Note # 1: Overlapping Dispensations
It is a mistake to speak of overlapping dispensations. In the Introduction in this study I said:
A note from The New Scofield Study Bible states, "Although the divine revelation unfolds progressively, the deposit of truth in the earlier time-periods is not discarded; rather it is cumulative. Thus conscience (moral responsibility) is an abiding truth in human life, though it does not continue as a dispensation. Similarly, the saved of this present dispensation are ‘not under law’ as a specific test of obedience to divine revelation, yet the law remains an integral part of the Holy Scriptures which, to the redeemed, are profitable for ‘instruction in righteousness’ (2 Tim. 3: 16-17;cp. Rom. 15: 4)."
When the "dispensation of the Word and Spirit" began, the "dispensation of the law" came to a close. However, the Jews continued to keep the law.The Mosaic Covenant remained in force with the Jewish people as we see the Lord Jesus Himself keeping the law. With the beginning of the "dispensation of the gospel of grace" the Jews continued to keep the law, even though the "dispensation of the law" had been superceded by another dispensation earlier.
The Jews continued to keep the law throughout the Acts period (see Acts 21: 20-26). Many people ask, since Paul was teaching the churches which he founded that they are no longer under the law, (Gal. 3: 23-25) then why did the Jews in the Jerusalem church continue to keep the law?
When Paul went to Jerusalem at Acts 21 he too kept the law, even going so far as to make offerings required under the law (Acts21:26). I believe the following words of Paul explain his actions at Acts 21: 26:
"And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law" (1 Cor. 9: 20).
I believe that it was of the will of God for the Jerusalem church to remain under the law, and His reason would be so that He might gain those who were under the law. But this did not remain in effect. In his role as the "apostle to the Gentiles" the Apostle Paul had gone throughout the Roman Empire preaching to the Gentiles, and when he arrived at a new town or city the first thing which he did was to go the the Jews and speak in their synagogues. He was also fulfilling the Lord’s commandment that he should also go to "the children of Israel" (Acts 9: 15).
His ministry to the Jews ended when he was carried as a prisoner to Rome and spoke before the Jews there. Sir Robert Anderson says,"When these, the Jews of Rome, refused the proffered mercy, his mission to his nation was at an end; and for the first time separating himself from them, he exclaimed,’ Well spake the Holy Ghost through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers’—and he went on to repeat the words which our Lord Himself had used at that kindred crisis of His ministry when the nation had openly rejected Him (Acts xxviii. 25 R.V.; Matt. xiii. 13, cf. xii. 14-16)" (Anderson, The Silence of God, Appendix, Note # 3, p.175).
We can see that a change did come about after Paul’s ministry to the children of Israel had ended by the witness of the Jewish epistles (which were written after the Acts period had ended). During the Acts period the Jews continued to keep the law, and Peter described the law as a "yoke" which the Jews were not able to bear (Acts 15: 10). But by the time Peter wrote his first epistle we read that the Jews were "free" and at "liberty" from the law:
"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (1 Pet. 2: 16).
Peter’s words there practically mirror Paul’s when he is speaking of the law:
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal. 5: 13).
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5: 1).
The author of Hebrews also says that the law has been annulled: "For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God…By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament" (Heb. 7: 18, 19, 22).