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Madeleine Buisseret

Jesus teachings on the kingdom were confused. Discuss (35)


The Kingdom of God is undoubtedly at the centre of Jesus ministry. Not only is it the founding principal of His first words, but his parables, miracles and ethical teachings are also deeply routed in the concept. Jesus assumes his audience understands the Kingdom foundation that was laid in the Hebrew Scriptures. When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God he speaks of the time of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants; a time of a restored earth where the faithful will worship and serve their God forever under the rulership of a righteous leader of the Davidic line. This was the Messianic hope of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and was carried over and echoed in the words of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul and others in the Greek Scriptures. Jesus would attach the theme of the gospel message itself with this Kingdom idea. Luke 4:43 tells the reader that Jesus' very purpose for being sent was to "preach the gospel about the Kingdom." He then would send out his disciples to speak this message even before they understood anything about his death and resurrection. The seed that must be sown in the hearts of men was also identified as the word of the Kingdom by Jesus in Matthew 13:19. Shorthand for the word of the kingdom was given in Mark and Luke's version of the parable of the sower as "the word" in Mark 4:14 and "the word of God" in Luke 8:11. The major area of conflict and discussion amongst Jesus scholars is the proximity of Jesus Kingdom, and some argue that Jesus was in fact confused about the coming of the kingdom. Albert Schweitzer argued that Jesus and his disciples were of the mind that the world was about to change with the coming of the kingdom, yet this did not happen, and he therefore Schweitzer claims that Jesus was mistaken in his eschatological ideas about the kingdom, saying Christs ministry counted only upon the eschatological realization of the kingdom, and Jesuss own words in Mark 13:18, Pray that it may not be in the winter. However, this is clearly doctrinally problematic, since Jesus is the Son of God, and it seems implausible to consider he would be incorrect about His own teachings. Schweitzers reconstruction of Jesus ministry is highly selective in his choice of articles, and is arbitrary and thus easily dismissed, since he is not even a Jewish literature scholar.

Madeleine Buisseret

Albert Schweitzer, and Johannes Weiss argued that Jesus Kingdom was intended to be a wholly futuristic kingdom. These scholars looked to the apocalyptic traditions of various Jewish groups existing at the time of Jesus as the basis of their study. In this view, Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher who would bring about the end times and when he did not see the end of the cosmic order coming Jesus embraced death as a tool in which to provoke God into action. On the other hand, scholars such as T.W Manson and A.T Cadoux argued that the Kingdom was fully manifest in the present teaching and actions of Jesus. Through his words and deeds the "Kingdom" was brought into the present reality of Palestine. Using Matthew and Lukes accounts, these scholars argue the present kingdom case through Matthew 12 If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of of God has come upon you. Since Jesus drove demons out of people throughout his life, it implies that the Kingdom of God is already present amongst the people of Israel. Looking at Luke 17 The Kingdom of God is within you... it certainly implies that the Kingdom of God is not some cataclysmic future event; it has in fact already crept into the lives of the Israelites. The most common view of the kingdom in recent scholarship is to embrace the truths of both these parties; present reality and future manifestation. Some scholars who take this view are N.T Wright and G.R. Beasley-Murray. In their views, the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of will be fully realized in the future but it is also in a process of emergence into the present. This means that Jesus deeds and words have an immediate effect on the kingdom even though it was not fully manifested during his life. C.H Dodd coined realized eschatology and largely based his argument on Luke 11:20, and Luke 17:21, claiming that "the kingdom of God has come to you" and the kingdom of God is within you, as well as the evidence from Daniel in the Old Testament, Isaiah 6:5 and Zechariah 14:9. This hybrid blend of present and future is the carving of the middle ground between Schweitzer and Crossan (i.e the polarized views of present and future), and argues that the Kingdom of God has arrived with Jesus, and thus there is a present manifestation of the kingdom in Jesus ministry, as well as a future manifestation of the kingdom which will usher in the new age in all its fullness. H. Cadbury argues that Jesus was not a systematic thinker with a unified purpose; we should take care when looking at the gospels, because they were obviously written by different people, at different times, catering their writings to address the different issues. Jesus said, Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom

Madeleine Buisseret

of God has come with power, but as time moved on after Jesus death, the Kingdom seemed less and less likely to appear. It is plausible to think that the gospel writers felt compelled to alter the content of their gospel to address this issue in order to explain what is happening to the Jewish people. Mark, who arguably wrote his gospel first, often portrayed a very immediate arrival of the kingdom. However, time went by and the Kingdom still did not come, so Matthews gospel implies that there may be a bit of a wait until the Kingdom gets here (evidence for this can be shown in the parable of the bridesmaids, the bridegroom was delayed (Matthew 25:5). Luke then wrote his gospel even later, when there most likely was dissolution and confusion amongst the Jews, and declared that Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit ahead of him, to inaugurate the disciples and form the beginning of the Church. The Church would teach and narrate the scriptures, keeping the faith until Jesus returned, which would be a significant amount of time away. Upon consulting the theories, the evidence seems to argue that J. Jeremias eschatology in the process of realization with Dodds idea of blending the future and present manifestations, is the most promising (as well as one of the most popular) interpretations of Jesus Kingdom. There is a balance between the present and the future, and we can hardly deny either one.