The coming of the kingdom

Tags: Jerusalem, Lord Jesus, Jesus' miracles, kind of love Jesus, Ridderbos, Jesus, B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI
Content:
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THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM A STUDY IN THE GOSPELS Based on the Book, "The Coming of the Kingdom" By Herman Ridderbos Mints InterNational Seminary Dr. Donald F. Ritsman, D.Min. STUDENT MANUAL 14401 Old Cutler Rd Miami, FL 33158 786.573.7001 www.mints.edu

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TABLE OF CONTENTS LESSONS
ONE: THE BACKGROUND AND THE CHARACTER OF THE KINGDOM
PAGES 3-21
TWO: THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM (1)
PAGES 22-41
THREE: THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM (2)
PAGES 42-66
FOUR: THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
PAGES 67-89
FIVE: LIFE IN THE KINGDOM (1)
PAGES 90-111
SIX: LIFE IN THE KINGDOM (2)
PAGES 112-134
SEVEN: THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH
PAGES 135-161
EIGHT: THE FINAL ESCHATOLOGICAL APPEARANCE OF THE KINGDOM
PAGES 162-185
EXCURSUSES
EXCURSUS ONE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS
PAGES 186-196
EXCURSUS TWO: THE SYNOPTIC "PROBLEM" AND ITS POSSIBLE SOLUTION
PAGES 197-203
EXCURSUS THREE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
PAGES 204-210
EXCURSUS FOUR: THE GOSPEL OF JOHN AND THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS
PAGES 211-215
EXCURSUS FIVE: THE DATING OF THE CRUCIFIXION IN JOHN AND THE SYNOPTICS PAGES 21219
BIBLIOGRAPHY
PAGE 220

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LESSON ONE: THE BACKGROUND AND THE CHARACTER OF THE KINGDOM Following the ministry of John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus appeared in Israel and proclaimed, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). He did not give any further explanation. This is an indication that the expression "the kingdom of heaven" was not an unknown concept to those to whom His message was addressed. What was exceptional about firSt John the Baptist's ministry and then that of Jesus is not that they spoke of "the kingdom of heaven". What was exceptional is the fact that they announced that this kingdom was near at hand, it was about to come, and indeed, as we shall see, Jesus even announced that it had now come. This leads us to explore the background of the expression, "the kingdom of heaven". We must begin by noting that this expression is not to be found in the Old Testament. Only in later Jewish writings does it appear. However, the roots of this term ("the kingdom of heaven") lie deep within the divine revelation of the Old Testament. Apart from that Old Testament background neither the later Jewish expectation of the coming kingdom nor the New Testament proclamation of its coming can be understood. So it is first and foremost to the Old Testament that we now turn. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: ITS OLD TESTAMENT BACKGROUND The equivalent of the New Testament notion of "kingdom" in the sense of the kingship or royal dominion of God is expressed in such passages as Psl. 103:19; Psl. 145:11,13; Dan. 4:3; and 1 Chron. 29:11. However, more often throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms and the prophets, the LORD is simply identified as King.1 In considering the Old Testament teaching concerning the LORD as King and His kingly dominion, a twofold distinction needs to be made. In the first place, a distinction must be made between a general and a particular kind of kingship exercised by the LORD: The former (the general) pertains to the universal power and dominion of God over the whole world and over all nations by virtue of the fact that He is the Creator (cf. Psl. 47:2); the latter (the particular) pertains to the LORD's covenantal relationship with Israel, the people whom He has taken to be a people for His own possession (cf. Ex. 19:6; Deut. 4:20; Isa. 33:22)--this took the form of the Old Testament theocracy, with the Davidic line serving as viceroy over the earthly manifestation of God's kingdom composed of His covenantal people (cf. 1 Chron. 28:5). A further distinction should also be made, namely, between those passages in which the LORD's kingship is seen to encompass the past and the future, i.e., His universal reign as the King of 1 See, for instance, Psl. 10:16; Isa. 6:5; Jer. 10:7 as representative.

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creation (cf. Psl. 145:13), and those passages in which the dominant element is that of expectation: the LORD coming to assert His kingship and manifest His kingdom in all of its glory. This future expectation of the kingdom is especially prominent in the prophets.2 During the period in which Israel's existence as an independent nation was in decline and its very existence as a people was threatened by the reigning world power of the day, there arose a strong tension between the kingship God had revealed to Israel (i.e.; His universal dominion over the nations and His unique covenantal relationship with His people) and the actual development of history. This tension was resolved by what God revealed through His prophets about the future manifestation of His kingship.3 In the words of Ridderbos, "This expectation of the future [manifestation of the kingdom of God] has such a prominent importance in the scope of the prophetic divine revelation that it may be called the center of the whole Old Testament promise of salvation."4 A characteristic feature of these prophecies foretelling the future coming of God's kingly rule is the description of that coming kingdom in relation to Israel: Israel will be restored as a nation; the LORD will set His throne in Jerusalem; the enemy nations will come to pay homage to the LORD at Jerusalem. But comingled with the references to national Israel are descriptions of events and relationships that transcend the earthly, indicating that what is envisioned here is not merely a return to the theocracy as it existed in the Old Testament dispensation. In the prophetic descriptions both of the judgment to come as well as the salvation of the LORD's people we find traits that transcend present temporal reality as we know it in this world, traits that can only pertain to an entirely new dispensation. What we discover is that nothing less than a new heaven and a new earth will come into existence (Isa. 65:17; 66:22); in distinction to the eternal woe that will be the final fate of the wicked (Isa. 66:24), the redeemed will enter into an eternal state of bliss in the presence of the LORD that exceeds all earthly comprehension (Isa. 60:18-21). Thus it becomes evident that, although the future transcendent state is presented in earthly and nationalistic terms, it clearly exceeds the temporal. Stated another way, the earthly and nationalistic presentation found in the prophets is typological of the transcendent, a transcendent that is so far beyond present 2 This future expectation of the kingdom of God is also evident in the so-called "enthronement Psalms" (Psl. 47; 93; 96; 97; 99). These Psalms, too, express the expectation of a final and definitive revelation of the LORD's kingship. 3 The most prominent of these prophecies is found in Isaiah 40-55 (especially 40:9-11 and 52:7), as well as Isaiah 24-27. The prophecy of the coming kingdom of God, its future manifestation in all of its fullness and glory, is also an essential element in such prophetic passages as Obad. 21; Zeph. 3:15; and Zech. 14:16-17. 4 Ridderbos, Herman; The Coming of the Kingdom; The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.; Philadelphia; 1969; p. 5.

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human comprehension that it must, by sort of analogy, be communicated in terms that were familiar to the audience to whom the prophets brought their divine message. Now it is true that those prophetic passages that foretell the coming state in which the LORD will manifest His kingship in all of its eschatological fullness often make no mention of the Messianic King. However, the two (the full manifestation of the LORD's kingship and the rule of the Messiah) cannot be separated, because what is said about the coming reign of God is likewise descriptive of the messianic kingdom of peace (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9). As Ridderbos expresses it, "it is the LORD who will again assert His rule over Israel [i.e.; His covenant people] and maintain His kingship over the whole world in and through the coming Messiah-King".5 The prophecies of Daniel, in particular chapter seven, have special importance for our understanding of the kingdom of God, especially as the Lord Jesus will expound upon the coming of that kingdom. Those prophecies bring out the antithesis between the worldly empire of man and the kingdom of God. In opposition to his attempts to usurp for himself the prerogatives that belong to God alone (cp. Dan. 3:4-6), Nebuchadnezzar is forced to confess that it is the Most High God who rules, "his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation" (Dan. 4:3). It is He, in His capacity as the Most High God, who gives earthly dominion to whomever He desires. Furthermore, it is revealed in the seventh chapter of Daniel that God will at last deprive the world empires of their dominion; and will give total dominion to the One designated as "a Son of Man" who is seen approaching the "Ancient of Days" as He is seated upon His heavenly throne. In the explanation of the dream Daniel is informed, "the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever" (7:18). In other words, the LORD's covenant people ("the saints of the Most High") shall come to share in the reign of this One who is designated as "a Son of man". Although He is not referred to as "the son of David", it is clear that this "Son of man" is none other than the promised Messiah, for to Him is given the universal rule that results in a state of blessing for His people. Furthermore, both terms (son of David and Son of man) are applied to the Person of Jesus: He is repeatedly identified as "the son of David" (cf. Matt. 15:22) and He repeatedly refers to Himself as "the Son of man". We can say, then, that in the Old Testament the expression, "the kingdom of God", does not yet occur as it will in the New Testament, where its coming becomes a dominant motif. Nevertheless, the awareness of a coming kingdom of God, consisting in the universal divine kingship over the whole world, for the good of His people and for the overthrow of any power that opposes His rule, has from old times been one of the central tenets of Israel's expectation of 5 Ridderbos, p. 6.

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salvation. Based on the divine revelation that God is King (i.e.; the timeless character of the LORD's kingship), by divine revelation there arises the expectation that He will finally exercise His kingship in an intensified and eschatological manner (His future kingship). THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IN JEWISH LITERATURE In contrast to the personal pronouncements of the kingship of the LORD found in the Old Testament, (where it speaks directly of God's rule and the future manifestation of God's rule), in the extra-biblical Jewish writings we meet with the expression, the kingdom of the heavens. This is in keeping with the Jewish tendency to avoid the use of the name of God, substituting in its place the more vague term, the heavens.6 The expression, the kingdom of the heavens, (or, the kingdom of heaven) has a twofold meaning in Jewish extra-biblical literature, corresponding to the twofold meaning found in the Old Testament Scriptures. In the first place, it denotes the moral dominion of God over all men, implied by the fact that God is the Creator, a dominion mankind had renounced (cf. Psl. 2:1-3), but which, in Abraham's descendants was again acknowledged and maintained over Israel. The second usage of the expression refers to God's coming world-dominion, which will liberate Israel from the power of the Gentiles and subject the whole world to God. In this sense, the kingdom of heaven means the kingship of God over all mankind fully realized as a result of its being recognized by the whole world. The manifestation of this kingdom is repeatedly the focus of Jewish prayers. With regard to the actual contents of the Jewish expectation as to what the coming kingdom would entail when it becomes manifest, there was a great diversity of opinion. According to Ridderbos, "It is ... very difficult to state accurately what the future outlook of the Jews actually was at the beginning of the Christian era."7 Along side those writings that stress the restoration of the people of Israel and the house of David, one finds other writings that emphasize the supernatural and transcendent character of the great epoch of salvation to be inaugurated with the coming of the kingdom of heaven. Representative of the former view is The Psalms of Solomon. The future expectations described in it are of an earthly nature and national character. The future kingdom remains within the confines of this earthly life as we presently experience it; nowhere in the book is there any mention of a future 6 The New Testament expression, "the kingdom of heaven" (h basileia twn ouranwn), is a literal translation of the Hebrew expression rendered in English as the kingdom of heaven. Matthew's use of this expression is in keeping with the Jewish tradition. On the other hand, it is understandable that Mark and Luke, who addressed their gospels to a predominantly Gentile audience, used the more direct expression, "the kingdom of God". In all likelihood, John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus used the Jewish expression. 7 Ridderbos, p. 10.

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world that is of a wholly different and transcendent order. But in a writing such as The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the perspective on the future is quite different. Here the future of the nation of Israel is also accompanied by some elements that clearly bear a supernatural, transcendent, character: the coming messianic kingdom will entail the redemption of the entire cosmos. The Book of Enoch and the so-called Assumption of Moses go even further in this transcendent direction. In them there is not even a suggestion of an earthly messianic reign; the future kingdom is seen to be located exclusively in the heavenly realm yet to be revealed. At least in the Book of Enoch, the future is viewed in a dualistic manner: heaven and earth are seen as two mutually distinct realms, with the coming kingdom of God existing in the heavenly realm, totally unrelated to the earthly realm. From the data surveyed above, it becomes clear that there was no universally accepted understanding of the future state that would be brought into being by the final coming of the kingdom of heaven. This same can also be said about the role of the Messiah, both with regard to the coming of the kingdom and the position he would occupy in that kingdom. In the older Jewish writings, such as The Psalms of Solomon and The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the expectation of future bliss for the people of God is equated with the kingdom of the Messiah, either in a strictly nationalistic sense (The Psalms of Solomon), or in a more transcendent form (The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs). In this trend of thought the expectation of the final dominion of God as king is fulfilled in and through the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah is seen as causing God's kingly prerogatives to be recognized again in the everlasting glory of the messianic kingdom. However, in later Jewish writings, those closer to the dawning of the Christian era, there is found the teaching that the coming of the Messiah does not coincide with the great epoch of salvation. The Messiah's appearing will precede the final resurrection of the dead and will only bring a provisional deliverance to Israel. It is clear that in this view of the future expectation the kingdom of heaven does not coincide with the messianic kingdom; the messianic kingdom is conceived as being only a transition to the final state in which the kingdom of heaven is manifested in all of its fullness. In summary, we may say that in Jewish eschatological literature the kingdom of heaven is understood as the coming universal revelation of the kingship of God with which the appearance of the Messiah is intimately connected in some way. The coming of the kingdom of heaven will feature the self-vindication of God in bringing judgment upon the apostate world and exercising a reign of everlasting peace over His people. Again, in the words of Ridderbos, "The descriptions of the future manifestation of the LORD's kingship, current in Israel in the course of history before Jesus' appearance, may have been very varied; however, one thing is clear, namely, these words [i.e.; the coming of the

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kingdom] summarized all that had been the object of Old Testament prophecy and of Israel's expectation of the future from the oldest times."8 Before moving on, one other thing must be stated: Although Jesus may have used the expression, the kingdom of heaven, in defining that kingdom He did not borrow the contents of the Jewish eschatological literature. We must bear in mind that in dealing with His contemporaries, Jesus nowhere appeals to any of these Jewish extra-biblical writings; on the contrary, He always appeals to the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures. Consequently, the question as to what Jesus meant by the coming of the kingdom must be derived from His own teaching, as He expounded the true and full meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures. JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS' PREACHING ABOUT THE KINGDOM Jesus' preaching is of a fundamentally different kind from that of all the prophets of the Old Testament dispensation, and even from that of John the Baptist. It is true, Jesus repeats John's exhortation, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2/Matt. 4:17), which means, the kingdom is not yet present, but is about to come. But in addition to this proclamation of the kingdom's future coming there are also found within Jesus' preaching utterances that express more than the announcement of what is about to come and, consequently, imply more than what was the substance of the Baptist's preaching. Whereas Matthew 4:17 provides a summary of Jesus' initial preaching, we look to Mark 1:15 for a fuller description of His preaching. There we read: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel." Beside the expression, "the kingdom of God is at hand" there occurs the additional expression, "The time is fulfilled". These latter words, ("The time is fulfilled"), speak of something that has come to its completion, something that has entered into a state of fulfillment (the Greek verb occurs in the perfect tense: peplhrwtai). What has come to fulfillment is "the time" (kairoV), the great moment at which commences the great future appointed by God in His counsel and announced by the prophets. These two expressions ("the kingdom of God is at hand" and "the time is fulfilled") must be interpreted in connection with one another. The expression, "the time is fulfilled", will have to be understood as indicating that the threshold of the great future state foretold by the Old Testament prophets has been reached, the door has been opened, and the requirements for the final realization of the divine work of consummation are now present; consequently, "the curtain has risen" and the long-expected divine drama can now begin to unfold. In this 8 Ridderbos, p. 13.

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sense, Jesus' initial proclamation of the kingdom speaks of a more advanced point in time than that of John, who had, indeed, spoken of the approaching of the kingdom, but not of its presence. In keeping with our theatrical analogy, we may say that John performed the prelude, but Jesus now raises the curtain, signaling that the performance of the great "drama" long foretold has now actually begun. This distinction between the redemptive-historical moment represented by Jesus and that represented by John the Baptist becomes clearer and clearer throughout the Gospel narrative. A striking example is to be found in Jesus' initial proclamation uttered in the synagogue of Nazareth and reported in the Gospel of Luke (Lk. 4:16-21). On that occasion Jesus turned in the Scriptures to the well-known prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3, a passage pertaining to the eschatological kingdom. Having finished the reading of this Scripture, Jesus announced, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears" (vs. 21). Here once again we encounter the perfect tense of the Greek verb (peplhrwtai), which may be rendered, "has entered into a state of fulfillment". What has been fulfilled is nothing other than "this Scripture", the passage of Isaiah 61, announcing "the acceptable year of the LORD". This prophetic passage can only be referring to the coming of the kingdom, which becomes clear from the fact that Isaiah 61:2 succinctly contains both elements that characterize the coming of God's kingdom: the redemption of the LORD's people ("the year of the LORD's favor") and the judgment of His enemies ("the day of vengeance"). This passage of Luke 4:16-21 is extremely important for the understanding of the coming of the kingdom as it is expounded in Jesus' preaching. It is clear that the time of the great fulfillment is announced as having definitively started, as is evident from Jesus' emphatic expression, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears" (i.e.; "in your hearing"). Based on His repeated use of the expression, "it is fulfilled" (peplhrwtai), with which Jesus begins His preaching, there can be no doubt that the salvation contained within the rubric, "the coming of the kingdom", is not solely something that will come at the end of history and be experienced in the eternal state thereafter; it also finds fulfillment in the present. When we compare the preaching of the Baptist with that of Jesus, we are confronted with a fundamental redemptivehistorical difference: not only with regard to the chronological coming of the kingdom (from the "is at hand" to the "is fulfilled"), but also with regard to a deeper unfolding as to the manner in which the kingdom comes. John announced the kingdom as one great event--consisting of eschatological blessing (being baptized with the Holy Spirit) and eschatological judgment (being baptized with fire)--which was on the verge of coming. Jesus now reveals that the kingdom John summarized as one great eschatological event is in fact more complex: with His coming we must differentiate between an already fulfilled present and a future expectation. To state it another way, what had not yet been revealed to the Baptist is the fact that there would

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occur an initial coming of the kingdom prior to its final manifestation, and during that interim period salvation would be offered while the final judgment was suspended.9 Also in accordance with this difference we should note the very significant pronouncements Jesus makes that distinguish Him from John the Baptist. One of which is Jesus' explanation as to why His disciples do not fast while those of John often did engage in periods of fasting (Matt. 9:14-17; Mk. 2:18-22; Lk. 5:33-39). In answer to their inquiry, Jesus declares, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?" (Lk. 33:34). This answer clearly indicates that Jesus' disciples were in a fundamentally different position from those of John the Baptist. It is the presence of Jesus Himself that is the cause of the great change. John the Baptist's way of life, and that of his disciples, is directed to the preparation for the coming of the kingdom, especially in light of the judgment aspect of its coming (as seen by their fasting). But Jesus' disciples, on the other hand, are now living in that great epoch in which the promised salvation has arrived, and they are right to rejoice in it because they belong to the One (they are His disciples) who procures that salvation.10 The difference between the redemptive-historical moments from which John and Jesus speak and act is distinctly indicated in Jesus' testimony concerning the person and ministry of the Baptist found in Matthew 11:2-19 (and Luke 7:18-35). The starting point is John's question addressed to Jesus through some of the Baptist's disciples: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" In his announcement of the coming kingdom John had spoken of "he that comes after me" (Matt. 3:11-12), and had viewed that individual as none other than the one who would inaugurate the long-expected kingdom.11 Now he asks if Jesus is, indeed, "the one who was to come". John's question gives evidence of uncertainty and confusion. Without doubt, John had initially considered Jesus to be this "one who was to come" (Matt. 3:13-17), but the manner in which Jesus now conducted Himself and His ministry did not 9 Note that whereas Isa. 61:2 couples "the year of the LORD's favor" with "the day of vengeance of our God", Jesus announces the former but does not mention the latter, this is in keeping with the suspension of the Final Judgment until the time of the final and full eschatological manifestation of the kingdom. 10 Jesus' very coming into the world presupposes the accomplishment of His work of redemption, which would in fact take place at the cross of Calvary. In a veiled way He refers to His death when He informs His disciples, `the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them" (Lk. 5:35). But, as He assures them just prior to departing to take up the cross, the disciples' separation from "the bridegroom" shall only be temporary and shall be replaced with the fullness of joy (Jn. 16:16-22). Thus, the disciples' joyful fellowship with Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry is but a foretaste of the joy and fellowship they will share with Him following His resurrection, which in turn is but a foretaste of the joy and fellowship to be shared with Him in the kingdom when if finally appears in all of its eschatological fullness. 11 In John 3:28 the Baptist refers to this one for whom he was sent to prepare the way as "the Christ".

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correspond to John's own expectation with regard to this "one who was to come". In reply to John's inquiry, Jesus points to His miracles and to the preaching of the gospel to the poor (Matt. 11:4-6). The way He speaks of these things is clearly reminiscent of His initial proclamation in the synagogue in Nazareth, where He had quoted from Isaiah 61:1-3.12 Although Jesus does not give a direct answer to the Baptist's question, and so avoids making a public declaration of His Messiahship,13 the intention of His words can be nothing other than identifying His works and His preaching as the fulfillment of the prophecies, and thus the evidence of the presence of the kingdom of God. Jesus now proceeds to explain the significance of John the Baptist in the history of redemption (Matt. 11:7-15). Jesus declares that John indeed was a prophet, "and much more than a prophet". This is so due to the fact that John played an integral role in the fulfillment of the very prophecies he had been divinely commissioned to deliver. John himself had a place in the realization of the promise of the great salvation, namely, that of being the forerunner who prepared the way for the King (Matt. 11:10). Jesus then goes on to declare, "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11). The two parts of this text must be understood in their mutual connection to one another. The first clause must be taken as an indication of John's place and significance in the period of redemptive history prior to Jesus' coming, the period of the prophetic foretelling of the coming kingdom. In this period John is the greatest of all the prophets, since he is the forerunner and herald who announces the arrival of the Messianic King. But John's significance remains restricted to the time of expectation; John plays no role in the actual presence of the kingdom, his prophetic ministry belongs to the dispensation of expectation. When he has identified "the one who is to come" (cp. Jn. 1:30), John's ministry is finished and he passes from the scene of redemptive history. But the one who is least in the kingdom is greater than John in the sense that such a one is an active recipient and participant in the very kingdom John had foretold was at hand. Jesus continues, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and aggressive men seize it by force" (Matt. 11:12). In this striking statement one thing is sure: the kingdom of heaven is here declared to be a present reality; it has inserted itself into the world and is advancing with force. Furthermore, this has been taking place 12 One may also compare the words of Jesus recorded in Matt. 11:4-6 with such passages as Isa. 35:5 and 29:18; prophecies about the great time of salvation, which find their fulfillment in the very miracles and preaching in which Jesus is now engaged. 13 Jesus resists making an explicit declaration of His Messiahship lest it be misunderstood, since it would not correspond to the expectation of the Jews with regard to the appearing of the Messiah and the manifestation of the kingdom.

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"from the days of John the Baptist". We should understand the term "from the days of" in an exclusive rather than inclusive sense. That is to say, John stands on the threshold of the new dispensation of fulfillment, but he still belongs to the old dispensation of expectation; consequently, starting from the point where John's ministry ended, and continuing from that point forward, the kingdom of heaven has inserted itself into human history and is forcefully exerting itself. When Jesus speaks of "aggressive [literally, "violent"] men seizing [the kingdom] by force", He is emphasizing the necessity of making the most of the opportunity now afforded to those who find themselves living in the dispensation of fulfillment: they must take hold of the redemption that is found within the kingdom, without being deterred by anything. Now that the kingdom has come, they must make it a matter of first priority to enter into the kingdom (cp. Matt. 6:33). By way of summary, that which was still a future matter (even though it was on the verge of coming) from John's perspective and, consequently, in his preaching, has become a present reality with the appearance of Jesus. In Christ Jesus the future of the prophecies has passed into the present of fulfillment. This does not mean that there is no place for the future and final manifestation of the kingdom in all of its eschatological fullness.14 Nevertheless, despite what is yet to come, the fact is, the one great kingdom of the future has become a present reality--the great coming of God into the world for the purpose of both redemption and judgment has begun. Here is what our Lord Jesus will refer to as "the mystery of the kingdom of God" (cf. Mk. 4:11), namely, the fact that the kingdom commences prior to the day of the great and final judgment. Indeed, the kingdom shall manifest itself in all of its eschatological fullness after that final Day of Judgment, but it will be the consummation of the kingdom, the very kingdom that has already begun to enter into fulfillment prior to that great day. As we continue our study of the kingdom as it is 14 The future consummative character of the kingdom of heaven is an unmistakable part of Jesus' preaching, as is evident from His numerous pronouncements. Starting from John the Baptist, whose preaching had a distinctively eschatological character about it, Jesus in His own preaching elaborates upon that future eschatological state. His preaching speaks in various ways of what will happen as an eventual and result of the kingdom having begun to enter into its fulfillment with His coming. For example, in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) Jesus describes the bliss of the kingdom as the inheritance of the (new) earth, as being filled with the divine righteousness, as seeing God. These are expressions that point beyond the order of this present world to the transcendent state of bliss and perfection that shall be revealed in the future when the kingdom shall be manifested in its eschatological fullness. This eschatological character of the kingdom of God as preached by Jesus is one of the chief components of His whole gospel message. Jesus refers to this glorious future when, for instance, He speaks of the righteous shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43); when He speaks of the coming of the Son of man in His kingdom (Matt. 16:28); when he speaks of those on His right hand inheriting the kingdom on the day of judgment (Matt. 24:34). As Ridderbos asserts, "It is difficult to deny that these passages, and many others, speak of another reality--an `eschatological' reality" (p. 38). Such utterance as those cited above are scattered throughout the Gospels and testify to the fact that the future eschatological vision forms an essential element in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom of heaven.

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revealed in the preaching and the person of the Lord Jesus, we will need to consider the way in which this present fulfillment of the kingdom must be understood in connection with the final consummation. Stated another way, What is the meaning and the content of such a fulfillment prior to a final consummation? In considering this matter we are confronted with the most characteristic feature of Jesus' preaching of the coming of the kingdom. Our Lord speaks of the fulfillment of the time and the fulfillment of the Scriptures as a new dispensation that has commenced with His coming into the world and His work of redemption. But at the same time, He also speaks of the kingdom as a future revelation, which in the Gospels is defined as the consummation of all things. SOME OF THE FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE KINGDOM It Is God-Centered The concept of "the kingdom of heaven" occupies a central position in Jesus' preaching; therefore, it is essential that we have an understanding of its general character, that we become acquainted with its most fundamental characteristics. The first of which is the fact that the kingdom of heaven is theocentric; it is God-centered. As Ridderbos expresses it, "This absolute theocentric idea of the kingdom of heaven should always be borne in mind, if we want to have a correct insight into the general meaning of Jesus' preaching."15 The great future announced by Jesus in His preaching is considered entirely from the standpoint of the divine kingship. But it is not the divine kingship in the sense of the general and timeless reign of God as Creator over all of creation; it is, rather, the redemptive-historical dimension of the divine kingship: Jesus' preaching of the coming of the kingdom is pre-eminently concerned with God's kingly self-assertion--His coming into the world in order to reveal and assert His royal majesty and power, His divine right and righteousness. This explains why the announcement of the coming of the kingdom both in the preaching of John the Baptist (who proclaims that it is "at hand") and that of Jesus (who declares that "the time is fulfilled") has a twofold content: redemption and judgment. The coming of the kingdom means redemption for God's people because God in His righteousness is true to His promises made to those who put their trust in Him. But the coming of the kingdom also means judgment, because God maintains His divine right, and finally asserts that divine right, in opposition to all who set themselves in opposition to His will. The theocentric nature of the kingdom is seen in the fact that Israel's preeminence as an earthly, nationalistic entity is superseded by the divine 15 Ridderbos, p. 19.

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kingdom. In the Baptist's preaching it is not only the Gentiles, it is first and foremost Israel itself, who is called to repentance. With the approaching of the kingdom, and the appearance of the King Himself, what is required of a man if he is to be received into the kingdom is conversion. Nobody can appeal to his physical descent from Abraham, what is required is the fruit that demonstrates true repentance (Matt. 3:8-9). In the announcement of the coming of the kingdom everything is centered on the assertion of the divine right, everything that is in opposition to that right or stands in its way must be removed, as is poetically depicted by the command that all obstacles be removed from the pathway of the approaching King (Lk. 3:3-6/Isa. 40:3-5). This theocentric viewpoint, predominant in the Baptist's announcement of the approaching of the kingdom, is also decisive in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom, as appears very clearly in the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9-10). The petition for the coming of the kingdom (in its final eschatological form) is placed between the petitions for God's name to be hallowed and His will to be done. Thus, in the first (and primary?) petition we are taught to pray that God, in the fullness of His identity as revealed in His Name, would receive the reverence that is His rightful due. This plea that God would receive the reverence due Him is immediately followed by the petition that His kingdom would come, for it is only when the kingdom manifests itself, (i.e.; when God openly manifests Himself and asserts His kingly rights), that the true and complete reverencing of God will be realized.16 In conjunction with the coming of the kingdom, the divine will of God shall be carried out on earth in the same way that it is presently performed in the heavenly realm: perfectly and without reluctance or opposition, hence, the third petition of the Lord's Prayer. The third petition serves to reinforce the God-centered and Godglorifying character of the kingdom. It cannot be overly stressed that the coming of the kingdom is first and foremost the display of the divine glory and is for the purpose of the assertion and maintenance of God's rights on earth in their full and unopposed manifestation. Any anthropocentric and humanistic interpretation of Jesus' preaching, such as that presented in so-called Liberal Theology, must be rejected. According to such theology, the prevailing motive of Jesus' preaching is to be found in the two-fold supposition that man (as he is, apart from conversion) is a child of God and that the human soul is of infinite value (because of its inherent relationship to God). In this view one might go so far as to say that the kingdom must come because of man's relationship to God. Despite the propagation of such theology, the teaching of the "indestructible nobility of man", and/or the affinity of the human soul with God, which is at the heart of all other religions, is not a doctrine of Christianity. It would be
16 According to Isa. 11:9, it is with the coming of Messiah's kingdom and reign that "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

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totally false to attribute such doctrines to Jesus' preaching and declare them to be the motivation for the coming of the kingdom of God. It is much more in keeping with the truth to maintain that Jesus' preaching is dominated by the conviction that man has lost his value, but notwithstanding, God comes to seek his restoration (cp. Lk. 15). Nevertheless, despite the fact that this understanding, in distinction to that of Liberal Theology, is closer to the truth, it still does not do justice to the "essence" of the kingdom as first preached by the Baptist and then by our Lord Jesus. Such doctrines as redemption, the remission of sins, and the bliss to be found within the kingdom, however much they may form a part of the preaching of the kingdom, must all be subsumed under the overarching theocentric character of the kingdom. In the coming of the kingdom God first and foremost reveals Himself, and He does so in His capacity as the divine Creator and King, who because He is true to Himself, will now reveal Himself as the Savior of His people and the Judge of unrepentant mankind. We must appreciate the fact that the kingdom is more fundamental than even such institutions as the covenant or such doctrines as justification by faith. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the covenant and the doctrine of justification by faith, just to name a few of the truths presented in Scripture, are subsumed under, or within, the category of the kingdom, (with the kingdom being understood as God's final manifestation of His righteous rule). We may view the covenant and the doctrine of justification by faith as being related to the coming of the kingdom in the following way: God's faithful fulfillment of the covenantal promises made to His people is an expression, perhaps the ultimate expression, of His righteousness (cp. Num. 23:19). Justification by faith is the gracious provision by which God is enabled to maintain His perfect righteousness and at the same time fulfill His covenantal promises of blessing for His people (cp. Rom. 3:2426). In this way the righteousness of God manifested in the coming of the kingdom finds some of its concrete expressions. In the words of Ridderbos, "The idea of the kingdom of God is more comprehensive ... because it is not only oriented to the redemption of God's people, but to the self-assertion of God in all His works. Not only does it place Israel, but also the heathen nations, the world, and even the whole creation, in the wider perspective of the realization of all God's rights and promises."17 Thus, Jesus' preaching, at the very outset of His ministry, reveals that the level that shall be achieved by the final act of redemptive history (accomplished by Christ's own presence and work) is nothing less than the coming of the kingdom of heaven. The theocentric character of the kingdom implies that its coming consists entirely of God's own action and is totally dependent upon His activity. The kingdom of God is not a spiritual and ethical society developed and propagated 17 Ridderbos, p. 23.

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by human effort, as was taught by the so-called "social gospel" or any of its present day offshoots. The kingdom will not be realized by means of human moral action; it is not men who prepare it for God or establish it as the realization of God's desire for mankind. "All such thoughts mean a hopelessly superficial interpretation of the tremendous thought of the fullness and finality of God's coming as king to redeem and to judge."18 Viewed from the human standpoint, the kingdom of God is something for which to pray (Matt. 6:9-10) and for which to wait with perseverance (Lk. 18:1-8). The coming of the kingdom is nothing other than the great "rending of the heavens" for which the prophet Isaiah earnestly prayed (Isa. 64:1). Again, in the words of Ridderbos, "The kingdom is not only concerned with God [i.e.; theocentric], it also originates with Him. Its coming is only to be understood on the basis of His miraculous and all-powerful action."19 In the Gospels, the sense of dominion--the coming of the King for the purpose of exercising His royal prerogatives--is most prominent in the various pronouncements about the kingdom of heaven. For the most part, the spatial sense of the kingdom, that is, the understanding of the kingdom as occupying a territorial location, is secondary. When the Gospels speak of the coming of the kingdom we should not primarily associate these utterances with a static entity that descends out of heaven and occupies a "piece of real estate"; rather, the foremost reference is to the exercise of the divine kingly rule, the reference is to God actively asserting His royal prerogatives. In the preaching of John and Jesus the coming of the kingdom must not be conceived of as being "an impersonal metaphysical event [or entity]", but rather it must primarily be understood as referring to the coming of God Himself (in the person of His Son) as King. This fact is borne out by a whole series of parables about the kingdom of God: in each of the parables there stands a person whose actions demonstrate the meaning of the kingdom. In all such parables the point of comparison with the kingdom is to be found in what the chief actor in the parable has done; the message being that God will act in a similar way when He comes in His kingdom.20 However, although the element of dominion is predominant in much of the Gospels' presentation of the kingdom, it should not be construed as being the only characteristic of the kingdom's coming and presence. Note that the spatial dimension of the kingdom is present in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer: the kingdom is the place where God's will is done, presently in heaven, but finally also upon the earth.21 18 Ridderbos, p. 24. 19 Ridderbos, p. 24. 20 Consider such parables as the man who had sown good seed in his field (Matt. 13:24-30), the king who makes an accounting with his servants (Matt. 18:23-35), the householder who planted a vineyard (Matt. 21:33-41), the king who made a marriage feast for his son (Matt. 22:1-14), just to name a few. 21 It should be noted that the Gospels reveal a variety of facets of the kingdom, for instance, it is described as a place in which a state of peace and happiness is experienced (Matt. 8:11); or, as a place in which the righteous shall shine like the sun (Matt. 13:43).

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Allowing for the multi-faceted nature of the kingdom, it must still be asserted that in both the Baptist's as well as the Lord Jesus' preaching of the kingdom the predominant theme is that of dominion--divine and dynamic action on the part of God. This is evident from the fact that in their preaching of the coming of the kingdom the focus is on the divine power manifested by it, both for redemption and judgment. Foremost in their preaching of the kingdom is the tremendous dynamic of the divine coming; of central concern is the break through of the kingdom, the "rending of the heavens". It is this fact that lends such insistence and urgency to their call for repentance (Matt. 3:2; Mk. 1:1415). It Is Messianic Throughout the Old Testament one finds a close connection between the coming of the kingdom of God and a person who may be denoted as the Messiah. It is true that this person is described in a variety of ways and only rarely is He explicitly called the "Messiah". Nevertheless, the expectation of the Messiah may be said to be one of the most essential features associated with the coming of the kingdom. This is confirmed when one crosses the threshold into the New Testament. To begin with, the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke announce the kingdom of God and the restoration of Israel in conjunction with the birth of the Messiah-King. This becomes evident from the angel's message to Mary, (note, especially, Lk. 1:32-33, where the son to be born is identified as the promised "seed of David" who shall exercise a blessed rule on behalf of the people of God). Mary's hymn, in turn, gives praise to God that the one to be born of her shall be the one by whom the LORD gives redeeming help to His servant Israel (Lk. 1:54-55). Likewise, Zachariah blesses the LORD for visiting His people with redemption and doing so by raising up "a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David" (Lk. 1:68-69), in order that they may be freed from their enemies and live lives of righteousness before Him (Lk. 1:7475). He goes on to identify the son to be born to him (i.e.; John the Baptist) as the one foretold by Isaiah who shall prepare the way for the eschatological coming of the LORD in His kingdom (Lk. 1:76-79/Isa. 40:3-5). Finally, we take note of the angel's announcement to the shepherds that the Savior, who is none other than the "Christ" (i.e.; the Messiah), shall be born in the city of David, thereby establishing His connection with the divine promises attached to the house of David (Lk. 2:11). It is true that in the angel's announcement the kingdom of God is not explicitly mentioned, however, the proclamation of "glory to God in the highest", and "peace on earth" being the lot of those with whom God is well pleased (Lk. 2:14), are the characteristics of the eschatological kingdom. It should be noted that in all the utterances found in these opening chapters of Luke the announcement of the Messiah and the state of righteousness and

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blessing He brings is couched in nationalistic terms (note, especially, Lk. 1:3233; 1:54-55; 1:68-73). However, upon closer inspection one also finds the supernatural, transcendent element to be present: this son of David about to be born shall reign over a kingdom that has no end (1:33); furthermore, He is none other than "the Son of the Most High" (1:32) whose birth is due to the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit (1:35). But it is in John the Baptist's announcement that the divine and transcendent character of the kingdom and the One who inaugurates the kingdom comes to the fore. John couples the coming of the kingdom with the person whom he simply and rather mysteriously identifies as "he that comes after me" (Matt. 3:11), or, "the coming one" (Matt. 11:3). This vague description of the Messiah is in keeping with the divine character of this person: who and what He is, is so exalted and mysterious that it is only possible to speak of his person in a general way. Both in John's designation of the Messiah as well as his description of what He will accomplish, the nationalistic presentation found in Luke gives way to the transcendent: this One who is about to make His appearance will "baptize with the Holy Spirit" (a reference to the fullness of God's presence in blessing with His people) and "with fire" (a reference to the Final Judgment). As noted previously, in keeping with these eschatological events that "the coming one" (o ercomenoV) will accomplish, John calls upon the people of Israel themselves to repent, rather than place their confidence in their national identification as the physical descendants of Abraham (Matt. 3:89). Thus, in John's preaching of the approaching kingdom and He who will inaugurate that kingdom, the eschatological promises are beginning to burst forth from the nationalistic (typological) "shell" within which they were communicated (and to some degree concealed) throughout the Old Testament dispensation.22 We turn now to consider the manner in which the Lord Jesus connects the coming and the significance of the Messiah with the coming of the kingdom. It is true that in the synoptic Gospels Jesus speaks of "the Christ" (i.e.; the Messiah) only sporadically, the most significant occurrence being that found in Matt. 24:5. There, in answer to His disciples' inquiry concerning the sign of His parousia (i.e.; His final appearing in glory) and the consummation of this present age (24:3), Jesus cautions them to beware of the appearance of false Christs, He warns that many shall come saying, "I am the Christ". In contradistinction to the false Christs, when the true Christ (Messiah) appears, His appearance shall be in unmistakable heavenly glory, comparable to lightning illuminating the entire night time sky (24:23-27). Thus we find that both in the mind of the disciples as well as in the teaching of our Lord, there is a connection between the final appearing of the Messiah and the coming of the 22 For more on the typological nature of the Old Testament promises of the kingdom to be inaugurated by the coming of the King in His glory, the reader is referred to our course on The Prophets and the excursuses that accompany that course.

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eschatological state, which can be nothing other than the coming of the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus generally prefers to use the title "the Son of man", (as opposed to that of "the Messiah"), in conjunction with the coming of the kingdom. Indeed, into the discussion with His disciples concerning the coming of the Christ and the eschatological events that will result with that coming, Jesus inserts the term, "the coming of the Son of man" (24:27). To confirm the fact that "the coming of the Son of man" is inseparably linked to, (or even synonymous with), "the coming of the kingdom" we need only compare Matthew 16:28 (a passage in which our Lord Jesus speaks of "the Son of man coming in his kingdom") with Mark 9:1 (where He speaks of the coming of the kingdom of God with power), His transfiguration is the subject in both passages. The correlation of the coming of "the kingdom of heaven" with that of "the Son of man" testifies to the prominent place the prophecy of Daniel seven (7:13-14) holds in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. In Daniel's prophecy the universality and transcendent character of the coming kingdom are very prominent: this One who is seen coming on the clouds and is identified as "a son of man" receives from "the Ancient of Days" (i.e.; God the Father) a universal, eternal and imperishable kingdom. The person by whom the eschatological kingdom of God will be realized--by His very description (coming on the clouds of heaven) and by the authority and position entrusted to Him-- far transcends any national Israelite king who may assume the throne of his father David. In giving preeminence to the transcendent Son of man, and identifying Himself as "the Son of man", Jesus is not denigrating the promised "seed of David" in whom the people of Israel placed their messianic hopes. On the contrary, Jesus is revealing the true identity of the promised Son of David in the light of the fullness of Old Testament revelation.23 This comes out in Jesus' conversation with the Pharisees as recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels (Matt. 22:41-46; Mk. 12:35-37; Lk. 20:41-44). Jesus opens the discussion by asking, "Whose son is the Christ [the Messiah]?" The Pharisees immediately respond, "He is the son of David". (Thus, the Messiah is identified as none other than the promised Seed of David). Then, based on Psalm 110:1, Jesus confronted them with the fact that David himself addresses Him as "Lord". (Now Jesus identifies the Messiah to whom the kingly dominion is given as none other than the Lord [in Hebrew, Adonai]). Then Jesus draws the discussion to its climax by asking, "If David then calls him `Lord', how is he his son?" Jesus is here revealing the 23 The reader is referred to the discussion of the way in which the writer of Chronicles brings out the divine and eschatological significance of the promises made to David, lifting them out of their Old Testament typological dimension to reveal the fullness of their transcendent content. This discussion, comparing and contrasting the Davidic promises first expressed in 2 Sam. 7:12-16 with their later presentation in 1 Chron. 17:12-14, is found on pages 162-163 of Lesson Seven of the course entitled, The Prophetico-Historical Books of the Old Testament.

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true identity of the promised "Son of David" whom the Jews rightly acknowledged to be the promised Messiah, and, consequently, the true extent of the kingdom over which He would rule--that kingdom being not a revived nationalistic kingdom of Israel, but the eschatological kingdom of God. Jesus is bringing out the connection between the prophecies concerning the Messianic King/Son of David and the prophecy of Daniel that feature the Son of man, revealing the fact that they are one and the same person. Furthermore, that Person is none other than divine, and the kingdom over which He shall rule is the transcendent, eschatological kingdom of God. As Ridderbos expresses it, "The Son of man is none other than the Messiah, the Son of David. But, conversely, the Son of David is the Son of man, He who has been invested with divine and universal authority."24 Thus, Jesus' preaching of the kingdom of heaven is at the same time the preaching of the Messiah, since it is the Messiah who inaugurates the kingdom and shall rule over it. Furthermore, Jesus reveals the Messiah to be none other than the Son of man, as He is introduced in the prophecy of Daniel chapter seven. By so doing, Jesus is lifting the Messiah beyond the nationalistic and earthly confines imposed upon Him by the Jews of His day who, due to their superficial understanding of the Old Testament prophetic promises, had, in fact, misinterpreted them. By identifying the Messiah/Son of David with the Son of man, our Lord is revealing the Messiah's true divine identity and, consequently, the true dimensions of the kingdom associated with His coming. Or, as stated previously when discussing the Baptist's preaching, Jesus is removing the Old Testament typological "shell" and setting forth the true eschatological and divine fullness contained within the prophetic promises that had been couched in nationalistic and earthly forms. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. Compare the various Jewish writings listed below with their view of the coming kingdom of heaven. a. This writing stresses the restoration of the people of Israel and the house of David. ___ b. This writing emphasizes the supernatural and transcendent character of the coming kingdom. ___ c. This writing features elements of both a nationalistic character and a transcendent nature. ___ d. This writing presents a dualistic view with the kingdom of God existing in a heavenly realm totally unrelated to the earthly realm. ___ 1. The Book of Enoch 2. The Psalms of Solomon 24 Ridderbos, p. 36.

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3. The Assumption of Moses 4. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs 2. What was exceptional about John the Baptist's and Jesus' preaching? a. They were the first to equate the kingdom of God with the kingdom of heaven. b. They were the first to reveal the kingdom of heaven to the people of Israel. c. They were the first to announce the arrival of the kingdom of heaven. 3. The reason for the coming of the kingdom is to be found in the intrinsic nobility of man and God's desire for fellowship with him. True or False 4. According to both the Old Testament Scriptures and the preaching of John and Jesus, what are the elements that characterize the kingdom? a. The redemption of God's people b. The restoration of national Israel c. The judgment of the world d. All of the above 5. The Messianic title Jesus most frequently uses in referring to Himself is ___. a. Son of God b. Son of man c. Son of David Discussion questions 1. Discuss the kingdom of heaven as it is presented in the Old Testament. 2. Discuss the kingdom of heaven as it is found in pre-Christian Jewish literature. 3. Discuss the way in which Jesus' preaching of the kingdom differs from that of John the Baptist. 4. Discuss the God-centered character of the kingdom. 5. Discuss the role of the Messiah in relation to the kingdom.

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LESSON TWO: THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM (1) THE EVIDENCE OF THE KINGDOM'S PRESENCE The Casting Out of Demons In Matthew 12:28 (cp. Lk. 11:20) we hear Jesus testify before the Pharisees, "...if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you." Jesus has just performed the miracle of casting a demon out of a man whom the demon had also rendered blind and mute (vs. 22-23). Jesus now proceeds to address and refute the Pharisees' slander--they maintained that He had performed this miracle by the power of the devil (vs. 24)--by showing the absurdity of such an accusation. He does so by comparing the rule of the devil with that of a kingdom, or a town, or a household, each composing an organically coherent unity. Using this illustration, Jesus points out that if one demon were to cast out another, the kingdom of the demons could not stand, it would fall apart. But this has not happened: the demons have not turned against one another, causing the collapse of their demonic kingdom. The demonic kingdom has not suffered collapse due to internal conflict, on the contrary, its defeat has come from without, i.e.; with the coming of the kingdom of God. The opposition to Satan and his kingdom that is witnessed in the miracle Jesus had just performed is none other than that of God and His kingdom power. The power of that heavenly kingdom, and consequently, it presence, is the explanation for Jesus' dominion over the demons (cp. Mk. 1:27). This understanding of Jesus' argumentation is further confirmed by His illustration of the "strong man" in Matt. 12:29. The strong man's house can only be looted if someone stronger than he overpowers him and binds him. Jesus, "by the Spirit of God", has so bound the devil and is now proceeding to release those whom he has held captive (Lk. 13:16). This, Jesus declares, is testimony that "the kingdom of God has come to you." The passage of Matt. 12:22-29 (and parallels) is not an isolated one. Jesus' victory over the devil, testifying to the coming of the kingdom of God, is evidenced prior to the start of His public ministry; it is to be seen in His successful combating of the temptations in the wilderness. It is especially the temptation with respect to "all the kingdoms of the world" (Lk. 4:5-8; Matt. 4:8-10) that reveals what is at issue in this struggle between the Lord Jesus and the devil. Indeed, what is at issue is the question, "Who shall exercise the dominion over the world?" or, in other words, "Whose kingdom shall prevail?" By offering to turn over the dominion to Jesus, on condition that Jesus fall down before him in worship, the devil is acknowledging the purpose for which Christ has come, namely, to supplant the demonic rule with that of the kingdom of God. It is significant that the way Jesus overcomes this temptation,

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and thus begin the victorious advance of the kingdom of God, is not by a display of self-assertion, but by humble submission to His heavenly Father (Matt. 4:10). Whereas the devil offered to turn over the dominion to Jesus if He would submit to him (Matt. 4:9), Jesus recognizes that the way to exercise the authority of the heavenly kingdom and the way by which it will come to supplant the demonic tyranny over the creation is by His submission to His heavenly Father (Matt. 4:10). Jesus has already manifested that submission to the Father's will when He offered Himself for baptism: an act that represented the Holy One's identification with sinners and His suffering the penalty of death rightfully due them. The way of submission to the heavenly Father's will, i.e.; submission to the rule of the King of heaven, is the characteristic of life in the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:9-10), and, consequently, is the only way in which the kingdom of God may manifest itself. For Jesus to establish the kingdom of God by means of self-assertion would be as contradictory as for the demons to oppose one another and so bring about the internal collapse of the devil's tyrannical rule. The ultimate exhibition of Jesus' submission to the will of His heavenly Father, and the ultimate victory over the devil, would be presented at the cross of Calvary (cp. Matt. 26:39/Col. 2:14-15). From the very beginning of His public ministry, Jesus' power and authority over the devil manifests itself. This is not only seen in His casting out of demons from persons whom they had possessed (Mk. 1:27), but also by the manner in which the demons express themselves (often through the persons they possessed) in the presence of Jesus. When Jesus approaches, the demons cry out in fear. They consistently testify to their knowledge of His person and the significance of His coming. They call Him "the Holy One of God", "the Son of God", and "the Son of the Most High God". By so doing they recognize His messianic identity and mission, as becomes evident from Luke 4:41 where the two terms, "Son of God" and "the Christ" are brought into conjunction with one another. The demons recognize that in Jesus' coming they are being confronted with their own destruction (Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34). They are tormented in His presence (Mk. 5:7). In Mark 1:26 the reaction of the demon's victim should be seen as the demon's own reaction in the presence of Christ the Lord. Knowing themselves to be powerless in His presence, the demons implore Christ to allow them to lengthen their existence on earth (Mk. 5:10) and not to cast them into the abyss before the appointed time (Lk. 8:31/Rev. 20:10). Finally, in this context we must also take into account Luke 10:17-20. Jesus has sent out the seventy on a mission of healing the sick and announcing the presence of the kingdom of God (vs. 9). Note: The healing of the sick would serve as the miraculous validation of the message the disciples proclaimed, and would also serve as an example of the restoration of life in all of its wholeness in the kingdom of God. The seventy now return to Jesus and joyfully report the success of their mission. In response, Jesus declares, "I beheld Satan falling as

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lightning out of heaven" (vs. 18). The meaning of Jesus' statement is clear: Satan himself has fallen from the position of power he once held in the courts of heaven (cp. Zech. 3:1/Rev. 12:10). Jesus testifies that this is what He was observing25 with His own eyes as His disciples carried out the ministry He had entrusted to them. We should see this incident in connection with Matthew 12:22-29, the passage previously considered. The subject of both passages is the same: the great moment of the breaking down of Satan's rule has come, and at the same time, serving as the cause of that break down, is nothing other than the coming of the kingdom of God. It is abundantly evident that the source of the disciples' victory over Satan and his dominion is the power and authority of Jesus Himself in His capacity as the Messiah. The disciples testify that the demons are subject to them "in [Jesus'] name" (vs. 17). Jesus Himself testifies that He has given His disciples "authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy" (vs. 19). The "authority to tread upon serpents" should be seen as an allusion to the promised victory of the Messiah over the serpent originally made to Adam (Gen. 3:15). This is clearly messianic authority, as the devil himself indicates when he quotes Psalm 91:13 ("You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample under foot") and applies it to Jesus at the time of the temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:6). Jesus' Miracles Connected with the casting out of demons is the fact that in all of Jesus' exercise of miracle working power the coming of the kingdom is realized and its presence is manifested. This is implied by the fact that Jesus' preaching of the kingdom and His performing of miracles are repeatedly mentioned together (cp. Matt. 4:23; 9:35). Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom in both word and deed. Here we would note such passages as Matt. 13:16 and Lk. 10:23-24, where Jesus testifies to His disciples, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." The "seeing" refers to the seeing of His miracles, and the "hearing" refers to His preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. The same is evidenced when, in reply to John the Baptist's inquiry, Jesus points him and his disciples to both the miracles He is performing and the gospel He is preaching (Matt. 11:2-6). Thus, taken together, the miracles and the preaching provide both visible and audible testimony to the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, namely, the coming of the great era of salvation brought about by the coming of the kingdom of God. That our Lord's miracles testify to the presence of the long awaited kingdom must not merely be limited to isolated statements recorded throughout the 25 Jesus uses the imperfect tense (eqewroun) of the verb, qewrew, indicating ongoing action occurring in the past.

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Gospels. On the contrary, Jesus' miracles are organically connected to the kingdom and its earthly manifestation. His miracles are actual (though limited) demonstrations (as well as experiences) of the restoration of the creation, the fullness of which shall be realized "in the regeneration" (Matt. 19:28). Jesus' miracles are messianic deeds of salvation, possessing an eschatological character. They are evidence of the earthly manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, as is seen from Jesus' instructions given to the disciples whom He has sent out in His name: "heal the sick ... and say unto them, `The kingdom of God is come near unto you'" (Lk. 10:9). Not only the explicit casting out of demons, but all of Jesus' miracles are evidences of and manifestations of the fact that Satan's tyrannical dominion is being supplanted by the kingdom of God. In this connection it should be noted that the Gospels consider physical maladies, such as diseases, to be a general consequence of Satan's rule. Thus, in several cases the Gospels mention demonic possession as the cause of bodily disorders (Matt. 9:32-33; 12:22; note, especially, Matt. 17:15,18); or, such possession is mentioned prominently in conjunction with physical maladies and diseases (Matt. 4:24). Furthermore, Satan is identified as the cause of physical suffering even when direct demonic possession is not a factor. For instance, in the case of the woman who suffered from "a spirit of infirmity", it is said that she had been bound by Satan for eighteen years (Lk. 13:11,16).26 Hence, Jesus' struggle against the devil is not only fought in the ethical realm (i.e.; His resistance to temptation), it is also waged in the whole realm of the physical domain. Here we should also take note of the term "rebuke" (epitimaw), a term that is frequently employed in conjunction with the performing of Jesus' miracles. The demons are said to have been rebuked by Jesus, not only when He refuses to allow them to make known His identity (Mk. 1:24-25; Lk. 4:41), but also when He ordered them to depart (Mk. 9:25). The same word is also used in Lk. 4:39 with reference to the fever that incapacitated Peter's mother-in-law. In that passage the term may have been chosen in view of the demonic influence the Gospels associate in a general way with physical maladies, as previously noted. We also find the term ("rebuke") used with regard to Jesus' stilling of the storm (Lk. 8:24). From the context, it appears that there is again a demonic element involved, since Jesus is explicitly heading into pagan territory, where He will encounter, and then dispatch, the tyrannical presence of the devil (Lk. 8:22-33). In all these instances, the use of the word "rebuke" testifies to Jesus' absolute authority over the destructive (and demonic) influences operating in the natural creation as a result of sin. This display of divine, redemptive, power exercised by the Lord Jesus is, indeed, a manifestation of the coming of the kingdom. Christ is liberating the creation 26 It is possible that the phrase, "a spirit of infirmity", is to be taken as a form of demonic possession; it is so understood by the NIV's translation, which describes the woman as one who had been "crippled by a spirit".

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from the devastating effects of the curse (cp. Gen. 3:17b). A notably example of this is Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand, a miracle that is performed on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:1-6). On that occasion it is said that Jesus "restored" (apokaqisthmi) the man's hand, a testimony to the restoration of the creation and the eschatological Sabbath rest that is characteristic of the kingdom of heaven. Furthermore, as the Son of God, Jesus is dispensing a foretaste of the abundant riches of the kingdom of God, as is seen, for instance, in His repeated multiplication of the loaves and the abundant provision of the finest quality wine (Jn. 2:1-11). The most striking evidence of the presence of the kingdom is to be seen in those miracles in which Jesus raises the dead (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-26; Lk. 7:1117; Jn. 11:1-44). In the words of Ridderbos, "in light of the entire preaching of the kingdom it is clear that it is exactly in the delivery from death that the salvation of the kingdom reaches its climax." He then goes on to quote the N.T. scholar G. Sevenster: "Dead persons are raised, because in Jesus' action that Kingdom is beginning to be realized in which there will be no more any death (Rev. 21:4)."27 In the raising of the dead we see the complete reversal of the divine curse pronounced against man's rebellion against his Creator (Gen. 2:17; cp. Ezek. 18:4b). Here we should take special note of Jesus' dialogue with Martha on the occasion of Lazarus' death and subsequent resurrection. When Jesus informs Martha that her brother shall rise again, she acknowledges that to be true, and assigns the occurrence of that event to "the last day" (Jn. 11:24), i.e.; the day when, in the words of Rev. 11:15, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." Thereupon Jesus informs Martha, "I Am the Resurrection and the Life" (Jn. 11:25a); with the presence of Jesus, and in His person, there is a manifestation of "the last day", a manifestation of the kingdom of God. Conversely, the judgment upon the unbelieving and impenitent nation, which is also a consequence of the coming of the kingdom, is likewise demonstrated by a miracle, namely, the curse placed upon the fig tree, causing it to wither away (Matt. 21:18-19; Mk. 11:12-14, 20-21). The withering of the fig tree certainly has a symbolic meaning, since it is expressly stated that it was not the season for figs (Mk. 11:13). The fact that Jesus, being desirous for fruit, should find nothing on the tree except leaves (Mk. 11:12-13), makes the tree a fit symbol for the unfruitful nation of Israel (cp. Isa. 5:1-7, The Song of the Vineyard). Thus, the curse placed upon the unfruitful fig tree becomes a prophecy of the judgment that would overtake Israel on account of its spiritual barrenness. This becomes all the more apparent from the fact that the cursing of the fig tree occurs within the context of Jesus' cleansing of the temple (Matt. 21:12-13). Viewed in this light, this present miracle is the counterpart to the saving miracles, demonstrating that the coming of the kingdom makes a distinction: it bestows abundant life upon those who by grace are its inheritors, 27 Ridderbos, p. 68.

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but it executes definitive judgment upon those who have shown themselves unworthy of it. Now the very fact that this miracle of judgment is enacted upon an inanimate object, a fig tree, is a testimony to its prophetic nature: the judgment of Israel is forewarned, but not as yet executed. Also, the miracle testifies to the provisional nature of the kingdom's presence, the kingdom has come, but not yet in its eschatological fullness, at which time the definitive judgment shall be carried out (Matt. 25:31-46). We further note that the term by which Jesus' miracles are designated, as well as His ability to perform such works, is the Greek word, dunamis (dunamiV), usually translated, "power". Thus, we read that miraculous powers were active in Him (Mk. 6:14), and that the power of the LORD was upon Him, enabling Him to perform cures (Lk. 5:17), and it is with authority and power that He banishes the unclean spirits (Lk. 4:36). As noted, on more than one occasion the miracles themselves are denoted as "powers" (Matt. 7:22; 11:20; 13:54; note, the phrase translated, "many mighty works" literally reads, "many mighty powers"), or simply, "power" (Mk. 6:5). Jesus' very birth is due to the working of this very same divine power (Lk. 1:35), and this same power defines the whole course of His life and action (Lk. 4:14; Acts 10:38). It is in His transfiguration that the disciples witness the kingdom of God come with power (Mk. 9:1), which is nothing other than a preview of the final eschatological coming of the kingdom (Mk. 13:26). Thus, in the miracles, and in the very person of the One who performs those miracles, there is evidenced the historical operation of that divine kingdom power--it is the testimony that here is the presence of the kingdom of God in its initial stage, a foretaste and guarantee of its final eschatological manifestation. From all that has been presented, it becomes evident that the miracles must be understood within the context of the coming of the kingdom, as evidence of the presence of the kingdom, even though in something less than its eschatological form. Thus, they are seen as indicating the fulfillment of prophecy that pertains to the promised Messiah and His work (Matt. 8:1617/Isa. 53:4). They are evidence that God has "visited" His people with the promised blessing of salvation (Lk. 7:15-16). In the light of Zechariah's hymn of praise (Lk. 1:67-79), this divine "visitation" is to be understood as the promised deliverance of God's people, which has been foretold and has been long expected. Jesus' miracles suggest to the people, (who do not know that He indeed is the Messiah), the possibility that He might be the Son of David (Matt. 12:22-23). On several occasion He is addressed as such by those who solicit His ministry of healing (Matt. 9:27; 15:22; 20:30). This is why Israel will be held more severely accountable for their rejection of Jesus, precisely because they have had the privilege of witnessing and even experiencing these manifestations of divine power, which is nothing other than the power of the kingdom of God present among them (Lk. 10:10-11). On the other hand, perception of this kingdom power and faith in the One who exercises it, will

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entitle Gentiles to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven when it comes in the fullness of its glory (Matt. 8:5-11). The Preaching of the Gospel In answer to John the Baptist's question, "Are you he that comes?" Jesus not only refers to His miracles, but also to the preaching of the gospel (Matt. 11:26). His response to John's inquiry testifies to the fact that the fulfillment of the promise, (i.e.; the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God), is manifested not only in Jesus' miracles but also in His preaching. The same thought is found with different wording in Lk. 16:16, where we read, The law and the prophets were until John [i.e.; the Baptist]; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached." Here the Old Testament dispensation, the dispensation of the Law and the Prophets, is set in contrast to the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. The same should be taken to be the meaning of John 1:17, where "the law" given through Moses is set in contrast with and is superseded by "the grace and the truth" which has come through Jesus the Christ (cp. Jn. 1:40-41, 49). In other words, in the preaching of the gospel there has come the realization of that which had only been an expectation in the Old Testament period, something that had only been experienced in the form of prophetic types. This is why Jesus calls His disciples blessed not only for what they see, but also for what they hear. They are witnessing that which the Old Testament prophets and righteous men longed to see and hear (Matt. 13:16-17; Lk. 10:23-24). The preaching of the gospel is no less a proof than the miracles that the kingdom of God has come. In this connection we must appreciate the origin of the term by which Jesus' preaching is so frequently designated. That preaching is repeatedly summarized as the preaching of "the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14), or "the gospel of God" (Mk. 1:14-15), or in abbreviated form, it is simply designated as "the gospel" (Matt. 26:13; Mk. 8:35; 13:10). Although this term is used to describe the whole of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom of heaven, (not exclusively to indicate the salvation, but also the judgment, brought about by the coming of the kingdom), yet the primary meaning of the term is "good, or joyful, news", thereby emphasizing the salvific aspect of Jesus' present kingdom ministry (cp. Jn. 3:16-17). The term, "gospel", as used to describe Jesus' preaching must be traced back to the Old Testament, more specifically, the latter chapters of the prophet Isaiah. There we are introduced to the messenger of "good news" (i.e.; the gospel) who will come to proclaim the manifestation of the LORD's kingly dominion, which will herald a new era, bringing salvation and peace to Zion (Isa. 52:7). In Isaiah 61 (vs. 1-3) this messenger of "glad tidings" is himself introduced as the speaker: he informs us that he has been anointed with the Spirit of the LORD and then proceeds to specify various aspects, and results, of his divine mission. It is true that one component of this exercise of the LORD's

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kingly dominion is "the day of vengeance of our God" (Isa. 61:2b; 52:10), nevertheless, the predominant theme is that of good news, (in the words of the angel [Lk. 2:10], "good tidings of great joy"), for the covenant people and all those who enter into the covenant via faith in Jesus the Messiah. The reason for this message being primarily a message of joy, a message of good news, is to be found in the fact that the LORD, by "making bare his holy arm", is delivering His people from the tyrannical oppression of the kingdom of this world, which in fact is a kingdom at the disposal of the devil. Hence, as is consistently presented throughout Scripture, the deliverance of His people and the judgment of His and their enemies are two aspects of the one divine work of salvation--this is most prominently evidenced in Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, which entailed the overthrow of the Egyptian Empire and the defeat of its gods (Ex. 12:12). The Book of Revelation presents the final eschatological manifestation of the kingdom of God in the same terms (Rev. 11:15; 20:1-22:5). Thus the roots of the term "gospel" as it is applied to Jesus' preaching is to be discovered in the Old Testament prophetic word. Furthermore, it is very evident that Jesus identified Himself with the messenger of "good news" foretold by Isaiah. In His response to John the Baptist's inquiry, "the poor have the good news preached to them" (Matt. 11:5b), there is a clear allusion to Isa. 61:1. But this identification of Jesus with the messenger of "good news" is even more explicitly made on the occasion when Jesus' inaugurates His public preaching ministry. There in the synagogue of Nazareth He reads from this very passage of Isa. 61 and then proceeds to announce, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your ears" (Lk. 4:21). The preaching of the gospel is an evidence that the kingdom of God has become a present reality: the messenger who brings good news to the poor has arrived, the great moment of salvation has come.28 The preaching of the Beatitudes must also be seen in connection with this Old Testament background, since, from the very outset, Jesus addresses Himself to the poor (Lk. 6:20-ff.), or, the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3-ff). That the Beatitudes are, in the words of Ridderbos, "the most authentic illustration of the preaching of the kingdom of heaven"29, is confirmed when once again we consider Jesus' reply to John the Baptist, especially His statement, "the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matt. 11:5b; Lk. 7:22b). In other words, the Beatitudes provide a sampling and an elaboration of what it means that the gospel is being preached to the poor. The poor are now being addressed, the gospel is presently being preached to them, and is being done by the One who is none other than the messenger who has long been expected. However, although Jesus' preaching is an announcement of the coming of the kingdom, 28 In Lk. 4:21 Jesus uses the perfect tense of the Greek word, plhpow, meaning that with His coming the kingdom of God has entered into a state of fulfillment, although, as we shall see, it has not yet appeared in every aspect of its final eschatological fulfillment. 29 Ridderbos, p. 72.

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and not merely a prophecy of its coming, there is yet a greater, future, manifestation of the kingdom yet to come. Not only are the poor hearing the messenger proclaim to them the good news, "Blessed are you poor, for your is the kingdom of God" (Lk. 6:20), but the Beatitudes also contain promises to be fulfilled in the future (Matt. 5:4-9; Lk. 6:21-23). Hence, although the kingdom has come, there is still a future, eschatological dimension of the kingdom that is yet to be realized. But this is not to detract from the fact that the kingdom has come, at least in its preliminary form. We must here recognize the power and authority with which Jesus preaches the gospel of the kingdom. His word is charged with the authority of the kingdom; the utterance of His word contains and dispenses the very salvation of which it speaks. In essence, there is no difference between the word by which Jesus casts out devils and His preaching of the gospel, both are expressions of kingdom authority (cp. Mk. 1:27 with Mk. 1:22). Nowhere does this connection between authoritative word and deed come to light more clearly than in the case of the healing of the man suffering from palsy (Mk. 2:112; Lk. 5:17-26). Jesus begins with the preaching of the gospel: "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mk. 2:5). When the scribes consider such an utterance to be blasphemy, Jesus inquires, "Which is easier, to say ... `Your sins are forgiven' or to say, `Arise, take up your bed and walk'?" The point at issue here is the authority of Jesus' word, does He have the power to forgive sins? Indeed, "who can [literally, who has the power to] forgive sins, but God?" So as to demonstrate the authority and efficacy of His word, Jesus now issues the command for the man to arise, take up his bed, and go home; which he then proceeds to do. Jesus then states that the purpose of this miracle of physical healing was to provide the assurance that "the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mk. 2:10). Hence, Jesus' preaching is not merely a further assurance that God has the power to forgive sins, and is not merely a promise that God will do so, the truth of which was typologically foretold by means of the O.T. sacrifices (cp. Heb. 10:4,11). Jesus' preaching authoritatively accomplishes the remission of the man's sins, as appears from the present tense of the verb: "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mk. 2:5). This fact is further reinforced by the statement that the Son of man possesses such authority "on earth" (Mk. 2:10). In authoritatively and effectually forgiving this man's sins, Jesus is exerting His power as the Son of man (Mk. 2:10), the One to whom all kingly authority has been entrusted (Dan. 7:14); and this is evidence of the coming of the kingdom. We also call attention to the many expressions of "fear", "amazement", "astonishment", "bewilderment", etc. that describe the reaction of the multitude upon witnessing Jesus' miracles and hearing His preaching. Again and again these kinds of reactions are recorded (Matt. 12:23; Mk. 1:27; 5:20; 10:24; Lk. 11:14; and many more). The reporting of these reactions is not merely intended to provide a historical/psychological description of the impression Jesus made on the multitudes. The evangelists are indicating that Jesus' works

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and words are displays of divine power and authority, and doing so in such a way as to cause the multitudes to be aware of it. In the case of the healing of the palsied man, for instance, although the crowd does not recognize Jesus' true identity, (i.e.; that He is the Son of man), they recognize that Jesus has displayed an authority that can only have been bestowed by God (Matt. 9:8). As noted, this sense of amazement and wonder is not only elicited from the multitudes as they witness Jesus' miracles, it is also their reaction as they listen to His preaching (Mk. 1:22; Lk. 4:22; Matt. 22:22). They are not merely amazed at Jesus' knowledge or wisdom, far beyond that, they are responding to the display of divine power revealed in His word. In this respect there is no difference between Jesus' preaching and His miracles: both display the disposal of sovereign authority that belongs to God alone--it is nothing other than a display of kingdom authority manifested in both word and deed. More specifically, the thing that so often elicits the amazement of the multitude is the element of authority (exousia) present in Jesus' preaching and teaching. In Mark 1:22 and Matthew 7:29 Jesus' preaching is said to possess authority in contrast to the teaching of the scribes. Now it is true that the teachers of Israel also spoke with authority, and as such, their teaching was to be heeded. However, their authority was derived from their position, they "sit on Moses' seat" (Matt. 23:1-3). Jesus' teaching, on the other hand, possesses an authority that originates from Himself (note His repeated use of the expression, "But I say to you", throughout the Sermon on the Mount). Here we also point out His testimony recorded in John 5:46-47, where Jesus puts His words on a par with Moses' writings, and, we must bear in mind, what Moses was writing was nothing other than the word of God. Jesus speaks with divine authority, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Mk. 13:31/Psl. 119:89). It should be clear that all this can only be explained by the significance of Jesus' person and mission. This fact is sensed by the astonished multitude. As they witness His miracles, they raise the question, "Can this be the son of David?" (Matt. 12:23) The presence of the kingdom--evidenced by the casting out of demons, Jesus' working of miracles, and the preaching of the gospel-- must be attributed to nothing less than the presence of Jesus the Messiah. To that we now turn our attention. WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE KINGDOM'S PRESENCE? The Presence of Jesus, the Christ In the words of Ridderbos, "the real and most profound explanation of the presence of the kingdom is to be sought in the person of Jesus himself. The secret of the presence of the kingdom of heaven lies in Jesus' victory over Satan, in his unlimited miraculous power, his unrestricted authority to preach the gospel, in his pronouncements of blessedness and the bestowing of

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salvation upon his people ... There can be no doubt ... that the entire fulfillment that Jesus proclaims as a present reality is based on the fact that he himself, Jesus, is the Christ."30 Earlier we had considered the messianic character of the kingdom.31 Now we must consider more carefully the fact that Jesus' revelation that He is the Christ (i.e.; the Messiah) forms the basis for His proclamation that the kingdom has come as a present reality. In simple terms, the kingdom is now present because the Messiah is now present. Jesus Anointed with the Holy Spirit The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, accompanied by the Father's voice out of heaven (Matt. 3:16-17; Mk. 1:10-11; Lk. 3:22), clearly has messianic significance. This becomes apparent when we compare these New Testament passages, especially Lk. 3:22, with the messianic prophesy contained in Isa. 42:1. The anointing with the Spirit is the divine preparation of Jesus for the task that has been entrusted by the Father to Him as the Messiah (cp. Isa. 11:15; 61:1-3). We are to understand Lk. 4:18, a passage in which Jesus applies to Himself the words of Isa. 61:1 regarding the anointing with the Spirit, in the same way. The gift of the Spirit, (given without measure, cp. Jn. 3:34), is for the purpose of enabling Jesus to exercise His office and fulfill His work as the promised Messiah, with whose appearance comes the kingdom of God. Again and again throughout the Gospels we find evidence that Jesus has been endued with the Holy Spirit during His earthly ministry and of His having the Spirit at His disposal, precisely because He is the Messiah. Thus we read in Matt. 12:28 that it is "by the Spirit of God" that Jesus casts out demons, which itself is an evidence that the kingdom of God has manifested its presence among that generation. Hence, Jesus' being invested with the Holy Spirit is integrally connected with the coming of the kingdom. In this very same context is found the warning that the accusation with which the scribes slander Jesus (Matt. 12:24) is in fact blasphemy "against the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 3:28-30). This is further testimony to the fact that the power that invests Jesus' word with the ability to produce miraculous results is that of the Holy Spirit, whose power, He as the Messiah, has at His disposal. The event described in Matt. 12:22-32 (and parallels) is not an isolated incident. As the Messiah sent by God, Jesus is guided and prompted by the Holy Spirit in everything. After His baptism Jesus is compelled (ekballw) by the Spirit to go out into the wilderness where He will encounter the temptations presented by the devil. Thus the temptation is not described as an event that happened to occur within the context of God's permissive providence; to the contrary, it is divinely appointed for Jesus as the Messiah, equipped with the Holy Spirit, to encounter the great adversary in order to overthrow him. The 30 Ridderbos, pp. 81-82. 31 See LESSON ONE, pp. 17-20.

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fact that the Messiah is filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk. 4:1) is the assurance that the tempter's assaults are doomed to failure. This being filled with the Spirit and having the power of the Spirit at His disposal also explain the effectualness of Jesus' command following the third temptation, "Away from me, Satan" (Matt. 4:10-11). Not only is Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness, there to encounter the tempter, but upon the successful completion of that trial, it is "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk. 4:14) that He returns to Galilee and commences His public ministry. In the words of Ridderbos, "His being endued with the Spirit is the principle and the power of Jesus' entire activity and from beginning to end it stamps his action as the discharge of his messianic duty."32 We are also reminded of the words of John the Baptist, when he informed the multitudes that the One who came after him would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt. 3:11). From the context it is clear that John has in mind the great eschatological event at which time the Messiah "will gather his wheat into the garner" but will burn up the chaff "with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:12). It is true that this baptism was not immediately performed by Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry; it would begin to be realized with the outpouring of the Spirit upon the church following Jesus' resurrection/ascension (Acts 1:4-5). The ultimate, eschatological fulfillment of this baptism will only be realized on the last day when the Son of man appears in His glory (Matt. 25:31, 31, 46). All this, however, only shows that Jesus' messianic ministry was not fulfilled in its entirety all at once. Precursors of that bestowal of the Spirit that would occur at Pentecost may be seen on the occasions when Jesus sent forth His disciples on His behalf. In sending them out He invested them with "authority over unclean spirits" as well as authority "to heal all manner of disease" (Matt. 10:1). This authority must certainly be a dispensation of the authority He Himself possessed as the Messiah, that being none other than the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, whom, Jesus assures His disciples, shall be with them and in them (Matt. 10:19-20). In conjunction with what has just been said, (namely, that the messianic baptism with the Holy Spirit is suspended until after the resurrection, and then only given in measure before the time of the end), it has also been pointed out that it is only with great restraint that the synoptic Gospels speak of Jesus' possession of the Holy Spirit. In contrast to Matthew and Mark, it is Luke who more explicitly and consistently makes reference to the Holy Spirit's role in Jesus' ministry. Ridderbos acknowledges that the number of passages (esp. in Matt. and Mk.) in which the Holy Spirit is spoken of is comparatively small. But he attributes this relative silence with regard to the Spirit in Jesus' ministry to the fact that constant reference to the Spirit was unnecessary. Jesus' role as the Messiah informs His entire ministry, and as the Messiah His whole ministry is governed by the Holy Spirit, as foretold in the prophecies of Isaiah referred to above (cp. Isa. 42:1; 61:1). This fact could well be assumed without it 32 Ridderbos, p. 87.

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having to be repeatedly stated by Matthew, whose Gospel is very much directed to the house of Israel.33 Consequently, the infrequent mention of Jesus' anointing with and possession of the Holy Spirit "does not signify any `limitation' of Jesus' messiahship, but rather an abundant amount of certainty that his authority was that of the Messiah; for it is not the possession of the Holy Spirit, but the coming of Messiah, that is the foundation of the gospel and the proof of the kingdom having come."34 The hlqon (pronounced, ale-thon) Statements35 In the Gospels Jesus speaks of His messianic authority as an authority He has already been given and by which He is presently carrying out His ministry. Here we may note that the wording of Matt. 11:27a (also, Lk. 10:22) is very similar to the wording found in Matt. 28:18. This is a further testimony to the presence of the kingdom, since the Messiah has come and is presently undertaking His ministry in reliance on the divine authority entrusted to Him by the Father. This same past tense (indicating the present possession of messianic authority) is found in the passages that speak about Jesus' coming, or about the coming of the Son of man--the so-called hlqon sayings. These sayings have a special Christological significance and presuppose Jesus' pre-existence. The "coming" mentioned in these passages must be understood to be a "coming out of heaven" (cp. Jn. 13:3; 16:28). It is undeniable that these hlqon statements bear witness to a special consciousness on the part of Jesus of possessing a divine calling. Upon closer examination, the contents of this call reveal that it is nothing other than a messianic call: Jesus has come to call sinners to repentance (Mk. 2:17); He has come to cast fire on the earth (Lk. 12:49); He has come to bring a sword, not peace (Matt. 10:34-36); He has not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17); indeed, He has come to preach the kingdom of God (Mk. 1:38/1:14). Furthermore, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of man, (to be understood in the light of Dan. 7:14), who has come "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). As the Son of Man Jesus has come "to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45/Hos. 13:14; Isa. 35:10; 53:4-6). In such pronouncements there is more implied than merely a prophetic consciousness, (i.e.; the consciousness of being a spokesman for the LORD, as were the Old Testament prophets), here is clearly a messianic consciousness. What is said with regard to the character and the purpose of Jesus' coming shows that these hlqon statements have an essential and unmistakably messianic significance. We noted above the Son of man's coming to be a 33 The same may be said of Mark, whose Gospel appears to be built upon the outline of Peter's preaching. The reader is referred to EXCURSUS ONE following after LESSON EIGHT of this course. 34 Ridderbos, p. 89. 35 hlqon is the aorist (i.e.; past tense) form of the Greek verb, ercomai, meaning, "to come".

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ransom for many and the Old Testament background of that mission, but it is even more apparent when one considers His coming "to cast fire upon the earth" (Lk. 12:49-53). Verse 50 indicates that this casting of fire upon the earth is intimated related to "the baptism with which [Jesus] shall be baptized" (i.e.; a reference to the crucifixion). The accomplishing of this "baptism" in turn will result in division and discord among men (vs. 51-53). It must be noted that this "fire" does not originate from the earth, rather, it is cast down upon the earth from heaven. All this, the casting down of fire out of heaven, as well as the division among men, is the result of the coming of the kingdom into the world by virtue of the appearance of the Messianic King (cp. Mal. 3:16-4:3). The reference to divisions within families is an allusion to Mal. 7:6, which itself is essentially an eschatological prophecy: verse four of the Malachi passage speaks of this discord in conjunction with the coming of the day of visitation. Thus, when our Lord Jesus utters the words of Lk. 12:49-53 (cp. Matt. 10:34-36), He is indicating that He has come to fulfill, indeed, His coming serves to accomplish the fulfillment of, the Old Testament eschatological prophecies. Thus, Jesus, in His capacity as the Messiah, is not only announcing the approaching fulfillment of such prophecy, but He by His coming is instigating, or putting into motion, that fulfillment.36 The egw (pronounced, ehgo) Pronouncements37 There is a close connection between the hlqon statements and the so-called egw pronouncements, in which Jesus emphatically testifies to His consciousness of absolute authority and power. Notable here is His repeated use of the expression, "but I say to you", found throughout the Sermon on The Mount (esp. Matt. 5), where, in contrast to the scribes and elders of Israel, He speaks with absolute and, hence, divine authority. Of special importance in this regard are those places in which Jesus affirms that He has at His disposal the eschatological rest (cp. Deut. 12:9), and that He graciously offers that rest to all who come to Him (Matt. 11:28) and submit themselves to His divine lordship (Matt 11:29). Coming to Jesus the Christ and having communion with Him is the great prerequisite for salvation (cp. Jn. 36 Although the actual victory of the kingdom is accomplished at Calvary, that victory is considered a foregone conclusion the moment the Messiah has entered the world. Note Jn. 17:4, where the Lord Jesus speaks of having accomplished (past tense) the work the Father gave Him to do. In other words, the victory at Calvary was a certainty from the moment Jesus submitted to His Father's will (Matt. 26:39), which actually can be traced back to the moment He entered the world via His incarnation (Heb. 10:7/Psl. 40:6-8). Because the Messiah has the law of God within His heart (Psl. 40:6b), there can be no question that He will submit Himself to His Father's will in total devotion to the Father, it is impossible for Him to do otherwise (Jn. 5: 19, 30). Consequently, each act of earthly submission, culminating with the cross of Calvary, is simply the outworking of the obedience that is the essence of the Messiah's very nature. 37 egw in the Greek is the first person pronoun, "I"; as used by Jesus in the Gospels, it sets His teaching apart from the scribes and asserts His messianic authority.

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17:3). Conversely, He also possesses, and shall eventually employ, the authority to cast out of the kingdom all the workers of iniquity (Matt. 7:21-23). In these utterances we hear the future Judge of all the world speak. He denies that there has ever existed any relationship between Himself and those who by their unregenerate nature produce the works of iniquity; He will declare of them, "I never knew you" (Matt. 7:23a). This statement testifies to the fact that He indeed is "the Righteous One" (Acts 7:52; 22:14; cp. Acts 2:27), the One "who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21).38 By driving the workers of iniquity away from Him He implies their judgment (Matt. 25:41). As verse 46 of Matt. 25 indicates, His authoritative word is effectual, it causes the judgment pronounced upon the workers of iniquity to be executed against them. Jesus' consciousness of possessing absolute authority as the Messiah is especially evident in the conclusion of His speech on the occasion of His sending out the disciples on a gospel mission (Matt. 10:32-42). Jesus there speaks of "confessing me" and "denying me" (vs. 32-33); of being "not worthy of me" if one loves his earthly kin more "than me" (vs. 37); He speaks of the necessity of "following me" (vs. 38) and of losing one's life "for my sake" (vs. 39). He goes on to speak of the significance of "receiving me" as being nothing less than "receiving him who sent me" (vs. 40). By all these expressions39 Jesus speaks as the Christ (or, Messiah) in response to whose person and work lies the ultimate decision for man; He is the One by whom God comes to the world with both His grace and His justice, with both His salvation and His judgment. This is why in Jesus' preaching the messianic egw alternates with references to "the kingdom of heaven" or "the kingdom of God". Note that the leaving of house, or brethren, etc. "for my name's sake" (Matt. 19:29), or "for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel" (Mk. 10:29), is at the same time doing so "for the kingdom of God's sake" (Lk. 18:29). Thus Jesus Himself, in His capacity as the Messiah, is identified with the kingdom of God. The kingdom has come, because Christ has come. What He does and speaks and gives is a manifestation of the salvation God has promised. Jesus' Reticence to Refer to Himself as the Messiah After all that has been said above, it may now seem strange that we must say a word about Jesus' reticence to explicitly refer to Himself as the Messiah. As Ridderbos expresses it, "It may be called a very remarkable fact that in the synoptic [Gospels] Jesus nowhere explicitly called himself the Messiah and more than once imposed silence on those who addressed him, called after him,
38 The reader is referred back to footnote #36. 39 The expressions found in Matt. 10 have their parallels in the other Gospels (Mk. 8:34-38; Lk. 9:23-26; 14:26-27) and can be multiplied by many similar passages, such as Matt. 16:24-25; 19:29, etc.

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or confessed him as such."40 This reticence can be accounted for when one takes into account the identity of those addressing Jesus, or the historical context in which He is being addressed as the Messiah. When the demons identify Jesus as "the Holy One of God" (Mk. 1:24), or cry out, "What have I to do with you, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?" (Mk. 5:7), it is to be expected that Jesus would silence them. He does so for the simple reason that they, as emissaries of the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), are unfit to bear witness to the truth. Their witness would be a mockery of the truth or cause the truth to be discounted by the very character of the one who is testifying to it. But Jesus also charges His own disciples not to make Him known after His true and full identity has been revealed to them (Mk. 8:27-30). The context indicates that He does so because at this time both His disciples as well as the multitudes do not have a true conception of the Messiah's mission. This becomes evident from the fact that immediately after having confessed Jesus to be the Christ (i.e.; the Messiah), Peter must be rebuked in the strongest terms for seeking to divert Jesus from proceeding to the cross (Mk. 8:31-32). Peter, who moments earlier testified to the truth as it was revealed to him by God the Father (Matt. 16:17), is now identified as furthering the cause of the evil one (Mk. 8:33). Thus, Peter needs not only to have Jesus' identity revealed to him, he needs also to have the nature of Jesus' messianic mission revealed to him. This need for a second "opening of the eyes" is illustrated by means of the miracle Jesus performs in giving sight to a blind man, recorded by Mark just prior to Peter's confession of faith and the incidents that follow (Mk. 8:22-26). In that miracle Jesus first bestows sight upon the man, but then He must touch his eyes a second time in order for him to be enabled to interpret and rightly understand what he now sees. The danger in allowing the multitude to hail Jesus as the Messiah without a proper understanding of His messianic mission, and the disastrous consequences of such a situation, can be seen from the incident recorded in John 6. Upon miraculously feeding the multitude, Jesus is perceived to be "the prophet who comes into the world" (Jn. 6:14). Here the people rightly understand Jesus to be the unique prophet foretold by Moses (Deut. 18:18-19). But having made this discovery, they immediately try to seize Jesus by force, in order to make Him king (Jn. 6:15). If such had been the case, Jesus' whole messianic mission, which culminated with the cross, would have been subverted. So, while it is true that Jesus expresses reticence in referring to Himself as the Messiah and even in allowing His messianic identity to be publicly announced, we see that there are good reasons for such reticence. Furthermore, this 40 Ridderbos, p. 89.

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reticence must be counterbalanced by what Ridderbos calls "all kinds of pronouncements on the part of Jesus testifying to the absolute authority he claimed. Such pronouncements are only to be explained by his unique relation to the Father and from his messianic self-consciousness."41 We have considered a number of these references under the above headings, The hlqon Statements and The egw Pronouncements. But now we turn to one other passage, Matthew 11:25-27, At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to children. 26Indeed, Father, for this was well pleasing in your sight. 27All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." These statements are as much about Jesus' messianic mission and authority as they are about what may be called the equality and the identity of essence of the Father and the Son. In these verses the mystery of the Son is placed on an equal basis with that of the Father ("No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son"), and the communication of the revelation concerning the Father and the Son is the exclusive privilege of each respectively, ("Father ... you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to children" and "no one knows the Father except ... those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him"). This ontological relationship between the Father and the Son,42 indicated in this passage, presupposes the pre-existence of Jesus' person (cp. Jn. 8:42; 16:28; 17:8). From this it becomes evident that Jesus' whole earthly existence has a messianic character, for what would have been the purpose of His coming (His incarnation), if not to fulfill the messianic mission the Father had entrusted to the Son? We conclude this present section of our study by quoting Ridderbos: on closer investigation it appears that every word that Jesus speaks about himself, though often indirect and in many cases implicit, is borne by a selfconsciousness that exceeds all natural boundaries and cannot be understood in any other way than in connection with his messianic mission.43
41 Ridderbos, p. 89. 42 The ontological relationship between God the Father and God the Son has to do with the fact that they both equally share in one and the same divine nature, as does the Holy Spirit together with them. 43 Ridderbos, p. 90.

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THE PRESENT POSSESSION OF SALVATION There is one other facet of the presence of the kingdom as preached by Jesus that we should consider. That is the fact that the Gospels proclaim that in Jesus' coming the kingdom of heaven is not only revealed with a power that brings to an end the rule of the evil one and restores life that up to now has been liable to disease and death. Beside all this the kingdom is also a gift that is presently offered to those who will receive it; it is something in which they may delight as an already present possession of a salvation that is yet to be enjoyed in all of its eschatological fullness. Precisely because the preaching of the kingdom is proclaimed by Jesus with absolute authority--not only as promise but also as the realization of that which is proclaimed--by means of this preaching the kingdom is presently offered to men as a gift to be received and as a realm into which they are invited and urged to enter. This facet of the kingdom is evidenced in Jesus' invitation for men to come unto Him and thereby receive (at least a portion of) the eschatological rest that is characteristic of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 11:28-30). This is also to be found in the words Jesus speaks on the occasion when He contrasts the days of John the Baptist with the present coming of the kingdom. Jesus declares, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matt. 11:12). Or, as the parallel passage of Luke 16:16 states it, "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the gospel of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it." Likewise, in Matt. 23:13 we find Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for seeking to prevent those who are entering into the kingdom from doing so (cp. Lk. 11:52). Now it is important to ascertain to what extent this gift--this entering into the kingdom--is, indeed, a present possession and privilege of the believer. Several tests, most notably Matt. 25:34, speak of entering into the kingdom as a future event. But this, as we understand it, is a reference to entering into the eschatological fullness of the kingdom as it shall be manifested on the Last Day. It cannot be denied that the Gospels speak of entrance into the kingdom prior to that Day, as seen in the passages discussed above. In the light of such passages, as well as the very nature of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom, it cannot be maintained that the receiving of and entering into the kingdom is only something that pertains to the future. This dual aspect of the kingdom, as something presently to be entered into as well as in the future, is seen in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12; Lk. 6:20-23). Though the full realization of the salvation promised to the poor in spirit may be something that pertains to the future (cp. Matt. 5:4-9; Lk. 6:21-23), this does not mean that the blessing of the kingdom is not something that can be given and entered into in the present. We must do full justice to the present tense ("theirs is the kingdom of heaven") found in the very first beatitude (Matt. 5:3; Lk. 6:20). This same dual

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aspect of the kingdom as a present possession and a future possession is also evidenced in the last beatitude: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when men shall reproach you ... 12Rejoice ... for great is your reward in heaven ... (Matt. 5:10-12) Then, too, there are those parables in which Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure (Matt. 13:44; 13:45-46). Here, again, we must conceive of the kingdom as a thing of greatest value that is presently made available to men, something they should desire and do their utmost to attain. A distinction must be made between Jesus speaking of the kingdom itself as a "treasure" and the kingdom "treasure" or "reward" that is yet to be received by those who are faithful to Christ. Those passages that speak of the "treasure" of the kingdom tend to have a future orientation, note, for instance, Jesus' counsel to the rich young ruler given in Matt. 19:21, "Go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven." It is clear that such passages denote something that transcends present earthly existence, because they speak of something that is in heaven, there being reserved and not to be revealed until the Last Day. But the parables that speak of the kingdom itself as a "treasure" view that kingdom as a present entity that may, and must, be presently secured, or, in the language of Matt. 11:12, a realm into which men must enter. As Ridderbos notes, the "treasure digger" as well as the "merchant" [who are the subjects of these parables] take possession of the treasure itself and do not merely acquire the right to it or the prospect of possessing it sometime in the future.
EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. Which of the following is evidence of the presence of the kingdom of God? a. The Casting Out of Demons b. Jesus' Miracles c. The Preaching of the Gospel d. All of the Above 2. The thing that so often elicits the amazement of the multitude is the element of _______ present in Jesus' preaching and teaching. a. Compassion b. Authority c. Wisdom

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3. Which of the following are true with regard to the so-called hlqon sayings? a. The word hlqon is the future tense of the Greek word, "to come", thereby pointing to the future eschatological manifestation of the kingdom of God. b. These hlqon sayings have a special Christological significance and presuppose Jesus' pre-existence. c. It is undeniable that these hlqon statements bear witness to a special consciousness on the part of Jesus of possessing a divine calling. d. All of the Above 4. Precisely because the preaching of the kingdom is proclaimed by Jesus with absolute authority, not only as promise but also as the realization of that which is proclaimed, the kingdom is therefore presently offered to men as a gift to be received and a realm into which to enter. True or False 5. A distinction must be made between Jesus speaking of the kingdom itself as a "treasure" and the kingdom "treasure" or "reward" that is yet to be received by those who are faithful to Christ. a. Those passages that speak of the "treasure" of the kingdom tend to have a ___ orientation. b. One example of such a passage is ___. c. But those passages that speak of the kingdom itself as a "treasure" view that kingdom as a ___ entity. d. An example of such a passage is ___. 1. Jesus' instruction to the rich young ruler 2. present 3. Jesus' parable of the merchant who finds a treasure in the field 4. future
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Discuss what the Lesson says about the significance of Jesus casting out demons. 2. Discuss the Old Testament background of the term "gospel". 3. Discuss the significance of Jesus' miracle of healing the man suffering from palsy (Mk. 2:1-12; Lk. 5:17-26) as that miracle relates to Jesus' preaching of the gospel. 4. Discuss what the Lesson says about the significance of Jesus being anointed with the Holy Spirit. 5. According to the lesson, what accounts for Jesus' reticence in referring to Himself as the Messiah.

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LESSON THREE: THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM (2) As we have seen from our previous lesson, Jesus did not maintain that the coming of the kingdom was only something to be anticipated--something that would make its appearance in the future. On the contrary, He proclaimed the present fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the kingdom, it being manifested by His own presence and by both His miracles as well as His preaching of the gospel. But this does not mean that the statement, "the kingdom of heaven has come", is the final word, with nothing more to be expected. In the previous lesson we noted that, although Jesus announces the presence of the kingdom with His coming, He also indicates that there is yet to appear a future manifestation of the kingdom, at which time will occur the consummation of all God's purposes. It is precisely here that we encounter the thing that is startling and new, (actually, a revealing of what is contained in Old Testament prophecy in more obscure form), in Jesus' pronouncement of the coming of the kingdom: Jesus announces that the kingdom is present, because He, the Messiah, has come. But at the same time Jesus makes clear that the great moment eschatological consummation (featuring the Final Judgment and the new heavens and the new earth, i.e.; the "regeneration" as it is expressed in Matt. 19:28) has not yet arrived. The coming of the kingdom, as proclaimed by Jesus, therefore, presently exhibits a partial and even provisional character. Now we may find it to be remarkable that, given this situation, the Gospels do not explicitly distinguish between the kingdom as it has come and the kingdom as it is yet to come. We are simply told in one passage that the kingdom of heaven has come, and in another passage that the kingdom is yet to come. This phenomenon is not merely due to a lack of distinct and systematic terminology, which is foreign to the Gospels. On the contrary, this ambiguity with respect to the now present/not yet present aspects of the kingdom is due to the unity of the kingdom. This ambiguity with regard to the coming of the kingdom of God implies that fundamentally there is only one coming of the kingdom. We should take careful note of Jesus' announcement recorded in Luke 4:21, "This day has this scripture [referring to Isaiah 61:1-2a, which He had just quoted, cf. Lk. 4:16-19] been fulfilled in your ears." The use of the perfect tense of the Greek verb, plhrow (to fulfill), indicates that the kingdom has now entered into a state of fulfillment. The kingdom of heaven appearing in this world with the coming of Jesus the Messiah signifies the end of prophecy (Matt. 11:13; Lk. 16:16), i.e.; the close of the Old Testament dispensation with all of its provisionality. The coming of the kingdom with the person of Christ results in the casting out of Satan, it witnesses the redemption of life (Matt. 11:5), it displays the kingdom power

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and authority of the Son of Man (Mk. 2:10-12), it pronounces blessing upon the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3). These, indeed, are eschatological blessings. Yet, as we are about to see, although Satan has been cast out, he is still active in the world, and the miracles are only "signs" that provide a foretaste of what life will be like in the regeneration (Rev. 21:1-5a). As Ridderbos expresses it, We should ... consider the characteristic and peculiar nature of Jesus' preaching [as consisting in] his proclamation of the kingdom in its consummative, eschatological significance both as a present and as a future reality. The fulfillment is [here], and yet the kingdom is still to come. The kingdom has come, and yet the fulfillment is in abeyance [i.e.; temporarily suspended]. Keeping this unity in view is one of the fundamental [prerequisites] for [gaining a true and proper] understanding of the gospel.44 This fundamental unity of the kingdom proved to be problematic to those who first received the preaching of the gospel. Following upon the completion of John the Baptist's ministry, when Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom as a now present reality, His hearers assumed that this meant nothing less than the day of the Lord in all of its eschatological fullness: the Final Judgment and the Regeneration. When such did not prove to be the case, John sent messengers on his behalf, inquiring of Jesus, "Are you he that comes, or are we to look for another?" (Matt. 11:3). In this present lesson we will seek to understand the significance of this phenomenon, namely, the fact that the kingdom, which is nothing other than the eschatological kingdom of God, has come with the coming of Jesus the Messiah, but it has not yet manifested itself in all of its eschatological fullness. We will observe how this phenomenon is worked out in this present dispensation of history. We will consider the purpose for the delay in the Final Judgment, after which will be witnessed the regeneration, or in the words of the Apostle Peter, the appearance of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13). We will seek to understand what is the kingdom work presently being accomplished by the Messiah during this interim period. THE PROLONGED ACTIVITY OF THE DEMONS There is great tension between our Lord's pronouncements concerning the coming of the kingdom as both a present and a future reality. This tension can especially be seen in what Jesus teaches with regard to the continuing activity of the devil and his demons. In Matt. 12:28-29 Jesus declares His victory over the evil one. Here is one of the clearest proofs that the kingdom of God has come. But at the same time, however, we also find in the Gospels evidence 44 Ridderbos, p. 106.

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that Satan's activity has not yet come to an end, the demons are still active in the world. Both for Jesus personally as well as for His disciples this continuing demonic activity would prove to be a continual menace. The devil directed his assault against our Lord from the moment He emerged from the waters of baptism, which was His public declaration that He was wholly committed to doing the Father's will. Following His baptism Jesus was immediately driven out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, where He would encounter the devil in his capacity as the tempter (Mk. 1:12-13). That encounter with the evil one would be only the beginning of an ongoing conflict, as Luke 4:13 informs us, after the completion of that initial series of temptations, the devil departed from Him "for a season". We detect another demonic assault against the Christ when the people seek to seize Him by force in order to make Him king (Jn. 6:15). Then we find Satan seeking to employ one of Jesus' own disciples in an effort to divert Him from the course appointed by His Father (Mk. 8:31-33). Finally, through His enemies, Satan challenges the Christ to come down from the cross (Matt. 27:39-42). Just as the devil directed his assaults against the Messiah Himself, so too must the disciples beware that they, because of their faith in the Messiah and their communion with Him, likewise are the special objects of the devil's enmity and evil design. This becomes evident from the model prayer the Lord provides for His disciples; the plea to the Father for deliverance from the evil one forms the concluding petition of that prayer: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matt. 6:13). "Temptation" is not merely a happenstance situation one encounters in life, which holds the potential for falling into sin--it includes the activity of the evil one who seeks to use the situation as an opportunity to induce men to commit acts of sin. Thus, the first part of the petition beseeches the heavenly Father not to abandon us to those situations in which we will find ourselves alone and at the mercy of the evil one. Our Lord is instructing us as His disciples to pray the Father to spare us from the very type of encounter with temptation He personally underwent. By the will of God, Jesus was led (Matt. 4:1) into the wilderness for the express purpose of being tempted by the devil; there He faced the devil alone. We are to pray that the Father would not so lead us (Matt. 6:13). In the light of such passages as Matt. 13:19, Mk. 8:33, and especially Lk. 22:31, the second part of the petition should be taken as a reference to the person of the devil, rather than some abstract principle of evil. But, however it is understood, the evil one certainly cannot be left out of the picture. The enmity and evil intent of Satan is especially prominent in the passage of Luke 22:31-34. As Jesus is about to undergo His arrest and all that shall follow-- that period He defines as the hour in which the power of darkness is allowed to assert itself (Lk. 22:53)--He warns His disciples (Peter in particular) that Satan has requested to have them in order to sift them as wheat. That is to say, Satan's desire is, by means of subjecting the disciples to trial, to demonstrate

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them to be unfaithful to the Messiah (cp. Matt. 26:31) and, thus, unqualified for entrance into the kingdom. Indeed, rather than being granted admittance, they are worthy of being cast out of the kingdom. It is only due to Jesus' intercession--made in His capacity as the Messiah and based upon the atoning sacrifice He is about to offer (cp. Isa. 53:5-6)--that the devil's objective is ultimately thwarted and the disciples are restored to the Shepherd of their souls (1 Pet. 2:24-25). But it is a different story for those who reject the Christ; for them the continued activity of the evil one proves to be overwhelming. Jesus' pronouncement (recorded in Matt. 12:28) that the kingdom has come is verified by His act of casting out a demon (Matt. 12:22). But the Pharisees refuse to acknowledge Him as the Christ, the bringer of the eschatological kingdom of God; rather, they attribute His exorcism to the power of "Beelzebub, the prince of demons" (Matt. 12:24). In response to their blasphemous accusation, the Lord Jesus now offers the parable found in Matt. 12:43-45. The parable begins by speaking of the evil spirit coming out of a man, whose life is now equated with a house that has been swept clean, but is unoccupied. This part of the parable corresponds to the Pharisees' witnessing the removal of the evil one from their presence by virtue of the exorcism Jesus had just performed (Matt. 12:22). But they refused to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, despite the messianic work He had just performed. Hence, they are like the unoccupied house. That is to say, their lives have not become the residence of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the demon returns, bringing with him "seven other spirits more wicked than himself" (vs. 45a). This is depicting the fact that they will eventually be given over to the wicked one as the due judgment upon their persistent and defiant unbelief--this, declares the Lord Jesus, "is how it will be with this wicked generation" (vs. 45b). A personalized example of this phenomenon of judgment may be seen in the case of Judas Iscariot (Jn. 13:27). The fact that the evil one and his minions have not immediately been consigned to the everlasting judgment, even though the kingdom has made its appearance with the coming of Jesus the Messiah, is demonstrated in the case of Jesus casting out the legion of devils from the demoniac(s) in the region of the Gadarenes (Matt. 8:28-34; Mk. 5:1-20; Lk. 8:26-39). In this incident Jesus' power and authority over the devil becomes manifest: a whole legion of demons is cast out of these two pitiable men. Here again we read of the cries of terror on the part of the demons in the presence of the Christ (cp. Mk. 1:26). Then we learn that this legion of demons earnestly entreats Jesus not to torment them "before the appointed time" (Matt. 8:29)--they are referring to the final fate that awaits the devil and all his legions (cp. Rev. 20:10). The demons know that they are subject to Jesus' divine authority, they cannot resist His command; yet, at the same time, they are also aware that the appointed time for them to be consigned to their final fate has not yet arrived. So it is that they implore Jesus to cast them into the herd of swine, and Jesus

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complies with their request. The herd of swine running headlong into the sea may be seen as a portent of the eventual consigning of the demons to their final fate (note, again, Rev. 20:10). Hence, the exorcism of the demons does not yet bring the definitive end to Satan's activity, but it is the sign and guarantee of the definitive victory of the Christ and of the kingdom of God. As Ridderbos states it: The victory is a fact, but [at this time] it only manifests itself as a sign [or, a testimony to the victory of the kingdom].45 THE PROVISIONAL CHARACTER OF THE MIRACLES Jesus' miracles have an eschatological character about them as messianic acts of salvation. This can be seen from the connection that the Gospels make between the activity of the devil and the various maladies, such as disease, to which mankind is susceptible. For example, in Jesus' statement on the occasion of His healing a woman who had endured a physical affliction for eighteen years, He asks, "Ought not this woman ... whom Satan has bound ... be loosened from this bond ... ?" (Lk. 13:16). This connection between the activity of the evil one and physical malady is also prominent in the case of the son who is delivered from his epilepsy and at the same time delivered from demonic possession (Matt. 17:15,18). The eschatological character of Jesus' miracles is also evident from the fact that the healing of sick and diseased persons, and especially the raising of the dead, are acts of renewal and re-creation, a small manifestation of the regeneration spoken of in Matt. 19:28. A prime example of this renewing quality of Jesus' messianic miracles is His restoration of the man's withered hand, recorded in Mk. 3:1-5. In this context, it is significant that the man's hand is not said to be "healed", but "restored". Despite the fact Jesus' miracles have an eschatological character, they at the same time also exhibit a provisional character. That is to say, these miracles cannot be viewed as the beginning from which the whole renewal/regeneration of the creation will progressively develop into the final eschatological state. On the contrary, those who were cured were still susceptible to future ills and would eventually succumb to physical death. Likewise, Lazarus, and any others whom the Lord Jesus raised from the dead, would eventually find their earthly lives terminated in death. Jesus' miracles are unique: they are genuine manifestations of the presence of the eschatological kingdom of heaven, but at the same time they are only signs (cp. Jn. 2:11, etc.) of what life will be like in the kingdom when it finally appears in its full and eternal eschatological state (cp. Rev. 21:1-5a). Yet another thing we must note about Jesus' miracles is that His power and authority as the Messiah is entirely directed to the task given Him by the Father. Jesus is not at liberty to employ that power in any way He sees fit, not even to meet His own human needs or demonstrate His messianic identity. This 45 Ridderbos, p. 113.

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is already made evident when He encounters the tempter in the wilderness. When the Father allows Him to suffer hunger, even to the utmost extreme, He is not to employ His messianic power for the satisfaction of His personal needs, rather, He is to submissively place His confidence in His God and Father to meet His needs. Likewise, He is not at liberty to win the favor of men by the display of miraculous acts of His own choosing, such as throwing Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. As the Messiah, Jesus is only to employ His miraculous power in the way the Father directs and in subservience to and in harmony with His messianic mission. This is in keeping with our Lord's testimony recorded in John 5:19, "The Son can do nothing of himself, only what he sees the Father doing". The Son, in His essential nature, and now also as the Messiah, is in complete unity and compliance with the Father's will. This subservience to the Father's will with regard to His messianic power and authority is further evidenced in Jesus' refusal to cater to the demand that He show "a sign from heaven" (Mk. 8:11-12; Matt. 16:1; Lk. 11:16) and, again, in His refusal to come down from the cross (Matt. 27:39-44). Next we must note how Jesus' miracles recede into the background, so to speak, in comparison to His preaching of the gospel. In keeping with their provisional character and their function as signs, the miracles, in the words of Ridderbos, "have no purpose in themselves",46 their primary purpose is to serve as evidence of Jesus' messianic identity. This is immediately apparent at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark: When Jesus' miraculous power revealed at Capernaum causes crowds to flock together, He withdraws into seclusion. Then, in response to the disciples' request that He return because all the people are looking for Him, Jesus answers, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby towns, so that I may preach there also; for this is the reason I have come" (Mk. 1:38). The Greek term, ajllacou, literally means, "[Let us go] in another direction". So it was that the Lord Jesus traveled throughout all Galilee, "preaching"--not healing--"and casting out demons" (Mk. 1:39). By preaching the gospel, Jesus was calling men to enter into the kingdom of God through faith in Himself and the saving work He would accomplish on the cross of Calvary. By casting out demons He was demonstrating the triumph of the kingdom of God over the devil, the triumph won at the cross of Calvary (Col. 2:15). Jesus' highest priority is not to cure as many people as possible, His fundamental purpose is to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God (Lk. 4:43). By His reference to preaching the gospel we are to understand Jesus' task to be that of calling men to believe in Him as the Messiah (cp. Jn. 1:40-42a; Matt. 16:16; Jn. 6:68-69, etc.) and through Him gain entrance into the kingdom. In this context the miracles are subordinate, they serve as testimony to the truth of Jesus' proclamation that He is the Messiah, the One by whom the kingdom has come, as such, their function is to induce faith in Him (cp. Jn. 2:11).
46 Ridderbos, p. 117.

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Precisely because the miracles are subordinate to the preaching of the gospel and are intended to function as signs, in the Gospels they are closely connected to faith. Thus we find the curious phenomenon: Not only are the miracles intended to elicit faith, they are also dependent on faith. The most striking example of this dependence on faith is the testimony recorded in Mark 6:5-6, "He could not do any mighty work there; although he did lay his hands upon a few sick people and heal them. 6He was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went around from village to village teaching." Now we must be clear that Jesus' divine power to work miracles was not dependent on the faith of the potential recipients in absolute terms. John 5:1-9a presents the case of Jesus healing a paralytic who exhibited no faith at all. So it is not a question as to whether Jesus' ability to work miracles was limited; rather, it is the question as to whether Jesus was free to exercise that power in all circumstances. The answer to this question must be "No"; since, as previously noted, Jesus in His capacity as the Messiah must conduct Himself in strict subservience to the will of the Father. It is in this messianic context, as well as the fact that the miracles are to function in service to the preaching of the gospel, that we are to understand how and why Jesus' miracle-working ability was limited. Where there was a lack of faith there could be no miracle, because in such circumstances the miracle would be nothing more than a deed of power, deprived of its primary function as sign. Hence, as Ridderbos explains it, "the expression, `he could not' in Mark 6:5 must ... be understood as an impossibility within the scope of Jesus' [messianic] task".47 But how, then, are we to explain this seemingly peculiar phenomenon that the miracles are intended to induce faith, but their performance is also dependent on faith? The key to a proper understanding of this phenomenon is exemplified in the sequence of events recorded in Matthew 12:22-42. In the opening verses of that passage we find Jesus performing the miracle of exorcising a demon from a man who had been blind and mute (vs. 22). In response to the miracle the people question whether Jesus might be the Son of David (vs. 23); i.e.; they are on the pathway towards faith as a result of the miracle-sign that has just been given. But as the passage continues we find the Pharisees blasphemously attributing this messianic miracle to the power of the devil (vs. 24). Then, later in the passage, when the Pharisees request a sign from heaven (vs. 38; cp. Lk. 11:14-16), i.e.; a greater sign than He has just provided, Jesus refuses to comply (vs. 39). In a mini-parable recorded in John 12:35-36a, Jesus exhorts His hearers to respond to the light they have been given: Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before the darkness descends upon you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36While you have the light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of light." 47 Ridderbos, p. 118.

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The sun is setting; therefore, do not linger along the roadside. Use the remaining sunlight left in the day to find your way home. Do not allow the darkness to descend upon you while you are still on the road. If you allow that to happen, you will never find your way home and you will be lost forever. Jesus then urges His hearers, "believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of light." By responding to the testimony He has presented those who believe in Him will come to participate in His life, which is nothing other than the life of the kingdom. Thus we learn that the miracle-signs are provided with the intention of eliciting faith, and faith gives one access to a personal experience of the kingdom, its life and power. We see this in the case of the woman who suffered from an issue of blood: she gained healing as she in faith merely touched Jesus' garment, while the crowd that jostled Jesus (without faith) were oblivious to the kingdom power He possesses and dispenses (Mk. 5:24-34). THE MESSAGE OF THE PARABLES When we consider the parables we need to approach them from a redemptivehistorical perspective. At one time the parables had been viewed simply as expressing universally applicable moral lessons. Such interpretation of the parables had been a reaction to the unrestrained allegorical approach, which had yielded the most fantastic results. In opposition to that highly subjective approach, scholars belonging to the old liberal theology school sought to view the parables as pictures of life in general from which a lesson could be derived for our moral and spiritual life. This conception of the parables was in accordance with the liberal view of the kingdom of heaven, and, consequently, led to a very superficial ethical explanation of the parables. For example, the parable of the master and the servants (Matt. 25:14-30) was interpreted as an exhortation to do one's duty faithfully. But in time it began to become clear that the "timeless truths" view of the parables did not do justice to the gospel of the kingdom as preached by Jesus. A wholesome corrective to the old "timeless truths" view of the parables has been the effort to seek to discern the meaning of the parables within the context of Jesus' preaching and His messianic activity. Those who follow this line of interpretation consider the parables as being a more detailed explanation of the mode of the coming of the kingdom as taught by Jesus, and presenting that explanation in pictorial fashion. This approach we call "the redemptive-historical" method of interpretation. So, we must seek the meaning of the parables in accordance with the content of Jesus' preaching, seeing them as containing illustrations of the kingdom and the way it comes. This is in accord with Jesus' own introduction to many of His parables, introducing them with the words, "the kingdom of heaven is like ...", or some such formula (cp. Mk. 4:26, 30). But even where these introductory formulas do not occur, we are not at liberty to interpret those parables as belonging to a

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subsidiary part of Jesus' preaching of the gospel as though they were intended to only inculcate general moral principles; they, too, must be understood as being intimately connected with the special redemptive-historical character of Jesus' mission as the Messiah. To summarize, the parables form an important element in making known the kingdom, giving us further revelational information about it and the manner in which it manifests itself. This is especially true with regard to the parables contained in Mark 4 and Matthew 13. As noted earlier, the uniqueness of Jesus' teaching about the kingdom as being both a present as well as a future reality had proved to be problematic to His hearers, even causing John the Baptist to inquire if Jesus were the long-expected Messiah or whether they were to look for another (Matt. 11:2). This problem is especially addressed and explained in this series of parables (Mk. 4; Matt. 13). As Ridderbos states it, "it is exactly the complex character of the revelation of the kingdom--[its being] present and future]--that is the ... subject of [these] parables."48 But before considering the parables themselves, it is important to note what Jesus says about His purpose in speaking in parables in response to His disciples' question, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" (Matt. 13:10). The disciples are concerned to know why Jesus did not express His teaching to the crowds in a direct way without resorting to the allegorical method of speaking in parables. In answer to their question Jesus declares, "The mystery of the kingdom of God is given to you. But all these things are spoken in parables to those who are outside; 12so that `by looking they may see, but not perceive; and by listening they may hear, but not understand; so that they should not repent and be forgiven'" (Mk. 4:11-12). These words (presented in slightly different form in Matt. 13:11-13 and Lk. 8:10) contain the key for understanding the special intent Jesus has in telling these parables. Jesus indicates that the meaning of the parables can only be understood by those to whom "the mystery of the kingdom" has been revealed. Note, by the term "mystery" of the kingdom, revealed to the disciples, in distinction to the crowds who are "outside", what is meant is the realization that the longexpected kingdom has manifested itself as a present reality with the coming of Jesus, who is, indeed, the Messiah, the Bringer of the kingdom. Thus, above all, knowing "the mystery" refers to the knowledge that the kingdom has come in Jesus who is the Christ. As other passages indicate, this knowledge of the "mystery of the kingdom" has been imparted to the disciples by divine revelation (cp. Matt. 11:25; 16:17). This knowledge of "the mystery of the kingdom"--i.e.; the divinely imparted insight that Jesus is the Christ and that with Him the kingdom has become a present reality--is the great prerequisite for being able to understand the parables. Jesus indicates that His speaking in parables has actually a two-fold purpose: on the one hand, it reveals, but on
48 Ridderbos, p. 123.

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the other hand, it conceals.49 To those who recognize Him and receive Him as the Messiah, further insight into the kingdom is given. But to those who reject Him, despite the miracle-signs He has presented as His credentials, even what they have (i.e.; their expectation of entering into the kingdom) shall be taken away (Matt. 13:12). According to Matt. 13:34-35, Jesus' speaking in parables is the fulfillment of Psalm 78:2, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world." In His parables Jesus is revealing the secrets of the kingdom, He is revealing that what had been foretold long ago has now come to realization, and He is revealing the uniqueness of that realization, the fact that it comes in stages, not all at once in its eschatological fullness. Notice again the two dimensional aspect of the parables: the Messiah will speak in parables, which in themselves are inexplicable; but by means of these parables He will reveal things that have been hidden from the foundation of the world. At the conclusion of His series of kingdom parables Jesus asks His disciples if they have understood "all these things". When they reply that they have understood, Jesus declares that every scribe (i.e.; student of the Old Testament) who has been made a disciple in/for the kingdom is like a homeowner who brings out of his storeroom new things as well as old. Notice that Jesus gives priority to the "new things"; although the "old things" have not been discarded, they have become superseded by "the new". The "new things" are a reference to the fulfillment of what had been promised and awaited during the Old Testament dispensation, (which dispensation is represented by the "old things"). The disciple of the kingdom does not dismiss the "old things", rather, he announces their fulfillment. Thus, in distinction to the scribe, the disciple has a new theme: the announcement of the presence of the kingdom with the coming of the Messiah. All this shows what great emphasis is laid on the presence of the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus instructs His disciples by means of His parables He imparts to them a deeper insight into the nature of the fulfillment that has begun with Him. In this way they are being fitted to become "disciples for the kingdom" (Matt. 13:52), i.e.; preachers of the gospel. The Parable of The Sower As stated above, the parables are intended to clarify the character of the kingdom that has begun with the coming of Christ. Especially those contained in Matt. 13 and Mk. 4, and the corresponding passages of Luke, have been given to illuminate the relationship between Jesus' proclamation of the presence of the kingdom, on the one hand, and the delay of the Final Judgment, on the 49 In Matt. 13:14-15 (cp. Mk. 4:4:12; Lk. 8:10) Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10, a passage that speaks of the judicial hardening that comes as a judgment upon persistent, and even defiant, unbelief.

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other. In this regard, The Parable of The Sower has priority over the others; not only because it is the first in the series, but because of its intended purpose. In many respects it is the starting point and the basis for the understanding of the parables that follow. This becomes evident from the question Jesus poses to His disciples: "Do you understand this parable? [If not], how will you understand any parable?" (Mk. 4:13). The following parables (with the repeated elements of the husbandman, the field, the seed, etc.), in many respects are elaborations of the first parable. From Jesus' question, (note, also, Lk. 8:9), it appears that the disciples did not understand this parable. This clearly brings out the fact that the message of the parable was not merely homiletical instruction about preachers and listeners, with the caution that preachers should expect to encounter frustrating impediments that hinder the effective communication of their message, and listeners must be diligent to give their full attention to the message being communicated. If the parable had no further aim than to convey this general lesson, the disciples' lack of comprehension would be remarkable, and, furthermore, the parable could hardly serve as a vehicle to keep the teaching concealed from "outsiders". The purpose of the parable is to give further insight into "the mystery of the kingdom". Thus, in providing His explanation Jesus begins by saying, "The sower sows the word" (Mk. 4:14), as Matt. 13:19 expresses it, it is "the word of the kingdom". What is being referred to in the parable is nothing other than the messianic word of power that has been spoken by the Christ, the word by which the kingdom of heaven is announced and by which it becomes actualized as a present reality. Here is the redemptive-historical perspective conveyed by the parable: A sower went out to sow his seed. The fact that this word can be compared to seed, and the One who proclaims the word can be compared to a sower, gives insight into the mode by which the kingdom has come and is present with the coming of Christ. The imagery of the sower sowing seed indicates a length of time, an interim period, between the initial appearance of the kingdom and its final consummation. Closer examination of the parable shows that it emphasizes two things: both fruitlessness as well as fruitfulness. The former is demonstrated by the loss of the seed sown along the road, on the rocks, and among the thorns. By means of these images are depicted the opposition, the resistance, and the indifference to the kingdom. However, the parable does not only speak of the seed falling in places unfavorable to germination and growth, it also speaks of the seed falling on good soil and producing a wonderful harvest of fruit: in some cases a thirtyfold increase, in others a sixty-fold increase, and in still other cases a hundredfold increase. It has been maintained that, after the extensive three-fold description of seed landing in unfruitful locations, the seed that lands on good soil seems to be the exception. However, the parable does not say that threefourths of the seed proved to be unproductive and unfruitful. No proportions

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are given. On the contrary, the point is that beside the many possibilities of no crop, we find that the seed has also produced a wonderful crop! It may be true that the preaching of the gospel often times proves to be fruitless; but the parable of the sower is not intended to be pessimistic. It points to the wonderful germinal force of the gospel seed in the midst of and in opposition to the obstacles it encounters, both from the evil one (Matt. 13:19) and from the spiritual deadness of the natural human heart. The parable is intended, not only to temper expectations and to open the eyes of the disciples, who are being called to be heralds of the kingdom and preachers of the gospel, but also to inspire them with hope and expectation of what is coming. The Parable of The Sower contains a rich promise for the future with regard to the manifestation of the kingdom that is yet to be seen. In this primary parable of the kingdom Jesus gives a fundamental insight into the kingdom that has made its appearance with His coming. This insight consists in the revelation that the coming of the eschatological kingdom proceeds in the manner of seed sown into the ground. Furthermore, it reveals that the Messiah, to whom all divine authority and power have been given, assumes the role of the sower. As surely as the harvest eventually follows after the sowing, so shall the consummation of the kingdom certainly come. In spite of all opposition, resistance and indifference, the crop is prepared by God's powerful, life-giving word and there shall finally appear a bountiful harvest. It is important to see that this present parable is about the sower doing his work of sowing, it is not about the reaper gathering in the harvest. Thus, for the time being the eschatological kingdom is present in its "sowing" mode; hence, there is a hiddenness about it, just as, prior to the harvest, the seed lies hidden in the soil where it germinates. The purpose of the parable is not to assure the disciples that, despite all obstacles, the kingdom will surely come. This was not the problem; it was an accepted article of faith among the Jews that the kingdom would come. But their commonly held assumption was that the coming of the kingdom would immediately result in the Final Judgment and the eternal state, for, after all, the kingdom is nothing other than the eschatological kingdom of heaven. By His parable of the sower Jesus is resolving for His disciples the apparent tension between His identity as the Messiah, the Bringer of the eschatological kingdom, and the delay in the eschatological consummation of the kingdom. At present there is a hiddenness about the kingdom, just as seed is hidden in the soil, but eventually, just as the seed, having germinated, springs forth as mature fruit, so shall the kingdom manifest itself in the same way. The certainty of the eventual revelation of the kingdom in all of its eschatological glory, following this initial stage of hiddenness, is the theme of the aphorism that follows the parable of the sower in Mark (4:21-23) and Luke (8:16-17). Just as surely as a lamp is procured for the purpose of being set on a stand where it can give light to the whole room, so it is with regard to the kingdom, "There is nothing hidden that is not intended to be revealed; there is nothing secret

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that is not intended to be brought to light." The day is coming when the kingdom shall throw off its hidden modality and reveal itself in its full eschatological glory. Consequently, how a man "hears" the word, how he presently responds to the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, is all important, for his present hearing determines his future status (Mk. 4:24-25; Lk. 8:18): his present acceptance of Jesus the Christ will result in a bountiful portion in the kingdom (cp. Lk. 23:39-43), but his failure to acknowledge the Messiah and his refusal to accept His invitation to enter into the kingdom shall finally result in eternal exclusion from the kingdom. The Parable of The Tares Among The Wheat Very closely related to the parable of the sower is that of the tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). Here is an elaboration of the parable of the sower. Here, again, the main figure is the sower (vs. 24), with the added explanation that the sower of the good seed is none other than the Son of Man (vs. 37). This parable, too, takes as its starting point the insight that the kingdom has come and Jesus is the Christ, this is its great presupposition. It once more brings to light the modality of the kingdom, i.e.; the way in which the kingdom of heaven manifests itself, using the imagery of the Messiah coming in the capacity of a sower sowing the word of the kingdom upon the "ground" of this present world. This parable also speaks of the obstacles the sown seed encounters. But this time those obstacles are not represented by the figure of barren or rocky soil, but by the enemy who sows tares among the wheat, thus the activity of the evil one is seen as the dominant source of opposition (but, also note, Matt. 13:19). Up to this point the two parables show a factual similarity. The new element in the second parable is the question the servants ask the landholder, Should they not immediately remove the tares from among the wheat? In reply, the landholder restrains them and informs them that this removal is not to be done now; it will take place at the time of harvest. The opinion has been expressed that this passage is concerned with the church, and that Jesus is here issuing a warning against an excessive amount of zeal in administering church discipline. But such an exegesis completely re-shifts our focus deprives us of a right understanding of the parable. What the servants suggest to the landholder is not something provisional, i.e.; the removal from the visible church, an act of discipline that can be reversed if there is repentance on the part of the offender. What the servants are inquiring about is the final extermination of the tares from amount the wheat, in other words, the definitive separation of the ungodly from among the righteous. The issue is not who is to execute this final separation, nor what kind of separation it will be, but when this separation will be accomplished. Though the servants desire to carry out an immediate separation, the landholder declares that it shall be postponed until the day of harvest.

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This parable again sheds light on the relationship between the presence and the future of the kingdom. It deals with the problem raised by Jesus' pronouncements concerning the presence of the kingdom: If the kingdom has come, why the postponement of the Final Judgment and the continuation of the mingling of the evil with the good even after the kingdom has appeared? For the very reason that the disciples have been made to recognize Jesus as the Son of Man, the One with whom the kingdom becomes a present reality, did the postponement of the Final Judgment become a source of perplexity. Especially in the light of such passages as Malachi 3:1-5, how is it possible for the kingdom to have come without at the same time making a separation between the wicked and the godly? The parable of the tares among the wheat is intended to address that perplexity. The answer it provides is this: Since the kingdom initially makes its appearance in a way similar to seed being sown into the soil, and since the Son of Man first appears as the sower (vs. 37), and only later as the reaper (vs. 41), the Final Judgment is necessarily postponed. After all, whoever sows cannot immediately reap the harvest. Thus, the postponement of the Final Judgment is determined by the manner in which the kingdom of heaven manifests itself. Note: The parable of the fishing net cast into the sea (Matt. 13:4-50) has the same purpose as that of the tares among the wheat, as becomes evident from the great similarity between the explanation of these two parables (Matt. 13:40-42/Matt. 13:49-50). In this latter parable our Lord now uses the image of the dragnet cast into the sea to denote the preaching of the gospel and its varied results. First the net is dragged through the sea, and only after this work has been sufficiently performed do the fishermen return to the shore to inspect their catch and make the appropriate separation. In the same way, the Christ first comes to gather together (cp. Matt. 11:28-30), and only afterward, upon His return in glory, does He make the definitive separation between the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 25:31-46). THE PRESENT OPERATION OF THE KINGDOM The dispensation of salvation that began with Jesus' coming in many respects bears a preliminary and veiled character: it presupposes an interim before the final manifestation of the kingdom in all of its eschatological glory. In the parables of the sower, the tares among the wheat, and the dragnet, the purpose of this interim has been revealed, namely, the postponement of the Final Judgment. However, this postponement is not entirely negative, it also has a positive element: it is the time for sowing the seed of the kingdom and casting the dragnet into the sea in order to gather in the future harvest. Thus is revealed the nature of the Messiah's work during this present interim period. This positive aspect with regard to the delay of the Final Judgment is the focus of three other parables: the seed that springs up spontaneously (Mk. 4:26-29), the mustard seed (Mk. 4:30-32), and the leaven permeating the whole loaf (Matt. 13:33). All three of these parables focus on the dynamic power and

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victorious consummation of the kingdom, rather than on the resistance and obstructions faced by the kingdom in this present dispensation. We look first at the parable of the seed that grew spontaneously. Based on the previous parables, we must understand the man who casts seed into the ground as being a reference to Christ. This follows from verse 29, where we learn that the reaper is the coming judge of the world--this is also indicated by the concluding words of this verse, which are derived from the eschatological prophecy of Joel 3:13. Once again, the reaper is the same person as the sower (cp. Matt. 13:37-43). The purpose of the parable is again to explain the relationship between what the Messiah is presently doing, as opposed to what was expected that He would immediately do upon His appearance, and what He will yet do in the future. The explanation is given by the imagery of the sower sowing. So here, too, it is explained that the messianic work during this present dispensation consists in the sowing of the seed, not yet the reaping of the harvest. This implies that the harvest will be gathered only after a lapse of a certain period of time. This interim period, however, is no waste of time, for throughout this period something is happening! The seed germinates, it springs up out of the earth, it proceeds to grow unto maturity. All this happens whether the sower sleeps or rises, it happens in a way that is incomprehensible to him (vs. 27). The focus of the parable is not upon the impotence of the sower, (for the sower represents the omnipotent Son of God), but upon the spontaneous growth of the seed, or as it is expressed in the parable: "all by itself the soil produces grain" (vs. 28). The point of the parable is the fact that the process of ripening steadily proceeds during this period, eventually culminating in the day of harvest. Then, "as soon as the grain is ripe", the sower, who is now the reaper, harvests the crop. The important elements in the parable are the certainty of the crop and the germinate power of the seed in the soil as the cause of that certainty. The certainty of the crop is indissolubly related to the action of the seed in the soil.50 This is the main emphasis of the parable. The future harvest is not only guaranteed--the reaping will occur as soon as the crop is ripe (vs. 29)--it is directly related to the activity that is taking place during this interim period: The germination and the growth of the seed is what eventually results in the harvest, without this activity, which occurs during this present dispensation, there could be no harvest. Thus it is that during this present time the word 50 The parable suggests a process of development in the coming of the kingdom to its final fruition. But this development is not to be understood as a kingdom that progressively develops in human society as a result of men adopting and putting into practice the teachings of Jesus, such was the misunderstanding of the so-called Social Gospel, which sprung forth from the liberal theology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The process of development presented in the Gospels is due to the operation of the divine word of God as it is proclaimed in the world (cp. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18).

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goes forth, the authoritative life-giving word of Christ (cp. Jn. 6:63b). This "seed", this word, does not fall to the earth and return empty (cp. Isa. 55:1011). Thus, the preaching of the gospel is itself the guarantee of the ultimate coming of the kingdom, for by its work it brings the consummation of the kingdom irresistibly nearer (Matt. 24:14). The parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32; Mk. 4:30-32; Lk. 13:18-19) is closely related to that of the spontaneously growing seed. Here, too, the issue is the nature of the kingdom whose coming has been initiated with the coming of Jesus the Christ. But this time the emphasis is on the spectacular growth of the kingdom despite its small and hidden beginnings. The mustard seed is one of the smallest of garden seeds (Matt. 13:32), but when it has grown up it is taller than any other plant and may even be compared to a tree in whose branches the birds are able to build their nests. The purpose of this parable is to contrast the small, insignificant beginning of the kingdom in its initial manifestation upon the earth with its glorious consummation, which is yet to come. It, like many of the other parables, addresses the confusing character of the present manifestation of the kingdom and of the Christ who brings the kingdom. Its beginnings may seem small and insignificant, but do not be misled, remember the mustard seed! One day the kingdom of heaven will supplant and surpass all the kingdoms of the world (cp. King Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the stone cut out of the mountain, recorded in Dan. 2:31-45). The emphasis of the parable is on the glorious consummation of the kingdom, which revelation is intended to comfort those who are perplexed by the insignificance of its present manifestation. Yet, we must not only focus on the small beginning and magnificent culmination of the kingdom, what lies in between those two points is also significant. The glorious consummation is dependent upon the process of growth that eventually turns the little mustard seed into a great and expansive bush. Here, once again, this time as a subtheme, we meet with the process of "spontaneous growth", which in fact is nothing other than the powerful, life-giving quality of the gospel. The whole manifestation of the kingdom is the result of divine action. This working of God will one day make all things new, but at present it is actively accomplishing what is necessary to bring about that final climactic result. Finally, a word about the parable of the leaven (Matt. 13:33). Does the parable only focus on the kingdom in its small beginnings and its glorious consummation? Does not the idea of leaven suggest the thought of continuous effect, a continuous, all-permeating operation? In this parable we must not view the contrasts--the small beginning compared to the tremendous end--so exclusively that what happens between the beginning and the end is left out of consideration. We must appreciate the element of continuous effect, as it is represented by the leaven. Just as the leaven continues to operate throughout the whole batch of dough, so there is the continuous operation of the divine activity on behalf of the kingdom, which activity even constitutes the kingdom,

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for it is the activity of the great King Himself: throughout this present dispensation the Messianic King carries on the work necessary to ensure and finally bring about the glorious consummation of the kingdom of heaven. The leaven continuously carries on its operation until it has affected every part of the dough. Likewise, in its final manifestation the kingdom will embrace everything (cp. Rev. 21:5); but even now the divine activity is operating unto that end. THE REASON FOR THE DELAY OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT Seeking The Lost John the Baptist's preaching was so ominous and alarming because he declared, "even now the ax lies at the root of the trees" (Matt. 3:10) and the promised Messiah is coming with His winnowing fan in His hand (vs. 12). From John's preaching it appears that with Jesus' coming the Day of Judgment has arrived, but not completely, there is also a postponement of the Final Judgment. In this context we must consider the significance of Jesus' parable of the barren fig tree (Lk. 13:6-9). The cutting down of the tree (vs. 7), as well as the expectation of fruit (vs. 6), is reminiscent of John's warning (Matt. 3:10; Lk. 3:9) and exhortation (Matt. 3:8; Lk. 3:8). The purpose of the parable was no doubt to reinforce the call to repentance Jesus had issued in His exhortation preceding this parable (Lk. 13:1-5), the call that John had previously issued in light of the impeding judgment. Yet in this parable Jesus first speaks of a year's postponement of judgment granted to the fig tree by the landowner in response to the intercession of the vinedresser (vs. 8). But attached to the plea for postponement is also the acquiescence to judgment in the event there is still no change in the fruitless condition of the tree (vs. 9). So it is that, in the midst of the ominous discussion of cutting down the unfruitful tree we also hear the plea that the execution of that decree be suspended. Thus, from the parable we learn that the judgment to be expected with the coming of the kingdom has been postponed, or suspended, rather than being immediately enacted. However, the suspension of judgment is not permanent and it is not without purpose: the time of suspension is intended to give the opportunity for change (repentance) in the condition of the tree, change from unfruitfulness to fruitfulness. If the desired change does not occur, then the judgment will, indeed, be executed. We see the fulfillment of the judgment of which the parable warns in the destruction of Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41-44; 21:20-24) due to their rejection of the Messiah, the only One by whom they could bear true spiritual fruit (Jn. 15:5). However, during that interim period while the judgment was suspended, there were those who responded to the preaching of the gospel and were spared; indeed, they gained entrance into the kingdom.

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This is most prominently seen in the lives of the disciples during the time of Jesus' public ministry (cp. Jn. 6:68-69), but following His ascension, great multitudes are converted in response to the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:41; 4:32). What we find occurring within the nation of Israel becomes typological of a greater suspension of judgment (i.e.; the Final Judgment), allowing the gospel to go forth in order to gather in a great harvest of souls into the kingdom. As noted previously, the preaching of the gospel occupies an important place in this present dispensation of the kingdom that has begun with Jesus' coming. One of the reasons for the postponement of the final messianic judgment is to give time for this gospel preaching, intended to reach the ends of the earth, to be accomplished (cp. Matt. 24:14). Of special importance with regard to Jesus' defining of His messianic task are such passages as Matt. 9:35-38 (Mk. 6:34), where we read that upon seeing the multitude Jesus "was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd" (vs. 36). Added to this is the image of the harvest being ripe for gathering (vs. 37-38). We find the same theme present in Matt. 10:6 and 15:24, where the text speaks of "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" and where Jesus informs His hearers that He was sent for them, i.e.; to gather them and be their shepherd. This theme of seeking the lost is also found in the account of Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:1-10), where an individual who fits this description becomes the beneficiary of Jesus' messianic ministry. When the crowd mutters its disapproval over the fact that He is about to enter the house of a sinful man, indeed, an outcast from religious Israel, Jesus replies, "Today salvation has come to this house-- because this man, too, is a son of Abraham--for the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (vs. 10).51 Jesus' special interest in "what is lost" must be understood in the context of the religious setting of the day. Within the nation of Israel it was taught that the true people of God were those who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, those who strictly adhered to the requirements of the Law, especially with regard to the Levitical regulations pertaining to ceremonial purity. In antithesis to the religiously devote and ceremonially pure, stood the masses who were somewhat derogatorily referred to as "the people of the land".52 By the designation, "those that are lost", of whom Jesus speaks again and again, we must understand the large category of people ("the multitude") upon whom such as the Pharisees looked with contempt and whom they had abandoned to their fate, namely, that of being accursed (cp. Jn. 7:49). All this holds even more emphatically for those who are identified as "publicans and sinners".
51 We should add to this the sayings that specify the purpose of Jesus' coming as the seeking and saving of sinners (cp. Matt. 9:13; Mk. 2:17; Lk. 5:32). 52 Although the term, "the people of the land", does not occur in the Gospels, we may see the concept present in the description of the multitude given by the Pharisees in Jn. 7:49.

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Furthermore, and of special importance, the designation, "that which is lost", should be seen as a derivative, or shortened form, of the more primary concept of "lost sheep". The metaphor of "lost sheep" must be traced back to the Old Testament, where the people of Israel who are the objects of the LORD's special concern are compared to a flock of sheep who have been left in the lurch by their appointed shepherds and were scattered, consequently, they have become lost. But they receive the LORD's promise that He shall have pity on them, shall seek them, and shall bring them back. In this context the Messiah is depicted as the true (good) Shepherd in contrast to the wicked shepherds (cp. Jer. 23:1-8; Ezek. 34:11,16,23-24). Thus, the coming of the kingdom is not only characterized as the time when God's people are delivered from their enemies, and a final separation is made between the righteous and the unrighteous, but it is also the time when the LORD will re-gather His people unto Himself.53 This work of gathering the LORD's "sheep", which Jesus mentions as the purpose of His coming, is not only a preparation for the coming of the kingdom, but, in light of Old Testament prophecy, is a manifestation of the kingdom. Thus, "those that are lost" are those people who have been left to themselves, given up to the just condemnation of God, they are the sheep that have no shepherd, abandoned by those who considered themselves to be the true people of God. Thus, Jesus defines His messianic mission as the seeking and saving of such who are the acknowledged objects of the judgment of God.54 This accounts for the delay in the execution of the anticipated judgment, the present suspension of the judgment affords time and opportunity for "those who are lost" to be reached by the preaching of the gospel.55
53 As Jesus indicates in Jn. 10:16, this gathering together of the lost sheep extends beyond ethnic Israel. We may also note Matt. 8:11, ("many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit ... in the kingdom of heaven"), spoken in the context of a Roman centurion's act of faith. 54 Jesus, of course, will make it abundantly clear that the Pharisees themselves are also to be numbered among that category of persons who are the worthy objects of God's righteous judgment (cp. Matt. 23:13-36), as did John the Baptist before Him (Matt. 3:7-9). 55 Especially in relation to His suffering and substitutionary death, Jesus speaks about "the many" for whom He sheds His blood in order to pay the ransom for them. It is clear that by "the many" we are to understand a greater number than those whom Jesus gathered to Himself during His earthly ministry. This multitude, "the many", will be the fruit of the preaching of the gospel carried out by the apostles (Matt. 28:19). The kingdom could not reach its consummation until Jesus had accomplished the act of redemption upon the cross of Calvary. But even after this great redemptive act had been accomplished, time is needed for the gospel to go forth into all the world so that "the many" may hear and believe and enter into the kingdom prepared for them. The progress of this gospel preaching assignment may be made the measure as to when the consummation of all things may be expected (cp. Matt. 24:14).

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The Necessity of The Cross The Christological (or, Messianic) content of the Gospels has two focal points. One of them, as we have seen, is that of the Son of Man and His power. That messianic power is displayed in His casting out demons, His miracles of recreation and renewal, and His authoritative preaching of the gospel of the kingdom (cp. Mk. 2:10-12). But connected with this first focal point is the second, namely, the fact that the Son of Man can only exercise His power in the way appointed for Him by the Father, that being nothing other than submission to the Father's will. In other words, the Son of Man is at the same time the Servant of the LORD. This submission to the Father's will is especially evidenced in the manner in which He responds to the tempter and gains the victory over him (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-12). The meeting between Jesus and the devil in the wilderness was a trial by means of which Jesus proves His perfect obedience to the Father, the confirmation of what He professed by submitting to John's baptism, namely, His willingness to yield Himself totally unto the Father's will. At least in the first two temptations, (following the order found in Matthew's Gospel), the devil seeks to induce Jesus to use His messianic power in a way that is not in accord with His divine mandate. In opposition to the suggestion that He assert Himself and employ His power as the Son of Man for His own deliverance and in His own interests, Jesus appeals to what "is written", i.e.; the Old Testament Scriptures, in particular the Book of Deuteronomy. By doing so He indicates that He as the Messiah, as well as the Son of God who is one with the Father (cp. Jn. 5:19), is in complete compliance with the Word of God. The very content of the temptations reveals the course that Jesus as the Messiah must take. For the time being (during this present manifestation of the kingdom) it will entail the way of deprivation and hardship: He finds Himself at the point of starvation alone in the wilderness. The way appointed for Him excludes any testing of or presuming upon the divine promises given to the Messiah (Psl. 91:11-12), in the present case this means refraining from casting Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple in order to win the support of the people by means of a spectacular act, as the devil suggests (Matt. 4:5-7). The Father (the Ancient of Days of Dan. 7:13-14) does not grant the Messiah the immediate dominion over all the kingdoms of the world, as does the devil on the condition that Jesus violate the First Commandment (Matt. 4:8-10/Deut. 6:13). Here, already, it becomes clear that the fulfilling of His messianic role meant not only a complete submission to the Father's commandments and trust in the Father's promises, but also His willingness to accept for Himself a situation that appears to be incongruent with the divine affirmation He has received ("This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased", Matt. 3:17) and the messianic promise He possesses (Dan. 7:13-14).

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For insight into the nature of Jesus' messianic mission careful notice should be taken of the frequent use in the Gospels of the word "must" (dei), as well as Jesus' willing compliance with what "is fitting" (prepon), as in the case of submitting to John's baptism (Matt. 3:13-15). The whole of Jesus' life as the Messiah is subject to this "must" determined by the divine will, if He is to bring about the consummation of the kingdom. It already determined His conduct when as a twelve-year-old boy He is found in the temple in the midst of the teachers of the law. When they inquire what He is doing there, Jesus responds to His parents, "Did you not know that I must [dei] be about my Father's business?" (Lk. 2:49). This imperative directs Him in all of His ministry to the covenant nation: "I must [dei] preach the gospel of the kingdom of God to the other cities also" (Lk. 4:43); to Zacchaeus He says, "Today I must [dei] stay at your house" (Lk. 19:5; cp. Jn. 4:4); etc. But it is especially toward the close of Jesus' public ministry, as He is on His way to the cross, that this "must" appears most frequently and with greater urgency. From the moment He informs His disciples for the first time that He "must" suffer many things (Matt. 16:21; Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:22), this word occurs over and over again, especially in Luke. One notable example is found in Luke 22:37, where in the upper room Jesus says to His disciples, "this that is written must be fulfilled in me, `And he was numbered with transgressors'". This passage from Lk. 22:37 shows that the conduct and activity with which the Messiah "must" comply is not only imparted to Him personally from the hidden counsel of God, it has also been revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures. For this reason, it can be comprehended by those to whom the Scriptures have been "opened", i.e.; those who have received illumination as to the meaning of the Scriptures. Thus, following His resurrection, we find Jesus imparting just such illumination to the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus: "Then he opened their mind, that they might understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, `Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead on the third day'" (Lk. 24:45-46). Note, too, Lk. 24:26, "Was it not necessary [dei] for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?" Such passages indicate that in obedience to the Father, Jesus as the Messiah had to fulfill the task assigned to Him by the Father, which task entailed His suffering and death as preliminary to, and the mandatory prerequisite for, His entrance into glory and the bringing about of the consummation of the eschatological kingdom of heaven. According to Ridderbos, "The messianic salvation revealed in Christ's coming is not exclusively founded in his authority and supernatural glory, but also in his humiliation and rejection. The whole of the gospel of the kingdom must also be [defined] as the gospel of the cross, not only on account of Jesus' deliberate pronouncements about his suffering, but also because of the [mode, or, manner] of the whole of his messianic self-revelation [i,e,; that the Messiah is

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at one and the same time the Servant of the LORD] ..."56 The profound significance of all this can only be understood if we keep in mind the meaning of the task of suffering undertaken and performed by Jesus in His capacity as the Messiah. We have already seen that the divine necessity of suffering to which Jesus was subjected as the Christ can be known from Old Testament prophecy, as Jesus Himself reveals (cp. Lk. 24:26, 45-47).57 Jesus' suffering and death was the carrying out of God's purpose to save His people from their sins, which purpose had been determined beforehand and had been made known through the prophets. Especially noteworthy here is the prophecy of the suffering Servant of the LORD found in Isa. 53. In this connection we should also interpret the words Jesus speaks to John the Baptist when the latter sought to deter Jesus from submitting to baptism: "Permit it to be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). Both in John's initial refusal and Jesus' answer ("Permit it to be so now") it is implied that in a certain sense Jesus' submission to baptism is an absurdity, since baptism was intended for sinners (Matt. 3:5-6). The "now" is the present, the time when, for the most part, Jesus' messianic glory is hidden, and His state of humiliation is pre-eminent. It is during this "now" that He must submit Himself to baptism. This act of submission acquires it most profound meaning in Christ's suffering and substitutionary death: Jesus must be united with sinners and take our sins upon Himself (cp. Jn. 14:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:21). In this--the substitutionary suffering and death of the Messiah--consists the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Suffering Servant of the LORD (Isa. 53:112). It is true that only one pronouncement has come down to us in which Jesus Himself explicitly identifies His suffering with that of the servant of Isa. 53, namely, Lk. 22:37, when He indicates that He must be "numbered among transgressors" (cp. Isa. 53:9a). But in Mk. 9:12 we find a clear allusion to Isa. 53 when Jesus asks, "And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that he must suffer many things, and be treated with contempt?" The expression, "be treated with contempt", literally, "considered as nothing"58 (exoudenew), must be seen as being the translation of the corresponding term found in Isa. 53:3, "we did not esteem him". Likewise, the expression, "suffer many things", is a very appropriate summary of all that is written in Isa. 53 about the Servant of the LORD. We may also point to Mk. 10:45 and 14:24, and similar passages, which contain the frequently occurring phrase, "for many". "The many" are none other than "the many" mentioned in Isa. 53:11,12.
56 Ridderbos, p. 164. 57 Note, also, such passages as Mk. 14:21; 14:27/Zech. 13:7; Mk. 14:34, cp. Psl. 42:6,11; Mk. 15:34/Psl. 22:1; Lk. 24:46, cp. Psl. 16:10-11; 31:7-9. 58 This same Greek word also occurs in 1 Cor. 1:28, where it has often been translated, "the things that are not".

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Thus, one of the most profound reasons for the delay in the Final Judgment is the necessity of the cross. It is there at Calvary that the Final Judgment of God fell upon Jesus the Servant of the LORD, so that all who receive Him as the Messiah, the Bringer of the kingdom, may gain entrance into the kingdom and be spared from the Final Judgment as is shall finally be executed upon this present apostate world of mankind. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. What is most startling and new about Jesus' proclamation of the coming of the kingdom? a. Jesus maintained that the coming of the kingdom was something to be anticipated in the future. b. Jesus maintained that the kingdom was being manifested by His own presence. c. Although Jesus announces the presence of the kingdom with His coming, He also indicates that there is yet to appear in the future a manifestation of the kingdom. 2. Which of the following statements are true about Jesus' miracles? a. The miracles Jesus performs are the beginning from which the whole renewal/regeneration of the creation will progressively develop into the final eschatological state. b. Jesus is not at liberty to employ His messianic miracle-working power in any way He sees fit, not even to meet His own human needs or demonstrate His messianic identity. c. Jesus' miracles are subordinate to the preaching of the gospel and are intended to function as signs. 3. Match the following parables with the primary truth they are intended to teach. a. By this parable Jesus is resolving for His disciples the apparent tension between His identity as the Messiah, the Bringer of the eschatological kingdom, and the delay in the eschatological consummation of the kingdom: At present there is a hiddenness about the kingdom, but eventually the kingdom manifest itself in all of its eschatological fullness. ___ b. This parable deals with the problem raised by Jesus' pronouncements concerning the presence of the kingdom: If the kingdom has come, why the postponement of the Final Judgment and the continuation of the mingling of the evil with the good even after the kingdom has appeared? ___

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c. This parable teaches that the future coming of the kingdom in its eschatological fullness is not only guaranteed, it is directly related to the kingdom activity that is taking place during this present interim period. ___ d. This parable emphasizes the spectacular growth of the kingdom despite its small and hidden beginnings. ___ 1. The Parable of The Seed that Grew Spontaneously 2. The Parable of the Sower 3. The Parable of The Mustard Seed 4. The Parable of The Tares Among The Wheat 4. The Christological (or, Messianic) content of the Gospels reveals that the Son of Man is at the same time the Servant of the LORD. True or False 5. Match the statements listed below with what they teach us about what the temptations reveal concerning the course that Jesus as the Messiah must take. a. During this present manifestation of the kingdom the course laid out for Him will entail the way of deprivation and hardship. ___ b. The way appointed for Him excludes any testing of or presuming upon the divine assurance given to the Messiah. ___ c. The Father (the Ancient of Days of Dan. 7:13-14) does not immediately bestow upon the Messiah the status to which He is appointed. ___ 1. The devil suggests that Jesus cast Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple. 2. The devil offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world on the condition that He violate the First Commandment. 3. He finds Himself at the point of starvation alone in the wilderness. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Discuss what the lesson has to say about Jesus' casting out the legion of devils from the demoniac(s) in the region of the Gadarenes (Matt. 8:28-34; Mk. 5:1-20; Lk. 8:26-39). 2. How are we to explain the seemingly peculiar phenomenon that the miracles are intended to induce faith, but their performance is also dependent on faith?

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3. What does the lesson mean when it states, "When we consider the parables we need to approach them from a redemptive-historical perspective"? What are some of the other ways in which the parables have been interpreted? 4. Discuss the significance of Jesus' parable of the barren fig tree (Lk. 13:6-9), especially in the light of John the Baptist's preaching. 5. Discuss what the lesson had to say about the significance of Jesus' seeking "that which is lost". What is the Old Testament background for this seeking of the lost and how does it relate to the religious situation of Jesus' day?

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LESSON FOUR: THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM In the previous chapters we noted the redemptive-historical character of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. In one sense, Jesus spoke of the presence of the kingdom, (which involves nothing less than the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures and the consummation of God's redemptive plan). But at the same time, Jesus indicated that this fulfillment only bears a preliminary character and points to a more distant future fulfillment. In our study we repeatedly encountered the significance of the preaching of the gospel. On the one hand, this preaching is itself evidence that the kingdom has come, since, as uttered by Jesus, this preaching is not merely an announcement and description of the kingdom, but it is an actual manifestation of the kingdom (note, again, Mk. 2:1-12, where Jesus not only speaks of the forgiveness of sins, but actually grants such forgiveness). This is so because the preaching is supported by the person of Jesus the Christ, to whom, as the Son of Man, all authority has been given (cp. Dan. 7:13-14), and is founded on His messianic work, culminating in His atoning death upon the cross of Calvary. On the other hand, it is precisely this preaching of the gospel that constitutes the preliminary character of the presence of the kingdom: for the sake of the wider preaching of the gospel (cp. Matt. 24:14), following the accomplishment of the work of redemption by means of Christ's death and resurrection, the final eschatological manifestation of the kingdom, including the Final Judgment, is suspended throughout this New Testament age. All this induces us to consider more closely the content of the preaching of the gospel. Upon such closer inspection, we discover that the proclamation of the gospel consists of two inseparable parts: the gift of salvation and the demands laid upon the recipient of this gift. For example, in Jesus' preaching of the gospel in the form of His Sermon on the Mount, we find first the blessing of salvation (expressed in the Beatitudes) followed by the demands of the gospel (expressed in the commandments that follow). In this present lesson we will focus on the gift of the kingdom, in a subsequent lesson we shall focus on the demands of the kingdom. But before moving forward to consider these two aspects of the preaching of the gospel, we need first to take into consideration one other item of great importance, which is the fact that the gospel of the kingdom is not something entirely new, being introduced for the first time with the preaching of the Lord Jesus. On the contrary, the gospel of the kingdom as preached by Jesus is the fulfillment of what is old, namely, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and prophesies. As Ridderbos states it, "The whole of the [proclamation] of salvation is ... determined by the history of the revelation

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preceding it, and cannot be understood apart from [that history]."59 Thus, we turn now to a consideration of the Old Testament context for Jesus' preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. GOOD NEWS FOR THE POOR From the very outset, Jesus identifies His preaching of the gospel as the preaching of good news for the poor. We encounter this in Jesus' first public proclamation in the synagogue in Nazareth (Lk. 4:16-21). Quoting from the messianic prophecy of Isa. 61, Jesus announces Himself to be the One anointed "to preach good news [i.e.; the gospel] to the poor" (Lk. 4:18). When Jesus gives assurance to John the Baptist that He, indeed, is the One who has been long expected, He again includes as part of the evidence the fact that "the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matt. 11:5; Lk. 7:22). Furthermore, the Beatitudes, both in Matthew 5 (vs. 3-12) and Luke 6 (vs. 20-26), begin with the mention of "the poor [in spirit]", who are especially designated as those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matt. 5:3; Lk. 6:20). To understand Jesus' preaching of the gospel correctly, we must have a correct understanding of who is meant by "the poor [in spirit]".60 We must appreciate the specific, historically determined meaning of the designation, "poor [in spirit]"; i.e.; we must appreciate the fact that, as used by Jesus, it is derived from the Old Testament Scriptures. Consequently, its Old Testament usage determines its definition as used by our Lord in His preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. The New Testament terms, "poor" (ptwcoV), and "poor in spirit" (ptwcoV tw pneumati), correspond to the Old Testament word, wn2e2 (pronounce, "anav"), and its derivative (yn3e2), meaning, "to be poor, afflicted, distressed", also meaning, "to be humble, to be meek". As used in the Old Testament, what is prominent is an external, or imposed, oppression or injustice that produces affliction or distress and thus causes one to be reduced to a poor or pitiable condition. Often present is the accompanying element of humility experienced by the sufferer in his distress. This element of humility, the sense of helplessness that causes this one to look to the LORD alone for mercy and deliverance, is expressed in the New Testament term, "meek", or, "humble" (prauV), which is found in conjunction with "poor [in spirit]" and may even be interpreted as synonymous with the latter (cp. Matt. 5:5). We likewise find the two concepts, "poor" and "humble/meek", co-joined in the Old Testament: the "poor and afflicted" look to the LORD for their salvation (Psl. 18:27a; 72:4; 74:12-13, 19-21).
59 Ridderbos, p. 186. 60 From a comparison of Matt. 5 and Lk. 6, it seems to be evident that Luke's reference to "the poor" is an abbreviated form of those whom Matthew identifies as "the poor in spirit". This becomes more evident when we consider the O.T. background of this category of persons designated as "poor".

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These persons designated as "poor" (often times literally rendered economically destitute by their oppressors who resort to injustice) or "poor in spirit" (i.e.; humble/meek who have no other recourse but to look to the LORD) occur again and again throughout the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms and the prophetic books. They represent the socially oppressed, those who are victims of injustice and are taken advantage of by the wealthy and influential members of society. They, however, remain faithful to the LORD and look to Him, and the establishment of His kingdom, as the source of their deliverance and the justice due them. They do not rise up in rebellion against their oppressors, they do not seek to avenge themselves, rather, they allow God to express his wrath, placing their confidence in the certainty of what God has written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the LORD" (Deut. 32:35/Rom. 12:19; cp. Psl. 94:1). In contrast to the ungodliness and worldlymindedness of those around them, they constitute the true people of God--in Psl. 94:5 they are called "your people, O LORD" and "your heritage". As such, they are again and again comforted with the promise of the coming salvation provided by the LORD, and the manifestation of His kingly redemption.61 Against this Old Testament background we shall have to understand those to whom the gospel is addressed, "the poor in spirit" and "the meek" of the Beatitudes. It is true that the designation "the poor" is determined both socially (as those who are the victims of social injustice) and in a religious/ethical sense (as those who are aware of their helpless, and imperfect [Psl. 25:16-18], but above all, the significance of this category persons who are designated as "the poor" is the fact that they are the ones to whom the promise of salvation pertains, because they are the true people of God (note, again, Psl. 94:5).62 In contrast to those who pursue the course of this present world, ignoring God and defying His commandments, or at the most merely showing superficial deference to Him, "the poor" hope in the salvation God has promised to His people, defined as "the consolation of Israel" for which those such as the godly Simeon eagerly looked (Lk. 2:25; cp. Lk. 2:36-38), a salvation inseparably linked to the coming of LORD's Anointed (Lk. 2:26). The fact that "the poor" especially find their identity as those who hope in the salvation provided by God is further confirmed by what the Lord Jesus promises them in the Beatitudes: theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3); they shall be comforted (vs. 4); they shall inherit the earth (vs. 5). But in particular, we address our attention to the next beatitude: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (vs. 6). Many writers interpret this "hungering after righteousness" as the recognition on the part of 61 By way of example, one may note such passages as the following: Psl. 22:24, 26, 28; Psl. 25:9-10; Pls. 34:2-6; Psl. 37:9-11; PSL. 72:1-4, 12-15a; Isa. 11:1-5; Isa. 29:19-21. 62 Note that Joseph of Arimathea, although a rich and influential man, also belongs to this category; he, no doubt, experiencing the oppression of the pagan Romans, as well as being sensitive to the injustices perpetrated by leaders of Israel. Joseph, too, like Simeon and Anna, is said to have been "looking for the kingdom of God" (Lk. 23:50-51).

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such persons of their own unrighteousness and they desire to attain the righteousness of God. However, such a view must be rejected. The Greek definite article preceding the word "righteousness", (indicating that a more accurate translation would be, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after the righteousness"), suggests that what is in view here is a divine act, or administering, of righteousness. It is precisely such an administration of divine righteousness on behalf of His oppressed people that is consistently represented in the Old Testament as the hope and consolation of His people. The "righteousness" of which Jesus here speaks must be understood as the kingly justice that will be brought to light one day for the salvation of the true people of God who so often have found themselves suffering from injustice and oppression at the hands of worldly men (be they pagans or ethnic Jews); such justice, or, divine righteousness, enacted on their behalf, shall be carried out by the LORD's Anointed One (note, esp., Psl. 72; cp. Isa. 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5-6). It is for this "righteousness" that "the poor" and "the meek" hunger and thirst, and to them is given the assurance, made by King Jesus Himself, that they shall not be disappointed, rather, they shall have the satisfaction of having amends made and justice enacted on their behalf. Jesus' parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Lk. 18:1-8) contains an illustration of this same truth. The parable is dominated by the concern of the rights of "the poor". We find the widow praying for justice against her adversary who is oppressing her (vs. 3), using words reminiscent of Psl. 43:1. In her persistent cry for justice the widow exemplifies those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Not only in the story that forms the parable, but also in the application that follows, the theme of redeeming justice recurs: In vs. 7 there is the rhetorical question, "Shall not God avenge [or, render justice on behalf of] his elect?" and in vs. 8 comes the unequivocal assurance: "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily". The justice mentioned here is the deliverance from oppression to which God's people may lay claim as part of the salvation promised them by the LORD their King. Then, too, we see the connection between the kingdom of God and the salvation of "the poor" brought out in Mary's hymn (Lk. 1:46-55). As in the Beatitudes, there is "the low estate" of the LORD's handmaiden (vs. 48a), upon whom He has looked in pity. There is the contrast between "those that hunger" and "the rich" (vs. 53). Here is praise for the mighty display of the LORD's redemptive power enacted to bring justice for His oppressed people (vs. 49, 51-53). Mary recognizes herself to be the recipient of blessing (vs. 48b; cp. vs. 45), in much the same was as Jesus pronounces His blessings in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5. The ground for this blessing that elicits praise from the lips of Mary is stated as follows: "[the LORD] has given help to his servant Israel, in

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remembrance of his mercy ... 55toward Abraham and his seed forever" (vs. 5455).63 To summarize, using the words of Ridderbos, "It is clear that ... the salvation of the kingdom of heaven proclaimed by Jesus must be viewed against this [historical] background ... Above all, Jesus addresses `the poor' or `the poor in spirit', and the whole gospel of the kingdom of heaven can be characterized as `the gospel of the poor'."64 But this does not mean that the gospel may be interpreted in a universalistic manner as a message of hope to all who might be oppressed, regardless of who they are or what god they serve. On the contrary, as the usage of the term "the poor" is determined by its Old Testament antecedents, the message of good news for the poor is addressed to those who are in faithful covenant relationship with the LORD their God. Again, in the words of Ridderbos, "the assignment of salvation to the poor is above all founded upon the special redemptive-historical [i.e.; covenantal] relationship between God and His people ... It is this true people of God that is addressed in the Beatitudes and to whom the salvation of the kingdom is granted as their lawful right."65 But, as the Scriptures also make clear, this covenantal relationship is not limited to ethnic Israel, it embraces all of spiritual Israel, the true people of God, all from every nation who have been called and who respond in faith to the gospel (cp. Acts 13:47-48). THE COVENANT, OLD AND NEW The actual term, "covenant" (diaqhkh), is only used once by Jesus Himself, (that being on the occasion of the Last Supper), and elsewhere in the Gospels only occurs at Luke 1:72 (in Zachariah's hymn of praise). But this does not at all diminish the central importance of the concept in the Gospels. As noted in a footnote in the previous section of this lesson, the Old Testament indicates that there is a connection between the preaching of the gospel to the poor and the LORD's covenant with His people. This connection is explicitly stated in Psalm 25:9-10, "The meek will he guide in justice, and the meek will he teach his way. 10All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." In this passage of Old Testament Scripture the emphasis is on the covenant-keeping obligation of "the meek". In Psalm 74 we have an explicit incidence of "the poor" (who are identified as "[the LORD's] poor") calling upon the LORD to be mindful of His covenantal obligation to them: "Do not forget the life of your poor forever. 20Have respect for the covenant" (Psl. 74:19b-20a). It is our task now to consider how this covenantal relationship between the LORD and His people is presented in the Gospel accounts. 63 Note the connection between the preaching of good news to the poor and the LORD's covenant (cp. Psl. 25:9-10), something we will consider in the next section of this lesson. 64 Ridderbos, p. 192. 65 Ridderbos, p. 192.

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Already in the nativity accounts we are confronted with the relevance of the covenant. For example, in the angel's announcement to Mary of Jesus' birth He is identified as the promised son of David: "the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David" (Lk. 1:32-33/2 Sam. 7:12-13; 1 Chron. 17:11, 14). We find further allusions to the Old Testament covenant in Mary's hymn (Lk. 1:54-55) and especially in that of Zachariah (Lk. 1:68-75). Zachariah acknowledges that the one who will bring the salvation about to be accomplished originates from the house of David, as had been foretold by the prophets (vs. 69-70); this salvation is the result of the LORD remembering His covenant, the oath He swore to Abraham (vs. 72-73). We find the same covenantal theme present in the angel's announcement to the shepherds: they bring a message of good news for "all the people", which good news is defined as the fact that a Savior is born in the city of David, who is none other that the Christ [the Anointed One] (Lk. 2:10-11). Here is a clear indication that Christ's nativity is the fulfillment of the covenantal promise made to Israel--the angel's reference to "all the people" (note the use of the definite article) must be seen as a reference to the whole household of Israel, the entire covenant nation. Mention could also be made of Simeon's declaration that the salvation brought by Christ is the LORD's salvation (Lk. 2:30), i.e.; that foretold by the LORD through His Old Testament prophets, and it is the glory of God's people Israel (vs. 32b). It should be noted that in all these nativity utterances God's covenant with Old Testament Israel is referenced in an undifferentiated way; that is to say, Israel as a whole is seen as the recipients of the divine covenant,66 no distinction is yet brought out between spiritual Israel (who are the true sons of Abraham) and ethnic Israel, who are merely the descendants of Abraham (cp. Jn. 8:3739; Gal. 4:21-31). However, when we consider the preaching of John the Baptist we find that a true and spiritual meaning is given to the designation, "children of Abraham". In his preaching of repentance John strongly warns his hearers against putting confidence in their physical descent from Abraham (Matt. 3:9a). He challenges the generally prevalent concept of what it meant to be a child of Abraham when he declares, "God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham" (vs. 9b). The reference to "stones" may be intended to call to mind the words of Ezek. 36:26, where the LORD declares His intention of removing the "stony heart" from His people (cp. Zech. 7:12);67 and the "raising up" children for Abraham focuses on God's work of regeneration (cp. Jn. 3:3, 5, 7). Here is revealed the true factor that constitutes one as being a "child of Abraham", and, consequently, the true ground for inclusion into the covenant God made with Abraham. Ultimately, all this must be traced 66 We must note that contained within these nativity pronouncements there is also found an indication of the universal significance of the salvation brought by the Christ, it is a salvation that is extended to the Gentiles. This is seen in Simeon's hymn, when he declares, the LORD's salvation shall be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk. 2:30-32). 67 With regard to this terminology we might also consider 1 Sam. 25:37, where it is said of Nabal, "his heart died within him, and he became as a stone".

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back to the regenerating power of God: He, and He alone, is able to "raise up" children for Abraham (cp. Gal. 4:28). Thus, in John's preaching the connection between the covenant made with Abraham and participation in that covenant by virtue of being "a child of Abraham" is not abandoned; on the contrary, in the words of Ridderbos, "it is revealed in its proper and most profound sense".68 Although Jesus makes a differentiation between true spiritual Israel and Israel as a whole (note, again, His words to Nicodemus, Jn. 3:3,5,7), from the beginning of His ministry Jesus predominantly addresses Israel as a whole, without emphasizing the spiritual differentiation; He addresses the nation of Israel in general as God's people to whom the kingdom of heaven has been promised. The nation may be said to have a right to the kingdom as a privilege especially extended to them, if such were not the case, the kingdom could not be "taken away" from them and given to others (Matt. 21:43; cp. Matt. 8:1112). In Jesus' warning given in Matt. 21:43 we hear an echo of John the Baptist's call to bear fruit worthy of repentance, which, Jesus indicates, will be the characteristic of the "nation" to whom the kingdom shall be given. Here the ethnic nation of Israel is contrasted with a "nation" that demonstrates itself to be the true recipient of the kingdom by virtue of the fact that it produces the fruit that is in keeping with the life of the kingdom. The "nation" to which Jesus refers is not a new nation at all, it is none other than the true Israel of God, the spiritual nation of Israel. Thus, even as Jesus addresses His message to the people of Israel as a whole, affirming the covenantal privileges that have been extended to them, embedded within His message is the awareness of the differentiation between true spiritual Israel and Israel "according to the flesh". At the close of His public ministry Jesus will issue a final plea for ethnic Israel to become part of true spiritual Israel (Matt. 23:3739). But at the start of His ministry, and for the most part throughout His ministry, Jesus addresses the covenant nation in an undifferentiated way, as Ridderbos aptly states it, Jesus' interaction with the covenant nation "concerns not only `the people within the people' [i.e.; the true spiritual sons of Abraham], but all who belong to the people [i.e.; the descendants of Abraham indiscriminately, to all of whom God's covenant is uniquely made available, an availability that was not generally extended to the Gentile nations during the Old Testament dispensation]."69 With regard to this covenantal relationship between God and all Israel, (i.e.; the entire covenant nation), we should again take note of Jesus' declaration that He has come "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). Jesus' special interest in "what is lost" must be understood in the context of the religious setting of the day. Within the nation of Israel it was taught that the true people of God were those who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, 68 Ridderbos, p. 195. 69 Ridderbos, p. 196.

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those who strictly adhered to the requirements of the Law, especially with regard to the Levitical regulations pertaining to ceremonial purity. In antithesis to the religiously devote and ceremonially pure, stood the masses who were somewhat derogatorily referred to as "the people of the land".70 By the designation, "those that are lost", of whom Jesus speaks again and again, we must understand the large category of people ("the multitude") upon whom such as the Pharisees looked with contempt and whom they had abandoned to their fate, namely, that of being accursed (cp. Jn. 7:49). All this holds even more emphatically for those who are identified as "publicans and sinners". But they, too, must be sought out, for they, too, belong to the nation of Israel, and as such have a special relationship to the covenant. What Jesus says of Zacchaeus pertains to all of them, "this man, too, is a son of Abraham" (Lk. 19:9).71 Beside Jesus' interest in "seeking the lost", because they, too, as part of the nation of Israel, have an interest in the covenant, we also find the converse, the warning of being "cast out"--this ultimately becomes the lot of those who are not spiritually included within the covenant, even though they have had a vested interest in the covenant and ready access to participation in it. No less than John the Baptist did Jesus draw the line of separation within the Jewish nation. The Beatitudes herald the fulfillment of God's kingdom promises to His covenant people (Matt. 5:3-12; Lk. 6:20-23), but, especially in Luke's account (but note, also, Matt. 23:13-36), there also comes the pronouncement of "woe" to those who have demonstrated themselves to be spiritually unaffiliated with the covenant, pursing the life of this world, rather than seeking the kingdom of heaven (Lk. 6:24-26; cp. Phil. 3:18-19). Although, for the most part, Jesus restricted His earthly ministry to the nation of Israel (cp. Matt. 10:5-6; Matt. 15:24), He at the same time issues the ominous warning that "the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out" (Matt. 8:12). Here "the sons of the kingdom" must again be interpreted as referring to those who, by virtue of their birth into the nation of Israel, have a vested interest in the kingdom, but have "rejected God's purpose for themselves" (Lk. 7:30; cp. Matt. 11:20-24). As His earthly ministry draws to a close and ethnic Israel demonstrates its rejection of "the messenger of the covenant" who has been sent to her (cp. Mal. 3:1), Jesus announces that the covenantal privileges offered to the nation as a whole have been withdrawn (Matt. 21:43). But even so, in the words, "from now on you will not see me until you shall say, `Blessed is he that comes in the name of the LORD" (Matt. 23:39), there is left open the possibility of a future reconciliation, a time when ethnic Israel will become the object of God's regenerating work (cp. Rom. 11:25-29), and thus become part of true spiritual
70 Although the term, "the people of the land", does not occur in the Gospels, we may see the concept present in the description of the multitude given by the Pharisees in Jn. 7:49. 71 See LESSON THREE, pp. 58-61, for a fuller consideration of Jesus' mission of "seeking and saving the lost".

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Israel, composed of those, regardless of ethnic background, who receive Jesus the Messiah (cp. Gal. 6:15-16; Phil. 3:3). Thus, when we consider the Old Testament covenant in the light of New Testament revelation, what is of great importance to recognize is the fact that the kingdom salvation imparted by Christ and His communion with those who acknowledge Him as the Messiah continues to be qualified by the covenant--it is a covenantal relationship; indeed, none other than the covenantal relationship the LORD first established with Abraham (and initially with Adam, cp. Gen. 3:15). However, what more distinctly comes to the fore, beginning with John's assertion concerning the "children of Abraham" (Matt. 3:9) and becoming ever more explicit in the New Testament epistles,72 is the true spiritual nature of the covenant and the spiritual identity of those who have a genuine affiliation with the covenant and genuine interest in its promises, which promises find their fulfillment in nothing less than the kingdom of heaven (cp. Heb. 11:8-10). The whole structure of the gospel as it is preached by Jesus is determined by the covenant. The clearest evidence of this fact is found in the one statement in which He explicitly mentions the covenant. It is the statement spoken on the occasion of the Last Supper. In referring to His approaching death, Jesus declares, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24). These words are significant because they place Jesus' entire messianic ministry in the context of the covenant. He declares that His death is what fulfills the old (Mosaic) covenant and at the same time establishes the new covenant.73 That is to say, by virtue of the Messiah's atoning death upon the cross of Calvary, and His subsequent resurrection, the typological edition of the covenant administered under the mediatorship of Moses and which prevailed throughout the Old Testament dispensation, is now succeeded by its true antitype. (By "antitype" we mean the eschatological edition of the covenant, which is the covenant in all of its true essence and fulfillment, and is that of which the Old Testament typological edition was but a provisional model--although by means of it God did communicate His saving grace to Old Testament believers as they were enabled to discern in it the image of the Christ and look beyond it to the promised Savior [cp. Jn. 8:56]). It is important to note that the words spoken on the occasion of the Last Supper very clearly allude to the Old Testament passage of Jer. 31:31-34. This is especially evident in Luke (Lk. 22:20) and Paul's (1 Cor. 11:25) insertion of 72 " ... it is very characteristic of Paul's view that inclusion with God's people (i.e.; in the relationship of the covenant) is not constituted by the outward bond established by birth, but that [all the stipulations and promises of the covenant] are applicable in the proper and original sense of the word only to the true, faithful people of God whom he has elected." (Ridderbos, p. 198) 73 Both Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:25 speak of the cup of "the new covenant".

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the word "new", indicating that on that night Jesus also had in mind the establishment of the new covenant foretold in Jer. 31. But Matthew and Mark both hint at this as well when they record Jesus' words about His blood being shed for the "remission of sins", since this is a feature of the new covenant the LORD will establish with His people (cp. Jer. 31:34b). It is also important to appreciate the fact that the New Covenant (Jer. 33) does not replace the Mt. Sinai Covenant as something of an altogether different nature; rather, the New Covenant replaced the Mt. Sinai Covenant in the sense that the Sinai Covenant was provisional and the New Covenant contains the promised substance and fulfillment of the original covenant. What makes the new covenant "new" is not a new foundation (grace instead of law), but a new and deeper application of grace--the greater realization of what was typified in the Mosaic covenant. As pointed out, there is need for the New Covenant (Jer. 33) because the "old covenant" (Mt. Sinai, Ex. 24) with its ordinances was provisional: just as the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins (Heb. 10:4), so neither could that blood put to death and regenerate the old heart. (Note that the Psalmist prays for a new heart [Psl. 51:10] and the prophet foretells the divine giving of a new heart [Ezek. 36:26], these promises are fulfilled by means of the believer's union with Christ in His death and resurrection [Rom. 6:1-11]). According to Jer. 31, the LORD Himself will do that which is necessary for the maintenance of the new covenant, thereby guaranteeing its perpetual fulfillment in blessing: the LORD will write His law upon the hearts of His people (vs. 33), thereby causing them to fulfill the obligation of the covenant, and He will forgive their iniquity (vs. 34), thereby causing His divine justice to be satisfied. As noted above, these promises find their fulfillment in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah at Calvary and the believers' union with Him in His death and resurrection. Again, the new covenant guarantees perpetual fulfillment in blessing because it is made unilaterally, that is to say, the LORD Himself, and the LORD alone, assumes the responsibility for meeting the criterion of the covenant. It is a covenant of grace, as was the original covenant made with Abraham, and that initially made with Adam. But the Mosaic Covenant was also intended to be a covenant of grace, however, it was mistakenly turned into a "covenant of works" by the people of Israel. THE REMISSION OF SINS Closely connected to "the poor" and the covenant we also find the remission of sins. This connection is explicitly stated in Psalm 25:9-11, The meek will he guide in justice ... 11for thy name's sake, O Jehovah, pardon my iniquity, for it is great" (cp. vs. 16-18). This connection is also brought out in Zachariah's hymn, where he asserts of John the Baptist, " ... you shall go before the face of the LORD to prepare his ways; 77to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission (afesiV) of their sins" (Lk. 1:76-77; cp. Mk. 1:4). This "knowledge", or, experience, of salvation comes in conjunction with and as a result of the remission of their sins. Also, as we have seen, one of the great

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promises contained in the new covenant is the fact that the LORD will forgive the sins of His people (Jer. 31:34b). Those who are designated as "the poor" and "the meek" not only look to the LORD for deliverance from oppression and injustice, but also for the remission of their sins, humbly acknowledging their guilt before their holy God (Psl. 143:1-2). When Jesus' birth is announced, the name given Him at the command of God, the name that summarizes the significance of His ministry, is interpreted to mean, "he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). Thus, it is characteristic of the entire New Testament message that in it redemption is first and foremost conceived of as the alleviation of guilt and the forgiveness of sin, not, as is common in the nature and mystery religions, deliverance from the transitoriness to which man is subjected through his earthly life. In all non-biblical conceptions of redemption deliverance is based upon the conviction of the irradicable nobility of man, or upon the notion that man possesses a metaphysical quality of soul that makes him a part of the Divine Being. In distinction to all such religions, the gospel starts from the vast chasm that exists between God and man, and of the great moral distress in which man finds himself before his God. Because of his guilt before God, man is liable to the divine judgment; consequently, redemption consists in the remission of sins, so that communion between God and His people may be restored. In Jesus' initial proclamation in the synagogue of Nazareth, in which He announces the fulfillment of the prophecies and the commencement of the great time of salvation, the Greek term, afesiV, plays an important part. Although in the present context the term must be translated as "freedom" for the captives and "release" for those who are oppressed (Lk. 4:18), the overall context suggests the "remission" of sins to be the underlying cause for such release--the deliverance is based upon the remission of sins and acquittal. The salvation that commences with Jesus' coming is identified as "the year of the LORD's favor" (Lk. 4:19). This designation originally denoted "the Year of Jubilee",74 at which time the debts of the Israelites who had become poor and, consequently, reduced to the status of indentured servitude, were remitted and they were set free (Lev. 25). The Year of Jubilee is yet another Old Testament typological event depicting and foretelling "the year of the LORD's favor", at which time occurs the deliverance and restoration of God's people by virtue of the fact that He provides for the remission of their sins (cp. Isa. 40:1-2). Early on in His ministry we find the central purpose of Jesus' ministry defined in terms of the remission of sins: When the paralytic man is presented to Jesus with the intention that he might be restored to physical wholeness, Jesus says to him, "Son, your sins are forgiven (afesiV)" (Mk. 2:5; Matt. 9:2-; Lk. 5:17-26). 74 Ridderbos, p. 213.

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Jesus uses this occasion to make clear to the man, and to all who are present, that man's deepest distress, to which ultimately all his earthly distresses can be traced, is that he is a sinner--a violator of God's holy law, and as such, "is made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A #19). But Jesus, as the Son of Man, has the authority to forgive sins, (an authority bestowed upon Him for faithfully fulfilling His role as the Servant of the LORD). Jesus' statement should not be explained as a response to the man's penitent demeanor, for no such penitence is noted in the account, and the remission of sins was not the purpose for which the friends brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Nor should we view the man's paralyzed condition as being the direct result of some specific act of sin he had committed, the account gives no indication of such, furthermore, Jesus does not refer to a sin (singular), but to "sins" (plural). We must understand Jesus' statement as being the messianic proclamation, the announcement of the coming of the kingdom, the commencement of the great time of salvation, based upon and made possible by the remission of sins. The paralyzed man was brought to Jesus for healing, Jesus pronounces the forgiveness of his sins, and then administers healing, thereby indicating that the restoration/ the regeneration of all things is based upon the remission of sins provided by Jesus the Messiah. This remission of sins above all consists in the payment of the debt the sinner has incurred before God as a result of violating, instead of observing, the moral law. The Gospel represents the relation of man to God as that of a debtor to his creditor. Thus, in the Lord's Prayer we are given the petition, "Forgive us our debts" (Matt. 6:12; cp. Lk. 11:4). The concept of sin as debt and salvation as deliverance resulting from forgiveness of the debt dominates the parable found in Matt. 18:22-35, that of the forgiven servant who refused to forgive. Sin places man in the position of one who has a debt to pay, but who is unable of himself to provide the required payment. Likewise, at the banquet hosted by Simon the Pharisee, Jesus speaks of a certain creditor who had two debtors, neither of whom could make satisfaction for his debt (Lk. 7:41-42). By speaking of two debtors, Jesus indicates that not only the woman who was a notorious sinner, but also the self-righteous Pharisees, find themselves in the position of hopeless debtors before God. But the concept of sin as debt and redemption as payment, or remission, of debt, are not in themselves the new and unique characteristic of Jesus' preaching. Jesus did not speak in concepts that were strange, but in ones that were familiar, to His hearers. The salvation for which Old Testament Israel looked consisted in, and was based upon, God's redemption of His people from all their iniquities (Psl. 130:7-8; cp. Jer. 31:34b). This redemption, by virtue of payment of debt being, made is especially prominent in Isa. 40:1-2, where we

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read, "her sins have been paid for" (vs. 2b).75 The new and striking feature in Jesus' preaching of salvation is not to be found in His view of sin and forgiveness; rather, it is to be found in His pronouncement of the great moment of fulfillment: in Jesus' coming and the accomplishment of His messianic ministry the blessing of the remission of sins promised by God throughout the Old Testament dispensation has passed from its promissory (and provisional) stage into that of actual realization, as Jesus says to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven". For insight into the nature of the antithesis between Jesus and the scribes, it is illuminating to examine what the rabbinical writings of the so-called late Judaism teach us about the Jewish doctrine of redemption that was current during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. The Jewish teaching held that The Torah (i.e.; The Law) was given to Israel as a gift from God. The purpose of this gift was to enable Israel to earn a reward from God by virtue of their compliance with The Torah, that reward being nothing other than the kingdom of heaven. In this scheme of things it was assumed that man had within himself the moral strength to fulfill the law, for, as part of their teaching, it was held that man had received a pure and holy soul from the hand of his Maker, and whatever evil instincts he may experience were to be attributed to his sensuous body (here we see the influence of Greek philosophy upon Jewish theology). Thus, their doctrine of redemption started from a perfectionistic view of man, a view that maintains man can "perfect" himself by means of the divine Torah. The reality of sin, of course, could not be denied, but its allpermeating pervasiveness and devastating power were glossed over, causing sin to be defined as acts committed in violation of the Torah (cp. Matt. 5:21-22; 27-28). In this Jewish scheme of redemption the important thing was for a man's acts of compliance with the Law to outnumber his acts of sin, his acts of violations of the Law. In other words, the credit side of man's account with God must be greater than the debit side of the ledger. The Jewish doctrine of salvation, therefore, was defined as a religion of self-redemption stemming from a perfectionistic view of man and a shallow view of sin. The scribes made room within this religion of self-redemption and doctrine of earned merit for the Old Testament teaching of God's mercy and call to repentance by reinterpreting the latter to fit into their overall scheme of redemption based on personal merit. In their view, the purpose of God's mercy was to restore a man to the position where he could assume the work of meriting his salvation. The aim of repentance and remission was to restore the sinner to the same relationship with God in which the godly already found themselves by virtue of their meritorious living. Thus, as the teachers of the Law saw it, repentance was for "sinners", not for "the righteous". The teaching that salvation was bestowed as the reward for a meritorious life remained the dominant element in the Jewish doctrine of redemption. 75 The Hebrew phrase, Hn2woe15 hx2r5n3, may even be rendered, "compensation has been made for her guilt/iniquity".

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Against this background the antithesis between Jesus and the Jewish doctors of the Law assumes a very sharp distinction. Jesus' preaching of the remission of sins is nothing less than a fundamental redefinition of the entire Jewish formulation of the doctrine of redemption. In contradistinction to the scribes and teachers of the Law, Jesus' preaching is dominated by a radical understanding of repentance. In His teaching repentance is not reduced to sorrow and penitence on account of certain violations of God's commandments, it is much more radical, encompassing all of one's entire life in relation to God. Man is alienated from God. In the parable of the Prodigal Son both sons are estranged from the father, the younger one obviously so, but the older one also. We learn that he is angry with his father and will not enter the father's house (Lk. 15:28), because he is in disagreement with the father's decision to receive his prodigal brother--this anger reveals the dichotomy between his own heart and that of his father. His anger stems from a self-righteousness that he believes has not been recognized nor rewarded, consequently, he defines himself as being more righteous than his father: for many years he has served the father without transgression, (i.e.; in his view, he believes he has fulfilled the Old Testament law, which, according to Deut. 27:26, requires complete and continuous obedience), yet the father has never held a celebration in his honor as is now being done for the wayward brother (vs. 29-30). The older son does not share the father's heart, he does not partake of the father's nature, as does the true Son (Jn. 5:19); furthermore, there is a role reversal, he assuming the position of righteous judge over the father. Thus is revealed man's true spiritual state before God and, consequently, the need for radical repentance. It should be noted that in the parable the father must go out to seek both sons, which thing he willingly does (vs. 20, 28). Jesus' teaching of the need for radical repentance, due to estrangement from God and enmity against God (cp. Rom. 8:7), is most strikingly verified in His rejection by the Jews (Jn. 8:37, 40, 42, 44). This is why repentance, in Jesus' preaching, is so totalitarian in nature: it does not denote rather incidental acts of penitence for infringements of the moral law, which are more or less exceptions to man's natural inclination of heart towards God. Repentance pertains not only to actions but to the entire attitude of life, it consists of an all-encompassing turning from sin to holiness, from enmity to devotion unto God. This is already seen in the preaching of John the Baptist, who called upon all Israel, and specifically the self-righteous, to produce fruit "worthy of repentance" (Matt. 3:7-8). The universal need for repentance is evidenced in the very fact that the Baptist calls upon the Pharisees to repent, not limiting his call to the uninstructed, or even irreligious, masses. Even before his birth it was announced that John was the one who would turn many of the children of Israel to the LORD their God (Lk. 1:15-17); not merely the class of notorious sinners, but the nation as a whole. The same pertains to Jesus' preaching.

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From the very outset of His public ministry Jesus issued the call, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mk. 1:14-15). By so doing, Jesus was declaring that repentance (in the sense of true conversion, as that repentance is coupled with faith) is the prerequisite for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus' call to repentance is addressed to everyone individually: The demand to repent is addressed to the disciples (Matt. 18:1-3) as well as the cities of Galilee (Matt. 11:20-24); it is intended for the chief priests and the Pharisees, as well as the publicans and sinners (Matt. 21:32; Matt. 3:7-8). Thus it becomes clear that Jesus' preaching of the gospel addresses man in his condition of universal sinfulness and his state of spiritual and moral alienation from God (cp. Isa. 53:6). With regard to those texts in which Jesus makes a distinction between "the righteous" and "the unrighteous" (cp. Matt. 5:45), considered in the light of His entire preaching, it is clear that Jesus is not accepting the Pharisaical doctrine that there are, indeed, those men who are truly righteous before God and who, therefore, need not repent. On the contrary, on some of the occasions when Jesus employs such language He has in mind the relative distinction that does apply among men, some being more law-abiding than others. It is the same distinction the Apostle Paul recognizes (Rom. 5:7; 13:3), while not at all denying the truth that in the absolute sense of the term, "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). On other occasions, Jesus appears to be addressing the scribes and Pharisees on their own terms so to speak, using terminology they would apply to themselves in distinction to how they would define those outside of their circle (cp. Matt. 9:9-13; Mk. 2:15-17; Lk. 5:29-32). As Ridderbos expresses it, "the pronouncement in Mk. 2:17 ["I came not to call the righteous, but sinners"] must be understood as an indication that, in Jesus' coming as God's curing physician, guilt-remitting grace goes out to fallen men. But this grace is only extended to those who are made to realize that they are in need of it. Taken in this sense this pronouncement indirectly implies a call to those who pretend to righteousness [i.e.; those who entertain the belief that they are righteous] to search their own hearts and to ascertain whether they had reliable reasons for thinking that [their] kind of righteousness was sufficient."76 In effect, Jesus, by means of this proverbial saying, is declaring that God's saving grace is for those who rightly and willingly acknowledge their need of it. Those who deny their need of such grace on the grounds of their alleged righteousness shall find themselves forfeiting the saving benefits of that grace. It does not pertain to them: from their perspective, because they do not think themselves in need of it, but from the divine perspective, because they have failed to acknowledge their need of it. Refuting any notion that Jesus accepted the "righteous"/"sinners" distinction is His rebuke of the Pharisees for not joining with "the sinners" in responding to John's call for repentance (Matt. 21:32) and His justifying of the
76 Ridderbos, p. 221.

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repentant publican over against the self-righteous Pharisee in His parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Lk. 18:9-14). It is totally wrong to suggest that Jesus anywhere accepts the pharisaical view of a "natural" righteousness before God that is true in the case of some people. The repudiation of such a notion is not only apparent in those passages in which Jesus opposes the pharisaical delusion of such righteousness (cp. Matt. 5:20; Lk. 18:9-14), but also in those texts in which He says to His disciples (and to all His hearers), "If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?" (Matt. 7:11; Lk. 11:13). Elsewhere Jesus speaks of the human heart as the seat from which originates all forms of evil thoughts and actions (Matt. 15:10-20, esp. vs. 19-20). To the rich young ruler, with his moral optimism and self-confidence, Jesus says, "There is none good except one, that is God" (Mk. 10:18; Lk. 18:19; Matt. 19:17). Such pronouncements show that Jesus' preaching presents a view of man that denies him the attribute of genuine moral goodness and, to the contrary, characterizes him as "evil" and "a debtor" before God. In His preaching Jesus states the cause and provides the explanation for this far from favorable view of man in his condition before his holy God: it is to be attributed to the extent, the depth, and the seriousness of sin, in a word, it is to be attributed to man's moral depravity (note, again, Matt. 15:19-20; Mk. 7:20-23). This indictment against man and the exposure of his true nature are succinctly expressed by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount in such a passage as Matt. 5:21-22, "You have heard that it was said ... `You shall not kill ...' 22But I say to you, `Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment ...'"77 Here Jesus expounds the full meaning of the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill", it involves not merely the prohibition of manslaughter, but also includes an angry, unforgiving spirit against another person, as well as various forms of verbal abuse. The just punishment for all such violations is nothing less than the fire of hell--because these are violations of that moral law that is the very expression of the holy nature of the LORD our God, they are manifestations of that which is the very antithesis of what God is and that elicit from Him His righteous wrath in the form of just retribution; furthermore, these expresses of anger/murder reveal the true nature of the human heart. This passage of Matt. 5:21-26 is not an isolated one. It is characteristic of the whole Sermon on the Mount, especially as found in Matthew's Gospel, which is one long judicial indictment against the Pharisaical conception of sin and righteousness and merit. Christ's view of sin and its consequences urges men to rely entirely upon God's gracious remission of sin. A serious listener cannot escape the fact that if Jesus' interpretation of the law had been given to reveal to man the way of 77 Note, also, the same exposition of the Seventh Commandment given in Matt. 5:27-28.

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redemption by his own merits, it must deprive him of all hope. In fact, just such a reaction of despair is expressed by the disciples on a later occasion, in response to Jesus' teaching on the difficulty of a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.78 In response to Jesus' statement, they ask, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus' answer points them away from themselves to God: "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible for God" (Mk. 10:26-27). Salvation is an utter impossibility so long as sinful man is obliged to obtain or merit the kingdom of heaven for himself by means of his own moral and religious endeavor. But such is not the case with God: He "is able of these stones to raise up children for Abraham" (Matt. 3:9), and He is able to provide the remission of sins (cp. Isa. 40:1-2; 53:4-6; Jer. 31:33-34). In summary, Jesus is able to proclaim the remission of sins in a matchless way, unlike anything that had been spoken during the Old Testament dispensation, because He is not only the ultimate prophet who speaks the word of God, but He is also the messianic king whose utterances are converted into practice. Jesus not only proclaims the salvation belonging to the kingdom, He brings that salvation: He does what is necessary to secure it and then He shares it with those who receive Him as the promised Messiah. "That which Jesus preaches about remission of sins and redemption he proclaims by virtue of his divine mission as the Son of Man to whom all power and authority have been given. And at the same time, he does so as one who [will] carry out all that with which he has been commissioned and that which has been written concerning his as `the Servant of the LORD'. Salvation, including the remission of sins, is vested in his person, in the carrying out of his mission, in his obedience to the divine will [cp. Matt. 26:39; Jn. 12:27-28a)."79 THE FATHER'S GOOD PLEASURE We have taken note of the disciples' astonishing inquiry, "Then who can be saved?" (Mk. 10:26). Echoing the words of the disciples, we may say that such an inquiry is not only a question to be taken seriously in light of the righteousness required by our infinitely holy God if one is to "stand in his holy place" (Psl. 24:3b), the requirement being "clean hands and a pure heart" (Psl. 24:4a), but also in light of the nature and inclination of the heart of sinful man (Matt. 15:19-20), a heart that is at enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). This leads us to a further consideration of Jesus' reply, "With men it is impossible, but not 78 The disciples apparently appreciate the connection Jesus has pointed out between the possession of riches (vs. 23) and the tendency to trust in riches (vs. 24). There is the tendency to idolize riches, something against which Jesus had previously warned His hearers (Matt. 6:24). Furthermore, they perceive--maybe even are convicted of the fact--that any man with any measure of wealth is vulnerable to wealth's subtle temptations. Their concern seems to be: What man has the power to transfer his devotion and trust from riches to God? Indeed, Jesus indicates that what is required is nothing less than a work of God; only the Holy Spirit can transfer a man's love and trust from his riches to Christ. 79 Ridderbos, p. 321.

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with God" (Mk. 10:27); and of John the Baptist's assertion, God "is able of these stones to raise up children for Abraham" (Matt. 3:9). God is the One who bestows regenerating grace upon spiritually dead sinners (Eph. 2:1), upon those who are the objects of the Father's good pleasure. "In a certain respect," writes Ridderbos, "the gospel of the kingdom might be characterized as `the gospel of the elect' as much as [`the gospel] of the poor'".80 Now it is true that this particular title, "the gospel of the elect", is not used by any of the gospel writers. Nevertheless, it is a fact that those who inherit the salvation of the kingdom are again and again defined as those who are the objects of the Father's good pleasure, the objects of His divine election. Already, at the birth of Christ, we hear the angels associating the salvation that has come (Lk. 2:11) with "peace on earth among men in whom he is well pleased" (vs. 14b);81 or more literally, "peace to men of [His] good pleasure", i.e.; those who are the objects and recipients of God's sovereign, saving, good pleasure (cp. Lk. 12:32). The phrase, "good pleasure" (eudokia), expresses God's free and sovereign grace, which is the ground for the salvation proclaimed by the angels. In this term the element of divine love in the divine election comes strongly to the fore (cp. Eph. 1:4-5, "in love, having foreordained us unto adoption"). Note that the angels speak of "peace on earth" to such men that are the object of the Father's good pleasure. In other words, this peace is a present benediction, a present state of blessedness, bestowed upon them; it is something they presently experience ("on earth") with the coming of the kingdom (cp. Rom. 5:1). The question is, Who are these men who are the objects of the Father's good pleasure? The angels' words of blessing recorded in Lk. 2:14b must be connected with those people of whom the angel speaks in vs. 10, "I bring you good news of great joy that shall be for all the people". It is important to see that the angel announces that this "good news" is for "all the people", not for all men indiscriminately, but for "the people", who, in terms of the history of redemption, must be taken as a reference to the covenant nation of Israel. It is the covenant nation that has been singled out as God's own possession (cp. Deut. 10:15);82 it is with them that the LORD entered into covenant (cp. Rom. 9:4-5). But once again, the true spiritual covenant nation is not to be equated with all of ethnic national Israel indiscriminately (cp. Rom. 2:28-29); the true covenant nation is composed of those who place their trust in the LORD and long for His salvation, doing so because they have been the objects of His sovereign redeeming grace (as was the case of Jacob in distinction to Esau, Mal. 1:2-
80 Ridderbos, p. 203. 81 The N.I.V. does well in translating the Greek as, "peace to men on whom his favor rests". 82 Note also, Eph. 1:11, where the Apostle Paul is specifically referring to the people of Israel, even more specifically, believing Israel, who formed the true spiritual Old Testament covenant nation.

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3a).83 The true covenant people of God are less than the whole of ethnic Israel, but their number expands far beyond the borders of ethnic Israel--this fact reveals the true meaning of the phrase, "all the people". Thus, we would conclude that "all the people"--who are furthered defined as the "men [i.e.; people] of [His] good pleasure"--are none other than "the poor in spirit" (as defined in the opening section of this lesson). So, as Ridderbos rightly asserts, the gospel of the kingdom might be characterized as "the gospel of the elect" as much as "the gospel of the poor". It is not only in the nativity passages that we find reference to God's "good pleasure" and those who are the objects of that good pleasure. Elsewhere, too, it is indicated that the giving and the possession of the kingdom is derived from the divine good pleasure. This is very obvious in Lk. 12:32, where we read, Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". The emphasis on the smallness of the flock ("little flock") implies that the people of God spoken of here are the true covenant nation, which appears as but a small remnant in the midst of the unbelieving nation. That is why there was reason to fear that this small remnant might perish, giving way to the unbelief all around it. But the Lord Jesus assures this remnant that it is not to fear, that assurance rests upon the fact that it is "your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". The assurance of their possession of the kingdom and its heritage is founded upon the sovereign, irresistible will of God and His divine purpose--it is not dependent upon, nor successfully resisted by, any opposition, human or demonic. The gift of the kingdom is bestowed upon the people that God has elected, and that decree of divine election comes to fruition in its profoundest sense in their acknowledgement that Jesus is the Messiah, the One who has the authority to grant them the kingdom. Here, too, election is not conceived of in an individualistic sense, but as the election of God's people--the true spiritual covenant nation. Conversely, the magnitude of this people is not determined by national or ethnic factors, but by the free and saving divine decree (cp. Act. 13:47-48). So, yes, for the present, the true people of God manifest themselves as a "little flock" in the midst of the unbelieving nation, but one must appreciate that their assurance stems from divine election, and one must also appreciate what are yet to be revealed as the extend and the fruit of that divine election. In accordance with all that has been said, we must understand Jesus' pronouncement found in Matt. 11:25-26, "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, 83 Although ultimately we must understand "all the people" to consist of all those who possess a saving covenantal relationship with the LORD, His "elect from every nation" as the songwriter expresses it (cp. Acts 13:48), yet in the light of our earlier discussion we should also allow for it, in a more superficial and formal sense, to have a broader reference to the covenant nation as an undifferentiated whole. Here the comments made under the previous heading, THE COVENANT, OLD AND NEW, are pertinent (see pp. 72-73).

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and revealed them to babes; 26indeed, Father, for so it was well pleasing in your sight" (cp., also, Lk. 10:21-24). Here, now, the separation made between believing and unbelieving Israel, which occurs as the result of Jesus' coming, is traced back to God's sovereign good pleasure. The phrase, "it was well pleasing in your sight" (emprosqen sou), reveals much about the character of God's decree: this decree, so to speak, is something that God has kept ever before Him and He has made it His purpose to accomplish--it was God's top priority. God's divine purpose is defined by Jesus as the revealing of the kingdom (i.e.; "these things") to "babes". "Babes" should be seen as a reference to the poor and afflicted people of the LORD; they may be despised by "the wise and understanding" precisely because they have placed their faith in the LORD and await the salvation to be found in the coming of His kingdom (cp. Isa. 66:5-6). We should understand "babes" to be an equivalent of "the poor in spirit" and "the meek" of Matt. 5. The declaration that they are the objects of God's good pleasure again shows that the gospel of the kingdom is deeply rooted in God's special revelation to Israel and must above all be understood as the proclamation of salvation to the true people of the LORD. This is likewise the theme found in the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Lk. 18:1-8). In that parable the coming of the kingdom, bringing with it its promised salvation, is called "the justice of [God's] elect" (vs. 7). The "justice" spoken of here is the justice that is theirs by right as the covenant people of God.84 Their deliverance is their "right", something upon which they may lay claim. In a sense, this lends to their prayer the character of prosecuting a lawsuit, just as the widow does before the unjust judge. This implies that election is not an unpredictable divine decree unknowable to men, but is rather a reason for the elect to cry out to God "day and night". It presupposes that divine election creates a relation in which the elect have been given God's promise of deliverance, which is to be found in the coming of and the gaining of entrance into the kingdom. This is closely related to, indeed, is another aspect of the covenant. But at the same time, the phrase, "the justice of [God's] elect", also implies that this special relationship between God and His people is based solely on His free and sovereign grace with respect to the people whom He has made the objects of His good pleasure. This sovereign grace is the most fundamental ground of their participation in God's covenant with all of its kingdom rights. Finally, we must consider the Christological dimension of divine election. Just as Christ in His meekness (Matt. 11:29) represents the true people of God and is 84 Exodus 28:15-30 describes the making of "the breastplate" that formed part of the high priest's attire. Whereas the NIV translates this item, "a breast piece for making decisions", and the ASV gives the translation, "a breastplate of judgment", a better translation would seem to be, "a breastplate of [covenantal] rights". The Hebrew word, fP2V5Mo, often translated "judgment", also has the meaning, "rights", which seems to be the sense of the word in this passage.

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the epitome of what those people shall be (Lk. 6:40), so in the same way Christ is the ultimate object of the Father's good pleasure. This is seen on the occasion of His baptism (Matt. 3:17; Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22) and at the time of His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5; Lk. 9:35). In Lk. 9:35 Jesus is declared by the Father to be "my Son, the One who has been chosen".85 Here in Luke the reference is clearly to the Son being elected by the Father to fulfill the messianic task. Thus, the election of those who are ordained to receive the kingdom is in conjunction with the election of the One who has been appointed to bring the kingdom, as the Apostle Paul expresses it, "he chose us in him [i.e.; Christ, the Messiah] before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). But when it comes to the Son being elected to the office of Messiah and being the object of the Father's "good pleasure", there is something more involved than is the case with those who are chosen in Christ. The men who are the objects of God's good pleasure (Lk. 2:14b) must attribute their election to the sovereign will of God apart from any intrinsic quality within themselves that would set them apart from all other men and cause them to be the object of His divine choice. But when it comes to the Son, His election, His being the object of the Father's good pleasure, must be attributed to His own divine person and the intrinsic holiness of His person. The Father's testimony made with regard to the Son at the time of His baptism, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (en w eudokhsa)", must be seen as being due to more than the Father's free and "arbitrary" sovereign choice,86 it must also be due to the very person of the Son. How could the Father not be well pleased with this One who shares the very essence of His divine nature (Heb. 1:1-2; Phil. 2:6) and who is in complete agreement with the Father's will (Jn. 5:19)? The Father has an essential affinity with the Son that makes His choosing of the Son to be the Messiah inevitable. Anything other than choosing the Son--who as the Righteous One is the epitome of all that in which the Father delights--would be in total contradiction to the Father's very nature, and God "cannot deny himself" (2 Tim. 2:13b). Thus, in choosing those who are His "elect", the cause of the Father's choice resides in Himself alone and not in them; but in choosing Christ, the cause of the Father's choice resides both in Himself and in the Person of the Son. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. How are we to understand the designation, "poor [in spirit]" as it is used by Jesus in His preaching of the gospel? Who are these people? a. They are all who are socially oppressed, those who are victims of injustice and are taken advantage of by the wealthy and influential members of society. 85 From the Greek verb, eklegomai, meaning, "to select", "to choose". 86 That is to say, a choice, the cause of which, resides exclusively in the Father's inscrutable divine will.

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b. They are the ones to whom the promise of salvation pertains, because they are the true people of God, looking to His promise of salvation. c. They are persons who do not rise up in rebellion against their oppressors; they do not seek to avenge themselves, rather, they exhibit a forgiving spirit that causes the LORD to look favorably upon them. 2. Match the following quotations, which testify to the connection between the gospel and the covenant, with the persons who uttered them. a. "[The LORD] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets ..." ___ b. "He has given help to Israel his servant, that he might remember mercy, as he spoke ... toward Abraham and his seed ..." ___ c. "The Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David." ___ 1. Mary 2. The Angel 3. Zachariah 3. How are we to understand the angel's announcement to the shepherds that the good news he proclaims is for the angel's announcement to the shepherds: they bring a message of good news for "all the people"? a. The good news is for all the people included in God's covenant, regardless of ethnic origin. b. The good news is for all men indiscriminately, regardless of national or ethnic identity. c. The good news is for the whole nation of Israel, both the religiously scrupulous Pharisees and the common people of the masses. 4. How are we to interpret those texts in which Jesus makes a distinction between "the righteous" and "the unrighteous"? a. On some of the occasions when Jesus employs such language He has in mind the relative distinction that does apply among men, some being more law-abiding than others. b. From such passages it is clear that Jesus, in a limited sense, does accept the Pharisaical doctrine that there are, indeed, those men who are truly righteous before God and who, therefore, need not repent. c. Jesus appears to be addressing the scribes and Pharisees on their own terms so to speak, using terminology they would apply to themselves in distinction to how they would define those outside of their circle.

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5. "In a certain respect," writes Herman Ridderbos, "the gospel of the kingdom might be characterized as `the gospel of the _____' as much as `the gospel of the poor'". Fill in the Blank DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Discuss what the lesson has to say about the relationship between the preaching of the gospel and the covenant. 2. Contrast the biblical view of redemption with that found in the religions of the world, as well as that propounded by so-called "liberal theology". 3. How is Jesus' teaching about sin nothing less than a fundamental repudiation of the entire Jewish formulation of the doctrine of redemption? 4. Discuss what the lesson has to say about the parable of The Prodigal Son and what it teaches us about the universal need for repentance? 5. Discuss what the lesson has to say about the Christological dimension of divine election.

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LESSON FIVE: LIFE IN THE KINGDOM (1) OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN Especially in the Gospel of Matthew, we find a long series of pronouncements in which Jesus, addressing His disciples, speaks of God as "your Father", "your heavenly Father", or "your Father who is in heaven".87 Usually the pronoun "your" occurs in the Greek plural (umwn), but occasionally it is found in the singular (sou).88 In accordance with this, but used far less frequently, we find the term "children", or, "sons", used to denote the disciples' relationship to God (Matt. 5:9, 45; cp. Lk. 6:35; 20:36). To this may be added those parables in which Jesus applies the relationship that pertains between an earthly father and his children to the relationship between the heavenly Father and His children (Matt. 7:9-11; Lk. 15:11-32). The concept of the fatherhood of God is not something that is found for the first time with the coming of Jesus and unique to His preaching. A form of this concept is found in non-Christian religions, but with an understanding that is totally alien to that found in the Scriptures. In pagan religion, man's "sonship" to God is conceived of in terms of the alleged divinity that exists in him, and his redemption is the re-unification of his divine soul with the ultimate divine, that soul having been delivered from the material and temporal life of this present world. Far removed from such notions, the biblical understanding of redemption, as we have seen, consists in repentance and the remission of sins. Indeed, in Jesus' preaching the father/child relationship that is established between God and His people is intimately connected with repentance and the remission of sins. This is especially evident when one considers the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32), and takes into account the fact that it occurs in the context of Christ's welcoming of sinners (Lk. 15:1-2) and the joy in heaven over their repentance (cp. Lk. 15:3-7, 8-10). As noted in the previous lesson, Jesus in His preaching, consistent with the teaching of the Old Testament, defines fallen man's estrangement from God in terms of his moral depravity, which originates in his heart/soul (Matt. 15:19-20), not in terms of a divine soul being imprisoned in a temporal and material body. Consequently, in Jesus' preaching God's fatherhood and the sonship of the redeemed must be seen as the realization of the communion that is brought about as the result of their repentance and the remission of their sins. So, to correctly understand the background and the context for Jesus' preaching of the fatherhood of God, we must turn to the Old Testament Scriptures. There we find that the nation of Israel, as the covenant nation, is 87 Compare, for example, Matt. 5:16, 48; 6:1, 14-15; 7:11; 10:2913:43; 18:14; 23:9. 88 See, for example, Matt. 6:4,6,18.

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repeatedly referred to as "God's son", and the Israelites are accordingly called "God's sons", or, "God's children".89 Generally, what is denoted is the covenantal relationship between the LORD and the nation collectively--this is reflected in the predominant use of the plural when Jesus refers to the father/child relationship that exists between the Father and those who are reconciled to Him in Jesus the Messiah. However, the personal, individual, relationship of father/son is not to be excluded; although it is not explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, from such a passage as Psl. 103:13 (cp. Mal. 3:17) it may be inferred that the special filial privilege given to Israel as a nation also contains a personal and individual dimension, although not yet realized as it shall be in the New Testament dispensation (cp. Rom. 8:15-16). In the later Jewish literature we find that this personal and individual dimension of the father/son relationship becomes much more evident. The designation of God as "Father" is no longer used exclusively with reference to the people as a whole or to the king as the representative of the people; it is now applied to the godly as individuals. This does not alter the fact, however, that the spirit that permeates this literature is still one of timidity and uncertainty, not that of confidence before God.90 As noted in the previous lesson, in the scheme of redemption as taught by the scribes, there was no certainty of salvation for the righteous, they were always instructed to live as if the scales are balanced and their salvation is ever dependent on a new fulfillment of the law, which they are obligated to render unto God. A comparison between the Jewish usage of the name "Father" and that found in the Gospels shows that in the latter "Father" is used in a much more confident way: the usage of the term is dominated by the certainty of salvation, which is alien to Judaism (cp. Lk. 12:32). Yet it would be a mistake to consider the specific character of Jesus' preaching of God's fatherhood as consisting in nothing more than merely a deepening of the concept found in the late Judaistic literature. That which imparts a unique significance to Jesus' reference to the father/child relationship between God and His people is the dimension of fulfillment, of more intimate and personal realization, present in His teaching. The use of the name "Father" in reference to God, as found in the gospel, is certainly derived from the covenantal relationship between the LORD and His people Israel. But in Jesus' preaching that covenantal relationship is seen and referenced in its true spiritual significance--not as the ethnic nation of Israel considered as a distinct and undifferentiated whole, but as the true sons of Abraham who possess the same saving faith as their spiritual forefather. Hence, whenever Jesus speaks of "your Father in heaven" or "the children of the heavenly Father", He has in view the relationship between the Father and those who are His spiritual children in the Messiah, and who, consequently, 89 Compare, for example, Ex. 4:22; Deut. 14:1; Isa. 1:2; 63:8, 16; Jer. 31:20; Hos. 11:1. 90 Ridderbos, pp. 233-234.

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share in the bliss of the kingdom of heaven (note, again, Lk. 12:32). In Jesus' use of the term "your Father in heaven", full stress must be laid upon the communal aspect of "the children" as members of the covenantal community: the salvation Jesus proclaims is the salvation of the people of God. This covenantal (and spiritual) relationship of Father/children must not be thought of in an individualistic sense (i.e.; as denoting a relationship between God and individual human beings in isolation from one another and in exclusively personal association with God), but as the relationship between the LORD and His people. As Ridderbos states it, "Sonship to God must be understood in a redemptive-historical sense. It is the realization of the promise of the new covenant, the continuation and fulfillment of the bond between the LORD and [true, spiritual] Israel."91 This is the reaSon Jesus almost always uses the plural, "your (umwn) Father who is in heaven", when speaking to His disciples of their the Father/children relationship with God. Now, to be sure, this usage of the plural does not exclude, but rather includes, a personal relationship between the heavenly Father and each of His children in Christ.92 This appears from those passages in which Jesus speaks of the personal piety to be exhibited between His disciples and their heavenly Father (Matt. 6:4, 6,18). Yet, for the most part in the Gospels, sonship to God the Father is presented as the relationship between God and the covenant community, the people of the LORD, as a whole. The most characteristic instance of this is the Lord's Prayer, where the disciples are instructed to pray, "Our Father in heaven". This does not exclude the possibility of the each believer calling upon God as his Father when he turns to Him in private prayer (Matt. 6:6). Nevertheless, the prayer Jesus teaches His disciples places the emphasis on "the community of the saints", and this is entirely in agreement with the fact that the redeemed are restored to communion with God as the church, the true covenant community, the people redeemed by the Messiah. What is specifically new in Jesus' preaching of the Father/children relationship between God and His covenant people is to be found in the redemptivehistorical situation that has come into being with Christ's presence: we have now entered the dispensation of the fulfillment and realization of what during the Old Testament dispensation was more provisional and promissory (cp. Hos. 1:10). To be sure, the Father/children relationship between God and His covenant people was a present and authentic relationship, being proclaimed by God (cp. Ex. 4:22; Deut. 14:1), but yet there was a latent quality about it--as seen by the fact that only the high priest could draw near to God on behalf of the people (Heb. 9:7-8). The true realization of the relationship had to await the coming of the Messiah and His accomplishment of the work of redemption, whereupon His people, in their union with Him, would gain access to the Father (Eph. 2:18) and address Him in the very words of the Son, "Abba, Father" (Mk. 14:36/Rom. 8:15). But even in this present New Testament dispensation of 91 Ridderbos, p. 235. 92 Note, again, Rom. 8:15-16, as well as Gal. 4:6 and Jn. 1:12.

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fulfillment the Father/children relationship between God and His covenant people has not yet achieved its full eschatological realization (cp. 1 Jn. 3:2). This yet to be realized manifestation of sonship to the heavenly Father is expressed in the beatitude that assures believers in their capacity as "the peacemakers" that they "shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9). "Being called sons of God" indicates public recognition, a public revelation and affirmation of their identity that shall occur on the Last Day.93 This yet to be realized dimension of sonship is especially expressed in Lk. 20:36, where, speaking of the Day of Resurrection and of those who attain "that world" (i.e.; the eschatological kingdom of heaven in its eternal manifestation), the redeemed are said to be "sons of God, being sons of the resurrection". What is being referred to here is the full glory of the Children of God (cp. Matt. 13:43), which, according to Matt. 13:40-41, is to be realized when the Son of Man appears "at the end of the world". But it is abundantly clear that the privilege of sonship to God is not merely something that exclusively pertains to the future. Even now Jesus identifies His disciples as children of the heavenly Father and He again and again calls God their Father (cp. Matt. 6:9, 14-15; etc.). "In sonship to God," writes Ridderbos, "the present and the future of salvation are one, they only differ modally [i.e.; they only differ as to the way in which the relationship manifests itself]."94 The basis and the origin of the covenant community's relationship of sonship to God are to be found in the person of Jesus Himself. However, from the outset it must be understood that the redeemed's relationship of sonship with God is not to be equated with Jesus' relationship of sonship to the Father. These two relationships are not identical or interchangeable. Jesus never speaks of "our Father", so as to identify Himself with His disciples; He maintains the unique distinction that exists between Himself as the divine and eternal Son of God and His disciples as the adopted and covenantal sons of the heavenly Father. This distinction is especially expressed in John 20:17, where Jesus instructs Mary to inform His disciples, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God". In His capacity as the Messiah, the eternal Son of God has brought the redeemed into the relationship of sonship with the heavenly Father. At the same time, and again, in His capacity as the Messiah, the Incarnate Son in His humanity indentifies Himself with the redeemed, but even here the essential distinction between Himself and His "brethren" remains, He speaks of "my God and your God", not "our God". 93 This is in keeping with the Westminster Shorter Catechism's summation of the benefits believers shall receive from Christ at the resurrection: At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity. 94 Ridderbos, p. 237.

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Jesus, as the Messiah, is the One by whom the redeemed's relationship of sonship to the heavenly Father is established. Jesus testifies, "No one knows the Son except the Father, neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal him" (Matt. 11:27). Knowledge of the Father depends upon the activity of the Son: it is He who reveals Him (cp. Jn. 1:18); indeed, this revelation of the Father is given in the person of the Son (cp. Jn. 14:9). Furthermore, the "knowledge" spoken of here is not only intellectual, it is foremost relational--the imparting of this knowledge creates a personal relationship--that is why Jesus defines "eternal life" as the "knowing" of the Father and the Son (Jn. 17:3). This revelation of the Father by the Son, this revelation that is intended for and that results in a personal relationship with the Father (i.e.; the Father/sonship relationship), is indissolubly connected with Jesus' messianic work of establishing reconciliation with God, based upon His work of atonement, which provides the remission of sins. Furthermore, this relationship of sonship to God is not only established by Jesus as the Son, it is also established in Jesus as the Messiah. As noted previously, the redeemed are chosen "in Christ [i.e.; the Messiah]" (Eph. 1:4), and have been foreordained "unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:5). In Jesus' preaching we find that God's fatherhood and His kingship are not two distinct and unrelated topics when it comes to Jesus' teaching about God and the kingdom. On the contrary, by the way Jesus speaks of it in the Gospels, God's fatherhood is entirely determined by His kingship, and vice versa. The very fact that the background for Jesus' preaching of the fatherhood of God is to be found in God's theocratic relationship with Israel indicates the intimate connection between the divine fatherhood and divine kingship: It is the LORD, the King of Israel (Isa. 33:22), who is also Israel's Father (Isa. 64:8); God's fatherhood over Israel coalesced with the fact that He was Israel's king.95 This connection between God's fatherhood and His kingship is again and again brought out in Jesus' preaching: Jesus teaches His disciples to pray to the Father that He would cause His name to be hallowed and cause His kingdom to come. In other words, the salvation of God's people is contingent upon God, their heavenly Father, bringing His kingdom, with Himself reigning in all of His sanctified fullness. Furthermore, Jesus assures His disciples that it is the Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Lk. 12:32), and He promises them that the righteous shall shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43). Instead of depreciating God's kingship as less essential, or less "evangelical", than His fatherhood, we must appreciate the fact that the latter (i. e.; God's 95 We may also take note of Isa. 43:15, where the LORD declares to Israel, "I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King." "Creator" and "Father" are not exactly synonymous, but both terms contain the idea of "source of being", "the progenitor of that which is brought into being".

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fatherhood) is entirely included in the dynamics of the former (i.e.; God's kingship). God's fatherhood is not a general, timeless ideal; it is the ultimate manifestation of fatherhood being exhibited by Him who is king in the exercise of His kingly reign. The Father expresses His fatherhood in His kingly acts, especially in the coming of His heavenly kingdom. "In a word, it is the fatherhood that is proclaimed to the people of the LORD as the long expected bliss and deliverance of the kingdom."96 That is to say, the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven is essentially the heavenly Father exercising His benevolent and righteous rule over His people. The fatherhood of God and the kingship of God do not express two timeless truths about God, the former, His condescending nearness, and the latter, His transcendent majesty; on the contrary, the two are indissolubly united in the person and work of God. Once again, this is especially evident in the way Jesus' disciples are to address God and the first petition they are to request of Him (Matt. 6:9-10). God is "our Father who is in heaven". These words, "who is in heaven", denote the sublimity and the transcendence of God's fatherhood, which excludes any thought of irreverent familiarity. All emphasis is laid on heaven, the transcendent realm, as the Father's dwelling place, the place where the Father's kingly will is carried out in perfection and with absolute, loving devotion. But at the same time, the disciples are taught to confidently address this One who reigns in heaven as "Our Father". They are instructed to do so because heaven is not only the place of the divine transcendence, it is also the place from which originates the Father's work of redemption, the place from which He sends His Son in His capacity as the Messiah--and with the coming of the Messiah, and the accomplishment of His work of atonement, the kingdom of heaven, (at least in its preliminary form), is brought into this present world. Even now, waiting the day of final consummation, heaven is the place where the "treasures" of the redeemed are being stored up and guarded (Matt. 6: 20), and it is there that the names of God's children have been "registered" (Lk. 10:20). All this shows that God's fatherhood is determined by His kingship and filled with the power of His kingship. On the other hand, it is equally true that God's kingship is determined by His fatherhood with respect to His people. With regard to the future, in the midst of all the apocalyptic events preceding the final manifestation of the kingdom, God looks upon His people and views them as His children whom He comforts with the assurance that it His good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Lk. 12:32; Matt. 10:28-31). In the present, too, they may be assured of their heavenly Father's loving care and faithful provisions. Jesus depicts God's fatherhood in terms of human fatherhood, doing so in such a way as to express the heavenly Father's concern for His children (cp. Matt. 7:9-11; Lk. 11:11-13; 15:11-32). The Father knows the needs of His children and will certainly meet 96 Ridderbos, p. 239.

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those needs, for He who takes care of the flowers and the birds will surely take care of His children, for they are of much more value to Him than the creatures of His creation (Matt. 6:25-34). It is to God's fatherly care for His children in Christ that we now turn our attention. THE HEAVENLY FATHER'S CARE FOR HIS CHILDREN Within Jesus' teaching about God's fatherhood are utterances that relate this divine fatherhood to God's care for the temporal life of His children. Here we are thinking of the "be not anxious" passages found in Matt. (6:25-34; 10:2831) and Luke (12:6-7; 12:22-34). We may also mention the petition in the Lord's Prayer pertaining to asking the heavenly Father for "our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11). The question is, In what way is this teaching related to the kingdom of heaven? or, How does this teaching about providence fit into Jesus' preaching of the coming of the eschatological kingdom, which is the central theme of His preaching? To begin with, when Jesus speaks about providence, we must not assume that He has in mind the rational view of nature that was expressed by the ancient Stoics, or the doctrine of a benevolent providence that was a prominent feature of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. That view of divine providence considered the world to be a cosmos in which every being had its divinely appointed place and was taken care of daily and bountifully. It was derived from an observation of the world through the lens of rationalistic optimism. It held that the order of the cosmos has been fashioned in a harmonious and logical way by a deistic "God", and everywhere can be observed his providential provisions for his creatures and all created things.97 Such a view, which may be classified as "a naпve optimistic faith in providence", pays little or no attention to the problem of suffering or the question of theodicy (i.e.; How can a just and loving God permit suffering in the world?). The ground on which Jesus bases His exhortation to His disciples, "be not anxious", is not some general faith in providence, derived from an optimistic view of nature; rather, His exhortation is founded in the gospel of the kingdom. This becomes evident, as we shall see, from a closer study of Matt. 6:19-34. Now it is true that in Jesus' preaching there are to be found pronouncements that testify to God's goodness and providential care administered to all men indiscriminately. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminds His disciples that their heavenly Father "makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:43-48). It is evident that Jesus is here indicating God's gracious and merciful disposition toward all men. But it should be noted that, although Jesus hold up God's kind and merciful disposition toward all men as an example for His disciples to emulate, Jesus 97 Ridderbos, pp. 260-261.

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does not speak in this passage of a universal fatherly love--He speaks of "your Father" (vs. 45) and "your heavenly Father" (vs. 48). It is expressly the disciples' "heavenly Father" who displays His divine kindness to the world of men at large. But this kindness shown to mankind is only one aspect of the matter. In the events of nature Jesus also discerns the evidence of God's divine judgment upon sinful mankind. In Luke 13:1-5 the relationship between guilt and human destiny and the meaning of suffering are very explicitly discussed by the Lord Jesus. Questions concerning such matters had been implicitly submitted to Him by those persons who reported to Him Pilate's massacre of the Galileans. In responding to their report, Jesus goes beyond the secondary causes, (be they from the hand of man or the phenomena of nature), back to the primary cause, (i.e.; the divine cause), when He looks beyond Pilate's atrocity to also bring into the discussion the "accident" at the tower of Siloam. In each of these tragic events, whether it be an act of man or a natural disaster, Jesus perceives evidence of the divine judgment, as is clear from His repeated exhortation, "unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish". Such a passage as Luke 13:1-5 makes it clear that we should not too hastily speak of an exclusively benevolent view of providence in those passages in which Jesus discerns God's generous and gracious hand in the natural order (cp. Matt. 5:43-45). Yet, there is no denying that Jesus does discern in the natural realm evidence of God's universal care for and mercy upon all men. Likewise, in those cases where Jesus speaks of God's fatherly care for His children, He derives His arguments from nature: by observing the flowers of the field and the birds of the air the disciples should be confident that "your heavenly Father" will all the more care for them. But all this does not mean that Jesus considered nature to be an independent and self-evident source of revelation. In Jesus' teaching of divine providence, God's fatherly care for His children in His capacity as their heavenly Father is not based upon the witness of nature. His teaching is based upon the special covenantal relationship God has established with His people as revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures. From that biblical viewpoint, the evidences found in nature can be rightly interpreted and be offered to the disciples as tokens of the assurance of their heavenly Father's concern for their everyday needs. The heathen, too, may observe the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, but they do not discern in such things God's fatherly (providential) care for them. That is why with unceasing anxiety they are always seeking "these things" (i.e.; the necessities of life). Indeed, in the face of God's kindness and mercy to mankind in general, the heathen do not even exhibit an attitude of thankfulness (Rom. 1:21). We must be clear that Jesus' teaching on the subject of divine providence is not derived from a reading of "the book of nature" as an isolated entity in and

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of itself;98 on the contrary, we might say that Jesus interprets "the book of nature" in the light of Old Testament Scriptural (and covenantal) revelation. As Ridderbos expresses it, "Only where the God of the revelation of salvation is known [in a covenantal relationship with His people in which He reveals Himself to be our heavenly Father who has received us as His children by virtue of the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah] can the `arguments' derived from nature be conclusive."99 This is not all, however. These "do not be anxious" passages not only represent the view of providence demanded by the Old Testament Scriptures in which the LORD reveals Himself to be the covenant-keeping God and the King over creation (cp. Psl. 24:1-2; 29:10). The significance of these passages in which Jesus assures His disciples of the heavenly Father's care for the temporal needs of His children in Christ is not secondary or merely incidental in the scope of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom, rather, they adhere to that preaching at its very heart. But what exactly is the relationship between the announcement of the coming of the eschatological kingdom and the temporal life of this present world, which is the subject of Jesus' teaching on the heavenly Father's providential care? Indeed, there is an integral relationship between the two. This integral relationship can already be inferred from the way in which the exhortation, "do not be anxious", is introduced in both Matthew 6 and Luke 12. In Matthew 6, the sayings about "do not be anxious" (vs. 25-34) are preceded by those about where one should lay up his treasure, namely, in heaven, not on earth (vs. 19-21); the need for one's eye to be "single", i.e.; the necessity of being singularly focused on the kingdom of heaven (vs. 22-23); and the impossibility of serving two masters (vs. 24). Thus, the whole context in which the "do not be anxious" passages are found is one in which the Lord Jesus is exhorting His disciples to give first priority to the kingdom of heaven--the kingdom must be sought with the utmost energy and with an undivided heart. Having just made that point with great emphasis, Jesus then goes on to conclude, "Therefore, I say to you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink ..." (vs. 25). This exhortation, beginning with verse twenty-five and continuing to the end of the chapter, is not a word of consolation to the disciples who are concerned about meeting their earthly needs; rather, it is a protest and warning against any form of earthly mindedness (as was, for example, exhibited by those in the parable of the seeds, cp. Mk. 4:18-19; note, too, Phil. 3:18-19). This warning finds its urgency in the fact that the kingdom has come, the time of fulfillment has begun. The same "therefore" is also found in Luke 12:22. It is true that there the context that gives rise to the "therefore" is different, namely, the parable of the rich 98 In the eighteenth century Enlightenment's view of a rational order of things ordained by nature's benevolent God one can detected the remnants of the Christian faith that had been the heritage of the Western world throughout the previous centuries. 99 Ridderbos, p. 264.

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fool (vs. 12-21). But the issue is the same: the importance of being rich towards God instead of laying up treasure for one's self upon the earth; once again, it is the importance of seeking first the heavenly kingdom. Thus, in both the passage of Matthew 6 and Luke 12 the great question is, What should be our priority? Should it be our present earthly life, or should it be the kingdom of God? Jesus makes it emphatically clear that it should, indeed, it must, be the latter. It is from this perspective, the question of what is of greatest priority, that the passage of Matthew 6 with its "do not be anxious" sayings must be understood. The overarching theme of the passage is addressing and answering the question, In light of this present dispensation of fulfillment, with the coming of the kingdom, what should be the disciples' number one priority? The answer Jesus gives is very clear: It must be the kingdom of heaven (vs. 33). The passage does not say that we need not and must not take any thought at all with regard to our temporal bodily needs, it is, rather, a matter of priority: it is legitimate for us to care for our bodily needs, but it is of far more importance that we make the kingdom of heaven our first priority. This becomes evident from the question Jesus asks at the end of verse 25, "Is not the life more than the food, and the body [more than] the clothing?" The exhortation, "do not be anxious", is motivated by the fact that a man's life cannot be equated with or defined by mere temporal existence, it is far greater than that, a man's life has spiritual and eternal significance. The thought expressed by the rhetorical question, "Is not the life more than the food ...", is more fully developed in such passages as Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36, where we read, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" The loss under consideration here is eternal loss, the loss of body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). Jesus is confronting us with the fact that a man's "life"100 has eternal significance surpassing everything that is temporal and has to do with this present earthly existence; and, because man has been created a unity of body and soul, this all-surpassing significance of a man's life includes his body as well as his soul (note, again, Matt. 10:28; note, also, Jn. 11:24). The eternal significance, and existence, of a man's life, consisting of soul and body, is the explanation as to why life is more than food and clothing. Food and clothing cannot provide for the salvation of a man's life, such things cannot even sustain him indefinitely in his temporal earthly existence and cannot spare him from an encounter with Him who is the Judge of all the earth (cp. Lk. 12:20). Therefore, because of the infinite value of his life, and the fact that it is destined for an eternal existence that continues beyond this temporal existence into that of ultimate eschatological fulfillment (i.e.; heaven or hell), the kingdom of heaven should be man's first priority (Matt. 6:33).
100 The Greek word, yuch, as it is used in these passages has the broader meaning of "life", as opposed to the more narrow meaning of "soul".

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Understood in this context, Jesus' teaching on providence, (the fact that His disciples can depend upon their heavenly Father to meet their earthly needs), does not fall outside of or occur independent of the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. The true significance of the "do not be anxious" sayings must be understood within the context of the preaching of the kingdom. It is precisely on account of what Jesus has taught about the kingdom, (namely, that the King is at the same time their heavenly Father who lovingly cares for His children), that the disciples may be confident that their temporal needs will be met, and, consequently, be all the more free to focus on that which must be their number one priority: the kingdom of heaven. All this, however, pertains only to the disciples, the children of the heavenly Father. This is why to the exhortation to seek first the kingdom (vs. 33a) is attached the assurance, "all these things [i.e.; the necessities of life] shall be added to you" (vs. 33b). The fact that their temporal necessities are being "added" to the disciples indicates that these temporal blessings are an added gift, given in addition to the primary gift, that being nothing other than the kingdom of heaven (Lk. 10:20). Hence, the heavenly Father's providential care for His children is a secondary gift, subordinate to the primary gift of the kingdom. But these two gifts are related. The same God who brings about the consummation of His eschatological kingdom is also the God who exercises His providential rule over His present creation, making His redeemed children the special objects of that providential care. Since God the Consummator and God the Preserver are one and the same, and since He has already given to His children the greater gift, that of the kingdom, they can be confident that He shall also prove faithful with regard to dispensing this secondary gift of providential care. Here we may take note of the words of the Apostle Paul when he writes in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" The relationship between God's kingdom and His providence also finds expression in the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer, where the Lord Jesus teaches His disciples to ask the heavenly Father, "Give us this day our daily bread". The first three petitions of the prayer focus on the great eschatological future and request of the Father its fulfillment. The next three petitions concern the present provisional situation of life. However, the petition requesting the remission of sins and the one requesting deliverance from the evil one are directly related to the kingdom. This also holds true, although less obviously, with regard to the fourth petition. With regard to the meeting of their temporal needs the disciples are instructed to petition their heavenly Father for their "daily bread". The petition is fashioned in such a way as to insure the disciples' dependence upon the heavenly Father; they are to look to

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Him to meet their needs.101 Furthermore, the petition is designed to caution the disciples against the possibility of making an investment in this present world their top priority: they are to request only their "daily bread", that which will sustain their life in this present world. We should compare this petition with that made by the wise man in the Book of Proverbs: "give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?' Or, I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God" (Prov. 30:8b-9). Thus, the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread", assists the disciples in keeping their priorities straight (cp. Matt. 6:33a),102 and at the same time guards them from sin, which would bring dishonor to the name of God, rather than causing His name to be hallowed. From the Lord's Prayer we learn that for the disciple prayer is all embracing, it encompasses all that is eternal as well as that which is temporal. But always, even with respect to the needs of this present temporal life, the disciple's prayer is dominated and supported by the gospel of the kingdom. God's providential care over His creation, (especially as it concerns His children), and His eschatological kingdom are not two distinct and unrelated things. The disciples appeal to God's providence, and rely upon that providence, precisely because they have become His children, and thus have a place in His heavenly kingdom. Conversely, their participation in the kingdom is the assurance that they will not be disappointed by God when they ask for their temporal needs to be supplied. DOING THE HEAVENLY FATHER'S WILL The proclamation of God's fatherhood is indissolubly bound up with the duty of doing the Father's will. The Sermon on the Mount is the great example of this. Starting from Matt. 5:15-16, the entire remainder of the Sermon is one impressive exhortation to do good works (5:16), to practice righteousness (5:20), to bear fruit (7:16-20), to do the Father's will (7:21), and to hear and do Jesus' words (7:24-27). We are confronted here with the positive aspect of repentance (i.e.; not merely the turning away from what is evil, but the doing of that which is good) that was also preached by John the Baptist when he exhorted his hearers to "bring forth fruit worthy of repentance" (Matt. 3:8). This focus on the doing of the Father' will, the need to produce the positive aspect of repentance, is not confined to the Sermon on the Mount. It occurs again and again in Jesus' preaching in all sorts of ways: there is the commandment of radical commitment and self-sacrifice (Matt. 10:37-39; Lk. 101 Compare this with the Israelites' experience in the wilderness on their way to the securing of their inheritance in the Promised Land of Canaan; the LORD caused them to depend upon Him to meet their daily needs, and to do so day by day (cp. Ex. 16:1-36, esp. vs. 21). 102 Note, also, the warning given to Old Testament Israel with regard to the spiritually devastating effects inherent in wealth, Deut. 8:11-20.

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14:26-27); the necessity of taking upon ourselves Jesus' yoke (Matt. 11:29); the need for self-denial (Matt. 16:24-27); the importance of practicing the first and greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37-38), as well as the second great commandment (Matt. 22:39). In a word, those who are Christ's disciples are being called upon to emulate their Lord, the One who is totally committed to doing the Father's will (Matt. 26:39). We must now seek to ascertain the position these exhortations to obedience occupy within the whole scope of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. In other words, we are concerned here to determine the relationship between the "indicatives" in Jesus' preaching (i.e.; His proclamation of the remission of sins and the fatherhood of God) and the "imperatives" that call His disciples to obedience. In examining this extremely important subject, we are confronted with a variety of interpretations. According to some, Jesus' entire preaching of the kingdom is essentially ethical and the salvation He preached is little more than a call for ethical renewal. The deeper righteousness, announced in such places as Matt. 5:20, is seen as being the heart of Jesus' preaching. This view was perhaps most concisely stated in the words of the liberal theologian and church historian, Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930): "The whole gospel may be represented as an ethical message without depriving it of its value."103 This view conceives of the kingdom as being a strictly this-worldly phenomenon (cp. Lk. 17:21),104 confined to this present age--it advances throughout the world and eventually will "conquer" the world as men are won over to Jesus' ethical teaching and adopt the lifestyle He advocated. It was especially propounded in the so-called Social Gospel (which was promoted by men like von Harnack) prevalent in the early part of the twentieth-century. But this view fails to do justice to the eschatological aspects that are an integral part of Jesus' preaching of the coming of the kingdom, such as the regeneration of all things (Matt. 19:28), the supra-mundane transformation of all things (Matt. 22:23-33), and the cataclysmic Final Judgment (Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46). Nor does it seriously take into account Jesus' depiction of man as being incorrigibly corrupt and evil at the very core of his being (Matt. 7:11; 15:19-20). According to others, Jesus' promise of salvation should be sharply distinguished from His commandments, with the commandments occupying the position of first priority. In other words, the fulfillment of the promises is contingent upon the fulfillment of the commandments. This view sees the fulfillment of the commandments as being the prerequisite for entry into the kingdom, which is conceived of exclusively in its future, eschatological sense. According to those who hold to this view, Jesus' preaching and teaching is operating within the 103 Ridderbos, p. 242. 104 In Luke 17:21 Jesus declares, "The kingdom of God is within [entoV] you." The Greek term, entoV, may be translated either, "within", or "among, in the midst of".

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Jewish scheme of redemption with its "do this and you shall live" doctrine of salvation. There is no denying that those who propose that Jesus' commandments are propounding the conditions for entering into the coming kingdom can appeal to numerous data in the Gospel record in support of their view. To begin with, they point to the fact that Jesus initiates His public ministry with a call to repentance in light of the approaching kingdom (Mk. 1:14-15). They may especially appeal to passages in the Sermon on the Mount (cp. Matt. 5:20; 7:21), which has even been characterized by them as expounding "the conditions of admission".105 It must be admitted that in the Sermon on the Mount the concept of conditionality occupies a very important place: "Unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). Again, in the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount, entry into the kingdom is made dependent upon the doing of Jesus' words (7:24-27). This concept of conditionality is not only to be confined to the Sermon on the Mount; we encounter it again, for example, at Matt. 18:3, "Unless you turn and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven". Some would maintain that it is also to be found in the dialogue between Jesus and the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-26; Mk. 10:17-30; Lk. 18:18-30). When the young man inquires as to what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responds by pointing him to the commandments: "if you would enter into life, keep the commandments" (vs. 17), and by assuring him that he will have treasure in heaven if he sells all his earthly possessions, gives the proceeds to the poor, and becomes Jesus' disciple (vs. 21). One may offer the pronouncements Jesus makes to this man as further evidence of the element of conditionality found within Jesus' preaching: He confronts the man with certain conditions that must be met if he is to enter into life.106 The entry into the kingdom being dependent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions is nowhere more impressively stated than in the description of the judgment of the nations to be conducted by the Son of Man at His coming in glory (Matt. 25:31-46). The criterion upon which the King bases His separation of the sheep and the goats is the manner in which they have treated even the very least of His brethren. The almost literal repetition 105 Riddebos, p. 243. 106 We would interpret the dialogue between Jesus and the rich young ruler differently. It appears that in this case Jesus is pointing this self-confident, self-righteous young man to the requirements of the law in order to impress upon him the impossibility of saving himself by means of the law. This is why Jesus issues the radical command recorded in verse 21: "Go; sell whatever you have and give [the proceeds] to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." This radical command is confronting the young man (and us) with the radical demand of God; God demands our heart: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5). By issuing this radical command to the young man Jesus is simply applying the law of God to this man's life--in his case, his riches had become an idol that was occupying the position of pre-eminence reserved for the LORD alone, causing him to transgress the first commandment: "I am the LORD your God ... 3You shall have no other gods beside me" (Ex. 20:2-3).

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(in the negative form) of the words, "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat ...", is intended to impress upon the mind the criterion that will be allimportant on the day of judgment, namely, the keeping of the commandments (cp. Matt. 7:21-23), here in particular expressed in deeds of mercy. There can be little doubt that Jesus considers the doing of the heavenly Father's will to be the condition for entry and life in the kingdom of heaven. But in what sense is this the case? Jesus certainly does not mean it in the same way as the scribes in their doctrine of meritorious conduct on the part of man as the condition for entrance into the coming kingdom. As noted in the previous lesson,107 Jesus totally repudiates the Jewish scheme of redemption, doing so especially by His total renunciation of man's inherent ability to meet the requirements of the law, and this He does by exposing the total corruption of the human heart. Thus, the same criticism that can be made of the first view we considered also applies to this second view. We now turn to a third view of the significance and the place of the commandments in the overall scope of Jesus' preaching. This view maintains that Jesus did not mean to suggest that the conditions for admittance into the kingdom, as outlined in the commandments, could actually be fulfilled by His disciples. His intention is to lead His disciples to the realization that they were unable to meet those conditions, and therefore, to gain entrance into the kingdom via the way of faith in Himself as the Messiah. Those who advocate this view also give priority to the imperatives in Jesus' preaching, as was true of the view considered immediately preceding this one. However, the present view denies that the imperatives that set before man the condition of obedience have any other meaning than that of convincing man of his moral powerlessness and urging him to seek a righteousness other than his own, namely, that of the Messiah, who Himself is the Righteous One (Acts 3:14). Those who hold to this view, which is especially prevalent among conservative Lutheran theologians, point to such passages as Matt. 5:20 and Matt. 5:48 ("Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect") as evidence of the impossibility for sinful man to meet the demands set forth by the Lord Jesus. To be sure, this view is in much greater agreement with the gospel than are the other views previously considered. This is so especially in so much as it takes seriously Jesus' profound view of sin: it is far from basing Jesus' moral demand on a perfectionist conception of man and it lays great emphasis on the remission of sins as the most indispensable and central element of Jesus' preaching of the gospel. But the question is not whether the imperatives of obedience found in Jesus' preaching have the affect of confronting man with his sinfulness and causing him to cry out for mercy, as does the publican (Lk. 18:13). The real question is whether it is only this negative significance that is present and that is intended in these demands for obedience, do they not also 107 See in LESSON FOUR the section entitled, The Remission of Sins, pp. 76-83.

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contain a positive significance, and is not this obedience, indeed, a condition for entrance into and life in the kingdom? Ridderbos is of the opinion that this positive element is, in fact, contained within Jesus' demand for obedience. According to Ridderbos, the most decisive argument in support of his contention is the fact that Jesus not only presents the doing of God's will as a condition for entry into the kingdom, but also presents such obedience as a gift belonging to the salvation He proclaims. The fact that obedience to the heavenly Father's will is a gift belonging to salvation and is a part of that salvation is implied in the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer. The third petition explicitly mentions the doing of God's will as a thing the disciples are to request of their heavenly Father--we might even say that it is the ultimate "good gift" that the children can expect from the hand of the Father (cp. Matt. 7:11). This petition should not be seen as merely expressing resignation to the Father's will, but much more than that, it is the longing request that the obedience God requires of man may be done on earth even as it is presently being done in heaven. The same thing is found in the first and second petitions pertaining to the hallowing (or, sanctifying) of God's name and the coming of His kingdom. The emphasis is placed upon the work of God; the disciple is requesting the heavenly Father to act on behalf of His name and for the sake of His kingdom. Indeed, the latter petition concerning the coming of God's kingdom, may even be seen as being the result of the accomplishment of the former petition: when the heavenly King asserts Himself and causes His name to be sanctified (when His holiness is revealed and all that is unholy is consumed before that divine holiness), the result can be nothing other than the presence of His kingdom in all of its final eschatological manifestation. The petition concerning the heavenly Father's causing His name to be sanctified, together with the two related petitions, are closely related to the promises He makes to His covenant people in the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Ezekiel. There we learn that the LORD's sanctifying of His name on the one hand consists in the carrying out of His righteous judgment against all who oppose His will, resulting in the removal of all unrighteousness (Ezek. 28:22; 38:16; cp. Isa. 5:16); on the other hand, this sanctifying of His name consists in the realization of the redemptive promises made to His people (Ezek. 28:25-26). These two elements combined amount to nothing other than the eschatological manifestation of the kingdom. Furthermore, the Old Testament Scriptures indicate that the sanctifying of God's name involves His being sanctified in His people: "... the nations shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall be sanctified in you [i.e.; His covenant people] before their eyes" (Ezek. 36:23b; cp. Matt. 13:43). All these things are to be requested of the heavenly Father by His children as gracious gifts from His hand. Furthermore, it is precisely because they have become children of the heavenly Father by the remission of their sins and through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:5; cp. Titus 3:5) that the disciples are motivated to make such requests of the heavenly Father--having hearts that have been renewed so that they are

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now in conformity with that of the one and only Son (Jn. 5:19; cp. Rom. 7:22/Rom. 8:7-8). This latter truth comes to the fore in that portion of the Sermon on the Mount immediately following the Beatitudes. The fact that the disciples have become "a new creation" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) is the foundation for all the imperatives to obedience that begin at Matt. 5:15-ff. In Matt. 5:13-14 we find the indicative of salvation--the pronouncement of salvation as it consists in bestowing upon the disciples a new identity: "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (cp. Jn. 8:12; 12:36). The disciples, by virtue of their faith in Jesus the Messiah, now share in the life of the kingdom, even though it is yet to be realized in all of its eschatological fullness (cp. 1 Jn. 3:23). This is their present status and new identity in distinction to the "men" (i.e.; unregenerate mankind) before whom they are to live out the life of the kingdom. For now, it is their calling to have a preserving influence as "salt" ("preserving" this present world from the Final Judgment in order that the gospel may go forth into all the world) and a convicting/enlightening significance as "light" (by their lives convicting men of sin and pointing them to the Savior). These indicatives (i.e.; the pronouncements that they are a new creation) of Matt. 5:13-14 are connected with all the imperatives (i.e.; the demands for obedience) that follow: those who are salt and light are now called upon to carry out the functions of salt and light, doing the "good works" that will "glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16b). Note, it is precisely because they are children of the heavenly Father that the disciples are called to do "good works", they are not being called upon to produce such works in order to qualify for adoption as His children. Here is yet a further reason why the view that sees the commandments of the Sermon on the Mount as the "conditions for entry" into the kingdom is illegitimate. In the words of Ridderbos, "Exactly because of the dominant position of Matt. 5:13-16 in the Sermon on the Mount, the good works Jesus demands from his disciples must in the first place be viewed as the result and as the manifestation [emphasis added] of the salvation of the kingdom in which they participate in Christ."108 When considered as a whole, the Sermon on the Mount begins with the affirmation of new life, (resulting from faith in Jesus the Messiah), and then goes on to call for a persevering doing of righteousness, which flows from that new life. This combination is precisely what is described in the Gospel of John as a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. According to John 1:12-13, the initial act of "receiving"109 Christ, followed by the continuous act of "believing"110 in Him (i.e.; being committed to Him), is what constitutes a genuine work of the Holy Spirit whereby one can truly be said to be a "child of God". Also, as Jesus 108 Ridderbos, p. 248. 109 Here the aorist tense of the verb, lambanw ("to receive"), is used. 110 Here the present active participle of the verb, pisteuw ("to believe"), is used.

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makes clear in such a passage as John 15:1-5, the disciples are dependent upon Him (as He works by the Holy Spirit) for the grace to live out the life of righteousness that is characteristic of the children of the heavenly Father and His heavenly kingdom. We turn now to those passages that speak about the receiving and the giving of forgiveness, the receiving of forgiveness and the demonstration of mercy and the expressing of love. We look first at the account of the penitent woman and the parable of the two debtors (Lk. 7:36-50). The point Jesus is making here is that the people who have true love are those who have first experienced forgiveness. When Jesus says of the penitent woman, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for [oti] she loved much" (vs. 47a), He does not mean that her great expression of love is the ground of forgiveness; but, rather, that such an expression of love is the proof that she has been forgiven. In other words, her expression of love demonstrates her experience of forgiveness and originates from it. This interpretation is supported by the latter part of verse 47, "to whom little is forgiven, [that one] loves little" (note, also, vs. 41-43). The same sequence of the reception of forgiveness leading to the expression of love and mercy and the extension of forgiveness is clearly seen in the parable of the debtor and his creditor (Matt. 18:23-35). The exhortation Jesus gives in the closing verse (vs. 35) helps to properly interpret the passage on forgiveness found at the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:14-15). As in the case of the unforgiving debtor (Matt. 18:28-30), the one who refuses to extend forgiveness will find that the forgiveness extended to him (Matt. 18:32-34) has been withdrawn. In the same way should we understand the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." The inclusion of the word "also" (as found in the Greek text, which reads, wV kai hmeiV), "as we also have forgiven our debtors", indicates that the Father's act of forgiveness has the priority, and the disciples' act of forgiveness is in emulation of the Father. Or, we might better state it, the disciples' act of forgiveness occurs in conjunction with that of the Father, it is not the ground that motivates the Father's act. As the parable of the debtor and his creditor indicates, forgiveness is an act of mercy (Matt. 18:32-33); mercy cannot be earned, but it can be withdrawn (Matt. 18:34). In this petition of the Lord's Prayer is contained the recognition that the Father's act of forgiveness demands a reciprocal act of forgiveness on the part of the disciples, and the disciples' humble acquiescence to that demand.111 Finally, we consider the exhortation to "perfection" found in Matt. 5:43-48. When Jesus commands His disciples, "Love your enemies ... 45so that you may 111 Commenting on this petition as it is found in Luke 11:4 ("Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone that is indebted to us"), N. Geldenhuys writes, "The [Greek] conjunction gar ("for") indicates here, not the ground upon which God grants forgiveness, but the condition with which we ourselves must comply if we are to enjoy the forgivenss of our sins by God." (Geldenhuys, Norval; Commentary on the Gospel of Luke; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co; Grand Rapids MI; Reprinted 1968.

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be sons of your Father who is in heaven", we should understand this to mean that the expression of love exhibited by the disciples manifests and authenticates their relationship of sonship to the Father, it shows that they share in His gracious nature (vs. 45b). This understanding of the passage is confirmed by the command Jesus issues in verse 48, "Therefore, be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect". In other words, because you are children of your heavenly Father, you are therefore obligated to emulate His character. The great imperative of the gospel (the demand for obedience), as well as the indicative (the announcement of salvation), must be attributed to God's redemptive work. As we have seen, even the ethical message (Matt. 5:15-16) occurs within the context of the proclamation of salvation: The command to fulfill the functions of salt and light originate from and are derived from the pronouncement that the disciples are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14). Ridderbos points out that the salvation of the LORD embraces not only the divine initiative but also the human response; or we may say, that salvation pertains not only to what God accomplishes for man, but also to what He accomplishes in man (cp. Eph. 2:8-10). These two aspects of the divine salvation compliment one another and do not nullify each other. The fact that no one will enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he does the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21) does not mean that the gift of the kingdom is not solely dependent upon God's work of sovereign grace (Lk. 12:32). Conversely, God's gracious gift of the kingdom does not render human responsibility irrelevant or unnecessary, nor does it overrule the element of conditionality (Matt. 5:20; Matt. 18:34-35). To quote Ridderbos, "Here we are confronted with a relationship that is not fathomable by human understanding, namely, the relationship between the all-embracing (including human action) divine work of salvation and human responsibility with respect to salvation. Jesus' preaching leaves both aspects of this relationship intact and does not formulate a reflective observation about it."112 Yet we must not view the two aspects of this relationship, the divine work of sovereign grace and human responsibility, as two equivalent entities that correspond to each other; God's work of sovereign grace is totally pre-eminent, it permeates the human aspect of responsibility, bringing the aspect of faith and commitment into being and bringing it to fruition. Indeed, for the carrying out of the imperatives of the divine will, Jesus points His disciples to the grace of God, not to themselves. This is the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.113 It is not the obligation of obedience that is new, although Jesus does expound upon the radical nature of that obedience (cp. Matt. 5:21-24; etc.), what is new is the fact that this is now the dispensation of the new covenant foretold in Jer. 31. A central feature of the new covenant is the fact that the LORD puts His law "in the inward parts" of His people and He writes 112 Ridderbos, p. 251. 113 This looking to themselves for the ability to fulfill the requirements of the covenant was also the mistake Old Testament Israel made at Mt. Sinai.

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that law "upon their hearts" (Jer. 31:33), thereby creating a new man, one whose heart is in conformity with that of the divine Son (cp. Heb. 10:7/Psl. 40:7-8; note, especially, Psl. 40:8).114 Everything is dependent upon and flows from the disciples' relationship to Christ; indeed, this is especially true with regard to the doing of the commandments--the fulfillment of the law is the fruit of the disciples' union with Christ. This vital, life-giving connection to Christ is brought out in such a passage as Matt. 7:23, where the Lord Jesus declares of those who finally proved themselves to be "workers of iniquity" and not disciples at all, "I never knew you". This declaration, "I never knew you", is all-important in our present discussion. It does not denote an intellectual recognition of the person; rather, it is speaking of a communion between Christ and those who are His disciples, a communion that makes possible their obedience. Apart from that spiritual union with Christ genuine obedience is impossible, for the man outside of Christ is still functioning with an unregenerate heart, which by its very nature cannot be subject to the law of God (cp. Rom. 8:7-8). As mentioned earlier in this lesson, this truth of the disciples' union with Christ and dependence upon Christ is most vividly presented in John 15:1-5, a passage in which Jesus describes Himself as "the true Vine" and His disciples as "the branches". There, too, the requirement of fruit bearing is strongly emphasized (vs. 2a), and it is immediately made clear that such requirement is met by the disciples' complete dependence upon Christ, drawing spiritual life from Him as a branch does from the vine (vs. 4-5). Note that the "purging" spoken of in vs. 2b indicates that disciples' fruit bearing is, as we might say, "a work in progress" (cp. 1 Jn. 3:2). Finally, in this same connection, we make mention of Matt. 11:28-30. When Jesus calls His hearers to "take my yoke upon you", He is not only calling upon them to submit to His lordship, which is nothing other than a call to obeying the commandments of God. He is also calling them to enter into His own obedience to the will of God. Jesus' "yoke" is not only something He places upon His disciples, it is something that He Himself wears. This becomes evident from His testimony that He is "meek and lowly in heart". Also, His call for His disciples to "learn from me" is not only a call to listen to His teaching, but also to be taught by Him as to how to fulfill that teaching, namely, by becoming "yoked together" with Him, i.e.; by entering into His fellowship. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. Which of the following statements are true with regard to Jesus' teaching concerning the fatherhood of God? 114 We must be clear that the "new covenant" of Jer. 31 is not different in kind from the "old covenant" ratified at Mt. Sinai, it is different in degree; whereas the Sinai Covenant was provisional, the new covenant contains the eschatological fulfillment of all that was promised (and made available to Old Testament Israel in a provisional way) in the old covenant.

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a. The use of the name "Father" in reference to God, as found in the gospel, is derived from the covenantal relationship between the LORD and His people Israel. b. The redeemed's relationship of sonship with God may be equated with Jesus' relationship of sonship to the Father; these two relationships are identical or interchangeable. c. Whenever Jesus speaks of "your Father in heaven" or "the children of the heavenly Father", He has in view the relationship between the Father and those who are His spiritual children in the Messiah. d. Jesus usage of the plural, "your (umwn) Father who is in heaven", excludes a personal relationship between the heavenly Father and each of His children in Christ e. Even in this present New Testament dispensation of fulfillment the Father/children relationship between God and His covenant people has not yet achieved its full eschatological realization. f. All of the above. 2. The fatherhood of God and the kingship of God express two timeless truths about God, the former, His condescending nearness, and the latter, His transcendent majesty. True or False 3. In the phenomena of nature, what does Jesus discern concerning God's relationship to His creation and to man in particular? a. Jesus discerns God's goodness and providential care administered to all men indiscriminately. b. Jesus discerns the evidence of God's divine judgment upon sinful mankind. c. Both of the above. 4. Match the various interpretations of the relationship between the "indicatives" in Jesus' preaching (i.e.; His proclamation of the remission of sins and the fatherhood of God) and the "imperatives" that call His disciples to obedience with those who held them. a. In Jesus' proclamation of salvation the commandments occupy the position of first priority; the fulfillment of the promises is contingent upon the fulfillment of the commandments. ___ b. Jesus did not mean to suggest that the conditions for admittance into the kingdom, as outlined in the commandments, could actually be fulfilled by His disciples; His intention is to lead His disciples to the realization that they can only gain entrance into the kingdom via the way of faith in Himself as the Messiah. ___ c. Jesus' entire preaching of the kingdom is essentially ethical and the salvation He preached is little more than a call for ethical renewal. ___

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1. Those who are evangelicals, especially the adherents of conservative Lutheran theology. 2. Those who advocate the so-called Social Gospel 3. Those who view Jesus as being in line with the Jewish doctrine of redemption current in His day. 5. What do we learn about forgiveness from Jesus' parable of the debtor and his creditor found in Matthew 18:23-35? a. Forgiveness is an act of mercy on the part of God. b. Forgiveness must be earned by extending forgiveness to others. c. Forgiveness can be withdrawn if we withhold forgiveness from others. d. All of the above. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Compare and contrast the concept of the fatherhood of God as it is found in non-Christian religions and in the preaching of Jesus. 2. Discuss the passage of Matthew 11:27 as it pertains to the believers' relationship of sonship to the heavenly Father. 3. Discuss the relationship between God's fatherhood and His kingship as these two concepts are found in Jesus' preaching. 4. Discuss what the lesson has to say about the "do not be anxious" passage of Matthew 6:25-34 in the overall context of Matthew 6:19-34. Seen in its entirety, what does the passage teach us about the relationship between God's providential care for His children and the eschatological kingdom of heaven? 5. According to the lesson, what does Matthew 5:13-16 teach us about the relationship between the call to obedience and the proclamation of salvation in Jesus' preaching of the gospel of the kingdom?

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LESSON SIX: LIFE IN THE KINGDOM (2) THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM We have seen the very important place the doing of the Father's will occupies in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. In the previous lesson we considered how the imperative (i.e.; the call for obedience) coalesces with the indicative (i.e.; the proclamation of salvation) in the preaching of the kingdom. We need now to consider more closely the content of these commandments, and more precisely what relationship they sustain to the kingdom of heaven. We may phrase our inquiry as follows: In what respect is the content of Jesus' commandments determined by the kingdom of heaven? To begin with, we see that Jesus summarizes the commandments He issues by using the general term and qualification, "righteousness". The overarching concept of "righteousness", of which the commandments are concrete instances and examples, is especially prominent in the Sermon on the Mount. Early on (Matt. 5:10), righteousness is said to be the cause of the persecution suffered at the hands of the world, but those who have undergone such suffering, an indication that they have exhibited such righteousness, are called "blessed" because "theirs is the kingdom of heaven". Their lives lived on earth demonstrate that they possess and exhibit the righteousness characteristic of the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom is theirs because they have shown themselves to be true citizens of the heavenly kingdom. The entire passage highlighting the antitheses between the teaching of the scribes and that of Jesus (Matt. 5:21-48) is nothing other than a description of the righteousness of the kingdom: it is the righteousness required for admittance into the kingdom (Matt. 5:20), and that for no other reason than the fact that such righteousness is the characteristic of life in the kingdom. Then, righteousness is the starting point for all of Jesus' teaching contained in the next section of the sermon (Matt. 6:1), with that chapter concluding with the exhortation, "seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). Here Jesus is teaching that, just as the men of this world zealously seek after that in which their bodily existence consists (food and clothing), so His disciples are to be zealous for that in which the life of the kingdom consists, namely, righteousness. Then, too, the first petition of the Lord's Prayer makes the request of our heavenly Father that His kingdom would come, which is synonymous with His will being done on earth in the same way that it is presently being done in the heavenly realms (Matt. 6:10). In all of this we see the intimate connection between "the kingdom of God" and "righteousness"; indeed, as Matt. 6:33 indicates, seeking God's kingdom and seeking His righteousness can be seen as being interchangeable. As Ridderbos expresses it, "It may rightly be said ... that

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kingdom and righteousness are synonymous concepts in Jesus' preaching. The one is unthinkable without the other."115 Before returning to a consideration of the commandments themselves, seeing that they are concrete expressions of this overarching concept of "righteousness", we must ask further, If the righteousness demanded by Jesus is the righteousness related to the kingdom, what exactly is that relationship? Is it a righteousness that determines the character of the kingdom, or does the kingdom itself determine the character and quality of this righteousness? First of all, any interpretation of Jesus' commandments, (remembering that they are concrete expressions of this overarching "righteousness"), that views them from a humanistic perspective and, therefore, imposes that perspective upon the righteousness of the kingdom, must be rejected. We are speaking here of the view that sees Jesus' commandments as originating from the socalled nobility of man: the keeping of these commandments tends to safeguard and promote human life, which, according to this view, is a worthy endeavor because of the inherent nobility of such life. Thus, viewed from this perspective, the commandments prohibiting murder and manslaughter are to be explained as expressions of Jesus' respect for human life; His commandments pertaining to adultery and marriage stem from the value He sees in womanhood. When understood in these terms, the commandments are imposing a humanistic interpretation upon the kingdom and the righteousness that characterizes the kingdom--from this perspective, when it comes right down to it, "the kingdom is concerned with the infinite value of the human soul [or, perhaps better stated, human life]."116 When this view is expanded to encompass society as a whole, the kingdom is seen to be the new and ideal form into which human society should be transformed; Jesus' commandments are intended to bring about the realization of this new society and serve as the principles by which that society shall be governed. But, to begin with, such views as these are in conflict with what the gospel teaches us about the kingdom of God: the kingdom is that which comes from above, it is a divine and eschatological phenomenon (cp. Matt. 19:28-29), and man must be regenerated if he is to enter into it (Matt. 18:3; cp. Jn. 3:5). Furthermore, such a view completely distorts the whole essence of Jesus' commandments. Getting back to Jesus' commandments prohibiting manslaughter and upholding the institution of marriage, Ridderbos maintains that such commandments cannot be explained simply as indications of Jesus' respect for human life and the value He places upon womanhood. Such an interpretation does not hold up when one views them in the light of some of the other of Jesus' commandments. If one would maintain that the above mentioned commandments testify to Jesus' appreciation for human life 115 Ridderbos, p. 286. 116 Ridderbos, p. 286.

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because of its intrinsic nobility, there are other commandments He issued that would lead to the opposite conclusion. Jesus not only forbids assaults upon human life (Matt. 5:21-22), He also commands His disciples to allow themselves to be robbed, to allow men to take advantage of them; in a word, to allow their human nobility to be disparaged without protest (Matt. 5:39-41). Jesus speaks of people to whom we should withhold the holy things of God because, in His words, such people are "dogs"; He further cautions His disciples against casting their pearls before "the swine" (Matt. 7:6). Jesus teaches that all that is of human value, including marriage and family (Lk. 18:29-30), and even one's very life (Matt. 16:24-25), must be subordinated to, and when necessary, relinquished for, the kingdom of heaven. When taken as a whole, we are made to see that Jesus' commandments are not determined by the intrinsic value and nobility of human life, as it is conceived of from the humanistic viewpoint. Quite the opposite; Jesus' commandments reflect the fact that all human values must be subordinated before the all-surpassing value of the transcendent kingdom of heaven. The "righteousness" Jesus requires of His disciples is not made to be the "righteousness of the kingdom" because He embraces the humanistic concept of man's inherent nobility and the value of human society, and He has, consequently, devised a catalogue of commandments, the "righteousness" of which, shall promote human life and advance human society. On the contrary, the "righteousness" Jesus demands, which He defines as "the righteousness of the kingdom", is a "righteousness" that demands the subordination of all that man naturally values before the allsurpassing value of the kingdom. Simply stated, the type of "righteousness" Jesus imposes upon His disciples is not a righteousness that supports the humanistic, man-centered, understanding of man and society; it is, rather, a righteousness that demands the sacrifice of such understanding and such values for the sake of the kingdom. In the words of Ridderbos, "It is the absolutely theocentric character of the kingdom that determines the content of Jesus' commandments."117 Especially as they are expressed by their radical demands, Jesus' commandments are intended to govern the whole of life from the theocentric perspective, just the opposite of man seeking to govern his life from the humanistic, man-centered (homocentric) perspective. When it comes right down to it, Jesus' individual commandments are examples and concrete expressions of the one great commandment, namely, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37-38; cp. Ex. 20:13). These commandments with their theocentric perspective form the righteousness of the kingdom for the simple reason that the kingdom is nothing other than the kingdom of God; it is not the kingdom of man. Indeed, when it finally appears in all of its eschatological fullness, it shall supplant the kingdom of the world (Rev. 11:15).
117 Ridderbos, p. 287.

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Likewise, it is with the kingdom and its theocentric perspective before us, that we are to interpret Jesus' commands to His disciples concerning the relinquishing of their personal property (Matt. 5:39-41; Lk. 12:33). Such commandments are not meant to be laying the foundation of a new social order. Jesus not only speaks from the context of a society in which such values as human rights and personal property were operative, but which He acknowledges to be legitimate, supported as they are by the Old Testament law codes. Now, however, at God's command, and for the sake of the kingdom, Jesus calls upon His disciples to be willing to yield such rights, not allowing them to hold the place of first priority. Jesus' intention is not to replace one type of social order with another; rather, His purpose is to impress upon His disciples the necessity of subordinating, and sacrificing when necessary, everything that pertains to this present social order in favor of the transcendent kingdom of heaven, which, by its very nature, is of infinitely greater value than all rights and benefits that below to this presently earthly realm. To this end, Jesus brings into sharp contrast personal rights with selfdenial (Matt. 5:39-41), the possession of property with the readiness to surrender it (Lk. 12:33). This is not to say that the possession of property is absolutely incompatible with possessing an interest in the kingdom of God. But it does mean that the kingdom of God is of far greater importance than all that pertains to this present earthly life, and "the righteousness of the kingdom" teaches the necessity of making the kingdom our first priority and subjecting everything else to it. We must be careful not to interpret Jesus' commandments concerning the relinquishing of our property, and the toleration of having our human rights abused, as being issued with the expectation of the imminent appearance of the final manifestation of the kingdom. Some scholars have sought to interpret Jesus' radical commandments about property (cp., again, Lk. 12:33) is this way. One of the original advocates of this view, Johannes Weiss (1863-1914), spoke of "exceptional legislation" and compared the situation in which Jesus saw Himself as living (i.e.; the days immediately preceding the final coming of the kingdom) to a state of war. In time of war, the course of normal everyday life is suspended--if only temporarily. During that extraordinary time what would usually be considered as "abnormal" becomes the new normal, and everything that is important and desirable in times of peace must be set aside in the interest of winning the war. But such an interpretation of Jesus' commandments cannot be sustained, for the simple reason that nowhere is the issuing of such commandments motivated by the belief that the end of this present world is about to occur in the immediate future. For example, one of the most radical commandments-- the commandment not to resist evil, but to accept being abused and wrongfully deprived of one's possessions (Matt. 5:39-42), the commandment to love one's enemies and pray for one's persecutors (vs. 44)--is not given due to the expectation that the end of this present world is imminent, and, consequently,

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the ultimate eradication of evil and just restitution is at hand. The motive driving this commandment is the necessity for the disciples to exhibit the same merciful character as their heavenly Father (vs. 45-48). Then, too, the commandment to sell one's personal property and give the proceeds to the poor (Lk. 12:33) is given in the context of Jesus' exhortation for His disciples not to be anxious, knowing that their heavenly Father will be faithful to meet all of their temporal needs (vs. 28-30). Jesus' commandment is not motivated by the expectation that this present world shall soon come to an end, but by the assurance that the heavenly Father will continue to sustain His children in this present world. The radicalness of the commandment is intended to show how radically the disciples can trust in their heavenly Father and depend upon Him to meet their needs. Ridderbos confesses that no doubt more than once, as incentive to the obedience of discipleship, Jesus points out the relative worthlessness of temporal things in comparison with the heavenly treasure or the woes of hell (cp. Matt. 6:19-21; 19:21; Matt. 5:29-30; Lk. 12:13-21). Moreover, it is undeniable that the expectation of the coming kingdom is a powerful stimulus to accept Jesus' yoke with its radical demands. Yet, Ridderbos goes on to explain, it would be a serious misconception of the profundity of Jesus' commandments if we tried to explain them merely by an appeal to the relative valuelessness of earthly life when compared with the kingdom of heaven. A text such as Matt. 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth ...", is a call for the disciples to have a preserving influence in this world, despite the fact that it is "passing away". But most significantly, the "eschatological perspective" as the ultimate motive and incentive for obedience fails to recognize that the righteousness Jesus requires by His radical commandments is not only a preparation for the coming of the kingdom, but is the character of the kingdom itself, even in its present preliminary manifestation. Later on the Apostle Paul will express this truth very succinctly when he writes, "the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy by the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). We must appreciate the fact that it is God's will that is being done by virtue of obedience to Jesus' commandments, it is to the doing of this divine will that Jesus calls His disciples (Matt. 7:21; 12:50) and to which He personally submits (Matt. 26:42). As we have seen, the character of the "righteousness" of the kingdom is not determined by any humanistic concept of the inherent nobility of man, nor is it formulated by the somber awareness of the transitoriness of this present world order. The character of that righteousness is determined by the will of God-- the will of God that has been communicated to man, especially made known to the covenant community. "That which is `righteousness', and may be taught as such, is always to be traced back to God's own words."118 This accounts for the remarkable fact that time and again Jesus speaks of "God's will" without any 118 Ridderbos, p. 290.

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further explanation. He speaks of "the commandments" or "God's commandments" as something that is known, or at least should be known, to the covenant community. So then, if we inquire as to what determines the character of the "righteousness" of the kingdom, the answer is: That "righteousness", being given concrete expression in Jesus' commandments, is determined by God's will as that will is revealed in His law. It must be emphatically stated that Jesus' ethical preaching is derived from no other source, nor determined by any other principle, than the Law given to the Old Testament covenant nation as the revealed will of God. When we go on to consider His commandments, we shall see that it is the Law, and only the fulfillment of the Law in its true meaning and purpose, that is the reason and explanation of Jesus' commandments. Therefore, we can speak of the theocentric character of Jesus' commandments--i.e.; the doing of God's will because it is God's holy will. We can also speak of the theonomic character of Jesus' commandments, in the sense that the will of God is most clearly revealed in the Law given to the Old Testament covenant nation of Israel. Finally, we may also speak of the eschatological character of Jesus' commandments, with His own life being the complete exposition of the Law and the life of the kingdom of heaven. Finally, we may also speak of the eschatological character of Jesus' commandments, with His own life being the complete exposition of the Law and the life of the kingdom of heaven. The connection between the "kingdom of God" and "the righteousness preached by Jesus" is not to be seen as the kingdom of God now consisting in a new ethical standard introduced by Jesus. On the contrary, with the coming of Jesus there has come the fulfillment of the promise concerning the coming of the kingdom (at least, for the present, in its preliminary manifestation), and at the same time this coming entails the fulfillment of the Law as the revealed will of God--bearing in mind that the coming of the kingdom and the doing of God's will are synonymous (Matt. 6:10, 33a). Thus, we not only hear Jesus testify that now has begun the fulfillment of the long expected salvation (Lk. 4:17-21), we also hear Him testify, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5:17). THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW With regard to Jesus' messianic ministry and the fulfillment of the Law, the passage quoted above (Matt. 5:17-20) is of paramount importance, and it is not simply one independent and isolated pronouncement. We may point out a whole series of passages in which we find the Law being fulfilled by Jesus in His role as the Messiah. Indeed, Jesus' own life had been subjected to the Law from His earliest youth: His parents see to it that the Law's demand of circumcision be fulfilled (Lk. 2:22-24). Throughout His earthly life and ministry we find the Lord Jesus behaving in accordance with the precepts of the Law: He attends Sabbath Day services in the local synagogue; He keeps the Jewish

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religious festivals; He refers the leper whom He has just cleansed to the priest (Matt. 8:4); He defends the sacred temple precincts from abuse (Mk. 11:15-17), etc. In connection with all this, we may also refer to the words He speaks to John at the time He presents Himself for baptism: "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). It is true that the word "Law" is not mentioned in this passage, but the phrase, "it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness", certainly has reference to the divine demands revealed in the Law and the Prophets. Thus, Jesus' statement made to John on the occasion of His submission to baptism, (which was an identification with sinners and an indication of Christ's willingness to accept death on their behalf, cp. 2 Cor. 5:21; Lk. 12:50), reveals that Jesus' work of atonement upon the cross of Calvary was a very vital part of His fulfilling the Law. Then, too, we find much data in the Gospel record in which Jesus binds His disciples, and those who would become His disciples, to the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus' own life and conduct places Himself in submission to the Law, and hence, by doing so He is fulfilling of the Law. Jesus' commandments likewise place His disciples in submission to the Law, and in the most radical way, so as to bring to expression a true fulfilling of the Law. A good example of this is His conversation with the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-30; Mk. 10:17-31; Lk. 1830). In response to the young man's anxious question, "Teacher, what good things shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus replies, "Keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17b). He then recites several of the Ten Commandments (cp. Ex. 20:3-17) along with the summary commandment to love one's neighbor (Lev. 19:18b). Jesus informs this man, as well as all His hearers, that what is required for entrance into the eternal life of the kingdom is the fulfillment of the Law. When the dialogue continues and Jesus instructs the young man to sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and become His disciple, He is not exhorting the man to go beyond what the Law requires. On the contrary, Jesus' radical instructions are actually a call for the fulfillment of the Law, revealing in a concrete way what the Law truly demands. Jesus is dealing with a young man who had made room for God in his life; note his initial response when Jesus directs his attention to (some of) the commandments. His immediate response is, "All these things I have observed from my youth" (Mk. 10:20). But that was precisely the problem: he made room in his life for God; but he had not given his heart to God. He allowed his riches to occupy the place reserved for God alone. God, not riches, must be the chief object of his (and our) love and trust; God, not riches, must be the chief object of his (and our) devotion. This is why Jesus issues the radical command: "Go; sell whatever you have and give [the proceeds] to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mk. 10:21). This radical command is confronting the young

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man (and us) with the radical demand of God; God demands our heart: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5). This radical command is simply applying the law of God to this man's life--in his case, his riches had become an idol that was occupying the position of pre-eminence reserved for the LORD alone, causing him to transgress the first commandment: "I am the LORD your God ... 3You shall have no other gods beside me" (Ex. 20:2-3). This radical command does not have limited application only to that young man. Not every disciple of Christ is obligated to literally sell all that he possesses. But every disciple is obligated to have the kind of heart that makes it possible for him, by the grace of God, to sell all that he possesses--the kind of heart described in Luke 14:33, "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple". To renounce (apotassomai) means to relinquish claim to, to give up the rights of possession. Every disciple is obligated to have a heart that is devoted to God, putting Him first, doing whatever He commands, and choosing Him above all others. Every disciple is obligated to have the kind of heart that causes him to hold his possessions in "the palm of an open hand", ready to yield them to the LORD if He sees fit to reclaim them; rather than tightly clutching those possessions in "a clenched fist", refusing to yield them up. So it is that Jesus' most radical commandments, which are actually concrete expressions of true love for God, and the corollary of love for one's neighbor, do not represent a new kind of righteousness, but only serve to reveal the true meaning of the Law and constitute a call for the fulfillment of the Law. We now turn to consider more carefully Jesus' pronouncement recorded in Matt. 5:17-20, to the effect that He, in His capacity as the Messiah, has come to "fulfill the Law and the Prophets". We begin by noting that this pronouncement occurs as an introduction to the great antithetical passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus contrasts the scribes' interpretation of the requirements of the Law with His own divine interpretation. The first thing to be observed is the fact that the "law" in question is without doubt the external, written Law given to Moses at Mt. Sinai to become the perpetual possession of the covenant nation, this becomes evident from verse 18 where Jesus refers to every "jot and title" of the Law (cp., also, Lk. 16:17). Furthermore, we cannot say that Jesus is supplementing the Old Testament Law, as some scholars would maintain. They wish to see Jesus as being the bearer of "the complementary and final will of God", in contrast to Moses who was the bearer of "the provisional divine will".119 But, as Ridderbos points out, such an interpretation of Jesus' pronouncement does not do justice to the word Jesus employs; He says that He has come to "fulfill" the Law. The Greek term (plhrow) literally means, "to make full", it suggests a vessel that is being filled to its full capacity. Jesus is not introducing a new "vessel", a new law; rather, 119 Ridderbos, p. 294.

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He has come in order to give to the one and only "vessel" of the Law its true and rightful measure. He has come to "fill it to the brim"; in other words, to reveal and to bring to fruition the full meaning of the Law, that which is the true demand of the Law. That demand is already indicated in the Old Testament Scriptures (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18b), Jesus alludes to those passages of Scripture (Matt. 22:37-40), and then proceeds, by means of His radical commandments, to give concrete examples as to how that "love" is to express itself in the lives of His disciples. We pause at this point in order to address several important questions. First, there is the question, when, with regard to His messianic ministry of fulfillment, He uses the phrase, "the Law or the Prophets", does Jesus have in mind here not only the demands of the covenant ("the Law"), but also the promises ("the Prophets")? The phrase, "the Law or the Prophets", does not by itself answer the question, since the phrase may at times refer to the promise (Lk. 24:44-47) and at other times to the revelation of the divine will, i.e.; the Law (Matt. 7:12). From the context in which this phrase occurs in Matt. 5, it appears that here Jesus is focusing on the divine demand revealed in the totality of the Old Testament revelation. Matt. 5:17, in which verse the phrase occurs, is expounding upon verse 16, where the subject is the doing of "good works". The whole section of the sermon that follows (Matt. 5:21-48), of which verses 17-20 serves as the introduction, deals with the divine demand. Thus, Jesus is using the phrase, "the Law or the Prophets", in Matt. 5:17 in the same sense as it occurs in Matt. 7:12. A second question is this: When He speaks about the "fulfillment" of the Law, is Jesus referring to His own messianic carrying out of the Law, or is He primarily referring to His teaching concerning the true and full meaning of the Law? John Calvin distinguishes between Jesus' "doctrine" and His "life", and is of the opinion that, although Christ, on account of His perfection of life, was entitled to say that He had come to fulfill the Law, nevertheless, in Matt. 5 He is referring to His "doctrine" of the Law, not His personal messianic compliance with the Law. Ridderbos agrees with Calvin, noting that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks with the authority of the Messiah who proclaims and expounds upon God's will (cp. Matt. 7:28-29).120 This is especially evident in the antithetical portion of the sermon (Matt. 5:21-48), where He combats and corrects the teaching of the scribes. Yet, one must be careful not to make too great a distinction between Jesus' teaching and His life, for just as Jesus opposes both the teaching and the life of the Jewish rabbis (cp. Matt. 5:19-20; 23:3), so also His own doctrine and manner of life are a unity--He puts into practice what He preaches. Thus, His life as the fulfillment of the Law becomes a doctrine of the Law for His disciples (Matt. 11:29). It must also be borne in mind that Jesus' call for the fulfillment of the Law in the life of His disciples is never merely a word of instruction, it is also a work of grace whereby the 120 Ridderbos, pp. 295-296.

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disciples are enabled to comply with the Law.121 All this, however, does not detract from the fact that the "fulfillment" spoken of in Matt. 5:17-ff. is primarily the prophetic-messianic exposition of the Law, revealing it true and full meaning. Next we must address the matter that some have asserted that Jesus' definitive exposition of the Law contains within it an implicit criticism of the Law. In conjunction with this view it is suggested that Jesus' positive pronouncement with respect to the Law (i.e.; His assertion that He has come to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it, Matt. 5:17-20) seems to be incompatible with His commandments (Matt. 5:21-48)--His commandments appear to go above and beyond the requirements of the Law. In refutation of this argument it must be understood that the antitheses Jesus makes on Matt. 5:21-48 are directed against the scribes' doctrine of the Law, not against the Law itself--whereas Jesus' commandments appear to go above and beyond the requirements of the Law, in reality the scribes' interpretation tended to diminish and restrict the true breath and depth of the Law. Key to a true appreciation of Jesus' teaching is a correct interpretation of the Greek term, toiV arcaioV, which occurs in Matt. 5:21 and 33. The term may be translated, "it was said to them of old time", or, "it was said by them of old time". The translation, "it was said to them of old time", would mean that the passage is speaking about what the Law taught; the translation, "it was said by them of old time", would mean that it is the scribes' interpretation of the Law, what they taught about the Law, that is the subject under discussion. The following points of information favor the latter translation, indicating that Jesus' is, indeed, counteracting the scribes' erroneous interpretation of the Law: · In Matt. 5:21, etc., Jesus does not speak of what has been written, but what has been said; this contrasts with Matt. 5:18 where He speaks of the Law as being a written document ("jot and title"). By what has been said, Jesus is referring to the oral tradition that has been passed down as the accepted commentary on the meaning of the Law. · The consistent usage of the term, toiV arcaioV, was in reference to the old rabbis as the transmitters of tradition, as opposed to the recipients of the teaching. When in Jewish writings "those of old" are mentioned in connection with the Law, it is the scribes who are meant. For example, in the tracts on the Talmud and in the Midrashim, there is repeated mention of the "words of them of old". · The greater part of what Jesus quotes as "having been said" is not a direct quotation from the Old Testament, but contains additions to the
121 The reader is referred back to our discussion of Matt. 11:29, found at the end of the last paragraph of LESSON FIVE, p. 112.

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Old Testament text, and even at times conflicts with it, as is seen, for example, when one compares Matt. 5:43 with Lev. 19:18. But it is not only from the form in which the antitheses of Matt. 5:21-48 are expressed (accepting the translation as, "it was said by them of old time"), but also from the content of Jesus' "counter commandments", that it becomes evident Jesus is not refuting the Law itself, but is correcting the superficial devaluation of the Law. This is at once obvious when it comes to the commandments respecting murder (Matt. 5:21-26) and adultery (Matt. 5:2730). Jesus is reminding His hearers that the requirements of the Law not only pertain to actions but also to the attitudes of the heart from which those actions arise--this was a truth already appreciated by the godly men of the Old Testament dispensation (cp. Job 1:5; Psl. 24:3-4a; 51:10). When it comes to Jesus' teaching about divorce (Matt. 5:31-32), the taking of oaths (Matt. 5:33-37) and retribution (Matt. 5:39-48), we have to look more closely in order to discern Jesus' meaning. At the outset we must say that there is only a "conflict" between Jesus and Moses if Jesus' commandments are taken in a purely formalistic manner, without discerning His intention. At first glance, it may appear that Jesus is refuting the divorce law given in Deut. 24:1 and the laws governing oaths contained in such passages as Num. 30:2 and Deut. 23:21. Those laws were instituted to curb sin, specifically, the sin of infidelity and the sin of dishonesty. With regard to the law pertaining to divorce, Jesus is speaking against the abuse of such a law (Matt. 5:31-32). With regard to the law pertaining to the taking of an oath, Jesus is basing His teaching upon the "bedrock" law--love for God and love for one's neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40)--one expression of which takes the form of honesty in one's dealings with his fellowman (Matt. 7:12). In effect, Jesus is saying, if we truly abide by the law (the great law of love), we would not need those laws designed to curb violations of that fundamental law. How are we to understand Jesus' teaching with regard to just retribution? At first glance, He appears to be setting it aside (Matt. 5:38-42). Here, again, we must remember that Jesus' overarching concern is that His disciples do the will of God, and doing the will of God entails emulating the character of God. In verses 44-48 Jesus urges His disciples to show themselves to be true "sons of your Father who is in heaven", by exhibiting the same merciful attitude that is characteristic of the Father. By no means depreciating God's justice, we must take into full account His own testimony: "As I live, says the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezek. 33:11). In His mercy, our heavenly Father desires man's repentance so that he may be restored and may avoid an encounter with the divine justice. The acts of mercy commanded by Jesus (Matt. 5:39-42, 44), instead of the immediate demand for justice and retribution, have the intention of producing guilt of conscience that leads to repentance, in accordance with the proverb: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;

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if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22by doing so, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you" (Prov. 25:21-22). The LORD commands us to respond to evil with acts of mercy (the enemy as he is presented here is in need), not acts of revenge, which is also a part of the Law (cp Ex. 23:4-5). The intended effect of ministering mercy to the offender is to bring about the conviction of his conscience, which may be the greatest kindness of all, for it may lead to repentance. A striking example of this is found in incident involving David's interaction with Saul (1 Sam. 24:1-4,610,12,16-17,19). But, in the event that mercy is spurned, divine retribution must inevitably be enacted (cp. 2 Chron. 36:15-16). Upon the cross our Lord Jesus prayed that His Father would have mercy on His persecutors (Lk. 23:34), but, should that divine mercy be spurned, our Lord also committed Himself and His cause "to him that judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23). Our Lord's teaching contained in Matt. 5:38-42 should be understood in the light of the testimony made by the Apostle James: "mercy triumphs over judgment" (Jas. 2:13b). Leaving the Sermon on the Mount, we turn now to another passage in which we find Jesus in conflict with the teachers of the Law, namely, Matt. 15:1-20 (cp., also, Mk. 7:1-23). Here we find Jesus charging the scribes with having placed "the traditions of the elders" above "the commandments of God" (Matt. 15:3). After exposing their hypocrisy in that they, for personal gain, had severely restricted the Law's demand that they care for indigent parents (the matter of "Corban"), Jesus then goes on to address the Jewish purification rites as they were handed down by the elders. By His teaching on this subject Jesus seems to not only refute the elaborate purification provisions established by the elders, but also to abolish the entire purification system, which during Old Testament times had taught the people to make a distinction between the pure and the impure (Matt. 15:10-11, 17-20). But we should not draw the conclusion that Jesus is abolishing all the ceremonial laws of purification, teaching that only the purification of the heart is what matters. Nowhere throughout His earthly ministry do we find Jesus rejecting the temple service with its prescriptions of ritual purity; much rather, we find Him upholding and enforcing such laws--note His demand that the leper whom He has cleansed should go to the priest, "and offer for your cleansing the things that Moses commanded" (Mk. 1:44; cp., also, Matt. 23:23). Jesus' intention is not to abrogate the Mosaic laws concerning purification, but to refute the delusion that sinful man could employ such rituals to attain true purity before God. He points out the need for a purification of the heart, but not as though the inner life of man were the only thing that matters and the Old Testament purification rituals should therefore be abandoned. Jesus does not deny that the laws concerning purification occupied a place in God's Law, but it must be understood that those laws in and of themselves lacked the power to purify anyone before God (cp. Gal. 3:21).

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Jesus' criticism of the Jews' practices, by which He at first glance appears to present a "wholesale" rejection of the Old Testament ceremonial rituals, is of the same type as that made by the Old Testament prophets with respect to Israel's public worship as it was conducted in their day. When one considers such passages as Isa. 1:11-17; 58:4b-7; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8, it appears that they are advocating that the observance of the ritual requirements of the Law be "replaced" by the practice of the ethical requirements of the Law. But no more than Jesus, were the prophets seeking to abolish the God-ordained rituals of public worship; rather, like Jesus in His day, they were seeking to expose the worthlessness of such worship if it was divorced from a life of devotion to God originating from a converted heart.122 The purpose of such teaching, and the fact that it is not intended to abrogate the laws pertaining to such things as public worship or ceremonial purity, can be seen in Jesus' instructions about reconciliation: if a man is on his way to offer a gift at the altar, but remembers that he is at odds with his neighbor, he is to first be reconciled to his brother, and then come to the altar and offer his gift (Matt. 5:23-24). A good example of this type of "overstatement" for shock effect, in order to bring home to the hearers the primary importance of the attitude of the heart and necessity of a life of devotion, apart from which the rituals of worship are worthless, is the passage of Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice".123 This is a passage our Lord Jesus quotes on more than one occasion (cp. Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Here a clear contrast is made between religious ritual (the offering of an animal or meal sacrifice) and the attitude of the heart and the conduct of life (showing mercy in one's dealings with others). This stark contrast is not intended to be a depreciation or rejection of the sacrificial services; rather, it is intended to be a sharp condemnation of a religion that only consists in the observance of the outward, formal aspects of worship, devoid of the surrender of the heart and the will unto the will of God. As Ridderbos expresses it, "The antithesis has been formulated in an absolute form (`I will have mercy ... and not sacrifice'), but it has a relative meaning."124 This is a form of expression that occurs quite frequently, note, for instance, Joel 2:12-13, as well as the prophetic passages alluded to earlier. In that passage of Joel the people of Israel are instructed to "rend your heart, and not your garments" (vs. 13); but in the previous verse they are instructed to turn unto the LORD "with all your heart, and with fasting". When this form of expression is employed, as in Hosea 6:6, what is being taught is the fact that the former term of the antithesis (in this case, ritual "sacrifice") cannot 122 Notice that in Matt. 15 Jesus quotes the passage from the prophet Isaiah in which the LORD rebukes Old Testament Israel for honoring Him with their lips while their heart was far from Him (Isa. 29:13). 123 Another example of such "overstatement", but for a different purpose, is found in Jesus' words to His disciples recorded in Lk. 10:20, "... do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." 124 Ridderbos, p. 302.

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exist without the latter ("mercy", which involves the life and flows from the heart) and is only valuable when originating from the latter. But "sacrifice" and "mercy" are not related to one another as action and disposition, (as is the case with murder and hatred, murder being the action originating from the attitude of hatred). "Sacrifice" and "mercy" belong to two different spheres: the ritual and the ethical. Jesus' teaching, (whether it pertains to Sabbath observance or ritual purification), is not intended to separate the two, as though the ritual was worthless and only the ethical was important; rather, His intention is to reveal the unity of the Law, emphasizing that the two spheres cannot be separated, the ethical is the indispensable foundation of the ritual. There is reason for distinguishing between the ritual and the ethical; although the distinction is not intended as a contrast--ethical devotion does not render ritual observance superfluous--the distinction does imply difference in rank: ritual observance cannot be detached from its devotional/ethical foundation and wellspring. This "distinction in rank" is very evidently taught by Jesus in His rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees: "you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have left undone the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone" (Matt. 23:23). Jesus does not rebuke them for their practicing the ritual aspects of the Law, as a matter of fact, He exhorts them to continue to do so. But He does rebuke them for failing to observe "the weightier matters of the Law", which He defines as "justice and mercy and faith". "The weightier matters of the Law" does not mean to imply that these commandments are more difficult to fulfill and require greater effort; it means that these commandments express the more important and fundamental requirements of the Law. Here is the teaching that not everything in the Law is of equal weight. But again, this does not mean that the ritual aspects of the Law are of no consequence--they are things "you ought to have done"--but the more important aspect of the Law pertains to the ethical, the practice of "justice and mercy and faith". So it is that Jesus does not place the ethical in antithesis to the ritual, but considers the ethical to be indispensable to the ritual, and in this sense as being the more important, "the weightier", part of the Law. We must now return to the passage in which Jesus disputes with the scribes over the matter of ritual purity, taking note of Mark's commentary as to the implication of Jesus' teaching: "[This he said], making all meats clean" (Mk. 7:19b). Here we must take into account the typological125 and provisional character of the ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic Law. The Apostle Paul would 125 "Typological" refers to the fact that the Old Testament institutions ordained by God, as well as Old Testament persons, places and events, not only serve a redemptive function in their own time, but also prophetically point forward to and even model a greater future fulfillment in the history of redemption. When that future fulfillment arrives, the Old Testament "types" become extinct, having served the purpose ordained for them in the history of redemption.

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elaborate upon this when he instructs the Galatian church with regard to the observance and the role of the Mosaic Law in the New Testament dispensation (cp. Gal. 3:23-25).126 The Lord Jesus touches upon this provisional aspect of the Law, citing the example of fasting, in His teaching found in Matt. 9:14-17 (cp. Mk. 2:18-22; Lk. 5:33-38). There, speaking figuratively, Jesus asks the rhetorical question, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while [the bridegroom] is with them?" This precedes His pronouncements regarding the inappropriateness of sewing a piece of new cloth onto an old garment or pouring new wine into old wineskins. By means of this teaching regarding fasting (as something that fundamentally belongs to the Old Testament dispensation as the time of preparation), Jesus wants it to be understood that the manner in which God is worshiped must be governed by the period of redemptive history in which one is living; in other words, the particular dispensation (be it that of Old Testament preparation or New Testament fulfillment) dictates the manner of worship. (What Jesus here teaches with regard to the form of worship has equal relevance for the entire ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the Mosaic Law, since the ordinances of worship form an integral part of those two aspects of the Law). In keeping with the dictum, namely, that the particular dispensation of redemptive history dictates the manner of worship (and the manner in which the Law is relevant), Jesus points out that fasting, which plays a significant role in the Old Testament dispensation of preparation, is inappropriate in the New Testament dispensation of fulfillment when "the bridegroom" (i.e.; Jesus the Messiah) is present. This is the time when the old has passed and the new has come, and this fact must dominate everything, including the form of worship and the manner in which we understand the relevance of certain aspects of the Law. Once again, it is not the Law itself that Jesus repudiates, 126 In this passage of Galatians Paul teaches that the ceremonial law served as a "guardian", keeping watch over the Old Testament covenant people. In Greek society a guardian (paidagwgoV) was a slave who was put in charge of his master's son during the years of the child's adolescence--from 6-14 years of age. This slave was not a teacher but a guardian, responsible for the child's safety, protecting him from the evils of society. The guardian had constant and total supervision over the child, regulating all of the child's activities and acquaintances. Paul informs us that the Old Testament law, especially the ceremonial law with all of its regulations, served the function of being a spiritual "guardian": through its multitude of ordinances and regulations, the Old Testament law kept the people of Israel under constant surveillance and separation from the Gentile world, as well as having impressed upon them the covenantal requirement of total devotion unto the LORD. Paul continues, "The law became our guardian for Christ." The Old Testament law served this function of "guardian" in order to guard the people for Christ (so that they would not drift into paganism). At the same time creating in their hearts the desire for the salvation Christ would bring. Once Christ had come and accomplished His work of redemption, the Old Testament (ceremonial) law in its role of "guardian" had served its purpose, and consequently, would no longer be operative in the New Testament dispensation--the ritualistic form being succeeded by the spiritual reality.

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but rather the formalistic maintenance of every aspect of the Law, giving no regard as to its bearing upon the various dispensations of redemptive history. Though Jesus in this passage is especially addressing the matter of fasting, it is clear from the more general pronouncements that follow (those about the "new cloth" and the "new wine") that His teaching pertains to much more than fasting, it pertains to the entire Law and the manner in which we are to interpret and apply it. It is precisely here that an extremely important and comprehensive criterion is given, not only concerning fasting, but concerning the entire existence and relevance of the Old Testament form of worship, (which was governed by the sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law). Jesus' teaching recorded in Matt. 9:14-17 must be seen as being the complement to His pronouncement found in Matt. 5:18, "Until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or title shall by any means pass away from the law, until all has been fulfilled". Not only the prophecies, but also the Law, finds its fulfillment in Jesus' coming, and must be interpreted in light of that coming, which coming has inaugurated the eschatological dispensation. The complimentarity of Matt. 9:14-17 and Matt. 5:17-20 is strikingly underscored in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 16:17 the equivalent of Matt. 5:17 (emphasizing the perpetual validity of the Law) is preceded by a statement about the provisionality of the Law: "The Law and the Prophets were until John [the Baptist]" (Lk. 16:16). On the one hand, we are confronted with the permanence of the Law, even now that the dispensation of eschatological fulfillment has begun. On the other hand, we are also confronted with the fact that in some sense there is a provisional aspect to the Law. What we come to learn, in the light of further New Testament revelation, is that the sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the Law have been superseded and fulfilled in the Person and work of Christ,127 whereas the moral aspect of the Law has its perpetual ongoing fulfillment in the life of Christ and that of His disciples as they are united to Him in the eternal kingdom of heaven (cp. Rom. 6:9-11). THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF JESUS' RADICAL COMMANDMENTS If we ask the question, What is special and characteristic about Jesus' interpretation of the Law? The answer is not that Jesus placed the commandment of radical love over against the juridical laws of civil 127 The most notable example of this being the fact that Christ is identified as "the Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:29), the one, final sacrifice to which all the Old Testament sacrifices, (especially that offered at the time of the Passover, cp. 1 Cor. 5:7), pointed forward and beyond themselves to that messianic fulfillment (cp. Heb. 10:1-4, 10, 14). Likewise, the New Testament disciples are no longer called upon to observe ceremonial and ritualistic separation from the world as a remind of the demand for moral purity (cp. Acts 10:9-15; 1 Tim. 4:3-5), they are called upon to practice moral separation from sin (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1) even as they are called to live in the midst of the world (Phil. 2:14-16). Rather than offering up whole burnt offerings and thank offerings consisting of grain, New Testament disciples are to present their bodies unto God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:16) and to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15).

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legislation. It may be true that Jesus does not find the true meaning of the Law as being defined by the civil and social commandments of the Old Testament, and that He shows that those who determine their obligation to the Law by simply appealing to that civil legislation--such as supplying a certificate of divorce in order to legally terminate a marriage (Matt. 5:31)--are failing to comply with God's radical demand with respect to their lives. But this does not at all mean that Jesus rejects the civil legislation in favor of a "higher" law of love. Jesus certainly does not reject the Old Testament ordinances, for they have been given to restrain sin and curtail sinful conduct (as in the case of the legislation concerning divorce), but He does reject any appeal to such legislation that attempts to escape from the true demand of the divine Law. In that portion of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus sets His own interpretation of the Law in opposition to that of the scribes' (Matt. 5:21-48), He does so by presenting a number of examples that bring out the true essence and heart of the Law. These examples must not be seen as being a number of "new and independent commandments", nor must they be divorced from the Law given at Mt. Sinai; they must be viewed within the scope of the whole Law. By providing these examples Jesus is not giving a new understanding of ethics; rather, He is providing profound insight into the depths of the revealed Law. In keeping with His intent, and in order to appreciate His teaching with regard to the true essence of the divine Law, we must understand that these radical commandments, these radical examples of obedience to the Law, are not exclusive. That is to say, they do not represent the entire will of God, nor do they embrace the complexity of life and the application of the Law to all the circumstances of life. This becomes evident when we take into account the whole of Jesus' teaching as it is presented in the Gospels. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks against the taking of oaths (Matt. 5:33-37), yet, at the time of His trial, we find Jesus giving answer under oath (Matt. 26:6364).128 Or again, Jesus speaks against the practice of angrily denouncing a man by calling him a "fool" (Matt. 5:22), yet at a later point in His ministry He will identify the scribes and Pharisees as being "fools" (Matt. 23:17).129 To cite one other instance, whereas in Matt. 5:38-43 Jesus advocates the acceptance of personal insult130 and allowing one's self to be misused, in Matt. 18:15-20 He 128 The Greek term, exorkizw, translated, "I adjure you", means, to "put someone under oath". What Jesus is denouncing in Matt. 5:33-37 is the practice of limiting one's wholehearted honesty to those times when he is placed under oath. Jesus is pointing out that the legislation concerning the taking of oaths is intended to promote and preserve the Law's demand for honesty, which is its true and constant demand, not to curtail that demand. 129 The distinction here is between the sin of angrily denouncing a man in a condemnatory manner and the honest assessment of a man's character based on his actions, a thing that the Book of Proverbs does repeatedly (cp. Prov. 10:18). 130 We must appreciate the fact that Matt. 5:39 is speaking of an instance of personal insult, not a bodily assault that threatens one's life. This becomes evident from the fact that it is the "right" cheek that receives the blow. Assuming that the perpetrator is right handed, a blow to

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sets forth the procedure to be followed in cases where one has suffered wrong at the hands of a brother. All these instances point out the fact that in giving the radical commandments that He does, Jesus is "myopically" focusing on a particular aspect of the Law in order, as we shall see, to bring out the depth and the essence of the Law.131 Again, if we ask the question, What is special and characteristic about Jesus' interpretation of the Law? The answer is certainly not that He is pointing out the limited importance of the Law as a source of the divine will--one may learn about God's will concerning civil legislation from the Law, but Jesus will now go beyond that and show the true essence of God's will. Such is certainly not the case. On the contrary, Jesus' intention is to bring to the fore the totalitarian and all-encompassing nature of the Law's demand. This is precisely His intention in giving the radical commandments--the radical interpretation of the demands of the Law--that He presents. He announces this desire to bring out the true and radical nature of the Law's demand in the introduction to the antitheses portion of the Sermon on the Mount, when He declares, "... unless your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). This "excess" demanded by Jesus, (as Ridderbos describes Jesus' radical commandments),132 is not meant to be understood in a quantitative sense--as noted previously, these commandments are not intended to present the whole and the only application of the Law as it pertains to every circumstance of life; rather, these radical commandments can only be rightly understood when their qualitative sense is appreciated--they are meant to bring out the fact that the Law goes deeper and reaches much farther than the rather superficial and limited interpretation taught by the scribes would suggest. The dimension in which Jesus' radical commandments, (given by way of interpretation of the Law), moves is not one of width but of depth. This desire to bring to the fore the "right" cheek would mean that what he delivered was a backhanded slap, a form of insult, not a full blow to the face with the intention of doing bodily harm. 131 As Ridderbos aptly states it: ... account must be taken of the peculiar form of Jesus' sayings that makes special demands upon our exegesis. His words are characterized by a certain amount of paradoxy and one-sidedness that throws a strong light on a particular aspect of the truth without mentioning possible exceptions to the rule or another aspect of the truth. This fact can be clearly demonstrated within the scope of Jesus' commandments. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus demands that our good words shall be "seen" by men. In Matthew 6:1 he warns his disciples against doing their righteousness "before men to be seen by them". In Matthew 7:1 Jesus says, "Judge not, that you be not judged", and in Matt. 7:6 he forbids his disciples to "give that which is holy to the dogs", or "to cast [their] pearls before swine". This last implies a very sharp distinction and judgment by the disciples with respect to their fellowmen. It is obvious that we are not here beset with the problem of antinomies, but with different aspects of the truth and of God's demand. All this, however, is not mentioned in one single saying or in one single context. (pp. 324-325) 132 Ridderbos, p. 314.

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the totalitarian, all-encompassing demand of God's Law is the common tendency in all of the exemplar commandments Jesus provides. As Ridderbos states it, each of Jesus' exemplar commandments "is like a vertical section of the Law revealing its all-embracing demand",133 tracing back manslaughter to hatred, tracing back adultery to lust; the same hold true for the demand imposed upon the rich young ruler to sell all that he has, give the proceeds to the poor, and become Jesus' disciple. By way of these radical commandments Jesus is revealing the true demand of the divine Law: the holding back of nothing, the unconditional surrender to the will of God with all that one is and all that he has. This is exactly what Jesus means when He, (in complete harmony with Old Testament Scriptures), reduces the content of the Law to its ultimate essence, states that essence to be total devotion to the LORD our God and love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40/Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18). With regard to the first great commandment, its meaning is made concrete for us in Jesus' declaration found in Matt. 6:24, "No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will be devoted to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon".134 Likewise, we may point to Jesus' saying found in such places as Matt. 10:37, "He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me". From such pronouncements it appears that the love Jesus demands, the love that is the fulfillment of the Law, is based on a radical choice. This love consists in the complete surrender of the will; it consists in being at the disposal of the LORD in the same way that a slave is at the disposal of his master.135 The battle this love is summoned to fight is the battle against all other commitments that would distract it from fulfilling its first and ultimate commitment. It is with this in mind that we must interpret the parable about the eye, which in Matthew's Gospel (Matt. 6:22-23) immediately precedes the saying about unconditional devotion to God (vs. 24). The parable is concerned with the contrast between a "sound" and an "unsound" eye, which here would refer to an eye that is unable to focus properly. In order to fulfill its function, the eye must be able to focus; in the same way, must a true disciple be "focused" on the doing of the will of God. In the service of God, everything depends upon
133 Ridderbos, p. 315. 134 The Greek term, mamwnaV, includes "money", "property", "wealth", and is probably being used by the Lord Jesus to denote all the earthly things man tends to look to for security and fulfillment, and, consequently, those earthly things to which man gives his devotion in a pre- eminent, idolatrous way. 135 The imagery Jesus uses, "no man can serve two masters", is the imagery taken from the master/slave relationship. But in the case of the disciple and his LORD, it is a relationship based on affection and a divinely induced willing submission, not that of a tyrannical master imposing his will upon a helpless slave.

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integrity, the readiness to serve without any reserve. This is the kind of love Jesus demands; this is the essence and the summary of the Law.136 The same holds true with regard to the second commandment, that which requires us to love our neighbor. This love also originates from and consists in the disciples' complete surrender to God's will. This love for one's neighbor is not to be equated with sympathy or affection, which attribute is elicited from us by the attractive character of the one who is the object of our sympathy-- Jesus calls upon His disciples to express love toward all types of persons who do not naturally elicit from us the attribute of sympathy or mercy. Jesus' commandment is to love our enemy, to pray for our persecutors, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us (Matt. 5:43-48; Lk. 6:27-28, 3236). Furthermore, the love Jesus demands that we exhibit is a love for our neighbor; it is not some general love for mankind in the abstract. As to who our neighbor might be, Jesus, in His parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:2937), defines our neighbor as being anyone whom God places in our path. The love for our neighbor of which Jesus speaks is a love to be extended to all manner of persons, including those in whom there is nothing lovable, nothing that would naturally elicit from us a feeling of affection and affinity. Thus, it becomes clear that the love Jesus demands is nothing other than the obedience that will perform any act of service God demands of His children; it is a love (and obedience) that originates in the disciples' unrestricted surrender of heart and will to the heavenly Father and the doing of His will. This kind of love, both for God and for one's neighbor, which is the essence and summary of the whole Law, is only possible if the heart has been converted unto God. What is being conveyed by Jesus' radical commandments, which are intended to serve as concrete examples of what is the true fulfillment of the Law, points us beyond the ethical (i.e.; compliance with a standard of morality) to the religious (i.e.; devotion to the divine will). Here is a very important element to recognize: Jesus' commandments are genuine commandments that demand compliance on the part of His disciples, a compliance/obedience that finds its origin in and that consequently flows from the great decision of believing in Jesus the Messiah. Without the making of this prerequisite decision there is no possibility of rendering such obedience as is the true fulfillment of the Law. This is why the great antithesis between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the interpretation of what constitutes the fulfillment of the Law cannot be expressed as being a matter of differing systems of ethics. This present discussion of the ethical/religious aspects of obedience to the Law sheds light on what Jesus is getting at when He repeatedly accuses the scribes and Pharisees of being "hypocrites". When He applies this term to 136 The summary of the Law given in Matt. 22:37-40, with its phrase, "with all your heart ...", is expressing in more positive terms that which is stated in antithetic terms in Matt. 6:24.

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them we must not think of some consciously hypocritical attitude on their part that is totally devoid of any subjective sincerity, (although such an attitude is also implied in the term Jesus uses in His denunciation of them). But the accusation denoted by this word "hypocrite" lies deeper than lack of sincerity: it pertains to the disagreement between what a man thinks himself to be, and what he appears to be before his fellow man, and what he truly is before God. He scrupulously observes all kinds of regulations and commandments, but he does not surrender himself unto God. The real issue is of a religious nature; as Jesus expresses it by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Matt. 15:8/Isa. 29:13). Thus it is revealed that the fulfillment of the Law, at its very heart, is a matter of the heart. The sole possibility of fulfilling the Law is dependent upon one's conversion unto God; any zeal on behalf of the Law apart from conversion, (i.e.; the surrender of the heart unto God), is hypocrisy. So we learn that according to Jesus, the possibility for the fulfilling of the Law lies in the great pre-ethical decision, the decision to surrender one's self to the Messiah, which is the essence of true faith in the Messiah (cp. Lk. 5:11b, where we read of Peter and the others, "they left all, and followed [Jesus]"). We must be very clear that this great decision--this receiving the Messiah and persevering in one's commitment to Him, is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (cp. Jn. 1:12-13). We might state this great truth in yet another way: It is only when the Law has been written upon the heart (cp. Jer. 31:33)--it is only when one has become like the Messiah Himself (cp. Psl. 40:8), by virtue of being united to Him in His death and resurrection--that one can begin to fulfill the demands of the Law. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. Jesus summarizes the commandments He issues by using the general term and qualification, "_______". a. Holiness b. Righteousness c. Justice 2. The "righteousness" Jesus requires of His disciples is made to be the "righteousness of the kingdom" because Jesus embraces the humanistic concept of man's inherent nobility and the value of human society, and He has, consequently, devised a catalogue of commandments, the "righteousness" of which, shall promote human life and advance human society. True or False 3. What is the evidence that the phrase found in Matt. 5:21 and 33 should be translated, "it was said by them of old time", thereby indicating that

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Jesus' is counteracting the scribes' erroneous interpretation of the Law, and is not criticizing the Law itself? a. In Matt. 5:21, etc., Jesus does not speak of what has been written, but what has been said; this contrasts with Matt. 5:18 where He speaks of the Law as being a written document ("jot and title"). b. When in Jewish writings "those of old" are mentioned in connection with the Law, it is the scribes who are meant. c. The greater part of what Jesus quotes as "having been said" is not a direct quotation from the Old Testament, but contains additions to the Old Testament text, and even conflicts with it. d. All of the above 4. What is special and characteristic about Jesus' interpretation of the Law? a. Jesus is placing the commandment of radical love over against the juridical laws of civil legislation. b. Jesus' intention is to bring to the fore the totalitarian and allencompassing nature of the Law's demand. c. Jesus is pointing out the limited importance of the Law as a source of the divine will--one may learn about God's will concerning civil legislation from the Law, but Jesus will now go beyond that and show the true essence of God's will. 5. Complete the sentences below that discuss the significance of Jesus' radical commandments. a. Jesus' radical commandments are not meant to be understood in a _____ sense. b. These radical commandments are not intended to present the whole and the only _____ of the Law as it pertains to every circumstance of life. c. Jesus' radical commandments can only be rightly understood when their _____ sense is appreciated. d. They are meant to bring out the fact that the Law goes deeper and reaches much farther than the rather superficial and limited _____ taught by the scribes would suggest. 1. application 2. qualitative 3. quantitative 4. interpretation

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Discuss Jesus' dialogue with the rich young ruler. How are we to interpret and apply Jesus' command, "Go; sell whatever you have and give [the proceeds] to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mk. 10:21)? 2. According to the Lesson, How are we to understand Jesus' teaching with regard to just retribution?
3. How are we to interpret Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice", a passage our Lord Jesus quotes on more than one occasion (cp. Matt. 9:13; 12:7)? Is Jesus, and the prophets before Him, advocating that the observance of the ritual requirements of the Law be "replaced" by the practice of the ethical requirements of the Law? 4. Discuss what the Lesson means when it says, Jesus' teaching recorded in Matt. 9:14-17 must be seen as being the complement to His pronouncement found in Matt. 5:18, "Until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or title shall by any means pass away from the law, until all has been fulfilled". 5. Discuss the true significance of what it means when Jesus charges the scribes and Pharisees with being "hypocrites".

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LESSON SEVEN: THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH THE CHURCH: A "SUBSET" WITHIN THE ALL-INCLUSIVE KINGDOM As we have seen, one of the most important ways in which the kingdom appears in this present world is by means of the preaching of the gospel. We have previously considered its contents.137 We must now consider the question as to whether or not Jesus made any pronouncements that shed more light on the results of this preaching, and consequently, afford us with a greater understanding of how the kingdom manifests its presence in the world. In a general way this subject has been touched upon in our discussion of the parables, namely, those of the sower, the tares among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the leaven.138 These parables tell us about the life-giving power inherent in the preaching of the gospel and the results of such preaching. Although they communicate very important information regarding the coming of the kingdom and the nature of its presence, what they reveal about the effects of the preaching is only given in rather vague and general terms. To learn more about the fruit of Christ's gospel preaching, and that of His apostles, we must turn to such passages as Matt. 16:18-20 and Matt. 18:15-20. In these passages we are given information concerning the church (ekklhsia). Before examining the content of these passages, we should note that in contrast to those liberal scholars who sought to minimize or even deny the concept of the church in Jesus' preaching,139 there are those who have defended it as forming an integral part of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. The fact that Jesus proclaimed the presence of the kingdom by virtue of His own presence and activity provides the basis for the church--the Messiah calls to Himself those who will be His disciples, disciples of the kingdom, and this community of disciples forms the nucleus of the church. The early twentiethcentury biblical scholar, F. Kattenbusch, sought to link the origins of the church in Jesus' preaching with the Son of Man passage in Daniel 7. According to Kattenbusch, Jesus, as the Son of Man, not only is the recipient of the kingdom (Dan. 7:14), but is also the representative of the people who receive the kingdom (Dan. 7:22). The church is thus seen to be the revelation of the 137 See LESSON FOUR. 138 See LESSON THREE, pp. 51-58. 139 The adherents of the old liberal theology, for example, sought to portray Jesus as the founder of an "inner" religion, calling each individual to live up to a new and ideal ethical standard. According to this view, Jesus envisioned this ethical religion as eventually embracing all of mankind under the fatherhood of God. In such a religion there could be no place for a community of men who are called out of the world and set apart from the world. But as we have seen (LESSON FIVE, p. 105, second full paragraph), such a view of Jesus' preaching is totally at variance with the witness of the Gospels.

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messianic people, those to whom the kingdom belongs and whom the Messiah represents.140 According to G. Gloege, the "church" is to be identified as the "remnant" of Israel spoken of in such Old Testament passages as Isa. 10:2022.141 Other scholars reject the idea that Jesus' teaching about "the church" is derived from the Old Testament prophecies of a "remnant" or from the isolated passage of Dan. 7. They point out that the concept of "God's people" is a general and central theme running throughout the entire Old Testament. This central concept of "the people of God", or we might say, "the covenant community", is the foundation for the New Testament "church" and our understanding of it.142 Here it is necessary to bring into consideration the rejection of unbelieving Israel--the Old Testament covenant community as it existed as a national/ethnic entity, but that for the most part rejected the Messiah--and the consequent new formation of the people of God, which is actually a bringing to the fore the true spiritual covenant community that had all along existed in the midst of ethnic (unbelieving) Israel. It is important to realize that this rejection of national, unbelieving Israel, and the new formation of God's people, is not something that is reserved for the future; it has already begun to be realized with the coming of the Messiah. This is especially brought out in Jesus' parable of the wicked tenants (Matt. 21:33-46). The beginning of the parable contains a clear allusion to Isa. 5:1-7, in which the nation of Israel is depicted as the LORD's vineyard. The "tenant farmers", who are charged with the care of the vineyard, would especially refer to the leaders of Israel, the very men to whom Jesus addresses the parable. Their mistreatment of the servants sent to them by the owner culminates in their killing of the owner's son. Here is depicted Israel's consistent rejection of the LORD's covenant and of the LORD Himself, as He confronted the nation by means of the prophets, leading to the final rejection of the Messiah. The conclusion of the parable finds the owner "destroying" the wicked tenants, and then renting out the vineyard to other tenants who will render unto the owner the fruit of his vineyard. Note here the total eradication of the wicked tenants,143 but not of the vineyard; on the contrary, the vineyard is entrusted to new tenants that fulfill the owner's expectation of receiving "fruit". Here is foretold a "renovated" Israel, under new supervision that results in the presentation of the expected "fruit". The parable thus blends together the elements of the continuation of the true, spiritual covenant community, as well as the
140 Ridderbos, pp. 339-340. 141 Ridderbos, pp. 340-341. 142 Ridderbos, p. 341. 143 Although first and foremost, the wicked tenants represent the apostate leaders of Israel, those who follow in their ways and exhibit the same unbelief must also be included. We must bear in mind that no parable presents every aspect of the truth--a parable only sheds clear light on those aspects of the truth that are the object of its special attention.

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Messiah's lordship over and in the members of that community,144 thereby causing them to bear fruit worthy of the kingdom. Following upon the parable Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees with Psalm 118:22-23. This time, under the imagery of building an edifice, the same truth is re-emphasized. The leaders of Israel are now represented by the "builders" that reject the very "stone" that the LORD Himself has chosen to serve as the "chief cornerstone". Once again, we find the leaders condemned for their rejection of the divinely appointed Messiah. But this time there is the added note that, despite the rejection by the "builders", the LORD's purposes shall not be thwarted: the "stone" He has chosen shall, indeed, become the chief cornerstone of the building. God raised Jesus from the dead and made Him to become the "cornerstone" of the church, the true covenant community composed of believing Jews and Gentiles alike (Eph. 2:19-20). Jesus then concludes His teaching with the ominous words addressed in particular to the leaders of ethnic Israel, "Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation that will produce its fruits" (vs. 43). The "nation" of which the Lord speaks is the true people of God, to whom the salvation of the kingdom is given. Thus, it becomes evident that the revelation of the kingdom with the coming of Jesus the Messiah results in the gathering together and the formation of a people that will now occupy the place formerly occupied by ethnic Israel during the Old Testament dispensation. It also becomes evident that this new community is not only spoken of in the future eschatological sense, but also in the future historical sense. This becomes evident from the fact that they are described as the people who bear the fruit of the kingdom, and thereby show themselves to belong to the kingdom and to be worthy of it. This new, or better said, true, spiritual community in the present reveal themselves to be the children of the heavenly Father, and it is they would will be designated as the "church". Likewise, the choosing of twelve apostles has representative significance: they are those in whom is embodied the church, the LORD's flock, as it is gathered and re-assembled by the Good Shepherd (cp. Ezek. 34:11-16). In many respects, they may be considered to be the foundation of the covenant community newly constituted as the church. We do not yet find the church functioning as an organized and closed community clearly discernable to the world. But the way for that has now been prepared, because from the beginning the covenantal relationship between the LORD and His people has expressed itself in the form of the assembled covenant community, distinctly separated from the world unto the LORD. The New Testament term, ekklhsia, ("church"), must be seen as being derived from and as being the continuation 144 We suggest that this is represented by the "new tenants", who in their supervisory capacity must be seen as the Messiah exercising His lordship over His people, and in their plurality ("tenants"), may be viewed as the apostles and leaders of the church.

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of the Old Testament "assembly of the LORD (lh1q5), the gathering together of the people who are in covenant with the LORD. As Ridderbos states it, "The people of God are the people of the Messiah; and, conversely, those who confess Jesus to be the Messiah are the new [or, true] Israel. Thus, the ekklhsia is the community of those who, as the true people of God, receive the gifts of the kingdom of heaven provisionally now already since the Messiah has come, and [in the future will receive the kingdom] in the state of perfection at the parousia of the Son of Man [i.e.; Jesus' final appearance in glory at the end of the age]."145 Finally, we must note that although the term "church" (ekklhsia) occurs only in the two passages of Matthew (chapters 16 and 18), the concept is more prevalent in Jesus' preaching than these isolated references might at first suggest. For instance, again and again Jesus speaks of a "flock" (cp. Matt. 26:31; Jn. 10:16), and He calls His disciples His "little flock" (Lk. 12:32). In the Gospel of John He refers to His "sheep" and His "lambs" (Jn. 21:15,16). It is certainly true that the Messiah has a people--they are none other than those whom the Father has given Him (Jn. 6:37-40), those to whom the kingdom the heaven is given (Lk. 12:32). The church is composed of this people. When in Matt. 16:18 Jesus speaks of "my church", He is referring to this covenantal community. We must appreciate the fact that the "my" of Matt. 16:18 is not that of a teacher who has gathered a number of pupils to himself, and it is certainly not to be understood in the sense of the founder of a new religion organizing his followers into a community that will practice and propagate his teaching. The "my" of Matt. 16:18 is that of the Messiah speaking of the people whom the Father has given to Him, the people that form the true covenant community and who inherit the kingdom of heaven. Indeed, from what has been said previously about "the assembly" (lh1q/ekklhsia) of the LORD's covenant people, we find that Jesus' reference to "my church" brings together the connection between the messianic and the covenantal. We turn now to consider the position "the church" occupies in the scope of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. We begin by defining "the church" as the name that designates those who have been united into one community by virtue of their positive response to the preaching of the gospel and, consequently, have become disciples of Jesus the Messiah.146 We must stress that the church is not to be equated with the kingdom, although it is true that in certain places in the Gospels the two appear to be nearly parallel. But, according to Ridderbos, this phenomenon is due to "the very complicated [or, we might say, "flexible"] usage of the concept `kingdom' in the gospels".147 For instance, when mention is made of being the greatest or the least in the 145 Ridderbos, p. 354. 146 Ridderbos, p. 343. 147 Ridderbos, p. 344.

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kingdom--and this seems to be referring to a present status (cp. Matt. 11:11; 18:4; also, 5:19)--it is difficult to determine whether this is referring to a strictly spiritual realm, or whether it is (also) referring to an earthly community of disciples (i.e.; the church). In such instances it seems that the term "kingdom" is being used in such a way as to be almost synonymous with the "church" (to paraphrase and summarize Ridderbos). However, this should not lead us to conclude that the "kingdom" and the "church" are to be equated with one another. In such passages where uncertainty may arise, it appears that one aspect of the kingdom is under consideration, but that particular aspect is designated by the overarching term "kingdom". Although some passages can be cited in which linguistic usage is not clear (Is this particular passage speaking about the all-encompassing entity, "the kingdom", or is it referring to the more limited entity, "the church"?), they cannot be adduced as proof of the equation of one term ("the kingdom") with the other ("the church"). This is so for the simple reason that being in the kingdom or entry into the kingdom certainly cannot be limited to admittance into and participation in a merely earthly community of disciples, these references must be understood as referring to participation in the kingdom of God in all of its spiritual and universal significance. In summarizing the relationship between the "kingdom" and the "church", we quote Ridderbos at length: There can be no uncertainty about either the connection or the difference between these two fundamental notions: The "kingdom" is the great divine work of salvation in its fulfillment and consummation in Christ; the "church" is the people elected and called by God and sharing in the bliss of the "kingdom". Logically, the "kingdom" ranks first, not the "church". The former, therefore, has a much more comprehensive content. It represents the all-embracing perspective, it denotes the consummation of all history, [it] brings both grace and judgment, [it] has cosmic dimensions, [it] fills time and eternity. The "church" in all this is the people who in this great drama have been placed on the side of God in Christ by virtue of the divine election and covenant. They have been given the divine promise, ... [they] have been gathered together by the preaching of the gospel, and [they] will inherit the redemption [that belongs to] the kingdom now and in the great future.148 Ridderbos goes on to assert that the kingdom is revealed in the church, namely, what is revealed is the kingdom's redeeming grace, and all its gifts and treasures granted in and through Christ. Although the church is not identical to the kingdom, it can be viewed from the perspective of the kingdom: The church is the community of those who await the salvation of the kingdom. Insofar as the kingdom is already present, the church is the place 148 Ridderbos, pp. 354-355.

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where the gifts and power of the kingdom is received and where they function. Furthermore, the church can be seen as being the earthly instrument of the kingdom: the church is called to profess Jesus as Lord to the world, the church is called to live out the life of the kingdom before the world by living in obedience to Christ's commandments, and to the church has been assigned the task of calling men into the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. In every respect, the church is surrounded and impelled by the kingdom, without itself being the kingdom.149 To use the analogy borrowed from mathematics, the church is a "subset" within the all-inclusive kingdom. THE CHURCH'S FOUNDATION AND AUTHORITY Now that it is clear that the "church" occupies an integral position in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom, we must proceed to consider the content of His specific pronouncements concerning the church. These are found in Matt. 16 (vs. 15-20) and Matt. 18 (vs. 15-20), with the Matt. 16 passage being primary. As we consider Matt. 16:15-20, the first question is, What does Jesus mean when He says, "You are Peter [PetroV] and upon this rock [petra] I will build my church"? Is Jesus speaking of the people of God (the people of the Messiah) in the general and all-embracing sense of the term, or does He have in mind a separate group, consisting of His disciples, existing within the larger Jewish community--what we might call, "a messianic synagogue" dwelling among the covenant community? As we examine this matter more closely, it becomes evident that Jesus is using the term "church" (ekklhsia) in the former sense, the all-encompassing covenant community. For one thing, the metaphor He uses, "building" His church, is found throughout the Old Testament where it is applied to the nation of Israel as a whole in their special relationship with the LORD (cp. Jer. 12:16; 18:9; esp. Amos 9:11). It is the very combination of "building" with "church" (ekklhsia) that gives to the latter term the general meaning of the gathered assembly of those who have been sovereignly called to become the people of God and of the Messiah. Furthermore, in Jesus' teaching and in that of the apostles, the people of the Messiah are not understood as being a distinct community existing within the larger covenant community of Israel, but are seen to be the new (or, true) people of God, the true spiritual Israel that has emerged from the Old Testament typological community of ethnic Israel. The church is not a messianic community within the larger covenant community; it is the true covenant community. Just as the Septuagint nearly always renders the Hebrew lh1q ("assembly") by the Greek term, ekklhsia, so must we understand the ekklhsia of Matt. 16:18 to be the equivalent of the Hebrew lh1q. When used in a religious sense (i.e.; "the assembly of the LORD"), lh1q has the meaning of the people in its collective
149 Ridderbos, pp. 355-356.

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unity, elected by God and set apart from the nations to be the people of God. Jesus, in His capacity as the Messiah, speaks of "my church". It should be noted that Jesus speaks of the building of the church in the future tense: "I will build my church". Furthermore, He explicitly states that He will build His church upon "this rock [petra]". What Jesus is speaking of is the building of the Christian church, which would commence following His atoning death, resurrection and ascension. But how are we to interpret the relationship between "Peter" (PetroV) and "rock" (petra)? Many Protestant exegetes have maintained that by the words "this rock" (petra), Jesus was not referring to Peter himself, but to Peter's confession of faith (cp. Matt. 16:16). The use of petra (pronounced, petra), instead of "Peter" (PetroV, pronounced, Petros) or simply the pronoun "you", is adduced as proof that Peter's confession, not Peter himself, was what Jesus had in mind. According to Ridderbos, this interpretation is, in all likelihood, a reaction to the Roman Catholic teaching about the foundation and authority of the church. However, Ridderbos continues, such an interpretation is not convincing. Petra, (which in the Greek is a noun that occurs in the feminine gender), means "rock". But, when applied to Peter, the feminine ending was not suitable, hence, when Jesus applies the term to Peter, He changes the word into a masculine form, PetroV.150 But when Jesus later repeats the word, He does so using its normal feminine gender (petra). The most natural understanding of the passage is that petra is to be identified with PetroV, and Christ is speaking about Peter himself. But in what sense is Peter said to be the "rock" upon which Christ will build His church? The answer: Peter will be so in his capacity as an apostle, as a witness to the saving work accomplished by Jesus the Messiah (cp. Lk. 24:4448). The building of the church upon Peter should be taken as a reference to Peter's future apostolic ministry. The fact that Jesus mentions Peter, and not all the disciples collectively, must be attributed to the fact that it is Peter who responds to Jesus' question by giving his famous confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". The specific mention of Peter is also in accord with the prominent position Peter occupied within the band of the disciples (Matt. 10:2; Acts 1:15; etc.). Jesus not only declares that He will build His church upon Peter (in his capacity as an apostle and in conjunction with the other apostles), but He also defines the authority bestowed upon Peter when He speaks of entrusting to him "the keys of the kingdom". The use of the "keys" must be understood as being the authority to grant admittance, or forbid entry, into the kingdom of heaven. Peter, and his fellow apostles, are commissioned to be the caretakers of the kingdom, the ones to whom the Master entrusts the keys (cp. Isa. 22:22). In effect, Peter and the apostles will now replace the leaders of Israel who had 150 Of course, Jesus did not speak in Greek; He spoke in Aramaic. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel writer (Matthew) is made to express in Greek what Jesus had originally communicated in Aramaic.

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misused the spiritual authority entrusted to them during the Old Testament dispensation (cp. Matt. 23:13). Peter, as representative of the apostles, is authorized by Christ to open and shut the kingdom of heaven. This certainly does not mean that he will replace Christ on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 25:3133), but it does mean that now on earth he is already authorized to pronounce judgment as to who will enter the kingdom and who will not. There is entrusted to him a judicial authority. This judicial authority is further defined in verse 19, "... whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven". The terms "bind" and "loose" are technical rabbinical terms, meaning "to decide with authority", or, "to make authoritative decisions". They were used with respect to the doctrinal authority of the rabbis. "Binding" meant something like, "to declare to be unlawful or unorthodox"; "loosing" meant declaring something to be lawful or doctrinally correct. The terms "binding" and "loosing" may also have included the meaning of "consigning to divine judgment", or, "pronouncing acquittal from divine judgment", (notice John 8:10-11, where Jesus, as a rabbi, makes such a declaration with regard to the woman caught in the act of adultery). In the apostles' exercise of this kingdom authority a heavenly verdict will correspond with the earthly verdict pronounced by the apostles: "... whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven ..." We must understand this to be the case for the specific reason that the apostles are acting on Christ's behalf, as His divinely appointed representatives,151 and, Christ Himself is acting through them (cp. Jn. 13:20). Now we must take into consideration the passage of Matt. 18:15-20. Here the instructions concerning "binding" and "loosing" are repeated verbatim, with the only difference being that this time the pronoun "you" occurs in the plural, (whereas in Matt. 15:19 it occurs in the singular). Furthermore, the instructions contained in Matt. 18 pertain to a more specific, localized, situation: the passage is outlining the procedure to be followed in the event that a professing Christian is found to be in sin and must be called to repentance. If this individual fails to respond to private admonition, and also refuses to heed the counsel of a delegation composed of several more believers, then, as a last resort, the matter is to be reported to the church (probably being represented by their elders).152 If the man refuses to listen to the church, he is to be considered as being a "Gentile" and a "publican"; in other words, not a 151 Within Jewish society, an "apostle" served the function of what we would call a "plenipotentiary diplomat". That is to say, he was a person who represented the one by whom he was sent, invested with full authority to transact any business in the name of the one he represented and whose word was received as the utterance of the one who had sent him. 152 It is clear that the term, "church", as used in Matt. 18 has a more concrete sense than in Matt. 16. In the latter passage Jesus speaks of the "church" in the abstract, in general terms. But in Matt. 18 He has in mind a specific congregation, the church as it manifests itself in the form of a local, organized congregation.

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member of the covenant community. Then, in verse 19, follow the words about "binding" and "loosing". So, in Matt. 18 these words are more closely connected with the activities of the local church, or, as Ridderbos expresses it, a church with a definite "address". From the context, it becomes evident that this "binding" and "loosing" as it pertains to the local congregation is referring to judicial acts, including the expulsion from and the re-instatement into the covenant community as it manifests itself in a specific locale and congregation. Thus, we find the local congregation entrusted with and exercising the same spiritual authority originally invested in the apostles, with the same confirmation in the heavenly realm of the actions taken on earth. We are now confronted with the question as to how the spiritual authority originally bestowed upon Peter also has applicability (or, transferability) to the church that was founded by him in his apostolic labors and would carry on after his departure into glory. From Matt. 18 it becomes clear that this spiritual authority entrusted to Peter (and the rest of the apostles) would also come to function in the local church. Thus, it becomes impossible to maintain that the "keys of the kingdom" were entrusted to Peter exclusively, they appear to also be entrusted to the church as the people of the Messiah. When we look more closely at the situation, we discover that two distinct elements are present here: foundation and authority. When Jesus declares, "upon this rock I will build my church", He is designating Peter in his apostolic ministry as the foundation of the church. Again, as noted earlier, Peter must be seen as the representative of all twelve apostles, together, they in their ministry provide the foundation of the church, with Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone (Eph 2:20).153 In serving as the "foundation" of the church, by virtue of the ministry committed to them by Christ, the apostles occupy a unique and non-transmittable role: a foundation is laid once, and others build upon it (cp. 1 Cor. 3:10-11). But things are different with respect to authority. From Matt. 18 it becomes evident that the spiritual authority originally entrusted by Christ to the apostles can be exercised by the local church; in other words, this authority is transmittable. Thus, in contradistinction to what Christ says about the "rock" (i.e.; the foundation of the church), the authority has been bestowed not upon the apostles exclusively, but also upon the entire church. From the very outset, the task of "binding" and "loosing" has been entrusted to the church and not exclusively to Peter and the rest of the apostles. Here we pause to look more closely at Matt. 18. The subject under consideration throughout this chapter is the mutual relationship that should 153 In that passage of Ephesians "the apostles [plural] and the [N.T.] prophets" are said to be the "foundation" of the church, with Christ Himself being the "chief cornerstone". Again, in the imagery of Rev. 21:14, the apostles are seen to collectively be the foundation of the church.

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exist among Christ's disciples. Although the Lord begins by addressing the twelve disciples (vs. 1),154 the discourse fluidly transitions to believers in general (note the reference to "the little ones who believe in me" in vs. 6 and "brother" in vs. 15) and concludes with the church. In verses 15-20 the discourse focuses on the course of action to be taken in the event that a "brother" has transgressed against a fellow believer. In verse 17 the church is designated as the body that must intervene if all other means of bringing the erring brother to repentance has failed. Again, it is clear that Matt. 18 is concerned with the life of the church. This is why there can be no doubt that the spiritual authority spoken of in verse 19 is an authority that has been conferred upon the church and is an authority exercised by the church. This exercise of authority would be inconceivable if such authority first mentioned in Matt. 16 were the exclusive prerogative of Peter and the original apostles and them alone. All this is confirmed by Christ's declaration found in verses 1920, "... I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven; 20for where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them". This statement must be understood in connection with the previous pronouncement regarding authority (vs. 18)--note how the expression "on earth" found in vs. 18 is repeated in vs. 19. The pronoun "they" (vs. 19) is in reference to the church, or, more explicitly, an individual congregation, that has come together to render a judgment with regard to such a matter as is described in vs. 15-16. The "keys of the kingdom" are not only given to the apostles, but in a wider sense to the church, the use of which "keys" are exercised by the elders in conformity with the apostolic teaching (i.e.; foundation) concerning the faith and life of the church.155 It must be understood that the promises Christ makes to His church with regard to the authority He has conferred upon it is not the promise of infallibility; that is to say, the church is not infallible with regard to any and every utterance they may make. On the contrary, Christ guarantees the validity of the church's judgments when they are in agreement with each other and in communion with Christ Himself. In other words, the divine sanction of their judgment is dependent upon agreement with His revealed will, as that will has been communicated in the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the apostolic formation of the New Testament. This is the great presupposition upon which the legitimate exercise of this authority is based. Christ will build His church. This is His sure promise. But He will do so by means of those who are His 154 Although verse one merely speaks of "disciples", we may assume that the twelve are intended. 155 The mention of "two or three gathered together in my name" should not be taken to mean a few individual members of the congregation acting in isolation from the main body; rather, the smallness of the number emphasizes the smallness of the particular congregation. But Christ is giving His assurance that even such a small number of believers still constitutes a gathering of His church, enjoying His presence and possessing the right to exercise the spiritual authority He has entrusted to His church.

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disciples, committed to His Word, building the church upon the foundation laid by His apostles. THE GREAT COMMISSION AND BAPTISM We are now ready to consider those passages in which Jesus charges His disciples with the task of preaching the gospel of the kingdom. This charge is very closely connected with the "church". The building of the church mentioned in Matt. 16 goes together with the preaching of the gospel in that the church is the fruit of such preaching. The first of those passages in which Jesus commissions His disciples to their evangelistic calling is Matt. 10 (cp. Mk. 6; Lk. 9). Of significance here is the notion of the disciples being "sent out" (apostellw) and their being now designated as "apostles" (apostoloi). Research done especially on the period of later Judaism reveal that these terms, (especially in the noun form, "apostle"), were a part of Jewish technical terminology. Within Jewish society, an "apostle" served the function of what we would call a "plenipotentiary diplomat". That is to say, he was a person who represented the one who sent him, invested with full authority to transact any business in the name of the one he represented and whose word was received as the utterance of the one who had sent him (cp. Jn. 13:20). In accordance with this commission, we read that Jesus empowered the twelve with the authority to drive out demons, to cure diseases, but first and foremost to proclaim the imminent appearance of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 10:7-8). From the parallel passage in Mk. (6:30), we learn that, in keeping with the nature of their commission, upon the completion of their mission they "report" (apagellw) to Jesus the results of their ministry. This is not yet a permanent office; their being sent out as "apostles" is still of a temporary or casual nature. Consequently, the rather unique instructions given them by Jesus must be understood in this light as being exceptional. This especially pertains to the command that they refrain from going to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, restricting their ministry exclusively to the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6). This particular instruction is what we might call "redemptivehistorically sensitive"; i.e.; it is dictated by the particular moment in redemptive history in which the disciples presently find themselves.156 The fact
156 The fact that Jesus did not consider it to be His own task to go to the Gentiles does not refute the fact that at a later point in redemptive history it would become the task assigned to His disciples. But this gospel ministry to the Gentiles would have to await the accomplishment of the work of redemption. From Isaiah 53 it becomes evident that nothing other than the suffering and death of the Servant of the LORD is what procures the salvation of the "many", (the "many" necessarily encompassing those who are beyond the boundaries of national Israel). There is also the necessity that the gospel of the kingdom must first be preached to the nation of Israel, on the basis of the covenant the LORD made with Abraham and his seed. It is when

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that they are forbidden to take along any extra supplies (Matt. 10:9-10) is intended to impress upon them the fact that, since they have been commissioned by the Lord, He is responsible and faithful to meet their needs. This becomes evident when Jesus immediately adds to His instructions His reason for giving them, namely, the fact that "the laborer is worthy of his food". In effect, Jesus is telling His apostles, "You do not have to worry about paying your own expenses. You are being employed, sent out, by Me; it is My responsibility to meet your needs, and you can trust Me to do so" (cp. Lk. 22:35). The concluding instructions Jesus gives to the twelve reveal that the character of this initial mission is that of a sifting and gathering of the true people of God (vs. 11-15): upon entering a particular town they are to seek out a "worthy" person--such a person's "worthiness" will be evidenced by his act of hospitality. Upon entering such a house, the disciples are instructed to give their greeting, which would seem to imply the announcement of their mission. Now we encounter a second mention of being "worthy". This time the householder's "worthiness" is determined by his response to the apostles' mission. If he welcomes them who have come in the name of the Lord proclaiming the coming of the kingdom, the twelve are to pronounce their "peace" upon this household, (their "peace" being nothing less than the salvation of the coming kingdom). But if the householder should prove himself to be "unworthy", by rejecting the gospel of the kingdom, the disciples are to withdraw their peace and completely separate themselves from such a household, (this being symbolized by the act of shaking the dust of the street off of their feet). Although this initial mission undertaken by the twelve was temporary in nature, the remainder of Matt. 10 (vs. 17-42) adds a whole series of pronouncements made by Jesus that pertain to the future task assigned to the apostles after Jesus' resurrection. First among these pronouncements is the warning that precisely because the apostles belong to Jesus and profess Him as the Messiah, they can expect to encounter all kinds of affliction and persecution (vs. 1725)--their experiences of rejection (encountering households that prove themselves to be "unworthy") on their initial mission should also serve to prepare them for what is to come. Yet, despite the hostility they may encounter, the disciples are exhorted to continue to confess Jesus without succumbing to any opposition (vs. 26-33). But the warning is counterbalanced with the assurance that their faithful preaching of the gospel of the kingdom will bear fruit: there will be those who receive them, and in so doing, they will be receiving Christ Himself (vs. 40-42). Jesus here identifies His disciples with the Old Testament prophets--just as they foretold the future coming of the kingdom, so now the apostles announce the presence of the kingdom and call men to enter into it. It should be noted also that these pronouncements contain the hint that the apostles' future ministry will transcend beyond that nation rejects the gospel that the Old Testament dispensation comes to an end and the way is open for the gospel to go forth to all the nations.

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national Israel to encompass the Gentile world (vs. 18). Furthermore, not only the apostles, but also all who receive their message, can expect to share in "the fellowship of Christ's sufferings" (vs. 34-38). These pronouncements testify to the fact that the establishment of a permanent apostolate that would serve as the bearers of the gospel of the kingdom and the foundation of the church was an integral part of Jesus' ministry. This does not alter the fact that the twelve disciples are not officially commissioned to this apostolic ministry until after Jesus' resurrection. It is not until after the resurrection that the disciples, now in their capacity as apostles, are called "witnesses of Jesus' resurrection" (Lk. 24:48; Acts 1:22; etc.) It is only after the resurrection that their proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom can assume the form of proclaiming the fulfillment of the Scriptures as it pertains to redemption; it is then, too, that their mission takes on a universal aspect (Matt. 28:19). This new and permanent appointment of the eleven disciples (Judas having fallen away) to the office of apostle on behalf of the risen Lord is found in Matt. 28:16-20, as well as Mark 16:15-16, and Luke 24:46-49. It is true that the word "apostle" is not found in any of these three accounts, but there can be no doubt that the charge imposed upon the eleven is intended to commission them to the office of apostle. All three gospel accounts mention the proclamation of the word: Mark refers to the "preaching of the gospel"; Luke declares them to be "witnesses of these things"; and Matthew speaks of "making disciples". In addition, Mark mentions the eleven being invested with the ability to perform miracles, and Luke notes that the undertaking of their charge is dependent upon the Holy Spirit (cp. Matt. 10:19-20). As we consider this commissioning of the eleven, we wish to emphasize the following the following points. First, it is noteworthy that in all three accounts it is the eleven original disciples who, in the first instance, are called to carry out the ministry of proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. By virtue of this direct and personal commissioning by the risen Lord, it is they who will form the apostolate, (although the charge of proclaiming the gospel is not limited to them alone). Undoubtedly, the name "apostle" was normally used in a very restricted sense by the early church, being careful to observe that the original eleven apostles were uniquely called to be the foundation of the church, (their augmented number, "twelve", serving to identify them as the representatives of the new, true, Israel). But we must understand that the task of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, to which Christ commissioned them, was not restricted to them alone, it would become the ongoing task of the church, carrying on the ministry first begun by the apostles (cp. 2 Tim. 2:2). The church is not only to receive the word of the kingdom and practice the life of the kingdom as stipulated by the word; it is also to proclaim the word of the kingdom to the world (cp. Phil. 2:15b-16a).

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Second, the purpose of this task assigned by Christ to the original eleven, and to be carried on by the church, is the gathering together of the Messiah's people, which as the elect of God have been given the promise of the kingdom (cp. Lk. 12:32). It must be emphasized that the purpose of this missionary endeavor is not only to provide deliverance from the judgment to come, but to make "disciples" (Matt. 28:19). As "disciples", they are to "observe" all that Christ has commanded His original disciples; i.e.; like those whom Christ called during His earthly ministry, those who respond to the preaching done by the apostles are to take Christ's yoke upon themselves and learn of Him (Matt. 11:29). The verb used here, "to observe157 [all that Christ has commanded]", as opposed to "obey", implies a prolonged period of time prior to the final manifestation of the kingdom. All of this means the establishing of the church as the kingdom community throughout this present interim period. Third, we take note of the universal scope of the gospel ministry entrusted by the risen Lord to His apostles. This is something emphasized in all three accounts: Matthew and Luke make mention of "all nations", and Mark speaks of preaching the gospel to "the whole creation". This does not mean to imply a wholesale conversion to Christianity by entire nations. Nevertheless, it is certainly the case that those who become disciples of Christ do, indeed, become a blessing to their respective nations as they by their presence serve as "salt" and "light" (cp. Matt. 5:13-16) and continue to carry the gospel to their fellow countrymen. It is important to realize that the universal scope of the Great Commission is in keeping with Old Testament eschatology. All through the Old Testament there runs the theme that the whole world and its nations shall have an interest in the salvation promised to Israel. From the very outset, it is declared to Abram that in him "shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3b); not to mention the original gospel promise made to Adam (cp. Gen. 3:15). The universal scope of the LORD's salvation is especially prominent in the prophecies found in the latter part of Isaiah (chapts. 40-66), and becomes focused on the Servant of the LORD and His work of redemption. On the one hand, we find that He has been chosen by the LORD to bring the salvation of the kingdom not only to Israel, but also to the nations (Isa. 42:1-4). On the other hand, it is the Servant's suffering and death that become the means of the salvation of the "many" (Isa. 53). In the light of the theme of the universal scope of the salvation procured by the Servant, the "many" cannot be limited to a vast number only within national Israel. Fourthly, we must speak about baptism. Both in Matt. 28 and Mk. 16 the missionary call of the disciples mention is made of baptism. These are the first and only passages in the Gospels in which baptism of spoken of as a commandment of Christ. Early on in the Gospels we encounter John's baptism, which is identified as "the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins" (Mk. 1:4). That baptism, like John's entire ministry, had an eschatological 157 The Greek verb, threw, has the connotation not only of "obeying", but also of "preserving".

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character, it was preparatory of, anticipatory of, the kingdom that was about to come (Mk. 1:15). It symbolized the fact that if one were to gain entrance into the kingdom he must be cleansed of his sins and turn from those sins. Investigations into Jewish practices of that period have pretty well established that John's baptism was a derivative of the baptism administered to Gentile proselytes who desired to become a part of the covenant community.158 But in distinction to the baptism of proselytes, John is administering his baptism to those who were part of the nation of Israel. Thus, John's baptism was making a distinction between the true sons of Abraham (i.e.; those who possessed the same saving faith in the LORD as was exhibited by Abraham) and the ethnic nation of Israel as a whole. By means of this baptism the genuine, spiritual people of God for whom the kingdom was intended is being brought to the fore. John contrasted his baptism with that to be administered by the Messiah who was soon to appear. His baptism was only with water, (that is to say, John's baptism could not actually wash away sin, it could only represent what only God Himself could do and was about to do by means of the Messiah's work of atonement). The coming Messiah, however, would administer the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, denoting, on the one hand, the life and blessing of the kingdom, and on the other, the judgment that would accompany the kingdom's eschatological appearance. John's words concerning the baptism to be administered by the Messiah had a figurative meaning, using the imagery of baptism he foretold what great spiritual acts the Messiah would accomplish. We should not understand John's words as referring to Christian baptism--after all, Christian baptism, like that of John, is with water. Neither should we identify Jesus' own baptism with Christian baptism. Jesus' baptism occurs as His messianic act of salvation, as something He undergoes for those who belong to Him. The words spoken by the Father out of heaven on the occasion of Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:17) are an allusion to Isa. 42:1-ff. According to that prophecy, the Messiah, as the Servant of the LORD, had to surrender Himself to suffering, and ultimately unto death (Isa. 53). Jesus' submission unto John's baptism is a messianic act whereby, humbling Himself in obedience to His Father's will, He unites Himself with sinners, and expresses His willingness to take upon Himself the punishment due them (cp. 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 12:2). To rightly understand Jesus' commandment concerning the baptism to be administered by His apostles (and His church), it must be viewed in the light of the time for which this baptism is intended: the period between Jesus' resurrection and His final appearance in glory at the end of the age. On the one hand, there is a connection with John's baptism, (with its background in the baptism of Gentile proselytes into the visible covenant community of Israel). 158 Ridderbos, p. 382.

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Christian baptism, like that of John, remains a symbol of spiritual purification from sin, this being the prerequisite for admission into the kingdom. It marks a separation of those who are baptized from the unbelieving world at large, incorporating the recipients of this baptism into a new community, which is the church, the Messiah's people, the genuine, spiritual Israel. This is why the commandment to baptize presupposes faith. Both in Matt. 28 and Mark 16 the command to preach the gospel precedes the command to baptize. On the other hand, there is a distinction between the baptism administered by John and that commanded by the Lord Jesus. The distinction has to do with the difference between promise and fulfillment. As noted previously, John's baptism was preparatory, done in anticipation of the coming of the kingdom. The baptism commanded by Jesus has to do with fulfillment. The remission of sins (and therefore eligibility for life in the kingdom that has even now come in a provisional way with the appearance of the Messiah) represented by the washing with water in Christian baptism is based upon Christ's finished work, especially His atoning death and subsequent resurrection. As Ridderbos expresses it, "Christian baptism is not only an act related to the consummation of God's kingdom, as was John's baptism; but, much rather, [Christian baptism] represents the commencement of the fulfillment [i.e.; experiencing the blessings of the kingdom even now as the kingdom manifests itself in its provisional form prior to the great consummation]."159 The character of this New Testament baptism of fulfillment is expressed in the stipulation that the person be baptized "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". The person thus baptized is dedicated unto God and given into His charge. Furthermore, the three-fold divine name indicates all the salvation that has been accomplished by Christ becoming the possession of the believer: adoption as a child of the heavenly Father, union and communion with Christ the Son, the reception of the Holy Spirit, together with His ministry and gifts. THE LORD'S SUPPER From the outset, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper has been one of the most important institutions in the Christian Church. The Gospel writers doubtless wanted to indicate the basis and the starting point of the later celebration of the Lord's Supper by the Church by giving their account of Jesus' last supper with His disciples. This especially appears from the so-called "remembrance command" ("this do in remembrance of me") found in Lk. 22:19. Here we are especially concerned with the significance of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper within the scope of Jesus' entire preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. We need to pay special attention to the redemptive-historical importance of the Supper--i.e.; the relationship between the Supper and the coming of the kingdom, both in its final fulfillment and in its provisional form.
159 Ridderbos, p. 386.

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When we consider the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we discover that two motifs come to the fore. The first is that of Christ's expiatory death: at the last supper Jesus is pointing to His forthcoming death as the substitutionary sacrifice that provides the remission of sins. The second motif is eschatological in nature: looking forward to the consummation of the kingdom at which time Jesus and His disciples will partake of a celebratory meal in the kingdom of heaven. This eschatological aspect of the Supper is prominent in Jesus' reference to drinking "new wine" with His disciples in the kingdom of God (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25) and in His words about the "fulfillment of the Passover" in the kingdom of God (Lk. 22:15-16). We begin our investigation by focusing our study on the longer account found in the Gospel of Luke (Lk. 22:14-20). The historical setting in which the Gospels (especially Luke) place the last supper is within the framework of the annual Passover Meal; therefore, the meaning of the Lord's Supper must be understood within that framework. Here useful data can be gleaned from the way in which the Jewish community of Jesus' day observed the Old Testament Passover. As we examine the data, let us be sensitive to bear in mind both the eschatological perspective (Lk. 22:15-16,18; Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25), as well as the sacrificial significance of Jesus' death (Lk. 22:19-20; Matt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24), as we seek to understand the connection between the last paschal meal shared by Jesus and His disciples and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which would become its replacement, (or, better, its true continuation during this interim period). When we compare the account of the Lord's Supper found in Luke with that found in Matthew and Mark, we find a considerable difference in structure. The Lucan account contains an introduction that is lacking in Matthew (and Mark).160 This distinction is remarkable for two reasons. First, Luke's account brings to the fore the "eschatological aspect" right from the start, doing so twice, whereas Matthew and Mark only bring out this aspect once, at the conclusion of their account of the Supper. In our understanding of the meaning of the Lord's Supper we shall have to do full justice to this eschatological aspect emphasized by Luke, especially in light of the fact that Luke is giving a more detailed description of the Supper as it occurred within the context of the Old Testament Passover observance. Secondly, we find that Luke, again in distinction from Matthew and Mark, mentions the passing of the cup twice: the cup is mentioned at the very beginning (vs. 17), where it is not connected with Jesus' shed blood, but with Jesus' future drinking of the wine in the kingdom of God (vs. 18). Later in his account Luke again mentions the cup (vs. 20), this 160 We are referring to the content of Lk. 22:15-18, "Then he said to them, `With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God'. 17Then he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, `Take this and divide it among yourselves, 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.'"

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time in relation to Jesus' words about His blood being the ratification of the new covenant, (the same is found in Matthew and Mark). Luke's more detailed account of the events surrounding the institution of the Lord's Supper is evidenced in his mention of the two cups of wine, and that in connection with the passing of the first cup Jesus spoke of "the fruit of the vine" (vs. 18). This phrase was a standard expression used in the Jewish paschal rites, it formed part of the father's prayer of thanksgiving as he distributed the first cup of the Passover meal.161 Since Luke's account of the institution of the Lord's Supper is based upon a more detailed description of the events, it becomes evident that the reference to the drinking of the wine in the kingdom of God (i.e.; the eschatological aspect with its future orientation toward the consummation of the kingdom) occurred at the very outset of the Supper. Thus, we come to see that Jesus immediately began the Last Supper with His disciples with a double reference to the kingdom of God; i.e.; He introduced the Supper with an emphasis on the eschatological aspect. So it is that the eschatological aspect is very important for determining the character of the Lord's Supper.162 The great importance of this eschatological aspect being emphasized at the very outset of the Last Supper is obvious. First, with respect to Jesus Himself. As Ridderbos states it, "Nowhere more impressively than here does it appear that [Jesus] faced death in the certainty of his future exaltation. In taking leave of his disciples [facing the death that lie before him] he triumphantly awaits the messianic time."163 At the same time--and this is significant for appreciating the character of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper--the meal Jesus partakes of with His disciples (i.e.; the Last Supper) assumes a prefigurative character; that is to say, what takes place on the occasion of the Last Supper figuratively foretells the meal Jesus shall share with His disciples in the eschatological kingdom of God. But the relationship between the Last Supper, (which will become perpetuated in the form of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper), and the meal to be celebrated in the kingdom of God is not only one of symbol and actuality, (i.e.; it is not only that the present meal symbolizes the coming eschatological meal). On the contrary, the relationship between the two is that of commencement/foretaste and fulfillment, (i.e.; the
161 As Matthew and Mark give a synopsis of the Last Supper, they mention Jesus' use of this expression, "the fruit of the vine", at the conclusion of the Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25). 162 This does not only appear from Luke's account. Matthew and Mark also make mention of Jesus' declaration that He would no longer "drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25). Jesus here not only refers to His own exaltation and glorification, but also of His reunion with His disciples in the kingdom of heaven when it shall be manifested in its final state of eternal consummation. What, at the time of the Last Supper, is provisional and incomplete will then be "new", (a term used again and again with reference to the state of final consummation). 163 Ridderbos, p. 412.

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Last Supper/Lord's Supper is the beginning and the foretaste of the eschatological meal that is yet to come). Now the foundation upon which participation in the future eschatological meal is based is Jesus' expiatory death. This becomes evident from the words with which Jesus institutes what would become the sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Lk. 22:19-20). Jesus relates the meal He is presently sharing with His disciples, (which would become the Lord's Supper), to His suffering and death, so that Christ's work of atonement is seen to be the starting point and the content of the disciples' eating and drinking, (as well as that of the Church as it partakes of the Communion Meal). It is Christ's expiatory death that forms the basis for the coming and the presence (although provisional for the time being) of the kingdom. This is why the meal (and sacrament) founded upon the salvific meaning of Christ's death is actually the meal of fulfillment, it is a sharing in the salvation of the kingdom, it is a participation in the commencement of redemption. It is the meal at which the church "tastes" of the eschatological kingdom (cp. Heb. 6:4-5), which is yet to be experienced in its full dimension. As has become clear, "eschatological aspect" is a very significant part of the character of the Lord's Supper. Yet it is only one aspect that determines the character and meaning of the sacrament. During this last meal with His disciples Jesus repeatedly mentions the coming kingdom of God (i.e.; the eschatological aspect) not merely to point out the pre-figurative character of the Lord's Supper (i.e.; that the Supper both represents and provides a foretaste of the coming kingdom), but in order to make clear the provisional and temporary significance of the Supper. To allow the "eschatological aspect" to prevail over the motif of Christ's expiatory death is a misconception of the real meaning of the eschatological aspect Jesus imparts to the sacrament.164 Jesus' reference to the future eschatological coming of the kingdom, as it pertains to the Last Supper, is predominantly negative: Jesus will not celebrate the festival with His disciples until the kingdom has come in its final manifestation. Note that on the occasion of the Last Supper Jesus does not say that there will be no more Passovers observed and no more wine taken until the eschatological kingdom has come; He only asserts that He Himself will no longer partake of them. He is informing His disciples that all this will continue without Him,165 and that He will not resume His fellowship with the
164 Ridderbos, p. 413. 165 We might almost say that the Last Supper had the characteristic of being a non- participatory participation on the part of the Lord Jesus. This is demonstrated by means of Jesus personally abstaining from partaking of the meal. It must be assumed that Jesus abstained from the bread that He distributed among the disciples--Jesus' exhortation for the disciples to take and eat (Matt. 26:26; Mk. 14:23) points in this direction. It was customary for the father to give the signal for the family to partake of the Passover meal by himself being the first to eat. By personally abstaining from eating (and drinking?), Jesus had to verbally give the disciples the signal to partake of the meal. This abstaining from the elements of bread and

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disciples until they sit down together in the eschatological kingdom of God. Jesus indicates to His disciples that the reason He has been so eager to share this meal with them is due to the fact that He is about to become separated from them (Lk. 22:15-16); this is, indeed, the last supper they shall share together, this is the last time on earth that they shall observe the Passover together. Thus, Jesus' reference to the "eschatological aspect" is given as part of His "farewell" address to the disciples. All this carries over into the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The redemptivehistorical significance of the Lord's Supper is not to be sought primarily in the "eschatological aspect", it is not the eating and drinking together with Christ in the consummated kingdom of heaven. The sacrament is only the prefiguration of this eschatological eating and drinking; it is a participation in the commencement of salvation brought about by the coming of Christ and His work of atonement. As such, the significance of the sacrament is to be found primarily in its connection with Jesus' expiatory death; in particular, in the meaning Jesus attributes to the bread and wine He distributed to His disciples. As noted, the eschatological perspective Jesus imparted to the Last Supper has the character of a farewell: it is spoken in anticipation of Jesus' imminent separation from His disciples (first via His death upon the cross of Calvary, and then via His ascension into heaven following His resurrection), looking beyond that period of separation to their future reunion, and thereby providing comfort and hope to His disciples to sustain them during this interim period. During this interim period (prior to His return in glory), Jesus shall no longer eat and drink with His disciples; but, nevertheless, they themselves are to continue eating and drinking during this period. They must continue to eat the bread and drink the cup of wine from which Jesus now abstains; only they must do so with the realization that what they are now eating and drinking is the "body and blood of the Lord". This is the great revelation: not the act of eating and drinking, (which was a part of the annual Passover observance), not the reference to the eschatological banquet in the kingdom of God; the new feature is that throughout this interim period prior to the consummation of the kingdom, Jesus' body and blood will serve as His disciples' food and drink. There is here both an element of fulfillment as well as that which is provisional. As Ridderbos expresses it: The Lord's Supper ... is the meal of redemption ... because it is founded in Christ's death. But it is so for ... the interim between the fulfillment that has begun and the consummation that is to be expected. Jesus gives to his disciples his body and his blood as their food for the way that is yet ahead ... But all their eating and drinking is done only in anticipation ... of the fullness of joy. The Lord's Supper, therefore, remains what Paul says, "the preaching of the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor.
wine also play a significant role in conjunction with Jesus' words to His disciples, "Take, eat, this is my body ..." (Matt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24; Lk. 22:19-20).

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11:26).166 Thus, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the communal meal ordained by Jesus for His disciples and the church during this time between His departure and their reunion in glory. By means of this meal the Lord indicates that His body and blood, giving in His expiatory death, is the life-giving and life-sustaining sustenance for His redeemed, that by which they are sustained until the time when they shall drink the new wine with Him in His Father's kingdom. We must now consider the way in which Jesus gives His disciples, and through them His church, His body and blood as their food and drink during this interim period prior to the great eschatological banquet in the fully realized kingdom of heaven. We are concerned now to understand the part of the paschal meal, (and its meaning), with which Jesus connects the words, "this is by body, ...this is my blood". The bread of which Jesus declared, "this is my body", must have been the unleavened bread that was eaten together with the paschal lamb. The "blessing" mentioned here (Matt. 26:26; Mk. 14:22; Lk. 22:19) would refer to the thanksgiving offered up to the LORD prior to partaking of the meal itself. With regard to the wine, from Lk. 22:20 it follows that this cup was the one taken after the meal. It was the third cup of wine, over which thanksgiving took place after the meal, and which, therefore, was known as "the cup of blessing". When Jesus imparts to the bread and the wine the meaning that they represent His body and blood respectively, the insight He imparts to His disciples is analogous to what the father of the household did at the Passover observance, relating the elements of the paschal meal to the Exodus from Egypt. The question, however, is, What does Jesus mean by His declaration, "This is my body ..."? Body and blood undoubtedly occur here as the two components of man's material make-up, which are separated at death. It is to His coming death that Jesus makes reference, as becomes especially evident from His accompanying words, "this is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; cp. Lk. 22:19, "this is my body, which is given for you"). The words of institution, spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper, must be understood as the terminology of sacrifice. In the Old Testament the flesh and blood of the sacrificial animal is repeatedly mentioned, as is the expression, "the shedding of blood". Furthermore, according to Matthew (26:28) and Mark (14:24), Jesus refers to His blood as "my blood of the covenant", which is an obvious allusion to Exodus 24:8, where the "blood of the covenant" also denotes the sacrificial blood that had been sprinkled upon the people. Thus, the central thought is that Jesus' death is the pre-eminent sacrifice of atonement, the fulfillment of everything that had been typologically and provisionally represented as such under the old covenant. Now it is the fruit of this all-embracing, all-fulfilling propitiatory
166 Ridderbos, p. 417.

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sacrifice that Jesus gives to His disciples to eat and to drink as His body and blood. The meaning of the Last Supper, and the Lord's Supper, is entirely determined by the character of the paschal meal. That which was true of the latter, (with regard to the Old Testament provisional atoning sacrifice), now holds true for Lord's Super, (with regard to the actual and ultimate atoning sacrifice offered by Christ at Calvary). In both cases, here is a sacrificial repast;167 in the case of the Lord's Supper, it is the sacrificial repast in the pre-eminent sense, namely, that of the new covenant. That is to say, the meat and the drink that are given are based on the sacrifice that has been offered and are the fruit and results of that sacrifice. Old Testament Israel was permitted to eat and drink in fellowship with the LORD based on the sacrifice of the paschal lamb. The same holds true with regard to the Lord's Supper, (except for the fact that its first celebration anticipated the sacrifice upon which the meal was based). Nevertheless, that which Jesus now offers His disciples, (the bread and the wine as representative of His body and shed blood), is the fruit of the atoning sacrifice He was about to offer up unto the Father on their behalf. As Ridderbos states it, "In this sense the bread is his body and the cup contains his blood, namely, that which is received in bread and cup is the sacrificial food and drink of the new covenant, the fruits of the New Testament sacrificial blood." Ridderbos goes on to say, "there can be no doubt about the ... meaning of the action at the Lord's Supper in the light of both the celebration of the Passover and the reference to Exodus 24:8 ... Jesus calls his sacrificial death the source and cause of the salvation of his followers, the founding act of the new covenant [consequent upon His fulfilling of the old covenant]."168 To quote Ridderbos once more, "... there is no foundation whatever for the idea that at the Lord's Supper the sacrificial act itself takes place and that the Lord's Supper and the sacrifice can be identified [as being identical to one another]. This Supper is not the sacrifice itself, but [the] application [of the sacrifice], [the] celebration [of it] ... The Lord's Supper is no more a sacrifice that is the paschal meal. It is, however, a sacrificial meal. The sacrifice is the presupposition and not the content of the meal."169 Note: For a discussion of the relationship Jesus establishes between the bread and wine of the Communion meal and His own body and blood, the reader is referred to the brief Appendix that accompanies this present lesson.
167 A "repast" refers to that which is given and received as food and drink. 168 Ridderbos, p. 427. 169 Ridderbos, pp. 427-428.

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APPENDIX: THE RELATIONSHIP CHRIST ESTABLISHES BETWEEN THE ELEMENTS AND HIS BODY AND BLOOD Here we are considering the question as to the relationship Jesus established between the bread of the Lord's Supper and His body, and between the cup of wine and His blood. In other words, what did Jesus mean when He took the bread and declared, "this is my body", and when He distributed the cup of wine and declared, "this is my blood of the new covenant"? No real objection can be raised against the view that when He spoke these words Jesus was referring to the bread and wine of the paschal meal in a symbolic way. This symbolic conception is quite obvious from the situation in which these words were uttered and from the fact that the disciples would be unable to attach any literal sense to these words, since they found themselves in Jesus' bodily presence. Furthermore, to understand the words of the institution of the Lord's Supper in a symbolic sense is entirely in accordance with Jesus' frequent use of graphic, symbolic language throughout His teaching ministry, the parables being a case in point. Then, too, the Greek verb, estin ("is"), need not always express the identity of the subject and the attribute, (in the present case, "this bread" is the subject and "my body" is the attribute). In other words, "this [bread] is my body" need not necessarily be taken to mean that Jesus is indicating that there is a complete identity between the bread of the Lord's Supper and His material body, as though they now formed an interchangeable unity. On the contrary, the verb estin may also be used in a comparative or symbolic sense, as is so often the case in Jesus' parables. For example, in explaining to His disciples His parable of the tares (Matt. 13:36-43), Jesus says, "the field is [estin] the world" (vs. 38), here He clears means that "the field" mentioned in His parable symbolically depicts "the world". One may also take note of Jesus' declaration found in the Sermon on the Mount, where He declares of His disciples, "You are [este] the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13), "You are [este] the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). But we cannot stop here, for the whole narrative of the Lord's Supper shows that Jesus does not simply draw a comparison between "bread" and His body and between "wine" and His blood about to be shed. His words are accompanied by a certain meaningful action, that of distributing the elements to His disciples. Thus, this act of distribution, as well as the exhortation for His disciples to "take and eat", must also be seen as being incorporated into the overall symbolism--in addition to Jesus' symbolic words about the bread and wine He adds the symbolic act of distribution (and exhortation). Now the bread and wine do not depict Jesus' body and blood because there is a natural resemblance between them, but because Jesus assigns this symbolic meaning to these elements: they take on this symbolic meaning because Jesus distributes these elements to His disciples in this situation (i.e.; the Last Supper) and gives to them this specific (sacramental) sense. By His actions of distributing the elements, Jesus creates the connection between them and His body and blood respectively. This is why the disciples receive Jesus' body and blood in a symbolic way when they receive and partake of the bread and the wine. The bread and the wine not only depict Jesus' body and blood, they also function in another way, namely, they represent His body and blood. Therefore, anyone who receives the one (i.e.; the elements), is also receiving the other (i.e.; the body and blood of the Lord). Of course, this is not something that occurs, or should be understood, as taking place in a literal, physical way--Jesus' body and blood are not food and drink that are to be taken into our mouths so as to nourish our bodies. Everything remains symbolic, or, as Jesus explains it, "spiritual" (cp. Jn. 6:52-59; note, especially vs. 63b). Everything remains symbolic, but in such a way that what is symbolic becomes connected with spiritual reality by virtue of the action associated with the bread and wine, namely, the distribution of the elements and the partaking of them on the part of the disciples. According to Ridderbos, "The Roman Catholic and the old Lutheran exegesis do not err because of the close connection they established between bread and body, wine and blood, but in that they made the symbol itself into the reality, whereas

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they should have realized that the connection between the symbol and its intended reality is to be sought in the action of giving, on the one hand, and in that of eating and drinking, on the other."170 In other words, it is not in the elements themselves, but in the action involving those elements, that the spiritual reality is to be found: the act of receiving what symbolically depicts Christ's body and blood becomes the actual spiritual reception of the person and thing that are represented by the elements. At this point Ridderbos refers to the work of Rudolf Otto, and what Otto terms, "the special type of Christ's action with the bread". His action belongs to the category of the parable: at the Last Supper the master of parables in words acts in a parabolic way. His action (of distributing the bread and wine depicting His body and blood) anticipates the future, namely, the giving of His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. But it not only anticipates the future, it at the same time gives a share in what is being anticipated, an actual experience of the benefit of what is being depicted. This is accomplished by what Otto calls "effective representation". "Effective representation" is the concept, widespread throughout antiquity, that the essence or virtue inherent in a particular event (what we will call "X") can be transmitted and received by means of a representation of "X". Such "representation" becomes effective through the will of him who has "X" at his disposal. It is always objects or events that show a similarity to the objects or events they are representing that are especially suitable to serve the function of "effective representation". In the case of the Last Supper, the taking of physical food and drink, and the benefit derived from such eating and drinking, form an understandable analogy to the spiritual reception of what that food and drink symbolically represent, and the spiritual benefit derived from the reality they represent, (namely, Christ's atoning sacrifice). This concept can be seen in the instructions and admonition the Apostle Paul gives to the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 10:18-21). In that passage Paul declares, "those who eat of the sacrifices [are] partakers of the altar" (vs. 18), for the sacrifices are associated with the altar and, consequently, are seen as being representative of the altar. Consequently, he who partakes of the altar, by virtue of partaking of the sacrifices that represent the altar, partakes of the spiritual reality of the altar's sanctifying power (cp. Matt. 23:17, 19). In this same passage the Apostle Paul goes on to speak about the fellowship that exists between those who partake of a pagan sacramental meal and the demonic powers that are the "hosts" of such meals (vs. 20). In this very context Paul then goes on to speak about partaking of the Lord's Supper (vs. 21). According to Paul, just as partaking of the pagan sacrificial meals establishes actual fellowship with the spiritual forces of darkness represented by that meal, so, in the positive sense, being a partaker of the Lord's Supper establishes actual fellowship with the Lord Christ--such partaking brings one into actual connection with the spiritual reality represented by the bread and wine. There is here no thought of any transition of one "substance" into another, (i.e.; the transition of the bread into the body of Christ). Nevertheless, the relationship that is established with the spiritual reality represented by the physical elements, by virtue of partaking of those elements, is something that is actual and not merely symbolic--it is an entry into living contact with the spiritual reality that is being represented by the physical elements. Now it is extremely important to realize that the concept of "effective representation" is only expressing the nature of the relationship between the physical sign and the spiritual reality that it signifies. To understand how this phenomenon (denoted as "effective representation") is functioning in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we must look more closely at the relationship the Lord Jesus establishes between the elements and His body and blood. The Gospel record of the institution of the Lord's Supper makes clear that the concept of "effective representation" cannot be understood as applying to any sacrificial action on the part of Christ by which He was in some sense sacrificing Himself in the presence of His disciples. The concept 170 Ridderbos, p. 435.

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of "effective representation", as it pertains to the Lord's Supper, must be understood as applying to that which is distributed to the disciples, namely, the bestowal of the fruits of Christ's sacrifice to His disciples. What is being represented (and communicated to the disciples) is not Christ's sacrifice itself, but the reception of the benefits of that atoning sacrifice. As Ridderbos expresses it, what is being represented by the Lord's Supper is not the acquisition but the application of salvation.171 Finally, it must be understood that the Lord's Supper represents the salvation secured by Christ and distributes the benefits of Christ's atoning sacrifice by virtue of Jesus' authoritative messianic word. That is to say, the elements represent Christ's once-for-all sacrifice and communicate the fruits of that sacrifice solely because Christ says that they do; by His authoritative word He has assigned to the elements of the Communion Meal this sacramental function. It is Christ's authoritative word that establishes the sacramental connection between the elements and what they represent, and it is His word that guarantees this relationship between the physical symbols and the spiritual reality communicated by the partaking of the elements. Thus, the very real connection between the bread and wine and Christ's sacrifice is not based on the faith of the recipients of the elements--they must receive the elements in faith, but it is not their faith that creates the connection between the elements and Christ's sacrificed body and shed blood. This becomes evident from the fact that Jesus did not say of the bread, "Eat this as my body", or, "Consider this [bread] to be my body". The connection between the bread and His body, and between the wine and His shed blood, is founded upon Christ's word, His authoritative messianic word as the divine Host of the Communion Meal. The disciples are not only instructed to "take and eat; take and drink", they are also instructed to continue doing so in remembrance of Christ. Given at the time of His departure, this word denotes the means by which the church shall continue its spiritual existence during this interim period prior to our Lord's return in glory at the end of the age. The church's spiritual life is dependent upon the reception of the fruits of Christ's sacrifice (His work being inseparable from His person, as is indicated by the giving of His body and blood), and for our sake the assurance of such reception is communicated in tangible terms by means of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. By means of the sacrament, the church receives from Christ's hand and partakes of the saving benefits of His atoning death, and is thereby spiritual sustained until that time when we shall drink the new wine with Him in His Father's kingdom. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. Match the various views regarding the Old Testament background for the New Testament church with the scholars who advocate them. a. This scholar maintains that the central concept of "the people of God", "the O.T. covenant community as a whole", is the foundation for the New Testament "church". ___ b. According to this scholar, the "church" is to be identified as the "remnant" of Israel spoken of in such Old Testament passages as Isa. 10:20-22. ___ c. This biblical scholar sought to link the origins of the church in Jesus' preaching with the Son of Man passage in Daniel 7. ___ 1. F. Kattenbusch 171 Ridderbos, p. 437.

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2. H. Ridderbos 3. G. Gloege 2. Which of the following statements are true with regard to "the keys of the kingdom"? a. In being granted the "keys", Peter and the apostles now replace the leaders of Israel who had misused the spiritual authority entrusted to them during the Old Testament dispensation. b. The use of the "keys" must be understood as being the authority to grant admittance, or forbid entry, into the kingdom of heaven. c. The authority of the "keys" was given exclusively to the apostles; that spiritual authority is not extended to the church. 3. It is important to realize that the universal scope of the Great Commission, the command to take the gospel to all nations, is something that remained unknown during the Old Testament dispensation. True or False 4. Which of the following statements accurately describe the relationship between the baptism performed by John the Baptist and Christian baptism? a. Christian baptism, like that of John, is a symbol of spiritual purification from sin, this being the prerequisite for admission into the kingdom. b. Christian baptism, like that of John, is preparatory, done in anticipation of the coming of the kingdom. c. Christian baptism, like that of John, marks the separation of those who are baptized from the unbelieving community/world at large. 5. The lesson indicates that there are two motifs present in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the eschatological perspective and that of Christ's expiatory death. Identify which motif is being discussed in each of the following sentences. a. The ___motif is prominent in Jesus' reference to drinking "new wine" with His disciples in the kingdom of God (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25). b. Luke's account brings to the fore the ___ motif right from the start, whereas Matthew and Mark only bring out this aspect once, at the conclusion of their account of the Supper. c. The role of the ___ motif, as it pertains to the Last Supper, is predominantly negative. d. The redemptive-historical significance of the Lord's Supper is to be sought primarily in the ___ motif. 1. eschatological 2. expiatory death

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Discuss the relationship between the church and the kingdom. 2. Discuss what the lesson has to say about Jesus' reference to Peter and the "rock" found in Matt. 16:15-18. 3. Discuss the distinction between "foundation" and "authority" as these relate to the apostles and the church. 4. Explain what the lesson means when it states, "The meaning of the Last Supper, and the Lord's Supper, is entirely determined by the character of the paschal meal." 5. After reading the Appendix found at the conclusion of the lesson, explain the meaning of "effective representation" and how it pertains to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

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LESSON EIGHT: THE FINAL ESCHATOLOGICAL172 APPEARANCE OF THE KINGDOM Our last lesson must be devoted to what Jesus teaches with regard to the future of the kingdom of heaven. We need now consider, in summary form, the data contained within the Gospels that pertains to the future, eschatological manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. As we shall see, the "eschatological data" given to us in the Gospels has a great many aspects and forms a very intricately interwoven complex. We begin by taking note of the connection that exists between Jesus' pronouncements about the future eschatological appearance of the kingdom and those pronouncements about His own approaching death and resurrection--the connection between His own passion and His Parousia.173 JESUS' RESURRECTION AND HIS PAROUSIA Jesus repeatedly spoke of His approaching passion and of His Parousia, but scholars have noted that in His pronouncements about the future there is no temporal distinction made between His passion (and resurrection) and His Parousia, (His appearing as the Son of Man in all of His glory and dominion)-- that is to say, Jesus gives little or no indication of there being any interval of time between these two events. Thus, we are confronted with the phenomenon that in His pronouncements concerning the future, Jesus did not provide a clear perspective of the interim period beginning with His resurrection and concluding with His Parousia. This leads us to conclude that there is an intimate connection between the two; although the two events may be separated by time, Christ's resurrection and His Parousia are of the same essence. In other words, His resurrection is a foretaste of His Parousia; His resurrection is a preliminary, but authentic, manifestation of what is yet to be revealed in all of its fullness at the end of the age. But the connection between our Lord's passion and His Parousia is not merely that the former is preliminary to the latter; it is also the case that the latter is indispensably dependent upon the former. To understand this connection, we need to examine another phenomenon in Jesus' self-revelation.
172 By "Eschatological" we are referring to that future time when this present world comes to a cataclysmic end; that time when history gives way to eternity; that time when men are brought into the direct and immediate presence of God, entering into the full and eternal state of heaven, in the case of the redeemed, or hell, in the case of the unregenerate; in a word, that future time when the kingdom of God manifests itself in all of its transcendent fullness. 173 Parousia, (meaning, "coming; arrival; presence"), is the Greek term used in the Gospels with reference to Jesus' appearance in power and great glory at the end of the age, which appearance coincides with and brings forth the final eschatological manifestation of the kingdom of heaven (cp. for instance, 2 Thess. 1: 5-10).

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What we are referring to is the fact in His self-revelation Jesus identified Himself with both the Son of Man (of Dan. 7) and with the Suffering Servant (of Isa. 53). As Ridderbos expresses it: The whole of Jesus' self-revelation is dominated by the great mission ... he has to perform ... [the] contents [of this mission] are ... determined by the motif of atonement and suffering [i.e.; the Suffering Servant of Isa. 53], as well as by that of the authority of the Son of Man mentioned in Dan. 7. That is why that which Jesus preaches about the future of the kingdom [a crucial element of which is His Parousia] must also be viewed in connection with his prophecies concerning his passion, death and resurrection.174 In His messianic self-revelation Jesus applied to Himself two separate strands of Old Testament prophecy. He referred to Himself as the Son of Man, alluding to the prophecy found in Dan. 7:13-14; but He also spoke about the necessity of His undergoing humiliation and suffering, in so doing Jesus was alluding to the prophecies of Isaiah relating to the Servant of the LORD. As noted, for the most part, throughout the Old Testament these two strands are distinct from each other: in the eschatological prophecies about the Son of Man, the motif of passion, death and resurrection is absent; conversely; what is said about the passion, death and exaltation of the Servant of the LORD in Isa. 53 is of a different nature than the divine transfer of power bestowed upon the Son of Man in Dan. 7. But our Lord Jesus combined these two strands, these two figures, in a paradoxical and mysterious way, at least to His unsuspecting hearers, when He declared, "the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected ... and be killed, and after three days rise again"(Mk. 8:31; cp., also, Matt. 20:28). According to Ridderbos, "This was the new, the `revolutionary' element in his messianic self-revelation."175 The connection Jesus thus makes between the Son of Man and the Servant of the LORD, (as Ridderbos states it, "the combination of Daniel 7 and Isaiah 53"), was by no means clear to the disciples. When the disciples profess Jesus' messianic glory by Peter's confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16; Mk. 8:29; Lk. 9:20), Jesus then immediately proceeds to announce His coming suffering, death, and subsequent resurrection (Matt. 16:21; Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:21-22). But, as we come to see, this announcement of His coming passion is unintelligible to them (Matt. 17:22-23;176 Mk. 9:31-32; Lk. 18:31-34). Note that the disciples' lack of comprehension pertains not only to Jesus' upcoming suffering and death, but also to the resurrection that He assured them would follow. In Mk. 9:10 we read that they kept questioning what "the rising again from the dead" meant. This certainly cannot indicate 174 Ridderbos, p. 457. 175 Ridderbos, p. 461. 176 Most English versions render Matt. 17:23 as, "they were exceedingly sorry", but it is preferable here to translate the Greek verb lupew to read, "they were exceedingly distressed", due to their confusion.

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that the disciples had no comprehension of the general resurrection that will take place on the Last Day (cp. Mk. 12:18-27; Jn. 11:24); rather, they did not comprehend the resurrection of the Son of Man. They then go on to inquire whether Elijah must not come first (Mk. 9:11). That is to say, it was their understanding that Elijah would appear prior to the general resurrection on the Last Day. This view was in accord with the Jewish expectation of the future, based on their interpretation of such a passage as Malachi 4:5. All this goes to show that at this point the disciples had no insight into the relation between Christ's resurrection and His Parousia as foretold in Dan. 7:13-14. This further shows that the connection between the death and resurrection of the Servant of the LORD and the Parousia of the Son of Man had not been made evident in the prophecies of the Old Testament dispensation. This lack of insight on the part of the disciples was not only due to their spiritual dullness (Lk. 24:25), but also due to the nature of Jesus' self-revelation prior to His exaltation (cp. Jn. 16:12). It is only after His resurrection that He "opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures" (Lk. 24:45-47). Here is an important point, which we may summarize as follows: from the outset, there were, what we might call, two trends in Jesus' prophecies about the future with regard to His person. The one culminates in His death and subsequent resurrection. The other culminates in His Parousia. These to prophetic trends each have their own starting point, the one being the prophecies concerning the Servant of the LORD, the other being the prophecies about the glorious Son of Man. Furthermore, the connection between these two trends would remain hidden until the time following Jesus' rising from the tomb. Consequently, prior to that time, the great drama of Christ's passion, and subsequent resurrection, would prove to be the unexpected and incomprehensible intervening events between the present (i.e.; Old Testament dispensation) and the great future manifestation of the kingdom of heaven brought about by the appearing of the Son of Man in glory. Prior to the resurrection event itself, the fact of Christ's resurrection and the role it would play in the epoch it would inaugurate prior to the Parousia remained hidden from the disciples' understanding. Now become evident two great revelations. First, Jesus' death and resurrection form the foundation that makes possible the provisional coming of the kingdom announced by Jesus at the outset of His ministry.177 The fulfillment inaugurated with Jesus' coming, which is not yet the consummation of all things, this provisional, although spiritually dynamic fulfillment, has its basis in the suffering and subsequent resurrection of the Messiah in His role as the Servant of the LORD. It is by means of His atoning death, and the subsequent resurrection that verifies the meritorious nature of that death, that the ransom is paid and the elect receive entrance into the kingdom of their heavenly Father. Furthermore, it is the Messiah's personal resurrection that inaugurates 177 The student is referred back to LESSON TWO of this present course.

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the interim period extending from Pentecost until His Parousia at the end of the age. It is during this interim that "the many" for whom the Savior shed His blood are gathered into His church. It is during this period that the gospel is proclaimed to all the nations (Matt. 28:19-20; 24:14). The resurrection reveals the interim period prior to the Parousia, an interval of time of which John the Baptist and the Old Testament covenant community had little or no comprehension--bear in mind John's perplexity over the fact that the One whom he had announced as the Messiah had not immediately brought about the Final Judgment and the redemption of Israel (Matt. 11:2-6; cp. Matt. 3:10-12). So, it is vital to realize, as Ridderbos points out, that the great turning point of history--the time when the divine promises begin to enter into fulfillment, the time when expectation of the kingdom begins to give way to the experience of the kingdom--is not to be found in the Parousia of the Son of Man at the end of the age, it is to be found in the death and resurrection of the Servant of the LORD.178 This is the starting point of the fulfillment of the promises concerning the kingdom, with the culmination of the fulfillment manifesting itself at the time of the Parousia. Thus, the resurrection is connected to the Parousia in the sense that the resurrection forms the true starting point of the fulfillment to be completed by the Parousia, and inaugurates the interim period between itself and the Parousia. All this is the first great revelation unveiled by Christ's resurrection. We come now to consider the second great revelation unveiled by Christ's resurrection. His resurrection discloses the fact that there is an intimate and indissoluble connection between Jesus' exaltation bestowed upon Him for having faithfully fulfilled His ministry as the suffering Servant of the LORD and His status as the Son of Man invested with all power and authority. This connection is made evident in Peter's sermon at Pentecost, in which he explicitly states that God, by virtue of the resurrection and ascension, has set Jesus on His right hand and made Him "both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). This same truth is already made evident by Christ Himself when, on the occasion of assigning the Great Commission, He declares, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). This is a clear reference to the prophecy of Dan. 7:13-14. It is true that already during His earthly ministry the power invested in the Son of Man had been placed at Jesus' disposal (cp. Matt. 9:6). But the testimony, "I have been given [this authority]", indicates the change that has been brought about following the resurrection. Post-resurrection, Jesus has truly been invested with the authority of the Son of Man--the "given" of Matt. 28:18 corresponds to the "given" of Dan. 7:14; writing of the Son of Man, Daniel declares, "there was given to him dominion and glory and a kingdom ..." Thus, the resurrection is 178 Ridderbos (p. 466) expresses his agreement with the N.T. scholar, Oscar Cullmann, who argues that in the Synoptic Gospels the center of time [or, perhaps better, the great turning point of time] no longer lies in the future, namely, in the Parousia as the commencement of the new age, as was the view held by Judaism, but in the past, namely, in Christ's coming and His accomplishment of the work of redemption.

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not only the exaltation of the Servant of the LORD, bestowed upon Him as the reward for His faithful devotion to the LORD, even when that devotion entailed the utmost degree of suffering and even the shameful death of the cross. What is revealed by Christ's resurrection is the fact that the authority invested in the Son of Man is based upon the self-surrender of the Servant of the LORD. It should be noted that the passion undergone by Jesus as the Servant of the LORD unleashes as it were, or is accompanied by, a preliminary demonstration of the cataclysmic events that shall accompany the Parousia of the Son of Man. According to Matt. 37:51-53, at the moment of Jesus' death, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (the Old Testament dispensation, centered on the temple, is brought to an end); "the earth shook and the rocks split" (a portent of the cataclysmic upheaval that will culminate in the destruction and renovation of the entire created order); "the tombs broke open and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised to life ... after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (here is a foretaste of the great resurrection to occur on the last day, when the redeemed share in their Lord's own resurrection). All these events clearly point to the connection between the resurrection and the coming Parousia of the Son of Man. To quote Ridderbos in summing up the Gospel data: "In the prophecies before Jesus' death, his Parousia is distinguished from the resurrection of the suffering and dying Servant of the LORD; but now, after the resurrection, it [i.e.; His Parousia] is seen to be impossible apart from this resurrection in which it is already provisionally realized [or, manifested]."179 To quote once more from Ridderbos, Jesus' prophecies about his resurrection and Parousia form a unity. His announcement of the Parousia of the Son of Man is even provisionally fulfilled in his resurrection. But this must not detract from the fact that in Jesus' eschatological speeches all the attention is directed to the ultimate and definitive coming of the kingdom of heaven. While at the beginning of his preaching all emphasis is laid upon the presence of the fulfillment [i.e.; the present, albeit provisional, manifestation of the kingdom], as is seen in connection with his miracles; at the end of [his earthly ministry] everything is again focused upon the future. The coming of the kingdom is then referred to in such an absolutely future sense as if it had not come, and the Parousia of the Son of Man ... is spoken of as if he were only a person of the future. This `line' reaches its climax in the great eschatological discourses at the close of the gospel ... and in the corresponding parables about the future.180
179 Ridderbos, pp. 467-468. 180 Ridderbos, p. 468.

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It is to that eschatological discourse and those eschatological parables that we now turn our attention. But we begin by considered our Lord's eschatological pronouncements. THE ESCHATOLOGICAL PRONOUNCEMENTS The eschatological pronouncements of which we speak are found at Matt. 10:23, Mk. 9:1 and Mk. 13:30. Since the Mk. 13:30 passage is embedded in Jesus' eschatological discourse, we shall discuss that pronouncement in the next section. At first glance, these pronouncements give the appearance that Jesus predicted the eschatological manifestation of the kingdom, brought about by the appearance of the Son of Man in His glory, would take place in the very near future. In German, this is called the Nah-erwartung (the imminent expectation of the kingdom); or, perhaps better, it is known as "the problem of the Nah-erwartung", for, if, indeed, Jesus did predict the imminent appearance of the kingdom in all of its eschatological fullness, such did not occur. For the old liberal theology of the early twentieth century, this "problem" was no problem at all; it was simply dismissed as irrelevant. Since that school of theology sought the essence of the gospel in the timeless exhortation to love one's neighbor, it pushed Jesus' eschatological pronouncements into the background, declaring such statements to merely be a part of the inessential contemporary setting in which Jesus preached. The radical eschatological school, on the other hand, sought to explain all of Jesus' preaching from perspective of the Nah-erwartung--they saw all of Jesus' preaching being colored by His expectation of the imminent appearance of the eschatological kingdom. Consequently, they were left with no alternative but to say that Jesus was mistaken. We certainly cannot condone either one of these schools of New Testament theology in as much as they cast disparagement upon the Lord of glory, and, furthermore, exegetically, they are found wanting. But before moving on to an exegetical study of these passages, we mention one other attempt that has been made in the effort to remove the "problem" posed by these eschatological pronouncements. Those who hold to this view have sought to eliminate the problem of the imminent expectation of the kingdom by suggesting an ubergeschichtliche (i.e.; supra-historical) interpretation to these passages. That is to say, they seek to explain the "nearness" of the kingdom not in a temporal sense, but in a transcendent sense: Jesus did not mean that the kingdom was about to manifest itself in history in the immediate future, rather, what He meant was that the kingdom is spiritually present. Thus, the "nearness" of which He spoke is not to be understood as pertaining to a horizontal, time-oriented future in history; rather, it should be understood as pertaining to a vertical direction: the

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transcendent realm and the earthly realm were soon to become connected by the spiritual presence of the kingdom. But it has become increasingly evident that such a conception of the "nearness" of the kingdom does not accord with Jesus' overall preaching of the kingdom. The gospel undoubtedly speaks of the future coming of the kingdom in a temporal sense, and the element of linear time cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the gospel. Let us now go on to consider these eschatological pronouncements more closely. The first such pronouncement we wish to discuss in found at Mark 9:1, where the Lord Jesus declares, "Truly, I say unto you that there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God having come with power." (Matthew 16:28 reads, "... till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom"; and Luke 9:27 simply has, "... till they see the kingdom of God"). The meaning of the first half of Jesus' declaration states that a restricted number of those whom Jesus was addressing would not die before the promise stated in the second half of the declaration had been fulfilled. We might ask why Jesus speaks of "some" and not "all". This may mean that the things announced in the second half of the verse, ("seeing the kingdom having come in power"), would occur only after most of those to whom Jesus was presently speaking had already died; or it may mean that only a few of those living in that generation would be permitted to witness the event of which Jesus here speaks. So we are confronted with two questions: Of whom is Jesus speaking when He speaks of "some"; and, of what is Jesus speaking when He speaks of the coming of the kingdom with power, or, seeing the Son of Man coming in His kingdom? A. Plummer, in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, writes that from the first part of Lk. 9:27 it follows that this seeing of the kingdom of which Jesus speaks is meant as a special privilege granted to some people in distinction to all the members of Jesus' present audience, to whom this privilege was not granted. Plummer is therefore of the opinion that in this passage Jesus has in mind either the transfiguration, which would be witnessed by only a few of His disciples, or the destruction of Jerusalem (an act of messianic judgment), which only a few of Jesus' audience would remain alive to see. Other exegetes, in agreement with Plummer, do not want to take the reference to the "coming of the kingdom with power" as a reference to the Parousia of Son of Man at the end of the age. In addition to Plummer's suggestions, they further suggest that Jesus may have had in mind the Day of Pentecost, and/or the spread of the gospel and the conversion of the Gentiles. Ridderbos, on the other hand, maintains, "it will be impossible to eliminate ... the eschatological coming of the kingdom and [the Parousia of] the Son of Man in the explanation [of the texts]."181 He points out that in all three Gospel accounts the description of the Parousia immediately precedes the prophecy 181 Ridderbos, p. 505.

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under discussion (cp. Mk. 8:38; Matt. 16:27; Lk. 9:26); therefore, according to Ridderbos, Jesus' pronouncement cannot be separated from the Parousia. Moreover, Matt. 16:28 speaks of seeing the Son of Man coming in His kingly dignity. Again, according to Ridderbos, "there is no passage in all of the synoptic [Gospels] in which this phrase has the specific meaning of the exaltation of the Son of Man before (and apart from) the Parousia."182 How then, does Ridderbos interpret this eschatological pronouncement? He sees Jesus here speaking from the standpoint of prophecy, with its unique characteristic of speaking of future events in a comprehensive and undifferentiated way. That is to say, when the biblical prophets were given revelations with regard to the future, the future events they saw were often times "compressed" together, with only the actual occurrence of those events in history revealing the time lapse between them; or, again, a preliminary fulfilling event (such as Jesus' resurrection) may be so "compressed" into the final fulfilling event (the Parousia) as to be indistinguishable from that final event. So, Ridderbos concludes, it is impermissible to exclude the Parousia from Jesus' prophetic pronouncement, but it is also impermissible to limit that pronouncement to only the final Parousia. Between the time of the pronouncement and the Parousia there occurs the great fact of our Lord's resurrection. Thus, Jesus' resurrection may be seen as a preliminary fulfillment of His prophecy, since by virtue of His resurrection He does manifest Himself as the Son of Man in His kingly power (cp. Matt. 28:18). We have presented Ridderbos' view in some detail because it brings to light the unique character of biblical prophecy, which will be of significance in helping us to understand other eschatological statements. However, we cannot agree with his interpretation of Mk. 9:1 and related passages. It is important to do justice to Jesus' use of the word "some", which tends to limit the subjects of His prophetic words to a rather small number of persons.183 Consequently, He could not have had His final Parousia in mind, for it is the clear Gospel witness that that event will be a glorious "public" event witnessed by all men (cp. Mk. 13:26, etc.). Likewise, the resurrection would also be witnessed by more than a few persons, the Apostle Paul provides a list of our Lord's resurrection appearances, stating that upon at least one occasion our Lord Jesus was seen by "more than five hundred persons at one time" (1 Cor. 15:5-8). We therefore agree with Plummer when he suggests that what Jesus had in mind was His transfiguration. For one thing, immediately following this prophetic pronouncement all three Gospels report that Jesus took with Him a select few of His disciples, Peter, James and John, and granted them the privilege of witnessing His transfiguration, at which time they behold His transcendent glory. Furthermore, the fact that Jesus, indeed, had His transfiguration in mind when He spoke these prophetic words is confirmed by the witness of the 182 Ridderbos, p. 505. 183 The Greek term that occurs here, tineV, may even bare the meaning, "certain ones", thereby specifying a small number of those who were a part of Jesus' present audience.

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Apostle Peter. In 2 Pet. 1:16-18, writing of the transfiguration, Peter refers to that event as "the power and the Parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ". He goes on to state that on that occasion Jesus "received from God the Father honor and glory". We turn now to a second eschatological statement, that found in Matthew 10:23, where, upon the occasion of sending out His disciples on their first preaching tour, our Lord declares to them, "But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another; for assuredly I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." That school of New Testament theology that (wrongly) sought to view all of Jesus' preaching of the kingdom as being derived from His expectation of the imminent appearance of the eschatological kingdom have based their view on this eschatological pronouncement found here in Matt. 10:23.184 However, upon a more careful examination of this passage, there is good reason to reject the supposition that Jesus (mistakenly) assumed that the eschatological manifestation of the kingdom was imminent and that this present pronouncement supports that contention. To begin with, vs. 18 speaks of events, (namely, the disciples being summoned to appear "before governors and kings"), that could not possibly pertain to this initial preaching assignment, (note, also, vs. 22). It will only be on the occasion of His charging them with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:1620) that Jesus commands His disciples to bring the gospel to the Gentile nations. With regard to this initial assignment, which is the subject of Matt. 10, the disciples' ministry is limited to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (vs. 6). As a matter of fact, on this occasion they are forbidden to go into "the way of the Gentiles" (vs. 5). Furthermore, if Jesus actually expected the events mentioned in vs. 17-18 to occur during this initial preaching assignment, it is incomprehensible why neither the disciples upon their return, nor Jesus Himself, brought up the fact that the parousaic prophecy of Matt. 10:23 remained unfulfilled. As Ridderbos states it, the "entire conception of Jesus having already expected the coming of the Son of Man before his death [and Matt. 10:23 supporting that contention] is so fantastic that it is simply surprising to find [certain scholars] still maintaining it."185 But this brings us back to the question, How are we to understand the eschatological pronouncement of Matt. 10:23? Some New Testament scholars, such as F.W. Grosheide, suggest that Jesus' discourse contained in Matt. 10:1-ff. should not be restricted to the initial preaching mission assigned to the twelve disciples; rather, it should be seen as extending beyond them into the distant future. Thus, Grosheide is of the opinion that the words, "till the Son of Man has come", is, indeed, an allusion to the final Parousia. Consequently, the disciples' initial preaching assignment 184 See the previous discussion of the so-called Nah-erwartung, found on p. 173 of this present lesson. 185 Ridderbos, p. 458.

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is the beginning of the great missionary assignment given to the Church, an assignment that shall extend until the time of Christ's return. In support of this view, Grosheide takes the words, "the cities of Israel", as being used in a symbolic sense, referring to all those peoples and locations that are the rightful fields for gospel preaching. However, it is highly improbable, to say the least, that Jesus would use the name of "Israel", even in a symbolic way, as a reference to the world at large, extending beyond the Old Testament covenant nation to encompass the Gentile nations as well. Furthermore, as Ridderbos notes, there can be no doubt that the words, "you will not have gone through the cities of Israel", does not denote the mission of the disciples; it denotes, rather, their flight from persecution. This is clear from the beginning of vs. 23, "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another". We agree with Ridderbos and others that the reference to "the coming of the Son of Man" must be taken to be a reference to the final Parousia. From a consideration of the entire passage of Matt. 10, it becomes evident that what starts out as the commissioning of the original twelve disciples to an initial preaching tour restricted to the Old Testament covenant nation of Israel becomes expanding beyond that initial mission, looking into the future to the gospel ministry that will be carried on by the Church, (this becomes especially evident from vs. 17-18, 21-22). To state it more clearly, the description of the experience of the disciples during their first gospel-preaching assignment passes into the future fate of the Church, of which these original twelve disciples are presently the representatives. However, as the prophecy is extended into the future, it still retains the terminology applicable to the present Old Testament dispensation, the time in which Jesus uttered these words. As Ridderbos expresses it, "we find here a picture of the persecution of believers in the time previous to the Parousia described within the boundaries of the Jewish country."186 This, too, is another one of the unique characteristics of biblical prophecy. In biblical prophecy, the persons and events of the New Testament dispensation are described by means of Old Testament terminology. Note, as an example of this principle, the New Testament passage of Matthew 17:10-13, The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?" 11Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him whatever they desired. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 13Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. (Matt. 17:10-13)
186 Ridderbos, p. 510.

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In this passage, Jesus explains how the Old Testament figure, Elijah, was prophetically foretelling and revealing the New Testament figure, John the Baptist. But notice that in referring to John the Baptist, (the prophetic person whom the Old Testament prophet Elijah typified), Jesus continues to use Old Testament terminology, identifying John the Baptist as "Elijah". It is important to bear in mind this characteristic of biblical prophecy if we are to have a true understanding of the eschatological pronouncements presently before us. THE ESCHATOLOGICAL DISCOURSE OF MK. 13 (MATT. 24; LK. 21) Jesus' great eschatological discourse is given on the occasion of His disciples expressing their admiration of the beauty of the Jerusalem temple. The temple in Jerusalem was, indeed, one of the most impressive sights in the ancient world; it was regarded as an architectural wonder, being built of massive white stones. Jesus acknowledges the greatness of the temple complex; but then goes on to announce that this entire massive structure shall be totally demolished (vs. 2). When they are later seated on the Mount of Olives, from which vantage point they could view the temple, the disciples ask when these things will occur and what would be the sign when all this is about to be fulfilled.187 Jesus informs them that these things are going to happen within their lifetime (vs. 30); and He prepares them by describing the circumstances and events leading up to that day of the temple's destruction. According to verses 5-6, this period of time, leading up to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, will be characterized by the appearance of many false Christs. By way of example, we may note the comments of the Jewish rabbi, Gamaliel, Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. (Acts 5:36-37) We may discern from verse 7 that these false Messiahs would be political and revolutionary figures. As such, they would incur the opposition of Rome and, consequently, embroil Palestine in numerous armed conflicts, which the Jewish historian, Josephus, calls "the Jewish wars". But with the outbreak of these 187 There is some difference in the wording of the three accounts: Mark says, "Tell us, when shall these things happen, and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled" (13:4). Luke 21:7 records their question in almost the same way as Mark. Matthew, on the other hand, reads, "Tell us, when shall these things happen, and what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world". The disciples' question about "the sign" implies that in their understanding the messianic Parousia would occur in conjunction with the great disaster that would befall the temple.

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Jewish wars the disciples must not assume that the end of the world has arrived. On the contrary, prior to "The End" far greater upheavals will occur throughout the entire world: world wars and natural catastrophes of worldwide proportion and world-wide significance will take place (vs. 8a). The disciples should view these local Jewish wars as "the beginning of birth pains" (vs. 8b), not as the consummation of all things. Just as birth pains become more severe as the birth approaches, so such events as described in verses 7-8 will become more severe as "The End" of history and of the world approaches. Then in verses 9-13 the Lord Jesus informs His disciples that they must be prepared for the opposition they are going to encounter during this period that lies immediately ahead of them. The Church will be persecuted at the hands of the Jews (vs. 9a), but looking beyond this immediate persecution, Jesus also forewarns of the opposition the Church shall encounter from the world at large (vs. 9b). The beginning of the fulfillment of this prediction can be seen in the progressive persecution of the church as recorded in the Book of Acts (4:1-3; 5:40; 8:1). Jesus assures His disciples that this persecution at the hands of the Jews will not annihilate the Church, because it is imperative (prwton dei) that the gospel be preached to all nations, a task that only the Church as the people of God can undertake (vs. 10). Jesus further assures His disciples that the Holy Spirit will give them utterance when they are brought to trial (vs. 11). An example of this is found in Acts 4:7-8. Peter and John are brought before the religious leaders for questioning. They, being "filled with the Holy Spirit", respond by boldly preaching the gospel. As the Lord indicates in verses 12-13, just as the Jewish wars would be a precursor of greater world-wide upheavals; so, too, the Jewish persecution of the Church would be a precursor of greater world-wide persecution of the church: "you--referring to the disciples as representatives of the Church and speaking to the whole Church through them--shall be hated by all men for my sake." Having spoken in general terms up to this point, Jesus becomes more specific in verses 14-20. When "the abomination that causes desolation" makes his188 appearance, immediate flight is imperative, because the day of Jerusalem's destruction is at hand (vs. 14-16). "The abomination that causes desolation" is something so utterly abominable (i.e.; sacrilegious) that it causes the temple to be left desolate--evacuated by both worshipers and God Himself because it has become utterly polluted. Such an event had occurred previously in Jewish history as Mark's editorial comment, "let the reader understand", indicates. In 168 B.C. the Syrian ruler Antioch Epiphanes erected an altar to the pagan deity, Zeus, sacrificed a pig, and poured its broth throughout the temple. A similar such desecration would occur at the hands of the Romans just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Caesar (a reference to the Roman general Titus?) entered the temple and looked at the holy place of the sanctuary and all its 188 We find here the masculine form of the Greek participle, isthmi (esthkota).

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furnishings.189 Being sensitive as to the hardship of such a flight from the city in time of peril, Jesus instructs His disciples to pray for God's mercy (vs. 17-18). According to the commentator, William Lane, flight in winter would be almost impossible because the streams swollen by heavy winter rains would become impassable.190 In verses 19-20 Jesus speaks of both the awful tribulation of that time, as well as the steadfast faithfulness of God to His covenant people. If the LORD had not shortened those days, "no one (literally, "no flesh") would survive"; but for the sake of His elect, the LORD does cause those days to be shortened (cp. Lk. 18:7-8, a passage to be discussed in the next section of this lesson). It is significant to note, as Ridderbos points out, that at this point the destruction of the temple, along with its attendant tribulation, coalesces with the even greater tribulation that shall befall the Church in the time prior to the Parousia. We shall consider this phenomenon more carefully in the Appendix that follows the conclusion of this present lesson, but first we will continue with our exposition of Mark 13. In verses 21-23, still with an eye to the future, but, we think, with His primary focus on the issue at hand, namely, horrible fate that awaits the Jewish nation and the temple, and the impact that will have upon the disciples, Jesus once again warns His disciples to be on guard against deception. That time of intense crisis in Israel will also be a time of false hopes; many will eagerly look for the Messiah's appearance and will rashly seek to identify Him (vs. 21). In the spiritual and emotional climate of that time many false Christs will appear, and prove to be very seductive (vs. 22). Referring to all that He has foretold in verses 5-22, Jesus exhorts His disciples to "beware" (vs. 23). In verses 21-22 our Lord has warned His disciples of the great messianic expectations and claims that will characterize that period of intense tribulation experienced by Israel. Now, beginning with vs. 24, in order to further insure that they be not carried away by the seductive appearance of false Christs, the Lord points His disciples and His Church to the future and the time of His Parousia. He declares that His return shall be some time in the future, "after that tribulation" experienced by the Jews in 70 A.D. When the Roman armies surround Jerusalem, the Jews should not expect a miraculous appearance by the Messiah to deliver them, such as had occurred in the days of the Old Testament king, Hezekiah, when the LORD miraculously delivered Israel from the Assyrian army by slaying 185,000 men in one night (Isa. 37:36-37). On the 189 The Romans Destroy the Temple at Jerusalem, 70 A.D.; www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/jewishtemple.htm. 190 Lane, William L. "The Gospel According to Mark," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1974; p. 470.

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contrary, the tribulation that is about to befall the nation will climax with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which occurred in 70 A.D. Rather than drawing near as their Deliverer, it will prove to be a moment when the LORD draws near as the Judge of the apostate nation.191 But the final appearance of the Messiah, (the "Son of Man", vs. 26), will not occur until "after that tribulation"--but just how long after that tribulation our Lord does not say. Jesus informs His disciples that "those days" (i.e.; the time of His Parousia), will be characterized by cataclysmic events in the heavens (vs. 24-25). Unlike the signs performed by the false Christs in the days of Jerusalem's tribulation (vs. 22), when the Son of Man is about to make His return in glory, the whole creation will bear witness to His arrival by its cosmic upheaval. Furthermore, when the Son of Man makes His return there will be no need for anyone to point Him out (vs. 26); this in contrast to those who must point out the false Christs (vs. 21). The whole world shall witness His coming as He appears "on the clouds with great power and glory." Then, at His coming, He shall gather unto Himself "his elect" from the remotest regions of earth and heaven (vs. 27). The elect, who are chosen by God and, who consequently receive Jesus as the promised Messiah, shall finally join their Savior in His glory. Verses 24-27 actually form a parenthesis, projecting forward to the day of Christ's return; in verses 28-29 Jesus again focuses primarily on the coming of Jerusalem's tribulation. The Lord now points His disciples to the budding fig tree as an illustration (vs. 28). In contrast to the other trees (such as the almond), which blossom very early in spring, the fig tree bears its leaves and blossoms very late. Consequently, when you see the fig tree blooming you know that summer is fast approaching. In verse 29 Jesus applies this illustration (or parable) with the warning: "When you see these things happening, knows that it [i.e.; the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple] is near--at the very door!" We take the phrase, "these things", as used in verse 29, to be a reference to the events foretold in verses 5-14, not the events foretold in verses 24-27. It is referring to: the high messianic expectations and the appearance of messianic pretenders (vs. 5-6); the outbreak of the Jewish wars 191 This seems to be the meaning of the parallel passage of Lk. 21:31, "... when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near [egguV]." The Greek term used here has either the sense of being spatially near, or temporally near; that is to say, "near" in the sense of being next to someone, or "near" in the sense of being about to occur. We think it likely that in the present context Jesus especially has in mind the spatial nearness of the kingdom, with the King manifesting Himself as the righteous Judge (cp. Mal. 3:1-2). From a comparison of Matt. 16:28 with Lk. 9:27, it becomes apparent that the kingdom is present in the person of the Son of Man. Furthermore, from the disciples' multi-part question, it also becomes evident that they anticipated that the appearance of the Son of Man would be accompanied by an act of judgment. Consequently, in the calamities that befall the nation and the temple, the disciples should discern the presence of the kingdom in judgment, a precursor to the Final Judgment to be enacted with the eschatological manifestation of the kingdom.

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(vs. 7); the increased persecution of the church, especially at the hands of the Jewish leaders (vs. 9-13); and the abomination that causes desolation (vs. 14). In verse 30 Jesus solemnly testifies that all these events (the events outlined in vs. 5-23), leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem, shall surely be fulfilled within the lifetime of that first century generation. In verse 31 our Lord makes His prophecy even more emphatic: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Our Lord spoke these words in about the year 33 A.D., and they were completely fulfilled by 70 A.D. Then, in verse 32, in sharp contrast to the certainty that the temple would be destroyed within the lifetime of that generation, our Lord declares that the day or hour of His return is a complete mystery--known only to God the Father. His statement concerning His own "ignorance" of the appointed day should be understood in the light of His testimony given in Jn. 5:19-20. As mentioned above, Ridderbos notes that in the eschatological discourse of Mk. 13, as well as that recorded in Matt. 24, there occurs a coalescence between the events that are about to take place in the Jerusalem of the first century and the events that shall accompany the final Parousia of the Son of Man, (this is especially evident in Mk. 13:19-20 and the parallel passage of Matt. 24:15-22; note, also, Lk. 21:25-36). Mark and Matthew do not present a distinct and isolated account of the siege and subsequent fall of Jerusalem (as does Luke, cp. Lk. 21:20-24); rather, they merge these events that took place in the first century with the final cataclysmic events that shall occur at the end of the age. As Ridderbos expresses it, "There is only one way in which we may explain this, and that is in the coalescence of two motifs ... the motif of the destruction of the temple ... and the motif of the eschatological [perspective] ... These two [motifs] can only be distinguished ... in the light of their fulfillment."192 That is to say, the fact that Mark and Matthew have "blended" two motifs, and two historical events, (the one occurring in the first century, the other yet to occur at the end of history), only becomes apparent by the unfolding of history, which reveals that there is, in fact, and interim period between these two motifs and events. We should note that it is Luke's account that provides the historical perspective. Luke "stretches out" the events that are "compressed" in the accounts given by Mark and Matthew, revealing the time interval between the precursory judgment upon the nation of Israel and the Final Judgment. Luke does so by informing us, "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Lk. 21:2024). Ridderbos goes on to write, in Mark and Matthew, "The great [eschatological] future is described from the point of view of Judaea and Jerusalem ... but it implies a universal dynamic that cannot be understood [or contained] within
192 Ridderbos, pp. 495-496.

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these [localized] limits [of Jerusalem and Judaea]."193 Ridderbos rightly discerns that this phenomenon of coalescing future events is "entirely in accordance with the nature of prophecy." This is what has been called the comprehensive character of prophecy. This term is describing the frequent phenomenon found in biblical prophecy whereby various future events are placed one immediately after the other in the prophetic vision of the future, although the actual fulfillment of the individual events may occur centuries or more apart from each other. In this prophetic phenomenon the element of time between events is "compressed" so as to become indiscernible prior to the unfolding fulfillment of the prophecy throughout the course of history. Consequently, very often biblical prophecy provides little or no historical perspective. But, on the other hand, this divinely imparted method of prophetic communication reveals the profound coherence and unity between the various stages of the divine work. For more about this phenomenon found in biblical prophecy, the reader is referred to the Appendix that accompanies this present lesson. Finally, we must ask, How do the "signs" Jesus gives as evidence of the approach of His Parousia relate to the "unexpectedness" of that event? It seems that the key to understanding the relation between the two is to recognize the fact that the signs are intimately connected with the event itself. When the sign appears, the event is already in progress. This becomes evident from Mk. 13:14 (cp. Matt. 24:15-16; Lk. 21:20) with regard to the "sign" pertaining to the destruction of the temple. It also is the case with the "sign" foretelling, actually, accompanying, the Parousia (Mk. 13:24-26; Matt. 24:27-30; Lk. 21:25-27). Consequently, on the one hand, there is the need for watchfulness, because of the sign's close connection with the event; the two are almost one and the same, the sign being a part of the event. On the other hand, the element of "unexpectedness" is due to the fact that there is really no time interval between the sign and the event. The sign does not prepare one for the event in the sense of giving one time to get ready for it; rather, the sign announces the presence of the event. THE ESCHATOLOGICAL PARABLES In addition to the eschatological discourse, there are found in the Gospels a number of eschatological parables. Some of them are a continuation of, and form an exhortation with regard to, the eschatological discourse; this is especially the case in the Gospel of Matthew. Others, however, are scattered throughout the Gospel record, as is seen especially in the Gospel of Luke. These eschatological parables are of no less importance than the eschatological discourse in that they contain the practical implications of Jesus' prophecies regarding the future for the life of His disciples.
193 Ridderbos, p. 496.

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The first such parable we consider is that of the widow and the unjust judge (Lk. 18:1-8). Here Jesus exhorts His disciples "always to pray, and not lose heart" (vs. 1). The reason for this exhortation is to be found in the fact that God will avenge His elect "speedily" (vs. 8). It is clear that in this parable Jesus has in mind the coming of the Son of Man and the ultimate redemption and justice He will bring (vs. 8). The question before us is, How are we to understand Jesus' assurance that God will act "speedily"? An overall survey of the parable shows that we cannot interpret the term "speedily" in the sense of the event taking place in the immediate future, an instantaneous response to the disciples' prayer. This becomes evident from the fact that the whole parable is intended to emphasize the necessity for continuous prayer on the part of the disciples, they "ought always to pray" and they should not give up hope, they ought not "lose heart". This exhortation presupposes that our prayers for the coming of the kingdom are not immediately answered, as a matter of fact, the apparent "delay" in the answer would even tempt us to give up hope. This perspective is confirmed by the detailed description of the widow's plight before the unjust judge: she must repeatedly implore him to act on her behalf, since "for a while" he makes no response, and it is only "afterward" that he addresses her righteous cause. The point of comparison between the widow and the disciples is clearly the matter of persistent petition, even in the face of apparent unresponsiveness. A tension is presented between the elect crying out to God "day and night" (vs. 7) and the assurance that God will avenge them "speedily" (vs. 8). It seems to us that the key to a proper understanding of this parable, and especially what Jesus means when He assures us that God will, indeed, avenge His elect "speedily", is to be found in such an Old Testament passage as Isa. 60:22b. With reference to the LORD asserting Himself to act on behalf of His people and for their salvation, we read, "At the [appointed] time, I, Jehovah, will cause it to happen suddenly". The point being made is that there is an appointed day for the fulfillment of all these things, and the LORD will see to it that nothing prevents the coming of that day. When that appointed day has come, the LORD will act swiftly, without any further delay, to bring to fulfillment the promises He has made to His people (cp., also, Hab. 2:3). Related to the parable of Lk. 18 are those parables that exhort the Church to be ever vigilant with respect to their Lord's return in glory. Numbered among these parables are the following: the watchful homeowner (Matt. 24:42-51); the watchful servants (Mk. 13:33-37; Lk. 12:35-46); and the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). All of these parables are spoken with an eye to the Son of Man's return, bringing with Him the eschatological kingdom of heaven (cp. Matt. 24:42,44; Mk. 13:35; Lk. 12:40; Matt. 25:1). It might be suggested that these parables, exhorting vigilance and persevering prayer, suggest that Jesus was warning the disciples that the return of the Son

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of Man in glory might not occur for some time, that it was, in fact, an event that would take place in the distant future. We might, at first glance, draw such a conclusion from the stories related in the parables. For instance, we find the evil servant confidently declaring, "My master is delaying his coming" (Matt. 24:48; Lk. 12:45); and in the parable of the ten virgins we read of the bridegroom being "delayed" (Matt. 25:5). But to counterbalance and correct such an interpretation, we must take note of the fact that the evil servant was mistaken in his assumption that the master of the house was delaying his return, consequently, he is shamefully caught unprepared (Matt. 24:50-51). By means of these parables Jesus is not necessarily preparing His disciples, and the Church, to expect a lengthy period of time to elapse before His appearance in glory. The theme that runs through all of these parables is the unexpectedness of the Parousia, and consequently, the necessity of being ever vigilant (Matt. 24:50; Lk. 12:40; Mk. 13:33). The fact that Jesus issues the warning to "all" (Mk. 13:37) indicates that such watchfulness is appropriate for the Church in every generation. It is true that things are slightly different in the parable of the ten virgins. In this case the bridegroom's "delay" forms an integral part of the plot of the story. But, nevertheless, the application still remains the same: "Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:13). The whole thrust of the parable seems to be that, although the Son of Man may appear to "delay" His return, watchfulness is always to be the attitude and practice of the Church. In other words, what Jesus here communicates in parabolic form, is the same thing He explicitly stated in Mk. 13:37 at the conclusion of the parable of the watchful servant. The point is, Jesus is urgently stressing the need for incessant vigilance and unflagging perseverance because of the fact that we cannot know the moment of His coming, which may be sooner or later than we might expect, and has about it the aspect of occurring suddenly. This element of unexpectedness is especially prominent in the image of "the thief in the night" (Matt. 24:43; Lk. 12:39). If it were known when the thief was coming, other than the general knowledge that thieves operate under cover of darkness, it would not be difficult to frustrate his plans. There would not even be the need for constant vigilance; we could carelessly go about our business until the appointed hour approached. But the point is that we do not know the hour when he will strike, nor do we know the hour when the Son of Man will appear in His glory. The strongest pronouncement concerning our ignorance of that precise moment is found in our Lord's testimony recorded in Mk. 13:32 and the parallel passage of Matt. 24:36. There He states, "But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only"; Mark has, "no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father". (With regard to the Son's mysterious "ignorance", we have previously referred the reader to our Lord's testimony found in Jn. 5:19-20).

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Besides those parables that urge constant vigilance there are those that warn against pre-mature expectation and exhort the Church to diligent use of our talents during this interim period preceding our Lord's return, however unknown may be the undisclosed length of its duration. In this category we find the parable of the pounds (Lk. 19:11-27). Some of the details are similar to those of Mk. 13:31-37, there is the nobleman's departure from his estate and the charge he gives to his servants. But the time perspective is different; whereas the parable of Mk. 13 cautions against negligence, this present parable cautions against pre-mature expectation. As a matter of fact, it is stated at the outset that Jesus told this parable "because he was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately" (vs. 11). In response to this misconception, Jesus in His parable states that the nobleman "went into a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return" (vs. 12). Those who expected the immediate appearance of the kingdom did not take into account, indeed, they were oblivious to the fact that there would be a necessary interim between Jesus' passion and His return in glory. In the parable this interim is represented by the nobleman's departure, which is expressly stated as being for the purpose of "receiving for himself a kingdom". But the fact that he will eventually return is also clearly stated. The nobleman's departure, along with the task he assigns to his servants, must be taken as a reference to Jesus' departure from the earth into heaven via His ascension, along with the calling His has entrusted to His disciples, a calling they are to fulfill during the period of Jesus' (physical) absence. Thus, the parable presupposes an extension of the world's history for an indefinite period of time, with special emphasis upon the calling entrusted to the Church during this interim period. In a similar way, the parable of the talents speaks of "a man traveling to a distant country" (Matt. 25:14-30). In this parable we are told that the lord came back "after a long time", and there is added the important fact that upon his return he "settled accounts with them" (vs. 19). Once again cautioning against pre-mature expectation, this parable portrays the return of the Son of Man as taking place at a more remote future date than some people would anticipate. Furthermore, there is strong emphasis placed upon the importance of the disciples faithfully and diligently serving their Lord during the time of His "absence" by employing the "talents" He has entrusted to them. Thus, these parables serve to counterbalance the other eschatological parables. They re-enforce Jesus' earlier teaching concerning the necessity of an interim period prior to His Parousia--an interim during which the gospel is to go forth into all the world (Matt. 24:14).194 But, this interim is of unspecified length, therefore, the Church must be ever watchful and ever found diligent in 194 The reader may also wish to review the section entitled, The Message of the Parables, found on pp. 49-55 of LESSON THREE: THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM (2).

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carrying out the commission entrusted to her by her Lord--a commission that not only pertains to the evangelizing of the world, but also to the perfecting of holiness in anticipation of the Lord's appearance (cp. Lk. 21:34-36; 1 Jn. 3:23). APPENDIX: THE UNIQUE CHARACTERISTIC OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY As noted in this present lesson on the final eschatological appearance of the kingdom, Ridderbos calls attention to the fact that in the eschatological discourse of Mark 13 (Matt. 24; Lk. 21) we find the phenomenon that the various events of the future, which in fact occur sequentially over centuries or more of time, are combined together and are considered as one comprehensive whole. In his words, "Things that appear to be centuries apart in the fulfillment are sometimes comprehended by Jesus' prophecy in the same temporal frame and within the same local framework."195 Ridderbos goes on to qualify this by stating that this does not mean that all of Jesus' prophetic pronouncements are timeless and lack any and all temporal distinctions, (i.e.; these pronouncements are not devoid of all concepts of time sequence with regard to the fulfillment of the events they foretell). By way of example, the distinction between a sooner and a later fulfillment is explicitly revealed in the announcement that the gospel must first be preached in all the world, and then shall come the end (cp. Matt. 24:14). But, nevertheless, it is true that the perspective that looks down through the corridors of time, and points out the sequence of the fulfillment of the events as they will occur along such a time line, is not to be found in Jesus' eschatological discourse. On the contrary, the last great persecution of the Church, the final manifestation of antipathy to God and His kingdom, and the Parousia of the Son of Man are all viewed in their connection with the events of judgment that befell the nation of Israel in the first century A.D., namely, the desecration of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem. But it is also true that in the prophecies concerning the imminent judgment upon Israel the eschatological perspective bursts forth beyond the description of what was to befall the Old Testament covenant nation: the horizon of the prophetic view rises beyond "the land [of Israel]" to take in "the earth", and the distress caused by the Roman armies is expanded to include the distress yet to be caused by cataclysmic upheaval of cosmic proportion (cp. Lk. 21:20-24, 25-26). Taking all of this into consideration, Ridderbos aptly states the predicament by acknowledging, "This interwoven structure cannot be disentangled." He goes on to rightly maintain, "The only explanation that can do justice to this prophecy of the future is the one that fully takes account of its prophetic character."196 That is to say, we can only appreciate the eschatological discourse if we take into account the unique character of biblical prophecy. He exhorts us to be cognizant of the way in which biblical prophecy foretells the future: prophecy is not to be equated with "a diary of future events", to use Ridderbos' terminology. The function of biblical prophecy is not to provide a precise historical/chronological account of events prior to the appearance of those events upon the stage of history and their unfolding throughout the course of history. 195 Ridderbos, p. 523. Note: When he speaks of future events being foretold "within the same local framework", Ridderbos is referring to that related phenomenon of biblical prophecy, namely, the fact that future worldwide events are foretold and described by means of the events that befell the Old Testament covenant nation of Israel in the first century A.D.; without a clear distinction being made, those later, worldwide events appear to seamlessly "spin off" from the earlier events that exclusively pertained to first century Israel. 196 Ridderbos, p. 524.

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This unique characteristic of biblical prophecy, so much in evidence in our Lord's eschatological discourse, is predominant throughout all of Old Testament prophecy. "The prophets," says Christian August Crusius (1715-1775), "by the divine light that illuminated them, for the most part beheld things to come much as we look upon a starry sky. While we see the stars above us, we are incapable of rightly discerning at how great a distance they are from us, or which stars are nearer and which are more remote." Or, again, the biblical scholar Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874) quotes from the writings of Bishop Samuel Horsley (1733-1806), If you have observed, that this is the constant style of prophecy--that when a long train of distant events are predicted, rising naturally in succession one out of another, and all leading to one great end, the whole time of these events is never set out in [chronologically defined] portions, by assigning [to each event] the distinct epoch [to which it belongs]; but [rather], the whole [sequence] is usually described as an instant [i.e.; the whole is viewed as occurring almost simultaneously, rather than in distinct chronological sequence]--like it is in the sight of God. The whole train is exhibited in one scene without any marks of succession. If prophecy were more regularly arranged and systematically compiled in chronological order, it would be [nothing other than] an anticipated [or, pre-recorded] history of the world, and that would in great measure defeat the purpose of prophecy. In the revelation of future events, there is in prophecy indistinctness with regard to time. But, if one perceives the method employed in presenting that revelation of the future, he will discern that the lack of chronological precision is not to be equated with chronological confusion. Ridderbos maintains that what is characteristic of Old Testament prophecy must be recognized as also being true of the New Testament eschatological discourse, and, indeed, the key to comprehending that discourse. Ridderbos sees this same dynamic of "the whole" being considered as a unity, without articulating the distinction of its parts, to be present in Jesus' preaching of the kingdom. At the very outset of His ministry Jesus proclaims, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom is at hand" (Mk. 1:15), or even more emphatically, He points to His casting out of demons and announces that the kingdom of heaven is present (Matt. 12:28). Ridderbos asserts, and as we have seen throughout our study, that it is impermissible to take Jesus' announcement concerning the presence of the kingdom to mean that the ultimate eschatological manifestation of the kingdom has now appeared. What has appeared with Jesus' advent and the accomplishment of His messianic work is a true, but provisional, manifestation of the kingdom. In the course of His ministry our Lord enlightens His disciples to the fact that between this initial manifestation of the kingdom and its appearance in its final eschatological glory lies an interim period of history that was, at best, only vaguely disclosed in the Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom and its coming. Consequently, with our Lord's advent, but prior to the final Parousia, lies this tremendous spiritual reality of the presence of the kingdom in its provisional form. Yet, only indirectly and often in parabolic form, does Jesus make a distinction between the provisional presence of the kingdom and the final eschatological manifestation of the kingdom. For the most part, Jesus speaks of the kingdom as a unity and as being indivisible, for the simple fact that such is what it essentially is--even in its provisional form what the disciples experience is a true and authentic experience of entering into the life of the eschatological kingdom, or, as the writer to the Hebrews expresses it, a partaking of the Holy Spirit and "tasting the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:4-5). As Ridderbos states it, "That which has come in [Christ] is the end of things."197 We quote once again, "The pronouncement on the [presence] of the kingdom in which the `definitive' character [of the kingdom] is not distinguished from the `provisional' ... proves to be [the 197 Ridderbos, p. 526.

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expression of] a complicated reality that must be explained in a differentiated sense by the light of the fulfillment."198 That is to say, although Jesus speaks of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy concerning the coming of the kingdom, and speaks of its coming in terms of its true and comprehensive unity, the distinctive phases of the fulfillment only become apparent in the light of their historical fulfillment, namely, the provisional fulfillment with Christ's advent, the final fulfillment to be brought about by His Parousia, with an extended (and for the most part unforeseen) interim of time elapsing in between the two. This same phenomenon, this lack of defined historical and chronological perspective, is the key to comprehending the eschatological discourse. For a fuller treatment of the characteristics of biblical prophecy, the reader is referred to the MINTS' Master's Level Course on THE PROPHETS, Lessons Six and Seven, which deal with the Prophetic Style of Communication, and especially, LESSON SEVEN: THE PROPHETIC STYLE OF COMMUNICATION (2), Part C: A Disinterest in Identifying Historical Epochs. EVALUATING YOUR COMPREHENSION 1. The great turning point of history--the time when the divine promises begin to enter into fulfillment, the time when expectation of the kingdom begins to give way to the experience of the kingdom--is to be found in the Parousia of the Son of Man at the end of the age. True of False 2. Jesus repeatedly spoke of His approaching passion and of His Parousia, but He gave little or no indication of there being any interval of time between the two. What conclusion(s) may we draw from this? a. Jesus expected His Parousia to occur immediately after His passion. b. Jesus was indicating that there is an intimate connection between His resurrection and His Parousia. c. Jesus viewed His resurrection and His Parousia as being one and the same event. 3. Complete the following sentences that discuss the two motifs in Jesus' prophecies about the future with regard to His person. a. The motif of the Servant of the LORD culminates in ___. b. The motif of the Son of Man culminates in ___. c. ___, His role as the Son of Man is distinguished from His work as the Servant of the LORD. d. ___, His Parousia is seen as being dependent upon His work as the Servant of the LORD. 1. After the resurrection 2. His Parousia 3. His resurrection 4. Before Jesus' death 198 Ridderbos, p. 526.

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4. Complete the sentences listed below that discuss Jesus' eschatological pronouncements. a. At first glance, these pronouncements give the appearance that Jesus predicted the eschatological manifestation of the kingdom, brought about by the appearance of the Son of Man in His glory, would take place in the very near future. This is known as "the problem of the ___". b. For the ___ of the early twentieth century, this "problem" was no problem at all; it was simply dismissed as irrelevant. Since that school of theology sought the essence of the gospel in the timeless exhortation to love one's neighbor, it pushed Jesus' eschatological pronouncements into the background, declaring such statements to merely be a part of the inessential contemporary setting in which Jesus preached. c. The ___, on the other hand, saw all of Jesus' preaching being colored by His expectation of the imminent appearance of the eschatological kingdom. Consequently, they were left with no alternative but to say that Jesus was mistaken. d. Other scholars have sought to eliminate the problem of the imminent expectation of the kingdom by suggesting an ___ (i.e.; suprahistorical) interpretation to these passages. That is to say, they seek to explain the "nearness" of the kingdom not in a temporal sense, but in a transcendent sense. 1. Radical eschatological school 2. Nah-erwartung 3. Unbergeschichtliche 4. Old liberal theology 5. Match the eschatological parable with the teaching it is intended to impart. a. The theme of this parable is the unexpectedness of the Parousia, and consequently, the necessity of being ever vigilant. ___ b. The emphasis of this parable is the warning against the pre-mature expectation of our Lord's return. ___ c. In this parable strong emphasis placed upon the importance of the disciples faithfully and diligently serving their Lord during the time of His "absence". ___ 1. The Parable of the Pounds 2. The Parable of the Thief in the Night 3. The Parable of the Talents DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (found on next page)

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1. Discuss the eschatological pronouncement found in Mark 9:1. What are some interpretations that have been suggested? How would you interpret this passage? 2. Discuss the eschatological pronouncement found in Matthew 10:23. What are some interpretations that have been suggested? How would you interpret this passage? 3. Discuss the unique characteristic of biblical prophecy that is important to take into consideration if one is to rightly interpret Jesus' eschatological discourse found in Mark 13 (and the parallel passages of Matt. 24 and Lk. 21). You may want to consult the Appendix, The Unique Characteristic of Biblical Prophecy, found at the end of LESSON EIGHT. 4. Discuss the eschatological parable found in Luke 18:1-8. 5. According to the lesson, how do the "signs" Jesus gives as evidence of the approach of His Parousia relate to the "unexpectedness" of that event? Do you agree or disagree?

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EXCURSUS ONE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS The "Synoptic Gospels" is the title given to the first three Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark and Luke. In our present study we will be focusing on the Gospel of Mark, with references to the parallel passages found in Matthew and Luke (as well as John.) However, in this introductory article we will provide a brief overview of each of the three Synoptic Gospels. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW Authorship The first Gospel is traditionally ascribed to Matthew, a publican (or, tax collector) whom Jesus called to be one of His twelve disciples. Nowhere in the first Gospel is Matthew explicitly identified as the author, but the early church fathers attributed this Gospel to Matthew the apostle. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in the second century, wrote that Matthew composed his Gospel "for Hebrew Christians in Hebrew [i.e.; Aramaic]." Well-attested as the Aramaic original appears to be by the early church fathers, no trace of it has survived. Furthermore, the language of the Gospel as it has come down to us bears no marks of being a Greek translation of an Aramaic original. It is possible that Matthew also composed a Greek edition for the Gentile converts, perhaps for those living in Antioch in particular. Since the Greek-speaking Gentile converts and churches quickly outstripped the Aramaic-speaking congregations in number both in the region around Palestine and throughout the Roman Empire, the Aramaic original may have perished at an early date. The general agreement among the early church fathers in accepting this Gospel as having been written by Matthew accords well with what we know about the apostle. As a publican he must have been literate and accustomed to taking notes as part of his business activity. Also, one may well consider the agreement between the attention to detail and organization, essential to the tax collector's profession, and the methodical arrangement of this Gospel (see below under Purpose and Characteristics of This Gospel). One slender piece of internal evidence supporting the Matthaean authorship of the first Gospel is found when one compares the three Synoptic Gospels' accounts of the call of Matthew (Levi.) Upon responding to Jesus' call to discipleship, Mark and Luke report that Matthew hosted a great feast in his house (Mk. 2:13-15; Lk. 5:27-29.) In Matthew's account of this event we are told that the feast took place "in the house" (or, "at home") (Matt. 9:9-10.) This may indicate that the feast was held in the home of the writer of the first Gospel, which would tend to confirm that he is none other than Matthew the apostle and former publican.

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Date and Place of Composition M. C. Tenney maintains that it is doubtful that Matthew's Gospel was written after A.D. 70, since in the discourse dealing with the overthrow of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:1-28) there is no allusion to the city as having already fallen to the Romans, which event occurred in the year 70 A.D.199 It should be noted, however, that some scholars contend that Matthew's Gospel was written sometime between the years 70-80.200 The testimony of the church father Irenaeus would set the time of writing during the reign of Nero "while Paul and Peter were in Rome." If this tradition is correct, it may have been composed by Matthew originally for Jewish and Gentile converts living outside of Palestine who were in need of a written document that would give them a more detailed and organized account of the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus. The actual place of origination for this Gospel cannot be positively determined, although modern study has tended to view the city of Antioch as the place of composition. Favorable to Antioch is the fact that the church father Ignatius (of Antioch), writing early in the second century, shows knowledge of this Gospel. Also, a large Jewish population existed in Antioch dating back to early Hellenistic times. Purpose and Characteristics of This Gospel One of Matthew's main characteristics is the dominance of Old Testament citations and allusions throughout his account. Matthew purposes to show that the major events in the life of Jesus took place in fulfillment of prophecy. The theme of this Gospel is announced by its opening statement: "The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt. 1:1). This phraseology is reminiscent of Genesis, which is divided into sections by the use of the same phrase, "the book of the generations of ..." (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; et al.) Each occurrence of this phrase marks a stage in the development of the Messianic promise. The links in the history of God's people are carried forward through Genesis, and one appears in Ruth 4:18, where the Messianic line ends with David. Matthew picks up the genealogy at that point and declares its fulfillment in the person of Jesus.201 In all probability there was an apologetic purpose in writing this Gospel. The infancy story, for instance, would answer any charge of illegitimacy against 199Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967; p. 142. 200Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968; p. 166. 201 Tenney, p. 143.

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Jesus. The descent into Egypt and the subsequent return to Nazareth would account for the residence of Jesus in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem. We can also detect the apologetic character of some of the details in the resurrection narrative that is unique to Matthew (e.g.; the account of the bribing of the guard, Matt. 28:11-15). But it is significant that Matthew's Gospel concludes with the Great Commission: the sending of the disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. However Jewish many of Matthew's emphases may be, he aims to show that Christianity is much more comprehensive than Judaism--the Messiah of the Jews is, indeed, the Savior of the world (cp. Matt. 8:11). Matthew's Gospel shows more careful design than any of the other Gospels. The most obvious feature of Matthew's structure is the alteration of large blocks of teaching material (each block concluding with the phrase, "when Jesus had finished ..." 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; and 26:1) with narrative sections. After the initial narrative section (which includes the infancy stories, the preparatory work of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus' preaching ministry), Matthew introduces the block of teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount (5:3-7:27). Then comes another narrative section (consisting mainly of a number of miracles), followed by the second discourse section, this one dealing with the mission of the Twelve (10:5-42). The next descriptive section deals with the incidents that illustrate the growing opposition to Jesus, this is followed by the third teaching section, the group of parables about the kingdom of God (13:3-52). Another narrative section now follows, culminating in the account of the transfiguration and the prediction of the passion; this in turn is followed by a fourth discourse section, our Lord's teaching on the obligations of discipleship (18:3-35). The next narrative section begins with Jesus' ministry beyond the Jordan and moves to His entry into Jerusalem where He subsequently engages in a number of disputes with the religious leaders. These events lead into the final section of discourses, featuring the woes pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees and the eschatological discourse (23:1-25:46). The Gospel then concludes with the passion and the resurrection narratives. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK Authorship and Date of Composition It is now almost universally agreed that Mark is the earliest of the Gospels. The earliest witnesses to the Gospel of Mark generally connect it with the preaching of Peter in Rome some time between A.D. 60-70. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (circa. A.D. 115), is quoted as saying, "And John the Presbyter also said this, `Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrote with

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great accuracy".202 Note that Papias is passing on to his readers the words of an earlier authority whom he identifies as "John the Presbyter [or, Elder]."
Tradition asserts that Mark was Peter's assistant for a time, and there is some confirmation of this in 1 Peter 5:13. The internal evidence of the Gospel itself also suggests Peter's influence: after a brief introduction, the narrative picks up at the point when Peter became a disciple (1:16-20); our Lord's Galilean ministry is prominent in this Gospel, centering particularly on the district around Capernaum, Peter's home; and the vividness of the narrative suggests the firsthand acquaintance of an eyewitness.203 Furthermore, the assertion that Mark's Gospel was based on Peter's preaching is supported by the striking fact that the outline of this Gospel is patterned after the outline of Peter's sermon recorded in Acts 10:36-43. The degree of parallelism may be seen by consulting the following table.204
Mark
Acts 10
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (1:1) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "...Prepare the way of the LORD." (1:2)
This is the word he [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all) (10:36)
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God (1:14)
... that word ... was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism John preached (10:37)
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove (1:10)
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power (10:38a)
The following chapters of the Gospel are dominated by narratives describing healings and exorcisms, demonstrating the power of God at work in Jesus' ministry (1:16-10:52)
He (Jesus) went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (10:38b)
202 Tenney, p. 155. 203 Swift, C.E. Graham; "The Gospel According to Mark," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by Prof. F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967; p. 806. 204 Lane, William L. "The Gospel According to Mark," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1974; pp. 10-11.

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Mark goes on to present Jesus' ministry and activity in Jerusalem (Chapters 11-14)
And we are witnesses of all he did ... in Jerusalem (10:39)
Mark now focuses on the passion and ... whom they killed by hanging him on
crucifixion of Jesus (15:1-39)
a tree (10:39b)
Mark concludes his Gospel with an account of Jesus' resurrection (Chapter 16)
God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen (10:40-42)
Purpose and Characteristics of This Gospel
The internal evidence found within the Gospel itself fits well with the tradition handed down from the early church fathers that this Gospel was written in Rome and intended for a Gentile audience. As C.E. Swift points out, Old Testament quotations and allusions are relatively few; Aramaic expressions are interpreted (see, for example, Mk. 5:41); and Jewish customs are explained (see, Mk. 7:3,11).205
Mark may have intended for his Gospel to be an encouragement and challenge to the Roman Christians who about this time were experiencing the effects of persecution at the hand of the emperor Nero. It may be observed, for instance, that Mark mentions persecution as the lot of the disciple where the other Synoptics lack such a reference (Mk. 10:30 as compared to Matt. 19:29 and Lk. 18:29-30). During the early years of Nero's reign, relatively little attention had been given by the imperial authorities to the gatherings of Christians for worship. But the situation was radically altered by the disastrous fire that swept Rome in the summer of A.D. 64. After the initial shock, popular resentment was fanned by the widespread rumors that the fire had been officially ordered by the emperor. When Nero's efforts to allay the populace's suspicion and resentment against him failed, he sought a scapegoat. Blame for the fire was placed upon the Christians. Such behavior by the imperial government meant that life became precarious for Christians living in Rome and throughout Italy. It seems likely that the Gospel of Mark was originally intended to be a pastoral response to this critical situation, as well as a witness to the Roman world of Jesus' absolute lordship (see below under the discussion of Mark's Christology).
In his opening sentence Mark makes clear that his intention is to write a "Gospel" about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This at once distinguishes the book from a biography and also explains the large proportion of space devoted to the last three weeks of Jesus' life. The cross and resurrection were the 205 Swift, p. 806.

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central features of the Christian gospel. In this, of course, Mark's account is not unique; the same is true of all the Gospels: in each of them the movement of the narrative is dominated by the passion story. But what is unique to Mark's Gospel is the fact that the action is heightened by the relative absence of blocks of teaching material. Mark's Gospel is a Gospel that emphasizes action. There is no prologue, except for the title; Mark gets right to the significant events in the life and ministry of Jesus. For its size, Mark gives more space to the miracles of Jesus than does any other Gospel. For instance, in ninety-one pages of Greek text, Luke narrates twenty miracles, whereas Mark, in fifty-three pages of Greek text, narrates eighteen of our Lord's miracles. Mark is also a Gospel of personal reactions. All through its pages are recorded the responses of Jesus' audience: they were amazed (1:27), critical (2:7), afraid (4:41), puzzled (6:14), astonished (7:37), bitterly hostile (14:1). E. Harrison points out that there are at least twenty-three such references.206 In keeping with his action orientation, Mark has selected and arranged his material in such a way as to present the Lord Jesus as One who continues to speak and act meaningfully in the context of crisis, in particular, the crisis the church in Rome was then facing. Mark's account is characterized by simplicity and straightforwardness. His language and style is less elaborate than Matthew or Luke. His very frequent use of the word "immediately" gives a sense of vividness and excitement to the action. Mark is especially fond of using the present tense to relay past happenings. When Mark does not himself speak directly to his readers (cf. 13:14), he terminates a long discourse in such a way that Jesus addresses them personally: "And what I say to you, I say to all, Watch!" (13:37). The account of the stilling of the storm (4:35-41) is terminated abruptly by a rhetorical question, "Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?" The use of such literary devices as the parenthetical statement or the rhetorical question is designed to keep men from a spectatorrelationship to what Jesus said or did.207 Throughout this Gospel Jesus continues to manifest His presence and His authority. Finally, we must say a word about the high Christology of this Gospel. As E. Harrison remarks, "it is literally thrust upon the reader in the very first verse, where Jesus Christ is designated as the Son of God".208 The presentation of Christ as the Son of God is not developed in a doctrinal sense (as in the Gospel of John); rather, it is presented by means of Christ's activity. Christ possesses power over all types of illnesses and casts out evil spirits with irresistible authority (1:27). He stills storms with a mere word and thus demonstrates His 206 Harrison, p. 164. 207 Lane, William L. "The Gospel According to Mark," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1974; p. 27. 208 Harrison, p. 179.

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authority over nature (4:41). Mark's Gospel leaves no doubt concerning the sovereign authority of Jesus. It begins with the assertion that He is the Son of God (1:1), it is filled with demonstrations of His divine authority, and it climaxes with the testimony of none other than a Roman centurion, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (15:39). That final testimony is confirmed by the resurrection that follows the passion (16:6-7). THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE Authorship and Composition It is generally recognized today that the author of the third Gospel was also the writer of the Book of Acts. This is borne out by the following considerations: (1) The Gospel, as well as Acts, is dedicated to a certain Theophilus. (2) In Acts 1:1 the writer refers to "the former treatise" written by him. From his brief reference to the content of that "former treatise" it is evident that the third Gospel is meant. (3) In the language, style and vocabulary of the original Greek there is such an unmistakable similarity between the Gospel and Acts that no doubt remains that both books are the work of the same author.209 Because of the intimate relationship between Luke and Acts, any data derived from Acts bearing on authorship should be applied to the Gospel as well. At several places in the Book of Acts the author, in recording the account, switches from the third person ("they") to the first person ("we"). This would indicate that in the "we" sections he was present in the company of Paul and his party. The first "we" section is found at Acts 16:10-17 (the journey from Troas to Philippi.) The second "we" section extends from Acts 20:5 to Acts 21:18 (this section narrates Paul's last journey to Jerusalem, beginning from the time he left Philippi.) The final "we" section includes Acts 27:1-28:16 (this section traces the events of the journey from Caesarea to Rome when Paul was in the custody of the imperial government.) The evidence gleaned from the "we" sections (especially the third section) would indicate the author of Acts (and Luke) accompanied Paul to Rome and was with him at the time of his house arrest in Rome. Of those who were present with Paul in Rome, the most likely candidate for authorship of Acts (and of the third Gospel) is Luke.210 The Gospel was written before Acts, for Luke refers to it as "the former treatise". The Book of Acts does not take us beyond Paul's two-year period of 209 Geldenhuys, Norval; "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1951; Reprinted 1968; p. 15. 210 For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see M.C. Tenney, p. 173, and E. Harrison, pp. 186-187, both of whom are referenced in the Bibliography.

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house arrest (Acts 28:30), although it is aware that that arrest was terminated after the space of two years. The concluding verses of Acts also seem to describe a time when the Roman authorities were still lenient towards Christianity. This would indicate a time of composition prior to the latter years of the seventh decade at which time the church began to be persecuted by the Roman government. As N. Geldenhuys concludes, in view of the facts, we must leave open the possibility that Acts was written prior to A.D. 70 and the Gospel of Luke was written still earlier.211 Luke makes clear that his objective in composing his Gospel was to write "an orderly account'' of "those things in which [Theophilus] was instructed" (Lk. 1:3-4). According to the second "we" section (Acts 20:5-21:18), Luke accompanied Paul from Philippi to Jerusalem, where Paul stood trial, resulting in his two-year imprisonment in Caesarea. During this period, up until the time of their departure for Rome, Luke would have had ample time to interview eyewitnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Caesarea. He could have spent much time with the original apostles and examined whatever early written accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus were at his disposal (Lk. 1:1). Luke may have undertaken the actual composition of his Gospel while present with Paul in Rome. In this connection the words of Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:11,13) may be of interest: "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me." Is it possible that Luke at this time was engaged in the writing of his Gospel and that is why Paul requests that Mark be sent to him? Mark's Gospel would have already been written by this time, and it is evident that Luke made use to a great extent of that earlier Gospel. But, as N. Geldenhuys points out, "Nothing can be stated here with certainty, and the matter merely remains an interesting possibility".212 Purpose and Characteristics of This Gospel Luke addresses his Gospel to "Theophilus". He was probably a man of the upper class who may be called here by his baptismal name--"Theophilus" means "lover of God" or "loved by God." Theophilus had already been informed about Christ, perhaps through the preaching that he heard, but he needed further instruction to stabilize him and convince him of the truth. Therefore, Luke now undertakes to write in an accurate and systematic manner an orderly account concerning Christ from all the data at his disposal. Thus, Luke may be said to be the first Christian historian. Of course, Luke's intention was to write for a broader audience than merely one individual. Luke's Gospel may be intended for all those in the Gentile world who were not adverse to Christianity and were genuinely interested in having a historical account of its origins.
211 Geldenhuys, p. 35. 212 Geldenhuys, p. 26.

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In his Gospel Luke is especially concerned to present Jesus in His capacity as the ideal man, the Son of God and the universal Savior. The educated Greek sought for the ideal, the perfect individual. In the person of Jesus, Luke found the fulfillment of that ideal. Now in his Gospel he shares with all the Gentile world this man who fulfills to the highest and most absolute extent the ideal of perfection--in love and severity, in tenderness and might, in humility and fearlessness, in wisdom and in all other virtues of character.213 But in presenting this perfect man Luke makes clear that He is none other than the Son of God. Jesus is completely human--born of a woman (2:30-31), passing through the ordinary Human Development from childhood to adulthood (2:52)-- but He is also Christ the Lord (2:11). Luke makes clear that Christ did not merely come to be the ideal man who is to be imitated (6:40); He came to be the Savior (2:11), the One who came to seek and to save what is lost (19:10). Luke presents Jesus as the universal Savior, the Savior of men from all classes of society. "Time and again the point is stressed in this Gospel that Jesus offers forgiveness and redemption to all-- freely and independently of the privileges of a particular race, generation or merit. Admission to the Kingdom is open to Samaritans (17:11-19) and pagans (24:47) as well as to the Jews (1:54); to publicans, sinners and outcasts (23:3943) as well as to respectable people (7:36); to the poor (7:22) as well as to the rich (19:2); and to women as well as to men".214 Unique to this Gospel is the emphasis placed on prayer. Luke records nine prayers of Jesus, these prayers are associated with important events in His life and ministry. Two parables only recorded in Luke deal with prayer. Luke alone relates Jesus' prayer for Peter (22:31-32), the fact that He exhorted the disciples to pray in Gethsemane (22:40), and that He prayed for both His enemies (23:34) as well as for Himself (22:41). Another feature unique to Luke is its emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There are more references to the Holy Spirit in Luke than there are in Matthew and Mark combined. All of the chief actors in the Gospel, John the Baptist (1:15), Mary (1:35), Elizabeth (1:41), Zachariah (1:67), Simeon (2:2526), and the Lord Jesus Himself (4:1) were empowered for their work by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was conceived by the Spirit (1:35), baptized by the Spirit (3:22), tested by the Spirit (4:1), empowered by the Spirit for His ministry (4:14,18), cheered by the Spirit (10:21), and He expected that His disciples would complete His work in the power of the Spirit (24:49).215 One last feature to note about Luke's Gospel is its teaching concerning wealth. Many of the parables unique to Luke relate to money matters; note, especially, 213 Geldenhuys, p. 45. 214 Geldenhuys, p. 43. 215 Tenney, p. 181.

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the rich fool (12:16-21) and the rich man and Lazarus (16:19-31). In this Gospel the Pharisees are called "lovers of money" (6:14). John the Baptist, in Luke's account of his ministry, warns tax collectors against extortion and soldiers against discontentment with their wages (3:12-14.) In the Sermon on the Plain the first woe is pronounced against the rich (6:24).216
BIBLIOGRAPHY Atkinson, Basil F.C.; "The Gospel According to Matthew," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by Prof. F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. Bruce, F.F.; "The Fourfold Gospel." The New Bible Commentary, Edited by Prof. F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. Geldenhuys, Norval; "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1951; Reprinted 1968. Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1970; Third Edition. Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968. Hendriksen, William; "Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew," New Testament Commentary; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, 1973; Fifth Printing, March 1981. Lane, William L. "The Gospel According to Mark," The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1974. McNicol, J. "The Gospel According to Luke," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by Prof. F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. Swift, C.E. Graham; "The Gospel According to Mark," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by Prof. F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. 216 Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1970; Third Edition; p. 92.

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Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967. Zugg, Julian; www.mints.edu; Mints Courses; Bachelors Courses: BAB410 Synoptic Gospels.

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EXCURSUS TWO: THE SYNOPTIC "PROBLEM" AND ITS POSSIBLE SOLUTION The "Problem" Stated The use of the term "synoptic" dates to J.J. Griesbach (1745-1812). This Greek word means, "a seeing together".217 Because they have so much in common, these three Gospels can be laid beside one another and "viewed together." This interrelation has given rise to the Synoptic Problem, which may be stated as follows: If the three Synoptic Gospels are totally independent of each other in origin and development, why do they resemble each other so closely, even to exact verbal agreement in many places? If, on the other hand, they have a literary relationship to each other, how can they be three independent witnesses to the deeds and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ?218 From the early days of the church the phenomena of the first three Gospels created discussion. Up until the eighteenth century the church had been mainly concerned to explain the differences between the three accounts. But now attention became directed to the agreement in the accounts. How were they to be explained? Attempts to Solve the "Problem" The most common theory among critical scholars has been to view Mark as the earliest of the three and to see both Matthew and Luke as borrowing extensively from Mark. But since Matthew and Luke also have a considerable amount of material in common that is not derived from Mark, it was postulated that they both made use of another unknown early source. This postulated source came to be called "Q" (from the German word, Quelle, meaning, "source"). While the posited "Q" document seemed to account for the material common to Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark, it did not account for the material that is unique to Matthew and that which is unique to Luke. In 1924 B.H. Streeter posited a four-source hypothesis. He limited the Q source to that material used by both Matthew and Luke but not derived from Mark. He then proposed the existence of two other sources, one that Matthew used, (which he labeled, "M"), and one that Luke used, (labeled, "L"). According to this theory, Matthew used Mark, Q, and M in writing his Gospel; Luke used Mark, Q,
217 Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968; p. 137. 218 Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967; p. 133.

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and L for his Gospel. (Note: For the sake of brevity, what has been presented here is only the basic, though essential, outline of Streeter's hypothesis). When the contents of the hypothetical Q document are culled from Matthew and Luke (i.e.; the material they have in common but which they did not borrow from Mark), they are seen to consist of the following items: a variety of discourses and saying of Jesus (such as the Beatitudes, the cost of discipleship, and warnings against the Pharisees, among many others) and a few narratives (such as the ministry of John the Baptist, the temptations of Jesus, the healing of the centurion's servant, and John the Baptist's question to Jesus). Upon reviewing the "contents" of the posited Q document, several difficulties become apparent. The "document" lacks any cohesion: "there appears to be a preponderance of isolated sayings with no evident framework to hold them together".219 As D. Guthrie goes on to write, "a problem for the Q theory is the lack of any contemporary literature parallel to the type of document that Q is supposed to be". One must remember that Q is a hypothetical document, unsupported by any external evidence, "a precarious basis for a unique document".220 What is true with regard to the Q document also applies to the posited M document supposedly used by Matthew. When this material is isolated it is found to consist of some of the sayings of Jesus, the birth narratives unique to Matthew, and a few other narratives. "At best the M source, in any of its proposed forms, lacks much connection of thought and it is not easy therefore to conceive how it was originally compiled".221 Again, we must bear in mind that the existence of M is even more hypothetical than Q. All that has been said about the hypothetical Q and M documents also applies to L (the "source" unique to Luke). When the L document is isolated from the rest of Luke's Gospel material, it is found to consist of the following: fourteen parables, a number of sayings of Jesus, and a large amount of narrative material. Note: It is assumed that Luke possessed yet another source containing the infancy narratives. We may summarize this portion of the present article with the words of D. Guthrie: The simple two-source theory had become a conglomerate of many sources before it developed into a more specific four-source theory, which in turn has never been quite convincing. Indeed, most scholars would admit that no thoroughgoing source theory has yet been produced that answers all the major problems in these Gospels.222 219 Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1970; Third Edition; p. 148. 220 Guthrie, pp. 152-153. 221 Guthrie, p. 159. 222 Guthrie, p. 228.

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Some Guiding Principles In seeking a solution to the Synoptic problem, one should have proper respect for the external testimony of ancient tradition. Where there is a strongly attested tradition, it should be assumed that such tradition is probably correct, unless it can be proven wrong. When tradition gives its testimony (e.g.; with regard to authorship of the Gospels) with reasonable unanimity and clarity, criticism of that tradition must prove that the tradition is in error before producing an alternative to the witness of that ancient tradition. Hand in hand with this, if criticism rejects a given tradition, then criticism is obligated to furnish some adequate account as to how that tradition originated, and, therefore, why it is invalid. Too often, if a tradition does not accord with modern theories about any of the Gospels, critical scholars have merely dismissed the tradition as the guesswork of an ancient writer. Such arbitrary dismissal of a disliked or inconvenient tradition without providing adequate reasons for such dismissal is inadmissible for good scholarship. In considering any possible solution to the Synoptic Problem, due attention must be paid to ancient tradition. It may be assumed as a starting point that most of the wellattested traditions were based, at least partially, on fact. There can be no question that any real advance in solving the Synoptic Problem must begin with a consideration of the oral period--that period of time immediately following the events recorded in the Gospels. It is generally assumed that the oral period stretched over about thirty years; i.e., across the life span of the first generation of Christians. In labeling these years as "the oral period" we need not exclude the development of written sources also originating during this time. It would seem reasonable to suppose that for a time oral teaching was the main means of communicating the gospel message and Christian teaching, but that it was supplemented by some literary productions. (Here one may consider the Jewish oral tradition and its method of transmission. In his careful study, B. Gerhardsson contends that rabbinical teachers not only taught traditional material, but taught it in set forms and vocabulary, which the pupils were expected to learn by heart. Since the earliest Christian preachers were Jews, Gerhardsson envisages that they would have followed the rabbinical practice. From this it follows that a basic oral tradition would be formulated that could be transmitted through catechetical instruction). Another factor that needs serious consideration is the possibility of the use of written notes as an aid to memory. B. Gerhardsson produces some evidence that suggests such notes were used by Jewish oral tradition and it seems quite natural to suppose that the Christian community would not have neglected to use aids of this kind. If this, indeed, is the case, the Christian tradition may have been on its way to a stage of written records long before the Gospels

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were produced. Such written notes and records would have proved to be invaluable when the Gospels came to be written. This brings us to the next important consideration: Were the writers of the Gospels authors in the fullest sense of the word, or were they merely editors and arrangers of a conglomerate of existing traditions, both oral and written? Luke's preface (Lk. 1:1-4) is invaluable for ascertaining the method used by Gospel writers (although some reserve is necessary before concluding that each of the Gospel writers followed an exactly similar approach). A compilation of written narratives was evidently common in Luke's time. It is equally evident that these writings were based on reports of eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. We may assume that each Gospel writer would chose from eyewitness accounts the material that was most relevant to his own particular purpose and intended audience. (If two Gospel writers recorded the same incident from the same eyewitness(s) a large measure of agreement would be expected, even in the verbal expressions of the narrative.) Luke seems to suggest that he is writing an independent account: he claims quite specifically to have made a thorough investigation himself on the same basis of reliable sources as did his predecessors. One question of great importance in this discussion is the meaning of the term Luke uses, "ministers of the word". Did these "ministers of the word" have a special function as tradition-bearers? Since Luke specifically states that they, together with the eyewitnesses, "delivered" the material to him and to others, it is highly probable that this special function was not only recognized but was also officially controlled. If the probability of official "tradition-bearers" be admitted, it is difficult to imagine that the transmission of the tradition of the life and teaching of our Lord would have been left to chance. It would make sense to believe that the tradition communicated by the "ministers of the word" was apostolically authenticated and sanctioned. Important Factors to Bear in Mind 1. The written Gospels were accepted at a very early period as authoritative. Furthermore, their authority was inherent and not imposed upon them. (In other words, they were accepted because they were believed to have been apostolic in origin, not because the church arbitrarily bestowed its sanction upon them). Their claims to authenticity must, therefore, have been beyond dispute. But was there a period before the end of the first century when they were not regarded as authoritative? Probability is against the notion of non-authoritative initial circulation. If this had been the case, it would involve the assumption that at some stage in its primitive history each Gospel acquired an authority that it did not previously possess. It is difficult to imagine how such a process could so soon have led to unanimous acceptance of each of them.

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2. The Gospels concern a unique Person and must therefore themselves be in some measure unique. The Gospels are essentially Christo-centric and there are no parallels to this. The very uniqueness of Christ demands the possibility that the records of His life and teaching will possess unique characteristics. It is reasonable to assume that the originality of our Lord's teaching and the originality of the influence of His actions upon His followers produced a unique situation for the germination of unique records of His life and teaching. Had this not been so, the Synoptic Problem would never have arisen, for there must have been a unique regard for the records for three so similar and yet so divergent records to have been retained with equal authority. Too often Gospel criticism has begun from some point outside the phenomena of the Gospels themselves and the latter have been forced into a mold that they were never meant to fill. 3. The Gospel material formed the basis of Christian preaching and teaching and was not the consequence of those Christian activities. Few scholars would deny that the early missionaries must have possessed certain Christian traditions that were agreed upon and which they were able to impart to others. It seems most natural to assume that the Christian traditions were transmitted because they were believed to be authentic and were most probably regarded as authentic in the form in which they were transmitted. Whatever part the Christian community played in the process of transmission, it is inconceivable that the community created either the sayings of Jesus or the narratives about Him. The Christian communities were groups of people who had "received" Christian traditions; (cp. 1 Cor. 15:3, where the Apostle Paul writes, "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received"). 4. The final consideration is the impossibility of explaining the origins of the Gospels apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit. This consideration rarely finds a place in discussions on the Synoptic Problem, because it is thought to belong to dogmatics rather than to historical criticism. But the operation of the Holy Spirit in Gospel origins is a vital factor, indeed, the vital factor, in the historical situation. The clear promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit would teach the disciples all things and bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them (Jn. 14:26; note, also, Jn. 16:13) cannot be dismissed simply because it does not fit into the normal categories of literary criticism. In the light of our Lord's promise, certain propositions may be made that have a direct bearing on the Synoptic Problem: It may first be asserted that the Holy Spirit controlled the traditions. However transmission was made during the pre-literary period, it cannot be supposed that the Holy Spirit would leave this to chance procedures. The next proposition affects the selective processes of the separate Gospel writers. If the Spirit aided memory, it is inconceivable that He did not also control the selection of the material each writer chose to use in writing his particular Gospel. The different emphases of the four Evangelists resulting in different

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methods of presentation may best be explained by the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit as He employed each one to suit His divine purpose. It is one of the fundamental weaknesses of all thoroughgoing source criticism that little room is left for the dynamic operation of the Spirit of God in the writing of the canonical Gospels. A Tentative Theory of Origins Stage 1: The apostolic preachers gave most prominence to the passion material, but they could not present this narrative in isolation. Hence, Peter in his preaching gave connected accounts of the events of Jesus' life and ministry (note Acts 10:36-43). This may well have been the standard pattern. Stage 2: At the same time as the apostolic preaching, catechetical instruction was being given to the new converts. This would certainly have required some careful arrangement of the teaching material. The major content of the catechesis would most probably have been the sayings of Jesus. Such catechetical instruction may have been in oral form or written form or a mixture of both. It is possible that this early catechesis was closely connected with Matthew and that it existed in its earliest form in Aramaic. Stage 3: Mark, who had had close contact with Peter and had many times heard Peter preach, reduced the content of Peter's preaching to writing. The result was a Gospel with more action narrative than teaching discourse. Stage 4: After the production of Mark's Gospel, probably at Rome, Matthew may have come into possession of a copy of it and have been led to expand it by the addition of a considerable amount of teaching material from the catechesis and other material, some of which was drawn from personal reminiscences. Stage 5: Luke, who was personally acquainted with Mark, was led by the Spirit to write a careful account of the course of events "from the beginning" (that is to say, from Jesus' advent). He studied all the written material he was able to gather and interviewed as many eyewitnesses as possible. He appears to have had a copy of Mark, although he may not have come into possession of it until after making an initial draft of his Gospel, consisting of teaching material plus much narrative material. The bulk of the teaching material Luke used was transmitted to him through catechesis, procured mainly while Luke was in Caesarea. The catechesis to which Luke had access tended to preserve shorter discourses of Jesus than those incorporated into Matthew's Gospel. Stage 6: It is probable that at first the tendency was for churches to use only one of the three Gospels as authoritative, because all three Gospels would not necessarily circulate in the same area. How long an interval elapsed before all three became widely known cannot be ascertained, but the interchange that

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took place with Paul's Epistles would suggest that a similar process took place with the Gospels. Why were all three Gospels preserved? Variations of emphasis and content were evidently no barrier to the eventual acceptance of the three. Here again the governing guidance of the Holy Spirit must not be forgotten. Guided by the Spirit, the churches would recognize those literary productions that were authentically Spirit-given (note 1 Cor. 14:37); in which case the variations in the narratives would themselves be regarded as a part of the revelatory character of the records.223
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bruce, F.F.; "The Fourfold Gospel," The New Bible Commentary; Edited by F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship; London; Reprinted October 1967. Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1970; Third Edition. Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids MI; 1964; Third Printing, October 1968. Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids MI; 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967.
223 Most of what appears under the previous three headings, "Some Guiding Principles," "Important Factors to Bear in Mind," and "A Tentative Theory of Origins," is a summary of the excellent material presented by Donald Guthrie in his New Testament Introduction, pp. 220236.

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EXCURSUS THREE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL OF JOHN AUTHORSHIP AND DATE OF COMPOSITION In one of his letters, the early church father Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200) refers to his acquaintance with Polycarp (A.D. 69-156) and the latter's reminiscences of his conversations with the Apostle John and others who had seen the Lord. There can be no doubt that Irenaeus accepted John the apostle as the author of the Gospel and believed it to have been published at Ephesus on the basis of Polycarp's testimony.224 Indeed, all the testimony of the church fathers from the time of Irenaeus is overwhelmingly in favor of attributing this Gospel to the Apostle John. In the opinion of A.J. Macleod, and many other scholars, the internal evidence points decisively in favor of the identification of the author of this Gospel with the Apostle John. For instance, from the Gospel itself it may be deduced that the author was a Jew who was accustomed to thinking in Aramaic, (although the Gospel was written in Greek): not infrequently Hebrew and Aramaic words are inserted into the text. Also, the author was familiar with Jewish expectations (1:19-28), Jewish feelings toward the Samaritans (4:9), and the Jewish feasts. Furthermore, the author gives evidence of being a Palestinian Jew who had personal acquaintance with the land and especially with Jerusalem and its environs (9:7; 11:18; 18:1). He was familiar with the cities of Galilee (1:44; 2:1) and with the territory of Samaria (4:5-6,21).225 Then, too, he claims to have been an eyewitness of the events he records: speaking of the Christ, he writes, "we beheld his glory" (1:14); describing the crucifixion, he testifies, "he that has seen has borne witness" (19:35).226 A very significant piece of evidence with regard to identifying the author is found in the final chapter of the book. Chapter 21:24 states, "This is the disciple who bore witness to these things and who wrote these things." It is most natural to interpret the personal pronoun "This [one]" as referring to the person of whom the Lord and Peter are speaking in the preceding verses (21:20-23), namely, "the disciple whom Jesus loved". The occurrences of this designation ("the disciple whom Jesus loved") found within the Gospel record seem to indicate that this individual was a close associate of Peter (18:15-16; 20:2; 21:2,7), as well as testifying to the fact that he had been very near to 224Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, Third Edition, December 1970; p. 258. 225 Macleod, A.J.; "The Gospel According to John," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967; p. 865. 226 Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967; pp. 186-187.

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Jesus at the Last Supper (13:23), had been present at the trial (18:15-16), and was there at the foot of the cross (19:26-27.) The obvious choice as to who this individual might be is John, the son of Zebedee. He and Peter belonged to the inner circle of disciples. They were present, together with James, on three occasions when the other disciples were not (Mk. 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). Moreover, they were still closely associated with one another after the resurrection (Acts 3:1,11; 4:13). Together with James, Peter (Cephas) and John are identified by Paul as being "esteemed as pillars of the church" (Gal. 2:9). Since James was martyred early in the history of the church (Acts 12:2), all this evidence suggests that "the beloved disciple" (who is also the author of this Gospel) is none other than the Apostle John. This supposition is strengthened by the fact that nowhere in this Gospel is the Apostle John mentioned by name; although he is mentioned twenty times (counting the parallel accounts) in the Synoptic Gospels.227 Another piece of supporting evidence found within this Gospel that would suggest that the author is, indeed, the Apostle John is the way in which he refers to John the Baptist. In this Gospel we do not read of "John the Baptist" as in the three Synoptic Gospels; in this Gospel the Baptist is simply referred to as "John". It is difficult to see why any informed early Christian writing this Gospel would have risked confusion by failing to adequately identify John the Baptist in distinction from the Apostle John. But, if the other John (John the apostle) were the author of this Gospel it would have been quite natural for him to speak of his namesake simply as "John". This point is all the more significant in light of the fact that in this Gospel people are, with consistency, carefully identified: the other Judas in distinction from Judas Iscariot (Jn. 14:22); Thomas (Jn. 11:16, 20:24, 21:2); Judas Iscariot (Jn. 6:71, 13:2, 26).228 Since Ignatius (A.D. 67-110) knew of this Gospel, it must have been written earlier than A.D. 110. If the Gospels of Mark and Luke were used in its composition, the date must be later than A.D. 85.229 (Note: It may be disputed whether John has made use of either of those two Synoptic Gospels; see the further discussion below.) archaeological evidence requires that this Gospel be dated no later than around the end of the first century. The Roberts Fragment, discovered in Egypt and published in 1935 by the Rylands Library, contains a few verses from chapter 18. Paleographers have assigned this fragment to the first half of the second century. Some years must be allowed between the time of the writing of this papyrus fragment and the original work, especially if the Gospel was 227 Guthrie, pp. 245-246. 228 Morris, Leon; "The Gospel According to John," The New International Commentary on The New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1971; pp. 11-12. 229 MacLeod, p. 865.

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composed at Ephesus, the site traditionally designated as the place of composition.230 Based on such information, many scholars have concluded that the Gospel of John was probably written between A.D. 90-110. However, there is something to be said for an earlier date of composition. As noted above, there is no compelling reason to assume that John made use of Mark and Luke in writing his Gospel, since the small amount of detail in which it runs parallel to the two Synoptic Gospels is so slight that it may well be accounted for by the fact that all three may have had access to the same oral traditions. To be sure, not many scholars have ventured to date this Gospel as early as pre-A.D. 70, yet there are considerations in support of such a dating. In favor of an early date are such factors as the following: John refers to the immediate followers of Jesus not as "apostles" but as "disciples". Furthermore, he normally uses the expression, "his disciples", rather than "the disciples". In the days of His earthly ministry Jesus' disciples would be distinguished from those of other teachers by some such an expression as "his disciples". But when Christianity had begun to develop, there would be no question about whose disciples were being referred to and "the disciples" became the standard expression. Secondly, speaking about the pool of Bethesda (5:2), John uses the present tense ("there is") rather than the past tense ("there was"). This pool would have been destroyed with the Roman demolition of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It is possible that John was using the present tense while referring to something in the past; however, it is more natural for it to be taken as a reference to something still existent at the time of writing. A possible solution to the debate as to whether to assign an early pre-A.D. 70 date to this Gospel or a later date may be found in the suggestion that John wrote portions of what would become his Gospel long before the finished composition. According to D. Guthrie, there is something to be said for the view that John made notes of our Lord's discourses shortly after hearing them. Then, at a later date, he compiled all his material into the final form in which we now have his Gospel.231 PURPOSE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS GOSPEL The Apostle John explicitly states his purpose when he testifies: "Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples that are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and [by] believing you may have life in his name" (20:30-31).
230 Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968; p. 205. 231 Guthrie, p. 286.

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John's purpose is to convince his readers that Jesus is, indeed, "the Christ". "The Christ" means "the anointed One" ("the Messiah"); it is an ascription that could have its fullest relevance only to the Jewish people, since the concept was not familiar to the Gentile world. E. Harrison contends that John's Gospel was primarily directed towards the Jews of the Dispersion, with the same objective as Paul's preaching in the synagogues of the Dispersion, (cp. Acts 9:22).232 John presents Jesus as the promised Messiah at the very outset of his Gospel: John the Baptist, the one foretold in the Old Testament as the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah, points Him out (1:19-34). Even at this earliest encounter, those who become Jesus' disciples hail Him as the Messiah (1:41). At the climax of our Lord's ministry this messianic theme is still dominant, for, as Guthrie states it, the messianic character of the entry into Jerusalem can hardly be disputed (12:12-19).233 John furthermore wants his readers to appreciate the fact that the Christ is none other than "the Son of God". Thus, the Prologue to this Gospel definitively presents the absolute deity of the Messiah. Using the title "the Word" (indicating that He is the very revelation of the person and mind of God, cp. Jn. 14:9), it is revealed that not only was He "with God" before the creation, but from all eternity He "was God". In His discourses Jesus testifies to the truth that He is the eternal Son of God who shares in the Father's glory (17:5), who has come forth from the Father (8:42), and who now returns to that state of divine intimacy that He ever had with the Father (16:28). Again, our Lord proclaims His absolute deity when He declares, "Before Abraham was born, I AM" (8:58). Both this declaration as well as His seven "I AM" proclamations (see more on this below) testify to His identity as the LORD (Jehovah), the great I AM (Ex. 3:14; Mal. 3:1). This was a claim that the Jews recognized, but rejected, as evidenced by their attempt to stone Him for allegedly uttering blasphemy (Jn. 8:59; see also 10:31-33). In writing his Gospel John is urging his readers not to be like the unbelieving Jews. (The ominous note of the rejection of the Christ is sounded at the very outset of the Gospel, cp. 1:10-11). Throughout this Gospel we find men failing (and refusing) to recognize Jesus' true identity, viewing Him merely as a teacher (3:2) or a Sabbath-breaker and blasphemer (5:18); viewing Him as a good man or a false teacher (8:12); or even viewing Him as one who was demon-possessed (8:48). To assist his readers in coming to faith in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, John has singled out for inclusion in his Gospel seven of Jesus' miracles which he describes as "signs" (see more on this below). John designates Jesus' mighty works as "signs" in order to emphasize their chief function, namely, to substantiate His messianic claim and thereby illicit faith in Him. John's intention is for his readers to become like those initial disciples who, upon seeing Jesus' divine glory manifested by the signs He performed, 232 Harrison, p. 215. 233 Guthrie, p. 272.

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believed in Him (2:11). As Jesus on one occasion said to the Jews, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; ... If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me. 38But if I am doing those [works], even though you do not believe me, believe the works; so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father" (10:32, 37-38).
John's ultimate purpose in writing is to illicit faith in Jesus, the Christ. He makes clear that how his readers respond to Jesus is no small matter; it is rather a matter of life or death. It is only by believing that they may have life in His name (20:31). John quotes Jesus as saying, "I came that they may have life" (10:10); "I AM the resurrection and the life: he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (11:25-26); and, in addressing His Father in prayer, "This is life eternal, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (17:3). Early on in this Gospel the urgency for faith in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, is set forth. John the Baptist concludes his ministry by identifying Jesus as the One who came from heaven (3:31) and John closes the discourse with this editorial comment: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (3:36). John earnestly desires that his readers not imitate those who reject Jesus, despite the abundant and irrefutable evidence; but rather that they be numbered among those who receive Him, committing themselves to Him, and thus by Him are granted the right to become children of God (1:12).
As noted above, one of the unique characteristics of this Gospel is the seven "I AM" declarations by which Jesus identifies Himself and His ministry. Again, as previously noted, these declarations are emphatic and unmistakable claims to His absolute deity. Those seven declarations along with where they are found in the Gospel record are listed below:
The Divine Declaration
The Passage
I am the Bread of Life. I am the Light of the World. I am the Door of the Sheep. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Resurrection and the Life. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I am the True Vine.
John 6:35 John 8:12 John 10:7 John 10:11 John 11:25 John 14:6 John 15:1
At this point a word may be in order concerning John's use of the title "the Word" as it occurs in the Prologue. A.J. Macleod asserts, "While the ancestry of the terminology may be thought to show the influence of Hellenistic [Greek] thought, its main inspiration comes from the Old Testament." Note, for instance, Genesis 15:1, where we read, "... the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, `Fear not, Abram.'" It seems that in such a passage

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as Genesis 15:1 (note, also, 1 Samuel 15:10) "the word of Jehovah" is an Old Testament manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity who would eventually manifest Himself in His incarnation (Jn. 1:14) as Jesus of Nazareth. As Macleod goes on to say, "The idea of `the Word' being made `flesh' was really completely alien to Greek thought".234
Even though John's usage of the title "the Word" is rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures rather than in Greek philosophy, this does not mean that he may not also have had a Greek audience at least partially in mind when he wrote. As L. Morris points out, it is plain from his habit of explaining Jewish terms, even common ones like "Rabbi" (1:38), that John had in mind a broader audience than only the Jews. After all, it is only John who mentions the fact that "certain Greeks" sought an audience with Jesus at the time of the Passover celebration (12:20-21).235
Another one of the unique characteristics of this Gospel is the fact that John has selected only seven of the many miracles Jesus' performed. As mentioned previously, they are designated by John as "signs" because their primary purpose is to bear testimony to the fact that Jesus is, indeed, the Christ, the Son of God. These seven signs together with their location in the Gospel record are as follows:
The Sign
The Passage
The Changing of Water into Wine The Healing of the Nobleman's Son The Healing of the Helpless Paralytic The Feeding of the Five Thousand The Walking on the Water The Healing of the Blind Man The Raising of Lazarus
John 2:1-11 John 4:46-54 John 5:1-9 John 6:1-14 John 6:16-21 John 9:1-12 John 11:1-46
One other characteristic of the Gospel of John that should be noted is its emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is more of our Lord's teaching about the Spirit in this Gospel than in any other. In the Nicodemus discourse, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is clearly presented (3:58). In speaking with the Samaritan woman, Jesus emphasizes the spiritual nature of God and the necessity for worship to be "in Spirit and in truth" if it is to be acceptable (4:24). (Note: Jesus' reference to worship "in the Spirit" seems to be a reference to the true worshiper gaining access to the Father by means of the Spirit, cp. Eph. 2:18). On the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus promises that after His glorification He will give the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Him and the Spirit will gush forth from within 234 MacLeod, p. 866. 235 Morris, p. 61.

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them like rivers of living water (7:37-39). It is in the farewell discourses (chapters 14-16) that the fullest exposition of the Holy Spirit's work is found. In answer to Jesus' prayer, the Father will send the Holy Spirit who will minister to the disciples in His capacity as Comforter and Counselor (14:16-17). Indeed, Jesus assures His disciples that it is by means of the Holy Spirit that He will be present with them (14:18).236
BIBLIOGRAPHY Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, Third Edition, December 1970. Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968. Macleod, A.J.; "The Gospel According to John," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. Morris, Leon; "The Gospel According to John," The New International Commentary on The New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1971. Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967. Zugg, Julian; www.mints.edu; Mints Courses; Bachelors Courses: BAB414 John 12-13. Zugg, Julian; www.mints.edu; Mints Courses; Masters Courses; MAB414 Johannine Literature. Zugg, Julian; www.mints.edu; Mints Courses; Masters Courses; MAB628 1,2,3 John.
236 Guthrie, pp. 238-239.

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EXCURSUS FOUR: THE GOSPEL OF JOHN AND THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS As D. Guthrie remarks, "It is obvious to the most casual reader that John has features that are strikingly different from the Synoptic Gospels".237 In this present article we wish to consider the Gospel of John in comparison to the three Synoptic Gospels, considering their similarities and their differences. Then we will seek to come to an understanding as to how they relate to one another. SIMILARITIES BETWEEN JOHN AND THE SYNOPTICS All four Gospels include the following: (1) narratives and comments about John the Baptist; (2) the call of the disciples; (3) the feeding of the five thousand; (4) the trip across the Sea of Galilee; (5) Peter's confession; (6) the entry into Jerusalem; (7) Jesus' last meal will His disciples; (8) the arrest, trial, and crucifixion; and (9) various post-resurrection appearances. In addition to this general agreement among the four Gospels, there are also narratives about the cleansing of the temple and an anointing of Jesus, but both these events are placed in different settings in John's Gospel (see more on this below). These similarities may also be supplemented by a number of isolated words spoken by Jesus and others, recorded both in John as well as in the Synoptics. Yet the whole of this common material contains very little verbal agreement when John is compared with the Synoptics; unlike the verbal agreement that is found among the Synoptics themselves when they quote the words of Jesus and others. Note, for example, Peter's confession as it is reported by John (6:6869) in comparison to the Synoptics (Matt. 16:16; Mk. 8:29; Lk. 9:20). In common with the Synoptics, John records samples of both healing and nature miracles, although John treats them differently from the Synoptics. Moreover, John records some Galilean material in common with the Synoptics, although he concentrates on the Jerusalem ministry.238 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JOHN AND THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS The first type of difference between John and the Synoptics is what may be called significant omissions. For instances, parables in the proper sense of the word are lacking in John, yet they constitute the staple of Jesus' teaching in the Synoptics. In John much of the teaching comes out in debates with
237 Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, Third Edition, December 1970; p. 237. 238 Guthrie, p. 288.

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opponents or in intimate contact with the disciples.239 However, it should be noted that the parabolic element in Jesus' teaching is not altogether absent from John. John 12:35-36a may be seen to be a parable, and there are also the vivid "I AM" declarations. More significant is the narrative material John omits; this would include, among other things, the virgin birth, Jesus' baptism, the temptations in the wilderness, the transfiguration, and the institution of the Lord's Supper. Perhaps the best explanation of this phenomenon is given by D. Guthrie who maintains, "any omissions by John were dictated by his assuming his readers' acquaintance with the events, and by his specific purpose". Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the statement found in the Prologue ("the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory") is John's testimony to the transfiguration. Whereas the Synoptics emphasize that on a particular occasion the Lord Jesus dramatically displayed His divine glory, John's emphasis is on the fact that the Lord's divine glory was manifested in various ways throughout His ministry (note, for instance, 2:11). Then, too, Jesus' discourse on His identity as "the Bread of life" (6:35,51) is supplemental to His teaching at the time of the institution of the Lord's Supper as recorded in the Synoptics. Finally, when he records the words of Jesus, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name" (12:27-28a), it may well be John's intention thereby to summarize the agony of Gethsemane which the Synoptics present in more detailed narrative.240 A second type of difference to be found when John is compared to the Synoptics is that of significant additions. Among the significant additions unique to John's Gospel are the following: (1) the early Judean ministry, including the miracle at Cana; (2) Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus and with the Samaritan woman; (3) the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda; (4) the healing of the blind man in Jerusalem; (5) the raising of Lazarus; (6) the washing of the disciples' feet; (7) the farewell discourses in the upper room; and (8) portions of the passion narrative. Why is there so much new material introduced? Once again, D. Guthrie responds, "If John is designed to supplement the Synoptic Gospels the answer will be ready to hand". One must also remember John's clearly defined purpose as stated in 20:30-31. In keeping with that purpose, John has inserted this material not found in the Synoptics. For example, the miracle at Cana reveals Jesus' true identity and serves to elicit and confirm the faith of the disciples (2:11). His discourses with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman serve to expound the doctrines of regeneration and true spiritual worship. The 239 Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968; p. 210. 240 Guthrie, p. 289.

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healing of the paralytic affords Jesus the opportunity to bear witness to the fact that He is the Son of God who is Lord of the Sabbath. Or, again, the raising of Lazarus becomes the occasion of Jesus' assertion that He, as the great "I AM," is the Resurrection and the Life (11:25-26).241 The third type of difference between John and the Synoptics is what might be called historical/chronological variations. The most notable differences in this category are: the dating of the cleansing of the temple, the duration of Jesus' ministry, and the anointing at Bethany. Whereas the Synoptics record the cleansing of the temple very late in Jesus' ministry (in conjunction with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem), John records a cleansing of the temple that occurred early on in Jesus' ministry. There seems to be no true difficulty here; in all likelihood there were two occasions on which Jesus cleansed the temple. The seeming variation in the duration of Jesus' ministry poses less of a problem than is often imagined. It is generally supposed that the Synoptics require only one year for Jesus' entire ministry, whereas John requires almost three. But the chronological indications in the Synoptics are too vague to settle the question of the duration of the Lord's ministry. Furthermore, there are in fact many incidental details that suggest a much longer period than one year. Moreover, there are some obvious gaps in the Synoptic narratives, particularly in relation to the Judean ministry. It is not impossible to regard both the Synoptics and Johannine accounts as complementary in this matter.242 With regard to the dating of the anointing at Bethany, we may consider the following information that has bearing on our understanding of how to reconcile John and the Synoptics at this point. Luke tells us that the plottings of the chief priests were immediately followed by Judas' desertion (Lk. 22:16). Mark and Matthew record the plottings of the chief priests as occurring two days before the Passover, then they report the anointing at Bethany, and finally they tell us of Judas' desertion (Mk. 14:1-11; Matt. 26:1-16). John, on the other hand, informs us that the anointing at Bethany occurred six days before the Passover (12:1). There is, however, no true contradiction between these accounts. Mark (and Matthew following him) informs us of the plottings of the chief priests (14:1-2), then gives us a "flashback" to the anointing which occurred previously at Bethany (14:3-9), and then goes on to inform us of Judas' desertion and bargain with the chief priests (14:10-11). By presenting the events in this order Mark has served to highlight Mary's loving act of selfdenial by "sandwiching" it between the self-seeking efforts of the chief priests on the one hand and Judas on the other.
241 Guthrie, p. 290. 242 Guthrie, p. 294.

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UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOHN AND THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS According to M.C. Tenney, it is possible that John's Gospel was written as an attempt to supplement the accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus that had found written expression in the Synoptic Gospels. The general omission of Jesus' Galilean ministry, the almost total absence of the parables, the definite selectivity in choosing what miracles to include in his account (20:30), and the dovetailing of some of John's historical data with that found in the Synoptics makes one feel that the author was trying to give to the public fresh information that had not previously been used in writing. For instance, in the account of the Last Supper, John described the foot-washing scene and explained how Jesus wished to provide an object lesson in humility for the disciples. Luke, for his part, tells how the disciples were arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest (Lk. 22:24). The two accounts thus interlock, and one may speculate whether John was not explaining how Jesus met the situation Luke described.243 D. Guthrie, too, contends that the large amount of material in John, which is absent from the Synoptics, would be well accounted for if John were filling in the gaps. Moreover, John often avoids unnecessary duplications, so that it would seem he assumes his readers will be acquainted with the Synoptic records. Guthrie sums up the situation by commenting, "Whatever view of their relationship is held, it cannot be denied that each is necessary to make the other intelligible".244
BIBLIOGRAPHY (continued on next page) Guthrie, Donald; New Testament Introduction; Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, Third Edition, December 1970. Harrison, Everett F.; Introduction to the New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1964; Third Printing, October 1968. Macleod, A.J.; "The Gospel According to John," The New Bible Commentary, Edited by F. Davidson; The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, Reprinted October 1967. Morris, Leon; "The Gospel According to John," The New International Commentary on The New Testament; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1971. 243Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967; p. 197. 244 Guthrie, p. 287.

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Tenney, Merrill C.; New Testament Survey; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1961; Eighth Printing, February 1967.

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EXCURSUS FIVE: IS THERE A CONFLICT BETWEEN JOHN AND THE SYNOPTICS ON THE DATING OF THE CRUCIFIXION?245 The question we here address is this, Is there a conflict between the evidence for the dating of the crucifixion in the three Synoptic Gospels and that found in the Gospel of John? There is not the least indication in the writings of the ancient church fathers that during the first hundred and fifty years A.D. any problem was seen in the four Gospels with regard to the dating of the crucifixion. Only about A.D. 170 do we for the first time find signs indicating that confusion had arisen concerning the evidence of the four Gospels with regard to the dating of the crucifixion. It appears Tatian (120-180 A.D.), in compiling his Diatessaron (i.e.; a Harmony of the Four Gospels), was the first to detect an apparent conflict between the three Synoptic Gospels on the one hand, and the Gospel of John on the other. Now it is significant that, taking into consideration all the evidence bearing on the views held by the church fathers up until circa 160-170 A.D., one comes to the conclusion that the early church of the first hundred and fifty years--when contact with the apostles was still fresh--saw no problem in the Gospels with regard to the dating of our Lord's crucifixion. Having said this, we must ask the question, What exactly did Tatian see that caused him to suppose that there might be a conflict between John and the Synoptics with regard to this matter? When one closely studies the Gospel accounts, it becomes apparent that the Synoptics clearly indicate that Jesus partook of the paschal meal with His disciples according to the Jewish law (cp. Ex. 12:1-20, esp. vs. 6), and was crucified on the following day. Thus, His partaking of the paschal meal would have occurred on the evening of Thursday, the 14th of Nisan, His crucifixion on that Friday, the 15th of the month, (the day of solemn Passover observance), and He would then have rested in His tomb on the Sabbath, awaiting the third day, the day of His resurrection. However, certain passages in the Gospel of John (especially 18:28; 19:14) seem to indicate that the eating of the paschal meal took place on the evening of the day of Jesus' death. According to John 18:28 and 19:14, the Jews' presentation of Jesus before Pilate, His trial before the Roman governor, and His subsequent crucifixion, all occurred prior to the Jews' "eating the Passover". We need now to consider these passages of John more carefully in order to determine if there is, indeed, a conflict between John's account and that of the Synoptics, or, if, in fact, the conflict is merely apparent and the four Gospel accounts are actually in harmony with one another. 245 For much of the content of this present Excursus we are indebted to the work of Prof. Norval Geldenhuys as found in his Commentary on the Gospel of Luke.

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The text of John 18:28 is the text of cardinal importance in our investigation. That passage reads as follows: Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover [fagwsin to pasca]. Often times scholars have (wrongly) assumed that by the expression, "[that they] might eat the Passover", John is indicating that the Jews had yet to eat the paschal meal, and, therefore, according to John, Jesus was already tried and sentenced to be crucified on the morning before the eating of the paschal meal. Contrary to this understanding of the text, there is convincing evidence that the expression,"[that they] might eat the Passover", does not refer to the eating of the initial paschal meal, but refers to the entire seven-day feast of unleavened bread, and especially to the sacrificial meals eaten during the feast. During the seven-day Passover observance, in addition to the usual offerings, feast offerings were required to be brought to the temple every day. In Jn. 18:28 the evangelist seems to be referring to the partaking of some such sacrificial meal. Then, too, we must bear in mind that the entire Passover observance, (extending for a period of seven days), was commonly referred to by the people as "the feast of Passover", or, simply, "the Passover". An example of such terminology is found in Luke 22:1, "Now the feast of unleavened bread was approaching, which is called the Passover." It is generally recognized that the term, to pasca ("the Passover"), had a wider meaning than merely the paschal meal.246 An Old Testament example of this broader usage can be found in Ezek. 45:21, where the term "Passover" is used in reference to the entire seven-day feast: "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten."247 John himself frequently uses to pasca in this broader sense: Jn. 2:13; 6:4; 11:55; 18:39; etc. Thus, apart from any other consideration, it is highly probable that in 18:28 he is also using the term in this broader sense. Moreover, it was the Jewish custom to speak, in connection with the Passover, of "eating the feast", instead of, "celebrating the feast". This way of speaking 246 According to Geldenhuys, referencing the biblical scholar T. Zahn, "It is plain from the Mishnaic tractate Pesachim, ix. 5, that the simple term, "passover", was occasionally used to denote the whole seven-days' feast" (p. 662). 247 In Deut. 16:2 the expression, "sacrifice the passover", is applied to the offerings made from "the flock and the herd", indicating that the term was not used exclusively for the offering up of the paschal lamb, which was eaten at the initial paschal meal. Likewise, in 2 Chronicles 35:8-19 small cattle and oxen are designated as "passover offerings".

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about the Passover is also to be found in the Hebrew text of 2 Chron. 30:22, where the phrase (found in the American Standard Version),248 "they did eat throughout the feast for the seven days", is literally, "they ate the festival (de4woMh1 ta6 wlk5aoyw1)". So, when speaking about the Passover, it would be quite natural for John to employ the usual expression, "eat the Passover", instead of saying, "celebrate the feast". Writing at the rather late date at which he composed the fourth Gospel, John would assume that his readers were acquainted with the accounts provided by the three Synoptic Gospels. In particular, he would have been aware that, according to the other Gospels, Jesus was crucified on Friday, the 15th of Nisan. Therefore he was not concerned that by using the expression to pasca in 18:28 there would be any misunderstanding or that anyone would get the impression that by that expression he had in mind the eating of the paschal meal. Thus, it is quite clear, in light of all this, that Jn. 18:28 is an allusion to the celebration of the entire seven-day feast, which included the eating of the sacrificial meals during the whole seven-day period. According to the biblical scholar Alfred Edersheim, who, with his Jewish background was an expect on Jewish customs and terminology, Jn. 18:28 is in all likelihood referring to the eating of the socalled Chagigah ("Festival Offering"), which had to be eaten during the forenoon after the first Passover day, (i.e.; the first Passover day being the previous evening at which time the paschal meal was eaten). Geldenhuys concludes this present portion of our study by writing, ... it is not John's actual statements that create a problem in relation to the Synoptics, but a wrong interpretation of his statements. This wrong interpretation ... originated about the last quarter of the second century A.D., when the close contact with first-hand knowledge concerning the views of John and the other leaders of the first century became more and more meager, and expressions in the Gospels were interpreted differently from what the authors had intended. We turn now to consider the other "problematic" passage found in the Gospel of John, that being Jn. 19:14. This verse is also generally adduced as a socalled proof that John teaches that Jesus was already crucified before the Passover, (i.e.; before the partaking of the paschal meal). The verse has been offered as such "proof" due to the mistranslation of the Greek phrase, paraskeuh tou pasca. At times that phrase has been rendered, "the preparation for the Passover", when in fact, the proper translation is, "the preparation of the Passover".
248 The New International Version gives the translation, "For the seven days they ate their assigned portion".

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At the time John wrote, the Greek term paraskeuh ("preparation") was already an accepted designation for "Friday", the equivalent of the Hebrew tB2v1 br6e4 ("the evening of the Sabbath"; i.e.; the evening prior to the Sabbath day). Apart from Jn. 19:14, the term occurs in five other places in the New Testament (Matt. 27:62; Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54; Jn. 19:31, 42). In all these instances its meaning is clear, as Mark defines it, "the preparation [paraskeuh], that is, the day before the Sabbath". The Jews, in order to observe the Sabbath laws (cp. Ex. 16:5), were accustomed to making preparations for the Sabbath on Friday, the day before the Sabbath. Thus, the day prior to the Sabbath became known as "the preparation". Accordingly, the phrase, "preparation of the Passover", in Jn. 19:14 means that the day of our Lord's crucifixion was the Friday of the Passover; that is to say, the Friday that falls during Passover week, or, Passover Friday. This expression, "the preparation of the Passover", as it occurs in Jn. 19:14 was most probably intended by John as preparatory to his statement in verse 31 of this same chapter, namely, that the Sabbath after the Lord's crucifixion was a "high" day. John calls it a "high" day because it was the Sabbath that fell within the Passover week. According to A. Edersheim, "The Sabbath about to open was a `high day'--it was both a Sabbath and the second Paschal Day, which was regarded as in every respect equally sacred with the first--nay, more so, since the so-called Wave Sheaf was then offered to the LORD."
BIBLIOGRAPHY Geldenhuys, Norval; Commentary on the Gospel of Luke; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co.; Grand Rapids MI; Reprinted 1968; pp. 649-670.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Ridderbos, Herman; The Coming of the Kingdom; Translated by H. de Jongste; The Presbyterian and Reformed Publish. Co; Philadelphia PA; 1969.

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