Translated Vladimír Gunda
Part Five - The Kingdom of God
,,Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall
be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits
thereof." (Mt 21:43:00)
At this point it is
appropriate to deal with a serious objection - Scripture speaks of the God's
kingdom, or even the kingdom of heaven. How can this be reconciled with the
statement that all authority in the Kingdom of God will be taken up by people?
Isn't the kingdom of heaven in heaven? Does the Bible set a precedent for such
assumption of power?
Here we encounter the
problem of contemporary biblical terminology. Each culture creates its own way
of expressing ideas. Even cultures and communities developing side by side
create their own different vocabulary. Several millennia divide us from the
terminology of biblical times. In order to ascertain what exactly the writers
then meant under the term God's kingdom or heavenly kingdom, we must find out
in what sense this term was generally used. Let's have a look at one
Inheritance of JHVH
(Jahve, Jehova) - precedent for transfer of power
In Deuteronomy and in
Psalms there appears an inconspicuous term - Jacob/Israel is the lot of his
inheritance (KJV). (De 32:9; Ps 33:12) In Part three we discussed the
term inheritance from the legal point of view - transfer of property with all
rights and obligations of the original owner. It is logical that this transfer
is meaningful only when the heir can take advantage of such rights and is able
to carry out his obligations. Therefore wise ancestors ensure that their heir
takes over the inherited property only when he reaches adulthood.
So we face a really
serious fact - Yahweh is heir!
So what does this
1. This fact
contributes to the assumption that even Yahweh, in the astronomical scale, is
subject to forward development.
2. He must
have his ancestors (ancestor) - that is, someone He received the inheritance
from. No doubt, the Biblical report reflects a principle, which is understandable
for us mortal humans, because these ancestors are obviously not dead.
3. This is the
precedent we require- it reveals the principle of transfer of power - among
celestial spheres as well.
Just as Yahweh (1st
heaven) could obtain authority (on a hereditary basis) over Israel from his
predecessor and thus become their only God, so anointed (spiritually mature and
responsible) Christians can obtain authority over the Earth and thus also
become God. (Ex 7:1; Joh 10:34,35; God=powerful)
Note : This is a vanguard of coming
free power at the Earth level - at the level of our, in some way "zero", heaven. In Bible, heaven is sometimes a
synonym of government authority. (La 2:1;
Jer 4:23; Isa 34:2-5; Re 21:1-3) Figuratively, to be in
heaven can mean to have authority:
"... And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ..."
(Eph 2:6 KJV) This synonym logically originates from the time of
ancient theocracies, where the influence of heavenly powers, so to speak, was
What then is the
Kingdom of God?
In the days of Christ,
the Kingdom of God, or, if you like, the kingdom of heaven, was a very real
topic. John the Baptist began to preach its coming. (Mt 3:1,2) Jesus Christ
continued in his work. These are known facts, but their meaning is often
blurred. Fortunately, evangelists maintained one statement that provides a very
so I tell you," added Jesus, "the Kingdom of God will be taken away
from you and given to a people who will produce the proper fruits."
(Mt 21:43 KJV)
What does this
statement tell us:
1. The Jews
already had God's Kingdom, the kingdom of heaven (on Earth of course), but they
had to lose it.
kingdom had to be given to someone else who would meet its criteria
(simultaneously there is no reason to believe that the Kingdom of God should be
elsewhere than on Earth).
3. If any
government is to be legally declared as God's government, it must meet the
stipulated criteria (the fruit of God's spirit) or to pursue them seriously.
(Jews), although they tried, failed to meet these criteria.
Note : Today, this principle can be
compared to that of newly created states.
Such a new state is legally recognized by other states as a sovereign
state after it meets the required criteria or if there is real hope that it
will meet them, and if the newly established state reaches its power lawfully. So also the Kingdom of God - but it
has other, more serious criteria.
The question - 'What
is the Kingdom of God? can be answered that it is a system of government
meeting the criteria established by God (heaven), pursuing God's objectives.
The Kingdom of God and
Did listeners of Jesus
and John truly understand the term 'the Kingdom of God' in this way? There is
no doubt about it: "While the people
were listening to this, Jesus continued and told them a parable. He was now
almost at Jerusalem, and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was just about
to appear." (Lu 19:11 GNB)
Apostles, envisaged under the term 'God's (heavenly) kingdom' the political
power of Messiah which will defeats Rome, and will even dominate the entire
world. This is a historical fact. (e.g. J. Flavius, The Jewish War)
Even after Jesus'
resurrection the Apostles could not get rid of this idea: "When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him,
"Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?"
(Ac 1:6, GNB) If God's heavenly kingdom should not be in heaven (this idea
came into existence much later - it was developed by mystics and its spreading
was due to waiting fatigue - unfulfilled expectations), what is the mistake of
investigated, Jesus answered Pilate's question whether he was the king of the
Jews or not, somewhat mysteriously at first sight:
kingdom is not of this world: ... is my kingdom not from hence." or
"My kingdom does not belong to this world... No, my kingdom does not
belong here!" (Joh 18:36 KJV, GNB)
Isn't the statement
about the establishment of the political power of God's kingdom in conflict
with this statement of Jesus?
reproached the Christians (arguing with this statement) for seizing political
power. These reproaches suggest that such critics failed to understand the
actual situation. How should Jesus explain to Pilate
briefly and clearly:
1. That his
kingdom will gain political power (according to the precedent of the 1st
covenant) no sooner than in about 400 years (Ac 7:6,7) and so this kingdom will
relate neither to Pilate nor to ten generations of his descendants?
2. That this
kingdom will not conquer the world by sword, but by spirit (Zep 4:6; ideology
and its preaching), which was -in terms of the strategy then, and therefore in
the eyes of Pilate also- a completely absurd and ridiculous notion which Pilate
would not believe?
3. That his
kingdom will not in any way threaten the power of the then Rome? That is what
the Romans feared the most.
4. That Jesus
was not so much the expected leader of the uprising against the Romans?
Jesus responded to
Pilate's question very briefly - my kingdom (covering the whole planet) is not
of this (current pagan) world. How come?
The Kingdom of God and
According to the exact
wording of the text, Jesus was in reality speaking about the source of power of
the Kingdom (which is evident when comparing different translations). Every
rule needs authorization in order for to be carried out. At that time, people
(world) were not yet vested with power that would justify their governing in
the Kingdom of God. By then only heaven had this power, which offered to carry
out this project. From a legal point of view this kingdom could not have been
gained by force, as the Jews imagined (God imposes nothing on people), but only
by voluntary acceptance of the attributes of the kingdom's power (in some way a
"velvet revolution"), what eventually happened.
Christians have to
convince the world by their preaching and example. Pilate probably understood
the legal aspect of the problem - he considered Jesus' answer as satisfactory
(Pilate was a very shrewd diplomat).
Jesus also openly said
that if the project of the Kingdom of God would receive support , and the
kingdom thus became its part (to the intent the same as Jewish was), Christians
could not continue to remain pacifists, but would have to defend the interests
of the kingdom even with the sword.
If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from
being handed over to the Jewish authorities. ..." (Joh
The rise of the
Kingdom of God
Christ's pacifism is
usually understood unrealistically. While war is the greatest evil which
exists, Christ did not condemn the principle of war, because in some cases it
really might be inevitable. True morality must not be "toothless".
The need for the sword
(Lu 22:36-38) has become very actual at the time when the power of this kingdom
was already legally recognized by the people (all nations joined Christianity
willingly) and at the time it was seriously threatened by military raids by
Huns, Tartars or the Islamic Army bringing competitive ideology. And this
threat is a live issue up to this day.
Christ came with a
revolutionary idea - you can fight evil, and very effectively, by passive resistance.
(Mt 5:39) This tactic can be very effective and impressive; proven by
Mahatma Gandhi in India's liberation.
By this tactic
Christians eventually "conquered" and subdued Rome under the
"leadership" of Christ. Due to the then usual tactics, neither Jews
nor the apostles could really count on something like that; their misconception
of how God's kingdom will come stemmed there from. The Jews would not accept
the idea that they would reach their kingdom in this "cowardly" way .
Therefore, Jesus had
to leave the apostles in their fallacy, and this is the root of the constant
fumbling in the case of God's kingdom.
So they only received
detailed instructions and a model on how to behave without being explicitly
told by Jesus that this was exactly the way they could attain their desired
kingdom. (Joh 16:12; compare with Ac 1:6-8)
The Kingdom of God as
Jesus expressed a very
important characteristic of this kingdom in the following statement: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you..."
Christ did not
anticipate that the new nation, of which the kingdom had been passed
(Christians) on, would immediately reach all the necessary, specific
characteristics of the respective kingdom. To build up a functional and
efficient system of power (kingdom, state), especially according to the strict
criteria of the Kingdom of God, is laborious and time- consuming work. Christ
therefore gave Christians this instruction, that they should emphasize justice
and thus strive (by today's terminology) for the creation of a state that will
respect the rule of law. An important characteristic of the Kingdom of God is
development, particularly in the area of law.
Note : Please
note that Christians, unlike Jews, were not given any state-forming regulation
Christians should be able to form such an Act,
rules governing the administration of their dominion, by themselves
and they should do so continuously - that is, adapt it to their level of
development and improve it continuously.
From this fact follows that Christians got more freedom. To be free is more difficult than
to be a "slave". Freedom
= human rights + responsibilities.
The promised kingdom
was finally set up in the fifth century, when Rome - "slave driver"
of the Christian nation - fell under the invasions of Germanic tribes -
Vandals, Markomans, Visigoths, Franks and others. However, at that time,
Christian teaching had a prevailing ideological influence. Christians gradually
took over all political power over the territory of the defeated empire and created
the so-called "Holy Roman Empire".
Thus the Kingdom of
God preached by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ did not have a mystical but
very real character. By events in the 5th c., searching for the
kingdom, as already mentioned, should not have stopped. What the result of this
search was can be judged by each person himself - historical information on
this subject is generally known.
The right to control
the functioning of the Christian world had to be taken away totally from the
new age church as punishment. (Turn of the 19th and 20th
c.) However, the situation is not hopeless. While Christ predicted that most
Christians would follow the wide (unsuccessful) road, a part of Christians
would persist, continuing to seek, and would follow the narrow (successful)
road. (Mt 7:13, 14) They are only a minority, but will assure that this
"kingdom" - unlike the Jewish - "shall not be left to other
people". (Da 2:44)
Here it is evident
that the kingdom of God was given to people - rather more - as perspective.
Just as in the case of free will. Human rights, resulting from free will, are
one of the fundamental attributes of this kingdom, further it is "whatsoever...are true, ...honest, ...of good
report...". (Php 4:8)
Education for the
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God, preached
by Jesus, was more successful than the Jewish kingdom, but did also not fully
achieve the required objectives such as law enforcement and expansion of its
influence throughout the world. Therefore another kingdom will be established
on the basis of a new, already 3rd covenant - as will be explained in other
This kingdom, as
promised, will achieve its goal (1Co 15:24-28), but it will take only a
"mere" thousand years, because according to plan, the human
race unfortunately has no more time. (Re 20:4-6) Therefore it will be a
very difficult time, hardly comparable with the conception of blessedness and
happiness according to Christian tradition.
It is obvious that all
great things are given to people only as a prospect. This is almost literally
expressed also by the Apostle Paul when speaking about the Jewish law: "The Jewish Law is not a full and
faithful model of the real things; it is only a faint outline of the good
things to come." (Heb 10:1 GNB, see also KJV)
Just as parents give
their children toys - cars for boys, dolls for girls, to teach them respect for
these toys and to teach them to treat the toys carefully, just so our heavenly
Father offers us, humans, in a spiritual sense, often something like
"toys" - models of future values. This is to make us nurture our
relationship with them, to help us acquire the necessary experience and to
prepare us for meeting their true reality.
We will see that more
such models were given to people. Our whole history, and the outlook for the
future as well, confirm the fact that there is nothing else than a permanent
way forward. We had and will have to acquire all values by our own efforts. But
definitely with help.
God personally can
neither manage nor judge the people - he had to colonize them first. In many
places the Bible promises handover of the rule to people, and even the right to
pass judgement. For men have even to judge inhabitants of the 1st heaven (1Co
6:2,3), logically those who are guilty with regard to the Earth. (Jude 6)
This perspective falls exclusively within human powers.