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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 49

The phrase, “Kingdom of Heaven,” occurs 31 times in Matthew. (It doesn’t occur anywhere else in the Bible.) The natural tendency is to suppose that Jesus was talking about life after death.

Actually, says [N. T.] Wright, Jesus was talking about this life. This phrase is related to another common one: Matthew 6:10 “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” (This is part of the Lord’s Prayer.)

The Wikipedia has an article on the Kingdom of God, and it says that Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven instead of Kingdom of God, but that they are equivalent. As to the meaning of the phrase, this is what the Wikipedia says:

No overall agreement on the theological interpretation of "Kingdom of God" has emerged among scholars. . . . Some scholars have interpreted it as a Christian lifestyle, some as a method of world evangelization, some as the rediscovery of charismatic gifts, others relate it to no present or future situation, but the world to come, often based on the theological leanings of the scholar in question

Mark 9:1 He said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste death until they see God’s Kingdom come with power.”

That uses a phrase close to “Kingdom of Heaven,” or “Kingdom of God.” It is possible that Jesus was deceived, or knowingly made a false statement, here. It is also possible that He was talking about the resurrection. But a literal reading agrees with Wright – He was talking about His Kingdom on earth, which He established, and which Kingdom was strengthened, and placed on a firm foundation, when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Except for Judas, all of the Twelve saw the arrival of God’s Kingdom, in this way, with power. So did many others.

The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the topic of the idea of going to heaven, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue with a related topic. Thanks for reading.

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