The TRANSITION PERIOD is the approximate forty years between Christ’s first and second comings in the first century AD. It began with His public ministry in AD 26-30 and ended at His Parousia in AD 66-70. More specifically it began at the time of John the Baptist in AD 26, when he said: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is AT HAND!” (Matt. 3:2).
It ended at the time of Christ’s second coming return to raise all of the souls of the faithful believers of old out of Hades/Sheol and rapture His church in AD 66 (1 Thess. 4:16-17). His apostles announced this by saying “the coming of the Lord is AT HAND” (James 5:8); “the Lord is AT HAND” (Phil. 4:5); “the end of all things is AT HAND” (1 Pet. 3:22); and “the time is AT HAND.” (Rev. 22:10).
Before the TRANSITION PERIOD the Old Covenant religious Mosaic Jewish system was in full effect. At the end of the TRANSITION PERIOD, with the total destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, the New Covenant spiritual Kingdom was fully consummated, and is in full effect going forward into all human history.
During this TRANSITION PERIOD the Old Covenantal temple system was obsolete since the cross, but was still practiced by Old Covenant Israel while it faded and was finally, and completely, destroyed and burned up in AD 70 (Heb. 8:13, 9:8). Since the cross/resurrection/Pentecost the eternal NEW Covenant was inaugurated and grew until its full consummation at Christ’s Parousia in AD 66-70. The OLD Covenant was obsolete and fading out to pass away in AD 70. The NEW Covenant was begun and being built until its completion in AD 70. The Christian apostles, who were all Jewish, kept the LAW of the OLD system when they were around the Jews.
After the Cross the law was bound only for the “Jewish Christians” and only for “conscience-sake” (testimony’s sake) until it was all fulfilled and removed in AD 70. Jesus commanded His Jewish followers (not Gentiles) to keep every jot and tittle of it better than the scribes and Pharisees so that their good law-keeping example would pave the way for them to preach the gospel to their fellow-Jews. That gave the Jews a whole generation (40 years) to hear the gospel coming from fellow law-keeping Jews before the Law was rendered inoperable in AD 70. After AD 70 no one could keep the Law. It was a moot issue for Christians (Jew and Gentile alike) after AD 70. But until the temple was destroyed and the sacrificial system was abolished, those Jewish Christians needed to continue keeping it so that their good law-abiding exemplary lifestyle would open the door for the gospel to be heard and accepted by their fellow Jews. They were to continue to keep the law, but now, not for “salvation’s sake” à It was for “conscience’s and testimony’s sake.”
“19 For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may gain more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the Law, I became as one under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might gain those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Cor. 9:19-23 [NAS95])
Paul’s teaching on this is crucial. He stated that he himself was NOT UNDER the Law (because he died to it in Christ), but he still KEPT the Law in order to adorn the gospel and make it attractive to his fellow Jews, and thus win some of them to Christ before the wrath was poured out. In Romans and Galatians and Corinthians he labors to show that if a Jew converted to Christ, then he died to the Law (through Christ’s death on the Cross) and was no longer UNDER the Law. But Jesus and the apostles (including Paul) still instructed those Jewish Christians to continue KEEPING the Law (every jot and tittle) until that OT system passed away at AD 70.
On another note, Jesus says (Matt. 5:19), “Whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments, even the smallest letter [jot] and the smallest stroke of the law [tittle], whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom.” Notice that Jesus does not make a distinction between Jews inside Palestine versus Jews who dwelt outside in the Diaspora. All Jewish Christians whether inside Israel, or outside in the Diaspora, needed to keep every jot and tittle. If they didn’t keep the Law, their preaching of the gospel to their fellow Jews would be rejected and discredited. So it was absolutely critical that they kept every jot and tittle, and that they kept it even better than the scribes and Pharisees did à until that old heaven and earth passed away in AD 70.
Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20). And it was not all fulfilled until AD 70. After the Temple was destroyed, it was no longer possible for any Jew to keep the Law. Therefore, it could not be bound on anyone after that. Nor could anyone keep all of its jots and tittles after that. It passed away by default. It vanished. It disappeared. It was rendered inoperable (abolished).
As for the 1st century Gentiles during AD 30-70 Transition Period – they were NEVER under the Old Covenant LAW. They were to live their faith under love, and the restrictions listed from Acts 15 below:
36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40)
“19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” Acts (15:19-20)
The message of the gospel was that righteousness was by faith alone in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The TRANSITION PERIOD message was that all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, would be saved. There was one faith for all of God’s people (Eph. 4:4-5).
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 3b Matt. 16:27-28 (sub study on “Heaven and Earth”)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 9 Rev. Chapter 21”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 10 Rev. Chapter 22”]