A biblical term used by Christians in general, of the old and new dispensations, corresponding to the Old and New Testaments, or to the Jewish and the Christian systems, which are different, yet form part of one plan of salvation. But the original two biblical dispensations were later expanded by some theologians. For example, there was some subdividing or adding of dispensations by ecclesiastical writers such at Tertullian and Origen, by Joachim in the Middle Ages, and by Cocceius in more modern times, yet nothing as far-reaching as the system of dispensations described in the present “dispensationalist” system of interpretation. Modern dispensationalism is the product of the elaborations of John N. Darby (founder of the Plymouth Brethren), and appears in its most popular form in the ...

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Published with permission from the Review and Herald Publishing Association.