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Jesus Creed

OK, now stepping up to the plate in the kingdom game is a notoriously disputed text. Here it is in context: 11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear..
The Lukan version of this is slightly different and here it is: 16 ?The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law..
1. Unquestionably, the kingdom is present in this text.
2. A timeline makes this clear: “from the days of John Baptist until now, the kingdom has been forcefully advancing.” That means it has been storming its way along since the days of John. But this means John was not really part of the kingdom since Jesus says that those who are “least” in the kingdom are “greater than he.” There is a definite time change, not so much with John — who is the hinge — with Jesus. It is with Jesus that kingdom arrives in some sense. (How? we’ll get to this below.)
3. Kingdom’s arrival means kingdom’s opposition. The forceful men, so I think, are best typified by Herod Antipas who put John to death. These folks are trying to stop the kingdom. This means we have a clear shot at Roman empire and complicity with Jewish leaders.
4. Now Luke’s Gospel adjusts this slightly — and speculating here what the original Q looked like probably will win no converts — but it is clear that Luke’s Gospel presents the advancing of the gospel under the image of evangelizing and preaching the good news.
5. Then Luke changes the response from one of opposition to one of aggressive penetration into that kingdom circle.
6. The kingdom of God here describes the circle around Jesus who are right now responding to his good news (evangelism), following him, growing with him, and adding one person at a time to his circle of followers.

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