Taken and Given: The Israelitish Judgment and Restoration Taught in Matthew 21:43 -- By: Timothy L. Decker

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 14:43 (Dec 2010)
Article: Taken and Given: The Israelitish Judgment and Restoration Taught in Matthew 21:43
Author: Timothy L. Decker

Taken and Given:
The Israelitish Judgment and Restoration Taught in Matthew 21:43

Timothy L. Decker

Timothy L. Decker, M.A., pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Beaufort, North Carolina; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina

No person truly favors a bad news/good news situation. The bad news is just that – bad; whereas the good news is the bit of information that brings a glimmer of hope to an otherwise bleak situation. What is worse, often the good news does not offset the bad news. However, these situations are simply a part of life. While good news might be desired, bad news is the unavoidable consequence usually brought by the decisions that were made. Such is the case in Matthew 21:43 when Jesus pronounced some bad news/good news, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit of it.” Jesus was straightforward with the facts in assigning the audience with a major bad news/good news situation that would affect many throughout numerous years. What may not be so visible is what the bad news actually was and to who was the bad news pronounced. Even more alarming is that the good news in Jesus’ pronouncement is also obscure. Who are the ones to receive the good news and how are they eligible to receive it (the what from the bad news)?

Sadly, this verse makes for doctrinal and exegetical inconsistencies among many scholars and theologians. For example, some dispensational writers argue that the “people” in Matthew 21:43 refers to Gentiles or even the body of Christ church to which the kingdom of God is given.1 Aside from the obvious problem of blurring the church with the messianic kingdom of Israel, if the kingdom of God was given to the Gentiles or the church (which is largely comprised of Gentiles), then Matthew 21:43 would

teach replacement theology! Consider the words of Buswell, a covenant premillennialist, concerning Matthew 21:43: “These words are generally understood as a prediction of the change of outward administration from the church of Israel to the church as organized from the day of Pentecost onward.”2 In his commentary on Matthew, Hagner said of the verse, “This setting aside of the privilege of Israel as the unique people of God in favor of another people, namely, the church, is of course nothing short of revolutionary.”3

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