I will assume that one who claims to be a dispensationalist accepts the dictionary definition for “dispensation.” According to dictionary.com, we have:


1. an act or instance of dispensing; distribution.

2. something that is distributed or given out.

3. a certain order, system, or arrangement; administration or management.

4. Theology.

  1. the divine ordering of the affairs of the world.
  2. an appointment, arrangement, or favor, as by God.
  3. A divinely appointed order or age:
    the old Mosaic, or Jewish, dispensation; the new gospel, or Christian, dispensation.

5. a dispensing with, doing away with, or doing without something.

6. Roman Catholic Church.

  1. a relaxation of law in a particular case granted by a competent superior or the superior's delegate in laws that the superior has the power to make and enforce: a dispensation regarding the Lenten fast.
  2. an official document authorizing such a relaxation of law.

Note, in particular, definition 4c under “Theology”:

A divinely appointed order or age

Then, an “age,” or period of time, can rightly be referred to as a “dispensation.” And, it is this definition which is claimed today by those who state that they are “dispensationalists.”

Or, is this the case? Perhaps it is definition 4b under “Theology”:

an appointment, arrangement, or favor, as by God

But, this is essentially a restatement of “3.”:

a certain order, system, or arrangement; administration or management

When reference is made to an “administration” of God, reference is also being made to a period of time. I have heard many a dispensational pastor make use of the word “administration” in his sermons.

So, for our purposes, we need not consider any definitions under "Theology.”

The word, “dispensation,” is found 4 times in God's Word:

1Co_9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
Eph_1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph_3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you- ward:
Col_1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

It is apparent that definition 3 cannot be applied in any of these instances. In all but one, definition 1 would apply. In the other, Ephesians 1:10 (apparently in agreement with Revelation 10:6), definition 5 would apply.

The sources of the teaching that a dispensation is either a period of time or an administration of God is found predominantly in the nineteenth century teachings of only two men: John Nelson Darby and C.I. Scofield. And, it is these teachings I regard as heretical in that they deny the Scriptural use of the word, “dispensation.”

Finally, when I state that I am not a dispensationalist, I must, in clarification, state that I am not a Scofield dispensationalist, but, rather, a Biblical dispensationalist.