Mandy's Musings

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Kingdom of God in Luke's gospel

Any of you greek guru's out there up for giving me a hand on Luke 17:21.

This originally came up while in a Simply Christianity group with a few of people last school term. Someone in the group mentioned that they had read that Jesus had said that the Kingdom of God was 'within' and had taken it to mean that everybody had the kingdom inside of them, it was only a matter or realisation.

The problem was that until last week the person couldn't tell us where it came from, and as he'd described it I didn't recognise it as Luke 17:21, which in the greek is:
ουδε ερουσιν ιδου ωδε η εκει ιδου γαρ η βασιλεια του θεου εντος υμων εστιν

Variously translated:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. KJV

nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you*." (*Or within you, or within your grasp) ESV


Now as far as I can work out Jesus is drawing a contrast here for the pharisees who are looking for the Kingdom of God in external signs. But he can not saying that the Kingdom is within or internal to the pharisees, because he has described the pharisees in Luke 11 and 16 as having wicked and evil hearts.

What do you think? Can you help me out in my ongoing discussion with our friend?

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4 Comments:

  • Who answered my facebook status question about this verse!

    I think the use of entos in v21 has the sense of "amongst". That is to say that the Kingdom is seen in people from amongst the group to which the Pharisees are speaking.

    What it can't mean is that the Kingdom is internalised. It is, after all, spoken to the Pharisees who are, classically, outside the Kingdom.

    Nor is it something immediately visible. So, you look at a crowd of people and the presence of the Kingdom is not obvious but, if there are CHristians there then the Kingdom is amongst the crowd.

    By Anonymous David, at Saturday, August 04, 2007 5:16:00 pm  

  • Isn't it a christological comment? ie, the KoG is among you: ie, me - 'I have come among Israel'?

    The Tolstoy style interpretation (internalised spiritual state) is I think a bit of an anachronism: you just don't see this kind of language in the NT (unambiguously, anyway)

    By Blogger michael jensen, at Saturday, August 04, 2007 5:38:00 pm  

  • on facebook ...

    20-21 is a pronouncement by Jesus. In response to being asked when the k comes (20a), J answers how the k does not come (20b-21a) then where the k is (21b).

    present tense of erxetai in the question and response could be futuristic but is more likely the simple force: "when is it coming?"

    options for "with observation" (meta parathrhsews) are
    > legal observation like in gal 4.10 - ie prepare with a level of righteousness (but no hint of legal language in luke)
    > hidden nature of the kingdom, coming not visibly but mysteriously (but following verses about the glorious son of man's coming contradict this)
    > general apocalyptic signs, typical of early jewish apocalyptic lit, including the desire to interpret the arrival of the k by what's seen.

    Jesus isn't objecting to calendar-reckoning so much as to the failure of the pharisees to notice the present sign-of-the-time standing in front of them and look for other signs instead.

    the gar explains why one needs not hunt for the kingdom (contrasting with the previous verse)

    "he basilea" is first and "entos umwn estin" is held off til the end, putting a double emphasis on kingdom and the time of its coming: by leaving the estin right to the end,the emphasis is shifted slightly to the present nature of the kingdom. The sign is Jesus.

    the meaning of how the kingdom "coming", "is" and "with observation" turns on the twin issues of (a) whether the k is future of present and (b) what entos humwn means.

    (the only other NT use of entos is mat 23.26 where it's the inside of a cup)

    3 options for (b)
    1: inside you (strange for J to say this to pharisees and not to disciples)
    2: in your grasp/power (focus on need to repent, ends up conceptually similar to 3))
    3: in your presence/before you: the pharisees confront the kingdom in Jesus. Similar idea to luke's "en meso" as in 2.46, 8.7, 10.3 etc

    In terms of present or future, Bock discards future and goes with the straightforward reading:

    one need not search high and low for the kingdom or look for a sign in the sky about it, for its presence is here now. It is present in the person of Jesus and his offer of forgiveness and in the community of faith that he spawns and rules.

    If the pharisees read the sign of the present time correctly (12.54-56) the would recognize the king and god's kingdom programme. Jesus coming inaugurates the kingdom,the process of k growth has begun (13.18-20). Much of Luke is concerned with this. WHether J teaches or heals, J is the fulfilment of OT hopes (7.22).

    Luke wants ppl to realise that to deal with God, one must go through Jesus.

    hope that helps.

    By Anonymous Roger, at Saturday, August 04, 2007 5:45:00 pm  

  • On the idea of the KOG being "within you." I have another possibility. Remember, Jesus is specifically addressing the Pharisees, who are often shown as hostile to JEsus. Yet, he definitely says, "The KOG is within YOU" (ie. the Pharisees). Bearing in mind that the Pharisees were the acknowledged experts in the JEwish scriptures, in their contents & interpretation - could Jesus have been implying that intellectually, they "know" all there is to know about the KOG. They just need to reapply that "knowledge" to what JEsus is saying and doing to realise that the KOG has arrived (or at least begun) in the person and work of JEsus. Ironically, they are so busy looking to the future for "signs" of the KOG that they have failed to recognise what is in front of their eyes.

    Just a thought. I would be glad to hear what others think. Sue M

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, October 12, 2007 1:46:00 am  

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