How Many Dispensations Are There - Three Or Seven?

Both According To One Author!

The following text is extracted from: The Bible Book by Book: A Manual for the Outline Study of the Bible by Books, by Josiah Blake Tidwell, Published 1916 by Baylor University Press.

"A dispensation is a period of time during which God deals in a particular way with man in the matter of sin and responsibility. The whole Bible may be divided into either three or seven dispensations".

Three Dispensations

1.The Patriarchal Dispensation. From creation to the giving of the Law, Gen. 1-Ex. 19 and Job.

2. The Mosaic Dispensation. From the giving of the Law to the birth of Christ, Ex. 20-Mal. 4.

3. The Christian Dispensation. From the birth of Christ to his second coming, Matt.-Rev.

Seven Dispensations.

1. The Dispensation of Innocence. From creation to the expulsion from the garden, Gen. 1-3. In this period. Adam and Eve were under obligations to keep their innocence by abstaining from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Their failure has been the most destructive and for reaching of all man's failures.

2. The Dispensation of Conscience. From the fall to the flood, Gen. 4-9. Man had a natural conscience, or knew good from evil, and was under obligation to do good and not evil. The time covered B. C. 4004-2348=1636 years for 1 and 2.

3. The Dispensation of Human Governments. From the flood to the call of Abraham, Gen. 10-12. God gave the eight persons saved from the flood power to govern the renewed earth. The time covered, B. C. 2348-1921.= 427 years.

4. The Dispensation of Promise. From Abraham to the giving of the law. Gen. 12-Ex.19. God promised Abraham land, natural seed, spiritual seed and other conditional promises. For the sake of study, this dispensation is divided into two sections. (1) Abraham and the chosen people, Gen. 12:50. (2) Moses and the Exodus, Ex. 1-19. The time covered, B. C. 1921-1491=430 years.

5. The Dispensation of the Law. From Sinai to Calvary or from Exodus to the cross, Ex. 20-John 21. The history of Israel in the wilderness and their lapses into idolatry and their other sins while in Canaan, their captivity by Babylon and final dispersion are evidences of their failure in this dispensation. All of the Old Testament was written during this period. The time covered, B. C. 1491-A. D. 34=1525 years.

6. The Dispensation of Grace. From Calvary to the second coming of Christ, Act 8-Rev. Grace is God giving instead of requiring righteousness. It is unmerited favor. During this dispensation, perfect and eternal salvation is fully offered to both Jews and Gentiles upon the condition of faith. It will end with the destruction of the wicked. The time covered is not known.

7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom. The Millennium (1000)."

* Dr. J.B. Tidwell was Professor of Biblical Literature, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

For more on the subject of dispensations see my article on the number of dispensations.