The Basic Seven Dispensations of the Bible
Dispensational truths give understanding to the Bible. It relates to all humanity since creation and will continue to the end of the world. The dispensations show the symmetry of God’s working and preservation. He has accomplished this through His Word, which is awesome and liberating to learn.
Sometimes the word dispensation has been a puzzling term to the Bible student. The word is not complicated and once the word is understood, it becomes clear. Some of our modern translations of the Scripture have used the word administration to translate the original Greek word dispensation. Both words relate to an economy with rules for a society which governs it for a time. Dispensation and administration terms have a stewardship responsibility to carry out the rules of the Leader.
The stewards make up the stewardship of an institution. The organized institution has a chain of command creating the order in the operation. A dispensation is not controlled by time, but the success of the economy. However, if the economy does not fail there would not be a need for a new one. The steward’s responsibility was/is to execute the dispensation according to God’s design.
The spiritual stewardship makes up the spiritual believers of the eternal God and His eternal Kingdom. There are always two kingdoms operating at the same time, the physical and the spiritual. The physical is temporal and the spiritual is eternal. In eternity past God designed the Redemptive Covenant to provide eternal life for people working in dispensations. Man’s response to the redemptive work of God determines where a person will spend his eternal existence. The eternal existence for believer is Heaven, the Kingdom of God, and the lost with Satan the Lake of Fire, there experiencing their eternal spiritual damnation punishment.
Dispensations or administrations recorded in the Bible are the spiritual governments that God has used since creation to administer His Redemptive Covenant and save whosoever will receive its provisions.
There are seven dispensations and seven guiding principles in each dispensation. Six of the dispensations on this earth ended or will end in failure, but with each failure God continues to shows His long-suffering towards humanity with His love, mercy and grace to all, who by faith and through faith in Him have been spiritually transformed. This is in accord with the Biblical revelation He has given in each dispensation.
See the seven dispensations on the enclosed chart and their order of governing. They are:
- The Dispensation of Innocence, starts in Genesis 1:1 running through chapter three and lasts for about 100 years.
- The Dispensation of Conscience, starts at the fall Genesis three and runs through chapter eight. This period of time is about 1200 years since creation.
- The Dispensation of Human Government, starts with the events around the building of the Ark of Noah Genesis 6:9 running through 11:11-26. Very little detail is given of the time from creation to the end of this dispensation. The number of years are somewhere between 1900 to 2000 years.
- The Dispensation of Promise, starts with the choosing of Abraham, Genesis 11:26. This dispensation spans somewhere around 2000 years and many details have been given for believers of all dispensations to live responsibly as the elect of God in holiness, righteousness and justice.
- The Dispensation of Grace, starts at the end of Acts 7:54 and goes to the Rapture for believers I Thessalonians 4:13-18. All the nonbelievers will go through the tribulation judgment and be killed before or in the Battle of Armageddon. Thirteen of the New Testament books are directly written for this dispensation by the Apostle Paul. His Epistles gave the rules of this administration, (Romans through Titus). Today’s dispensation has been in existence for over 2000 years.
- The Dispensation of the Kingdom, starts at the Rapture, and will transition through the preparation time of the Nation of Israel, getting ready for the Messiah’s return. Culminating at the Battle of Armageddon where Jesus Christ takes the throne of David, and ruling the earth for 1000 years, Revelation chapter one through twenty.
- The Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, starts at the end of the Battle of Gog and Magog. Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 21 through chapter 22 transitioning into eternity, (Great White Throne Judgment, and the New Heaven and Earth).
The seven dispensations guiding principles of each dispensation are:
1. The universal truths which never change,
2. The rules which are modified for the new dispensation,
3. The rules which are new and not given before in the preceding dispensation or dispensations,
4. The institution ordained for the stewardship of the dispensation,
5. The failure of the dispensation,
6. The transition runs from the failure within a dispensation to the full operation of the new dispensation. The old dispensation is decreasing and the new one is increasing until it takes full control.
7. The punitive judgment on the dispensation which failed, (Punitive Judgments are not reversible and we see the change in the institution of Steward.).
The Chart: (The illustration from the extra-large greater than sign, Eternity Past> and goes to the ending extra-large greater than sign, >Eternity Future) represents this world’s existence and the working of all the dispensations. The Bible from the book of Genesis through Revelation reveals the teaching and works of God.
The red line represents the Redemptive Covenant and its fulfillment. The solid line begins back in eternity past and starts breaking at the point of sin entering this world. This broken line represents the time when the offering of animal sacrifices was for the covering a person's sin until the finished work of Jesus Christ which forgives sin and the sinner.
The rectangular diagram between the extra-large greater than signs,> > shows the seven dispensations and their order of occurrence. The dispensations on the chart have numbers from one to seven with their corresponding names below the rectangle. Below each name are some of the details within that dispensation. The chart at the far right show where people will spend their eternity. This will be either heaven for those who have received God’s provision for salvation or the Lake of Fire for those who have rejected His provision, Romans 10:9-13, John 1:12, I John 5:9-14, I Peter 3-5 and John 3:18-21, Romans 3:23, 6:23.
Today’s Dispensation Hidden - The mystery dispensation was hidden in God from the other dispensations. It was not prophesied until fully revealed through the Pauline Epistles, Ephesians 3:1- 9, Romans 16:25, Colossians 1:25, 26.
The Names given to a Dispensation:
The dispensations have been given names by dispensationalists to show a major aspect in which identifies God's plan for the dispensation. The words used in the title describe a particular truth about that dispensation. From the beginning of that dispensation you can see this particular truth operating in the dispensations as a major theme.
In the Dispensation of Innocence, man was innocent before sin and death began, Genesis 1:2, 2:15-17, 25, Romans 5:12-21.
The name the Dispensation of Conscience was given to this dispensation because right after Adam and Eve sinned, they demonstrated that their consciences began to work, and operating in every person from that time forward. Conscience now became the major way man became responsible directly to God by their actions and response. They felt evil, their conscience became alive now convicting of good and evil, Genesis 3:6-11, 4:4-7, 24-34, 6:5.
The Dispensation of Human Government: Noah was given the dispensational rules, for the new dispensation where humanity was commissioned and given the right, and responsibility to govern their affairs in holiness, righteousness and with justice, Genesis 4:9-16; 6:9-11.
The Dispensation of Promise started with Abram. He and his descendants were given promises and they were to set up a kingdom nation in which the Savior would come to earth through one of his offspring, The Savior, God incarnate was one of the promises given, Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-17, 15:1-21, 17:1-27, Galatians 3:15-18.
The Dispensation of Grace – This name was given because the Apostle Paul used this term in, Ephesians 3:2. It describes the grace of equality offered to all people, forming the Body of Christ, or the new entity (organism), Ephesians 1:11-14, 2:15, Acts 7-13 cf. Ephesians 3:1-9. The equality was a mystery in this dispensation not before prophesied or revealed. When the Nation of Israel rejected its stewardship of the New Covenant, God revealed this new dispensation, Acts 13:46-48, 18:4-6, 28:23-31, Romans 16:25-27, Ephesians 3:1- 13, Colossians 1:25-27.
The Dispensation of the Kingdom - Jesus Christ will rule sitting on the throne of David ruling the earth, I Samuel 12:12, II Samuel 7:11-16, 22-26, II Chronicles 7:14-18, Psalm 2:1-12, 110:1-7, Isaiah 9:6,7, Revelation 19:6.
The Dispensation of the Fullness of Time – Wording is taken from Ephesians 1:10, and from the original Greek text. Everything will be completed in God’s eternal Kingdom, redemption experienced, having no end, and it is eternal, with a new heaven and a new earth, Psalm 103:19-22, Revelation 21:1-8, 22:1-21, I Corinthians 15:24-28.
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