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the Time Had,Fully Come,STUDIES IN,NEW TESTAMENT,Herman N Ridderbos. PAIDEIA PRESS,Jordan Station Ontario Canada, Copyright William B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1957 All. rights reserved This edition published in 1982 by special arrange. ment with Eerdmans, Published by Paideia Press P O Box 1000 Jordan Station Ontario. Canada LOR ISO No part of this publication may be reproduced. stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the. written permission of the publisher, The quotations of Scripture are from the American Standard Ver. sion and from the Revised Standard Version,ISBN 0 88815 076 8.
TO THE WITNESS OF THE,SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, THE KINGDOM OF GOD or the Kingdom of Heaven is one of. the most central concepts in the history of revelation Prepared. in the Old Testament notably in the so called enthronement. Psalms and in the prophecies it makes its appearance in the. overture of the New Testament as the contents of the great. proclamation of salvation first of the herald John the Baptist. then of Christ Himself The kingdom of God is at hand. Mark 1 15 Especially in the Synoptic Gospels it remains in. the foreground It constitutes the nucleus of Christ s parables. indeed of His entire mission and message In John and Paul. however it seems to withdraw But this is only seemingly so. as I hope to show in detail in connection with Paul And the. conclusion of the New Testament the Apocalypse of John is. connected with the beginning inasmuch as in it the great. antithesis between the Kingdom of God and the powers of the. world is forcibly and dramatically expressed in all its fullness. So it can be established that the New Testament as a whole is. the book of the revelation of the Kingdom of God, It cannot be said with the same stress that in the consciousness. of the Church and in the history of theology the concept of the. Kingdom of God always has held such a central place The old. Church it is true at first lived for some time in the expectation. of the early return of Christ And the great Father of the. 10 WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME, Church Augustine in his imposing work De Civitate Dei at the. decline of the Roman Empire again placed the great struggle. between the two realms in the center But in his book there was. also the foundation for the Roman Catholic doctrine that the. Kingdom of God in her earthly manifestation coincides with the. Church Thus in Catholicism the Church gradually superseded. the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God has today dis. appeared behind the impressive facades of the Catholic. cathedrals, It is true that in Reformed theology a great change occurred. on this point Particularly in Calvin the idea of the sovereignty. of God was the central point of view of theology And for this. theocentric character of Calvin s theology the idea of the King. dom of God was naturally an important one Still it cannot be. said that the Reformers were typically Kingdom of God theolo. gians Their viewpoint was theocentric but in a rather static. manner The historical and eschatological aspects of the biblical. revelation of the Kingdom of God were not prominent in their. The great theological discussions about the concept of the. Kingdom of God as we know them in our own days date in. fact from the nineteenth century The liberal school for in. stance thought they could appeal for their concept of the. Christian faith to Christ s preaching of the Kingdom They. contended that they called for a return from Paul to Christ and. from the doctrines of the Church to what they called the simple. spiritual gospel of Christ To them the Kingdom of God was the. realm of love and peace that was founded by Jesus on earth and. which man is to extend It is worthy of notice that especially in. America the social aspect of the Kingdom of God thus inter. preted came most to the foreground whereas the liberal theology. in Europe stressed the individual personal significance of it as. first and foremost But whether the religious personality or the. new social order was placed in the center the Kingdom of God. was an idea which was strongly oriented to the Aufklarung and. KINGDOM OF GOD ACCORDING TO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 11, which agreed with the optimistic view of life presented by.
evolutionism, In Europe this theology held its own until World War L. Then the older peoples of the Continent proud of their culture. found that the blindfold with which they had covered their eyes. was plucked away And from that time dates in theology the. great influence of the eschatological concept of the Kingdom. In the exegesis of the New Testament the discovery had indeed. been made earlier that the liberal portrait of Jesus and the. liberal concept of the Kingdom of God could neither historically. nor biblically be maintained Johannes Weisz and Albert. Schweitzer had shown that the concept of the Kingdom of. Heaven originated from a world different from that of the. Aufklarung namely from the world of the late Jewish apoc. alypses And Albert Schweitzer in particular had in his so called. consistent eschatology sought to explain the entire gospel and. the entire history of Jesus from this eschatological viewpoint. Jesus he said was expecting the immediate entry of the. Eschaton He was not a moralist but an apocalypticus His. commandments are not meant to hold good for all times but for. the very end of time in which the world will have reached its. final phase They contain eschatological ethics interim ethics. And Jesus life would have been in the opinion of Schweitzer. one continual expectation of the entrance of the Eschaton an. expectation which has never been realized and which ended in. Jesus death on the cross, Schweitzer s fantastic concept of the life of Jesus has not been. followed It asks a too drastic readjustment of the history of the. Gospels Yet his eschatological interpretation of the Kingdom of. God was reverted to when the supremacy of facts had shown the. failure of the liberal theology Many people began to understand. then again that the Kingdom of God is a transcendental entity. that it is beyond the power of man and that it represents a new. and other world the world of God And the gospel began to be. read with new eyes,12 WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME. Thus although we can say that there is in this respect a new. and better understanding of the gospel when it is recognized. that the Kingdom of God is primarily a transcendental entity. and that it contains the acts of God a new controversy has. arisen about the nature of these acts For although it is admitted. that the Kingdom of God in the gospel is an eschatological. entity this does not imply that the biblical representation of. this eschatology is considered as acceptable and valid for the. modern man What does eschatology really mean What is the. underlying existential significance of this concept These ques. tions are asked in present day theological discussion again and. again I have only to recall the theme of the meeting of the. World Council of Churches at Evanston 1954 What does it. mean that Christ is the hope of the world It is the question. concerning the essential nature of the eschatology and of the. future of the Kingdom of God Here in fact the old contrast. comes to the fore again Is the Kingdom of God and is the. coming of Christ only to be thought of in a spiritual way as a. reality which is only experienced as a divine sanctifying and. renewing force Or is the Kingdom of God also transcendental. in the sense that God will replace the present world by a. different one the world of the resurrection from the dead the. world of the new heavens and of the new earth, It seems to me that in Evanston the struggle was especially. waged between the representatives of a more biblical European. theology on the one hand and the representatives of typical. American modernism on the other In the Europe of our day. however a no less fierce controversy is raging both over the. essences of eschatology and over the nature of the coming of God. in His kingdom Here it is the personality of R Bultmann which. has reshaped the old modernism into a new form and which has. a great influence more particularly on German theology About. him I should like to say one or two things more, Bultmann agrees with the criticism of the old liberal concept.
of the Kingdom of God No doubt he says what matters in the. Kingdom of God is the history of the acts of God and not the. KINGDOM OF GOD ACCORDING TO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 13, realization of the kingdom by man The question must be. raised however he says how we have to understand these acts. of God Is this a heavenly impact on the natural world order. Is this the belief in miracles which have happened and which. are still to happen No modern man he contends can in that. sense believe in miracles any longer The Kingdom of God. leaves the natural world order intact Neither does it mean an. intervention from the outside into the human mind such as a. supernatural rebirth We should he says discover the real last. ing significance in these mythical concepts And this significance. is not of a cosmic but of an existential nature God has dealings. with man and He deals with man again and again God acts by. addressing him in the gospel and by speaking to him of a. possibility over which man himself has no disposal and in favor. of which he is to make his choice by faith Only then will man. be redeemed and his redemption is identical with his real. existence So long as man is seeking support and a foothold in. the world which he controls through the possibilities that lie. within his reach he is not an essential man he is not truly. free and he does not exist as man, In Christ s Cross Bultmann argues God showed us a different. possibility namely the possibility to choose in favor of that. which lies outside human reach In this way that is in showing. and choosing this possibility Jesus has become the Christ that. is the Savior and Lord of man In this way we must look upon. belief in the resurrection as belief in the salvation significance. of His Cross And if we really are to become free we shall have. to be crucified with Christ and to die with Him in this way. So the coming of God in Christ is consequently nothing but. this that God in the gospel again and again places us before. this existential decision There is no such thing as the history of. redemption in the sense of a continuous revelation of the. Kingdom resulting in the coming of Christ That is a mytho. logical way of putting it There is only a history of salvation in. the existential sense of the word namely as a succession of. 14 WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME, personal human decisions in response to the actual speaking. of God in the gospel, Returning from these interpretations of the Kingdom of God. to our starting point namely to the proclamation of the. Kingdom in the Synoptic Gospels we should first of all definitely. establish that the exhortation both of Jesus and John the. Baptist Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand can. only be understood as part of the great prophetic eschatological. tradition of old Israel Kingdom of Heaven malkoeth shamaim. as the term is used in later Jewry is the standard expression for. the world of God s redemption as it was promised by the. prophets and in a variety of forms both national and apoc. alyptic was expected in Israel The new element in the. preaching of John and Jesus then was not that they spoke of. the Kingdom of Heaven but that they proclaimed its being at. hand It was an eschatological blast on the trumpet. At the same time however it should be stated at this point. and this is no less important for defining the concept of the. Kingdom of Heaven that Christ s appearance and preaching. in no way seemed to answer to this eschatological character of. the Kingdom That is the difference between Jesus and John. and that is John s problem Art thou he that cometh or look. we for another Matt 11 2 For Jesus does not come with a. winnowing fork in His hand but He walks the land as a. physician He blesses the poor in spirit and He teaches in the. Sermon on the Mount that we have to love our enemies and. that we must take n thought for the morrow Is this preaching. the Kingdom Schweitzer said that the Sermon on the Mount is. interim ethics But nobody can believe this to be true For Jesus. in His radical commandments does not appeal to the fact that. the Day of the Lord is at hand and that consequently all earthly. interests no longer count for anything but to the fact that God. maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and that. KINODOM OF GOD ACCORDING TO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 15, He takes care of the birds and the flowers What has this to do.
with eschatology, Of late years this particular characteristic of Christ s escha. tology has again been in the limelight The recently found. Dead Sea Scrolls give us an insight into the nature of Jewish. sects in the days of Jesus In these sects too there was a burning. eschatological longing and so there are those who think that. they can show the existence of a connection between John s and. Christ s appearance and these sects I may remind you for. instance of the publications of the French scholar Dupont. Sommer who sees a forerunner of Jesus in the teacher of. righteousness who appears in these Dead Sea Scrolls and who. plays an eschatological part in them On examination of this. sect eschatology however as expressed for example in these. Dead Sea Scrolls one finds an immense difference War against. enemies wild battle scenes and victory constitute the expectation. here in a hardly distinguishable coincidence of national and. apocalyptical features Turning to the Gospels however the first. great example of Christ s preaching the Kingdom of God is the. Sermon on the Mount and in it we find the radical demand. for love and for reliance on God, Too little notice has also been taken of the fact that Christ. Himself purposely and emphatically deals with the manner in. which the Kingdom comes Especially the parables of the King. dom in Matthew 13 and Mark 4 the parable of the sower the. parable of the tares among the wheat and the parable of the. seed growing automatically are very significant for the right. understanding of Jesus preaching of the Kingdom What is the. point of these parables, In the interpretation of the parable of the sower the stress is. mostly laid on the different ways in which the word of God can. be heard And this also belongs undoubtedly to the contents of. the parable But one just misses the tenor if one sees in it a. timeless exhortation to take the preaching of the gospel to heart. For in these parables Jesus reveals to His disciples the nature of. the Kingdom of God He teaches them how to know the. 16 WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME, mysteries of the Kingdom What mystery is it This before any. thing else that the eschatological Kingdom of God is coming as. a seed seemingly the weakest and most defenseless thing there. is It can be devoured by the fowls it can be choked by the. thorns it can be scorched by the sun and sometimes it can. hardly be distinguished from the tares That is the secret of the. Kingdom And back of this lies an even greater mystery namely. that He who brings the Kingdom is a Sower seemingly the most. dependent of men A Sower went forth to sow and He who. sows the good seed is the Son of Man that is the great. mystery of the Kingdom of God, So far it may look as if the liberal theology with its spiritual.
concept of the Kingdom had a better understanding of Jesus. than all who later placed all emphasis on the eschatological. character Yet appearances are deceptive here For behind this. secrecy of the Kingdom the entire dynamic power of God s great. deeds is concealed That is already pointed out in the parables. themselves They are not only about sowing but also about. harvesting and the harvest is also in the parables in spite of. C H Dodd the eschatological harvest in the future But above. all things this power lies hidden in the person of Jesus Himself. The humble and unobtrusive figure of the Sower covers the. hidden greatness of Christ s Messiahship That is the real mys. tery of the Kingdom This hidden greatness of Jesus Christ is. strictly speaking the subject of the Gospels and it is this great. ness which determines the nature of the Kingdom, The great liberal theologian Adolf von Harnack said it is. true that the gospel of the Kingdom is the gospel of the Father. and not of the Son And many people have repeated it after him. But here indeed lies the great error of the liberal portrait of. Jesus and the liberal concept of the Kingdom of God For the. character and the purport of the Kingdom is determined by the. person and by the way of Jesus He is the auto basileia as. Origen expressed it And thus in his earthly life there is that. curious tension between revelation and mystery between escha. tological greatness and human weakness To the first belongs the. KINGDOM OF GOD ACCORDING TO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 17, authority exousia with which He speaks in the Sermon on the. Mount and with which He forgives sins on earth To this. belong His miracles the signals of the great time of salvation. But at the same time He forbids men to make them known His. Messiahship is a secret The whole paradox of it is concentrated. in the name Son of Man that is human being amidst human. beings man who sows and who must bide the result of the. harvest But it also implies Son of Man who according to the. prophecy of Daniel 7 receives all power from the hands of the. Most High It is in Him that God works His great deeds for. this Son of Man is under the law of the divine must of the. dein and prepein as it says in the New Testament, That is why the Cross too is part of the revelation of the. Kingdom for the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem The order. of the divine work of redemption demands this Nowhere is the. mystery of the Kingdom more profound than in the Cross of. Jesus The Sower becomes Himself the seed But at the same. time an eschatological process is taking place The dimension of. the Kingdom becomes visible already in the signs attending. Christ s death and affecting nature Above all it becomes mani. fest in His resurrection Then the Son of Man strides along to. His great future and He is given the power which Daniel 7. mentions In Christ the Kingdom is breaking through the. boundaries of the earthly category and what was heard in the. ear that is preached upon the housetops Matt 10 27. That is the concept of the Kingdom in the Synoptic Gospels. It is one of presence as well as of futurity of both secrecy and. revelation The rising of Christ marks the boundary In it the. two aeons coincide as it were It belongs to the presence of the. Kingdom For it has taken place upon the earth The Eschaton. has come in Christ The world has been opened for the Kingdom. of God The strong one has been overcome in his own house. But the resurrection belongs to the future as well The risen. Savior no longer belongs to the earthly category He is the. First fruits of the great future But the final phase the new. heaven and the new earth is yet to come First the seed must be.

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