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Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven

May 15, 2012

The main theme of the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus’ kingdom of heaven. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, yet God’s newly anointed king will not rule over the kingdom of Israel. Instead, from the beginning he announces a new kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. Matthew is the only Gospel that uses this phrase “the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew’s story is full of conflict between the new king, Jesus, and the kingdom of Israel, especially its leaders. Rather than try to reform Israel, Jesus focuses on his new kingdom–and calls disciples to join him. On earth, his faithful disciples will be his kingdom of heaven.

So Matthew is full of Jesus’ teachings and actions that contrast with those of the rulers of Israel. The scribes (rabbis) of the Pharisees rule over the synagogues, where they interpret, teach, and enforce the law of Moses–the national constitution for the kingdom of Israel. Jesus patiently teaches his disciples the differences between the “narrow road” of his kingdom and the “broad way” of the kingdoms of earth, including the kingdom of Israel.

I have just finished “publishing” another (free) ebook on Smashwords, entitled: The Book of Matthew: Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven Versus the Kingdoms of Earth.

Check it out at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/162673

Let me know what you think.

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4 Comments
  1. Lucas,

    In the little time that I have had to click around your site, I’ve enjoyed and ‘amened’ much of what I’ve read. In fact, I downloaded the PDF of your book on Revelation and am anxious to read it. One thing that I have appreciated–a common thread among your threads–is your consistent awareness of the antithesis between Jesus’ rule and kingdom and all comers. (Serious, it is a huge blessing to read someone articulating this as well as you do.) Moreover, I appreciate your clear distinction between the kingdom of Israel, as manifest during Jesus’ ministry, and Jesus’ kingdom. This defies the dispensationalists’ eschatology on many levels. One question that occurred to me, though, is this: Granting Matthew’s transparent literary motifs, which present Jesus’ as the new, true Moses, the new, true, Joshua, and the new, true Israel, etc., how do you understand Jesus’ relationship to the true OT religion of Israel and the organic community of the OT church? I hope my question is clear, though roughly stated. Thanks and blessings! Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Regarding your question, I think Mt. 5:21-48 especially shows how Jesus is the new Moses (fulfilling the law on a whole new level, including new commands that change commands of Moses), and how Jesus relates to the true OT religion of Israel–the covenant (law) with Moses, the “constitution” for the theocracy of Israel. Your mention of the organic community of the OT church, however, perhaps means you understand this “church” as the true OT religion. In this case, Lk. 13:28 (and Mt. 8:11-12) comes to mind (about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, while most of Israel is thrown out). Jesus says the greatest of all those former faithful ones is John the Baptist (Mt. 11:11); and then he adds that even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. I interpret that to mean all disciples of Jesus, even the least, who become part of Jesus’ new kingdom of heaven on earth (before the end) are part of a new level of “religion” and “community” and life (of the new age). Yet those faithful to God’s revelation before Jesus came will also be in heaven, joining Jesus and his disciples (when they arrive in heaven), and part of the final fulfillment of the eternal kingdom of God (the new heavens and new earth). I think Heb. 11-12 points in a similar direction.

      Feel free to follow up on your question.

      Lucas

      • Thanks for the response, Lucas. First, I appreciate your feel for the whole texture of Scripture; it is clear you are quite at home in the Word. Secondly, I appreciate your willingness to think dynamically in terms of orthodoxy. You seem to give these concepts a fresh expression and nuance. I’m looking forward to reading your Revelation material. Blessings, Kevin

      • Thanks, Kevin. I would be interested in your responses also as you read about my take on Revelation.

        Lucas

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