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07/18/2010 – James White
Ephesians 3 is a key text for hyper-dispensationalists because it marks the beginning of the Dispensation of Grace. Paul unveils the mystery of the church, and this ends the ancient Dispensation of Law and introduces a new structure, a new gospel, and a new basis for doctrine in the church. It also suggests (according to them) the absolute distinctiveness of the Apostle Paul.
It is therefore important that we observe the full context, which is found below. The text is in the NASB, with the Greek word οἰκονομίαν (“dispensation” in KJV) in bold:
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-2 if indeed you have heard of thestewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; (Ephesians 3:1-9, NASB, bold mine)
I am concerned about Dispensationalism, I have been listening to Charles Swindoll, yourself and Dave Hawking, I really enjoy their ministry. And they all preach the pre-tribulation rapture, and I can buy that. I think it’s great. And then I hear some other respected men in the Lord say, “Well that is a dispensational point of view,” and they imply that that is something that has taken place within the last hundred years or so within the church. I just like to hear a little from you.
John MacArthur’s Answer
You see, that is just a label that they throw. What do you mean a dispensational point of view? The word dispensation is a NT word, Paul said “It was committed unto him the dispensation of the grace of God, dispensation of the mysteries.” It simply means a stewardship, it’s simply a term, that’s all. This is the accusation over and over again that Dispensationalism popped up with J. N. Darby, and C. I. Scofield, and all of that? But we are not working our way through a system, but rather attempting to interpret scripture on its own merit.