New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:2 dispensation. Dispensationalism has had both its advocates and opponents among Bible-believing Christians. The Greek word (oikonomia) translated “dispensation” actually means “stewardship” or “economy.” The number and nature of the various “dispensations” or “economies” through which God has dealt with mankind during the course of history has been the subject of considerable discussion and variation among commentators. There are two such “dispensations,” or divinely given religious systems, specifically mentioned as such in Scripture. The “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2) seems clearly to refer to the order of this Christian age, especially revealed through Paul and characterized particularly by the preaching of the gospel of God’s saving grace as manifested in the person and work of Jesus Christ (note also I Corinthians 9:17; Colossians 1:25). The “dispensation of the fullness of times” (Ephesians 1:10) refers to the eternal age to come when Christ has been universally accepted as Creator, Redeemer and Lord of the whole universe (Colossians 1:20; Philippians 2:9-11). Other possible dispensations include the Edenic, antediluvian, postdiluvian, Mosaic, tribulational, and millennial dispensations.