THE ATTEMPT TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON ONE’S OWN TERMS
1. The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John: Basically, the
PROMISE of the Messiah’s arrival; His character and His work (both advents),
and salvation through faith/trust in the Messianic promise.
The authority, plan and viewpoint of God was proclaimed in the Old Testament
THROUGH the law and the prophets which included Psalms and Proverbs.
God's authority, plan and viewpoint resolved around love for God and love
for others. This is the core doctrine of God's kingdom. It was never
designated as such throughout the OT, but by comparing the Old with the New,
it can be established, that what was proclaimed in the Law and the Prophets
was the same authority and viewpoint of God that is ascribed to the kingdom
of God. And throughout the OT, God's authority and viewpoint held just as
much jurisdiction over the human race as it did when Jesus and the apostles
proclaimed it, and just as much as it has to this very day.
A. Mat. 22:37-39, "And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38
This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 Upon these two commandments hang
the whole Law and the Prophets."
B. The ones who truly loved God would put their trust in the Messianic
promise; God's provision of a Savior to give forgiveness of sins and a
personal relationship with God.
C. This trust in the Messianic promise was indicated by the attitude and
expression of "the fear of the Lord." This initial attitude of reverence not
only established one's relationship with God, but also became the attitude
that showed continued faithfulness to God's authority and viewpoint
throughout that believer's life.
Ec. 12:13, "The conclusion when all has been heard: fear God and keep His
commandments, because this applies to every person."
The continued attitude of reverence (fear of the Lord) would perpetuate the
growth process and produce sinless consistency through an ever increasing
expression of love for God and love for others. Prov. 1:7; 9:10.
The purpose of evangelism is to produce the fear (reverence) of the Lord,
which in turn leads to acceptance of the Messianic promise and acquisition
of relationship with God. Ps. 67:1-7.
The everlasting gospel is the invitation to "fear (reverence) God and give
Him glory." Rev. 14:7
2. Since then the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed:
A. The kingdom of God is the authority, plan and viewpoint of God that has
jurisdiction over the realm of humanity. In the OT it was proclaimed through
the teachings of the Mosaic law, the prophets, Psalms and Proverbs.
B. When John and Jesus began to teach about the kingdom of God, it was
something that was understood by the people. Accordingly, I suggest that the
"kingdom of God" had been taught throughout the Old Testament period through
the ORAL teachings of God's communicators without actually using that
C. When Jesus came into this world, His very presence represented the
authority, plan and viewpoint of God in the person of the promised
Luke 17:21, "the kingdom of God is among you."
Throughout the OT, salvation was through believing God's Messianic promise.
That is, that He would send a Savior into the world Who would pay the
penalty for man's sin and provide forgiveness through faith in His person
(name). Luke 24:45-47; Acts 10:43. (Ps. 2:11-12; Luke 2:30-31; John 4:25,
42; Isaiah 55:1-3; 53:5-12; 1 Peter 1:10-11; Job 19:25-26).
D. Now that the Savior has come, relationship with God is through trust in
the actual person of the Messianic promise - the words and works of Jesus.
Relationship with God now is based on acceptance of Jesus as the
Messiah/Savior and is designated as ENTRANCE into the kingdom of God. John
3:1-16. (Col. 1:13).
E. The gospel of the kingdom is FAITH in the Messiah.
Matthew 3:2, John’s message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Acts 19:4, “telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him,
that is in Jesus.”
Mark 1:15, the message of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of
God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
3. And everyone is forcing his way into it: The verb here is, biadzō,
as a present active indicative. The use of FORCE is figurative. What it
indicates is the attempt to “force” oneself into the kingdom on terms other
than those established by God. It thus seeks to OVERTHROW by “spiritual
violence” the authority of God.
A. Everyone, refers to those who want relationship with God on their own
terms and specifically has the Pharisees in view. They FORCE their own
standards and viewpoint onto "finding" God. Luke 16:15-17,
"And He said to them, You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight
of people, but God knows your hearts; because that which is highly esteemed
among people is detestable in the sight of God."
John 5:39-44, "you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you
have eternal life. . . how can you believe when you receive glory (praise,
acceptance) from one another and you do not seek the glory (praise,
acceptance) that is from the one and only God?"
Paul stated it at Romans 10:3. "For not knowing about God’s righteousness
and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the
righteousness of God."
4. Matthew 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptizer until now, the
kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
They claim to carry heaven's authority and use it as a bludgeon on the
people to steal from them; they PLUNDER (steal from) the kingdom of heaven
(in the name of God).
A. Suffers violence: This is biadzō as a present PASSIVE indicative.
The kingdom is being “violently” assaulted.
B. and violent men: The noun is biastās. These are the religious
seek to force their own terms for entrance into God’s
C. Taking it by force: This is the verb, harpadzō. It means to steal
something or to PLUNDER a place for its possessions. They want to
benefits of God’s kingdom on their own terms;
1. Creature humility: Recognition of God as the Creator and
of all life.
2. Or sin humility: Recognition that I am a sinner and fall short of
3. Or salvation humility: Recognition that God has provided the
way to find forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and that is
alone in Christ alone.
D. Matthew 23:25
“Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the
outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of
The word, plunder, is harpagā (the noun from the verb harpadzō).
It indicates that they are OUTWARDLY following the law (cleaning
cup), but inside they are trying to possess the benefits of the
kingdom of God on
their own terms.
At Luke 11:39, the word ponāria is used, which refers to an intense
infectious evil, that affects and destroys others.
The religious people of Israel (rich,
Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes) claimed to have relationship with God;
claimed to have access to the kingdom of God. But they did not have it nor
could they provide it for their followers.
In fact, Jesus gave the most extreme condemnation of their religious
endeavors at Matthew 23:13, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites, because you shut the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for
you do not enter it yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to
go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel
around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you
make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."
E. Their inward character and EVIL motivations are indicated at Matthew
“outwardly you appear righteous, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy
and lawlessness.” (The word, anomia, indicates that they are in rebellion
against the true laws of God)
Matthew 11:12, "from the days of John the
the kingdom of heaven is being attacked and attackers are plundering it."
Luke 20:47, "devour widow's houses."
Mat. 23:25, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean
the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery
(plunder) and self-indulgence."
(Religious leaders today are guilty of the same thing when they force
tithing onto their members).
And everything they do is in violation of the Law and the Prophets; the
issue of love for God and for others. And if they do not listen to what was
previously taught through them, there can be no relationship with God.
So Jesus takes this opportunity to restate and reinforce the principle that
the standards of God's word; His authority and viewpoint; the value system
of the kingdom of God - will remain in force and have jurisdiction over all
of humanity FOREVER.
This principle was proclaimed by Jesus on AT LEAST 2 occasions, and probably
Luke 16:17, "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one
stroke of a letter of the Law to fail." Mat. 5:18; 24:35 (Mark 13:31;
GOD’S LAWS CANNOT BE UNDONE OR AVOIDED
“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away
than for one stroke of a letter of the law to fail.”
According to verse 16, the religious people are trying to possess the
benefits of the kingdom of heaven on their own terms contrary to the
established policy of God.
The policy of God that revolved around the Messianic promise of salvation
provided through the person and work of God’s Messiah.
That policy is what has been taught in “the law and the prophets.” Luke 24:44;
John 3:10, “Jesus answered and said to him,
‘Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?’”
Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He
explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”
Acts 10:23, “of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name
everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
The attempt of the religious people to FORCE their way into God’s kingdom
on their own terms is totally contrary to the LAW OF GOD. Jesus REMINDS and
REBUKES when He says that there is not ONE little stroke of any letter of the
Hebrew alphabet that will or CAN be removed or overthrown.
However, there will come a time when the law of Moses will no longer be
needed; when it will have become completely fulfilled. That will be in the
eternal kingdom of resurrected humanity and the elect angels. Jesus indicated
the permanence of the Mosaic law from this perspective at Matthew 5:18.
"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest
letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is accomplished."
In this verse, the word, heōs, occurs two times. The first time it refers to
the law in GENERAL, and the second time, to SPECIFIC factors within the law.
1. Until: heōs an (plus the subjunctive mood of the following verb),
introduces an unknown time factor, although the event that is in view is
specific and certain.
2. heaven and earth: the PRESENT physical universe.
3. Pass away: the verb is parerchomai as an aorist active subjunctive to
indicate a future reality but with an unknown time for its occurrence.
4. the smallest letter or stroke of the law:
a. The negative (not) is with the verb.
b. This is hyperbole to indicate that the law as an entire entity
or whole unit, will be pertinent until the renovation of the universe.
(smallest letter = yodh; stroke = any mark made by a stylus, or other
5. Shall not pass away: the negative is doubled (ou me) to indicate
certainty (shall not ever), and the verb is parerchomai again, in the same
6. Until: heōs an + pas (all) to refer to the specific details of God's plan
for the human race as taught in the Mosaic law. There is still the same
UNKNOWN time factor indicated by the subjunctive mood of the verb.
7. Be fulfilled: The verb is ginomai which means to become something that it
was not before, thus the idea of COME TO PASS. The physical universe will
remain in place until God's entire plan for the human race is brought to
completion. That means it occurs AFTER the millennial kingdom of Christ.
However, various details of the law will be ACCOMPLISHED before the entire
WHOLE is accomplished. For example, based on the book of Hebrews and Paul's
writings, the worship system of the law was fulfilled by Christ and is not
in operation during the time period known as the church age.
"But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away
than for one stroke or letter of the law to fail."
It is EASIER only because in fact, God's plan has the renovation of the
universe as the FINAL item of the law to be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33
Illustration of priority in permanence and pertinence.
"Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not ever pass away."
The verb is parerchomai again, first as a future middle indicative, and then
as an aorist active subjunctive plus the DOUBLE negative (ou me = not ever).
But Mark and Luke both have the future middle with the double negative
instead of the aorist.
"My words" refers to the divine viewpoint that Christ taught, which revolved
around relationship with God, first, and then the principle of beneficent
love as the core factor for how creatures are to relate to one another.
See Topic: The Renovation of the Universe
"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a
letter of the law to fail."
These standards of the Law and the Prophets will never cease to have
jurisdiction over the human race. Jesus is not talking about the ritual
system of the law. He is talking about "the weightier provisions of the law;
justice, mercy, faithfulness and the love of God." Mat. 23:23; Luke 11:42;
Micah 6:8. "He has told you O man, what is good; and
what does Yahweh require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness and to
walk humbly with your God."
Hosea 6:6, "For I delight in grace-kindness rather than sacrifice, and in
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
Paul also stated the true focus of the kingdom of God. Romans 14:17-18, "for
the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is
acceptable to God and approved by other people." (Rom. 12:9-21).
And later, Jesus will focus on the fact that the real issue in the Law is
the fact that it pointed to HIM. In other words the issue of the love of God
is recognition and acceptance of His Messianic promise. And Jesus clarified
that the Messianic promise finds its fulfillment in HIM; in His person and
in His work.
Jesus taught at John 5:39-40. "You examine the Scriptures because you think
that in them you have eternal life; and it is those very Scriptures that
testify about Me; and you are (simply) not WILLING to come to me that you
may have life.
And verses 46-47, "For if you believed Moses you would believe me, for he
wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my
Later in the story of Lazarus, Abraham says, "They have Moses and the
Prophets, let them hear them . . . If they do not listen to Moses and the
prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead."
The information about the Messiah and the Savior is scattered throughout the
Old Testament as Jesus Himself clarified at Luke 24:44-47.
" Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of
Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened
their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “So it is
written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third
day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in
His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
Peter was able to state the same thing as he proclaimed the gospel to the
Gentiles at Acts 10:43.
"All the prophets testify of Him, that through His name everyone who
believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
Such passages as Psalm 34:22; Isaiah 28:16 and 53:1-12 speak of this
This statement about the authority, jurisdiction and endurance of God's word
was taught by Jesus at Matthew 5:18 and 24:35. At Matthew 5:18, Jesus
stated, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the
smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is
Then, in order to validate the "spirit" of the law, in contrast to the many
distortions from the religious leaders, Jesus follows that statement with "I
say to you" 7 times.