Dispensationalism… Did Scofield or Darby Invent It?

Dec 13, 2019 | Bible, But That's Just Me, Dispensationalism, End Times, God, Must Read, Pre Tribulation Rapture

On my blog I have shared various channels and people that you can glean good and valid information from while watching and studying the end times. However, because of a recent video that I watched on one of the sites I thought that I should clarify my stance on Dispensationalism.

Before I get into that, I want to also clarify that just because I do not agree with all things from each person or site that I share, it does not mean that they no longer offer any future insight or teaching that may be beneficial or that the information learned earlier is null and void. When we listen to others we need to use discernment and most importantly pray about information learned and ask the Lord to lead us to truth. Some things we just need to agree to disagree about. All of us in the body of Christ need to do our own studying and research and form our own thoughts and not just follow others blindly in all things. Also, just because a fellow brother or sister in Christ thinks differently about dispensationalism, the rapture or, other issues that do not go against the Gospel of salvation, it does not mean we should hate or shun them. As long as we are on the same page that Jesus is the way to our salvation and the ONLY way to the Father then, we can walk in peace with one another until Jesus comes back again. We do see through a glass darkly until we are face to face with him.

Now, on to my topic. Even though we can see that certain “conspiracies” have validity to them when it comes to The United States as well as Israel and the coming one world government and religious system it does not mean that every detail within those conspiracies are completely accurate. Instead of just swallowing every single thing spoken of or written about said “conspiracies” see if it matches what GOD says. Dispensationalsim, the Pre-trib rapture, the rising Noahide Law problem and other end time scenarios do not conflict at all in my opinion. They make even more sense to me now when viewed in proper context. People have been led down a faulty path of stating matter-of-factly that a pre-tribulation rapture is false or that Scofield and or Darby have invented both of those teachings. This statement is not accurate. In fact, early church fathers have taught or have believed in both. I will offer some quotes below as well as some links of reference to GET YOU STARTED on your OWN research.


FIRST LINK: Dispensationalism Misunderstood By: Dr. Ken Blue

Some critics assume that dispensationalism is a recent doctrine invented by Dr. C. I. Scofield, editor of the famous Scofield Reference Bible, and J. N. Darby; implying that dispensationalism is a doctrine of modern times and does not have Biblical authority. However, research will show that neither C. I. Scofield or J. N. Darby are the inventors of dispensationalism or the final authority on the subject.


From the first century, writers believed in different economies or administrations. Bible instructor Larry V. Crutchfield, of Baumholder, West Germany, has written an article titled Ages and Dispensations Of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. In it he points out that the Fathers of early church history believed in divisions of history based on God’s dealings with man. He states, “Among those whose doctrine of ages and dispensations has survived from the Ante-Nicene period are Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and to a minor degree Victorinus of Petau.”


Crutchfield says that “Barnabas’ year-day tradition is the earliest budding of the dispensational understanding of God’s dealings with man.”


Justin Martyr (AD 100-165): according to Crutchfield, Justin believed in four phases of human history in God’s program. The first was from Adam to Abraham; the second was from Abraham to Moses; the third was from Moses to Christ; and the fourth was from Christ to the eternal state.


Irenaeus (AD 120-202): The dispensational scheme of Irenaeus is four in number. They are: 1. From the Creation to the Flood. 2. From the Flood to the Law. 3. From the Law to the Gospel. 4. From the Gospel to the Eternal State. He taught that there were four zones of the world and of mankind. He saw a connection between these zones, the faces of the “four living creatures”, the four gospels and the four dispensations.


“Some Fathers set forth only four such dispensations, others came very close to making nearly the same divisions modern dispensationalists do,” says Crutchfield.


He continues, “Irenaeus, Victorinus of Petau, and Methodius’ number of dispensations is artificially restricted to four … the dispensations are most often spoken of the early fathers in terms of the prominent persons.” He lists the persons as; Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Christ. “Dispensational divisions were customarily made along the boundaries of these five men’s lives and times,” concludes Crutchfield.


Scofield more closely follows this pattern. Dr. Scofield taught: 1. Innocence (Adam), 2. Government (Noah), 3. Promise (Abraham), 4. Law (Moses), 5. Grace (Christ).


It was John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) who first gave systematic form to the ages and dispensations. However, he was by no means the first to discover different ages and dispensations in God’s Word.


We must thus accredit willful ignorance to those who reject the dispensational teaching of Scripture by ascribing the late date of the 1800 and 1900’s.


The Scofield Reference Bible attempted to set in order the right divisions of God’s purpose as Scofield understood it. There is very little similarity between the writings of Scofield and the writings of Darby.


We are obligated to search the Scriptures to see if the Bible teaches different administrations. If it does, we must embrace its teaching. If we find that the teaching of dispensations is not a Bible doctrine, then we are bound to reject that teaching.


SECOND LINK: Dispensationalism And The Early Church Fathers By:William B. Hemsworth

With so many theologians in the modern era teaching dispensationalism, why has it come under fire? Why do so many hear the word “dispensationalism” and totally disregard it? The system is largely seen as a 19th century Scripture interpretation by John Darby, and subsequently popularized by C.I. Scofield. Scofield’s Scofield Reference Bible was the first book to claim One Million sales with its publisher Oxford University Press[6]. However, as previously mentioned, the idea that the doctrine has only come about in modern times is not wholly accurate[7].



Justin Martyr is an imposing figure in the days of the early church. He is one of the first of the fathers that are known as the apologists. Justin Martyr was a philosopher by trade, and very skilled in the art of rhetoric. Though the canon of scripture had not yet been compiled, the Old Testament was. Justin noticed “several different economies in the Old Testament[8]. In biblical terms, an “economy” is a divine order in which history is revealed. Though there are subtle difference, it is very similar to the meaning of dispensation.

One such dispensation in which Justin Martyr firmly believed was in a literal one-thousand-year reign of Christ[9]. For Justin Martyr, there was a clear distinction between various ages in Scripture. There was an age prior to circumcision, an age prior to the law, and an age after the law. In his Dialogue with Trypho Just writes, “But if so great a power is shown to have followed and to be still following the dispensation of His suffering, how great shall that be which shall follow His glorious advent! For He shall come on the clouds as the Son of Man, so Daniel foretold, and His angels shall come with Him[10].” In this very important passage he lays out the Dispensational Premillennial view of the end times.



Papias of Hierapolis lived from A.D. 60-130, and preceded Justin Martyr in his premillennial views. He wrote five books about the interpretation of Scripture, but large portions of the works are lost. However, the great early church historian, Eusebius, provides us with details about his teachings. The authority that Papias has should not be understated, as he was a disciple of John the Apostle and an associate with Polycarp[11].

In the writings of Papias we see the dispensational teaching of the literal millennial reign of Christ on Earth. One of the hallmarks of dispensationalism is the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was also the view of this great church father, but with a twist. Papias saw the rebuilding of Jerusalem as an essential element for the faithful to receive physical and spiritual blessings[12]. Papias also interpreted Scripture to say that there would be peace on Earth once Christ returned.

Regarding these things Eusebius writes of Papias, “In these he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very Earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations[13].” Though much is lost of the five works of Papias there is a wealth of information that shows dispensational markings[14].



Irenaeus is one of the most towering figures in the early church. He was a disciple of the church father Polycarp, and he died in A.D. 202, in what would eventually become known as France. He is best known for his work known as Against Heresies in which he took on the growing Gnostic movement. Christians are also indebted to him because the defense he made for the Christian faiththe defense he made for the Christian faith is one that can still be used today.

Elements of dispensationalism are prominent in Irenaeus’s writing, and were part of his battle to prove that the Gnostics were heretics. In regards to Irenaeus and dispensationalism Peter Enns writes, “Irenaeus refers in his writings to four principle covenants given to the human race, particularly drawing a distinction between three covenants of the Old Testament and the gospel. This distinction is typical of dispensationalism[15].’ One of the tenants of Gnosticism was that matter was evil. Therefore, the way to eternal knowledge was secret and available to a chosen few. In Gnostic thought, He will not be coming again to judge the living and the dead.

Irenaeus firmly disagreed with this line of reasoning, and taught that Christ was indeed coming back, and that He will reign in the millennium. He taught what would become known as the rule of faith. The rule of faith taught the following three truths: 1) Jesus would come bodily to Earth. 2) The rule of faith affirms the bodily resurrection of believers, and 3) the rule of faith affirms a future judgment[16]. Regarding the various economies, or dispensations, that Irenaeus wrote about J.N.D. Kelly writes, “the fact that there are real distinctions in the immanent being of the unique, indivisible Father, and that while these were only fully manifested in the ‘economy’, they were actually there from all eternity[17].” This corresponds to the four ages in which God revealed His plan for His people.

To be more specific the four ages, or dispensations that Irenaeus saw in Scripture were the Adamic covenant, the covenant with Noah, the Mosaic covenant, and the new covenant[18]. In section seven of Against Heresies, Irenaeus explains that God has revealed Himself through many different dispensations. God did this so that man would see the glory of God and not fall away from Him. These dispensations were a way in which God nourished His precious creation. It was a way of teaching us valuable lessons along the way[19].



Tertullian is an early church figure who was brilliant in his theological treatises, but fell into the Montanist heresy in his later years. Though he wrote much, he is best known for a work titled Against Marcion. Marcion claimed that there were two gods. These gods were vastly different as one created the universe and the other sent Jesus to tell of a universal salvation[20].

Marcion claimed that the demiurge, the false god who created the universe, was the author of the Mosaic dispensation. Tertullian set about to dispute this by saying that the Mosaic covenant was one of four dispensations that the true God had laid out. Tertullian saw God working in a dispensation with Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the millennial reign of Christ. In refutation of the made up deity of Marcion Tertullian writes, “if He has administered His dispensations, fulfilled His prophecies, promoted His laws, given reality to16 His promises, revived His mighty power, remoulded His determinations18 expressed His attributes, His properties. This law and this rule I earnestly request the reader to have ever in his mind, and so let him begin to investigate whether Christ be Marcion’s or the Creator’s[21].”

Being a docetist, Marcion did not believe that Christ had a physical body. Tertullian, of course, believed that Christ was fully God and fully man. He also believed that Christ would physically come back and have a millennial reign. This is a strong theme in dispensationalism. Tertullian tells Marcion that Christ’s Kingdom is promised on Earth for one thousand years, and it will be after the resurrection of the dead[22].



Whether one is a Protestant or a Catholic Augustine has greatly influenced the theology of both[23]. One would not characterize him as a dispensationalist, but some of his teaching lean that way. Overall Augustine is amillennialistic towards his views of the end times. He does distinguish between different dispensations, such as when sacrifices were offered in the temple and that is no longer something that is done[24]. Regarding this Augustine writes, “though in the former period of the world’s history He enjoined one kind of offerings, and in the latter period another, therein ordering the symbolic actions pertaining to the blessed doctrine of true religion in harmony with the changes of successive epochs without any change in Himself[25].”


THIRD LINK: Ancient Church Fathers: What the Disciples of the Apostles Taught By: Ken Johnson, Th.D. {This site offers the book in PDF form}

Church Fathers

Justin Martyr AD 165

Dialogue 51,52 – Jewish prophets ceased after John.

Irenaeus AD 177

Against Heresies 1.10 – What the church believes: one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God,and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the
ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His future manifestation from heaven.

Against Heresies 3.11 – Montanistsset at nought the gift of the Spirit,which in the latter times has been,by the good pleasure of the Father,poured out upon the human race; do not admit that aspect of the evangelical dispensation presented by John’s Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete [John 16]; but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit.

Against Heresies 3.15 – Jesus and the Father are the only true God. Jesus gave Moses the dispensation of the Law.

Note: He talks a lot about dispensations (of the Law, of Christ, of the church, of the day of the Lord …)

Against Heresies 4.4 – The Law started with Moses and ended with John.

Against Heresies 4.16 – Men were never released from the Ten Commandments. We, however, do not observe the Sabbath, or circumcision.

Against Heresies 4.34 – Jesus fulfilled the Law and prophets, then did away with the Mosaic law, and gave a new covenant.

Against Heresies 5.8 – In the dispensation of Law, the clean animals represented spiritual man and the unclean animals represented the carnal man.

Against Heresies 5.17 – “He has destroyed the handwriting” of our debt, and “fastened it to the cross;”

Against Heresies 5.32 – Some of the orthodox are ignorant of God’s dispensations.


Tertullian AD 190-210

Against Marcion 5.11 – In 1Corinthians, the veil of Moses refers to the complete doing away with the old dispensation.

Origen AD 230

Of First Principles 1:2:1 – We see in Scripture there were several dispensations.


Dr. Ken Johnson’s books are all reasonably priced and have tons of footnotes that you can check him out on when doing your own research. Here is a link to the book above. Just click on the book image below:


So, in a nutshell…I’m a dispensationalist and a PRE-Trib rapture believer. Please see the relevant links below where I have previously voiced my thoughts about the rapture and Israel and the future. I do think that the current state of Israel was brought back by conspiratorial groups with agendas contrary to God’s. However, God is sovereign and allows it to happen. Whatever is done he allows or stops but the outcome will be for HIS benefit and thereby ours. He has his reasons for what he allows and how he allows it even if we can not comprehend them. When it is all said and done there will be no questions as to why and how it came about. All will finally see the truth and not be able to deny it or the way it was fulfilled.





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