Friday, January 6, 2017
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God” (Colossians 1:25 KJV).
And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”
One authority defines “steward” as: “(1) the manager of household or of household affairs; (2) esp. a steward, manager, superintendent to whom the head of the house or proprietor has intrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age; (3) the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer.” When the suffix –ship is added to “steward,” the result is “stewardship,” or “the office of a steward.” “Stewardship” is: “(1) the management of a household or of household affairs; (2) specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other’s property; (3) the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship; (4) administration, dispensation.”
An important Bible study principle is “the rule of first mention.” Scripture’s first usage of oikonomia establishes its definition and tone. Hence, we look again at Luke chapter 16: “ And he [Jesus] said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.  And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.  Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.  I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.” Notice the issue of a “steward” and his “stewardship.”
If we take into account these lexicographical and biblical definitions, today’s Scripture becomes quite easy. A special oikonomia—or “dispensation”—has been committed to the Apostle Paul’s trust, just like a master would deliver a special set of rules to his chief servant so he could properly manage his household….