Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kingdom Series: Were the Pharisees having the Kingdom "within" them?

Dear in Christ,

Jesus was often annoyed by the cherry picking attitude of the scribes and Pharisees, he called them:

Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

The fault of the scribes and Pharisees was that they ignored the weightier things of the law (fair judgment, mercy and faith) and held on to less important features of the Law, like tithing and ritualistic purity.

These days Christian scholars have assumed the role of the scribes and Pharisees in swallowing camels! They ignore what is important and vital and cling on to minor points.

Let me come to the point. While Jesus said:

Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within[G1787] you.

for rest of us, it means that the Kingdom of God is within us. But, many theologians and scholars find the thought unacceptable. These could be their objections:

  • Kingdom of God (according to them) is a piece of real estate, how can it be within us, believers? 
  • Jesus was addressing Pharisees while uttering these words (Luke 17:20). How can the Kingdom of God be within Pharisees?

In order to overcome these objections, they came up with a few solutions.

Solution #1: make "within" to "among".

There are quite a few translations of the Bible that renders Luke 17:21 replacing "within" with "amidst", "in the middle" and "among" (ESV, ISV, LITV, MKJV, etc.). They interpret the Kingdom of God as Jesus, because he was standing among the Pharisees. Though they generally interpret the Kingdom of God as an earthly kingdom, in the case of this verse they make it into an individual - Jesus.

This interpretation would have worked, had not the true meaning of the Greek word (G1787 in Strong's) used in this verse been exposed by the only other New Testament passage where it is used:

Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within[G1787] the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Try applying "among", "in the middle", and "among" to this passage and see for yourself whether it makes sense. In the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) also this word is used several times where it cannot mean anything other than "within", "in" or "inside". (the following scriptures are from Apostolic Polyglot, a word-for-word translation of Greek Old Testament.)
Job 2:8 And he took to himself a potsherd so as [the pus to scrape]; and he sat down within[G1787] the ashes.
Psa 39:3 heated My heart within[G1787] me; ...

Psa 103:1 Bless O my soul the LORD, and all the things within[G1787] me, bless name his holy!

Psa 109:22 Rescue me, for poor and needy I am! and my heart is disturbed within[G1787] me.

Son 3:10 His columns he made of silver, and his couch of gold, his step purple; within[G1787] it stone pavement a love from the daughters of Jerusalem.

Isa 16:11 On account of this my belly for Moab as a harp shall sound, and the things within[G1787] me as a wall you renewed.
So, whatever be the opinions of scholars and theologians, what Jesus said was "the Kingdom of God is WITHIN you" and nothing else.

Solution #2, prove that the Kingdom of God was not with/within Pharisees.

If scholars are right in their theory that the Kingdom was not within the Pharisees, Jesus was in wrong in telling the Pharisees and Chief Priests that the Kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation:

Mat 21:43 Therefore say I unto you (the chief priests and Pharisees - Mat 21:45), The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
You cannot take away from someone something they do not possess! The point of time at which Jesus uttered these words Jews did not have an earthly kingdom, so, the talk is not about an earthly kingdom at all.

Jews were the children of the Kingdom - before gentiles received the Kingdom.

[For the rest of the discussion we will be using natural Israel to denote the biological descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel and the term spiritual Israel for believing Jews and gentiles, together.]

Have you noticed that before the spiritual Israel was accepted into the kingdom, the natural Israel were the children of the kingdom? The following passage is evidently about spiritual Israel receiving the kingdom and unbelieving children of Israel being cast out: (the context is of Jesus healing a certain gentile centurion's servant.)

Mat 8:10 ...Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (as contrasted to the faith of the gentile centurion.)Mat 8:11 And I say unto you, That many (spiritual Israel) shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 8:12 But the children of the kingdom (natural Israel) shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Friends, there is no denying the fact that the natural Israel were the children of the kingdom before the unbelieving ones were cast out. And, there is no reasonable way to prove that their casting out didn't happen in the first century; if they weren't, we are not accepted.

Whether scholars agree or not, the Kingdom was with the natural Israel. Since it is not an earthly kingdom, it should have been within them.
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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