Summary: Understanding Dispensations.
1. Ryrie, “The mention of the word dispensationalism usually evokes an immediate reaction. For many Christians it…awakened in them their first real interest in studying the Bible seriously and in depth. For others, however, dispensationalism is something to be avoided like the plague…At times it has been aggressively attacked – [even branded as cultic!].”
2. I am not only a confirmed dispensationalist, but believe that it is the only way to
rightly divide the Word of God. I also believe that all honest students will admit
to some sort of dispensations – or they would still be offering animal sacrifices!
3. Paul Ministerial Labor – involved a Stewardship.
I. FIRST, WE SAW IT INVOLVES SUFFERING.
II. FURTHERMORE, IT INVOLVES A STEWARDSHIP.
A. First a Distinction.
Of this church I was made a minister – as an apostle he was given the privilege of introducing the Dispensation of grace.
“if indeed you have heard of the stewardship [dispensation] of God’s grace
which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known
to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.” (Eph. 3:2-3)
Ryrie, “It is important to notice that…[in this passage] there can be no question
that the Bible uses the word dispensation in exactly the same way the dispensationalist does…Almost all opponents of dispensationalism try to make much of their claim that the Scriptures do not use the word dispensation in the same theological and technical sense that the dispensational scheme of teaching does. Two facts should be pointed out, the first is that the scripture does used the word in the same way the dispensationalist does. Second, it is perfect valid to take a biblical word and use it in a theological sense as long as the theological use is not unbiblical. All conservatives do this with the word atonement. It is a word never used in the N.T., yet theologically all use it to stand for what is involved in the death of Christ.”
B. Furthermore, the Dispensation.
according to the stewardship – ïé-êï-íï-ìéáí From oikos “house” and nemo
“to dispense, to weigh, to deal out.” It speaks of a steward of a house who dispenses the rules of the house.
The verb form is used only once – Lu.16:2, where it speaks of a manager. The noun appears 10 times (Lu. 12:42; 16:1,3,8/ Rom.16:23/ 1 Cor. 4:1,2/ Gal.4:2/ Tit.1:7/
1 Pet.4:10) and is usually translated “steward” or “manager” (but “treasurer” in Ro.16:23). The noun form in our passage is found 9 times (Lu.16:2,3,4/ 1 Cor.9:17/
Eph.1:10; 3:2,9; Col.1:25/ 1 Tim.1:4) in those places its translated “stewardship” “dispensation” “administration” “Job” and “commission” depending upon the translation used.
“A dispensation is “a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs of a particular nation, or period of time…also, the age or period, during which, a system has prevailed.” [The Oxford English Dict.]
“The Greek word comes form the verb, which means “to manage, to regulate, to administer, and plan. The word itself, is a compound, whose parts mean, literally “to divide, to apportion, to administer or manage, the affairs of an inhabited house.”
[Arndt and Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon]
“The pa-py-ri, extra Biblical literature of N.T. times, uses this word to describe an “officer who administered a dispensation”, thus called a steward or manager of an estate, or a treasurer.” [The Vocabulary of the Greek N.T., Moulton and Milliagn]
Therefore, the basic idea of this word, is that of, managing or being a steward of, or administering the affairs of a household…
Ryrie, “Dispensationalism, views the world as a household run by God. In this household-world, God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation, in the process of time.
These various stages mark off the distinguishable different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these economics are the dispensations. Economy also suggests the fact that certain features of different dispensations might be the same or similar. Differing political and economic economies are not completely different, yet they are distinguishable different. If one were describing a dispensation he would include other things, such as, the ideas of distinctive revelation, testing, failures, and judgments.”
Think of the Clinton Administration verses the Bush Administration – one focused on raising taxes, avoided war, woman’s rights, and Government as the solution to everyone’s problems; the other sought tax cuts, war, the rights of the unborn, and letting the people solve their own problems…WE WOULD CALL THESE TWO DIFFERENT DISPENSATIONS, AND YET THERE WERE ALSO MANY SIMILARITIES…
Ironside, “An economy is an ordered condition of things. There are various economies running through the Word of God. A dispensation, an economy, then, is that particular order or condition of things, prevailing in one special age, which does not necessarily prevail in another.”