Kingdom of God

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What is the meaning that Jesus gives to the “Kingdom of God”?

Danielle D. Brewer

Professor William Ward
Foundation of Christian Faith
Saint Leo University
Center for Online Learning
3 February 2013

What is the meaning that Jesus gives to the “Kingdom of God?”

Many scholars have pondered over the question as to the meaning Jesus gives to the “Kingdom of God”. The one thing many scholars agree on is that this proclamation constitutes Jesus’ public ministry. It is interesting to note that the kingdom of God is at the soul of Jesus’ teachings. Another interesting note is that the kingdom of God appears 103 times in the Synoptic Gospels in the New Testament, but is unheard of in the Old Testament.

Let’s take a look at and consider Jesus’ first ministry as recorded in Mark 1:15, which states, “the time promised by God hast come at last,’ he answered. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the good news!”

Mueller mentions that these words in Mark’s gospel constitute Jesus’ ministry (Mueller 109). One thing is certain, is that scholars from all over have tried to come up with a possible meaning as to what Jesus was trying to say. Here we will take a look at a couple of interpretations, since this is all we have to go on.

In his article, Donn Walter Leatherman, mentions Christianities message has often been portrayed in a highly individualized and spiritualized form: Jesus came to die for your sins; you must accept him as your personal savior; this will guarantee you eternal life (Leatherman 16). Leatherman further cites that this may be true, but it constitutes only a small part of Jesus’ message (16+). Furthermore, according to Leatherman, most of Jesus’ public proclamation was not about forgiveness, but “the good news of the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:23, 9:35) (16+).

Leatherman states in his article, that George Edon Ladd made the remark, “This theme of the coming of the kingdom of God was central to [Jesus’] mission (16+). Leatherman also contends that Christian theological tradition has often focused on the word “gospel” on forensic

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justification, but for Jesus, it is not the term justification which is at the center of the good news, but kingdom (16+).
In addition, Leatherman avows that it is the choice of terms is essentially political (16+). Furthermore, he mentions that when Jesus said, “kingdom” be brought to mind in the thinking of his hearers, the only example for the “state” known to them (16+). Leatherman mentions that little else was known at that time, anywhere, by anyone (16 +). Further, Leatherman contends that the closest synonym in biblical Greek to “state” would be bal ilea or “kingdom” (16+). Leatherman states that in the New Testament when basilica (kingdom) was used, it would have inevitably held political connotations for the original hearers (16+). Leatherman is of the opinion that by announcing the “kingdom of god”, Jesus called for a new political existence, but one which would not resemble “the king of the world” (16+). Leatherman also states that this new nation has not only different laws, but a different constitution, is that it is organized in a fundamentally different way… (16+).

In his conclusion, Leatherman avows that it is for the aforementioned reason that Jesus is asked when the kingdom of God would ever come, he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There! For behold the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21) (16+). Furthermore, it is the contention of Leatherman that Jesus disregards the question of when the kingdom will come and preempts the question of where it will come (16+). He states that it does not come with obvious signs – as a worldly kingdom would – but it is among the hearers (16+). In as much as, Leatherman avows it exists of relationships between them and Jesus and between them and each other (16+). Also,...
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