• O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. [Isa 26:13 NASB]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. [Mat 11:29 NASB].

The Violent Take The Gospel By Force

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. [Mat 11:12].

Some take this clause to mean violence against the kingdom of God. They get this from the word “suffered,” which can mean experiencing oppression, but it can also mean to tolerate or allow and this can be from within or without. Jesus was speaking about John the Baptist and John was locked up in prison by King Herod, so, from this, some will interpret “suffer” as being from without. However, we know Satan’s kingdom has never defeated God’s kingdom and never will; so “take it by force” has to mean something different than to oppress and/or to conquer.

Jesus said from the days of John til now; this is days, weeks, months, but not even years; he was recent to the scene. If Christ meant violence against the kingdom, why would He not have said “since the beginning of time” or “beginning with Abel” or “since the Law and the Prophets” or such? But He said since the days of John the Baptist; which means, since the days of the proclamation “repent for the Messiah has come.”

During the time of the ministries of John the Baptist and of Christ, after He was revealed by John, people were crushing or forcing their way upon them as an army would seize a city; this is violence. This had not happened with the other prophets. People heard the message and were seeking to understand this and the kingdom of heaven was advancing – forcefully or violently against the darkness of the world.

Some translations include the wording the kingdom “has been forcefully advancing” or “led by force” or other such. With this interpretation, the violence spoken of is not malicious, but is a violation of the darkness that once held the people captive to sin; and the world was very dark to the Jew because God had not spoken by prophet or revelation in over 400 years. This goes along with the idea light violates or intrudes upon darkness. The light advances and darkness cannot overcome it, said the Apostle John (1:5). People who have heard the Gospel and understand it are willing to leave the wisdom of the world behind (violence against the darkness) and cling desperately to it (take it by force).

It is true, the kingdom does suffer violence from outside resistance, but the reason we know this is not what Christ was talking about are two key phrases: 1) from the days of John the Baptist; and 2) the violent take it by force. Something new or recent is happening here and we know God’s kingdom will never be defeated.

What we learn is this: there is no such thing as a casual Christian or a Christian of “private faith.” We do not merely say the sinner’s prayer and lock in our eternal security. If we are truly saved, we take this new faith by force; we devour it, as in Jesus description in John chapter 6; we speak this Word, which is light, into the darkness and when the world assails against it, we stand firm in and for the Word of God. This is the violence of the Gospel.

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