The Dispensation of Grace

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

So-called “dispensationalism” has had both its advocates and opponents among Bible-believing Christians. The Greek word translated “dispensation” (oikonomia), from which we derive our English word “economy,” actually means an “economy,” or also a “stewardship.”

The number and nature of the various “dispensations” or “economies” through which the Creator has dealt with His human creation during the course of history has been the subject of considerable discussion and variation among commentators. Possible distinct dispensations might include the post-Eden economy instituted after sin and God’s curse came into the world, the post-diluvian economy established by Noah after the Flood, and the economy begun by Abraham when God began to work especially with the nation of Israel. However, none of these are actually called “dispensations” in the Scriptures, so any such listing is bound to be somewhat arbitrary.

There are two dispensations, however, specifically called such in Scripture. One is the “dispensation of the fulness of times,” when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). This will be the eternal economy of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22).

Then there is this present “dispensation of the grace of God.” We, like Paul, have been called as “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). So, like Paul, each of us could say that “a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:17), and that “I am made a minister [or ‘servant’], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me” (Colossians 1:25). Thus, the dispensation of grace is a real stewardship responsibility committed to each believer. HMM

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