Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kingdom Series: "the Kingdom of Heaven suffering violence"

Friends,

Much has been written about this passage:
Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Doesn't the verse sound like some coup d'état (overthrow of government, as it happened in Nigeria, Iran and Egypt) was happening in heaven? If the term "the Kingdom of Heaven" really meant God's dwelling place (somewhere up there in the sky or even outer space), doesn't the passage imply that violent people may reach there? Is it even likely or possible?

Bible scholars have various opinions about the meaning of this passage. There are many scholars who claimed that this passage is about persecutions faced by the believers in Christ. There are many who claimed that the passage is about the killing of John the Baptist and some others who say it is about the spiritual warfare of a believer against Satan and the dark, evil forces of every kind. There is even a theology expert who listed all the religions and races that he hates as "violent men".

But, a reading of the parallel passage from the Gospel of Luke makes the understanding pretty simple:

Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.


There are no bells and whistles in Luke's narration. He makes it plain that people were zealously and enthusiastically accepting the gospel of the Kingdom.

Quite often the scriptures use hyperbolic (deliberately exaggerated) language, which is not to be understood literally. There are instances where the language of warfare is used to drive home a point (See Luk 14:27-33). In this case, the language used is that of an army laying siege to a city in order to take it.

When you read the Bible without any malice and presuppositions, the concept of the Kingdom of God becomes simple.


In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal