I would like to add something to the verses you quoted above which I think is very important to understand exactly what Jesus was saying.
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
The last verses of the text I think are quite clear in meaning. The parable is not about the Jewish people, it is specifically about the priests and the Pharisees. It says so right there.
I understand what you are saying. The problem is that you haven't stated what the kingdom of God is. Jesus said that it was going to be taken from them and given to a people producing fruit. What was taken from them?
"What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!" (Romans 11:7, 11, 12 ESV)
The kingdom of God was theirs for the taking. They had obeyed the Law so that they would remain in God's covenant and enjoy His promises when they came. So what happened? They rejected it. And those that followed the Pharisees and teachers of the Law rejected the kingdom of God. The elect among them (the Jews) obtained it. Jesus made it obvious who the elect were:
"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word." (John 17:6 ESV)
The elect were the disciples and those among the Jews that believed them. This is consistent with everything I've been saying on this thread.
The kingdom of God was the promises to Abraham. If you remember, they included, "Your seed shall be a great nation" and "All tribes of the earth will be blessed through you." The kingdom of God came to Abraham's seed when the tribes of Israel received the Law and conquered the Promised Land. That was taken from them when Babylon conquered Judah and exiled the Jews to Babylon. It was never given back to them, even with the rebuilding of the temple. They were still in Gentile control. In the second century BC, the Jews revolted against the Greeks. That is what Jesus meant that the violent have been taking the kingdom of heaven by force. The kingdom came on God's time, but the Jews sought to take it by force from those that God appointed over them. The kingdom, then, was the promised kingdom.
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within (Or among) you.”
This verse clearly reflects the idea that the Kingdom of God was not considered to be the Nation of Israel. Neither the Pharisees or even Jesus accepted that view or the verse above would not exist.
The correct rendering of within in Greek is 'in your midst.' Jesus was talking about Himself. He was the kingdom of God. The prophets spoke of one that would announce the coming of the Messiah, the one would establish God's kingdom of righteousness. So, when the Jews saw John the Baptist and believed him to be a prophet, they were certain that the Messiah was to be announced. If you recall, Samuel the prophet first administered his office of prophet by anointing Israel's first and second kings. So, when Jesus came, the kingdom was at hand. When He resurrected, He received authority over heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18.) The kingdom of God had come.
It was a literal kingdom. Not just a spiritual one lived out by the Church. I will explain more of that in a bit.
Agreed! So, the Pharisees believed that independence would come to the Jews when the Messiah came. The kingdom was literally the Covenant and Promises made to Abraham. And this is what the Pharisees and teachers of the Law wanted for themselves. The Pharisees, portrayed in Luke 16's parable of the rich man and Lazarus, died (symbolic for Jerusalem's destruction) and found Lazarus (the unwanted; including the Gentiles) were in Abraham's bosom (the kingdom of God; the Promises of God.) Paul defends that idea by saying most of Israel did not obtain the promises but that it was given to the Gentiles.
Rabbi Rachmon in the Jerusalem Talmud wrote that:
When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them: they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: 'Woe unto us for the sceptre has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come'. (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, 24)
Jesus himself was quite clear by what he meant by "Kingdom of God".
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
John speaks from a theological perspective. He was indeed right that His kingdom was not of this world, for Jesus spent much time calling the generation He was living in a brook of vipers; a wicked generation. The kingdom of God was not for them, but for those of faith that would produce works of righteousness; for the kingdom of God is the kingdom of righteousness. Paul went into great detail to show that the Jews didn't obtain the promises because they were under the curse of the Law (Deut. 28:15-68 ), which Jesus took upon Himself in the place of those that believed on Him (Gal. 3:13.) Those who followed Jesus would produce fruits of righteousness. Paul explained that, as long as one is under the Law, he cannot please God; for the law was given to rule over the unrighteous, not the righteous.
So, you're saying that the kingdom of God, which was mentioned in Matthew 21 is not the same kingdom of heaven that was mentioned in Matthew 21? They are the same thing.
Let me ask you a question. Does Jesus currently rule? If so, then the kingdom has come and all of creation belongs to Him.
While I agree that the kingdom of God is the Gospel, I do not agree that the Gospel is solely a transformation of the inner man. The kingdom denotes more than one person. The apostles received the kingdom. Their disciples received the kingdom. Eventually, all nations, except for the Jewish Nation (except for the remnant that was elected; the apostles and first disciples) received the kingdom.
And I will defend this if you bear with me:
"So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11-15 ESV)
Salvation was that the Gentiles were included into the Covenant that God made with Abraham, the Covenant of Promise. Beforehand, the Gentiles were excluded. Even Jesus said, "Salvation is of the Jews." If you continue with the neoplatonic attribution to Christian theology only, you'll miss the great wealth of understanding that the Bible can provide about the depths of the Gospel. We are not waiting on God's kingdom to come. It HAS come. Otherwise, Christ is not ruling, contrary to what is said in Matthew 28:18.
You're having trouble with this because you are not considering the history of the Gospel, especially as laid out in the New Testament. As shown in John 17:6, God had chosen an elect group from the Jews, a remnant (Rom. 11:1-5) that was supposed to always follow Jesus. This group was not going to be misled when false prophets came announcing to the Jews between 66 and 70 CE that they should go to Jerusalem to be delivered. The elect didn't fall for it, and thus suffered shame and death at the hand of other Jews. The rest of the Jews in Judea fled to Jerusalem, where they were destroyed by the Romans. (Matthew 24:15-28 ) If you read Flavius Josephus' account of Jerusalem's destruction, it was very devastating. Approximately 1.1 million Jews died in Jerusalem, not counting the thousands killed in other provinces solely for being Jews.
So the 144,000 were the apostles and their disciples that were chosen to not follow their brethren to Jerusalem. They were sealed when they fled Jerusalem. Because they fled Jerusalem, they brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. Then the earth was harmed by six trumpets, meaning Jerusalem was destroyed.
It is by the preaching of the gospel by the 144000 that the multitudes turn to Jesus (Rev 7:9), when exactly did this ever happen? (Rev. 7 the whole chapter) If it hasn't happened yet then it is a future event yet to come.
It is not future. It happened already. The Jews that were sealed by God to always follow Jesus, the first disciples, brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. That explains why there is an uncountable amount of Gentiles dressed in white after the 144,000 are sealed. Revelation 12 shows the story of Israel in exile and under Gentile control, awaiting the kingdom of God. The kingdom comes in the form of a manchild who was caught up to God and his throne. Then the chosen remnant fled Judea. There, they suffered persecution at the hands of both Jews and Romans. Because they were faithful, they were outside of the Law and could not be accused by Satan. So the serpent tried to get the elect to join the Jews in Jerusalem to fight the Romans but the Jews were destroyed. Then Satan went out to make war on her offspring; those who obey the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus; the Gentiles. It all lines up. Its not future. It has already happened. Thing kingdom is here and now, and Jesus rules now.
It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first. Since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we are turning to the Gentiles, because this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles that you should bring salvation to the end of the earth.’
Paul NEVER called himself anything but a Jew.
And he was correct! But Jew was not just a theological position back then. It was an ethnic position. In the message addressed to the church of Philadelphia, Jesus criticizes 'those who say they are Jews, but are not,' saying that they would come and bow in service to the church in Philadelphia. Evidently, Jesus was talking about the true Jews, the elect remnant.
I disagree. Everything I am saying is coming from Scripture.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-12 ESV)
I think the bolded part proves my point. Paul obviously understood that God had predestined him, the apostles, and those who believed their message to believe so that the Gospel would successfully withstand all of Satan's attacks and deceptions and reach the Gentiles. That Gospel, when it was accepted in those nations, conquered those nations.
Like when kings would set their statue in a foreign land to show that they now had dominion over that land, so did Christ set His Church in all nations, taking over those nations by His great mercy and grace. We should be very thankful to God for the elect.
Edited by Bluefinger, 17 January 2013 - 05:39 AM.