Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew (Part 1)

The Kingdom of Heaven?

Matthew 3 begins with John the Baptist proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:1-2). It has him calling Pharisees and Sadducees “a brood of vipers.” (Matt. 3:7), which hardly matched the exalted spiritual status they gave themselves. Later in this Gospel we see Jesus calling Pharisees (and scribes) hypocrites and “fools and blind” (Matt. 23:13-19). In Matthew the religious leaders get called all kinds of names. Modern scholarship has tried to correct these Matthean malapropisms, and we do know of Pharisees who became followers of Jesus (Acts 15:5). All in all though, the portrait the Holy Spirit has left us in the first Gospel does them no credit at all.

After the temptation of Jesus, which I shall look at from Matthew’s perspective soon, we find Jesus immediately preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17). This is of interest because it means there is a direct continuity between John’s preaching and Jesus’ preaching.1 There was therefore a large swell of expectation of the “kingdom of heaven” in the early days of Christ’s ministry wrought by the attention-grabbing efforts of the two men.

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 7)

The “Times of the Gentiles”

A great deal has been written about “the Times of the Gentiles,” especially by Dispensational writers. But before we can know what it refers to we must situate it in the discourse in which it stands. I have given reasons why Luke 21:20-23 concern the end of days. Jesus speaks of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies (Lk. 21:20), and of the city being trampled down by the Gentiles (Lk. 21:24b). It seems natural to think of Zechariah 12:1-31 and Revelation 11:2. The context of “the Times of the Gentiles” in Luke, therefore, points to the end time siege of Jerusalem by the armies of the Gentile nations. But could Jesus mean something more than that? For that to be so the phrase would have to resonate with undertones of prophetic significance.

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 6)

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Luke’s Great Eschatological Discourse

Most of chapter 21 is given over to what might be called Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse (cf. Mk. 13 and Matt. 24). He has already recorded Jesus’ teachings about in Luke 17:20-37 along with some eschatological remarks in Luke 19, but here is where a fuller development of Jesus’ eschatology takes place. Again, I remind the reader that my purpose is to try to present the salient teachings of Jesus having to do with the covenants as they are given in each Gospel, particularly in Matthew and Luke. I therefore intend to first comment on Luke 21 as if it were our lone sampling of this discourse. In another chapter I shall attempt to pull it all together.

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 5)

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The King Enters Jerusalem and Weeps

After the Parable of the Pounds (Minas) Luke records three related episodes: The Triumphal Entry (Lk. 19:28-40), Jesus Weeping over Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41-44), and the Temple Cleansing (Lk. 19:45-48).

Jesus sends some disciples to get a colt for Him to ride upon (Matthew notes that a donkey was brought too – Matt. 21:7). In this fascinating little tale Jesus knows beforehand what they will find and how to answer those who question them. It is the answer that interests us:

“[I]f anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” (Luke 19:31)

Jesus specifically refers to Himself as ho kyrios (“the Lord”). Without going to the lengths of demonstrating it, I feel secure in the belief that He was not using the term in the sense of “Master” but as a self-reference to His divinity. This both suits Luke’s employment of the term1, the kingly setting of the pericope, and the circumstantial setting of the action. Then Luke says that a multitude of disciples proclaimed His entrance into the city. Matthew has “a very great multitude” (Matt. 21:8). This may mean that along with the many followers of Jesus were others who got caught up in the scene. What is certain is the very clear cries of the crowd:

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 4)

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The Key Lukan Passage on the Two Comings

It is a bold and somewhat subjective statement to make, but the Parable of the Pounds (or Ten Minas)1 in Luke 19:11-27 is perhaps the key passage in this Gospel, if not in all the Gospels, on the theology of the two comings of Messiah.2 Since I believe it to be so crucial, I will give it special attention. The parable is introduced as follows:

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. (Luke 19:11)

The “things” to which verse 11 refers is the story of Zacchaeus and Christ announcing that salvation had come to the home of the tax-collector, and that even though he had sinned against his own people ”he also is a son of Abraham,” which is to say that, although Zacchaeus’s complicity with the ruling class put him beyond the pale as far as the Jewish religious leaders were concerned, through faith in Jesus he became an inheritor of the Abrahamic promise and a true Jew. This new parable is given a certain prominence by its introduction. Luke supplies two reasons for it: firstly, they were nearing Jerusalem, the city of the Great King (Psa. 48:2; Matt. 5:35). Jerusalem was where Christ would soon meet His death (Lk. 18:31-33).

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 3)

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The Key Lukan Passage on the Two Comings

It is a bold and somewhat subjective statement to make, but the Parable of the Pounds (or Ten Minas)1 in Luke 19:11-27 is perhaps the key passage in this Gospel, if not in all the Gospels, on the theology of the two comings of Messiah.2 Since I believe it to be so crucial, I will give it special attention. The parable is introduced as follows:

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. (Luke 19:11)

The “things” to which verse 11 refers is the story of Zacchaeus and Christ announcing that salvation had come to the home of the tax-collector, and that even though he had sinned against his own people ”he also is a son of Abraham,” which is to say that, although Zacchaeus’s complicity with the ruling class put him beyond the pale as far as the Jewish religious leaders were concerned, through faith in Jesus he became an inheritor of the Abrahamic promise and a true Jew. This new parable is given a certain prominence by its introduction. Luke supplies two reasons for it: firstly, they were nearing Jerusalem, the city of the Great King (Psa. 48:2; Matt. 5:35). Jerusalem was where Christ would soon meet His death (Lk. 18:31-33).

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The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 2)

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The Kingdom in Your Midst” (Luke 17:21)

Considerable effort has been applied to these words, and an array of interpretations put forth. Perhaps most common is the view that Jesus is claiming that the Kingdom is inside of people; that is, of those who will open their hearts to accept it. In this outlook the Kingdom is an internal spiritual thing; hence, the phrases “does not come with observation” and “within you” would mean that the Kingdom is internal not external.

Such an interpretation is favored by some whose theology already requires a spiritual kingdom. However, Jesus’ words about the kingdom not coming with “outward observation” were not intended to imply that there would be nothing to see. All the Gospel writers record that He performed many signs and miracles, which were outward testimonies of “kingdom realities.” But the question of the Pharisees about when the Kingdom would come had within it the misunderstanding that it would only come abruptly with apocalyptic force. Jesus has arrived with the fanfare provided by John the Baptist, and He has preached a Kingdom to come. Yet He is Messiah! He is the coming One. To look for signs beyond what He was doing proved that the attention was in the wrong place.

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