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It is hardly possible to overemphasize this sense in Jesus of an era introduced by himself through his own message and deeds, the era of the kingdom of God. Despite his high valuation of the law and the prophets, he conceives of their sway as forming a period culminating in John the Baptist, but distinct from that which began after the days of John.
Yet more sharply does this consciousness of the immediate presence of the kingdom of God in the present receive expression by Jesus in connection with certain of his public acts:
DOCUMENT P 816F But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. Not only does Jesus give evidence here of his belief in the kingdom as having a present realization, but the present bringing-in of the kingdom he grounds upon the activity of God manifested through his own ministry. The kingdom of God has come upon his hearers in the form of deeds wrought by “the finger of God.” Through himself the kingdom of God has drawn near to the men of his day.
It is from the depths of this self-consciousness, this conviction of the complete control and potent expression of the mind of God through his own personality and the mediative influence of that personality upon others, that there came forth yet another assertion of the present realization of the kingdom of God:
DOCUMENT P 859 And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Therel for lo, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
That which Jesus felt thus deeply and expressed so clearly as to the present appearance of the kingdom of God among men, as to this present coming of the kingdom of God upon his hearers, he is reported by document P to have given to his disciples as their summary message in their brief mission during his lifetime:
DOCUMENT P 84 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. whatsoever city ye shall enter, and they receive you not, go out into the streets thereof and say, Even the dust from your city, that cleaveth to our feet, we do wipe off against you: howbeit know this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh. We cannot be sure, indeed, that Jesus did so instruct his disciples as to the content of their message, for the document MK record of the injunctions of Jesus in connection with their public activity does not represent Jesus as assigning to them any specific formula of announce
ment, MK $31A. It seems not improbable that this heralded message has found a place in the document P report because it was the watchword of the early Christian propagandists after the death of Jesus. Such an announcement was suitable to that method of these propagandists which is outlined by gospel MT 10:23, outlined doubtless on the basis of the method actually being pursued when Matthew did his work of discourse construction. The Lukan addition to the document MK report of the saying about the Rise of Messianic Claimants, MK 13:5, 6=Luke 21:8, indicates by the words, “The time is at hand," that some such formula was the watchword of each successive messianic movement, and probably was adopted by the adherents of Jesus in their propaganda. This seems sustained further by document M 84. In that case, the above summary message by the disciples to their hearers may not be included among those rightly assigned to Jesus. No doubt, if it has found a place here solely because of its use by the disciples in the mission subsequent to Jesus, its meaning is not that suggested by the preceding sayings from Jesus, but is rather a confident assertion that the kingdom of God is to be realized in the near future. In that case, it belongs in origin and sense with the similar saying in document MK $4, if the latter be regarded as an editorial summary intended to represent Jesus as promising the speedy coming of the kingdom in the future. With this saying of document P $4, as with that of document MK $4, there are four possibilities as to source and meaning. No one of them may be arbitrarily adopted; that one which is right must be determined not from these sayings alone, for which there are two sources and two senses possible, each with something in its favor, but from the content of the other sayings of Jesus about the time of the kingdom, if such are consistent and unmistakable in time indications.
That which is attained as to the time of the kingdom of God from such of the above sayings as are surely assignable to Jesus himself, and of which the meaning seems clear, is that the kingdom of God actually has some realization in the present, has drawn near to men, has come upon men, is in the midst of men. About these sayings there is no future outlook; they are of the present. Their message is not a prophecy; it is an assertion. It is not a promise of some
See pp. 88–92.
thing to come; it is an affirmation of something already come.
The words do not awaken expectation; they stir inquiry which results in either a slothful incredulity or a fierce antagonism. Whether Jesus did utter sayings about the kingdom of God which have a future outlook, which are in the form of prophecy, which do make promise of something to come, which are calculated to awaken high expectations—that is a problem to be solved by subsequent study.
83. ANTITHESES TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD Some definite knowledge as to the nature of the future of the kingdom of God would be derivable, it may be supposed, did one possess sayings of Jesus in which he had indicated what he regarded as the antithesis or antitheses of the future kingdom. But the evidence seems to show that when one has gathered all the cases of antithesis to the kingdom in the Synoptic Gospels one has brought together, except for a single instance, only sayings which for weighty reasons, apart from the antithesis or the presence of the term “kingdom of God," must be considered as coming from some source other than Jesus. It seems advisable, however, for recapitulatory purposes, to group these sayings at this point, to call attention briefly to their content, and to indicate where they are more fully discussed as parts of a larger study.
DOCUMENT M 826
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
Then shall he say also unto them on the
GOSPEL MT 18:9
pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good II. for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather
than having two eyes to be cast into the hell
DOCUMENT MK 9:47, 48 And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
DOCUMENT G 816 A And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
DOCUMENT M 814
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from
me, ye that work iniquity. с
Every one therefore which heareth these words of mine, and doeth them
Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words, and doeth them,
There shall be the weeping and gnashing from the east and the west, and shall sit
of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,
Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophels, in the IV. in the kingdom of heaven: but the sons of the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer
without. And they shall come from the darkness: there shall be the weeping and
east and west, and from the north and south, gnashing of teeth.
and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. I. There can be no mistaking the intended antithesis in M $26. Sharp and clear there stands over against “the kingdom” its opposite, "the eternal fire.” Therefore it is as a place of bliss that “the kingdom” of the future is conceived in this passage. This notion is one part of that complete portrayal of the Judgment Scene which is set forth in document M $26, but which, it has been determined, belongs to a period later than Jesus. The full consideration of the paragraph, by which this conclusion was reached, is set forth in $7 of chap. v.
II. The antithesis of document MK is "the kingdom of God" against “Gehenna where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” This is essentially the same contrast as that in document M $26. But it has been seen in a preceding study that: (1) The original document MK apparently had not "enter into the kingdom of God” but “enter into life," here as elsewhere in the paragraph; and, (2) more original than the original MK is document M 85, in which there seems not to be any contrast of two future states, but rather of two states of the body in this life. It is significant that, though the phrase "to enter into the kingdom of God” is one used frequently by Jesus, the above apparently late insertion of it in document MK is the only passage in which the phrase necessarily means something in the future. This saying about the eye is fully examined in $3 of chap. vi.
III. Against the destiny, "shall enter into the kingdom of God," there is set the very general fate, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Absence from the presence of the Christ in glory, in his kingdom, is regarded as specific and severe enough in condemnation. But even this opposition of fates is a result of the eschatological addition in portion B of document M, an addition which is part of a larger passage inwrought here for the disapproving of “false prophets.” The paragraph as a whole is more closely studied in $2 of chap. v.
IV. In the Matthaean P there is that distinctness in contrast of
fates which is so characteristic of the Matthaean gospel. On the one hand, the righteous “shall recline in the kingdom of heaven;" on the other, the wicked "shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It is again felicity against anguish. The kingdom of God in its future is a blessing, the abiding-place of the elect. Of this the Lukan P, however, knows only “in the kingdom of God" and "without;" the weeping and gnashing of teeth is the expression of jealous anger, not anguish.' This Lukan P is apparently the only passage in the original teaching of Jesus which contains a contrast to the kingdom of God; and that, it will be observed, does not go beyond saying that in the future there will be those "in" and those "without” the kingdom of God. By how great a distance such a saying is separated from those reported in I and II above! This saying of Lukan P $40 is significant, further, in its assertion about the future limits of the kingdom of God-—"they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south.” In that affirmation there is a suggestion of the outlook of Jesus upon the future of which more particular account must be taken at a subsequent point in the study of his thought about the kingdom of God.
84. THE FUTURE IN GENERAL OF THE KINGDOM By the defined scope of the present work, there is included of necessity the study of only those references to the kingdom of God which deal with the future of the kingdom. But it is the intention to bring under review every passage in the Synoptic Gospels which contributes in any degree to a knowledge of the expected future of the kingdom, whether the future portrayed was originally sketched by Jesus or is an accretion to his actual utterances and therefore from some later source. As it happens, every passage except one which treats of the future of the kingdom, but seems to be from some source other than Jesus, has come under review in one or another preceding study. Before passing to that teaching on the future of the kingdom which seems assuredly to have come from Jesus himself, there may be grouped for survey those passages, additional to those in $3, which are attributable to others than Jesus.
See pp. 56, 57