The Kingdom of God ("Kingdom of Heaven) in Jesus' Teaching

Background:

In Judaism

(the Shema`): "The yoke of the Kingship of Heaven" = allegiance to God rather than to any earthly ruler (e.g., the Romans). Cf.:

Thy kingdom come...On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6).

Preaching of John the Baptist:


Prepare for advent of God's kingdom.

...Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:3-4).

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Repent and believe in the good news (Mark 1:14-5).


Central Ideas about Kingdom of God:

It will come at any moment:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree. When her branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you, in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is near, even at the doors.

... this generation shall not pass till all these things be done (Mark 13:28-9).


Restructuring of Normal Priorities and Values:

And another of his disciples said unto him: Master, allow me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him: Follow me and let the dead bury their dead (Matthew 8:21-2).


18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast (Mark 2:18).


If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26; see also Mark 10:29).

34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10).


Do not let yourself be caught unprepared.

Cornelius: The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Cornelius: The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.

3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;

4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'

7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'

9 But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.

11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'

12 But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Matthew 25).


Anything is preferable to inaction in preparing for the kingdom.

1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors [unto him], and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16)


You can get in even at the very last moment.

For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.

And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

And says unto them; Go you also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and said unto them, Why do you stand here all the day idle?

They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive.

So when evening had come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their salaries, beginning from the last unto the first.

And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

Saying, These last have wrought only one hour, and you have made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day.

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: did you not agree with me on a penny?

Take what is yours, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, just as much as to you.

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:1 ff.).


God prefers those who repent at the last moment.

Rembrandt: The Prodigal Son in the Tavern
11 And he said, "There was a man who had two sons;

12 and the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them.

13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.

14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.

15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."'

Rembrandt: Return of the Prodigal
Rembrandt: Return of the Prodigal
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;

23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry;

24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.

27 And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.'

28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,

29 but he answered his father, 'Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.

30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!'

31 And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found'" (Luke 15).


14 And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him.

16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2).


Social Dimensions:

The rich will be excluded:

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed [are ye] that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed [are ye] that weep now: for ye shall laugh. (Luke 6)

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

31 But many [that are] first shall be last; and the last first (Mark 10).


Temple will be torn down?

1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!"

2 And Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down" (Mark 13).


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