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Jesus' idea; a study of the real Jesus online

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Heavens (St. Matthew 28:19-20; St. Mark 16:15). The
Kingdom, indeed, was the beginning, the middle and the end
of Jesus' preaching.

To render this assertion indisputable, let us cite proof
from the Gospels. "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the
Gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God, and saying.
The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; re-
pent je, and believe the Gospel" (St. Mark i :i4, 15). "From
that time Jesus began to preach, and to say. Repent; for
the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (St. Matthew 4:17).
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues,
and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all
manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the
people" (St. Matthew 4:23; 9:35). "And He said unto them,
I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also; for
therefore am I sent. And He preached in the synagogues of
Galilee" (St. Luke 4:43, 44). "And it came to pass after-
ward, that He went throughout every city and village, preach-
ing and showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God: and
the twelve were with Him" (St. Luke 8:1 ; St. Mark i :38, 39).

Not only was the Kingdom the burden of Jesus' preaching: it
was also the very essence of His commission to the Twelve.


246 Jesus' Idea

"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave
them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
And he sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal
the sick." "And they departed, and went through the towns,
preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. And the people
when they knew it followed Him; and He received them, and
spake unto them of the Kingdom of God, and healed them
that had need of healing." "Jesus said unto Him, Let the
dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the Kingdom
of God : And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand
to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God"
(St. Luke 9:1, 6, II, 60, 62; St. Mark 6:6, 7, 8). "These
twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go
not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samari-
tans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying. The kingdom of heaven
is at hand" (St. Matthew 10:5, 7). Virtually the same com-
mission was given subsequently to the Seventy: "After these
things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them
two by two before His face into every city and place, whither
he himself would come." "And heal the sick that are therein,
and say unto them. The kingdom of God is come nigh unto
you." "Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us,
we do wipe off against you : notwithstanding, be ye sure of this,
that the kingdom of God Is come nigh unto you" (St. Luke
10:1, 9, 11). Jesus also declares: "And this gospel of the
kingdom shall be preached In all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come" (St. Matthew 24:14).

The familiar and very precious intercourse of the Master
with the disciples on the eve of the Crucifixion, also reveals
the conception which was uppermost In the mind of Jesus al-
ways, and ever dearest to His heart: "And I appoint unto you a
kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me; that ye may
eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (St. Luke 22:29, 30).

That the Apostles, after the death of Christ, regarded "the
Kingdom of God" as the comprehensive and fundamental feature
of their Lord's teaching, is evident in their preaching. A few
quotations from "The Acts of the Apostles" will suffice to
Indicate this. "But when they believed Philip preaching the

Appendix 247

things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus
Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).
"And he (Paul) went into the synagogue, and spake boldly
for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the
things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). "And
now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone
preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more"
(Acts 20:25). "And when they had appointed him a day,
there came many to him unto his lodgings; to whom he ex-
pounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them
concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the
prophets, from morning till evening." "And Paul dwelt two
whole years in his hired house, and received all that came in
unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those
things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence,
no man forbidding him" (Acts 28:23, 31). This emphatic
testimony of the Book of Acts of the Apostles attests that the
subject of the Apostolic preaching is in line with the state-
ment of the third verse of the First Chapter of the Book,
which reads: "To whom also he showed himself alive after
his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty
days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God." We could anticipate no other course of action on the
part of the Apostles after Jesus had so emphasized the King-
dom at all times during His life, and had made it the preeminent
topic of conversation during the great Forty Days.

We think that these abundant citations from the New Testa-
ment will convince the unprejudiced reader that the important
and absorbing topic of Jesus of Nazareth was "The Kingdom
of God." However this theme may be in the background of
a present-day preaching, it was undeniably in the very fore-
ground of Jesus' preaching.



In the New Testament, two expressions were used, appar-
ently with no distinction between them — *'The Kingdom of
Heaven" and "The Kingdom of God." These expressions,
while they differ in form, are equivalent in meaning. The
phrase — **The Kingdom of Heaven" — is peculiar to the Gospel
of St. Matthew, in which it is used thirty-two times. "The
Kingdom of God" is the form alone used in the Gospels ac-
cording to St. Luke, St. Mark and St. John; although it is
also used interchangeably by St. Matthew in five passages, at
least — 6:io, 33; 12:28; 21:31, 43. The term, "The Kingdom
of God," is found fifteen times in St. Mark's Gospel; thirty
times in the Gospel according to St. Luke, twice in the Gospel
according to St. John, and seven times in the Book of the Acts
of the Apostles. Twice in St. Matthew's Gospel occurs the
expression "The Kingdom of the Father" (St. Matthew 13:43;
26:29). Jesus also speaks of "My Kingdom" three times (St.
John 18:36).

It is considered highly probable that "The Kingdom of
God" was a current expression among the Jews of Our Lord's
time, because of the very prevalence and the great popu-
larity of the conception which it embodied. Certain New
Testament passages seem to imply its common use in the speech
of the people. For example, St. Mark 15:43 reads: "Joseph
of Arimathea, an honorable counselor, which also waited
for the Kingdom of God, came, and went boldly unto Pilate,
and craved the body of Jesus." "And as they heard these things,
he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem,
and because they thought that the Kingdom of God should
immediately appear." It may be also, that in the question of
the Apostles, recorded in Acts i :6 — "Lord, wilt thou at this
time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" — we have an indi-


Appendix 249

cation of the popular usage. St. Luke 14:15 is significant,
too: — "And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard
these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread
in the kingdom of God.'' Then again, there was in common
use a prayer called the "Kaddish." This prayer was written in
Aramaic, and dates far back into antiquity. The concluding
petition is: "And may He (God) set up His Kingdom in your
life-time, and in your days, and in the life-time of the whole
house of Israel, (yea) speedily, and in a time that is near."

The phrase, "Kingdom of Heaven," was also a common
expression in Rabbinical circles. It occurs repeatedly in the
Talmud, and is thought by some to have been the form em-
ployed by Our Lord in His ordinary preaching, but not exclu-
sively so, and to have been retained by St. Matthew in His Gos-
pel, addressed, as it was, primarily to Jewish readers. While
it was translated into the equivalent expression, "The Kingdom
of God," by St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, because they
deemed that expression best suited to the understanding of the
Gentile readers. It is certain, however, that the phrase, "The
Kingdom of Heaven," was a specifically Jewish one, and that
it was not so easily intelligible to the Gentile world as the kin-
dred expression, "The Kingdom of God." Besides, the way had
been prepared for such a usage as that of St. Mark, St. Luke,
and St. John, in the example of the Greek Bible, or Septuagint,
which w^as preeminently the Bible of the Gentile nations, and
which nowhere speaks of "The Kingdom of Heaven," but every-
where and only of "The Kingdom of God." It is also an as-
sured fact that "heaven" was a common metonymy for "God"
in the language of the Jewish people. For confirmation of the
use of the term "heaven" in place of the word "God," the read-
er may consult a number of New Testament passages, notably
St. Mark 10:21; St. Luke 10:20; 12:33. This fact leads us
to believe it quite probable that both forms were used by Our
Lord Himself ; while it relieves St. Matthew of any inexplicable
singularity in his constant use of the phrase, "The Kingdom of



Various definitions of the Kingdom of God have been giv-
en, and it may be well to enumerate some of the more recent
ones. To the Jew, the Kingdom of God corresponded to the
well-known phrase, malekoth hasshamayim, which was used
generally, as Meyer tells us, in the sense of the ethical rule of
God, and "also in the essentially historical meaning of the rule
of God, brought to its consummation by the Messiah." To the
Jew, the phrase signified always — the Kingdom of the Messiah.
Modern students, however, have defined it variously. Eder-
sheim writes: "An analysis of 119 passages in the New Testa-
ment where the expression 'Kingdom' occurs, shows that it
means the rule of God, which w^as manifested in and through
Christ; is apparent in the Church; gradually develops amidst
hindrances; is triumphant at the second coming of Christ (the
end) ; and, finally, perfected in the world to come." Dr. Horton
gives the following definition, which is endorsed also by Dr.
Sanday : "The world of invisible laws by which God is ruling
and blessing His creatures." The late Professor Stevens says:
"The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in human hearts and
lives: it is so much of the world of human thought and action
as makes the will of God its laws" ("The Teaching of Jesus/'
p. 69). Professor Bruce has it: "The reign of divine love
exercised by God in His grace over human hearts believing
in His love, and constrained thereby to yield Him grateful
affection and devoted service" ("The Kingdom of God," p. 46).
Dr. Horton writes: "The idea is very simple, but every-
thing is involved in it. The sincere and practical recognition
that God is sovereign, the complete inward acceptance of His
sovereignty, the whole of life which results from this recogni-
tion and this acceptance — that is the Kingdom of Heaven"
("Teaching of Jesus," p. 35). By Professor Matthews, the


Appendix 251

Kingdom is thus defined: "By the Kingdom of God, Jesus
meant an ideal (though progressively approximated) social or-
der, in which the relation of men to God is that of sons, and,
therefore, to each other, that of brothers" ("The Social Teach-
ing of Jesus," p. 54). Professor Wendt puts the matter con-
cisely: "The idea of a divine dispensation under which God
would bestow His full salvation upon a society of men, who,
on their part, should fulfil His will in true righteousness"
("Teaching of Jesus," Vol. I, p. 175). Hamack, probably the
most brilliant of living theological students, writes: "True, the
Kingdom of God is the rule of God, but it is the rule of the
holy God in the hearts of individuals: it is God Himself in His
power" ("What is Christianit)?" p. 56). Professor Dalman
says, in speaking of Jesus' idea of the Kingdom: "For Him
the sovereignty of God meant the divine power, which from
the present onwards with continuous progress, effectuates the
renovation of the world, but also the renovated world into
whose domain mankind will one day enter, which is even now
being offered, and, therefore, can be appropriated and received
as a blessing" ("The Words of Jesus," p. 137).

All of these definitions are interesting, and, while they seem
to differ widely upon a cursory reading, all are found to con-
verge to one point, and to emphasize obedience and submission
to the rule or authority of God.



In our interpretation of the institution of the Monarchy,
we must bear in mind that in the First Book of Samuel, as in
the earlier Books of the Bible, *'two distinct strands of narra-
tive are woven together," the one, older and historically more
valuable; the other, later and colored by the prophetical spirit.
According to the earlier narrative, the distinct achievement of
the seer, Samuel, was the selection and anointing of the king,
while the later account represents him as resentful of Israels'
request, and the bitter opponent of her desire. It has been sig-
nificantly remarked that, ''The language in which he condemns
it (the request), Ch. 8, is almost a literal description of the
abuses of the royal prerogative under such kings as Solomon and
Ahab." This narrative points to a time when the kingship,
in view of its oppression and unrighteousness, had become thor-
oughly odious to the prophets, while their minds were full of
the vision of the ideal theocracy, or Kingdom of God. Hence,
the step taken in the age of Samuel, seemed to them a sad
misstep. In reality, it was a great and essential step forward
in the developing plan of God. To hold that the asking for
a king, a request necessary in the logical order of events, and
undoubtedly making for the betterment of the nation, is a back-
ward step, a retrogression or lapse, is to be guilty of a "fla-
grant reversal of history." To identify the "theocracy" with
the period prior to the Monarchy, narrows the term in a lament-
able way. A far truer view of the theocracy interprets it as a
spiritual idea, independent in its expression or embodiment of
any specific or stereotyped form of any age, and condition, or
any civilization. The theocracy, or rule of God, was the theoc-
racy, whether under the leadership of Moses, or the Judges,
or the King of the Monarchical era, or the Priests of the Post
Exilic period. To have gotten rid of God as King would have
been disloyalty; simply to change the manner of God's nik as
King involved no disloyalty.




The Book of Daniel is an Apocalypse: the first well-de-
veloped fruit of Apocalyptic Literature. The object of the
Apocalypse is to uncover, or to lay open what has been veiled
or covered up ; such, indeed, is the meaning of the word. Apoc-
alyptic Literature was busied with a question of great im-
portance. It was a firm conviction of the Jewish mind that,
inasmuch as God was a righteous God, He would unfailingly
bestow temporal blessings and prosperity upon His servants on
the earth. This seemed to be an emphatic teaching of the
Law, and it had been the burden of many prophetic utter-
ances. Precept, however, did not always accord with practise.
As a matter of fact, the experiences of life offered a painful,
but undeniable, contradiction to their cherished belief. Diffi-
culties arose, and the actual demanded an apologist. Especially
was this the case after the Exile. At no time had the law been
more thoroughly expounded, at no time were the people more
true to their monotheistic faith, and more resolute in their
antagonism to the heathen; yet prosperity did not come. In
consequence, serious questioning arose. How could the difficulty
be resolved? And this questioning related not only to the
nation as a whole, but also to the individuals of whom the
nation was composed. The earlier Old Testament prophecy
had portrayed the vindication and restoration of Israel as a
nation; but the later years of the national life found the claims
of the individual hovering large upon the horizon, and pressing
for earnest consideration. Some scheme of the Divine opera-
tion must be found which would take due account of these
claims of the individual. Hence, in addition to the idea of the
national restoration of Israel, there arose the idea of the resur-
rection of the righteous individual. Thus the task of Apoc-
alyptic Literature was to disclose what had been hidden


254 Jesus* Idea

from man, and to justify the ways of God to men. "Apocalyp-
tic Literature, therefore, strove to show that, in respect alike
of the nation and of the individual, the righteousness of God
would be fully vindicated; and, in order to justify its contention,
it sketched in outline the history of the world, and of mankind,
the origin of evil, and its course, and the final consummation of
all things, and thus, in fact, it presented a Semitic philosophy
of religion." The answer of this literature to Israel's grave
questioning, was: The righteous nation will yet possess the
earth in the Messianic Kingdom, and the righteous individual,
though dead, will receive the award of his good works in the
resurrection to honor and happiness, either in the earthly or
the heavenly kingdom of the Messiah.

For his efficacy, the Apocalyptist — unlike the early prophet
who trusted to the spoken word — placed his faith in the writ-
ten form. And while the prophet speaks chiefly to his own age,
and deals with the future only as it had its roots in the present,
seeking to arouse his countrymen to action, the Apocalyptist
is a profound pessimist so far as the present is concerned, looks
upon present conditions as irretrievably bad, and has faith only
in the future. Perhaps, because of this, and certainly to gain
an increased authority for his writings, he does not write in
his own name, but assumes a false name, the name of some one
of Israel's many ancient worthies. He strives to write as
though he lived in his day, and combining events of the past
with events of the present, depicts an onward movement of his-
tory which issues in the exaltation of Israel. To his own
time, he prophesies usually with precision; beyond his own age,
we have the play of the prophetic imagination, although a claim
to supernatural revelations is made on behalf of those whose
names are attached to the writings. Fantastic imagery and
strange symbolism constitute the literary form of this type of
literature. These are seemingly enigmatical, but to the inter-
ested readers of that day they were commonly intelligible. Such
strange literary devices, indeed, obviated the dangers attendant
upon open speech, while in no way blinding those who were
in the secret of the production.

For more than two centuries before Christ, and until the
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D., this type of literature
molded the political and religious ideas and ideals of the Jews.

Appendix 255

It is utterly impossible to appreciate the New Testament with-
out some idea of the character and content of the Apocalyptic
Literature. Beginning with the Book of Daniel, which has
been styled the first Apocalypse, this literature prepared the
popular mind either to find its full satisfaction in the Person
and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or to persist in those
tendencies which led to His crucifixion, and eventually, in mad
antagonism to the imperial power of Rome, to the destruction
of the Jewish nation itself. The voice of prophecy had long
been silent; in its stead, the voice of the scribe, and the scribal
school was heard, expounding the law; it was this voice and
this teaching, which made possible, and necessitated the rise of
the Apocalyptic Literature. The very early beginnings of this
type of literature may be traced in the writings of Ezekiel and
Zechariah, but it was to receive full and complete illustration
in the Book of Daniel.

This Book, according to the traditional view of its author-
ship, which the Church inherited from the Jewish synagogue,
is held to have been written by the Daniel who is at once its
hero and its author. This view predominated throughout the
centuries, questioned, however, now and again, by some op-
ponent of Christianity, or some free-thinker. The very source
of opposition to the traditional view disinclined the Church to
listen to the arguments for their contention. In compara-
tively recent years, however, a mass of incontrovertible evi-
dence has caused modern scholarship, with singular unanimity,
to regard the Book as the literary production of some ardent
Jew who lived in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and who,
for reasons of his own, wrote under the name Daniel. In
writing under an assumed name, he followed the well-estab-
lished usage of his age, employing a literary form with which
all were familiar. Such apparent falsity may impress us as
unpardonable; we must remember, however, to judge the author
by the standards of his own age, not by those of our time.
Judged by these, his act was most natural and seemly. It was
a common custom of Jewish writers, both in the Old Testa-
ment and in the Extra-Canonical Literature, to represent mes-
sages of their day as having been delivered by the noble spirits
of the past. Such a statement as the following is conservative
and true: "Thus the law of Deuteronomy is given as though

256 Jesiis^ Idea

spoken by Moses in the land of Moab, and the legislation of C.
as though revealed to Moses in the wilderness. The Book of
Ecclesiastes is written as the experience of Solomon. While in
2nd Esther, Baruch, the Book of Enoch, and the Jewish
Apocalypses generally, this method of composition is abun-
dantly illustrated, and was evidently a favorite one with the
devout and pious of the centuries immediately preceding and
following Christ." Of this custom Monsieur Renan aptly
remarks: "Honesty and imposture are words which, in our
rigid consciences, are opposed as two irreconcilable terms. In
the East they are connected by a thousand subtle links and
windings. The authors of the Apocryphal books (of "Daniel"
and of "Enoch" for instance), men highly exalted, in order to
aid their cause, committed, without a shadow of scruple, an
act which we should term a fraud. The literal truth has little
value to the Oriental; he sees everything through the medium
of his ideas, his interests, and his passions" ("La Vie de Jesus,"
p. 219).

In the Book of Daniel, then, we have not only a signal
illustration of the Apocalyptic Literature, but also of the habit
of the Ancients in writing pseudonymously. Who Daniel was
it is impossible to ascertain; whether the character is wholly
imaginary, or the creation of an author who clothed a per-
sonality of the Exilic Age, or some other age, with glowing tra-
dition, or supposititious virtues, one cannot determine. How-
ever, this question in no wise affects the value of the literary
production. Some Jew, conscious that he understood the sig-
nificance of the past and of the present, and confident that, in
the Providence of God, he had been enlightened as to the
future, proceeds in Apocalyptic fashion to set forth his mes-
sage for the admonition and consolation of his age. His aim
is not that of the historian: the aim is to exhort and to en-



In classical Greek eKKKrjata denoted the bod} of free citizens
in a Greek city to whom was intrusted the transaction of public
affairs, and who were summoned to the assembly by a herald.
Hence cK/cXr/o-t'o; denoted an assembly of free citizens who
were "called out" or elected from a larger population. Even
in the New Testament we find a kindred — or, more correctly,
a less technical — usage of the word. When the Ephesian popu-
lace, incited to riot against the Christians by the denunciations
of the silversmith Demetrius, sought to end the influence of
the apostle Paul and his companions, Gaius and Aristarchus,
the assemblage is described by the word €kk Xt;o- (Acts 19:32,

39, 41)-

We must not dwell, however, upon the classical usage; for

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