Jesus preaches the kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

Mat 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Mat 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus prays this to God. This was Jesus’ main ministry on Earth, and it was for this that Jesus strove. Jesus believed God was in heaven and God would soon usher in a new Kingdom on Earth. This Kingdom was a melding of Heaven and Earth. In this sense, God’s Kingdom would come. God’s rule would be established on Earth as it currently is being administered in heaven (this suggests God’s rule is currently not being enjoyed on Earth).

Jesus’ prayer to God is oft repeated by Church-goers, but they seem to gloss over the significance of Jesus’ words. His prayer is made figurative, rather than accepted at face value. But in Jesus’ day, the Jews were expecting something radically different than what modern Christians expect:

Dan 7:27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

This is the hope of Jewish eschatology. God would return to Earth and establish His Kingdom. Israel would rule this Kingdom and the Gentiles would bring tribute (see Isaiah 61:6). In a limited sense, the Gentiles could even join Israel (see Isaiah 66:21). In this context, Jesus really does pray that God bring His Kingdom to Earth and establish His rule. This is what Jesus widely preaches, and this is the preaching that Jesus calls on his listeners to believe for salvation.

Jesus follows in a long line of prophets that have preceded him. This is illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard:

Mat 21:33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country.
Mat 21:34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.
Mat 21:35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
Mat 21:36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.
Mat 21:37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
Mat 21:38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’
Mat 21:39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Mat 21:40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

This parable is meant to apply to Jesus. Jesus is the son. The former servants are the dead prophets that litter Israel’s history (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc), of which John the Baptist was the most immediate prophet. John preached a coming Kingdom of God in which God would judge the wicked and the righteous would rule:

Mat 3:2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

This is John’s main preaching. John believes the end is near and people need to prepare themselves. This Kingdom is a rule by God on Earth. God returns to Earth and establishes His kingdom to rule forever. John explains the coming judgment:

Mat 3:10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Mat 3:12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Compare:

Psa 98:9 For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.

Much like the Psalmist, John preaches a coming judgment in which the entire world would be judged by God. John’s ministry was to Israel and the Psalmist identifies Israel as the special people (Psa 98:3). The righteous of all nations would worship God after this judgment.

A few points of note. John was preaching “repent of sins because God is coming to judge.” John states that the “one coming after him” will kill the wicked. This does not resemble modern Gospel teachings at all, much less the Gospel that Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15. But Jesus takes up John’s gospel:

Mar 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mar 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus’ message is very much the same as John’s. The people were to repent of their sins because God would soon bring His kingdom to Earth. Much like John’s version, Jesus claims that there will be a sudden and violent destruction of the wicked:

Mat 13:40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
Mat 13:42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Mat 13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous
Mat 13:50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Angels are the “reapers”. The reapers scour the Earth to round up the wicked. These will be gathered together and burned to death. While the wicked die, the righteous inherent the new Kingdom of God on Earth. Elsewhere, this cleansing is styled as a separation of sheep from goats:

Mat 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Mat 25:33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

After the wicked are destroyed, the righteous again are said to inherit the Kingdom. This Kingdom appears to already exist in some form. In Revelation 21 this Kingdom is said to descend from Heaven in a merging of Heaven and Earth (Rev 21:2). Jesus, most likely, has something similar in mind:

Mat 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

And

Mat 26:64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

People are to watch the sky for the coming Kingdom. After this, God rounds up those who are faithful (recall Mat 13:49). These faithful will then inherit the Kingdom of God.

Jesus talks much about this Kingdom of God. In it his twelve disciples would rule from twelve thrones:

Luk 22:28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials,
Luk 22:29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom,
Luk 22:30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Next Jesus describes the Gentiles coming to the Kingdom, in the same manner described in Isaiah 56:7. Compare:

Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard [the faith of a Gentile], He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
Mat 8:11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 8:12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Isa 56:7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

This is a place where people eat and bring sacrifices.

In this Kingdom, the righteous might even be missing eyes due to self-mutilation:

Mar 9:47 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, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—
Mar 9:48 where ‘THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’

Even after Jesus dies and rises again, his disciples are expecting this coming Kingdom of God:

Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Notice the focus on Israel. Jewish eschatology was centered on the fact that Israel was to be the pinnacle of this Kingdom of God. Jesus preached nothing that would convince his followers otherwise. The Jews were the focus of this coming salvation from the wicked, yet Gentiles would remain on Earth and serve God through Israel. Jesus preaches just this. Compare:

Joh 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

Psa 67:2 That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Psa 67:3 Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Psa 67:4 Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth. Selah
Psa 67:5 Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.

Psa 98:2 The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
Psa 98:3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Psa 98:4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.

Psa 98:9 For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.

Jesus says “Salvation is of the Jews”. To Jesus, God’s main purpose in coming to Earth is to save the Jews from their Roman oppressors. God is establishing the Jews as His chosen people in His new Kingdom. The wicked Jews and the wicked Gentiles would be put down violently. But to Jesus, the non-wicked Gentiles too had a place. Gentiles ( in the tradition of Psalms 67 and 98 and Isaiah 56, 61, and 66) would enter the Kingdom and praise God. Some would even be allowed to become Priests (Isa 66:21).

So, Jesus’ public ministry was precisely the ministry of John the Baptist (although John seems not to have taught about the Holy Spirit and Jesus did (Act 19:2)). Jesus was preaching an imminent coming Kingdom of God on Earth, ruled by God through Israel, in which Gentiles were subservient. Jesus did not preach that he was divine or would die as substitution or atonement for sins. Any time Jesus alluded to being the Messiah or divine, it is not in direct ways or to large crowds. Sometimes Jesus even defuses the situation by explaining away his statements on technicalities (Joh 10:34). In any case, Jesus only secretly preached he was the Messiah and is careful to charge his disciples to tell no man (Luk 9:21, Mat 16:20, Mat 16:21, Mar 9:30).

If Jesus had taught that he was divine or the Messiah then Jesus would have been executed much sooner. Claiming to be divine would cause rural Jews to stone Jesus instantly (Joh 8:59, Joh 10:31). Jesus would have never enjoyed the popularity he gained by this caustic message. Instead, Jesus attaches himself to John the Baptist’s ministry, which already had wide popularity (Mat 21:26).

Jesus does not repeal the law. This would also be a caustic message and a stoning offense. A suicide pact was formed against Paul for this very reason (Act 23:12). Even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus merely expounds upon Old Testament law, not contradicting the law. This was a common Jewish Rabbi practice. Jesus’ most famous saying about the law is that not one “jot or tittle” would be revoked:

Luk 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Luk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.

Paralleled in Matthew:

Mat 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
Mat 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus, here, couples the law with the Kingdom of God. Everyone who believes and does the law gains entrance to the Kingdom. Jesus will not abolish the law. The law will never fade away. Anyone teaching to break the law will possibly be extracted from the Kingdom. Only the righteous will gain entrance to the Kingdom.

This is Jesus’ gospel. God will come to Earth, establish His Kingdom, kill the wicked, bless the righteous, and establish Israel as the priest nation. This is the gospel that should compel repentance, by which people can avoid being purged by God’s wrath. This is also standard Jewish eschatology, common since the fall of Israel and before. Jesus preached the coming Kingdom of God on Earth.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Dispensationalism, God, Jesus, Kingdom Theology, People, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Jesus preaches the kingdom of God

  1. wstaylor says:

    Chris, this article shows a lot of investigative skill and consistency. That are a few points that I would, if sitting across the table from you banter over. But as I have said you are very thorough. What I do think worth taking a moment to say something about is the following paragraph.

    //If Jesus had taught that he was divine or the Messiah then Jesus would have been executed much sooner. Claiming to be divine would cause rural Jews to stone Jesus instantly (Joh 8:59, Joh 10:31). Jesus would have never enjoyed the popularity he gained by this caustic message. Instead, Jesus attaches himself to John the Baptist’s ministry, which already had wide popularity (Mat 21:26).//

    I think this has two lines of exception.

    The first is from His discourse with the woman at the well, in Samaria, and subsequently the whole town –

    “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (Joh 4:25-26 KJV)

    The second would be the Jewish expectation of Messiah and their equivalencing him with “The Son of God”.

    “And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (Joh 1:46-2:1 KJV)

    The chief priests show extreme reaction for Jesus acknowledging that he was the “Son of the Blessed…”

    ” And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” (Mar 14:60-64 KJV)

    “Son of the Blessed” cannot be relegated to the shared category of angels and men, as sometimes designated the “sons of God”.

    The article has much to commend to the thinking of objective readers and has a good stead in being published here. Thanks. W. Scott Taylor

  2. Pingback: movie review – Killing Jesus | reality is not optional

  3. Pingback: Jesus was not a pacifist | reality is not optional

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