GAEBELEIN, ARNO C.
Gaebelein (1861-1945) was born in Thuringia, Germany and
came to America at the age of eighteen. Ordained in the Methodist Episcopal
church, he held pastorates in Baltimore and New York City. In New York he began
an important ministry to reach the Jewish population. He began a magazine for
Jewish readers entitled Our Hope. He supplied a great amount of reading for
Jews, especially along the lines of biblical and prophetic
Gaebelein was a remarkable scholar. He knew biblical Hebrew and Greek as well as many Middle Eastem languages. He wrote nearly fifty books and many pamphlets on prophecy. He lectured widely and was active in the Bible conference movement. Gaebelein was popular with audiences because of his vast knowledge of the Jewish people and Hebrew customs. Though avoiding seminary training, he was self-taught in languages, history, systematic theology, apologetics, and prophetic studies.
It was in New York City working with the Jewish community that Gaebelein became a premillennialist (ca. 1887). He wrote: "This attempt to bring the Gospel to the Jews led me deeper into the Old Testament Scriptures. I began to study prophecy. Up to this time I had followed in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy the so-called 'spiritualization method' (allegorical)." He realized that only with literal interpretation would Israel mean Israel and not the church. He realized that a promise of redemption back to the land of Palestine still held for the Jews.
Gaebelein realized that the differences in Bible interpretation were caused by a conflict in hermeneutics. He followed two basic rules for interpreting the Scriptures. He felt a literal-grammatical interpretation led to a national restoration for Israel's future. And secondly, this approach led one to see the church as a new entity unrevealed in the Old Testament but clearly outlined in the book of Ephesians.
Gaebelein also used a dispensational hermeneutic. He saw three major dispensations: law, grace, and kingdom. He also used the analogy of faith and the concept of progressive revelation combined to provide a way of looking at passages that went beyond the grammatical-historical interpretation of an individual text. He also felt strongly about the doctrine of the rapture of the church. No signs were needed to herald Christ's coming. The church clearly would not go through the Great Tribulation. The coming of Christ in the air to receive the church is a separate event from His coming to the earth to set up His kingdom seven years later. Finally, three crucial doctrines were behind Gaebelein's dispensationalism: (1) the inerrancy of Scripture, (2) the premillennial coming of Christ to earth to reign on David's throne, and (3) the pretribulational Rapture.
Gaebelein viewed the Abrahamic covenant as having past, present, and future fulfillment. He wrote, "The nations of the earth, all the families are unconsciously waiting to be blessed by Abraham's seed. Salvation is still of the Jews." And he ex-pected the terms of the covenant to yet be fulfilled literally, physically to the descendants of Abraham and the Jewish nation.
A biblical passage that arrested Gaebelein's attention was Deuteronomy 28. In this he saw "prewritten the sad history" of Israel. Moses predicted the scattering, suffering, tribulation, and ultimate final restoration for the Jews, "the enigma of history." About this Gaebelein wrote, "the Old Testament is practically a sealed book to every person who does not believe in a literal restoration of Israel to their land" (Stallard)
From The Dictionary of Premillenial Theology
edited by Mal Couch
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