Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us (Matthew 13:11). Jesus came to share this kingdom message (Luke 4:43). So I'm examining different passages related to this kingdom message.
Some of these kingdom passages are hard to understand. This is one of them. Let's take a look. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you think Jesus' was saying here.
Matthew 11:11-15 (NIV)
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.The first confusing piece. What is Jesus saying about John the Baptist? He seems to say John the Baptist is the greatest man to ever live. Yet he says the least in the kingdom is greater than him.
Does this mean John the Baptist isn't in the kingdom of Heaven? If John the Baptist is in the kingdom of Heaven, and he is the greatest man to ever live, how can others in the kingdom be greater than him?
Or is Jesus simply re-emphasizing the upside down nature of the kingdom. Is he saying, yes John is great... but don't forget that in the kingdom the first is last, and the greatest is the one who serves.
The second confusing piece of this passage is in vs 12. What's with this forceful stuff???
"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."
'And, from the days of John the Baptist till now, the reign of the heavens doth suffer violence, and violent men do take it by force,
Parallel passage in Luke 16:16
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
“the law and the prophets are till John; since then the reign of God is proclaimed good news, and every one doth press into it;"
Are some bad guys forcing their way in, and trying to overthrow the kingdom? I don't think this makes sense with the context.
I need some help with the Greek to make sense of these verses
suffer violence - βίαζομαι - biazó (in both verses)
properly, to use power to forcibly seize, laying hold of something with positive aggressiveness. 971 /biázō ("to advance forcefully") is only used twice in the NT (both times positively).
According to google translate βίαζομαι has a modern definition of 'hurry'
violent men- βιασταὶ - biastai
a forceful, violent man; one who is eager in pursuit.
Jesus may have been making a connection with this passage in Michah 2:12-13 (NIV):
“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;Imagine a wall that sheep are kept behind. A shepherd will breaks a hole in the wall and lead the sheep to green pastures.
I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
like a flock in its pasture;
the place will throng with people.
The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
they will break through the gate and go out. Their King will pass through before them,
the LORD at their head.”
Just imagine a flock of sheep breaking through that narrow opening in the wall.
That may be the picture Jesus is referencing here. Sheep following the Shepherd, breaking through into the kingdom. Starting with the days of John the Baptist sheep have been breaking free from the law in a hurry to enter the kingdom.
I'm in. Are you?