Editor's Choice

The Kingdom of God is within you


Barry Smith, Jesus' Twofold Teaching About The Kingdom Of God
JESUS' PROCLAMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

"Central to the synoptic gospels is Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus' primary mission to his people was to offer them the possibility of eschatological salvation, which, for the most part, he expressed by the term 'Kingdom of God.' (A synonym for the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Heaven, found in the Gospel of Matthew.)...

Kingdom of God in the midst of You (Luke 17:20-21)

"Central to the synoptic gospels is Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus' primary mission to the Jewish people was to offer them the possibility of participation in final, or eschatological, salvation, which, for the most part, he expressed by the term "Kingdom of God." (A synonym for the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Heaven, found in the Gospel of Matthew.) Jesus interpreted his exorcisms and healings as manifestations of the Kingdom of God...

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, 'The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.'

Luke contains a saying in which Jesus describes the nature of the appearance of the Kingdom of God; in it he connects the Kingdom with himself. The Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come in 17:20a. Jesus' response in 17:20b-21 is constructed in antithetical parallelism. The negative member of Jesus' response consists of two coordinating clauses joined by 'nor,' which describe how the Kingdom of God does not come: 'The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' The first way in which the Kingdom does not come is 'with signs to be observed' (meta paratêrêseôs). In the context, the meaning of 'signs to be observed' probably describes empirically observable phenomena associated with the inception of eschatological fulfillment. Jesus' questioners hold the view that the coming of the Kingdom of God will be universally recognizable by its accompanying manifestations, and they want to know when Jesus believes these premonitory manifestations will begin to occur, thereby heralding the Kingdom. (On this interpretation 'come' has a future meaning since it is referring to the future Kingdom of God.) The second way in which the Kingdom of God does not come is in such a way that someone could say 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' The meaning seems to be the same as 'with signs to be observed.' In other words, Jesus is saying that, contrary to their expectation, the Kingdom of God will not come in such a way as to be universally recognized as such. He rejects the presupposition behind the question, namely that the Kingdom of God will all at once come as a publicly observable event. In other words, the Kingdom will not come all at once, as full-blown, so that no one could deny that it has come. Rather, Jesus' conception of the Kingdom of God is that it begins inconspicuously, so that it is possible to deny that it has come at the earliest stages of its historical development.

The positive member of Jesus' response is the remarkable statement that the Kingdom of God has already come: 'For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (entos humôn).' Jesus' point is that the Kingdom of God is in the midst of his questioners insofar as he is in their midst, so inseparable is he from the Kingdom. Of course, the Kingdom is in its initial phases and so is still only partially and even ambiguously present. For this reason, the possibility exists to deny that it is present at all, in which case Jesus would be seen as having no salvation-historical significance at all. When it comes to completion, the Kingdom of God will be undeniable, but until then a person will be able to accept or reject Jesus' claim that the Kingdom of God is already present insofar as he is present...

Entering the Kingdom Maimed (Mark 9:43-48 = Matt 18:8-9)

Mark 9:43-48
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 [omitted] 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 46 [omitted] 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Matt 18:8-9
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.


Jesus teaches that a person must remove all impediments in order to to enter the Kingdom of God (eiselthein eis tên basileian tou theou) (Mark 9:47), which is synonymous with to enter into life (eiselthein eis tên zoên) (Mark 9:43, 45), since it is better to do without any so-called advantage than to miss entering the Kingdom of God or into life. (The term "Kingdom of God" is synonymous with "life.") This is expressed metaphorically as being willing to cut off one's hands and one's feet and being willing to remove one's eye, if necessary. The analogy between sin and a part of one's body is that, like the latter, the former may be a cherished part of one's livelihood and identity, which one may be understandably reluctant to thrust aside since the loss of it would be keenly felt. One's bodily parts represent what is closest and most valuable to a person, which must be given up if it impedes entrance into the Kingdom of God or life. The consequence of not being willing to sacrifice anything to enter the Kingdom of God or life is punishment in Gehenna (or eternal fire). The entrance of which Jesus speaks is a future entrance, coincidental with final judgment; in fact, one must pass through final judgment in order to enter the Kingdom of God as future or life."

Crandall University
Religious Studies 2033
The New Testament nd Its Context, Professor Barry Smith
http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/NTIntro/IndexNTIntr.htm
Web (September 16, 2013)


"Dr. Ladd shows that the Kingdom of God belongs to the present as well as the future."

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
"ESCHATOLOGY has always been a fascinating subject. It appeals to both Christian and non-Christian alike. Everyone is curious about the future. That is why we have always had so many magicians and fortune-tellers. Especially today do men long to know what lies ahead. However, apart from the Word of God we can only speculate. It alone discloses God's purpose both for the present and the future.

I have read many books on prophecy. I am familiar with the various schools of thought and interpretation. Much has been written about the Kingdom of God. But of all the books I have read, I have never come across one that so clearly and so Scripturally deals with the Kingdom as does Dr. Ladd's new volume, The Gospel of the Kingdom.

Dr. Ladd shows that the Kingdom of God belongs to the present as well as the future. He conceives of the Kingdom as the rule, the reign, the government of God in this age in the hearts and lives of those who yield themselves to Him, and in the next age over all the world. He sums it up in the second chapter in this way:

'The Kingdom of God is basically the rule of God. It is God's reign, the divine sovereignty in action. God's reign, however, is manifested in several realms, and the Gospels speak of entering into the Kingdom of God both today and tomorrow. God's reign manifests itself both in the future and in the present and thereby creates both a future realm and a present realm in which man may experience the blessings of His reign.'

His interpretation of the parables is most illuminating. He does not believe that an interpretation has to be found for every detail. His understanding is that the Kingdom, though insignificant in appearance at present, is a reality and that it is destined to dominate the whole world. God will some day rule over all. This is a conception quite different from the usual interpretations given by the various schools of prophetic study. It should encourage the discouraged and give hope to the hopeless. God's government regardless of appearances is bound to triumph at last. Nothing can withstand it.

Dr. Ladd's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount is the clearest I have ever read. No one can study it without being deeply convicted. It cuts squarely across the practices and teachings of our day. Divorce, lust, anger, oaths, etc., are dealt with in no uncertain way. The interpretation is evangelistic and Scriptural in every sense of the word. It will make the Bible a new book.

It seems to me that the author's emphasis on the absolute necessity of a decision with all that it involves is of the utmost importance. Dr. Ladd does not minimize the cost. Discipleship always costs. There is a price to pay. The rich young ruler had to give up all. God's government demands complete submission. His subjects must put Him first. The Kingdom is entered only when a decision has been made and the price paid.

Then too, he makes it dear that the Church is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom right up to the end of the age, and that only when the task has been completed will the King return.

It is my hope that this book will be studied by ministers, students, and Christian workers everywhere. I congratulate Dr. Ladd upon having written it. He has made a real contribution to the Church in our day."

OSWALD J. SMITH
Los Angeles
February, 1959

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (March 13, 1990) pp. 11-2


"His message was ... about the imminent coming of a new era of shalom ... in which the Kingdom is equated with the 'good news of God'"

The Future of Faith, Harvey Cox

"Almost as if to justify the frantic fears of Herod and his imperial cohorts, the moment Jesus reached adulthood, he began to tell people that a new regime—the "Kingdom of God"—was about to replace the existing one, that the insiders could be out and those at the bottom would be on top. Naturally the ruling elites heard this promise of a "regime change" as a threat. But the phrase "Kingdom of God" is one of the most misused and misunderstood in the entire Bible. It is too often thought of as where you may go after you die, or something that begins after the world's history is over, or something that is entirely inward. However, the Hebrew prophets, Jesus himself, and the last pages of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, all teach that the Kingdom of God is something that happens in and to this world. The glimpse the prophets convey about a reign of God's shalom is doggedly earthy...

The biblical idea of the Kingdom of God also includes an essential inward element. As the prophet Ezekiel puts it," A new heart also I will give you" (36.26). In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that only the "pure in heart" shall see God (Matt. 5.8). It also includes the expectation that death, either of the planet or of an individual, is not their ultimate destiny, and it points to a cosmic fulfillment that transcends human history, encompassing the celestial bodies. This in no way undercuts the fact that the Kingdom of God, as envisioned by Jesus and the prophets, contain an undeniably utopian element, but since this is what Christians have often neglected, this futuristic dimension has frequently migrated into secular movements. It has sometimes been said that while Christians have tried to have God without the Kingdom, secularists have tried to build the Kingdom without God. But this is an oversimplification. It is true that embracing Jesus while ignoring the Kingdom's requirements for justice inevitably results in an individualistic pietism, and that Lenin's mausoleum is not the only monument to the disasters that result when human beings make themselves into the gods of the future. But the yearning for a different world, is thoroughly human. As the Latin American theologian Jon Sobrino writes," the utopian impulse provides the possibility of a universal human ecumenism of all those who hope and work for a kingdom."

Still, the "kingdom" is problematical. It inevitable evokes the static idea of a spatial realm. The Hebrew word, malkuth, however, does not convey this inert feeling, but suggests something actively occurring. For this reason, in my own teaching I prefer to use the phrase "Reigning of God." It implies something that is going on—not a place, but a "happening." This is the grammar Jesus used in speaking of it. To be a "follower" of Jesus means to discern and respond to the initial signs of this "happening" and to work to facilitate its coming in its fullness. To follow Jesus, however, does not mean to be a mimic. It means to continue in our times what he did in his. Jesus was a man of faith. Recall how we defined "faith" in a previous chapter. Calling Jesus a man of faith does not suggest that we must somehow uncover Jesus's "Beliefs" or his ideas about God. These would be, in any case, matters of speculation, since we cannot know much about his inner life. Rather, by seeing the way he lived his life, we learn what his primal orientation was and see what he trusted and placed his confidence in. These are the components of his faith. Clearly the object of Jesus's own hope and confidence—his faith—was the Kingdom of God...

Jesus cannot be understood, let alone followed, without reference to his own faith. The biblical book of Hebrews refers to him as "The author and pioneer of our faith" (12.2). But the faith of Jesus cannot be understood without recognizing that its focus was the "Reigning of God." His message was not about himself, and not even about God. It was about the imminent coming of a new era of shalom. This is clear from the opening verses of the Gospel of Mark (oldest of the four canonical gospels) in which the Kingdom is equated with the "good news of God" (1.14). The most explicit expression occurs when, early in his ministry, Jesus returns to his home town of Nazareth and is invited to speak in the synagogue. Clearly wishing to align himself with the prophets before him, he reads from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
To bring good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Luke 4:18-19)


Virtually all of Jesus's parables are about the dawning of this Kingdom and the change of heart people need to notice it and live in it, even though its coming has only just begun. When we try to figure out again today how to describe the relationship between Jesus and God, as the bishops tried to do at Nicaea, we ought to stay away from the mistake they made in completely leaving out any reference to the Kingdom. We should also avoid the archaic language they used about the two being of the "same substance" (homoousios), which means little to anyone today. Rather, we could say that Jesus in his life trajectory completely embodied the purpose and "project" of God."

Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith
HarperOne (September 8, 2009), pages 43-47


The kingdom of God is within you
by CRAIG PEARSON, PH.D. on DECEMBER 6, 2010

"Jesus was once asked when the kingdom of God would come. The kingdom of God, Jesus replied, is not something people will be able to see and point to. Then came these striking words: 'Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:21)

With these words, Jesus gave voice to a teaching that is universal and timeless. Look into every great religious, spiritual, and wisdom tradition, and we find the same precept — that life's ultimate truth, its ultimate treasure, lies within us.

As Jesus made unambiguously clear, we can experience this inner treasure — and no experience could be more valuable. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," he declared," and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). From this interior plane of life, he is saying, we will gain all that is needful.

This inner treasure of life has had many names. Plato refers to it as the Good and the Beautiful, Aristotle as Being, Plotinus as the Infinite, St. Bernard of Clairvaux as the Word, Ralph Waldo Emerson as the Oversoul. In Taoism it is called the Tao, in Judaism Ein Sof. Among Australian aborigines it is called the dreamtime, among tribes of southern Africa Hunhu/Ubuntu. The names may differ, but the inner reality they point to is one and the same.

In every case, it's understood that this inner, transcendental reality can be directly experienced. This experience has likewise been given different names. In India traditions it is called Yoga, in Buddhism Nirvana, in Islam fana, in Christianity spiritual marriage. It is a universal teaching based on a universal reality and a universal experience."

http://www.tm.org/blog/enlightenment/jesus-christ-kingdom-god-within-you/
Web (September 27, 2013)


Gospel of Thomas offers the reader Jesus' 'secret teachings' about the Kingdom of God. Here, as in Luke 17:20, the Kingdom of God is said to be an interior state;"It's within you," Luke says.
Elaine Pagels, The Secret Gospel of Thomas
"According to the renowned historian Elaine H. Pagels the Gospel of Thomas 'does not tell the story about the life and death of Jesus, but offers the reader his 'secret teachings' about the kingdom of God."

"This book opens with the lines, 'These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and the twin, Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down.' Then there follows a list of the sayings of Jesus. ... Some of these sayings are familiar. We know them from Matthew and Luke — Jesus said, 'I have come to cast fire on the earth.' Or 'Behold, a sower went out to sow,' and so forth.... Others are as strange and compelling as Zen koans. My favorite of these is saying number 70, which says, 'If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.' The gospel opens as Jesus invites people to see....

The Gospel of Thomas also suggests that Jesus is aware of, and criticizing the views of the Kingdom of God as a time or a place that appear in the other gospels. Here Jesus says," If those who lead you say to you, 'look, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds will get there first. If they say 'it's in the ocean,' then the fish will get there first. But the Kingdom of God is within you and outside of you. Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known. And you will know that it is you who are the children of the living father."

In this gospel, and this is also the case in the Gospel of Luke, the Kingdom of God is not an event that's going to be catastrophically shattering the world as we know it and ushering in a new millennium. Here, as in Luke 17:20, the Kingdom of God is said to be an interior state; 'It's within you,' Luke says. And here it says, 'It's inside you but it's also outside of you.' It's like a state of consciousness. It's hard to describe. But the Kingdom of God here is something that you can enter when you attain gnosis, which means knowledge. But it doesn't mean intellectual knowledge. The Greeks had two words for knowledge. One is intellectual knowledge, like the knowledge of physics or something like that. But this gnosis is personal, like 'I know that person, or do you know so and so.' So this gnosis is self- knowledge; you could call it insight. It's a question of knowing who you really are, not at the ordinary level of your name and your social class or your position. But knowing yourself at a deep level. The secret of gnosis is that when you know yourself at that level you will also come to know God, because you will discover that the divine is within you.

The Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas does appear rather different from the Jesus we encounter in the others. Because the Gospel of Mark, for example, depicts Jesus as an utterly unique being. This is the good news of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. The Gospel of John says that Jesus isn't even a human being at all, but he's a divine presence who comes down to heaven in human shape.... The Gospel of John says, 'God sent his son into the world to save the world.' If you believe in him, you're saved, if you don't believe in him you're already damned, because you haven't believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Now, [in the Gospel of Thomas], this Jesus comes to reveal that you and he are, if you like, twins.... And what you discover as you read the Gospel of Thomas, which you're meant to discover, is that you and Jesus at a deep level are identical twins. And that you discover that you are the child of God just as he is. And so that at the end of the gospel Jesus speaks to Thomas and says, 'Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am, and I will become that person, and the mysteries will be revealed to him.' Here, Jesus does not take the role of authority and teacher. In the Gospel of Thomas, the disciples say to Jesus, 'Tell us, what do you want us to do? How shall we pray? What shall we eat? How shall we fast?' Now if you look at Matthew and Luke, Jesus answers the questions. He says, 'When you pray, say, 'Our Father who are in Heaven, hallowed be...' When you fast, wash your face, don't make a show of it. When you give alms do it privately and without being showy.' In this gospel, this Jesus does not answer. He says, 'Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for everything is known before heaven.' Now this answer throws you and me upon ourselves.... Here Jesus, in effect, turns one toward oneself, and that is really one of the themes of the Gospel of Thomas, that you must go in a sort of a spiritual quest of your own to discover who you are, and to discover really that you are the child of God just like Jesus."

Elaine H. Pagels, FRONTINE: From Jesus to Christ
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/thomas.html
Web (September 16, 2013)


Helmut Koester
Helmut Koester
KNOW THYSELF
Helmut Koester:
"John H. Morison Professor of New Testament Studies and Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History Harvard Divinity School

One of these documents [found at Nag Hammadi] begins with the scribal note in the margin, 'The Gospel According to Thomas.' And the first sentence of that document says, 'These are the secret words which the living Jesus taught and which Judas Thomas Didymos wrote down.' And then they start a total of over 110 sayings, each introduced by 'Jesus said....' Some of those sayings have parallels in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Some of these have not. Some of these sayings may go back to a very early period of Christianity, some of them may have been added later. The document itself comes from the fourth century.... As with all gospel text, with this one in particular, we have to remember that these texts were fluid, that scribes could add, that scribes could leave out things, that scribes could add comments, or add an interpretation. So we cannot with certainty reconstruct what did the Gospel of Thomas look like around the year 100 or earlier. But it is very likely that it existed at that time, and that a good deal of the material that's now in that manuscript was already in a Greek manuscript that dates back to the first century. Which of course, is very exciting because here we have a collection of sayings of Jesus, additional sayings of Jesus, that were not known before, and the whole beginning of a new field of studies has opened up....

Now what is typical about these sayings is that in each instance, these sayings want to say that if you want to understand what Jesus said, you have to recognize yourself. You have to know yourself, know who you are. It begins with a saying about the Kingdom of God, 'if you seek the Kingdom of God in the sky then the birds will precede you. And if you seek it in the sea, then the fish will precede you, but the Kingdom is in you. And if you know yourself then you know the Kingdom of God.' (The Kingdom of the Father, in fact, it always says in the gospel of Thomas. Normally the Kingdom of the Father, not the Kingdom of God.) 'But if you don't know yourself, you live in poverty.' And poverty is understood as the ignorance of a life in its physical existence. Knowledge is understood to be the knowledge of one's divine origin, of the fact that one has come from the Kingdom. That we are on this earth only in a sojourn....

What does it mean really to know oneself? To know oneself is to have insight into one's own ultimate divine identity. You can go back to understand this to Greek models, which certainly exist. 'Know yourself' is a very old Greek maxim... that is, you have to know that your own soul is divine, and then you know that you are immortal, whereas the body is the mortal part of human existence. Now this is radicalized in the Gospel of Thomas into saying that everything that is experienced physically and through sense perception, everything in this world that you can perceive in this way is nothing. It is, at best, chaos and, at worst, it doesn't even exist in reality. The only thing that really exists is your divine spirit or your divine soul, which is identical in its quality with God himself. And Jesus is the one who teaches that....

[When one truly knows oneself], one understands that one is divine, but also one understands that one is mortal. In such a way, you recognize that this mortality is really meaningless, as physical existence is meaningless. And therefore, death is no longer a problem, but death is a solution, because in death finally all this mortality will fall away, and the true self will be liberated to an independent existence that's no longer dependent on physical existence. And on everything that goes with physical existence, sickness and poverty and so on. And so physical existence is often described as poverty. But when you know yourself you are no longer in poverty."

A leading authority on the Gospels in early Christianity, Helmut Koester has served as editor of the Harvard Theological Review since 1975. A former president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Koester is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his numerous publications are books and articles in both German and English, including Trajectories Through Early Christianity (with James M. Robinson). His two-volume Introduction to the New Testament and Ancient Christian Gospels are seminal works in the field. Koester studied at the University of Marburg where he received his doctorate in 1954; he was ordained to the Lutheran ministry in 1956, and began teaching at Harvard Divinity School two years later.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/thomas.html
Web (September 16, 2013)


The language of the kingdom and Jesus, Jacobus Liebenberg
"When the historical Jesus started his pilgrimage into the 20th century he did so with Mk 1:15 as his mandate presented to him by Johannes Weiss on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth. Albert Schweitzer ensured that he not only spoke about this eschatological "Kingdom of God", but that he arranged (and rearranged — if need be) his life according to its principles, only in order to be confused later by Bultmann with a Geschichte of a totally different kind. However, it was not long before his eschatology was historicised again by introducing his parables into the "life setting" of Jesus of Nazareth. Then, one day, people started asking what he meant by this "Kingdom of God" which he presented so strikingly in his parables, and he had to admit that he was not quite sure."

The Language of the Kingdom and Jesus
Jacobus Liebenberg, Walter de Gruyter (October 2000), page 1


Jesus' Twofold Teaching about the Kingdom of God
Jesus' Twofold Teaching about the Kingdom of God (New Testament Monographs)
Barry D. Smith

"Recent research on Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God has in common the assumption that it remains the same throughout the time of his proclamation of it. The data that cannot be harmonized are usually judged to be inauthentic, originating from Christian prophets in the early church.

Smith shows in closely argued detail how essential it is to differentiate two historical contexts for Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God. The nature of the Kingdom of God is conditional upon its acceptance and the acceptance of its messenger-which is to say, Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God is hypothetical. This is the non-rejection context of Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God. But some of Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God presupposes a context of the rejection of his message by the majority of Jews and especially the Jewish authorities. In this new context, Jesus teaches that the Kingdom will still come but not in the way first delineated, in the non-rejection context. This can be called the rejection context of Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God.

No attempt should be made to assimilate all the data into one historical context. Distinguishing two contexts for Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God allows us to appreciate how Jesus modifies his teaching in the light of the rejection of the Kingdom. Without this differentiation of two historical contexts, it is impossible to make sense of Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God."

http://www.amazon.com/Twofold-Teaching-Kingdom-Testament-Monographs/dp/1906055688
Web (September 16, 2013)


Nothing less than the Gospel message of salvation is at stake

"In the Book of Acts the Kingdom of God was still the general formula for the substance of Christian teaching..." (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. II, p. 855).

On the lips of Jesus the term Kingdom of God unquestionably summarized the very heart of His Message. "The Kingdom of God is the central theme of the teaching of Jesus, and it involves His whole understanding of His own person and work" (Theological Word Book of the Bible, Alan Richardson, p. 119).

"Yet the voluminous discussions of the meaning of the Kingdom of the God, the heart of the Gospel preached by Jesus, and therefore the Christian Gospel, continue to leave the impression that the subject is complex in the extreme, indeed that the truth of the matter is virtually beyond recovery. An enormous amount of scholarly energy has gone into analyzing the biblical and non-biblical evidence in an effort to explain what Jesus taught as His central theme. Can it really be that our New Testament records provide no clear idea of what Christ and the Apostles meant us to understand by the Kingdom of God? Nothing less than the Gospel message of salvation is at stake."

Anthony Buzzard, The Kingdom of God: Present or Future?
Web (May 13, 2013)


The Great Adi Shakti Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
The Paraclete Shri Mataji
"Today we are celebrating the opening of the Sahasrara (Kingdom of God). On this day I must say it was a great happening that took place on all the humanity. It was such an achievement, which I never realized before. Now I can see that without Self-Realization it would have been impossible to talk to people. Then this happened! I thought that how I will talk to people about it because no one would understand Me and it would be a big mistake on My part to say something about Sahasrara because even about Sahasrara (Kingdom of God) nowhere in the scriptures something was described. It was absolutely an ambiguous description I would say where people could not even have thought there is a Realm beyond Sahasrara, and one has to enter that Realm where is the Reality. That time what I saw around Me was darkness and unless and until there are many Lights, people will never realize that how important it is to have Light."

The Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Cabella, Italy — June 9, 1996
Shri Mataji opens the Primordial Sahasrara (May 5th 1970)


The Kingdom of God "Is an inner spiritual redemptive blessing (Rom. 14:17) which can be experienced only by way of the new birth (John 3:3)"

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
"When we ask the Christian Church, 'What is the Kingdom of God? When and how will it come?' we receive a bewildering diversity of explanations. There are few themes so prominent in the Bible which have received such radically divergent interpretations as that of the Kingdom of God.

Some, like Adolf von Harnack, reduced the Kingdom of God to the subjective realm and understood it in terms of the human spirit and its relationship to God. The Kingdom of God is an inward power which enters into the human soul and lays hold of it. It consists of a few basic religious truths of universal application. The more recent interpretation of C. H. Dodd, conceives of the Kingdom as the absolute, the 'wholly other' which has entered into time and space in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

At the other extreme are those who, like Albert Schweitzer, define Jesus' message of the Kingdom as an apocalyptic realm to be inaugurated by a supernatural act of God when history will be broken off and a new heavenly order of existence begun. The Kingdom of God in no sense of the word is a present or a spiritual reality; it is altogether future and supernatural.

Another type of interpretation relates the Kingdom of God in one way or another to the Church. Since the days of Augustine, the Kingdom has been identified with the Church. As the Church grows, the Kingdom grows and is extended in the world. Many Protestant theologians have taught a modified form of this interpretation, holding that the Kingdom of God may be identified with the true Church which is embodied in the visible professing Church. As the Church takes the Gospel into all the world, it extends the Kingdom of God. An optimistic version holds that it is the mission of the Church to win the entire world to Christ and thus transform the world into the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is the supernatural redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom is to be established by the Church's proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel must not only offer a personaI salvation in the future life to those who believe; it must also transform all of the relationships of life here and now and thus cause the Kingdom of God to prevail in all the world. The Gospel of redeeming grace has the power to save the social, economic and political orders as well as the souls of individual believers. The Kingdom of God is like a bit of leaven placed in a bowl of dough which slowly but steadily permeates the dough until the entire lump is leavened. So is the Kingdom of God to transform the world by slow and gradual permeation.

Still others have understood the Kingdom of God to be essentially an ideal pattern for human society. The Kingdom is not primarily concerned with individual salvation or with the future but with the social problems of the present. Men build the Kingdom of God as they work for the ideal social order and endeavor to solve the problems of poverty, sickness, labor relations, social inequalities and race relationships. The primary task of the Church is to build the Kingdom of God. Those who are interested in the history of interpretation will find a brief but comprehensive survey with documentation in the author's book, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952).

In the face of such diversity of interpretation in the history of Christian theology, many readers will react by saying, 'let us be done with all human interpretations. Let us go directly to the Word of God and find what it has to say about the Kingdom of God.' The perplexing fact is that when we turn to the Scriptures, we find an almost equally bewildering diversity of statements about the Kingdom of God. If you will take a concordance of the Bible, look up every reference in the New Testament alone where the word 'kingdom' occurs, write down a brief summary of each verse on a piece of paper, you will probably find yourself at a loss to know what to do with the complexity of teaching.

The Word of God does say that the Kingdom of God is a present spiritual reality. 'For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17). Righteousness and peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit which God bestows now upon those who yield their lives to the rule of the Spirit. They have to do with the deepest springs of the spiritual life, and this, says the inspired apostle, is the Kingdom of God.

At the same time, the Kingdom is an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people when Christ comes in glory. 'Then the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, 0 blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'' (Matt. 25:34). How can the Kingdom of God be a present spiritual reality and yet be an inheritance bestowed upon God's people at the Second Coming of Christ?

Another facet of Kingdom truth reflects the fact that the Kingdom is a realm into which the followers of Jesus Christ have entered. Paul writes that God has 'delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son' (C ol. I:13). This verse makes it very clear that the redeemed are already in the Kingdom of Christ. It may of course be objected that we must distinguish between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Christ; but this seems impossible, for the Kingdom of God is also the Kingdom of Christ (Eph. 5:5; Rev. 11:15). Furthermore, our Lord describes those who received His message and mission as those who now enter into the Kingdom of God (Luke 16:16).

At the same time, the Kingdom of God is a future realm which we must enter when Christ returns. Peter looks to a future day when there 'will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (II Pet. I: II). Our Lord Himself frequently referred to this future event. 'Many will come from the east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 8:11).

This future coming of the Kingdom will be attended with great glory. Jesus told of the day when the angels 'will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father' (Matt. 13: 41,43). On the other hand, when asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was coming, he answered, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is !' or, 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you' (Luke 17: 20-21). The Kingdom is already present in the midst of men; and Jesus flatly discouraged the Pharisees from looking for a future Kingdom which would come with an outward display of glory.

The parables of the Kingdom make it clear that in some sense, the Kingdom is present and at work in the world. The Kingdom of God is like a tiny seed which becomes a great tree; it is like leaven which will one day have permeated the entire bowl of dough (Luke 13: 18-21). Yet on the other hand, when Pilate examined Jesus about His teaching, Jesus replied, 'My kingdom is not of this world' (John 18: 36).

The very complexity of the Biblical teaching about the Kingdom of God is one of the reasons why such diverse interpretations have arisen in the history of theology. Isolated verses can be quoted for most of the interpretations which can be found in our theological literature. The Kingdom is a present reality (Matt. 12:28), and yet it is a future blessing (I Cor. 15:50). It is an inner spiritual redemptive blessing (Rom. 14:17) which can be experienced only by way of the new birth (John 3:3), and yet it will have to do with the government of the nations of the world (Rev. 11:15). The Kingdom is a realm into which men enter now (Matt. 21:31), and yet it is a realm into which they will enter tomorrow (Matt. 8:11). It is at the same time a gift of God which will be bestowed by God in the future (Luke 12:32) and yet which must be received in the present (Mark 10:15). Obviously no simple explanation can do justice to such a rich but diverse variety of teaching."

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (March 13, 1990) pp. 15-8


Luke Bray
Luke Bray
Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd
Feb 06, 2012 Luke Bray rated it 4 of 5 stars


Ladd's book has significantly shaped my understanding of the Kingdom of God. For years, the term "kingdom of God" had been very ambiguous and difficult to wrap my hand around. He carefully and clearly explains his understanding of Kingdom theology in this little volume. Ladd's thesis is that the Kingdom of God is the rule, the reign, and the government of God in this age in the hearts and lives of those who yield themselves to Him, and in the next age over the entire world.

Below, I have added my outline of this book. Excellent work and I would recommend it to every Christian.

INTRODUCTION:

Oswald Smith notes the exemplary nature of Ladd's volume on the Kingdom of God.

According to Smith, Ladd's interpretation of the parables and the Sermon on the Mount are clear and very informative. He recommends the volume to ministers, students, and all Christians everywhere.

CHAPTER 1:WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The meaning of the Kingdom of God can be hermeneutically ambiguous; however, the foundation for the idiomatic expression "Kingdom of God" should be understood as "God's Rule or Reign."

Question 1: What is the Kingdom of God?

1. Adolf von Harnack reduced the Kingdom of God to the subjective realm or personal experience of an individual in relation to God.
2. Albert Schweitzer defined the Kingdom of God, as an apocalyptic realm that would be inaugurated by Jesus' return and that would begin a heavenly existence.
3. Christian tradition associates the Kingdom of God with the Church. As the Church grows, the Kingdom grows. The influence of the Church of Christ infiltrates human existence on every level. Ladd notes," The Gospel of redeeming grace has the power to save the social, economic, and political orders as well as the souls of individual believers" (16).
4. Others identify the Kingdom of God as a pattern for human society.
5. The Kingdom of God is a present spiritual reality (Rom 14:17).
6. The Kingdom of God is an inheritance, which God will give to His people (Matt 24:34).
7. The Kingdom of God is a realm into which followers of Jesus have entered (Col 1:13).
8. The Kingdom of God is a future realm, which Christians will enter when Jesus returns (2 Pet 1:11).
9. The Parables metaphorically describe the realities of the Kingdom.
10. The Kingdom of God is complex. While it is a present spiritual reality, it is also a realm into which Christians have entered and will fully enter when Jesus returns.

Question 2: What is the meaning of"kingdom?

1. Contemporary Dictionary- A state or monarch the head of which is a king; dominion; realm. 'Kingdom' also refers to the people who are ruled by a king.
2. The idiom's meaning in the OT and NT refers to the rank, authority, and sovereignty exercised by a king. Kingdom is the authority to rule, the sovereignty of the king.
3. Illustration: Herod traveled to Rom in order to gain the authority to reign as King in Israel in 63 BC.

Threefold Understanding of"Kingdom"

1. God's Reign
2. The realm into which Christians may now enter to experience the blessings of His reign.
3. A future realm, which will come only with the return of Jesus Christ into which all Christians will enter and experience the fullness of his reign.

CHAPTER 2: THE KINGDOM IS TOMORROW

God's Kingdom will only be fully realized at the Return of Jesus, which will begin the Age to Come where humanity will experience the complete blessing of living under his reign.

The Current Age and the Age to Come

1. Popular Christianity contrasts this life with the life to come with the words earth and heaven.
2. The Biblical concept of eternity does not preclude the reality of time.
3. The terms aion and kosmos are not interchangeable and must be understood in their original sense.
4. The two ages are separated by the return of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead.

The Contrast of the Two Ages

1. The Current Age is dominated by evil, wickedness, and rebellion against the will of God.
2. The Age to Come is the age of God's sovereign rule over all things.
3. The Current Age is hostile of the Gospel, and men often conform to this Age instead of surrendering to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The God of this Age

1. God has permitted Satan to exercise authority and power throughout the duration of this Age.
2. The root of evil in this Age: blindness, darkness, and unbelief.
3. Satan's primary method of influencing humanity is to blind them to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus.

Differing Levels: The Current Age and the Age to Come

1. The Current Age and the Age to Come are not on equal levels. The current Age is evil and the Age to Come will witness the fullness of God's Kingdom, His perfect reign.
2. Humanity will never experience the full blessing of God's Kingdom in This Age.
3. There will be no world wide conversion prior to the Return of Jesus.
4. People will suffer because they no longer belong to the Current Age and are now subject to its hostility.
5. The Kingdom of God will never be fully realized apart from the personal, glorious, and victorious Return of Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER 3: THE KINGDOM IS TODAY

The transition from this Current Age to the Age to Come will not be at one single point. The Ages overlap between the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Second Resurrection of the Dead.

The Arrival of the Kingdom of God in the Current Age

1. The Power of the Age to Come has penetrated the Current Evil Age.
2. The current overlapping of the Ages forces believers to live "Between the times." They are caught up in the conflict of the ages.
3. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the beginning of the final resurrection, which establishes hope for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
4. The Kingdom of God means the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ until all His enemies are put under His feet (1 Cor 15:23).
5. The reality of God's Kingdom in the Current Age is put on display by the binding of Satan (i.e. exorcism, healing, Satan's authority/blinding undermined)

God's Kingdom Means the Divine Conquest Over His Enemies

1. God has invaded the realm of Satan
2. The blessings of the Messianic Age are now available to those who embrace the Kingdom of God.

CHAPTER 4: THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM

The mystery of the Kingdom: Before the end of the age, God has entered into history in the person of Christ to work among men, to bring to them the life and blessings of His Kingdom.

Mystery Defined

1. Something, which has been kept secret through, times eternal but is now disclosed.
2. The Parables of Jesus display the newly revealed mystery of God's Kingdom

Matthew 13: Kingdom Parables

1. The Kingdom of God is here but not with irresistible power.
2. The Kingdom of God has come to people and yet people can reject it.
3. There will be a day of judgment that will bring the final separation between the righteous and the wicked.
4. The Kingdom of God is present among humanity but in a form not previously revealed.
5. The Kingdom of God is here among humanity, but in a form that was never expected.
6. The Kingdom of God may seem insignificant or small, but it will eventually fill the earth.
7. The Kingdom is a gift that cannot be earned and it is extremely costly.
8. The Kingdom of God has come in an unexpected manner, but it will bring about the Age to Come and the judgment.

CHAPTER 5: THE LIFE OF THE KINGDOM

Eternal life belongs to the future Kingdom of glory and to the Age to Come, yet this eternal life has become available to man in the present evil age. Life is the Kingdom of God means going about every day in the present evil Age living the life of heaven. It means living in fellowship with God under His rule.

Life Now & Life Eternal

Future

1. The example of Jesus' conversation with the rich young man demonstrates that eternal life is connected with the Age to Come.
2. Paul writes about his longing for a house not made by human hands, which displays his futuristic understanding of eternal life.
3. The Book of Revelation describes the beauty and source of eternal life; namely, the life of God disseminated from the throne.


Now

1. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life" (John 3:36).
2. Eternal life belongs to the Kingdom of God, to the Age to Come; but it, too, has entered into the present evil Age that men may experience eternal life in the midst of death and decay.

What is Eternal Life?

1. Eternal life means the knowledge of God (John 17:3).
a. Knowledge connotes a personal relationship.
2. Life eternal means that we have already been brought into a personal relationship with God here and now. Life eternal means that we have already been introduced to God. Life eternal means that God has become our God and we have become His people, and that we have begun to share a fellowship with Him; we have begun to share His life.
3. The Knowledge of Go includes both intellectual understanding and personal application (a doing of the truth).
4. During this period of time, believers know dimly, but in the Age to Come they will know as God knows them. (1 Cor 13).
5. In the Age to Come, believers will have a perfected body—a spiritual body. It is a body whose life, whose energy is derived from Spirit—God's Spirit.
6. The indwelling presence of the Spirit of God is a down payment to the promise of eternal life.
7. The Resurrection of Jesus will renovate the whole structure of human existence.

CHAPTER 6: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM

The righteousness of the Kingdom is a manifestation of the life of the Kingdom. The righteousness of the Kingdom has been imparted to the sons of the Kingdom through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

False Righteousness

1. "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 5:20).
2. Pharisees were notorious for their self-discipline and meticulous rule keeping. They were the professional religious people of their day and this statement of Jesus would have caused great panic in the hearts of his hearers.
3. Through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it obvious that it is not the outward act which is the all-important thing, but the attitude of a man's heart.

Kingdom Righteousness

1. Kingdom Righteousness says what you are is more important that what you do.
2. The righteousness that God demands, He must give to us, or we are lost. The only life, which can be made pure, is the life, which knows the power of God's Kingdom, His rule.

CHAPTER 7: THE DEMAND OF THE KINGDOM

The Kingdom has come here and now. It demands a response from all those it encounters—it demands "repentance."

The Context of the Demand

1. Every person's life is made of various decisions.
2. The essence of the repentance determines the quality of present life and future destiny.
3. The most basic demand of the Kingdom is a response of man's will. People must submit to the rule of God and turn away from their own perceived kingships.

The Decisions

A Radical Decision

1. Some decisions are easily made, but making a decision for the Kingdom of God can be difficult and require great energy (Matt 11:12).
2. The violence of the Kingdom is experienced through the personal subjugation that takes place in submitting to God's rule (Mark 9:47; Matt 10:34; Luke 14:26).
3. The Kingdom demands that followers of Jesus deny self.

An Eternal Decision

1. This decision determines a person's future destiny.
2. Jesus will deny those who have denied him and he will confess love for those before his father who have confessed their love for him on earth.

CHAPTER 8: THE KINGDOM, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

God's Kingdom is at work in the world and is engaged in a mortal struggle with evil. The Church is the community of the Kingdom of God and is to press the struggle against satanic evil in the world.

The Kingdom of God & Israel

1. The relationship between the Kingdom of God, Israel, and the Church is not explicitly discussed in the Bible.
2. It must be understood that Jesus did offer the Kingdom of God to the Nation of Israel, but they rejected His reign.
3. In the Kingdom of God, a personal invitation to receive the blessing is offered to all who will accept God's rule in their lives.
4. In the Old Testament, God had dealt with Israel primarily as a family and a nation.
5. Jesus' offer of the Kingdom to Israel was not a political or militarily proposition. Therefore, they refused to recognize his Kingdom.
6. The inner circle of Jesus' disciples eventually realized the nature of Jesus' Kingdom. This is apparent in Peter's great confession (Matt 16:16).

The Kingdom of God & the Church

1. Jesus' purpose was not to restore Israel to her former glory, but rather to create a new people.
2. Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom of God to the Church. (The powers to open or close the doors, which give forth the blessings of the Age to Come, were given to the Apostles/Church).
3. The Kingdom of God, as the redemptive activity and rule of God in Christ, created the Church and works through the Church in the world.
4. The Kingdom of God is working in the world through the disciples of Jesus. Those who have submitted to him now constitute the Church. The Kingdom of God has invaded the realm of Satan in the person and mission of Christ to deliver men from sin and darkness; and the conflict between the Kingdom of God and the powers of darkness.

CHAPTER 9. WHEN WILL THE END COME?

Jesus Christ will return after the Church has fulfilled her divinely appointed mission—the evangelization of the world.

Discussion of Matthew 24:14

Question by the Disciples

1. "When will the end come?"
2. This question continues to be the driving question for many Christians.
3. The disciples wanted to know when the end would come and when Jesus would establish His kingdom.

Answer by Jesus

1. Jesus describes the trajectory of this Age down to the end.
2. It will always be hostile to the Gospel and to the Church.
3. Wars, famines, earthquakes, etc... will continue right to the end of the Age.
4. The Love of man will grow cold.

Message, Mission, & Motive

1. Message
a. The message is the Gospel of the Kingdom, this Good News about the Kingdom of God.
b. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the person of His son, Jesus Christ, for the purpose of putting His enemies under His feet.

2. Mission
a. The Good News of the Kingdom of God must be preached throughout the entire world for a witness to all nations.
b. Humanity's purpose is wrapped up in this mission.
c. The ultimate meaning of history between the Ascension of Jesus and His return is found in the propagation and witness of the Gospel to the world.

3. Motive
a. Christ will return when the church has accomplished her task of taking the Gospel to the entire world.
b. The Church's responsibility is not to save the world, but the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom is powerful and transformative.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/822270.Gospel_of_the_Kingdom
Web (November 8, 2013)


The Great Adi Shakti Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
The Paraclete Shri Mataji
"Without breaking the Sahasrara (Kingdom of God) we could not have achieved the ascent en masse... To keep Sahasrara open should be very easy if the western brains could understand and be aware of your Mother (Paraclete/Holy Spirit). When your Mother is the Deity of Sahasrara (Kingdom of God) the only way to be able to keep the Sahasrara open has to be complete surrendering....

The area of the Sahasrara is the realm of God. When the Brahmarandhra opens fully then the heavens open within yourself. The Kundalini, which has risen up and given you Realization, creates the opening by which the Divine starts pouring all its subtleties inside your brain...

All of us can achieve that state of Nirvikalpa... After Nirvikalpa you cannot come down."

The Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Vienna, Austria — May 4, 1985


The Great Adi Shakti Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
The Paraclete Shri Mataji
"So one has to understand that evolutionary process is absolutely free, without any effort and you can't pay for your evolution. It is spontaneous. Like you have this Mother Earth and you put the seed in it, then it sprouts by itself. What do you do? Nothing. It is spontaneous and that's what exactly happens to you, that spontaneously you achieve that state of the Spirit....

So science cannot answer many questions and one of them is that why are we on this Earth? What is the purpose of our life? What is the goal of our life? What is our identity? This question is not asked and, if asked, they cannot answer. They cannot answer this simple question," Why are we on this Earth?" But one has to know that we are on this Earth to become the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of God. This is our purpose. That's why we are here and then to be the instruments of that Divine Power, which is All-Pervading."

The Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Philadelphia, USA — October 15, 1993


The Great Adi Shakti Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
The Paraclete Shri Mataji
"You cannot force on the organization of God anything. He is on His own, His organization is on His own. Only thing you can do is to enter into His Kingdom and become a part and parcel of that blissful domain.

You would never like to change it either. It is so wonderful. It is so protective, it's so loving, is so gentle, so kind, so compassionate, that you would hate to change that organization, but we do! We try to organize God.

For people who think that is the ultimate you have to seek, it's all arranged to enter into the Kingdom of God. The time has come. This is the Day of Resurrection. These are the days of Resurrection."

The Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Hampstead, UK — July 22, 1982




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