10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
The purpose of this verse is to show how Christ unites all subjects of redemption into one harmonious whole in the future.
“That” connects verse 10 with preceding verses. Having instituted the church, God has a purpose for both Israel and the church in the future.
in the dispensation [stewardship]
A “dispensation” is not a period of time but an administration or stewardship of time. A dispensation is a way of life, not primarily a period of time. The Greek word itself means to manage a household. It describes the role of a steward. A dispensation is an order of things, a system or a way of doing things. God had a different way of life under Moses than He does today in the economy of grace.
There is a difference between an age and a dispensation. An age deals with time, whereas a dispensation relates to a way of life, an economy. Christians now live in the economy of grace, an institution of belief that orients around grace. Israel lived under the economy of law. The church lives in the economy of grace.
of the fullness [completeness] of the times [seasons]
The “fullness of times” is the millennial kingdom where Christ will gain ultimate victory in time and space. Everything will be restored and brought together under Christ at that point. Jesus will directly rule over everything in heaven and earth (He 2:8). Time is moving toward an epoch when every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil 2:9-11).
“The fullness of times” refers to the termination of a season and the beginning of a new one—the end of the law and the beginning of the dispensation of grace. Jesus will fulfill God’s purpose in time and space for creation.
God operates the universe by a plan.
God operates within an organized system (a dispensation, a way of life) where all individual parts function within the purpose of the system. Within the economy of dispensations, God works in a succession of seasons to work out His purpose. A dispensation reflects order in God’s plan.