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GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
REV. JAMES FOOTE, A.M.,
MINISTER OF THE FREE EAST CHURCH, ABERDEEN.
15 PRINCES STREET, EDINBURGH; AND
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
LUKE XVII. 20-37.
"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21. Neither shall they say, Lo here!
Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 22. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23. And they shall say to you, See here; or, See there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. 26. And as it was in the day of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28. Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31. In that day, he which shall be upon the house-top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32. Remember Lot's wife. 33. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
THE Jews universally expected the coming of Messiah, and it was now generally understood that Jesus of Nazareth came forward laying claim to that character. On this occa
sion, some of the Pharisees, without saying anything of his claim, though they were generally strongly opposed to it, asked of him "when the kingdom of God should come. They evidently put this question under the influence of the prevalent error that the kingdom, or reign of God, was to be established by Messiah's appearing in outward power and splendour, overthrowing the enemies of the Jewish nation, restoring them to civil liberty, and worldly prosperity, and raising them to a high rank among the nations of the earth. Even Christ's disciples laboured under this mistake; and it was long before they were undeceived, for, we are told, in the 1st chapter of the Acts, that, when they were met together at Jerusalem, after his resurrection, they asked him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" The question here put by the Pharisees was very similar, though it was, probably, put in a very different spirit. Instead of fixing dates to gratify vain curiosity, our Lord took occasion, in reply to this inquiry, first of all, to explain what those who interrogated him completely misunderstood, and what it much more deeply concerns all to know, namely, the real nature of the kingdom of God, and the way of its coming. "He answered them, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." It does not come with any such external show or parade, as attracts the notice and admiration of the world. It is not made conspicuous, like the triumphs of earthly conquerors, and the coronation of earthly kings. But though it was not accompanied with the circumstances of splendour which adorn earthly royalty, it was not destitute of a glory of its own. Though there was no ostentatious display, there was no concealment in the case. It cometh not with scrupulous observation-so some understand the meaning to be: that is, it does not come in such a way as to be discerned only by some uncommonly sagacious men. It is not confined to any particular place, so that men may say, “Lo, it is here" only, or, "Lo, it is there" only. On the contrary, it is publicly revealed, and openly preached: and miracles are wrought before the people, in its confirmation. These things are not done in a corner, so that there is a difficulty in finding out the truth with regard to them, but in broad day, so that all may be informed. And, as no particular place could be fixed on where this kingdom was, to the exclusion of every other, so neither could any particular time to come be fixed on, at which it was so strictly
speaking to commence, as would imply that it was not in existence before. "Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there!"
For," adds our Lord, "The kingdom of God is within you," or, as in the marginal rendering, "in the midst of you." The kingdom of God may signify the gospel, either as outwardly and generally introduced among a people, or, as inwardly and savingly influencing the hearts of individuals. In the former sense, it was true that the gospel dispensation was introduced among the Jews, whether they submitted to it or not. "There standeth one among you," or, in the midst of you,* said the Baptist, "whom ye know not;" and Christ himself said to blaspheming Pharisees,† "The kingdom of God is come unto you." In this view some are inclined to render the passage before us: "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you, or among you." But however correct that idea would have been, the rendering in the text is the only rendering which the original word can fairly bear-"The kingdom of God is within you." It is true that it could not be strictly said to be within those who were rejecting it; we may suppose, however, that Christ was not speaking in that restricted and absolute way, but intimating, in a more general way, the nature and seat of true religion, which was actually within all the people of God, and which, he taught, must be within these Pharisees too, before they could reap any benefit from it. His kingdom, which was God's kingdom, and the kingdom of heaven, was not like earthly kingdoms, which directly regulate men's political state, and directly rule over their bodies and property; but it was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the hearts of men, by the power of divine grace, under Messiah, the king and head of the Church. And this must be considered as its nature, and this as its seat, in every age. It comes, when it makes the ignorant wise to salvation, the proud humble, the guilty free, the unclean pure, and the profane holy. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," nor any thing external, "but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Hence, though its effects are important and visible, its seat is secret and invisible, and the mode of its operation not cognizable by the senses. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it + Μεσος ὑμων· John i. 26.
+Matt. xii. 28. 'Evros Beza, however, contends for "among."