View Full Version : Dispensations

Aug 5th 2008, 03:38 AM
There is a group of Christians who identify themselves as dispensationalists ………..I am not one; my identity is with Christ. This is simply a study of the word, and the format I have concluded from my work.


The word dispensations, better translated administration, comes from the Greek word oikonomia . oikos meaning “house” and nomos meaning a “law”.
The word oikonomia is used seven times in the NT, four times translated “dispensation” {I Cor. 9:17; Eph.1:10 & 3:2 and Col. 1:25} three times translated “stewardship” {Luke 16:2, 3 &4}
It’s meaning from the Word of God denotes “the office of household administration and the discharge of this office”. Although it can signify an epoch, the word itself does not distinguish any period of time. It is simply the “mode of” dealing with the “administration of a household.”

The purpose of distinguishing administrations is a basic part of II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
By making the division of administrations, it allows us in part to understand to whom the Word of God is written, which is a primary key in basic biblical research.
{The Bible is addressed to one of three groups of people Jew, Gentile, and or Church of God. If we get to whom incorrect, it will cause much confusion and the Word of God will not to fit together as it is designed to do.}

Both the Berean’s and Bullenger whom I greatly respect are very closely aligned in their establishment of the administrations; which I agree are seven in number ….. although I differ on where the seven are determined. Now I am not saying I am right or wrong but there is a consideration to be examined, which I feel that neither the Bereans nor Bullenger have addressed. What I am referring to are the gospels, or to be more exact the “Christ administration”.

Before I go on let me make this very clear: regardless of how the Administrations are laid out the critical matter is, to get to whom correct when reading the Bible. The format of dispensations {administrations} is an action of rightly dividing the Word in order to better understand it. But other than the “Grace Administration” {Eph 3:2} there are no God breathed, specific lines of demarcation with which to state an absolute. It is up to the biblical student to decipher the signposts laid out in the Word when determining the framework of an administration. I will state that the Berean’s and Bullenger have both done a good job with this, but like I stated previously, I believe that the time of Christ also fit the criteria of a dispensation.
The following will explain my reasoning and provide you with my format of administrations. Again let me reiterate this is not God breathed, it does not affect salvation; this is mans’ work of the Word of God …not the Word of God, which is inerrant unalterable and unchanging; somewhat analogous to the placement of chapter divisions, verse numbering, punctuations and chapter headings; all added so we can better understand the Bible, but not God breathed.

My reason for including the time of Christ {i.e. the four gospels} as an administration is relatively simple: First; it fits the criteria of the above definition. Second: The gospels do not fit under the “Law administration” as Christ was here personally on earth to keep and to fulfill the law; and as the Word states, the law and the Prophets were until John the Baptist
Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Now Christ instituted two laws Matthew 22:37-40
37: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38: This is the first and great commandment.
39: And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

And my final reason is: The time of Christ does not fit into the Grace administration, as Christ came to Israel, a distinction that many Christians overlook and erroneously submit as being synonymous.
The best example of this would be in the political arena {i.e. Presidential Administrations} at this time we are under the Bush administration, prior to that was the Clinton administration. Bush is not Clinton, and Clinton is not Bush; different policies are in effect today than they were during the Clinton era. The Church of the Body is not the same as the Church of the Bride, different policies are in effect today then during the Church of the Bride era. We are not Bride, and Jesus Christ is not the Bridegroom. We are the Body, and Christ is the head.

For more information on the distinction between the Bride and the Body click on the links below
http://bibleforums.org/showpost.php?p=1735624&postcount=3 (http://bibleforums.org/showpost.php?p=1735624&postcount=3)
the mystery
http://bibleforums.org/showpost.php?p=1735626&postcount=4 (http://bibleforums.org/showpost.php?p=1735626&postcount=4)


Original Paradise Administration – This ends with the eviction from the Garden or Paradise. When God drove Adam and Eve out of Eden, the original administration where God dwelt with man came to an abrupt end. {Genesis 3:24}

Patriarchal Administration – Ends with the coming of the law to Moses. Things before the law of Moses {the unwritten law} were sins, which became transgressions after the law was given these were times of ignorance {Romans 2:12 Acts 17:30}

Law Administration - was initiated under Moses and terminated when Jesus Christ came Galatians 3:13; Romans 10:4; Matthew 27:51

Christ Administration – as explained above – Ends with Pentecost officially, but practically with the latter part of Acts, due to those still zealous for the law.

Church of Grace Administration – Began at Pentecost with the mystery of the Church being made known to Paul several years later ….this is where we are today

The Appearing or Revelation Administration – Starts with the gathering together of those believers born again after Pentecost {that’s us} I Thessalonians 4:17; II Thessalonians 2:1 ff.
The coming { parousia } has two parts: the coming of Christ for his saints, and the coming of Christ with his saints. This administration ends when Satan is destroyed and the great white throne judgment takes place.

Glory or Paradise Administration – this administration complements The original administration for what was abruptly ended in Genesis 3:24 takes up again in Revelation 21. Paradise will once more be on earth ….new heaven and new earth
God Bless

David Taylor
Aug 5th 2008, 04:18 AM
Are you a "Pauline Dispensationalist"?

Aug 5th 2008, 04:32 AM
I am not one; my identity is with Christ
This is simply a study of the word, and the format I have concluded from my work.

Aug 5th 2008, 06:27 AM
“Dispensationalism” is the idea that God's approach in dealing with humankind has been a gradually developing process in which the rules “change” occasionally, going from one “dispensation” to another. Two prominent examples of occasions when the rules supposedly “changed” would be the giving of the Ten Commandments, which initiated the Mosaic Covenant, and Christ's death/resurrection, which made the so-called “Church Age” possible. (There are other examples in Biblical history, these are only two of them.)

The argument used most often is that the beginning of the Church Age supposedly necessitated the end of the Mosaic Covenant in which God's dealing with humans was primarily through Israel. The Mosaic Covenant is now over (supposedly) and God is now dealing primarily through the Church. The reasoning this leads to about the Rapture is that when the Rapture occurs, membership in the Church is cut off, meaning that the “rules” that apply during the Church Age can no longer be in effect necessitating a reverting back to the Mosaic Covenant rules and a change of God’s focus from the Church to Israel. This argument is most often used in support of the Pre-Trib position, since God said in Daniel 9:26-27 that there would be so many “sevens” for Israel and, as most of us would agree, there is still one “seven” left to go. Therefore, since God supposedly cannot be dealing with Israel and the Church simultaneously, the Church must be gone by the time that final seven years begins.

Some problems with this line of reasoning are as follows:

1. The suggestion that God “cannot” deal with two groups at once is ridiculous. God can do whatever He durn well pleases. There is nothing in Scripture that makes it impossible for God to deal with more than one group at a time. In fact, as we will see in a moment, there are actually Scriptures that specifically indicate that He does indeed deal with more than one group at once today at this very moment!

2. Even a Dispensationalist would agree that Israel's national salvation depends on their final acceptance as a nation of Jesus not only as their Messiah, but also as their Savior. Therefore, the “rules” of the Mosaic Covenant are not in effect, at least certainly not in their original form (which would beg the question, what other changes can we expect? to which a reasonable answer does not seem possible without useless random speculation and guesswork). There was no Jesus during the Old Testament that Israel had to accept, so the Mosaic Covenant’s rules therefore cannot be re-applied. There's no going back.

3. It seems foolish to suggest that every single Gentile on the entire planet who remains after the Rapture (unless it is literally a Post-Trib Rapture) has absolutely no further opportunity for salvation. This would mean that God's focus will not be exclusively on Israel. In fact, even Pre-Tribbers agree that Gentiles will be saved (by the billions, is what Pre-Tribbers usually say) during the Tribulation! That sets up a contradiction in a Pre-Trib Dispensationalist’s position. They say that God will be dealing only with Israel, but then they say there will be billions of Gentile converts. So which is it??

4. Paul stated in his epistles that the Mosaic sacrifices were never intended to achieve true justification before God for Israel. They were only a “shadow”. Ultimately, even the Old Testament saints are dependent on Christ's death on the cross for their salvation, even if they were not aware at the time of the specifics of precisely how their salvation was won for them by God. For God, this is no problem since He sees all of history occurring simultaneously, including history that is still future from our point of view, so to Him when Old Testament saints died, Christ's death was an already-accomplished fact since He was “slain from the foundation of the world”. This being the case, Christ's death is the only reason that anybody ever gets into Heaven all the way from Adam & Eve until the end of the Millennial Kingdom. The procedures and rules for what believers of each period were expected to do changed, yes, but the means of salvation has always been Christ's death ever since that first bite from the forbidden fruit. Without Christ’s death on the cross, there would be no salvation for anybody at any time in all of history, no can do, no sir, no how, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. God even specified that Jesus’ death would be the key event when he said at Genesis 3:15:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”, which most prophecy students would agree is the first prophecy of the coming Messiah/Savior. If Jesus had not died on the cross, there would be no salvation for anybody throughout all of history and every single human in all of history would be doomed, no matter how many sacrifices we kill on the alter, no matter how many “wave” offerings we bring to the Temple, no matter how many “arks” we build, no matter how many times we prove that we are willing to sacrifice our Isaacs on an alter. It would all be for nothing were it not for Jesus’ death on that cross.

So the means of salvation has never changed, ever. As a matter of fact, the Mosaic Covenant is STILL in effect today and we are still living under it! Now before you start accusing me of being a Judiadizing legalist, I'll point out that we live in a time when the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled on our behalf by Christ’s perfect, sinless life, and we are therefore not bound by its rules, just as Paul went to great lengths to explain in Romans and Galatians, among other places. Because Christ paid a price for us that He didn’t owe for Himself, we don't have to worry about the Mosaic Law, because Christ fulfilled it for us. The Law is still in effect, but we can get out of it, so to speak, by claiming Christ’s death as our own. That's why Paul explains at great lengths in Romans that those who choose to live as being under the Law must obey the ENTIRE law or bring condemnation on themselves, because the Law is still in effect today. If it wasn’t still in effect, then one cannot bring the Law’s condemnation on oneself by breaking even just one law and the apostle Paul is a liar. It's just that you and I don't have to worry about it, because we have been given judicial immunity because of Christ’s death and our acceptance of it on our behalf.

All these things being the case, the Rapture will have NO EFFECT on who God is dealing with. He’ll simply be clearing the chessboard, so to speak, of His own people. The ones left will still be eligible to be “grafted in”, which at the time it occurs will be the Jewish remnant at Petra/Bosrah in fulfillment of Romans 9-11.

There’s another problem with Dispensationalism that I’ll mention. Notice in Romans Chapter 1 that God is holding everyone throughout history in the entire world responsible for rejecting Him:

Romans 1:19-20 – “...what may be known about God is plain to them [humankind in general], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Notice here that God is talking about a level of revelation that involves no Israel, no Mosaic sacrificial system, no Scriptures, and no Christ, only nature and the creation around us. God says we should know based only on His revelation of Himself in the creation around us. This is precisely the condition that existed up until Moses wrote the Pentateuch. And yet Paul is using it as a reason for God's condemnation of the lost AFTER the start of the “Church Age”. “...what may be known about God IS plain to them...” “...so that people ARE without excuse.”

Here’s why that’s a problem – traditional Dispensationalism has one phase of God’s revelation replacing the previous one, all going sequentially in order. This is why a lot of people believe that, today, unless you believe on the name “Jesus”, you are automatically condemned to hell, even if you've never even heard the name Jesus. Romans Chapter 1 directly contradicts this. Romans Chapter 1 suggests that we are only responsible for the level of revelation that we have been given. That being the case, the only logical conclusion is that God’s phases of revelation do not replace each other, but rather are added on top of each other, each one clarifying the previous and giving us a better understanding of the issues at hand.

The highest level of revelation we have been given thus far is the combination of the completed 66 books of the Word of God along with the historical revelation of Christ Himself in the flesh when He visited the earth 2000 years ago. But that doesn't mean that everything else before that simply gets thrown out with the bathwater.

This is proof that it is indeed possible for God to deal with more than one group of people at a time. He is not restricted to dealing only with Israel or only with Gentiles. This is an assumption made by Pre-Tribbers.

I should also point out that this does not provide an “excuse” for us to not respond to Christ. We cannot say “Well, I don't want to respond to Christ, but I can agree that the world around me was definitely created by an intelligent being, so I'll just respond on that level.” Nope, sorry Charlie, you're still condemned, because Christ was revealed to you and you are responsible to respond to the revelation that you were given.

So my point is that different phases of Dispensationalism do not cancel each other out, they simply clarify previous phases. It's like adding layers on a cake. Each layer makes the cake better, because it adds more flavor, but the lower layers are still kept. The key is that we are all responsible for the level of revelation that we have been given.

So there is no requirement that the start of the 70th “Week” requires the removal of the Church.

Aug 5th 2008, 06:45 PM
Someone emailed me the following information re. partial dispensationalism. I don't know where the article came from, but I've given credit to the author here and at the end. I should point out that the author (Mark Harris) is a partial dispensationalist (PD), so his perspective is prejudiced toward that slant. He does give an example of the fulfillment of Joel in Acts 2 at Pentecost from the PD and the TD (total dispensatioanism) approach. Hermaneutically (interpretation-wise) they handle things similarly, which is the crucial distinctive of dispensationalism in general. It allows for a more literal interpretation of scripture. The focus of this article is on the differences between PD and TD, but in the process the distinctives of dispensationalism in general are delineated.

Mark Harris:
Before I go into the differences, I want to point out the features that both PDs and TDs have in common:
PDs and TDs both believe in a distinction between Israel and the Church, a future rapture, a 7 year tribulation, and the rule of Christ over the earth centered in Jerusalem in the millennial reign. TDs and PDs who teach at Dallas Theological Seminary have to agree with and sign the DTS doctrinal statement, which lists explicit dispensational beliefs.
BD: For comparison, Preterists and Amillennialists, common Reformed eschatologies, do not hold to a literal view of any of the above, and in addition do not hold to a literal antichrist or a literal re-united Israel. They see the church as replacing Israel in the economy of God

One can present the basic difference between PD and TD in a nutshell:
It is in how one relates the present dispensation with the past and future dispensations. TDs view this present dispensation (i.e., age of grace) as a parenthesis or "intercalation" in God's plan. In general that means God's plans as revealed in the past dispensations have been "put on hold" until the rapture occurs.

PDs however view this present dispensation as a progression or link between past dispensations and the future dispensations. In general that means God's plans have continued in this present dispensation, marking it as a crucial link between past and future dispensations and not a parenthesis. This idea of "progression" between the dispensations is where the name progressive dispensationalism comes from.

The reasons for PDs holding to a progression of dispensations as opposed to a parenthesis has to do with
1) the relationship between the covenants, and
2) hermeneutics.

I won't cover all the covenants, but I will highlight one of the crucial ones: the new covenant. Dispensationalists in the past have always have a suprising variety of views with regard to the new covenant. Some dispensationalists (Charles Ryrie, Walvoord in the 1950s) argued for two new covenants, one for the church and the other for Israel. Other dispensationalists (Darby and John Master today) argued for one new covenant applied only to Israel. And still other dispensationalists (Scofield and John McGahey 1950s) have argued for one new covenant for
1) believing Israel today and an ongoing partial fulfillment, and for
2) a future believing Israel when Jesus returns for a complete fulfillment.

What PDs have done is take the last position: one new covenant with an ongoing partial fulfillment and a future complete fulfillment for Israel. PDs hold that the new covenant was inaugurated by Christ at the last supper as well as through His death. There are aspects of the new covenant which are currently being fulfilled; and yet the final and complete fulfillment of the new covenant (especially the land promises) remain in the future. This concept is sometimes referred to as "already-but not yet" fulfillment, and is how PDs view the new covenant.

As for hermeneutics, for the most part TDs and PDs share much in common. As with all dispensationalists, progressive revelation is emphasized. That is, a dispensationalist sees that God promised the land to the descendants of Israel and God will not "go back" on that promise. A non-dispensationalist doesn't see it quite that way - they see an inferior or lesser promise being replaced by a superior or greater promise. But PDs - like TDs - place great emphasis on the original meaning of the text.

The primary differences in hermeneutics between TDs and PDs are
1) PDs are more apt to see partial or ongoing fulfillment - sometimes described as "already but not yet" and
2) PDs are more apt to utilize complementary hermeneutics.

These differences between TDs and PDs show up starkly in how one views the OT texts and promises in the NT and how they are handled by the NT writers.

For TDs who perceive the present dispensation as a parenthesis, the norm has been to view OT quotations in the NT as applications rather than fulfillment. If an OT quotation is said to have a fulfillment role in the NT, then that just might imply that the present dispensation is no longer a parenthesis, but has a relationship or connection with the prior dispensation. Also added to this is an "either/or" approach to fulfillment: that is, a promise/passage is either fulfilled or not.

Here is an example of how TDs would approach such a passage:
Peter in Acts 2 quoted Joel with regard to the Spirit descending during Pentecost. The passage he quoted is not exactly the same as Joel and Peter's quote includes certain eschatological signs and events with the sun and moon. The TD would say the quote is not a fulfillment and that Peter simply applied Joel's quote to Pentecost in Acts 2. The TD would deny fulfillment because, taken as a whole, the eschatological events regarding the sun/moon did not take place at that time. The fulfillment of the passage from Joel would still be in the future.

PDs however, instead of approaching all OT quotations in the NT as application, want to more closely examine the context and grammatical-historical features of OT and NT texts. Now an OT quote in the NT might turn out to be an application, but it also might be a partial fulfillment or a complete fulfillment or even something else.

Using the same example as above for Peter in Acts 2 quoting Joel:
PDs see indicators for fulfillment language in the quoted Joel passage by Peter (i.e., "This is that..." and the Holy Spirit descending upon the believers). At the same time, PDs note that Peter changed some of the wording of Joel to fit the situation and that the Joel quote included aspects that weren't fulfilled at the time (sun/moon). Therefore PDs see an already/not yet aspect to the Joel quote by Peter: certain events have begun (Spirit's descent, Last days) but at the same time the promises were yet to be completely fulfilled.

Complementary hermeneutics is the other major interpretative difference between TD and PD. Complementary (not complimentary with an i) means additional alongside the original. Complementary Hermeneutics means that prior revelation has an added or expanded meaning alongside the original meaning.

Looking at the new covenant again, we see that the original recipients of the new covenant were Jews - "the house of Israel and the house of Judah." Now for a non-dispensationalist such as a Covenant Theologian, the additional NT revelation gives license to reinterpret and alter the original meaning to include the Gentiles as well as Jews. For a dispensationalist however, this is a big no-no. Original meaning cannot be altered: i.e., if it says Jews, it means Jews.

PDs are dispensationalists. For PDs, believing Jews first participated in the new covenant based on the original passage and are the recipients of Jer 31:31-34. Gentiles were not named as original participants. But then came the additional revelation of Acts 9-10 with Peter and Cornelius - God formally accepted believing Gentiles as coheirs along with the Jews. That is, God used additional NT revelation to further expand the participants to include believing Gentiles. God did not "replace" the original recipients or change the
original meaning of the new covenant, he simply expanded it. This expansion of meaning while keeping the original intact is called complementary hermeneutics.

TDs are also dispensationalists, but have a wide variety of different views on this, most of it hindered by the standard TD "application" approach. Some would explicitly say the church is not presently participating in the new covenant. Others might say the church is participating in a second spiritual new covenant. Still others would say there is a relationship between the new covenant and the church, but leave this thought undeveloped. Its this last view that PDs have taken and developed, so to speak.

Mark Harris