The Definition of Dispensation.
Is there the word "dispensation" in the Bible and what does it mean? The word dispensation is found in four verses in the Bible; 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3: 2, Colossians 1:25.
Is this the exact Greek Translation?
The word dispensation is translated from the Greek word "OIKONOMIA" (OIKOS means home - NUMOS means set/manage). In the Greek-English dictionary Oikonomia generally means "The Management of Household." Thus, the translation of the above four verses that are closer to the original meaning of the language is "dispensation" as it was translated in Ephesians 3:2. The dispensation which is referred to in the Bible is; God’s regulations upon his people (His household).
Therefore the dispensation in the broad sense contains "time", "person", and "laws" (rules). The dispensation exists in the history of mankind, because God Himself is planning, establishing and declaring to be done.
How many dispensations are there in the Bible?
In the Bible, it isn’t clearly written the number of the dispensations that exist, therefore there is a difference of opinion among Christians about the amount of dispensation. Some say 2, 3, 4 and 7 dispensations. From these opinions, which one of these is based on the accuracy of the Bible through His plan?
Based on the biblical data itself, we find the four principles of God’s rule change which we can call the principle of dispensation change:
1. There are persons who are the pioneers of receiving the rules.
2. There are regulatory changes.
3. There is a failure.
4. There is punishment.
Based on these changes of principle we will later know that in the Bible there are "7 dispensations." With the seven dispensations, the Bible clearly states God’s plan from the time of Adam to the new heaven and the new earth.
Systematic Dispensation Theology.
If in the preceding section the principles of dispensation which have become the basis of biblical exegesis have been made, then we are now with an appropriate view of that interpretation will create a division and theological arrangement, with themes based on God’s statement in the Bible.
These systematically arranged lessons are a general lesson in Christian theology which called Systematic Theology. But in the composition of this lesson, there are several points that are different from the other Christian Theological systems, because they are the result of a reassessment of the traditional subjects of Christian learning. The distinction is based on different interpretive principles, therefore the division is called "Systematic Dispensation Theology."
The Seven Dispensations.
The first dispensation is called the Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15-17).
This dispensation covered the period of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this dispensation God's commands were to (1) replenish the earth with children, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals, (4) care for the garden, and (5) abstain from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned of the punishment of physical and spiritual death for disobedience. This dispensation was short-lived and was brought to an end by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and their expulsion from the garden.
The second dispensation is called the Dispensation of Conscience.
It lasted about 1,656 years from the time of Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden until the flood (Genesis 3:8–8:22).
This dispensation demonstrates what mankind will do if left to his own will and conscience, which have been tainted by the inherited sin nature. The five major aspects of this dispensation are 1) a curse on the serpent, 2) a change in womanhood and childbearing, 3) a curse on nature, 4) the imposing of difficult work on mankind to produce food, and 5) the promise of Christ as the seed who will bruise the serpent's head (Satan).
The third dispensation is the Dispensation of Human Government.
It began in Genesis 8. God had destroyed life on earth with a flood, saving just one family to restart the human race. God made the following promises and commands to Noah and his family:
1. God will not curse the earth again.
2. Noah and family are to replenish the earth with people.
3. They shall have dominion over the animal creation.
4. They are allowed to eat meat.
5. The law of capital punishment is established.
6. There never will be another worldwide flood.
7. The sign of God's promise will be the rainbow.
Noah’s descendants did not scatter and fill the earth as God had commanded, thus failing in their responsibility in this dispensation. About 325 years after the flood, the earth’s inhabitants began building a tower, a great monument to their solidarity and pride (Genesis 11:7-9). God brought the construction to a halt, creating different languages and enforcing His command to fill the earth. The result was the rise of different nations and cultures. From that point on, human governments have been a reality.
The fourth dispensation, called the Dispensation of Promise.
It started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs, and ended with the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a period of about 430 years.
The basic promise during the Dispensation of Promise was the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some of the key points of that unconditional covenant:
1. From Abraham would come a great nation that God would bless with natural and spiritual prosperity.
2. God would make Abraham’s name great.
3. God would bless those that blessed Abraham’s descendants and curse those that cursed them.
4. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation.
5. The sign of the covenant is circumcision.
6. This covenant, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, is confined to the Hebrew people and the 12 tribes of Israel.
The fifth dispensation is called the Dispensation of Law.
It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after Jesus Christ’s death. This dispensation will continue during the Millennium, with some modifications. During the Dispensation of Law, God dealt specifically with the Jewish nation through the Mosaic Covenant, or the Law, found in Exodus 19–23. The dispensation involved temple worship directed by priests, with further direction spoken through God’s mouthpieces, the prophets. Eventually, due to the people’s disobedience to the covenant, the tribes of Israel lost the Promised Land and were subjected to bondage.
The sixth dispensation, the one in which we now live, is the Dispensation of Grace.
It began with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20). This “Age of Grace” or “Church Age” occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel 9:24. It starts with the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). This dispensation is worldwide and includes both Jews and the Gentiles. Man’s responsibility during the Dispensation of Grace is to believe in Jesus, the Son of God (John 3:18). In this dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells believers as the Comforter (John 14:16-26). This dispensation has lasted for over 2,000 years, and no one knows when it will end. We do know that it will end with the Rapture of all born-again believers from the earth to go to heaven with Christ. Following the Rapture will be the judgments of God lasting for seven years.
The seventh dispensation is called the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth.
This Kingdom will fulfill the prophecy to the Jewish nation that Christ will return and be their King. The only people allowed to enter the Kingdom are the born-again believers from the Age of Grace and righteous survivors of the seven years of tribulation. No unsaved person is allowed access into this kingdom. Satan is bound during the 1,000 years. This period ends with the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-14). The old world is destroyed by fire, and the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22 will begin.
The Seven Dispensations Gotquestions.org
Dispensational Theology, by Charles F. Baker.
Systematic Theology, by Henry C. Thiessen.