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Kingdom of God

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Topics: Jesus, Judaism, Jews
Kingdom of God
La Vonia Faulkner
Grand Canyon University
New Testament Foundations
BIB/502
Dr. Kennedy Adarkwa
January 07, 2013

Kingdom of God
Describing what is meant by the Kingdom of God can be very complex, because so many people has set forth to describe this phrase to the best of their own knowledge, and generally each of these descriptions differs. Personally, besides the many verses in the Bible that are relative to the subject, it is best described by Donald B. Kraybill. In Kraybill’s novel “The Upside-down Kingdom” he writes; “The Kingdom of God is a collectivity—a network of persons who have yielded their hearts and relationships to the reign of God.” “He also notes that people must enter the kingdom because it is a state of affairs rather than a state of mind (p.19).” The Kingdom then, represents God’s power of ruling, his authority, and basically his government. “His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables” (Luke 8:9, 10). Unless an individual is a born again Christian he will not understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. The Jewish sects Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots are noted as being developed during the time of the second temple through the tenth century. This is the period that it seems that the Jewish sects were most generative. The Jewish people noted only three philosophical sects which are Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, of the three Essenes is noted as being the one with the most severe discipline. According to Josephus, [War of the Jews] 1 chapter 8.2 Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, Zealots were divided into three groups which were criminal, nationalist and Philosophical (religious). The Sadducees and the Pharisees really seem to be as religious as they were political. History tells us that in ancient societies political and religious laws were pretty much the same. Moreover, the Sadducees and the Pharisees did seem to have a bit more interest in that of political power than what was religiously correct. This we know was absolutely not pleasing to our God. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrew 13:8). Regardless to the ways and or the thoughts of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and the Zealots one thing that remains the same and will never change is the fact that our God does not change his mind or act indifferent towards his children regardless of the mishaps that we may allow ourselves to experience. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13, 1). This verse pretty much says it all when referring to the political convictions discussed by Josephus, God is in control of all situations regardless to whether it is written in the Old or New Testament. According to Josephus, the Zealots were described as political and grouped as nationalists. However, it seemed that their religious beliefs were indivisible from their political convictions. Moreover, this is not an indication that all of the sects of the second temple were more political than religious, the truth of the matter is that there was not much partition between the two. The Essenes, Sadducees and the Pharisees stand out to more people than the rest of the sects because it is said that they were supposedly better known to people than the rest of the sects, and some people seem to think that the Pharisees were forefathers of the Rabbis. The Sadducees; were different in their own way, they were not the Jewish people that simply did not believe in resurrection, nor did they believe that heaven exists. Strangely, the Sadducees were of the group that only accepted the Torah, as authoritative, this strange group of individuals were known to not be very popular with the rest of the Jewish population. “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all” (Acts 23:8). During or around the time of 2nd century B.C there existed a monastic Jewish sect that was referred to as the Essenes. They were known to reside somewhere not far from the Dead Sea. They were pretty much isolated from the entire Jewish community. Notably, the Essenes seemed to have had closer relationships towards each other than any other sects, and were said to be Jewish by birth. The Essenes neglected matrimony but choose out of other families children to be of their family and transformed them according to their personal likings, and had a huge amount of respect and obedience for their elders. If at any time they complained against their elders or authorities they would be expelled from their community, more strangely than that if an elder was even touched by a younger person they were casted as being dirty. There is an overwhelming amount of information that openly describes how the Messianic expectation of the various sects, differs from the Messianic role that Jesus presented. Examples would be as follows; The Essenes was known as a Jewish religious sect and was in fact not mentioned in the Bible, but was indeed mentioned on the Dead Sea Scrolls. This particular group adapted to their life according to the law of the Jews, and they opposed Temple priesthood. The Pharisees were different because they were more of a prominent sect of Jewish people in the time of Christ. They were in disagreement with Jesus and his teachings. “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus” (Mathew 12:14). The Pharisees had absolutely no love for Jesus and felt that the world would be a better place without him obviously. The Sadducees were additionally, another renowned Jewish religious sect. Their beliefs differed in another way because they only accepted more hideous things like the laws and rejections of the oral traditions; which included immortality of the soul; denial of body resurrection and existence of the spirit world. In addition, they supported families of Jewish patriots of the first and second centuries B.C. whom were totally active in the liberation of Judea from the Syrian rule. Lastly, we will discuss the difference in the Zealots concerning the Messianic expectations. The Zealots will take a total twist here from the above mentioned sects. The reason being is because according to the Bible Simon was a Zealot “Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot” (Luke 6:15). The Zealots preferred armed mutiny against Rome, in doing so they thought that God would deliver Israel with the sword. Faithfully, acknowledging the Spirit of Jesus, he {Jesus} is lead into the wilderness for the sole intention of being tempted by the devil. “He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him” (Mark 1:13). This place of wilderness was not fit for human life, water was accessible but it was an unpopulated region. “When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me, for God cannot be tempted by the devil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13), but instead, Jesus is lead, into a situation by the devil that could possibly tempt him. Jesus teaches us to pray that we are not lead into temptations, but yet he is lead into temptations while on earth so this is what the devil set out to do, which was take Jesus through the test of temptations.

References
Kraybill, Donald B. The Upside Down Kingdom Revised Ed. Scottsdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1990. 275pg. May 20, 2006
Second Temple Sects
The Complete Works Of Flavious Josephus
The Pharisees and other sects - edited with a preface by Jacob Neusne, Retrieved from http://Judaism.about.com/gi/dynamicof Josephus/.HTM on January 7, 2013

References: Kraybill, Donald B. The Upside Down Kingdom Revised Ed. Scottsdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1990. 275pg. May 20, 2006 Second Temple Sects The Complete Works Of Flavious Josephus The Pharisees and other sects - edited with a preface by Jacob Neusne, Retrieved from http://Judaism.about.com/gi/dynamicof Josephus/.HTM on January 7, 2013

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