Dispensation in the Bible is the translation of the Greek word οικονομια ‘oikonomia’.
Using Strong’s Concordance and a Greek lexicon:
Dispensation 3622 oikonomia; from 3623 (oikonomos – steward).
Meaning - administration, dispensation, stewardship.
The word is translated in the King James Authorised Version as dispensation 4 times, stewardship 3 times.
The word occurs as follows and its meaning in context is clear:
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship <3622>; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship <3622>: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship <3622>, they may receive me into their houses.
1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation <3622> of the gospel is committed unto me.
Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation <3622> of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation <3622> of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation <3622> of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
If you are referring to dispensations in relation to what is known as Dispensationalism, the following applies:
Dispensationalism is a system of theology that was first popularized by John Nelson Darby, 19th century British evangelist... Dispensationalism divides the entirety of history into seven dispensations, or epochs beginning with the age of innocence, or Adam. We are now in the sixth dispensation, the age of the Church, and are preparing to enter the seventh time period, or the Millennial Kingdom - a 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.
(Taken from http://www.theocracywatch.org).
Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by faith—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the church. They believe that the promises God made to Israel (for land, many descendants, and blessings) in the Old Testament will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in Revelation chapter 20. Dispensationalists believe that just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (Romans 9-11).
Using this system as a basis, dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into seven dispensations: Innocence (Genesis 1:1–3:7), conscience (Genesis 3:8–8:22), human government (Genesis 9:1–11:32), promise (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25), law (Exodus 20:1–Acts 2:4), grace (Acts 2:4–Revelation 20:3), and the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). Again, these dispensations are not paths to salvation, but manners in which God relates to man. Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a premillennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pretribulational interpretation of the rapture. To summarize, dispensationalism is a theological system that emphasizes the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, recognizes a clear distinction between Israel and the church, and organizes the Bible into the different dispensations it presents. (Taken from http://www.gotquestions.org).
Like most man-made definitions, Dispensationalism serves no useful purpose in understanding the Bible. The literal prophecies in the Bible relating to the future of Israel as a nation will be fulfilled. The land of Israel will be divided as described in Ezekiel 40 onwards. A new Sanctuary and City will be built in the land. The kingdom of God will be upon earth with Christ ruling over all the earth from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke1:32,32). The twelve apostles will sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). The saints of all ages will rule the earth with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:9; Revelation 2:27) for one thousand years (Revelation 20:6) after which sin and death will be no more and God will be all in all (1Corinthians 15:26,28). The promise through Abraham is eternal inheritance on the earth (Genesis 13:15; Galatians 3:29). Paradise is not in heaven, but upon the earth (Psalms 37:11; Matthew 5:5) – the man caught up to paradise was taken forward in time not up into space (2 Corinthians 12:4). The purpose of God is to fill the earth with his Glory (Numbers 14:21). From Adam onwards belief in the promised Messiah and a life lived in accordance with that belief has always been the way to everlasting life in the kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:13,40); it will still be so among the mortal population during the Millennium. Justification has always been by faith (Galatians 2:16) and obedience to the commandments of God (Matthew 7:21; 1 John 2:17).
Dispensationalism is an artificial framework of man’s devising rather than a Bible doctrine and should be recognised as such.
I hope you have found this helpful.
May God bless you,