Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit.—Matthew 21:43 HCSB
Consider this verse and ask yourself, to what nations was Jesus referring?
Who was He taking the kingdom of God away from? More importantly, for our topic, who is the nation to whom He is giving the kingdom of God? Where do we find the Christian nation?
In the last post I introduced the idea that the New Testament teaches that when people come to Jesus they are expected to leave their former national identities and allegiances behind. I realize that this not only sounds strange to most of you, but that it may sound down-right heretical. After all, aren’t we told that becoming Christians should make us better citizens, and didn’t Paul claim his Roman citizenship? We will deal with objections in future posts, but please write them down as they occur to you. We want to be sure to deal with them later. For now I would like to offer further support for my basic thesis.
One reason that this idea is not usually even considered is found in the fact that many translations render the Greek word enthos here, as people, which almost completely obscures what Jesus is saying in this passage. I submit that you are not familiar with it, and it sounds strange to you, because you have not been allowed to see it. I am not proposing a human conspiracy here, but am so bold as to suggest that someone does not want this truth exposed. Remember—We fight not against flesh and blood…
What is a nation?
Nation and State are closely allied but not identical concepts. (For a good overview of nation vs. State click here.) A State is a sovereign entity over a specific geographic territory. The word nation comes from the Latin natio meaning “of birth” and can be seen in our word prenatal. It refers to a group united by heritage, culture, and most importantly sense of identity. In this regard it is an almost perfect stand-in for the Greek word we have been considering: ethnos.
Both history and newspapers show us that nations often strive to achieve the status of Statehood. This is the central motivation behind many of the conflicts that mar our age. Ethnos is the root of our word ethnic and is seen in Matt. 24, where we are told that before the end ethnos would rise against ethnos. Jesus also tells us in this passage that His followers will be hated by “all the ethnos” because of Him. It is interesting, that of the 20 parallel passages listed on biblehub.com, only one tries to evade the clear meaning of ethnos in these two verses.
What does the bible mean by kingdom
Notice that in Matthew 21, it is the kingdom of God which is being taken and given. This does not make a whole lot of sense in English. This is because the Greek word basileia (βασιλεία) has a slightly different meaning than the English word kingdom as we normally think of it.