When it comes to rightly dividing the word of truth, it is imperative that we first of all identify the main division in the scriptures. Once we do that, the details in understanding God’s word will start falling into place as we study the with the main division in mind.
Most would say that the main division in the Bible is between the Old and New Testaments. You will hear preachers and teachers say things like, “The Old Testament was for the Jews and the New Testament is for the Church.” Technically, the Old Testament did not begin with Genesis but about 2,500 years later in Exodus, and the New Testament did not begin with Matthew 1 (Heb. 9:15-18). Israel will be saved by the blood of the NT (Matt. 26:28). When the Jews are gathered out of the nations into their land and kingdom they will be a NT church (Ezek. 11:17).
Another serious blunder is to suppose there is only one church in the Bible. A church is simply a called-out assembly. Israel was a “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), and the “little flock” of Jews that followed the Messiah was also a church (Matt. 18:17; Acts 2:47). There is a prophesied kingdom church (Matt. 16:18; Ps. 22:22; Heb. 2:12). The church which is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) is a spiritual organism that is neither Jew nor Gentile but one new man (Eph. 2:14-16). It was a mystery hid in God and first revealed through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-13).
God dispensing the mystery through Paul (with accompanying mysteries) fulfilled the word of God (Col. 1:25-26). The rest of scripture revolves around one main theme: the King and His Kingdom. That is why it was not until Paul wrote his last epistle by inspiration that we are told to rightly divide the word of truth.
The most important division in the Bible is between prophecy (SPOKEN since the world began) and mystery (SECRET since the world began). A mystery in the Bible is not something we can’t know, but a divine secret that we cannot know until God reveals it (there are also mysteries of the kingdom related to prophecy).
Consider the stark contrast between prophecy concerning Israel and the mystery of the Body of Christ.
The Prophetic Kingdom Program of Israel (Lk. 1:67-75; Acts 3:17-24)
1) Concerns a KINGDOM; a political ORGANIZATION (Dan. 2:44)
2) The kingdom to be established ON EARTH (Jer. 23:5, Matt. 6:10)
3) The kingdom PROPHESIED since the world began (Lk. 1:67-75)
4) Israel to be given SUPREMACY over the nations (Isa. 61:6)
5) The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s RISE AND INSTRUMENTALITY (Zech. 8:13, 23)
6) Prophecy mainly concerns NATIONS (Isa. 2:4)
7) Prophecy concerns blessings, both MATERIAL and spiritual, on EARTH (Isa. 11:1-9)
8) Christ comes to His people, Israel, ON EARTH (Rev. 1:7)
9) Justification is by a man’s faith and it must be a faith that WORKS (Jam. 2:24)
10) The proclamation of the prophetic program committed particularly to the TWELVE apostles (Matt. 19:28; Acts 1:6-8)
The Mystery Program of the Body of Christ (Rom. 16:25-26)
1) Concerns a BODY; a spiritual ORGANISM (1Cor. 12:12-13)
2) The Body given a position in HEAVENLY places (Eph. 2:5-6)
3) The Body was chosen in Christ before the world began, but kept SECRET since the world began (Eph. 1:4, 3:9)
4) Jew and Gentile placed on the SAME LEVEL before God (Rom. 10:12, 11:32), baptized into ONE body (Gal. 3:27-28)
5) The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s FALL AND DIMINISHING (Rom. 11:11-12, 15)
6) The mystery concerns INDIVIDUALS (2 Cor. 5:17)
7) The mystery concerns all SPIRITUAL blessings in HEAVENLY places (Eph. 1:3)
8) Christ comes for His body, the Church, meeting them IN THE AIR (1 Thess. 4:17)
9) Justification is by the faith of Christ (Galatians 2:16) and is received through faith WITHOUT WORKS (Rom. 3:28; 4:5)
10) The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to PAUL (Col. 1:24-27)