“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” (Colossians 1:25).
You will recall that “dispensation” appears four times in the King James Bible (1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25). It is the noun form of the verb “dispense,” meaning “to distribute or supply.” Friend, if it helps, think about when a pharmacist dispenses medication as per a doctor’s orders. In the Bible, a “dispensation” is a particular set of instructions (or “household rules”) that God gives to mankind for his faith and obedience during a particular time. God has not always dealt with man in the manner in which He deals with us today. Over time, God’s instructions to man change because man—not God—changes; we would do well to recognize and respect dispensational (transitional) boundaries.
For example, think about the Dispensation of Law God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. It was dispensed to Israel to govern her social and religious life for over 1,500 years. Those strict “household rules” were temporary. Law faded off the scene during the Acts period, as our Dispensation of Grace was being given to Paul—see today’s Scripture and Ephesians 3:2. There are other dispensations in Scripture, but our purpose here is to simply see two dispensations—Law (given to Moses for Israel to follow) and Grace (given to Paul for us, all nations/Gentiles, to observe).
As with the rest of the Bible, God progressively revealed the Dispensation of Grace. In fact, all the information contained in the Books of Romans through Philemon was given to the Apostle Paul during a 30-year period. Jesus Christ first spoke to Saul of Tarsus at his conversion in Acts chapter 9, and ended that revelation a few years after the Book of Acts closed. The capstone of Pauline revelation is 2 Timothy, his final epistle, penned just before his execution. We had better be sure we are following the latest revelation from God. If we are giving attendance to Pauline doctrine, we are observing our “household rules…” source