In this volume, Darby introduces important themes of creation, sin, and the relationship between good and evil in the lives of key figures found in the first half of the Old Testament. He connects creation to God’s law and human responsibility—in these books, says Darby, we find God’s principles for maintaining relationships with individuals. In this way, God’s kingdom in the Old Testament not only resembles the Church in the present, but also God’s intentions for the future. Darby also explains the first two dispensations of the relationship between humanity and God without the law, and humanity’s relationship to God with the law. Darby’s commentary exhibits key tenets of dispensationalist thought, and lays the groundwork for interpreting the rest of the Bible.
Darby’s ecclesiological pessimism gave way to a new perspective on Scripture, which later became known as dispensationalism. In Darby’s view, the scope of history is divided into seven separate dispensations, each comprising a new stage of God’s revelation. Darby advanced the following dispensationalist scheme:
“Satan suggests that God keeps back the best gift out of envy, lest man should be like Him. Man trusts Satan for kindness rather than God, whom he judges according to Satan’s lie. He believes Satan instead of God, when he tells him he should not die, as God said he should, and casts off the God who had blessed him, to gratify his lusts. Not trusting God, he uses his own will to seek happiness by, as a surer way, as men do now.” (Page 30)
“This revelation from God is not a history by Him of all that He has done, but what has been given to man for his profit, the truth as to what he has to say to. Its object is to communicate to man all that regards his own relationship with God.” (Page 21)
“It is not merely that Israel failed under the government of God: they rejected it.” (Page 437)
“But whether it be the creation, man and his fall, sin, the power of Satan, the promises, the call of God, His judgment of the world, redemption, the covenants, the separation of the people of God, their condition of strangers on the earth, the resurrection, the establishment of Israel in the land of Canaan, the blessing of the nations, the seed of promise, the exaltation of a rejected Lord to the throne of the world, all are found here in fact or in figure—in figure, now that we have the key, even the Church itself.” (Page 20)
“In the garden the knowledge of good and evil did not yet exist: obedience only in refraining from an act, which was no sin if it had not been forbidden, constituted the test. It was not a prohibition of sin as at Sinai, and a claim of good when good and evil were known.” (Page 27)
Darby left a lasting legacy for us today.
—Conservative Theological Journal
To see classical dispensationalist theology at its best, one must read Darby...
—Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Darby was a brilliant man...
—Moody Handbook of Theology