The Dispensational Theme of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John


The Lord Jesus Christ is the most unique and important person to have ever lived on this earth. The so-called “Four Gospels” – the books of Matthew, Mark Luke and John set forth His earthly life and ministry. We are, naturally, are very interested in this information. Remember, however, that Jesus of Nazareth lived and ministered in “Time Past” – else you may be confused and discouraged by what you find in these records.

1. The Four Gospels are still in… “Time Past” - It’s not yet the age of "the body of Christ."

Recall that in “Time Past” the “Middle Wall of Partition,” which the Lord had erected between the Nation Israel and the Gentiles, was still in place.

Israel was still distinct and distinguished from the Gentiles, as seen in the verses below. We clearly see this in the ministry of Jesus and the “Twelve.”

Matthew 15:24 But he (Jesus) answered and said, I AM NOT SENT BUT UNTO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

Matthew 10:5-6 THESE TWELVE JESUS SENT FORTH, and commanded them, saying, Go NOT INTO THE WAY OF THE GENTILES, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But GO RATHER TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

Israel was still under “the Law of Moses.”

Matthew 5:17b-20 … I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 1:44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing THOSE THINGS WHICH MOSES COMMANDED, for a testimony unto them.

Salvation was at that time still available only “through Israel .”

John 4:22b … for salvation is of the Jews.

Mark 7:25-29 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek (Gentile), a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children ( Israel ) first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s ( Israel ’s) bread, and to cast it unto the dogs (Gentiles). 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
Luke 19:9-10 Jesus said unto him (Zaccheus, a Jew), This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is A SON OF ABRAHAM. 10 the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost ( Israel ).

Now Consider the Universality of Jesus' John 3:16 phrases referencingthe (whole) world,” andwhosoever believeth,” and yet note the distinction Jesus spoke of... “go NOT to the Gentiles… go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel as seen in Matt 10:5-6 and John 15:24 (above). John 3:16 For God so loved the world (all mankind), that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (pistis, has faith, trust) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

How can we explain Jesus’ words? “I AM NOT SENT BUT UNTO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL when in the very next chapter Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman (a non-Jew) and “many more (non-Jews) believed".

John 4:22 (The Samaritan woman said to Jesus) … we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. John 4:41 And many more (Samaritans - non-Jews) believed because of his (Jesus’) own word;

The ANSWER to Jesus words: With the Kingdom now “at hand,” Jesus was demonstrating the transition for redeemed Israel , to reach out and bless the nations.

So the answer to our question is found in the Covenant God made with Abraham. Remember Genesis 12:3-4 and 22:15-18 below. The Scriptures had long predicted that SALVATION WAS TO GO TO THE GENTILES THROUGH REDEEMED ISRAEL .

Genesis 22:15-18 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED; BECAUSE THOU HAST OBEYED MY VOICE.
Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee ( Israel ). 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Isaiah 61:5-6 5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. 6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory (expression) shall ye boast yourselves.

Zechariah 8:20-23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many (Gentile) people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem , and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

This is the reason Jesus came to His own, confining His ministry to Israel (Rom 15:8-12) – because salvation and blessing were to go to the whole world THROUGH redeemed Israel first!

Actually, Jesus’ words in John 3:16 concerning everlasting life going to “the world,” of “whosoever believeth,” (including Gentiles) was a stinging rebuke to Israel for not believing God and being a faithful blessing to the world.

As we see below, after Israel’s “fall,” God nevertheless sent salvation to “the world,” in spite of Israel’s “FALL” in UNBELIEF, to “provoke them (Israel) to jealousy.”

Rom 11:11 Have they ( Israel ) stumbled that they should fall? ... THROUGH THEIR FALL SALVATION IS COME UNTO THE GENTILES, FOR TO PROVOKE THEM ( Israel ) TO JEALOUSY.

Jesus preached “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” not Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24).

Matthew 4:23 Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went …, teaching in their synagogues, and PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Matthew 24:14 And THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM SHALL BE PREACHED IN ALL THE WORLD for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

These are Four things we have learned about “Time Past” that were still true during Christ’s earthly ministry.

1. Israel is at that time still God’s chosen nation in the earth.

2. The Law of Moses is still the operating system.

3. Gentile salvation was still available through Israel .

4. The goal is till the establishment of the earthy Kingdom promised and prophesied in the Scriptures.

2. The so-called New Testament, like the old, begins with a very interesting verse.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

· Matthew is the 1st Book of the so-called New Testament, the 40th book of the Bible. 40 = “Probation.” In Christ's appearing God speaks after 400 year of silence…saying the kingdom was “at hand.”

· Matthew is still in “Time Past,” thus it is a transitional book.

· Matthew announces the 14th of the “generations” from David – Thirteen previous were in rebellion; now a final 14th completes the generational listing that ends with the coming of Christ (Gen 1:17). The number fourteen (14) is the number of double “completion.”

Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. Genesis 1:26-28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and LET THEM HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and REPLENISH THE EARTH, AND SUBDUE IT: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Adam had a high calling but he and all humanity fell to the Serpent’s snare. The work of Jesus in Matthew restores the position of men “in Christ” over the earth in the Messianic Kingdom.

Matthew is the first time the name “Jesus Christ” appears in Scripture but Jesus is introduced as “The Son of David – the Son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The long-promised Kingdom was now… “at hand.” Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God , 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND : repent ye, and believe the gospel.

RECALL - The Prophetic Schedule of Dan 9:24-27 leads to Jesus Christ the Messiah being “CUT OFF.”

Daniel 9:24-27 (KJV) SEVENTY WEEKS (490 yrs) are determined upon thy people (Israel) and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (49 yrs), and threescore and two weeks (62 weeks = 434 yrs): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and TWO WEEKS (434 yrs) shall MESSIAH BE CUT OFF, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he (Anti-Christ) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst (middle, at 3.5 years) of THE (1) WEEK (of 7 years) he (Anti-Christ) shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple), and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Per the chart below,Seventy weeks (i.e., 70 weeks of 7 years equal 490 years) is to finish the transgression, and to make an end(v24 above). First, there is a seven week period (49 years) from the order to rebuild the Temple, and then a sixty-two week period (434 years), after which Messiah would “be cut-off” (v26, see also Isa 53:8) – totaling 483 yrs. Then seven (7) of the original 490 years remains to account for the 7-year Tribulation period that is coming on the world.

So there remains one last week of 7 years, which we call the Tribulation period. In “the midst” of that week, at 3-1/2 years into the Tribulation, we see the “abomination,” which Christ identified with the Anti-Christ and the Great Tribulation, taking place immediately before the return of the Lord in judgment (Matt 24:15, 21 cf. 2 Thes 2:3-4).           

Timeline to the Prophesied Kingdom of Heaven On Earth

­l------------------------------------------------------- 490 years) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I

ß The Rebuilding of Temple in 7 weeks (49 yrs) >l< 62 weeks (434 yrs)     >l< The Mystery     >l<          ___           1 week (7yrs) >l

(Nehemiah 2)                                                                         MESSIAH CUT OFF >>>>>> l< The GRACE >l<       7-yr  Tribulation      >l


                                                                                                The Millennial Kingdom begins here >>>>>>I

At the first appearing of Jesus, a new stage in God’s program for Israel had begun. Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were UNTIL JOHN: since that time the kingdom of God is preached...

The ministry of John the Baptist marks a new beginning in the national life of Israel . “The Law” and prophets prophesied only until John, but with John’ announcement that the Kingdom was now “at hand.” The good news of the kingdom became the pressing issue.

So, the theme of the message then was “…Repent: for THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND .” (Matthew 4:17b)

  • This was called “The gospel of the Kingdom” (Matt 4:23, 9:35, 24:14)

Luke 9:6 they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

  • Jesus spoke of His cross, but His disciples DID NOT understand.

Luke 18:31-34 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they UNDERSTOOD NONE of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

Not until Paul was the meaning of the Cross explained in all its detail, but only summarized here.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I (Paul) delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (directly from Christ), how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the scriptures; 4 And that HE WAS BURIED, AND THAT HE ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the scriptures:

  • Identifying the Believing Remnant in Apostate Israel – called the LITTLE FLOCK

Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Luke 12:31-32 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God ; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, LITTLE FLOCK; for it is your father’s good pleasure to GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM.

Matthew 19:28 (KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel .

  • John Preached National Baptism as means of national repentance and cleansing:

Acts 13:24 When John had first preached before his coming the BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE to ALL THE PEOPLE of ISRAEL. (The Gentiles were excluded.)


Luke 7:29-30 (KJV) And all the people that heard him (Jesus), and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers REJECTED the counsel of God against themselves, being NOT BAPTIZED of him.

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel .

Ezekiel 36:25-28 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

John’s baptism was the means of identifying the Messiah to Israel :

John 1:30-34 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he (Jesus) should be made manifest to Israel , therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (See John 10 1-5)

  • THREE BAPTISMS for ISRAEL: Matthew 3:11 I (John) indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
    1. Water: Ezekiel 36:25 (water on you)
    2. Spirit: Acts 1:4-5 (Spirit upon you; “endued” (Luke 24:49), means “clothed upon”)
    3. Fire: Matt 3:12 (“baptism” with fire in “the wrath to come,” see 3:7)

3. “His own received Him not” - “He came unto His own”

John 1:11-12 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (He came per Isaiah 9:6)

But “His own received Him not” – the nation rejected Jesus.

· Matt 12:14-16 - Jesus de-emphasized His Public Ministry

· Matt 16:20 - Jesus de-emphasized His Messianic Office

· Matt 17:9 – Jesus de-emphasized His Messianic Glory

      Those who “received Him” - Jesus trained the “Little Flock” for their ministry in His absence. Luke 12:32 Fear not, LITTLE FLOCK; for it is your Father's good pleasure to GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM.

John 17:2 As thou hast given him (Jesus) power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. John 17:4 I have glorified thee (Father) on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. John 17:8-9 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me…

At the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly ministry the “little flock” is poised to continue His ministry that He had trained them to perform and extend to the Nation Israel as a renewed opportunity for repentance and salvation – to at last be a blessing to the world that they were created to be.

Concerning Salvation for Israel :

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by THEM THAT HEARD HIM (the little flock);

 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4)

The Gospels end with Israel ’s Rejection and Crucifixion of the Messiah.