In speaking about the role of the community of the people of God in carrying forward the revelation of the personal knowledge of God, he makes reference to those outside the realm of known verbal revelation:

For reasons known to Himself, God has chosen to reveal His light gradually to the chosen community of grace, and also to convey the verbal message from them to the rest of the world gradually. It is not given to us believers to know all that has or has not transpired between God and the rest of humanity outside the sound of His Word. At the very least, we must say with the Apostle Paul in light of the florious, universal gospel, ‘And the times of this ifnorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent…’

However, there are indications of people who are outside the reach of the covenant who have nevertheless been granted true knowledge of the Living God. Kelly mentions Mechizedek, Job, and Balaam, and quotes Augustine:

…there is nothing far-fetched in the belief that among other peoples besides the Jews there existed men in whom this mystery was revealed, and who were compelled to go on to proclaim what they know.

This does not present a problem for the eternal application of the the work of Christ, which, since God is eternally can be applied at all times everywhere.

Historically, the pouring out is only subsequent to the divine acceptance and vindication of Christ’s atoning work for sinners, but with the God who inhabits eternity and created time as His servant, the concepts of ‘previous’, ‘contemporary’, and ‘subseqent’ are not a hindering reality as they are for us mere humans. The cross was in God’s heart before the world was made (c.f. Rev. 13:8), and His eternal SPirit is well able to apply it at any and every point of rolling time to whomsoever He will, whever their privileges or lack of them at any one ‘time’.

Quoting John Donne -

I know God can be as merciful as those tender Fathers present him to be; and I would be as charitable as they are. And therefore humbly embracing that manifestation of the Son, which he hath afforded me, I leave God, to his unsearchable ways of working upon others, without further inquisition.


  1. Kelly, Systematic Theology - Volume 1, p. 179
  2. Kelly, Systematic Theology - Volume 1, p. 215, 217, 222