The Synoptic Interpretation of the Christ Event: “The Kingdom of God”
. . . Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. — Mark 1:14,15.
In the three Synoptic Gospels the expression “kingdom of God” (or “kingdom of heaven”)1 is used scores of times. It is Jesus’ favorite expression to designate His work and the significance of His mission.
We need to make several observations regarding the significance of this expression:
1. The concept is thoroughly Jewish and Old Testamental.
. . . for all His repeated mention of the Kingdom of God, Jesus never once paused to define it. Nor did any hearer ever interrupt Him to ask, “Master, what do these words ‘Kingdom of God,’ which you use so often, mean?” On the contrary, Jesus used the term as if assured it would be understood, and indeed it was. The Kingdom of God lay within the vocabulary of every Jew. It was something they understood and longed for desperately. — John Bright, The kingdom of God, pp.17,18.
The Jewish hope of the coming kingdom of God was a growing concept throughout the Old Testament. If ever there was any thought that the kingdom of Judah, especially under the reign of David and Solomon, was the fulfillment of Israel’s hope, that thought was soon shattered by the kingdom’s sinful decadence. When it was wiped off the map by the Babylonians, the Jews still clung to the prophetic promise that there would be a new king to sit on David’s throne. But expectations for a restored kingdom did not materialize in the return from the Babylonian exile.
As we saw earlier, the Jewish expectation of the kingdom received its most definite expression in Daniel. There it is symbolized by a stone which smites the metallic image, grinds it to chaff, and becomes the kingdom of God, which stands forever (Dan. 2:44). The announcement of Jesus about the arrival of the kingdom, therefore, would certainly awaken among His hearers memories of the stone of Daniel 2. In words clearly reminiscent of Daniel, Jesus spoke of Himself, saying, “. . . whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Matt. 21:44.
Furthermore, the Synoptics repeatedly recall how Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” This reminds us of the passage in Daniel 7: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom . . . ” vv. 13, 14. At His trial we hear the high priest demanding of Jesus, “Art Thou the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus replies, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:61, 62. There is no mistaking what Jesus meant. His accusers instantly recognized His allusion to Daniel’s prophecy of the Messianic kingdom.
All this proves that the Old Testament expectations of the coming kingdom find their fulfillment in Jesus. Therefore we must understand the expression “kingdom of God” in the light of this Old Testament background. read rest of article