Thursday, January 31, 2008

Marshall on "The Kingdom of God"

Jesus' establishment of the Kingdom of God involved in the creation of a new group of people.

"We must next ask what Jesus envisaged as the result of the establishment of the Kingdom of God (KG). The traditional hope was, as we have seen, for the setting up of a new kingdom in the presence of God at the end of the age in a cosmic setting; it would be composed of people who loved and served God and who lived together in righteousness and peace under the rule of God and his agent the Messiah. The Jews believed that they themselves would compose this people. The KG is thus a corporate entity and consists of people. Hence the mission of Jesus involved the creation of a people who would be the objects of God's rule and who would receive benefits of his rule. Since Jesus warned the people of Israel that as a nation they were in danger of being rejected by God, he must have envisaged the creation of a new people, incorporating elements of the old people but also open more widely and constituted by a new allegiance to himself as disciples and taught them that they must obey his words. The conclusion is irresistible that response to the message of the KG was identical with acceptance of Jesus as Master.

The new Israel is constituted by its allegiance to the Messiah." Kingdom of God expands through God's agents (the church)

"For we have seen that God acted in Jesus to establish his rule and that the concepts of the Messiah/Son of man and the KG are indivisibly joined together. But in the Messiah or Son of man is the leader of a group who are not only subject to God as King but also act in unison to spread the KG. The idea that the KG expands of its own accord independently of the action of God's agents is thoroughly false. Jesus called the Twelve and Seventy(-two) to share in his work, and he told them to preach that the KG had drawn near and to perform the signs of its presence. The KG extends as it is proclaimed and as the signs of its presence are performed. If Jesus came to bring the KG, we must be conclude that his followers were commissioned by him to carry out the same task. It must be questioned, therefore whether Taylor is right in saying that 'laboring for the coming of the Kingdom' is not the teaching of Jesus himself. On the contrary, this is precisely what he called his followers to do. To proclaim the Kingship of God is to preach the KG, for it opens up to people the possibility of responding to the message by acknowledging God as their king".

The Church should be concerned with evangelism and discipleship

"The Church consists of people who acknowledge God as king and who are committed to proclaiming his kingship and witnessing to his realty in their own lives as individuals and as a community. Put in other words, this means that a primary task of the Church is evangelism carried out in the power of the Spirit. But such proclamation is not simply aimed at conversion of individuals. The Church must also spell out the nature of obedience to God both spiritually and morally, just as Jesus did. The proclamation of the KG will include the declaration of God's condemnation of what is evil and hypocritical in the lives of people both as individuals and as members of communal bodies in business and government. To say this obviously raises questions about the extent to which protest in the name of God should be carried out I action as well as in words, but there is no room here to take up the point. We must be guide by the example of Jesus, who forbade his followers to use violence, but who did things, like associating with tax collectors and sinners, that outraged his opponents and made them even plot to kill him".

- The Hope of a New Age: The Kingdom of God in the New Testament by I.Howard Marshall

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