Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

its principal gifts are a purifying of the nation, an outpouring of the Spirit of God on all flesh, and a writing of the divine law on the heart. When, however, they are not content with these inward results, but carry the dominion of God into worldly affairs, and make the peace of God penetrate even nature (cf. e.g. Isa. xi.), it is no doubt sacred poetry, not, however, a mere poetic clothing of those spiritual promises, but an independent and essential element of their view of the world. The form and colour in which they clothe them are, of course, taken from their earthly horizon, and are altogether of an individual, poetic, and symbolic nature, so that even the succeeding prophet, not to speak of the Fulfiller, does not feel himself bound by them. But under these forms and colours is hidden an unchanging heart of meaning, the idea of an actual world-transfiguring development of the expected kingdom of God. And this idea is anything but an imperfection and limitation of the prophetic view; it marks, on the contrary, the healthy energy of the religious faith of the Bible, not in a half, but in a complete victory of God in the world,-a faith which is not content faintheartedly to claim the inner and secret life of man for God, whilst it allows the great life of history and nature, as the kingdom of sin and evil, to remain for ever divided between God and Satan. Jesus, as the Fulfiller of prophecy, could not possibly fall behind the prophets in this matter. And He manifestly has not fallen behind them. Certainly when the nation fell away from the prophetic spirit, made the visible wonders of the kingdom of God its first and most essential things, and added its spiritual character as matter of course, it was the work of Jesus to rectify the relation of the two sides thus displaced, and to lay the whole weight on the spiritual and conditional nature of the kingdom of God. The promise, therefore, of the kingdom which He makes to precede every other is a glad message for the poor in spirit, mercy for the merciful, satisfaction for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, a vision of God for the pure in heart (Matt. v. 3 ff.). But when, alongside of these, He promises that the meek shall inherit the earth, that is, obtain final dominion of the world, when He sees in His miracles of healing and expulsion of demons—victories over natural evil—the signs of the kingdom of God having come (Matt. xi. 2–6, xii. 28), or when, in His prophecies, He announces a final judgment as taking place on earth, and a new birth of the universe (Matt. xix. 28, and 24, 25), it is clear beyond all doubt that He regards the transformation of the historical conditions, as well as the glorifying of the life of nature, the restoration of all that exists to a pure and perfect expression of the eternally good, as belonging essentially to the consummation of the idea of the kingdom. Therefore when He appears among His people with the announcement, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. iv. 17), He means by this kingdom of heaven not merely the immediate fruits of repentance in the heart, but that very kingdom of which He says in His words about the judgment of the world, that the pious are to inherit it at the last day, that it is prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matt. xxv. 34). He means the approaching realisation of that eternal ideal of the world, when it is to be filled and blessed by the all-ruling eternal Love.

§ 4. THE PRESENT AND FUTURE KINGDOM From what has now been said it is evident that there are two divergent aspects of Jesus' idea of the kingdom—its foundation, which is spiritual, and its embodied completion, which affects all the world ; and a consideration of the relation of these two sides to one another will first lead us into what is really new in His idea, into the actual unfolding of His doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. For Jesus does not suppose that this ideal condition shall or can fall from heaven as by magic ready-made at a stroke. When He says the kingdom of heaven is at hand, He does not mean that it has already come; and when He goes further, and describes the kingdom as present, He does not, on that account, cease to place it in the future. That is an apparent contradiction which we have first to establish and then to solve. When Jesus (Matt. v. 3 and 10) promises the kingdom to the poor in spirit, and those suffering for righteousness, with an ŐTL aúry early ń Baoilela Tv oúpavov, He does not, of course, mean a real presence of the kingdom, but that it belongs to them in idea, is prepared for them by God. That is confirmed BEYSCHLAG. -1.

4

:

by the context.

All the other manifestly synonymous promises of the beatitudes refer to the future. On the other hand, the words Matt. xii. 28 manifestly speak of an actual present: ει δε εν πνεύματι θεού εγώ εκβάλλω τα δαιμόνια άρα έφθασεν εφ' υμάς η βασιλεία του θεού, likewise Matt. xi. 12 (cf. Luke xvi. 16): από δε των ημερών 'Ιωάννου του Βαπτιστού έως άρτι η βασιλεία των ουρανών βιάζεται (that is, allows itself to be conquered, taken by violence) και βιασται αρπάζουσιν αυτήν. Or Luke xvii. 20, where Jesus to the question of the Pharisee: πότε έρχεται η βασιλεία του θεού; answers: ουκ έρχεται η βασιλεία του θεού μετά παρατηρήσεως ... ιδού γαρ η βασιλεία του θεού εντός υμών εστίν, that is (for He cannot have meant to say to the Pharisees that they bore it in themselves), it is in your midst. It is the same with most of the parables of the kingdom, the Parable of the Seed growing secretly (Mark iv. 26), of the Grain of Mustard Seed, of the Leaven, of the Treasure in the Field, of the Pearl of great Price (Matt. xiii.), of the Great Supper (Luke xiv. 16). At the basis of them all lies the idea that the kingdom of God is already buried in the bosom of the earth, that its table is already spread—that it is a blessing to be had now present. And that is finally confirmed by the fact that entrance into the kingdom of God is spoken of as something both possible and actual, nay, some are spoken of as already in it. Ζητείτε πρώτον την βασιλείαν αυτού, that is, του θεού (Μatt. vi. 33) -εισέλθετε σια της στενής πύλης (Μatt. vii. 13; cf. Luke xiii. 24)--οι τελώναι και αι πόρναι προάγουσιν υμάς εις την βασιλείας του θεού (Μatt. xxi. 31)-κλείετε την βασιλείαν των ουρανών έμπροσθεν των ανθρώπων υμείς γάρ ουκ εισέρχεσθε ουδε τους εισερχομένους (present) αφίετε εισελθεϊν (Μatt. xxiii. 13). Finally, ο δε μικρότερος εν τη βασιλεία των ουρανών μείζων αυτού εστίν, that is, the least of those who-as disciples of Mine—are already citizens of the kingdom of heaven, is greater than John the Baptist, the historical herald of that kingdom (Matt. xi. 11). But entrance is just as often, and as expressly, conceived as something future, something that will take place on "that day.”

.

'Εαν μη περισσεύση υμών ή δικαιοσύνη ... ου μη εισέλθητε εις την βασιλείαν των ουρανών, exclaims Jesus to those who have already become His disciples.

In Μatt. vii. 21 He says:

ου πάς ο λέγων μοι, Κύριε, εισελεύσεται εις την βασιλείαν των ουρανών (cf. ver. 22 : πολλοί ερουσίν μοι εν εκείνη τη ημέρα κ.τ.λ.). Τότε έρεί ο βασιλεύς τοίς εκ δεξιών αυτού: κληρονομήσατε την ετοιμασμένην υμίν βασιλείαν από καταβολής koopov, is said of the last day (Matt. xxv. 34). Thus also in Matt. xxvi. 29 the departing Master refers His disciples by way of consolation to that day when He shall drink the cup of communion with them new in His Father's kingdom, as He pictures the signs of His coming again to judge the world (Luke xxi. 31), and adds : őtav idnte taūta γενόμενα, γινώσκετε ότι εγγύς έστιν η βασιλεία του θεού. Finally, when in the Lord's Prayer He teaches them to pray, έλθέτω η βασιλεία σου, it is manifest that it has yet to come, and is therefore still in the future. It has been supposed, that in order to solve this apparent contradiction in the announcements of Jesus about the kingdom, we must distinguish different stages in His doctrinal development, viz. that Jesus started with the idea that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, then, under the impression of the growing success, advanced to the assertion of its being present, and, finally, in view of His earthly failure comes back again to the idea of the future. But though we do not in any way deny a gradual development of His idea of the kingdom, yet the riddle is not solved in this way, because it is clear that the kingdom had never appeared in the sense in which from the beginning it had been expected and finally predicted as future. Both views of the kingdom, so far as we can see, run side by side through the teaching of Jesus, nay, they are embraced in one and the same expression (Mark x. 15; Luke xviii. 17): δς αν μη δέξηται την βασιλείας του θεού ως παιδίον ου μη εισέλθη εις αυτήν: that is a very instructive saying. It shows how both views of the kingdom, as present and as future, coexist in the mind of Jesus, and are mutually dependent on each other. The kingdom is so far present that a man may receive it; it is still future in so far as we are yet to be received into it, and the former is the condition of the latter. The double idea of the kingdom as present and future, and the mutual relation of the two, give promise of some insight into what Jesus Himself calls the mysteries of the kingdom (Mark iv. 11).

[ocr errors]

§ 5. INNER RELATION OF THE TWO ASPECTS Further particulars are given in the parables in which Jesus, according to His own expression, endeavoured to reveal to the disciples the μυστήριον της βασιλείας: especially the Parables of the Sower, of the Seed growing secretly, of the Tares, the Mustard Seed, of the Leaven, and the Net. In all these the future form of the kingdom, its final glorious appearance, is conditioned by its present secret establishment. The Parable of the Sower (which, in spite of its lacking the introductory words, “ the kingdom of heaven is like," belongs, according to Mark iv. 11, to the parables of the kingdom) teaches how the founding of the kingdom must take place through the sowing of the word in the individual heart. The Parables of the Seed growing secretly, and the Tares, likewise place the historical realisation of the kingdom in the world under the point of view of seedtime and harvest. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven, the kingdom of heaven appears as an invisible but living force, which must unfold itself in a suitable element ere it can accomplish its results. And in the Parable of the Net, the present task of extending the kingdom, its missionary duty, is set forth as a necessary pre-condition of its future task of judgment, the time of selection and rejection. Jesus had good reasons for describing these representations to His disciples as an explanation of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, for the prophets, even the last of them, the Baptist, could not have told them the like about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, according to the prophets, was to come all at once. They had the complete picture of it before them in one great view, and accordingly they thought of its coming—as it is said in Luke xvii.—uetà mapatnpňoews, so that one on the watch might see it coming down from heaven by a great miracle of God. This was so even with the Baptist, in whose prophetic picture of the kingdom, initial form and perfect form, baptism of the spirit and judgment of the world, immediately coincide. He imagines the Messiah coming after him with His fan in His hand, cleansing His threshing-floor, and separating the chaff from the wheat; baptizing the pious with the Holy Spirit with the one hand, and baptizing the godless with

« PoprzedniaDalej »