From: Bob Williams
II Timothy 2:15 tells us to “study” and how to study God’s Word by “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Our upbringing and traditions may teach otherwise, but as much as the Bible is for us, not all of it has been written to or about us. God lays out His plan, program and purpose for His people, Israel, and that for the church of today, the body of Christ in the Bible. Because of their clear distinctions and purposes, rightly dividing the Word is essential to avoid confusion, uncertainty and being unproductive in your Christian life. God provides help to us in Ephesians 2 where He sets forth the three-fold division in God’s dealing with mankind: Time Past, But Now, and the Ages to Come.
Ephesians 2:11, 12, sets forth the basic issue in “Time Past” as the division between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision, or between the nation Israel and the Gentiles. When you find this issue governing the way God was working with men, you know you are in Time Past. This covers the Old Testament as well as Matthew through John plus the early Acts period. This provides a record of God’s program and dealings with His nation Israel, both historically and prophetically. His plan is to make of them a “great nation” and to repossess the earth from Satan’s dominion through them. Gentiles are put “far off” to await receiving blessings through a redeemed Israel when the Kingdom of God is established on Earth. The law covenant is established and serves as a “middle wall of partition” between Israel and the Gentiles: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Because Israel failed to make of herself a “great nation,” and with the rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah, God, in the early Acts period, was ready to pour out His wrath and to “make His enemies His footstool.”
Instead, God interrupted the prophetic program with Israel and raised up a new apostle, Paul. God instituted a new program called “the mystery” temporarily suspending His program with Israel. This is the “But Now” period of Ephesians 2:13, 14; “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” The epistles of Romans through Philemon provide the doctrine for the dispensation of grace in the “But Now.” God’s purpose in His “new creature,” the Church the body of Christ, pertains to the reconciliation of the heavenly places and will end with the rapture.
The “Ages to Come” will bring God’s purposes to fruition, thus Ephesians 2:7 states: “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” The books of Hebrews through Revelation focus on these ages beginning with the resumption of His program with Israel, the period of Tribulation, the Millennium, the New Jerusalem and the Everlasting Kingdom. “Right division” of the Bible in accordance with this layout is the key to its proper handling, understanding and enjoyment. It covers the full circle from the original creation through the new creation in achieving God’s eternal purpose.