Shem and Ham.  Ishmael (Arabs) and Hamites – from Cush, Phut and Mizraim (Egypt and North Africa) are generally stricter, puritanical Sunni Muslims rivalling the Shi’ites to the north.  Doubtless due to financial relationships with the West, Darby’s words could be fulfilled, ‘Eastern descendants of Ham, just as the western or southern descendants of Ham will be at the steps of Antichrist or the mature apostate body, for they will be judged as Antichrist, Gog and Magog, for coming against the Jews.’ (See original paper).

J. N. Darby. – Notes and Comments Vol. 2. page 192

Available from Kingston Bible Trust (Lancing Sussex), Bibles etc. (Wheaton IL)  and elsewhere


The Prophetic Map: What does all this mean?

All this is very interesting, but has no direct bearing on the church.  But as Darby says, ‘There is not a more important chapter in Scripture as to the providence of God than Genesis 10.  The Noahic and Abrahamic earth under Providence leaves the will of man to act.  All the powers of the world will be brought together as they have acted within the limits of God’s known providence, and formed the subject of Scriptural statement as to kingdoms, i.e., powers in the world previous to the interposition and restoration of the four great kingdoms with the power of Ezekiel [especially ch. 38], acting as described in Joel [chs. 2 and 3]; and of other types. The Gog and Magog of Revelation includes all and runs over the whole extent of the inhabited earth, not the powers of the earth as in the formative system, for then the system is formed and it is re-action, in God’s wisdom and permission, of judgment on those not truly of it, as I am led to believe.’



July 2016


Brexit – What does it mean?

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable. That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast. Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.

BrexitThe United Kingdom EU referendum was a matter of earnest prayer for Christians – most Christians anyway.  From my observations more were favouring leaving the European Union, though some favoured remaining.  The reasons Christians felt the way they did reflected society as a whole.  Those against Brussels generally felt the need to take back control of matters of the economy, immigration and social justice, whatever that means.  Those for the EU considered the economic risks were too great.  Perhaps a few socially minded Christians were looking at the ‘common good’, and favoured the liberal lines of most Europeans.

But God was over everything.  I heard many prayers that His will might be done.  Personally, I believe that those prayers were answered.  It puts the four constituent counties of the UK back where they were, no longer being a party to the Treaty of Rome with all its connotations.  Of course will it make things better, or people happier?  I doubt it – man’s heart is not changed – self-will, greed and ambition still prevail.

We need to pray for our leaders.  Following the resignation of Mr Cameron, we desire one who fears God, commands respect, and has the energy and wisdom to lead the country well, employing persons who can negotiate the necessary treaties, manage the economy and maintain law, order, freedom of conscience and safety according to right principles.

I have heard some say, a view I used to share, that though it would be right to leave, our continued membership of the EU was inevitable.  That was because of the unstoppable trend to centralise power, especially in Europe leading to the Man of Sin and the woman riding the beast.  Believing that the Lord’s coming must be soon, the pathway in Revelation must have begun.

What we have to remember though is that the church has no part whatever in prophecy and the words to discerning the signs of the times were not addressed to us.  The world is carrying on its course independently of God’s work in His own at the present time.  Yes, we are in the world but not of it, and Christians are to do what is right before God and men.  In doing so they bring in relief.  They have the Spirit of God who is described as ‘He who restrains’ (2 Thess 2:7 Darby).

When the church has been raptured all restraint will be removed, and the positive establishment of evil combinations will start then.  Satan will use existing structures but they will be then totally and exclusively under his control.

We do not know who the Antichrist is.  He may be alive on the earth now.  If the Lord comes today he must be.  But what we are expecting is not see these earthly institutions, but to hear the voice of our Lord and Saviour and to see His face.

May that be today!

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament


JohnNelsonDarbyHow does the New Testament distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the church?   It is absolutely impossible to set aside the promises to Israel – the church odes not replace them [as modern ‘replacement theology’ and would suggest*].  God had made promises to His people which cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Rom 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the rapture of the church, there will be a pious godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.


The Birth of Christ

In the beginning of Luke, Christ’s birth is announced to Israel.  The angel told Zacharias that many of Israel should turn to the Lord their God, a people prepared for Him (see Luke 1:16-17).  This is a people prepared for the Lord before He comes (not sovereign grace meeting sinners in their need, as it is with us).  Mary was told that Jesus (Jehovah the Saviour) should be called the Son of the Highest, and that He would be given the throne of His Father (see Luke 1:32).   The song of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) is wholly composed of the divinely-given celebration of God’s having visited and redeemed His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David (see v.69).  The Jewish shepherds received the announcement of His birth.

But these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were they believing, pious ‘remnant’.  Later, Anna and others were looking for redemption in Jerusalem: they evidently knew one another.  Simeon saw in ‘light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’. (Luke 2:32).  It is therefore absolutely clear that this remnant, a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.


Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals the way in which Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the remnant were interrupted in order to accomplish something brighter and more blessed [viz. the church, the time of the Spirit, grace and the Christian dispensation*].  But to suppose that God had invalidated His thoughts as to Israel, would be to subvert divine testimonies and undermine God’s faithfulness and testimony.

The old was still in the mind of God to be fulfilled at the appropriate time.  Like the prophets, Matthew, passed over the intervening church period.  He introduced Christ as the accomplishment of prophecy and promise, giving His genealogy and showing how prophecy was being fulfilled – see Matt 1:22,  2:5 &  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Rev 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – [nor does it directly refer to Christians*].  They were to expect persecution and a consequent reward in heaven.   Those who were obedient to His teaching were like the man building his house on the rock see (Matt 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matt 5:26).


Christ’s Teaching

In Matt 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were to declare the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and to enquire who was worthy, that is to seek the righteous remnant (not poor sinners).  Although they were to speak peace everywhere, the peace would rest only on the sons of peace.   They were to shake the dust off of their feet before those hostile Jews who did not receive them.  Verse 18 goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentiles (enemies), and be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matt 23 the disciples and the people are on Jewish ground.  They were to be subject to the teachers who had set themselves in Moses seat, even if those teachers had rejected the ‘prophets, and wise men, and scribes’ (v. 34).  Their forebears had stoned the prophets, and killed those sent; but still Jerusalem would never listen.  Often would Jesus (Jehovah) have gathered Jerusalem’s children together, but now the desolate city would not see her Lord until she repented, saying,  ‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).

In Matt 24 His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  The temple would be destroyed, which of course happened in AD70, but the Lord spoke of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and some would be deceived, even perhaps the elect. Many troubles would arise: there would be the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before His coming, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles.  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be plainer?

The whole scene is Jewish, not Christian.  Indeed, it has no direct application whatever to true Christians, because when the Lord comes, they would already have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  The Lord will come publicly as Judge, whereas when He comes to rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace.  A Christian who has been beguiled by thoughts of going through the tribulation, must have renounced Christian hopes or have never understood them.


Peter’s Ministry

On the cross the Lord interceded saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).   After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, ‘And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till [the] times of [the] restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began’ (Acts 3:17-19 Darby).  Repentance was called for, but few repented.  Stephen witnessed to the Jews always resisting the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the most active resister of the Spirit, Saul, was converted.   When the Jews counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, he, now Paul, turned to the Gentiles and the doctrine of the church is revealed to him.

As far as we can see, Peter did not teach the doctrine of the church.  Christians remained strictly attached to Judaism, zealous of the law; priests were obedient to the faith and some even continued to be priests.  Peter never even taught Jesus to be the Son of God, even though it had been revealed to him: his doctrine was, ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).


The Church

Now God introduces the sovereign fullness of His grace, a doctrine entirely unknown in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the mystery, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, and says ‘The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest and by prophetic scriptures [not ‘the scriptures of the prophets’], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:25-26 Darby).  The Father had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God (not merely the Christ).  Following that, Christ could then speak of the church, for it was to be founded on that confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18).  In Christ’s death He gathered together into one the children of God; in His resurrection He was declared Son of God with power; in His departure the Comforter came.

Christ’s death and resurrection laid the great foundation for all our blessings, in particular the church.  When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came down the church (or the assembly), was formed, and the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved (see Acts 2:47). Those who previously formed the remnant, became the nucleus of it.  It was a newly instituted body, formed in unity by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and united to the Head, Christ in heaven.   However, His promises to Israel remained sure.


Paul’s Ministry

Only Paul speaks of the assembly (or church).  Also Paul is the only apostle who speaks of the rapture of the saints taking place before the appearing of Christ.  This ministry changed everything: we now have a heavenly gathering on earth. Paul’s free ministry, distinct from that of the twelve, had already been started by Stephen.   He saw a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.  This was individual.

Now Saul, the chief persecutor, when drawing near to Damascus, was arrested by the same Man whom Stephen saw.  From the glory He said, ‘‘Why persecutest thou me?’ … I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:4-5).   Lord’s told him that He, Himself was being persecuted, although the objects of that persecution were the Christians.  From this we infer that the Lord’s body was here, identified with its glorified Head in heaven.  This became the starting-point for Paul’s ministry as to the church.  Jew and Gentile were all one; they were all one in Him.  He taught, ‘God hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church [assembly], which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth all in all.’ (Eph 1:22-23).

Before God took up the children of Israel as a nation, the saints of God walked in individual faith.  Afterwards, they were individual members of a nation owned as God’s people.  It was a unity in the flesh: the Spirit had nothing to do with it, and it excluded the Gentiles.  After the death and exaltation of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through faith, and consequently were made one by the Holy Spirit.  This was the body of Christ, the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘church’ or ‘assembly’, ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia, means ‘a calling out’.  We see it in ‘The Lord added daily to the assembly’ (Acts 2:27 Darby). ‘He set some in the assembly; firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets’ (1 Cor 12:18 Darby).  It is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later for Him to present it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (See Eph 5:27).  The word ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia is also applied to the particular assemblies of Christians in different places, because they formed the assembly of God in that place.  No other meaning is possible.


The Hope of the Church

The church is heavenly in its calling, and belongs to Christ in heaven.  It forms no part of the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture so simple and clear as we see from   Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’  The church’s hope and glory is Christ Himself.   He is our life; our life is hid with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory given to Him He has given us; we are members of His body; we are of His flesh and of His bones.  We suffer with Him now, but will reign with Him in a future day, conformed to His image.


The Rapture

The church has nothing to do on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Eph 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she has only yet to be brought there bodily.  Her immediate outlook is her being taken physically to where He is. ‘From heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:6).

This being the case, a person who maintains that he does not go to be with Christ until His  appearing, is denying the proper hope and relationship of the church.  Ignorance is one thing, but denial is another.  Grasping the fact of our being with Him at the rapture, not the appearing, changes all our spiritual thoughts and affections.  Our hope is not even to be in glory with Him, wonderful as that is, but it is being with Him.  ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also’ (John 14:3), ‘So shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:17).

There are several ways in which the return of Christ are presented in Scripture:

  1. The general fact: Christ will come again, and we will be with Him. The saints of our dispensation ‘have been made to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth’ (Rev 5:10 Darby).
  1. The world, evil and in confusion, will ripen into rebellion. The believer knows and believes that at Christ’s appearing and His kingdom, God will judge the the quick and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.
  1. The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a special association with Christ. They will have met Him in the air.  They will also have been before the judgment-seat of Christ, giving an account of themselves to God, but this part of their privilege, not punitive, for they will already be like Jesus.  He will introduce them into His Father’s house, placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself.  This is the rapture of the saints, and it precedes the appearing.

Before the appearing certain events must have occurred.  The world will have become completely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The church will already have gone, not being of the world, but risen with Christ.  On the other hand, the rapture does not depend on any earthly event. The Christian’s hope is therefore not a prophetic subject at all.  No one knows when the rapture will take place.

The saints leave the world and worldly religion by going out to meet the Bridegroom. The cry ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh!’ (Matt 25:6)’ went out at midnight, but it could have been at any time.  We know that the Bridegroom did tarry, and the sense of His coming was lost.  It is the loss of the expectation of immediacy of the Lord’s coming that lays behind the public church’s departure from simplicity, and its fall into clerical authority and worldliness.   It lost its spiritual authority.  In Matthew 24, what leads the wicked servant into mischief is not the denial of the Lord’s coming, but the loss of the sense and present expectation of it.  The Christian is constantly waiting for the Lord to come.

When therefore is the Christian to expect the Lord? – Always.



An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly-converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had much light, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess 4:15).  We need to be like that.

We know that the Thessalonians were distressed about those who had perished for Jesus’ sake, that they would not be here to enjoy His coming.  They were also troubled by false teachers alleging that that day of the Lord was already present.  Paul corrected this error, by showing that the dead would be raised, and then the living go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go though the judgment, since they would already be in heaven along with the Judge.  This confirmed their expectation, enlivening their faith, and brightening their hope, despite the persecution.  The terrible persecution was but a pledge from a righteous God that they would have rest and glory, not trouble, when the kingdom came.  The Thessalonians’ minds were therefore re-established, and all was clear and peace.


The Tribulation

In Rev 12:10-12, it is said, ‘And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!’  This is not the rapture, because that will have taken place earlier.  This is in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is the last half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, is cast out of heaven.  Now begins the great wrath of Satan for those living upon the earth.  For one class persecution and death had now ceased; for another it was just going to begin.

As regards our passing through the tribulation (a question which often arises on this matter) the scripture makes it very simple. How do we know that there will be a tribulation?  Scripture tells us.  But equally it makes it clear that the the Jews will in it, and the church not:

  1. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Rev 3:10).
  2. These [clearly after the rapture] are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev 7:14).
  3. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he [a faithful one of Israel] shall be saved out of it’ (Jer 3:7).
  4. ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [Israel] even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Dan 12:1).

The time of temptation, referred to above, shall come to try them who dwell on the earth.  This is more general; it is not the great tribulation of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Matthew, which is exclusively Jewish.  Although the Lord is addressing Philadelphia, one of the churches, He says that they would be kept out of it.


Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the remnant in Israel.   An elect believing remnant will be grafted into their own olive tree and become one nation – ‘all Israel.’   That could not be the Christian assembly, even with Jewish believers – they had never been broken out of the Jewish olive tree.

In that future day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints [not to receive them up to Himself], and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thess 1:10).   The remnant of Israel will be blessed in spite of the tribulation.  They form a separate class from unbelieving Israel and the church.  They come in after the sealing of the 144,000 – the elect of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rev 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is totally different from ours.



We should not confuse the companies or the happenings. The scripture is as plain as can be.  Anybody who confounds the day of Christ with His coming to receive the church does not understand the day we in, nor His coming, nor the church.  Confounding the day of the Lord and His coming to receive the church, is a subversion of the whole nature of the relationship between both Christ and the church, and Christ and the world.   It is far more than a mistake in terms.   The denial of the rapture brings the church down to an earthly position, destroying its whole character.



Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 142 

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016





After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the Psalms

The Psalms connect Christ with and Israel, and with the remnant in particular. It would be impossible to enter into the detail of all 150 Psalms here, but what we cannot fail to see is that there is, in the latter day, a godly pious Jewish remnant – tried, oppressed and all but overwhelmed. Jehovah owns and encourages His people and rewards them with Jewish blessings according to promise, Christ having entered into their sorrows and borne their sins. Christ, as Jehovah, comes to judge. The Son of man and King in Zion enters into the temple with all things under His feet, subjecting all the nations to Himself.


JohnNelsonDarbyIn the Psalms we have Jehovah’s sympathetic thoughts and feelings for the Jewish remnant. God and God’s purpose regarding Christ, His anointed, ar erevealed.  We see this clearly in the first two psalms.

The Psalms connect Christ with and Israel, and with the remnant in particular.  It would be impossible to enter into the detail of all 150 Psalms here, but what we cannot fail to see is that there is, in the latter day, a godly pious Jewish remnant – tried, oppressed and all but overwhelmed.  Jehovah owns and encourages His people and rewards them with Jewish blessings according to promise, Christ having entered into their sorrows and borne their sins.  Christ, as Jehovah, comes to judge.  The Son of man and King in Zion enters into the temple with all things under His feet, subjecting all the nations to Himself. 

There is much more method than is supposed in the five books of Psalms.   Christ enters in spirit into the remnant’s position.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit arouses godly feelings; at other times He enters personally and sympathetically in grace into their trials.


First Book

Psalm 1 distinguishes the righteous person from the rest of nation, thus marking out the remnant morally.  ‘The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous’ (v. 5).  Not only this, the godly righteous Jew, who delights in the law, is promised present blessings.

In Psalm 2, the heathen and Jewish rulers rise in rebellion against Jehovah and His Anointed. Son of God sits upon the throne of Zion, and calls upon the kings and judges of the earth to submit to Him.

In Psalms 3-7 the godly man is under constant attack.  His faith is tested, and the enemy taunts him, beckoning him to desert.  He is in distress as to the wicked and appeals to God, the righteous Judge.  Christ, the true godly one, enters in spirit into all the sorrows of the righteous remnant.  Their deliverance wrought by judgment, because heir blessings and the character of their righteousness are Jewish (which is not the case of the raised or heaven-born saints).  As they wait on God, their cry is heard and they are exhorted to persevere and depend.  The earth is their portion.

Then, in Psalm 8, the remnant own Jehovah their Lord as having made His name excellent in all the earth, while the Son of man, (rejected when He came as Messiah), is given universal dominion.  The result is blessing for Israel when the Son of man takes His place in glory.

In  Psalms 9 and 10, we have the trial and judgment of the last days: the poor and oppressed are not forgotten.  The heathen perishes out of the land (Ps 10:16).

In Psalms 11-15 the thoughts, feelings, and apprehensions of the remnant are further developed. Those walk uprightly, work righteousness, speak truth without backbiting or doing evil to his neighbour will dwell in God’s holy hill (see Ps 15:1-3).

Psalm 16: Christ’s takes His place with the godly remnant, as He did historically when He was baptised with John’s baptism.  God’s delight was in Christ, who surely needed no repentance.  But He says ‘unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight’ (Ps 16:2-3).  That corresponds to the New Testament: ‘Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one’ (Heb 2:11).  In the Psalm, Christ says that he takes the place of a servant to Jehovah (not His divine place).   He follows the path of life, does not see corruption, and finds His eternal joy as Man in God’s presence at the right hand of Jehovah.

In Psalm 17 Christ will behold God’s face in righteousness and be satisfied, awaking up in His likeness, the true eternal image of the invisible God.  (See v. 15).

In Psalm 18 we see what God has done and will do for the people – from their deliverance o from Egypt, to their final deliverance under David.

In Psalm 19 we have the testimony of creation and the law.

Psalm 20:  We have God’s sympathetic help for the remnant.

Psalm 21 Christ’s sorrows and desires culminate in His glory.  His days are for ever and ever as man and right hand finds out all His enemies.   The consequence of His suffering at the hands of man is that He will make His enemies ‘as a fiery oven in the day of His wrath’ (Ps 21:9).

In Psalm 22 we have, not just the sorrows of sorrows from man, but His forsaking by God,  bearing His wrath.  The result is all grace, which He exercises in making known His name to His brethren, and associating the remnant, then all Israel, with Himself in praise   The fruit is unmingled blessing, nothing else.

Psalm 23 shows Jehovah’s faithful shepherd care through every difficulty.  It is now exercised in our favour by Christ- the portion of every believe.  He knows His sheep and is known of them.  Restoration is not exclusively from sin, though He does restore us for that, but from sorrow and oppression of heart.

In Psalm 24, the Lord of Hosts walks with the sheep in grace.  In the last day will take His place in glory in His hill and in the house of Jehovah’s glory.  Both the remnant and the gentiles are brought in.

From this point to the end of Psalm 41 we have every kind of practical exercise which the remnant will be subjected to in joy or sorrow.  But these Psalms always speak of the godly, even when sins are confessed and forgiveness is sought.   Christ gives them confidence: ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him’  (Ps 34:6),

Psalm 25: From here on sins are referred to, and forgiveness; for, after all, the remnant had sins, and Christ took them on Himself.

Psalm 26 is their trial and appeal.

Psalm 27 is their separation from the ungodly.

Psalm 31 reassures the saints.  They have confidence founded on Jehovah’s ways with the poor man.

Psalm 37: The full heart is guided and encouraged by God.  The inheritance of the earth is promised to those blessed of Jehovah.

In Psalm 40 we have the source of all the blessings in the counsels of God.  Christ undertakes to accomplish God’s will.

Psalm 41 speaks of the the poor man.  Christ is the supreme example even in the face of treachery.   What is done to the least of His brethren is done to Him. The Lord God of Israel will accomplish His purposes in blessing.


Second Book

psalmsThe remaining four books give the position of the remnant, and the place Christ has taken in relation to the sorrows of the poor and needy.  Jehovah delivers them.  The seed of His servants inherit Zion, and they that love His name dwell there.

In Psalm 45 the Messiah appears, and the remnant’s full deliverance is celebrated at the end of Psalm 48.

Psalm 49 is the world’s instruction by the judgment.  We see the price of redemption.

Psalm 50 gives the general judgment of Israel.

In Psalm 51 we have Israel’s confession of Christ’s death now that their Messiah has appeared.

Psalms 52-72: The people are cast out and the power of Antichrist is established

Psalms 65, 66 & 67 sounds out the praise of God’s deliverance, bursting forth in Zion.  The nations are glad.

In Psalm 68, an ascended Christ is the real secret.

Psalm 69: Christ suffers and ascends up in glory, securing the poor and needy in Zion.

Psalms 70 and 71, whilst speaking of David’s faltering hope, may be applied to the remnant rather than Israel.

Psalm 72 describes the full reign of peace.


Third Book

The third book, Psalms 73-89, goes out to all Israel, not simply the Jews, and gives God’s government and His dealings with them.  This goes on till the latter days: the glory and blessing of Zion, and the certainty of mercy by God’s infallible promises.


Fourth Book

The fourth book  shows God’s faithfulness to both Israel and the nations.  God’s First-begotten comes into the world.  Christ suffers and Zion is restored.  He is the Eternal Creator in Psalm 102.


Fifth Book

In the closing book, the fifth, we have some of the consequences and effects of the bringing back of Israel.   There are explanatory Psalms of the scheme of God such as as Psalm 110, and the law is written on Israel’s heart in Psalm 119.   The Songs of Degrees (Psalms 120 to 134) comment on God’s ways.  The book ends with the praise of God, pursued in view of millennial blessedness.

Such is the testimony of the Psalms.


The name of the Father and the thought of the church do not appear, though He calls the saints brethren (See Ps 22:22).  The Holy Spirit’s work is suggested in the form of gifts in man: Israel will have them in the last day.


Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 134 

April 2016


J N Darby – French Letter No. 160 – Consideration of the Church in Hebrews 3

JohnNelsonDarbyPau – 5th April 1857

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother,

Your letter of 8th March has reached me at last. On the subject of Hebrews 3: 1, I understand you perfectly, at least I think I do. There is some truth in what you say[1], but I doubt whether you have taken into consideration all the points of view which the word furnishes to us on this subject.

Firstly, it seems to me that there are some expressions even in the chapter itself which show that the apostle was thinking of persons who, at least as far as their profession went, had accepted Jesus as Lord, acknowledging Him as Messiah and putting their trust in Him. I say this because the apostle speaks of the beginning of their faith, and of what they were to hold firm to the end; also of the fact that we are His house, if at least we hold fast the beginning of our faith and the boast of hope firm to the end[2].

When he makes the comparison with Israel, it is with Israel redeemed, who had entered into the wilderness. See also: chapter 6: 9-10; 4: 14; 6: 18; 10: 22 and the verses following, then verse 34; 13: 8-9, and many other passages, which imply that the position of those whom he was addressing was that of Christians.

Now here, as it seems to me, are the important points of the epistle, which are peculiar to it, and must be taken into account. Christ died for the nation, to sanctify the people by His own blood. Thus all those who recognised Jesus as Messiah were supposed to be sanctified, and supposed at the same time to form part of the people still. On the other hand, being written shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of all relationship between God and the people, the epistle invites the Jews to go forth outside the camp (not forth from the world, but forth from the camp of Israel), and to acknowledge the Christ as rejected by Israel and ascended into heaven, outside of the people. But the fact that he thus invites them to go forth outside the camp, is a proof, is it not, that he is concerned with the remnant, as distinct from the mass, although this remnant had up till then been in relationship with the unbelieving mass and forming part of it?

It seems to me that the epistle to the Hebrews is fundamentally a development of the heavenly character of Christianity (not of the church, which properly speaking we find only in chapter 12), intended, on one hand, to prevent the believing Jews from slipping back again into the old order, and, on the other hand, to prepare the way for this exhortation, so terrible for a Jew, and only found right at the end: that is, to leave the Jewish system and camp. This exhortation is founded on the fact that Christ (according to the type of the perfect sacrifice for sin) had suffered outside the camp as far as the world is concerned, and that His blood had been carried into the sanctuary; that it was necessary to be in heaven, as regards His true position before God, and outside the earthly system down here.

But the fact that the church does not come into the reckoning, except where the whole scene of millennial glory is presented, gives rise to another peculiarity of this epistle: namely, that in the hopes it presents to us and in the prospect of rest and glory which it opens up to us, even while using expressions applicable to heavenly blessedness, it does not go beyond what can be applied to earthly rest. It leaves room for this application of its expressions: ”There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God”. Where?[3] This partly comes back to your way of viewing it. But then suppose in time to come an Israelite should use this epistle in view of that rest of the people of God – an Israelite still attached to his nation after the rapture of the church – he will have to understand that it was only a remnant; that there had been a heavenly hope in which he had no part; that in order to enjoy it definitively, they had had to go outside the camp of Israel, which he himself had not done. That is to say, he will have to be aware that although God has reserved a rest on earth for the remnant of His people (and thus for His people, Romans 9: 7, 27; 11: 26), there had been another rest into which those who had gone outside the camp had entered, which he himself had not done. Now even though it allows a glimpse of an earthly rest for the people, the objective of the epistle is to lay it on the believing Jews, as partakers of the heavenly calling, not to attach themselves to this earthly rest, but to look higher, that is, look to Jesus who has entered in as Forerunner within the veil. The remnant was still in relation with the people, it formed part of them – always a dangerous position, and more than dangerous at the moment when the epistle was written. It acknowledges the fact of what belongs to the people, but it is addressed to the believing part of it, so that this part should no longer form part of the people but should cling to what is its own – the hope that enters within the veil where Jesus has gone in. The sitting of Jesus at the right hand of God was the condemnation of the Jews (compare Acts 7, where He has not yet sat down), and the right to enter the heavenly sanctuary was assured to the sinner as his present and eternal portion.

It is nonetheless true that this position of Jesus is the foundation of all hope for the Jew in the last day, and the apostle leaves this hope subsisting. But it is the hope of the remnant, and he invites this remnant – [which was] at that time in the bosom of the nation – to come out from the midst of it, in virtue of its heavenly calling founded on the fact that Jesus is sitting within, in heaven.

The reasonings on the sacrifices confirm these views, it seems to me. Christ died for the nation, and thus each one of those who acknowledged Him was deemed to have part in Christian privileges without leaving the nation. But in this epistle, though taking this ground, the apostle, it seems to me, addresses those who had acknowledged Him, to invite them to separate themselves from the nation; showing that, whether as regards the sacrifices or as regards the priesthood, another system superior to the old was destined to replace it. I do not say that the replacement of the system is the setting aside of the nation, for Christ died for that nation; but that in fact (the great subject being the replacement of the system) the principle of the new system was a Christ crowned with glory and honour in heaven, and that only those who had attached themselves to Him by faith are found included in the category to which the apostle is speaking. Compare particularly chapter 6 already quoted. This requires patient attention to the contents of the epistle, not in order to profit by the rich resources that it includes, but to do justice to the work for the nation [of Israel], at the same time distinguishing it from the relation formed by faith with Him who, having accomplished this work, had ascended again into heaven. In a word, we must distinguish between what was valid for that nation and the relationship formed by faith. The work and the position are valid for the remnant in the last days, in order that it should enjoy earthly blessings; but the apostle is addressing those who were partakers of the gifts by faith. I do not know if I am making myself understood. I have written this letter in several instalments.

Except for a part of the Revelation, left incomplete last year, our translation[4] will be finished tomorrow, by God’s help, but we shall re-read it.

[1] According to a footnote in the original, Mr B R had stated that Heb 3: 1, and indeed all the epistle, was not addressed only to those of the Hebrews who had faith in Christ, but to the whole body of the people that was then in Judæa.

[2] Heb 3: 14 and 3: 6

[3] ie ‘The question is, Where [will this rest be found]?’

[4] the German translation of the New Testament


Note:  This letter was originally published in ‘Baskets of Fragments’

J N Darby – French Letter No. 143 – The Sheep and the Goats

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Very dear brother

I am happy that the end of my labour on Matthew should be more pleasurable than the beginning, and I bless God for it. It will thus be evidently useful. I believe that, in the present state of the church, it is necessary to act according to the reasoning in Hebrews 5 and 6. However, it is a blessing that this is suited to the simple.

As to Matthew 25: 31-46, I do not understand how you apply this to the Jews, and that for the very simple reason that He speaks of Gentiles. Perhaps you will tell me that κα άφοριεί ατος άπ’ άλλήλων – kai aphoriei autous ap allelon, “And He will separate them[1] does not agree with πάντα τά έθνη – panta ta ethne “All the nations”; but I agree, as to the sense, there is nothing else with which it agrees. Look therefore at the passage: “But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”. This is not here an allusion to a prophetic testimony, but to an act of the job of a shepherd. Earlier, he uses the expression: “he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left”, but he abandons it at once in saying: “Then shall the King say to those on his right hand …”. The sheep are no longer named; He is speaking of people without using an image. Finally, I do not see here any other subject than the Gentiles (as the nations); they will be gathered and He will separate them; there is no other antecedent. You are right when you say that, according to my division, the “brethren” of verse 40 are not “the blessed of my Father” of v 34. I do not doubt that, if a sheep had done good to another sheep, this would have been recognised by Jesus, but in fact the sheep or those who are at his right are the righteous and the blessed of the Father. This is the division –



Sheep                       Goats

The “brethren” of whom He speaks do not find their place in this parable. The Lord leaves it to the spiritual intelligence of these servants to discern who they are. As to myself, I do not doubt that they are the Jews, messengers of the kingdom, according to the whole education of the Lord in these passages, but I am very willing to accept new light.

You would be wrong to insist on Ezekiel 34: 17, 22, because the Hebrew word translated ‘sheep’ indicates rather the race of goats than those of sheep (see for example Deut 14: 4). I do not understand either why you say that, in verses 4, 6 and 8 ‘the goats they have led astray’ are the bad shepherds. I also believe that you will find that in this passage, v 22, the rams and the goats are not put in contrast one with the other, but the weak animals in contrast with those they have defiled, called rams and goats. God will make the difference between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats (v 17).

The energy which goes forward to seek the truth is very precious. May it be tempered with the prudence which thinks of the result; this is a grace given to you. Charity thinks of souls and not only of ideas, although it remains true that God’s ideas are the only means of blessing for souls; but it must be “food in season[2]” …

As to the sympathy of Christ, it is a very important subject. It is evident to me that when Paul speaks of filling up what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ[3], he speaks of the sufferings which remain to be fulfilled, after those that Christ has accomplished on the earth. Paul is charged in turn with suffering. If he spoke of a Christ who still suffered, I do not see that he could say what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ” These words seem to me to be in contrast with what Christ has already suffered; Paul took his place to continue. Do not think that I thereby deny the sufferings of Christ as Head of the body, for I do believe it, and it is for me the sweetest possible thought. I believe only that it is important that the idea should be thought through to become a subject of edification and not of controversy. It is for me too precious and too near to the affections for this. There are subjects which have to be touched delicately. I do not therefore deny the sufferings of Christ in sympathy: I believe in them fully, only I doubt that one can apply Colossians 1: 24 to what Christ may suffer in heaven. (To sympathise is not, as you seem to believe, to suffer in the same way as you do. I could be called, as you say, to cut your arms; certainly, I would weep more than you, but my arms are not cut. I would sympathise, but I would not suffer in myself the thing done; I would suffer to see another suffer. I do not say at all that one would suffer less, but one suffers differently.)

As to your article, it has interested me much, and I believe that it could yield blessing for souls. The editing would need to be reviewed; there are passages which do not read well. I would like very much that it should be published, but it seems to me that you will do well to weigh and to develop the expression of your thoughts. It is a question for us of manoeuvring in the presence of the enemy and of not lending a flank to his attacks.

I repeat that I do not believe that this passage: “that which remains to be suffered of the afflictions of the Christ” can speak of a Christ suffering with Paul, although other passages prove (and I believe) his sufferings in sympathy with Him. I only express the principles here; for the details, I would have to re-read your article.

Your affectionate brother

[1] JND uses various Greek words in this letter (and the following letter) which are marked with spaces in the French version from which this translation is taken. Evidently, however, in some cases, the following words in inverted commas or the scriptural references supply the French translation of the Greek (translated here into English); in which case, the sense is complete, and the Greek word has been supplied accordingly from a Concordance. Otherwise, the space for the unknown Greek word is marked [….Ω….].

[2] Psalm 104: 27 or Matt 24: 45

[3] See Col 1: 24 – ‘ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ’, ie ‘what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ’, is as translated by some, but not by JND (or Martin/Osterheld or KJV) in either French – ‘ce qui reste encore à souffrir des afflictions du Christ’ (‘that which still remains to suffer of the afflictions of the Christ’); or English (‘that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ’). But the French Roman Catholic version is exactly the wording of the former, whilst the NIV uses the same as the literal English translation of JND’s letter. Strong also uses ‘lacking’.

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby (1800-82), a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, laid the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching in his lectures on the Present Hope of the Church.

To download a DRAFT version of this series in .pdf, Apple or Kindle format please click here.

JN Darby’s Lecture 1 on The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – Summary by Sosthenes


J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching. His doctrine is still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

JND said as to them “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jew”.  God made Himself known as Jehovah to the Jews.  The prophets showed God’s character as Jehovah.  Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

In the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things in Christ, that name under which He has been celebrated by Melchisedec (a type of the royal Priest), God will be known as “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:19)

“…We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”      2 Peter 1.

Summary of Lectures

  1. The Present Hope of the Church
  2. The Church and its Glory
  3. The Second Coming of Christ
  4. The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just
  5. The Judgment of Evil
  6. Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy
  7. The Judgment of the Nations
  8. God’s Promises to Israel
  9. What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us
  10. The Remnant of Israel
  11. The Importance of Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

Every Christian should not only be sure of his salvation in Christ, but also know its results.  He should not only know he is in the Father’s house with all its privileges but be happy there too.  In prophecy, God treats us as His friends, and reveals the things He is occupied with.  As our hearts are associated with Him, they realise His love and confidence and are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge we are strangers and pilgrims here.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Jewish remnant in a future day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt God?  Surely we do not need witnesses to persuade us that God is telling the truth.

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, were in fact complete.   Most, if not all prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  Those left behind will experience terrible judgment.  But as I read God’s word, I am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I see the purposes of the Most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice, long-suffering.  But He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, in order for His government to be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God will come upon the nations; the church is informed of this; and, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understands it, believes it, and escapes the things which are coming.


The Sceptic as to Prophecy

The sceptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The sceptic’s own thoughts are the most speculative.  How Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  And God will show how.

Communion with God as to Prophecy

Through communion, which is eternal, God comforts and sanctifies us to prevent our hopes being vague.  Thank God “we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)