Matthew Among The Dispensationalists -- By: David L. Turner

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 53:4 (Dec 2010)
Article: Matthew Among The Dispensationalists
Author: David L. Turner

Matthew Among The Dispensationalists

David L. Turner

David Turner is professor of New Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, 3233 Burton Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4387.


When I was a senior in high school, some people cared enough about me to tell me that God loved me and Jesus Christ died for me. When I believed the gospel, they gave me a Scofield Reference Bible and urged me to study it, both above and below the line. When the New Scofield Reference Bible came out in 1967, it was weighed and found wanting: “the old was better.” I was taught that the Gospel according to John was to be preferred to that of Matthew. Matthew was a kingdom Gospel for the Jews, and for Gentiles like me, salvation was by grace through faith, not by repentance. The Lord’s prayer was to be found in John 17, not Matthew 6. The church’s marching orders were found in John 20, not Matthew 28.1 Although I owe my spiritual parents a debt that I cannot repay, ongoing studies of the Scriptures have convinced me that their views on these matters were mistaken.

This study addresses some key issues in the Gospel according to Matthew which are related to dispensationalisms, both traditional and progressive.2 The views advocated here will be generally favored by those who identify themselves as progressive dispensationalists,3 but the goal of the study is to isolate key issues for further discussion. Two assumptions should be made clear. First, the idea that Matthew is a Gospel written to Jews, as opposed to Gentiles, with the inference that Matthew’s “gospel” message is an apologetic for Jews, as opposed to the rest of humanity, is mistaken.4 Rather,

Matthew is a Gospel written to followers of Jesus, most of whom who happen to be Jewish, explaining to them how Jesus is related to Moses and the prophets and calling them to obey Jesus’ universal mission mandate, a mandate in keeping with Israel’s historic biblical role in the world.5 Recent studies of gospel genre and audience, if valid, caution against the circular process of hypothetically reconstructed narrow local “communities” functioning as confident assumptions which guide exegesis.6 Second, the notion that...

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