Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Whilst in the UK over the past 2 weeks, I kept hearing my good friend saying the 'Violent Take the Kingdom by Force' I was not sure what he was implying, but gradually I realised he was stating that as Christians we should virtually demand whatever we want from Gods Kingdom.

This did not sit right with me and the Holy Spirit has led me to do research on the scripture found in Matthew 11:12 where Jesus is talking about John the Baptist.
Following is parts of a good article which explains the meaning of Jesus words in verse 12.

The phrase, “…the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,” refers to how religious men have used positions of authority to bully their way into control of the religious institution of Christ’s time, which was the Jewish synagogue, but more particular, the Jewish temple with its wealth, prestige and status as a political establishment.

The original Greek word biázœ (NT: 971) in Matthew 11:12 is translated as suffers violence; biázœ is a compound word originating from a root bías (NT: 970), meaning strength. Biázœ means literally to overpower by rushing forcefully into. 

In Matthew 11:12 biázetai is used in the present indicative passive but also used with middle voice (for self-interests); present indicative affirms something that is occurring while the speaker (Jesus) is making his statement; passive voice shows the subject (the kingdom of God) as receiving the action (i.e. forceful violence) of the verb; the middle voice indicates the subject as acting in some way upon himself or concerning himself (i.e. the violent force their way into the kingdom for their own interests not God’s).

As you study the context and parallel gospels you discover the Law and the prophets were preached up until the time of John; from then to the time Jesus makes this statement about violent men taking the kingdom of God by force is specifically said to apply to the gospel. Therefore the phrase, “…the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,” connotes the kingdom of God being sought by violent men with impatience and haste. The main point Jesus makes in this context is that from the days of John the Baptist until and including that very moment the kingdom of God suffered “violence.”

As mentioned previously, the Greek word biázœ for violence is derived from a primary root bías or bíos (NT: 979) meaning literally strength or life. Bios is a word for life that differs from the usual Greek word for life, which is zoë (NT: 2222). The word bías (aka bíos) refers to the state or condition of existence, including the duration, means, and manner of life. Zoë on the other hand describes life as the element or principle of the human spirit and soul.

To illustrate the distinction between zoë and bios the word "biography" is derived from bios; biography is the life story of someone; it describes what type of life they actually lived. This is a very important point considering that in the context of Matthew 11:12 Jesus uses the word bías in a word form that expresses more than just the action of violence foisted by impatient men on others. In Matthew 11:12b the words violent men are translated from biastaí (NT: 973) and this word includes men’s violent manner of life and their forceful state of existence. Bios is a primary Greek root that describes two principal ideas:

1. The present state of existence (i.e. how people act, behave, speak, think etc)
2. By implication, bias also refers to a person’s means of livelihood or income.
This is a scary thought when you consider that just as in the days of John the Baptist today there are self-righteous and religious folks “forcing” their own way on others. Pastors, ministers, televangelists, false teachers and false prophets use the church pulpit and ecclesiastical positions to acquire wealth and power.

Instead of being shepherds that feed God’s sheep, their very “existence,” as paid ministers is done for a “livelihood.” Watch out if you are one given to obeying the truth! It could cost you your very life, as it did with both John & Jesus!

The violence was the smug and self-righteous attitude of religious men who failed to recognize the day of their visitation and who exercised “violence” towards the kingdom of God (i.e. believers proclaiming the truth).

The context reveals first, when John the Baptist arrived on the scene for public ministry, he did not come in finely dressed clothing or with softly spoken words to tickle one’s ears. John was a rough & tumble looking character that came out from the arid Judean wilderness declaring that everyone in every place should repent.

John’s message created quite a stir amongst the hypocritical sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees (the ‘religious’ men of the day). These sects had controlled the minds and money of the masses of Jews for many years under the sanction of Rome and strengthened politically by the recent appointment of Herod, who believed he was a Jew, and the true ruler of the Jews.

Herod respected John greatly but he also played the political role to appease the Jewish rulers because they held sway with the people.
Suddenly John the Baptist challenged the influence and status of the Jewish leaders. John spared no one and even Herod himself was told to repent for his adulterous affair with his brother’s wife. Herod was told to repent by John, landing him in prison.

The response to John’s message was the “violence” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 11:12. The Jews had accused John of having a “demon.” This type of verbal accusation was a form of “violence.” It was the wrathful hatred of a sect of jealous hypocrites. They were Satan’s children, and their nature was the same as that of the devil... violent. After John was imprisoned, Herod’s wife demanded that Herod cut off his head and have it publicly displayed on a platter. Therefore, as Jesus said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence...”

What does the phrase “violent men take it by force” mean?
The phrase in the second half of Matthew 11:12 reads, “and violent men take it by force.” The Greek word translated as, “take it by force,” is harpázousin. This Greek verb connotes seizing or grasping something with speed and force. The Jews “forced” their way into the ministry of John the Baptist, but he would have none of their antics. When John publicly rebuked Herod for his adultery Herod’s violent reaction was to have John seized by “force” and imprisoned.

· “violent men” – (NT:973 ) biastês; from (NT:971 ); a forcer, i.e. (figuratively) energetic:

·  “take by force” - (NT:726 ) harpazo; from a derivative of (NT:138 ); to seize (in various applications): Harpazo comes from a root Greek word, haireomai (NT:138) which means, “to take for oneself, i.e. to prefer.”

Using the Greek definitions above, Matthew 11:12 could be translated as follows, “and men who act as forcers seize them by force.” This is EXACTLY what happened to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ; they were both seized and taken by force. John was seized and thrown into prison, only to be beheaded later.  Jesus was seized in the garden of Gethsemane and tried and crucified.

In Christian ‘churches’ today many ministers and pastors are guilty of lording it over the flock. They rule the roost with severity and domination. They want to control the logical and thinking people among their church members by not allowing any public discussion or disagreement with their teaching. In this manner self-made ecclesiastical despots are causing “violence” to the kingdom of God (i.e. God’s flock). With force, they seize upon the minds and wallets of the members of their congregations.

The Concordant Literal New Testament (below) provides a much more accurate translation of Matthew 11:12 and the parallel context in Luke 16:16.
Matthew 11:12 “Now, from the days of John the Baptist hitherto, the kingdom of the heavens is being violently forced and the violent are snatching it.” (Concordant Literal New Testament)

Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets are unto John; thenceforth, the evangel of the kingdom of God is being brought, and everyone is violently forcing into it, and the violent are snatching it. Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass by than for one serif of the law to fall.” (Concordant Literal New Testament)

I will post more on this subject shortly as it is a very important topic and one that has been totally misapplied by greedy men.

Many Blessings

Pastor David

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