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  • « Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) | Main | the god of our sentimentality »

    Dispensationalism – Categorized Scripture List

    Well, as my previous categorized scripture list on the Doctrines of Grace met with such a favorable reception, I decided to construct another such list, this one pertaining to Dispensationalism. After all, I think both topics are addressed and answered by an abundance of scriptural passages. As before, if any of you should find the complete list with scripture text helpful (and not just the abbreviated version posted here), feel free to comment or e-mail me with a request.


    Dispensationalism is basically the method of interpreting the scriptures that sees two distinct peoples of God, with two distinct destinies – Israel and the Church. Some of the tenets that all or most contemporary mainstream Dispensationalists would hold to include the following:

    1. The Church is not the continuation of God's Old Testament people, but a distinct body born on the Day of Pentecost.

    2. The Church is never equated with Israel in the New Testament, and Christians are not Jews, true Israel, etc.

    3. The prophecies made to Israel in the Old Testament are not being fulfilled in the Church, nor will they ever be.

    4. The Church does not participate in the New Covenant prophesied in the Old Testament; it is for ethnic Israel, and will be established in a future millennial kingdom.

    5. The Old Testament saints were saved by faith alone, on the basis of the Calvary-work of Christ alone; however, the object of their faith was not Christ, but rather the revelation peculiar to their dispensation.

    6. The Old Testament saints did not know of the coming “Church Age,” of the resurrection of Christ, or basically, of what we today call the gospel.

    7. When Jesus came to earth, he offered the Jews a physical kingdom, but they rejected him.

    8. When Jesus proclaimed “the gospel of the Kingdom,” it was the news about how ethnic Jews might enter and find rewards in this physical kingdom, and is to be distinguished from the gospel as defined in I Corinthians 15:3-4, which the apostles later proclaimed to the church.

    9. After the Jews rejected Jesus' kingdom offer, he inaugurated a parenthetical “Church Age”, which will be concluded immediately before God again takes up his dealings with his national people, ethnic Israel.

    10. During the “Church Age,” Jesus is not reigning from the throne of David; he is engaged instead in his priestly work, and his kingly work will take place in the future millennial kingdom.

    11. At some unspecified but imminent time, Jesus will return (but not all the way to earth, just to the air) and rapture his Church, also called his Bride; for the following seven years, they will feast with him at the marriage supper of the Lamb; meanwhile, on earth, he will begin to deal with his national people, ethnic Israel, again, calling them to himself and preserving them in the midst of seven years of great tribulation; at the midpoint of which, the Antichrist will set himself up as god in the rebuilt Jewish temple, and demand worship from the world.

    12. After these seven years, Christ will return, this time all the way to earth. He will defeat the forces of evil, bind Satan and cast him into a pit, and inaugurate the physical Jewish Kingdom that he had offered during his life on earth. The Jews who survived the tribulation will populate the earth during this blessed golden era, and the Christians will reign spiritually, in glorified bodies.

    13. After these thousand years, Satan will be released and will gather an army from the offspring of the Jews who survived the tribulation. He will be finally defeated and cast into hell. At this time, the wicked dead will be resurrected and judged, whereas the righteous dead had already been resurrected one-thousand-seven years previously, at the rapture. Christ will then usher in the New Heavens and New Earth, and the destinies of all mankind will be finalized. Dispensationalists are divided as to whether or not there will remain a distinction between Christians and Jews in the New Earth.

    [This list represents a wide segment of popular Dispensational teachings; however, Dispensationalism is by no means a monolithic entity, and many self-professed Dispensationalists, particularly in the Progressive school, would not adhere to many of its points.]


    The People of God

    1. From the beginning, God selected one people alone, from all the earth.
    2. Deu 7:6; Deu 10:15; Deu 14:2; Isa 41:8-9

    3. This people would belong to him forever.
    4. 1Ki 6:13; 1Chr 17:9; Isa 60:19-21

    5. He would cast off, or exile this people for a time, for covenant unfaithfulness.
    6. Deu 28:63-68; 2Ki 17:20-24; 2Chr 36:13-21; Hos 1:4-6, 9

    7. However, he would then gather them together again, and restore them.
    8. Deu 30:4-9; Isa 10:21-23; Hos 1:7, 10-11

    9. When he restored them, he would also expand them, forming them anew from every people on earth.
    10. Isa 2:1-3; Isa 11:9-16; Isa 19:23-25; Isa 24:13-15; Isa 42:4-12; Isa 49:1-12; Isa 51:5; Isa 60:1-9; Isa 66:10-24; Hos 2:23; Zec 2:10-13; Mal 1:11

    11. The New Testament Church is the continuation of this one people.
    12. Acts 15:12-17; Rom 9:23-26; Rom 11:11-32 [Whether or not one sees a future for ethnic Israel in this passage is beside the point: in any case, there is only one people of God, represented by the one olive tree. Believing Gentiles have been grafted into this one tree, and unbelieving Jews broken off; but when they are grafted back in, it will be the same tree into which the Gentiles were grafted, God's people, true Israel.]; Gal 3:7-8, 13-14; Eph 2:11-22; Eph 3:5-6

    13. Hence, New Testament believers are called Jews, Abraham's seed, etc.
    14. Rom 2:28-29; Rom 4:11-12; Rom 9:6-8; Gal 3:6-7, 26-29; Gal 4:21-31; Gal 6:16 [The Greek conjunction may mean either “and” or “even”/“namely”; hence the context must determine the meaning. If it is taken in the sense of “and,” so that “the Israel of God,” is a different body from the Church, then Paul is contradicting himself and undermining the whole point he has been making throughout his letter! However, if it means “even,” the clear assertion that those who follow the “rule” of boasting only in the cross are in fact “the Israel of God,” it becomes a very fitting conclusion, and reiterates all that he has been teaching.]; Phi 3:3; Heb 12:22-24; 1Pet 2:9-12 [Some have said that these Jewish terms are applied to the Church by way of analogy, not identification. However, when Peter goes on to speak of these ethnic “Gentiles” in contrast with the Gentiles, he makes it clear that he actually is intending to refer to them as Jews.]; Rev 2:9

    The Fulfillment of Prophecy
    1. The true heir of the Old Testament promises is not ethnic Israel, but only Christ, the one Seed of Abraham.
    2. Gal 3:16

      • Thus, everyone who is in Christ, which includes all believers, is an heir of the promises made to Abraham.
      • Gal 3:28-29

    3. The true fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is frequently indicated in the New Testament
      • The prophecy of restoring Israel was fulfilled by the calling of the Gentiles to be God's people.
      • Acts 15:13-17 (quoting Amos 9:11-12); Rom 9:22-26 (quoting Hosea 1:10; Hosea 2:23) [The verses that Paul is quoting from Hosea are clearly speaking of “the house of Israel,” and say that she will be cast off, and no longer God's people; but then restored, and God's people again. Paul is here saying that this restoration of Israel as God's people is being fulfilled by God's calling out a people “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”.]

      • The prophecy of the New Covenant, made “with the house of Israel” (see Jeremiah 31:31-34), is fulfilled in the New Testament Church.
      • Heb 8:6-13; Heb 10:14-18; Mat 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1Cor 11:23-25; 2Cor 3:5-6

      • Some other prophecies and types interpreted in the New Testament
      • Mat 2:14-15 (quoting Hosea 11:1) [The context of Hosea is clearly referring to Israel; hence, Matthew sees Jesus as the true Israel, and the antitype of Israel's history.]; Mat 17:10-13 (referring to Malachi 4:5); John 2:19-22 [Not only does Jesus here equate the Old Testament temple imagery with his own body, by means of which the presence of God truly was brought down to man; but furthermore, John explains that believing this Christ-centered interpretation was in fact to believe the Old Testament scriptures themselves.]; Acts 2:14-21 (quoting Joel 2:28-32) [Most Dispensationalists will say that this prophecy is referring to Jesus' second coming, as their hermeneutic demands; but Peter clearly declares that it is being fulfilled in this age.]; Acts 2:25-32 (quoting Psalm 16:8-11); Acts 2:33-36 (quoting Psalm 110:1); Rom 4:13-17 (quoting Genesis 17:5) [According to Paul, the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations was fulfilled when he became the father of all those who believed, from all the Gentile peoples.]; Gal 4:22-31 (quoting Isaiah 54:1 and Genesis 21:10); Heb 9:1-12 (interpreting the symbolism of the tabernacle and its worship services)

        [When one allows God himself to interpret the meaning of his prophecies through later revelation, it becomes impossible to employ a naturalistic, Dispensational hermeneutic. Dispensationalists claim to have a literal hermeneutic, taking prophecies in a simple, material sense unless the immediate context demands otherwise. The problem with this approach is that it arrives at interpretations which are later contradicted by the New Testament. In opposition to this principle, Covenant Theologians recognize the validity of “the analogy of faith,” that is, that the best interpreter of scriptures is other scriptures. The hermeneutic which allows the Author to foreshadow spiritual realities through physical means, and later interpret them in clear, didactic writing, is actually a more natural and literal hermeneutic than one which demands a physical/material sense unless an immediate abusrdity arises thereby, even when other scriptures contradict this physical/material sense. The basic question is this: will our hermeneutic allow God to explain himself, or will it allow our own human understanding of what is more literal to negate the interpretation of God himself?]

    4. Those to whom the Old Testament promises were first made understood them to mean more than the merely physical
    5. Heb 11:9-10, 13-16, 17-19, 24-26, 39-40

    The Faith of Old Testament believers
    1. The Old Testament saints believed in Christ.
    2. Gen 3:14-15, 21; Gen 4:3-5 [In these passages, we have all the elements of the basic gospel message: God would send a Deliverer, born of a woman, who would crush the serpent's head, but be mortally wounded in the conflict. That he would be ultimately victorious demands a resurrection. This gospel message was illustrated in God's killing an innocent animal to cover man's shame; and in Abel's blood sacrifice, we see an indication of his understanding of these basic truths.]; Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth [lit., “arise upon the dust”]: [Throughout the Book of Job, probably the first canonical scriptures ever written, the expression “to be upon the dust” (“lie down upon the dust,” etc.) clearly means, “to die” (see Job 17:16; Job 20:11; Job 21:26; Job 34:15). Hence, the phrase, “to arise upon the dust,” means, “to rise from the dead”.]; Isa 53:1-12 [Even in the New Testament, there is no clearer declaration of the gospel than we find here.]

    3. The New Testament authors recognized that the Old Testament saints knew of Christ.
    4. Acts 2:25-31 (quoting Psalm 16:8-11); John 8:56; Mat 13:17; Luke 24:25-27; Acts 26:22-23

    The Kingdom of God
    1. Christ announced the arrival of the Kingdom, he did not merely “offer” it.
    2. Mat 4:17; Mat 11:11-12 [Here, Christ speaks of the Kingdom as of something that people have already been entering since the days of John the Baptist; hence, he could not be referring to a future, physical kingdom that he was only offering – no one would have entered that Kingdom yet. But Dispensationalists will say that even today no one has entered it.]; Mat 12:28 [Jesus did cast out demons; therefore, according to him, the Kingdom had already come.]; Mat 16:18-19 [Here, the establishment of the Church is seen in parallel with entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.]

    3. If Christ had truly been offering a physical Kingdom, the Jews would not have rejected it.
    4. John 6:15

    5. Christ and the apostles spoke of the Kingdom as one that now has only a spiritual presence, in our midst.
    6. Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36-37; Rom 14:17

    7. The Church today is the Kingdom, and Christians are Kingdom citizens.
    8. Mark 9:1 [Since the entire generation alive when Christ was on earth has died, the Kingdom must have come already; therefore, it cannot be a future, thousand-year reign.]; 1Cor 4:20 [The power that Paul was speaking of was already operative in the Church, as the context makes clear; therefore, the Church was to him essentially the same as the kingdom.]; Col 1:13; Rev 1:5-6, 9

    9. Christ sent the apostles out to proclaim the same gospel of the kingdom that he had proclaimed.
    10. Mat 24:14

    11. This the apostles did.
    12. Acts 8:12; Acts 20:24-25; Acts 28:23, 30-31

    13. Christ is now reigning from the throne of David.
    14. Acts 2:30-36; 1Cor 15:20-28; Eph 1:18-23; Heb 1:8

    The Millennium
    1. The rapture of the Church will occur after the revealing of the “Son of Perdition,” whom Dispensationalists also believe to be the Antichrist.
    2. 2The 2:1-5 [Most Dispensationalists say that this sitting in the Temple will occur at the midpoint of the tribulation; hence, the rapture of the Church cannot take place at least until the second half of the tribulation (in the Dispensational scheme).]

      • The rapture is called a “meeting” in the air, which was originally a technical term used of the procession that would come out of a city to greet a visiting dignitary, and escort him immediately back to the city, in great splendor; and later came to be used when one would go out to meet a person, and then follow him along the way in which he was already going; hence, the term likely indicates that the rapture will be a similar event, in which the saints are gathered up to meet Jesus, and follow immediately behind him as he continues on to judge the earth.
      • 1The 4:14-18; Acts 28:14-15; Mark 14:13; Acts 16:16-17

    3. The rescue of the church and the eternal destruction of the wicked will occur at the same time.
    4. 2The 1:6-10; Mat 24:29-31; Mat 25:31-46; 1Cor 15:51-57; 2Pe 3:3-14 [Here, immediately before the dissolution of the heavens and earth in fervent heat, people are saying that all things are continuing in the same way they always have; which could not be said following all the events of Dispensational eschatology. Furthermore, the delay is intended to bring in the full measure of those who should repent and be added to the Church, and also provides a basis for Peter's exhortation to be watchful, looking for this final, catastrophic day. He does not exhort us to be watchful for the appearing of Christ as that which rescues us from the earth, but leaves one-thousand-seven years of history afterward; but for the appearing of Christ as that which brings the final destruction of the world.]

    5. The resurrection of the righteous dead and the wicked dead will occur at the same time.
    6. John 5:28-29

    7. Revelation chapter twenty must be interpreted in light of its genre:
      • Revelation is a book full of symbolic visions and numbers.
      • Rev 1:4 [Unless there are literally seven Holy Spirits, the reader has to acknowledge a symbolic use of numbers here.]; Rev 1:20; Rev 17:9-12

      • In other places in Revelation, the final consummation of all history has already been reached; therefore, chapter twenty is likely another “recapitulation,” a different symbolic way of describing the New Testament era, followed by a description of the end of history.
      • Rev 11:15-19; Rev 14:14-16; Rev 16:17-21; Rev 19:11-21

      • The “first resurrection” corresponds well with other New Testament teaching on the present resurrection life of believers.
      • Rom 6:3-4; Gal 2:20; Col 3:1-3; 1John 3:14; Eph 2:4-6; Col 2:11-12

      • The binding of Satan corresponds well with related New Testament teaching.
      • Mat 12:26-29; Luke 10:17-18; John 12:31-33; John 16:8-11; Heb 2:14-15

      • The more obscure, apocalyptic visions of John should be interpreted in light of the clearer, didactic epistles of the New Testament, which we have already examined.

    Posted by Nathan on August 14, 2007 09:19 AM


    Yes, I'd like the extended version emailed to me. Thanks!

    Thanks for the "list". Yes, we have seen through the decades how the elaborate construct of Dispensationalism, under the scrutiny of an advancing biblical theology, has modified itself down to that one last bastian of distinction - two peoples of God. One gets the sense that this was the priority all along. But as you point out, this distinction cannot stand given the clear continuity of language with Israel and the church (New Israel), along with the united children of Abahram by faith. The only people that the Bible affirms as the people of God are those "in Christ" by promise or fulfillment under one gospel. The hermeneutical shift wherein the NT re-interprets and explains the OT, not a OT literalism that binds the scope of the NT, accounts for this necessary revision. Again, this occurred because systematic and biblical theology complemented and corrected each other as needed and kept us honest with the text.

    Yes, I'd like the extended version emailed to me. Thanks!

    Can I please have the extended version e-mailed to me. Thankyou

    Excellent summary! Please send me the full version, too.


    Yes I would like a extended list sent to me also.

    I'd like the extended list too, please

    Nice summary. You might want to mention that this pertains primarily to classic dispensationalism. Progressive dispensationalists (of which carries the greatest scholarly representation among dispensationalists today) would not identify with much on this list (at least the way it is presented here).

    Something that should be noted is that Progressive Dispensationalism has come a long way in alleviating many of these problems by drawing much closer to Covenant Theology, so close in fact, that there is not much Dispensationalism left in it. I believe it actually creates confusion to retain the name. There are indeed still minor differences with CT, but if anyone were to ask my opinion for whatever its worth, using the term "Dispensationalism" is not unlike my friends in China who call capitalism, Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

    Why retain the name dispensationalism? Anyone? Is it for political reasons? i.e. professors at Dallas Seminary have to sign an doctrinal statement?

    I, too, would like the extended list. Thanks!


    According to the threefold distinction of "classic, revised, progressive" suggested by (shoot, it just slipped my mind -- Alva J. McClain, maybe?) -- anyway, this list would be predominantly focused on so-called "revised Dispensationalism" -- that of guys like Ryrie and Renald Showers. Scofield would be the prime example of classic Dispensationalism.

    I agree that Progressive Dispensationalism is worlds better than classic or revised, but to the extent that they still hold to two distinct peoples, etc., the list still addresses them. Not every part of the list would be applicable, but I think some portions still would be. I was trying to construct something that would be broad enough to apply to the whole gamut, to one degree or another.

    Thanks for the comment though. I will go on record as saying that I have a whole lot more in common with the progressives than with others.


    Note: I just added a new disclaimer to the list of Dispensational teachings, as follows.

    This list represents a wide segment of popular Dispensational teachings; however, Dispensationalism is by no means a monolithic entity, and many self-professed Dispensationalists, particularly in the Progressive school, would not adhere to many of its points.

    Thank you for the list.

    Classic dispensationalism is alive and well, though what most people in the pews know of it is the eschatology part (which is almost beside the point compared to the Israel=/=Church thing).

    Thank you for the list.

    Classic dispensationalism is alive and well, though what most people in the pews know of it is the eschatology part (which is almost beside the point compared to the Israel Church disjunction).

    Thanks for the excellent summary. One of the things about dispensationalism that bothers me most is the idea put forth by some that the temple and sacrifices will return during the millenium...This is in clear violation of the book of Hebrews and other Scriptures which assert that Christ is the fulfillment of the Jewish ceremonial laws. I feel very uncomfortable with a teaching which seems to infer that the sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient as a once and for all atonement for sin.

    Yes, please send me the extended version!

    I, too, would like the extended list. Thanks!

    Yes, please send me the extended version!

    Update: For any e-sword users, Andrew Groves has made both the Doctrines of Grace and Dispensationalism scripture lists into .top files for use on e-sword. With them, you can read the lists in multiple versions, etc. If interested, let me know, and I’ll get the file to you.

    Thanks Jonnie and Nathan. Keep up the good work. You guys are awesome!

    Is this topic covered in the same detail in some book? I am after some book that covers all this sort of information, this is nothing my Pastor covers, so you are the group I need help from.


    I haven't read a good, book-length critique of Dispensationalism, but I know that Vern Poythress wrote a book called, Understanding Dispensationalists, which I think should be excellent.

    I would also direct you to Monergism's Dispensationalism category:

    In particular, this section from Robert Reymond's Systematic Theology is excellent:


    Please send me the extended version. For anyone interested, Kenneth Gentry published a book called "House Divided-The break up of Dispensational Theology". It pretty much buries any form of Dispensationalism. For us Postmillers, we know that Dispensationalism must fade away for that theology must be "made a footstool for Thy feet" (Ps 110).

    thank you for this explination. I was raised to believe pre-trib rapture until a professor told me that this theology arose from an erronious theology known as Dispensatioanlism. After a very brief intro to this system I rejected my stance on the timing of the rapture, but I never knew exactly what Dispensationalism actually taught until now. thank you for shining light on the errors that so many people grab onto because of its popularity instead of Scriptural teaching (like Arminianism - I was one of those too). could I possibly get the full-version.

    We have a number of Independent Baptist missionaries propagating Dispensationalism here in Wales (UK). It is quite disturbing! So thank you for this list - it will be useful. Would you kindly send the extended list to me?

    Thank you.

    Please send me your extended list on dispensationalism. Thank you.

    Please send me the extended list. I live in Maine the hotseat of Arminian Dispensationalism. Pray for God to revive us with His special outpourings of the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks for a very useable and excellant list. Just what I've been looking for, for some time in debate's with local dispensationalist. Keep up the good ministry. God Bless.

    Concerning Gal. 6:16, the Galatians were expatriated Israelites from the northern kingdom that were taken to Assyria in 721 BC. They were not Gentiles as we understand the term. A portion of them settled in Asia Minor around 278 BC and were still there in the first century. They, as well as the Jews, can be addressed as "the Israel of God."

    When Ezra returned from Babylon it's estimated that only 5% of the Jews returned with him -- about 95% chose to remain in Babylon. And the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were expatriated at that time and were still expatiated in the first century. I believe the reason Paul addressed the Galatians as "the Israel of God" is because they were Israelites in exile.

    You have done a wonderful service for the Church!
    Please may I have the extended list.
    I wish that I had found you years ago!

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