Dispensation: Its Meaning, Affect, Distribution and Importance

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

The word used to translate “dispensation” is oikonomia; Paul uses this word four times in his epistles. Surprisingly many believers are completely unaware of its meaning and importance. It has been a long neglected subject by the majority of Bible students. Just what is a “dispensation?”

What Is The Meaning of the Word “Dispensation”?

The word dispensation has to do with the act of distribution, or dealing out; it is a divine administration, economy, or stewardship. Dispensation comes from the word dispense. It can be seen in the word dispensary.

A dispensation is not, as is commonly believed, a period of time. W.C. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives the following definition:

A dispensation is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement, or administration of affairs.

How Do Dispensations Affect Me?

Throughout the Bible God has had different administrations (or dispensations). In God’s dispensations, as with that of the farmer, it is very important to do the work of the present season. For example, there are truths that belong to Israel that DO NOT belong to the Body of Christ. II Timothy 2:15 plainly gives us the answer:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Many try to follow the dispensations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 15:4) or of Christ’s earthly ministry (Romans 15:8); but Paul was given the dispensation for us (Colossians 1:25-26, Ephesians 3:2-3, Romans 15:15-16, 16:25-26).

What Does This Present Dispensation “Dispense”?

… The dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).

The dispensation given to Paul for us today was one of God’s grace. This is the key to God’s progressive revelation regarding Himself and His plan of the ages. It is so important for the student of the Scriptures to recognize this wonderful truth. God’s present and pinnacle purpose is one of grace. He is dispensing, or dealing out His grace. We live in God’s grace dispensary. The Father’s sole mode of dealing is in grace.

What Is the Importance of Understanding the Dispensations?

And if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully (II Timothy 2:5).

A participant in any race must follow the rules for that game or they will not win the prize. How sad it is that many believers, even though they are very sincere, won’t be “approved unto God” as regarding their service and conduct of life because they did not study with the purpose to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” They have not become a part of God’s present purpose – of being a dispensary of the Father’s grace. They neither live in grace themselves, nor with others.

God did not give Paul the administering of a stewardship of grace so that we could simply make “dispensational charts;” but so that we would be receptors and channels of “the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7).

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Ephesians 3:2).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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