How Many Dispensations Are There?

This question goes out to all Dispensationalists everywhere. I really want to know whether there are more or less than seven dispensations in your opinion.

I also want to know the time frame for each dispensation (For Example: Noah to Abraham).

What is unique about each and every one of these dispensations that distinguishes it from the all other dispensations?

Finally, are these dispensations related to the different covenants that are given during each dispensation and in what way?

Answer either in the comments or on your own blog and provide a link back here or leave a link in the comments section of this post.

Thank you!

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “How Many Dispensations Are There?

  1. ThirstyDavid

    Rabblerouser.

  2. Peter D. Nelson

    Jeremy when I was taught dispensationalism over twenty years ago by an elder in our church I was taught that there were seven dispensations and thank God we were in Grace and not in any other. Also that the dispensations didn’t actually have a time frame that some over lapped even into Grace.

    I have since repented that teaching.

  3. Jeremy Weaver

    That’s what I learned too, Peter. But I have since seen others who have more and some who have less.

    David,
    I don’t know what you’re talking about!
    🙂
    Seriously though, I would like to know because when I write about Dispensationalism I don’t want to be accused of not knowing what I’m talking about, as happens so often.

  4. ThirstyDavid

    I’ve read seven, five, three, and two. I’m kinda-sorta Covenspensational, so my opinion doesn’t count no matter who asks.

    Please don’t ask me to explain that.

    Jeremy, if you really want to know, grab a Scofield Study Bible. I think he says seven. Anyway, no one can say you don’t know what you’re talking about if you use that as your standard.

  5. D.J. Cimino

    Many IFB dispensationalist will announce “turn to Mt. 13:1 in your Bible… if you have the right bible it is on page 943”, meaning – if you have a KJV Scofield ref. Bible. How is that for hardcore dispensationalism?

    I have heard 6, 7 and 8 disp. All except grace were a mixture of grace AND works. I can’t believe that I used to believe that!

  6. Garry Weaver

    I have always accepted the Scofield model of 7 dispensations.However, I have never believed that God ever saved anyone in any other way than by grace and He never will.

    I remember being shocked and dismayed the 1st time I realized that some of my preacher buddies actually believed that the blood of animal sacrifices in the O.T. took away sins. One of them even preached that the Jewish people were saved for a year at a time by the yearly sacrifice on the day of atonement. My response: “If an animal sacrifice could ever take away even one sin, then why did Jesus have to die?”

    That being said, I still believe that identifying 7 dispensations is a helpful model for understanding the progressive revelation of God’s eternal plan as He deals with man in each dispensation(period of time). In each dispensation, man is seen to be a totally fallen and failing creature. Each disp. ends in human failure, highlighting our hopelessness and our need for the Savior who was ordained of God before the foundation of the world.

    As you can tell, I struggle to articulate my position on this subject. I hope I haven’t confused the issue. If I can be shown biblically that it is wrong to see it this way, then I will gladly submit to scripture.

  7. Jeremy Weaver

    Thanks, Dad!

    Maybe some more Dispies will be emboldened to tell me what they believe…

    David,
    I have a Scofield III Bible that I preach from. I can’t remember if I have an old Scofield anymore…I do in Spanish. I also have a Ryrie Study Bible.

  8. DJP

    Maybe some more Dispies will be emboldened to tell me what they believe…

    For my part, it’s nothing to do with boldness. Honestly, Jeremy, much as I love you, I keep getting the feeling that you’re not hearing me — so why waste either of our time? That’s why I haven’t responded.

    You keep saying things that give me the impression that you don’t really “get” Dispensationalism. So I’ve given you some links and responses, and you say, “No no no, I really do get it!” — and then next time I see you write anything on the subject, you’re back again like we’d never dialogued about it.

    So, check my former links. You really want to know why at least one dispie thinks the way he does, it’s there — even with a sort of chart and Scriptural references for the dispensational framework.

    In other words, exactly what you’re asking for here, again, like you never saw one.

    One Calvidispiebaptogelical’s impression.

  9. Garry Weaver

    Uh, I think Dan just karate chopped you.

  10. Dyspraxic Fundamentalist

    I cannot see any problem with the classic model of dispensations. I am sure Jeremy knows what they are.

    Garry Weaver, if you read Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, you will find the view expressed that animal sacrifices were efficacious.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

  11. Jeremy Weaver

    So far it looks like everyone is agreed that Scofield is the man, more or less. I’ll just use him for a reference point then.

  12. DJP

    Uh, I think Dan just karate chopped you.

    Yeah, but it was in Christian love.

    (c:

  13. Jeremy Weaver

    Didn’t hurt! (walks away with a limp)

  14. Dyspraxic Fundamentalist

    Eric Sauer presents a more scholarly and in-depth approach to the subject than Scofield, in his work ‘From Eternity to Eternity.’ It is an excellent piece of Biblical theology. He basically accepts Scofield’s dispensations (with somewhat different terms), though he softens the Classic Dispensational hermeneutics (which is not so cool).

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

  15. Jeremy Weaver

    Matthew,
    I believe I have Sauer’s book titled The Triumph of the Crucified One. I haven’t read it yet but intend to reference it when I get around to actually writing about Dispensationalism (if that ever happens).

  16. BugBlaster

    Covenspensationalist. What a good word.

    Seven, give or take. What Dan said.

    Not feeling talkative tonight.

  17. Ken Fields

    Jeremy,

    I, too, was taught seven dispensations and that each dispensation ends in man’s failure (not sure what that says about the future of the church). I have since reconsidered my stance, and have spurned my Darby, Schofield, and Chafer instruction.

    I currently believe in two dispensations — the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, which happen to be the divisions in my Bible!

  18. Wayne Hatcher

    Two.
    This’n, and that’n to come.
    Faith, and sight.
    Partial, and complete.
    Temporal, and eternal.

    Covenants: all of the covenants were gracious, except one: the covenant of Works, which is the one that actually saves me. Now try to figure that one out. soli Deo gloria

  19. Ray

    The confusion over the number of dispensations is something that I largely blame the charismatic movement for. They seem to just make things up and cover it over with a ” God told me “.( that’s been my experience). They’ve sown chaos in this and other schools of eschatology as well as other areas of theology.

  20. Jonathan Moorhead

    So after all this, what’s the point?

  21. Jeremy Weaver

    According to Dan Dispensationalism is:
    * Grammatico-historical hermeneutics applied to all Scripture
    * The Christian church and Israel distinguished from each other
    * The glory of God seen as the center of history

    I’m Amil. And I affirm everything that Dan says Dispensationalism is.

    I find myself wondering, “So what exactly is distinctive about Dispensationalism?”, except for Premillenialism (which really isn’t all that distinctive). It seems that the only thing distinctive about it is end-times hype.

    So what’s the distinction? I think ‘Dispensationalism’ is just a code word for your position on eschatology. I further believe that all of you are actually modified Covenantalists (except Matthew).

    The problem comes in when people like me, Peter, D. J., and even my ‘Dispensational’ dad, to a certain extent, recall these different people who clearly did not hold to Dan’s three essentials of Dispensationalism, and yet they are called Dispensationalists and embraced by other Dispensationalists. It makes us wonder about the whole lump.

  22. marc

    Wow Jeremy, this is helpful. I didn’t know you could be a Christian and a dispensationalist.

    …settle down Dan, I’m just kidding.

  23. DJP

    coughPUNK!cough

  24. marc

    hehehheheheh.

    Seriously, its good to be brothers in Christ isn’t it?

  25. DJP

    Enthusiastically and without reservation, “Yes!”

  26. David

    Interesting. I too, am a dispensationalist. I see God dealing with man in different ways, at different times. This does not mean that God changes, but rather, I see God revealing himself more in each dispensation.
    God has always been pure, holy, merciful, full of grace, etc., but man had to learn this through experience. Being told something is one thing, but experience is always the best teacher.

    Ultimately, we will see him as he is, and not see through a glass darkly.

    Though I am Pentecostal, I also see the Charismatic movement as the cause of much confusion in the body. They take a blessing and make a doctrince out of it. Though I am sure that God has used them in some way to open the church to blessings that had long been forgotten.

  27. David

    Noticed the dates of the other responses after I posted. May be a little late to the party.

  28. Vivian

    I believe there are 7 dispensations and that we are in the grace dispensation. The reason for this is because before the grace dispensation, Gentiles were not admitted. From my readings, I believe Paul conversion (Acts 9) was the beginning of the grace dispensation.

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