We turn today to two texts, Mark 3:24 and 4:11. Here are the texts:
3:23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: ?How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
This text uses “kingdom” in proverbial fashion. It is set up next to “house”. A good suggestion here is to see “kingdom” referring to a political kingdom, say one like that of Pilate (a Roman one) or Antipas’ (a more Jewish one).
Mark 4:11 reads, in context:
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, ?The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
? ?they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!?. ?
1. Jesus chooses riddle-like parables to explain what he means by kingdom. He doesn’t define it; he plays with it by using images.
2. Jesus’ disciples, those who have seen and perceived, those who have heard and understood, and those who have turned and been forgiven (see 1:15) have now grasped to some degree the “secret” of the kingdom of God. [Those who define “secret” tend to guess too much for me at this point in our discussion.]
3. The “secret of the kingdom” is the “kingdom itself.” That is, “secret of the kingdom” probably means the “secret which is the kingdom.” (Standard grammatical explanation.)
4. To connect “secret” to kingdom means that kingdom is in some sense connected to a kind of knowing others don’t have.
5. Clearly, kingdom describes the community of repentant, perceptive, understanding followers of Jesus.