The Three Dispensations

The Three Dispensations

While there has always only been one hope (Eph 4:4) in God’s eternal plan (Eph 3:11), namely, everlasting life with God, God has nonetheless dealt with man in various ways through the ages (Heb 1:1, Dt 5:3). In the earliest ages from Adam through 12 generations of the patriarchs to Arphaxed, God had a law that applied to all the descendants of Adam. This time of God’s dealing with men through this series of 12 patriarchs is sometimes called the Patriarchical dispensation.

That law of God to the nations was never repealed, but it was replaced among the descendants of Jacob by the Mosaic law, a preview of which God gave to Abraham in the days of Arphaxed. The Mosaical dispensation was characterized by the Law of Moses as administered by and fulfilled in the Son. During the Mosaical dispensation from Abraham to the Pentecost, Israel and the Law were God’s primary way of dealing with men (Ro 1:24), even though the Law applied only to the Jews (Dt 5:3). The Law has never been repealed (Mt 5:18) and continues to apply to Israel. However, the Law was replaced on Pentecost by King Jesus as God’s primary way of dealing with men. The law of Christ applies only to Christians and will continue in force until the end of the world. Pentecost was the beginning of the Christian dispensation

In the three dispensations, each of the three Persons in the Godhead was successively predominant. In the Patriarchical, it was the Father. In the Mosaical, it was the Son. In the Christian, it is the Holy Spirit. These three dispensations were typified by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Patriarchical dispensation emphasized the beginnings that were in the past. The Mosaical dispensation emphasized the Lord working with Israel in their present day. The Christian dispensation emphasizes the Christians future hope of everlasting life that will be inaugurated by the Second Coming of Christ.

The Three Dispensations

Name: Patriarchical Mosaical Christian
Dominant Person: Father Son Holy Spirit
Duration: Adam-Abraham Abraham-Pentecost Pentecost-2nd Coming
Temporal Emphasis: Past Present Future
Theme: The beginnings The Messiah The Second Coming

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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