Appendix A


The Greek word for dispensation is oikonomia (from oikos, meaning house, and nemo, meaning to dispense, to weigh, or deal out, as a steward or housekeeper ).   It has come to be translated into English as ECONOMY, which means "obs,: an art of managing a household . . . archaic:  the management of the affairs of a group, community, or establishment with a view to insuring its maintenance or productiveness . . . the management of a person's household or private affairs."   J. Eustace Mills wrote:   "A dispensation is ‘a way of dealing’ or, to express it in a single word that is more familiar, an ‘administration.’  A ‘dispensation of God’ is therefore God's manner, scheme, plan, or system of dealing with His own household."   The Greek word oikonomia (dispensation) is used in the following verses;  Luke 16:2, 3, 4; I Cor 9:17; Eph 1:10; 3:2; Col 1:25; and I Tim 1:14.

Two other related Greek words from the root word oikos (trans. house) are oikonomeo (Luke 16:2 "steward") and oikonomos (Luke 12:42, 16:1,3,8 all translated "steward"; Rom 16:23 "chamberlain"; Col 4:1,2 "stewards"; Gal 4:2 "governors"; Titus 1:7 and I Peter 4:10 "steward" and "stewards," respectively).  The Biblical usage of the word oikonomia (dispensation) can be seen from the above occurrences to mean the management, stewardship, or administration of an individual; it is "the management of a household or of household affairs--specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of another's property--the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship."

An understanding of the word can readily be gleaned from Luke 16:2-4.  Oikonomia, therefore, refers to the act of administering.  "By the figure metonymy [when one thing is used instead of another to which it stands in a certain relation], the act of administering is transferred to the time during which that administering is carried on."   The very idea of "dispensation" connotes GOD's dealings with mankind (and select groups) at various times throughout history and continues for as long as HE continues HIS dealings with man within a certain element of TIME.

Heb 1:1-2a God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  (2a) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,

There are many dispensations (fractions of time during which an administration, by an administrator, is carried out) within the Bible.  Charles H. Welch wrote regarding dispensations:

When we refer to the different "dispensations" we refer to those subdivisions of the ages, in which the revealed will of God, carrying different obligations, has been made known, and put into force, and in practically every case, the administration or stewardship of these separate and differing administrations, are found to have been entrusted to some chosen servant of the Lord.  Moses, for example, is inseparable from the dispensation of law, and "Moses verily was faithful in all his house" (Heb 3:5).

The different dispensations have a function to further the divine purpose and will of GOD.   Many dispensations do not have concrete dividing lines as to the ending and beginning of that or another dispensation.  Overlap between dispensations does occur, and one or more dispensations may run concurrently.  However, there are major subdivisions that stand out because of the stark changes that took place or will take place within that dispensation.  This affords a line of separation that enables one to distinguish among those dispensations.  Just as important, or more so, is the time during which an administrator (e.g., Moses) is serving.  That can be a more reliable dispensational hallmark for discerning changes between dispensations than relying on events alone.

By dispensational truth therefore we mean that particular revelation of God's will to man during some particular administration or economy, and specially appertaining thereto.  When we speak of some teaching or practice as being undispensational, we mean that owing to the introduction of a new administration, certain things that obtained under a previous regime have become obsolete.  By the term undispensational teaching, therefore, we mean that the teaching peculiar to one dispensation has been imported into another and differing dispensation, where the conditions of divine dealing render the practical application of such teaching quite inadmissible.

Again, ALL Truth is Dispensational, and one must understand that a "dispensation" (oikonomia) is not an "age" (Gk. aion) but the time DURING which the administering is carried out.  Welch notes:

If a dispensation is but another name for an age it is clear that two "ages" cannot run together, but in any one period of time there may be more than one stewardship in exercise.   Gal 2:7-9 makes it clear that Paul had an apostleship and a stewardship that differed from that of Peter, but which was exercised during the self-same period.  Or again, Rom 1:18--2:29 and Acts 17:25-28 make it clear that at the same period Israel had the law, the covenants and the service of the tabernacle with all its rich typical teaching, the nations of the earth were under a dispensation of conscience and the witness of the works of creation..

Some examples of definite dispensations are outlined by Welch in An Alphabetical Analysis:

-- Innocence: Adam unfallen. Paradise enjoyed.
-- Adam to Noah: The Fall to the Flood.
-- Noah to Babel: N.B. [note]--Some features of Genesis 9 remain unchanged.
-- Babel to Abraham: The Nations and the Nation.
-- Abraham to Egypt: The Exodus marks a crucial change.
-- Exodus to Sinai: The covenant 430 years after the promise.
-- Sinai to Jericho: The forty years' wandering.
-- Jericho to Saul: The land entered.
-- David to Christ: Here there are subdivisions that we have not noted.
-- The Earthly Ministry of Christ, His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection.
-- Pentecost to Peter in Prison: Acts 2-11.
-- Paul's First Ministry: The Gentile a wild olive tree contrary to nature.
-- Paul's Prison Ministry: The dispensation of the grace of God and dispensation of
    the mystery.††
-- The Resumption of Pentecost: The seven churches of Rev. 2,3.
-- The Day of the Lord: The Apocalypse.
-- The Millennial Kingdom and Revelation 20.
-- The Period between the end of the Millennium and the Great White Throne.
-- The End: The goal reached. God all in all.

†† This particular dispensation encompasses the time during which we live.   It is not the purpose of this research study to minutely unfold and expound upon dispensational truth.   However, we intend to introduce the topic and present enough information on the subject (yet as briefly as possible) so that the meaning and usage of dispensation as it pertains to this research work is clear.

Our intention in providing an overview of dispensational truth is to enable one to distinguish between INTERPRETATION and APPLICATION.  This allows one to rightly apply the Word of Truth.  We know from II Tim 3:16 that "all scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine . . . reproof . . . correction . . . instruction in righteousness."  E.W. Bullinger writes:

The Interpretation of a passage is one thing, but the Application of that passage is quite a different thing.   The Interpretation of a passage belongs to the occasion when, and the persons to whom, or of whom, the words were originally intended.  When that has been settled, then it is open to us to make an application of those words to ourselves or others, so far as we can do so without coming into conflict with any other passages.  ... It may even be, when the application is made in full accord with Scripture teaching given elsewhere, that it is not only true, but may have a far more deeper and more real meaning than the interpretation itself; and may convey truths and lessons far beyond it.  ... All the sweetness, all the blessing, all the truth can be obtained by a wise application, without in the slightest degree impairing the true interpretation.  This may be left and preserved in all its integrity, and yet something really spiritual may be appropriated by application . . .

The relevance of this concept is important and often overlooked by many.  It is vital for us to understand that although there are many scriptural passages that are not addressed to us (e.g., as one receives a letter in the mail with his or her name on it) they may have application for us.  Many scriptural passages have practical application for us but cannot be interpreted with respect to us because they're not addressed to us (meaning they are not to be interpreted in light of this dispensation in which we live, a period of grace).  This is a time during which Epistles such as Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians have particular importance and relevance to us.  This does not exclude ALL the rest of Scripture as not having practical value for us today.

Rom 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Scripture provides us many principles that are practical and applicable.  This will be particularly true in dealing with sexual ethics.  The Word of God is Truth (John 17:17) and endures forever (I Pet 1:25).   We know that HIS Word is profitable (II Tim 3:16) and does not return void but produces fruit and accomplishes HIS purposes (Isa 55:11).

The Bible is a book for all time, and one of GOD's purposes in HIS Word is to give us wisdom and understanding (e.g., Prov 2:6, 4:5,7).  HE has not left us without instruction and application on how to live LIFE.  Many pitfalls can be avoided if we take heed to HIS instruction (Prov 1:7, 6:23, 10:17).

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