The View of Scholar on the Kingdom of God

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by David W. Baker. It is posted with permission from the author.
I. Introduction
The Kingdom of God has been one of the dominant topics of New Testament study in this century. The reason is obvious. Many scholars, both conservative and critical, regard the kingdom of God as “the central theme” of Jesus’ public proclamation.1 In fact, a plethora of monographs has poured forth since Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer made the case that Jesus’ teaching was profoundly Jewish, drenched in intense eschatological hope.2 This new view contended against nineteenth century views, which moralized the kingdom and made it palatable to modern taste by arguing it was merely an expression of ethical sensitivity raised up in the hearts of men. In contrast, Weiss and Schweitzer argued that Jesus’ claim for the kingdom anticipated God’s stark intervention in the very near future that would reshape the creation. The view became known as “consistent,” “thorough-going” or “imminent” eschatology.
For Weiss, the kingdom was purely religious, not ethical; purely future, not present in any way. The Kingdom would be God’s final miracle with Jesus functioning in his current ministry as Messias designatus.3 For Weiss, Jesus believed that he would one day become the Son of Man. At first, Jesus believed that this would occur during his lifetime, and later in his ministry, he anticipated it to come shortly after His death.4 It is a heritage that Jesus believed he possessed, though he had not yet entered into it.
For Schweitzer, Jesus expected the end to come at first in his ministry. As he sent out the twelve in mission (Matthew 10:23), he believed that before they finished their tour of the cities of Israel, the Son of Man would come and bring the kingdom. Its appearance would mean the end of the present age, and he would be transformed into the Son of Man. When the disciples returned from their mission without this taking place, Jesus’ hopes of the end changed. It would take suffering,

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