Friday, November 27, 2015

WITHIN or WITHOUT?

Kingdom of God (pt. 5)

Jesus began His ministry by proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven/God was at hand.
(Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:5)

That particular proclamation is what caused many people to begin following Him. They were tired of being under Roman rule, and thought that Jesus meant there was a new king about to take over in the political sphere. (Luke 19:11)

Listening at the purely natural level, one could easily assume this is what Jesus meant; but He seldom spoke with a purely natural meaning. He was about His Father’s business (Lk. 2:49), which was not of this world. (Jn. 8:23; 18:36)

There are still many today, who, like the Jews of Jesus’ day, are looking for a physical kingdom ruled by Jesus being present in a physical body on this physical earth in our time/space continuum.

Keep looking, but your expectation is empty of any reality.

I realize that the thought of Jesus “taking over” this messed up world is quite comforting to many, and I do not want to be the one who destroys that false comfort. But, since truth in its first form is always negative in that it may destroy certain cherished notions, I cannot help the seemingly negative outcome.

What did Jesus mean, then, when He said “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”?

“At hand” obviously means “near.”

“Near” can have the sense of both time and space: “near” as in tomorrow, or “near” as in down the street, and the Jews thought He meant both.

However, that is not what Jesus and Paul said concerning the kingdom.

In fact, Jesus very plainly stated that the kingdom would not come in a visible manifestation of royal robes on a conquering magistrate.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: (Luk 17:20)
Paul also wrote that the kingdom of God had nothing to do with outward form.
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Rom 14:17)
Vine’s Expository Dictionary has this to say about the word translated “observation:”
"attentive watching" (akin to paratereo, "to observe"), is used in Luk 17:20, of the manner in which the kingdom of God (i.e., the operation of the spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men) does not come, "in such a manner that it can be watched with the eyes" (Grimm-Thayer), or, as AV marg., "with outward show."
Jesus goes on to tell the Pharisees
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luk 17:21)
The modern translations, NIV, ESV, NLT, and NASB all translate “within” as “among” or “in your midst.” Each of those translations adds a footnote saying that the word “within” is an alternative rendering.

The word that is so translated is “entos” (ἐντός) and is only used twice: here and in Matt. 23:26, where there is no way the word could mean “among.”

The modern translations have followed the thinking of Vine’s in that “the kingdom of God was not in the hearts of the Pharisees.” (This once again proves that even translation is a matter of interpretation.)

So, following the line of interpreting this verse, I can see where Jesus was not necessarily declaring that the kingdom of God was within the Pharisees. “You” in this instance is plural and we often use that as a sort of generic approach to mean “you in general,” not necessarily “you in particular.”

However, Paul seems to contradict even this idea—
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Act 17:28)
He essentially says that Vine’s interpretation is incorrect.

Therefore, is the kingdom of God within Pharisees and idolaters or not?

Yes, but not yet.

This understanding is necessary for fully comprehending what Jesus meant when He declared
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:14)
We are called to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.

What is that good news?


Stay tuned.
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