The word dispensation derives from the Greek word oikonomia,  oddly it does not carry the concept of a period of time instead it refers to a basic rule of life, it means ‘economy or 'stewardship’. Only as a secondary principle does economy or stewardship connect to period of time.

Thus all theologies will speak of at least an Old Testament dispensation and a New Testament dispensation, recognising there were at least two different rules of life in these periods of time and the coming of the Messiah obviously made some changes.

In dispensational theology most of us hold to seven dispensations which simply means that God had seven different rules of life based upon the covenants he revealed in most cases. It is not seven different ways of getting saved because salvation is always by grace through faith, but simply seven different rules of life in different periods of time.

The seven dispensations are as follows:

  • The Dispensation of Innocence — from the creation of man to the fall of man based upon the Edenic Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of Conscience — from Adam to Noah based upon the Adamic Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of Human Government — from Noah to Abraham based upon the Noahic Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of Promise — from Abraham to Moses based upon the Abrahamic Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of Law — from Moses to the Messiah's death based upon the Mosaic Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of Grace — from Messiah's death until Messiah's Second Coming based upon the New Covenant;
  • The Dispensation of the Kingdom — from the Second Coming until the creation of the new order based upon the Davidic Covenant and new revelation.

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