dispensations of man


Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



Rev 20:1-15. The word ‘Millennium’ means 1,000, these are the years during which time Christ will rule the earth in Person. It lasts from His return in glory and power at the Battle of Armageddon to the Great White Throne Judgment. It is sometimes referred to as the, “age to come” (Eph 1:21).


a) Looking back to victory. They will have all the knowledge and blessings of the previous dispensations, including the work of Christ and the Church Age.

b) At the beginning.

* The world with its cities and towns and the earth together with its rivers and seas will be in absolute desolation. Possibly only a sixth of the population will still be alive. Rev 6:15-17.

* All opposition (including the Antichrist) will have been completely destroyed. Rev 19:19-21.

* The nations will be judged by Christ. Mt 25:31-34, 41.

* Israel will repent. Zech 12:10.

* Satan, fallen angels and demons will be bound (Rev 20:1-3), releasing a great spiritual revival. Isa 25:7.

* After He takes complete control, the conditions will become progressively better. Isa 11:3-5.

c) The 1,000 year rule of Christ on earth. Dan 7:13-14. Those who are still living after the Great Tribulation and the judgement of the nations, together with those who are born after the start of His reign will live as in the times of Adam and Eve (after the fall) with little sickness or disease. There will still be the sin nature in man, but he will be better able to stand against it, without the temptations of Satan. Christ will rule from Jerusalem in a restored Nation of Israel. His redeemed saints will rule under Him (Rev 20:6).

There will be:-

* Perfect religion. Isa 2:1-3.

* Perfect peace for men. Isa 2:4.

* Perfect health. Isa 65:20-23.

* Perfect peace with animals. Isa 11:6-9.


a) Obedience.

* To put down all rebellion – Christ will rule with a rod of iron. Ps 2:7-9.

* To restore Israel to her rightful position, with Jerusalem as the most important city in the world. Zech 14:16-21.

 b) Test.

* All living on the earth must receive grace for salvation through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

* They must be completely obedient to Christ and His representatives.

* They must live in complete harmony with one another and with nature in the most ideal of conditions.

* In order to test the heart, God will allow Satan, fallen angels and demonic hordes to be released for a short period of time.


Rev 20:7-8. God will prove that even under these ideal conditions, the heart of man can be in rebellion against Himself. At the end of the 1,000 years of perfect rule, multitudes will willingly follow Satan in his last rebellion against God.


a) Living rebels. Rev 20:9. God will instantly put to death all those who have rebelled against Him.

b) Angelic rebels. Rev 20:10. All rebellious angels and demons will be cast into hell forever.

c) The dead. Rev 20:11-15. All those who have lived since Adam and who have not been raised from the dead at the time of Christ’s Resurrection (Mt 27:52-53), the rapture or at other resurrections of the dead will be raised to face judgment at the Great Judgment of Christ (Jn 5:22). This would include all those who have lived during the Millennium. Some will be caste into eternal hell and others, whose names have been written in the Lambs Book of Life, will continue into eternity.


Heb 9:12. 10:12-14. Look  in by faith to the work of Christ on the cross.


II Pet 3:10-13. At the end of this dispensation the Kingdom will be handed over by Jesus to the Father (I Cor 15:24-28), then will begin the final and everlasting Kingdom of God and the Lamb (Rev 21:1-22:5). This is sometimes called, “the dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph 1:10). Referring to this we read in Eph 2:7, “in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus”.

a) God will create a new heavens and new earth. In Isa 65:17 we read, “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind”. Rev 21:1.

b) The capital city of His Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, will descend to earth. Rev 21:10-27.

c) All will worship Him and He will rule His universe with angels and righteous men.

. Isa 66:22-23.

d) There will be an eternal future with no sin, disease or death for all His creation. Rev 21:4-5.

e) All will serve Him and enjoy His Presence forever. It will be as it was before the fall, except it will be more glorious, for the Father will have a family and Jesus will have a bride, to rule and enjoy it with Him.


dispensations of man


Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



Eph 3:1-7 (See v2). Mt 3:1 to Rev 19:21. Nearly 2,000 years, from John the Baptist to the Second Coming of Christ to rule from Jerusalem.


a) At the beginning. They had received all the wisdom of the previous dispensations and the knowledge that sins could be atoned for under the old covenant, also that a coming Redeemer was prophesied. At the beginning the Temple and the laws were in operation and God gave John the Baptist as the ‘Preparer of the way’ (Lk 3:3-6). Under the Romans there was a relative peace (Pax Romana), one main language, one set of laws and a good road network, helping greatly with communications and the spread of the ‘Good News’.

b) Jesus Christ.

* His teachings and life. He ministered for about 3.5 years, teaching new principles of the Kingdom of God, doing miracles and discipling 12 men (also to a lesser extent others, including the 70) to continue His ministry and to proclaim Him to the end of the world.

* His death and resurrection. For those who believe, salvation is received and the power of Satan is vanquished. The church age began (Mt 16:13-18).

c) Pentecost. After His ascension the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was given to empower His Church to complete the Great Commission (Acts 1:8).

d) New blessings:-

* New Kingdom with new King. Mt 4:17.

* New Covenant. Mt 26:28.

* New birth. Jn 3:1-8.

* New person. II Cor 5:17.

* New family. Rom 8:14-15.

* New inheritance. Rom 8:16-17.

* New Bridegroom. Eph 5:25-32.

* New temple. I Cor 3:16-17.

* New corporate body. I Cor 12:12-14.

* New power over sin. Rom 6:4-11.

* New power over Satan. Jms 4:7.

* New position. Eph 2:6.

* New armour. Eph 6:12-18.

* New power to witness. Acts 1:4-8.

* New Testament. II Tim 3:16-17.

* New ministries. Eph 4:11-12.

* New personal angelic presence. Heb 1:13-14.

* New hope for the return of the Bridegroom. I Thess 4:15-17.

* New heavenly hope. Jn 14:1-3.

e) A better Covenant. “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Heb 8:6). As seen in Hebrews:-

* Better than angels. 1:1-4.

* Better hope. 7:18-19.

* Better priesthood. 7:20-28.

* Better promises. 8:6.

* Better sacrifice. 9:23-28.

* Better resurrection. 11:35-40.


a) Obedience. His desire (for those who humble themselves) is to:-

* Save all who would believe in His Son and to make them part of His Church (II Pet 3:9).

* Bless them as His sons and heirs for now and eternity (Jn 1:12-13).

* Give them power and grace by His Spirit to live separate and holy lives, to follow His Son and to be obedient to His Word (Jn 16:13-14).

* Make them a witness of His grace to a lost world (Mt 28:18-20).

b) Test.

* For all people. God desires that all (both Jew and Gentile) have an opportunity of responding to His love and that all be saved (Jn 3:16). They must simply humble themselves, repent and receive by faith the free gift of salvation, as offered through His Son (Acts 16:31).

* For those who respond. By His grace the power – to love Him by being obedient to His Word (Jn 14:15), to follow His Son by faith in every area of their lives and to live lives separate from the world. To love the people of the world, by being living witnesses to them of the love of Christ.


a) Israel. They:-

* Rejected the prophecies and teachings in the Old Testament, pointing to the coming of their Messiah. Acts 7:51-54.

* Rejected the ministry of John the Baptist as a ‘Preparer of the way’. Mt 14:3-11.

* Rejected their Christ (Messiah) and His teachings, having Him crucified under a foreign law (Roman). Mt 27:25.

* Rejected the apostles of Christ. Acts 5:17-18.

* Rejected and persecuted the early Church. Acts 8:3.

* Rejected the right to be a blessing to the Gentile nations through the Messiah. Rom 10:20-21.

b) The Apostolic (early) Church. Rev 2:2-5. Many kept the faith, even suffering terrible persecution under the Romans, some also fell away and began to leave their first love. A great many of the Epistles were written to a backslidden and a rebellious church.

c) The Post (after) Apostolic Church. Rev 3:14-22. It continued in failure – by not loving Him before all, evangelising the world, living separate lives, preaching the truth or being united as Christ had prayed. Down through the ages, however, many have stood as lights for the truth, being persecuted and martyred for their faith, this continues today. Since the Reformation there have been many that have returned to the truth of the gospel. This dispensation will end with a great revival, a great persecution, a great apostasy and a great falling away (Rev 7:9-10, 13-14. Mt 24:9-13).


a) Israel as a nation. Lk 21:20-24.

* Rejection by God. Because it rejected their Messiah, it was rejected as a nation by God. In 70AD, after rebelling against the Emperor, Roman legions under the leadership of Titus laid siege to Jerusalem, eventually destroying completely the city and Temple. Most Jews were either killed or died through starvation in this conflict. Those who were left alive were shipped to various outposts of the Roman Empire as slaves.

* The Diaspora. They remained amongst the nations for 1,900 years, while the land of Israel was overrun by invaders and became ‘out of bounds’ to Jews.

* The Return. God promised, however, to keep a remnant and to bring them back from the nations at the end of the age. This started to happen at the end of the 19th Century and has increased ever since Israel became a Nation once more in 1948.

* His protection. Since then it has been under constant attack, but in each war God has in His mercy protected His people and given them victory.

* Second Coming. Only at the end of this dispensation, at the second advent of Christ, will the Nation of Israel and its people be fully restored (Rom Ch 11).

b) The world system. Isa 24:1-6, 19-23. It will be completely destroyed at the end of this age. Jesus will then return as, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16). Afterwards He will put into place a completely new system of governance with Himself as King of all. 

c) Individuals – unbelieving Jew or Gentile.

* The Dead. For those who reject His offer of salvation, they will await the Great Judgement in Hades (Lk 16:19-26).

* The Alive. For those still living at the end of this age, God will send strong delusions (II Thess 2:9-11) and He will pour out His wrath in the Great Tribulation. Mt 24:21-22.


a) For all – Jew or Gentile. I Cor 15:1-6. To receive individually by faith the free gift of salvation. This message of the Gospel (‘Good News’) given by God would be personal and for the whole person (spirit, soul and body). It involves:-

* Faith in Christ alone – His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

* Salvation through Christ alone – Repentance, cleansing and forgiveness.

* Life in Christ alone – Baptism (separation). Appropriation (taking all He has given for the new life). The Holy Spirit (life and empowering to live as a Christian).

b) To those who believe. Jn 1:12-13. He gives power to become the sons of God and to live separated lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit within them. The result of the work of Christ means that their sins are not just covered over, as under the Old Covenant, but are cleansed completely by His blood. They will dwell with Him throughout eternity.

c) To those who are ready. I Thess 5:23-24. Jesus will return in the air (as a Bridegroom returning for His bride), to take those who love and are waiting for Him to be with Him for eternity.

tres and water

dispensations of man


Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



Ex 12:43 to Mt 2:23. From the Exodus from Egypt to Christ – 1,718 years. This dispensation could also include the short period of transition of the ministry of John the Baptist (the last of the O.T. Prophets) – Jesus said, “The Law and the Prophets were until John” (Lk 16:16). Such people as Moses, Joshua, Samson, Deborah, King David, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel lived at this time.


a) Favourable beginnings. They had received the promises, laws and covenants of the previous dispensations. They had also seen God’s power in their deliverance from Egypt.

b) Laws given to Moses. These consisted of 3 types – Ceremonial, civil and moral (which included the 10 Commandments).

c) Priests.

* Aaron and his sons, who were the only ones permitted to look after and handle the most holy things in the Tabernacle and Temple.

* Sons of Levi, called the Levitical Priesthood. They were divided into three groups (each descending from a different son of Levi) – Kohath, Gershon and Merari. Each of these groups had specific duties to perform with the Tabernacle and Temple.

d) His Presence.

* He spoke to Moses in Person. Dt 5:31.

* His Presence was seen by the leaders. Ex 24:9-10.

* His Presence was manifest to all in the cloud, fire, tabernacle and temple. Ex 40:34-38. II Chron 7:1-5.

e) His Blessings.

* Sustenance with the manna, quail, water from the rock and health.

* Wealth, which included the riches taken by them from Egypt, the furnishings and gold in the Temple and the immense riches of King Solomon.

f) His Guidance and Warnings.

* Angels in the wilderness and elsewhere.

* Through the Old Testament writings – Law, Prophets, Historical and Wisdom.

* The priests using the Urim and Thumim.

* The words of the prophets.

g) His Power. Through miracles – He dried up the Red Sea, supplied for them, defeated their enemies, used His prophets in signs and wonders and extended their boundaries.

h) His Leaders. These included:- Moses, Joshua, judges, generals and kings.


a) Obedience.

* To the revelation of previous dispensations.

* To be a separate and holy people, to keep the laws and to obey the messages given through the prophets.

* To be a witness of God to the world (Gentile nations).

b) Test. To love God and to obey the laws of Moses and His prophets in every detail. By doing this, they would be blessed and be a blessing, but to rebel would result in curses. See Dt Ch 28.


Acts 7:51-53. They grumbled, rebelled against His Commandments, worshipped idols and stoned His prophets:-

* In the wilderness, under Moses.

* In the Promised Land under Joshua, the judges, prophets and kings.

* In captivity and after their return to the Land of Israel.


a) Firstly Israel (10 tribes) in 721 BC. They were taken into captivity by the Assyrians (an extremely cruel race). II Kings 17:5-18.

b) Then Judah (remaining 2 tribes) in 587 BC. They were taken to Babylon. II Kings 25:1-11, 18-21.

c) Partial restoration. Seventy years later, some were permitted to return to Israel from Babylon:-

* Under Zerubbabel in 536 BC. Ezra 1:1-8. 2:1-2.

* Under Ezra (about 78 years later) in 458 BC. Ezra 7:8-10.

* Under Nehemiah (about 14 years later) in 444 BC. Neh 2:1-6. The walls and the temple were rebuilt, but they never became strong and were later conquered by Rome in 63 BC under the Roman general Pompey.


a) For Israelites.

* Through offerings and sacrifices with the shedding of blood their sins were atoned for (covered over for only a period of time) – in particular for the whole nation on the Day of Atonement. These offerings were – Burnt, Drink, Freewill, Heave, Meal, Peace, Sin, Trespass and Wave.

* Through each of the Feasts. There were seven yearly and it was obligatory to attend the three major ones of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (the others surrounded the times of these three).

b) For us today.

* Looking back we have the advantage of knowing about the previous dispensations in the writings of the Old Testament.

* Christ is seen as a shadow in – the water from the rock, the manna and Theophanies (pre appearances of Christ). I Cor 10:1-4. Jn 6:31-35. Josh 5:13-15.

* We can see in the Law a teacher pointing us to a better Testament in the New Covenant. Gal 3:24-25.

* Jesus took the Moral Law much deeper, effecting the heart. Mt 5:17-18, 21-22, 27-28, 31-39, 43-44.

* Some of the leaders were a type of forerunner of Jesus – Joshua, David, Solomon and John the Baptist.

* The Law was impossible to keep. Only through His grace and the new birth are we made righteous. Rom 3:19-20. Heb 9:11-14.

* The sacrifices point to the more excellent sacrifice of Christ. Heb 10:1-4, 12-14.

* The law and the prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, who would die for our sins. Lk 24:25-27. (Isa 53:6-8)

* The Feasts point to the Scriptural fulfilment of Christ for His church: Passover – His crucifixion. Unleavened Bread – His burial. Firstfruits – His resurrection. Pentecost – His exaltation. Trumpets – Future rapture of His Bride. Day of Atonement – Future judgement seat of Christ. Tabernacles – Future rest in eternity. I Cor 5:7-8.

* We see many examples of faith. Heb 11:29-40.

* The fulfilment of Scripture in the rebirth of Israel as a nation and the return of His people to their land. Jer 16:14-16.

* The Scriptures point to the future return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zech 12:10. 13:6.



dispensations of man


Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



Gen 11:31 to Ex 12:42. From the call of Abraham to the Exodus from Egypt – 430 years. Some of the people who lived at that time: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lot, 12 sons of Israel, Ishmael, Sarah, Rebekah, Laban, Esau, Joseph, Aaron and Moses.


a) To begin with. They had all the knowledge of the laws, covenants and promises of the previous dispensations.

b) Covenants. God gave to Abraham and his descendants the land of Israel. Gen 15:7-21. 17:1-14.

c) Promises. God promised Abraham and his descendants that the Messiah would come through his line, the land of Canaan (Israel) would be given to them eternally and that they were to be a blessing to the world. These are some of the other scriptures:-

* To Abraham. Gen 12:1-3, 7. 15:5-6. 21:12-13. 22:17-18.

* To Isaac. Gen 26:3-4.

* To Jacob. Gen 28:13-14. 35:11-12. He spoke of the Messiah coming through the line of Judah (Gen 49:10).

d) An example. The people of Israel were to be a sign:

* To the nations. The great riches of the sons of Abraham.

* To the Egyptians. The great signs of the 10 plagues.


a) Obedience. He chose one man (Abraham) and his descendants to be obedient to Him, by obeying the laws of the previous dispensations, believing His promises and keeping the covenant of separation (circumcision). He desired that Abraham and his offspring would be His representatives on earth, show the difference between serving Him and other gods and to make Israel an example to all men.

b) Test. For Abraham and his seed – to have faith in God and His promises, to obey Him in the covenant of circumcision, to remain a separate people and to be a blessing to all other nations.


a) Israelites. Some of the failings were:

* Abraham. Gen 11:31-12:1. He disobeyed by taking his family and dwelling in Haran – see Acts 7:2-4. 12:7-10. He should not have fled to Egypt. 12:11-20. 20:2-5, 10-12. He deceived rulers. 15:2-4. 16:1-3. 17:18-19. His lack of faith.

* Isaac. Gen 26:6-9. He repeats sin of his father.

* Jacob (‘Schemer’). Gen 25:29-34. He tricked his brother for his birthright and his blessings. 27:1-4, 15-19.

* Sons of Jacob. They desired to kill Joseph. Gen 37:19-20, 24-28.

* Moses. He killed an Egyptian. Ex 2:11-12.

b) Gentiles. People who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, also in Canaan. Gen 19:4-5.


a) Israelites. Bondage in Egypt. Ex 5:6-14.

b) Gentiles.

* People of Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen 19:24-25.

* The Egyptians – 10 plagues


a) For Israel. There needed to be obedience by faith. In Rom 4:3 we read, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.”

This was fulfilled by:-

* The Covenant of circumcision, which spoke of separation. Gen 17:9-10.

* The Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Passover, which spoke of redemption. Ex 12:3-8, 11-13, 17-20.

* Sacrifices. Abraham. Gen 12:7. Isaac. 26:24-25. Jacob (Israel). 46:1.

b) For today.

We too follow in the example of Abraham and receive by faith:

* The picture of separation – circumcision of the heart. Rom 2:28-29. [Col 2:11-14.]

* The picture of redemption – the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Passover. Mt 26:2, 26-28. We read in I Cor 5:7, “For indeed Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.”

* The promises of salvation are ours by faith in the Seed. Gal 3:5-9, 16.

* The promise of the Messiah fulfilled through the line of Judah. Gen 49:10. (See Mt 1:1, 6. Lk 3:31.) Jesus said, “I am the root and the offspring of David” (Rev 22:16).

* Our Saviour, pictured as the Great High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Gen 14:18-20. Heb 7:20-28. He is ever present to hear our prayers.

* The principle of tithing, as Abraham gave Melchizedek (a picture of Christ) a tenth of his possessions. Heb 7:1-10. (Gen 14:18-20)

* Many examples of faith. Heb 11:8-28.

* The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as an example of forthcoming judgment and redemption. Lk 17:28-30.

 pic 7



dispensations of man

Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



Gen 8:15 to 11:32. From Noah’s flood to the call of Abraham – 427 years. Human laws were instituted to regulate man’s life, after a long age of freedom of conscience.


a) To begin with. Man had the experience of the two previous dispensations, knowing about the conscience, that he must not murder, the blood sacrifice and that he had been given dominion over the earth.

b) Covenants. At the beginning two everlasting covenants were given:-

* Not to again curse the ground and destroy every living thing. 8:21-22. The sign of the covenant was that the seasons would not change.

* Not to destroy all by water again. 9:8-17. The sign of the covenant was the rainbow.


a) Obedience. Man needed to be obedient under a new standard of laws (to reject the wrong and obey the right).

b) Test. To obey the laws, govern themselves, rule faithfully and to worship and obey God.

The rules and laws were:-

* A repeat to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth and to rule over all living things. 9:1-2, 7. (1:28)

* To allow them to eat meat, not just vegetables, fruit and grain as in 1:29. 9:3.

* Not to eat blood. 9:4.

* Not to murder and to execute all murderers. 9:5-6. (Of all creation, man’s life is most sacred to God.)


* Noah. 9:20-21.

* Ham. 9:22-27.

* Nimrod (means “we will rebel”). 10:8-10.

* Man in general. 11:4-6.


He confused the languages and scattered man over the earth. 11:7-9.


a) For people of that day. Noah made a sacrifice to God of the clean animals. 8:20.

b) For today.

* We can see the line of Shem to Jesus. 9:26. Lk 3:36.

* The rainbow as a sign of God’s grace (9:11-17). Rev 4:1-3.



dispensations of man

Rev. John Willoughby


All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.) 



Gen 3:22 to 8:14. About 1,656 years. >From Adam’s fall to Noah’s 600th year (7:11).


Very favourable beginnings, with all the personal experience of the previous dispensation.


a) Obedience. To guide man to reject wrong, to do right and to be obedient to Himself. He also wanted to show that he needed to voluntarily turn to and be reliant on God for His grace, power and help against sin, suffering and the attack of fallen angels.

b) Test.

* Conscience – to do right and not wrong. 4:7. It was an age of freedom, man being given free will to obey his own conscience.

* Only one law was given – not to kill Cain. 4:15. God used this to show man the depth of his wickedness and that those who disobey Him will receive His vengeance.


Rather than follow God, man gave into temptation to go his own way of rebellion:

* Cain murdered his brother Abel. 4:3-10.

* Cain’s descendants. 4:23-24.

* Men in general. 6:5-6, 11-12.


a) An individual – Cain. Cursed and separated from God. 4:11-15.

b) All men – The flood. God completely destroyed all the rebellious. 6:7-8, 13-14. 7:16, 20-24.


a) A righteous family. He spared Noah and his family from the flood, thus giving a righteous line to the coming Messiah. Lk 3:23, 36-38. 

b) Blood sacrifice. They knew of the prophecy of the coming Redeemer (3:15) and could look back to the experience of the first sacrifice (3:21), Adam and Eve being still alive for much of the time. They could also see that Abel had followed that principle of offering blood, by sacrificing the “firstborn of his flock”, thus receiving commendation from God (4:4). Other men of faith were:-

* Enoch. 5:21-24.

* Noah. 6:8-9.

c) For today. We too can look back to:-

* The Holy Spirit speaking to the conscience of men. God said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (4:7). Rom 2:14-16.

* The ark as a picture of salvation through Christ. “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him and the Lord shut him in” (7:16). I Pet 3:18-22.

* Abel, Enoch and Noah were men of faith and pleased God. “The Lord respected Abel and his offering” (4:4). “Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him” (5:24). And, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (6:9). Heb 11:4-7.

* The saving of righteous Noah and his family, being a picture of the rapture of the church. “Then the Lord God said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation’” (7:1). Mt 24:36-42.




dispensations of man



Rev. John Willoughby


All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

What is a dispensation? A definition was given by Scofield as, ‘A period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.’ In each case there is a revelation given and a testing of man of how he responds, with a time of judgement following. Revelation progresses as people of each dispensation have the advantage of the revelations of the previous ones. There are seven dispensations:- Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace and Divine Government. We shall study each of these in order.


1. Length.

a) Before time. Before God created time, “in the beginning …. ” (Gen 1:1) – God was. For humans it is difficult to understand a time ‘before time’, but there was never a time when God was not. Very little is given to us in scripture about this ‘time before time’, although we do know that it was in this period that Satan and his followers fell from their place in heaven (Isa 14:12-15).

b) After time. Our only understanding must be ‘in time’ from Gen 1:1. In 1:26 we learn of the creation of man. We therefore need to take our start for man from that point of time. This dispensation lasts until Gen 3:21. No number of years are given, but it could have been quite short in total.


Gen 1:26-31. Extremely favourable, for it was an age of innocence, sinlessness and perfection. The first man and woman had perfect health, perfect communion with God and with creation and were given dominion over all the earth.


a) Obedience. To see if man would be obedient in the most favourable conditions. He wanted to test him before they had children, so that if he sinned, the entire race would be dealt with in the same way.

b) Test. 2:16-17. 3:1. The means used by God was to give them just one command and the freedom of will to give into temptation and disobey.


a) The fall. 3:1-6.

* Satan caste doubt and misquoted God’s word, “Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (3:1). See 2:16.

* Satan then contradicted God’s word, “you will not surely die” (3:4). See 2:17.

* He then misinterpreted God’s word. 3:5.

* Adam and Eve gave into temptation and rebelled against God’s word. 3:6.

b) Result of the fall (3:7-24). Man lost:-

* Innocence. 3:7.

* Perfect health. 3:16-19.

* Communion with God. 3:8-10.

* Rulership over creation. 3:17-18.

* Freedom from Satan. God said to him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed” (3:15).

* Eternal Life. 3:22-24. The Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Down through the generations since Adam, we have inherited sin, resulting in both physical and spiritual death.


3:14-24. Sin is rebellion against God, there must therefore be judgment for the Serpent (v14), Satan (v15), the Woman (v16), the Man (v17-19) and the Earth and Creation (v17-19).


a) Sign of creation. Rom 1:18-20.

b) First blood sacrifice – for Adam and Eve. 3:21. This pointed to a means of atoning (covering over) for sin.

c) First Prophecy – of Coming Redeemer. 3:15.

* For mankind – to be released from the power of sin and Satan. I Cor 15:20-22. 45-49.

* For all creation – from the curse of sin. Rev 21:1.