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Jesus Creed

Mark 9:47, our 9th reference to kingdom, reads as follows in context: “42 ?And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where? ?their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.? 49 Everyone will be salted with fire.”
1. Here kingdom refers to a place or a condition into which someone enters. (This could be a “relationship” but this is probably not enough.)
2. The kingdom in this text, by being connected to Gehenna (the symbol of final condemnation), probably refers to something in the future. (E.g., Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God)
3. Entering into that kingdom is the most important thing in life and anything in one’s way must be hurdled and any load to heavy to shoulder must be discarded.
4. Treatment of children is the moral issue that gives rise to this saying.
5. Kingdom here is nearly synonymous with “life.” So, life and kingdom are in contrast with Gehenna and hell. Hell is a place of unquenchable fire.
6. Now, is this Eternity or Kingdom on earth? The context is not entirely clear. Since “hell” is normally taken to be an eternal condition, many take this to refer to the kingdom of eternity. In which case it would be either millennial earthly manifestation type of condition or an eternal condition.
7. Regardless, whether earthly or eternal (they are in continuity with one another), that kingdom is a society where God’s rule is established. Kingdom here seems to refer to a place or a condition where God’s will is supremely established and practiced.
I cannot think the expression “kingdom of God” can ever mean anything other than a set of conditions in which God’s rule is carried out among his people. Kings need people (kingdom) and that involves a society where God is king and God’s people are God’s subjects.
8. Still, the focus of this text is moral: nothing must stand in the way.

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