Dispensation - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Dispensation[ 1,,G3622, oikonomia ]
primarily signifies the management of a household or of household affairs" (oikos, "a house," nomos, "a law"); then the management or administration of the property of others, and so "a stewardship," Luke 16:2-Luke 16:4; elsewhere only in the Epistles of Paul, who applies it
(a) to the responsibility entrusted to him of preaching the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:17 (RV, "stewardship," AV, "dispensation");
(b) to the stewardship commited to him "to fulfill the Word of God," the fulfillment being the unfolding of the completion of the Divinely arranged and imparted cycle of truths which are consummated in the truth relating to the Church as the Body of Christ, Colossians 1:25 (RV and AV, "dispensation"); so in Ephesians 3:2, of the grace of God given him as a stewardship ("dispensation") in regard to the same "mystery;"
(c) in Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:9, it is used of the arrangement or administration by God, by which in "the fullness of the times" (or seasons) God will sum up all things in the heavens and on earth in Christ. In Ephesians 3:9 some mss. have koinonia, "fellowship," for oikonomia, "dispensation." In 1 Timothy 1:4 oikonomia may mean either a stewardship in the sense of
(a) above, or a "dispensation" in the sense of
(c). The reading oikodomia, "edifying," in some mss., is not to be accepted. See STEWARDSHIP.
Note: A "dispensation" is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous, use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement, or administration of affairs. Cp. oikonomos, "a steward," and oikonomeo, "to be a steward."