Many people have a mistaken notion that a dispensation is a period of time. This is not so, however, for the word “dispense” means simply “to deal out”. The word “dispensation”, then, means “the act of dispensing or dealing out”, or “that which is dispensed or dealt out”.
There are medical dispensaries, for example, where medicines are dispensed to the poor. Sometimes these dispensations are conducted on a particular day of each week. Such a dispensation of medicine may take a full twelve hours each week, but it does not follow from this that a dispensation is a period of twelve hours! It is rather the act of dispensing or that which is dispensed.
The word “dispensation” is used many times in the Bible, although it is not always translated the same way. In Ephesians 3:2, Paul writes of “the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward”. God had committed to him wonderful message of grace to dispense to others. Thus we read in Acts 20:24 his stirring words, spoken in the face of persecution and death:
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS, TO TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.”
The “gospel” or “good news” of the grace of God: This was the dispensation committed to Paul for us by the risen, ascended Lord. This is always Paul’s message.
“Where sin abounded GRACE did much more abound…the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His GRACE… justified freely by His GRACE, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…by GRACE are ye saved, through faith” (Rom.5:20; Eph.1:7; Rom.3:24; Eph. 2:8,9).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.