Repentanceand Kingdom of God
The Bible and Christians
Interpretation of the Bible
The Kingdom of God
Repentance in New Testament
TheBible is a unique book to most Christians and contains severaldocuments, which promote the Christian faith. The book is acollection of ancient documents written and translated into variouslanguages. Some of the contents of the Bible are foreign to themodern civilized generation and demands further explanation. Theinterpretation of the Bible has aroused debates regarding theunderstanding of various themes in the New Testament scriptures oneof which is seeking the kingdom of God.
TheKingdom of God
Theauthors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit as well as theword of God. All that is found in the scriptures represent the truththat God wished. The Books of Scriptures teaches believers therighteous way of life as an integral part of the Kingdom of God(Simon 92). Therefore, Christians must acknowledge the scripturesfound in the Bible for the sake of salvation.
Thehistorical-critical method recognizes that the Bible contains theword of God, which is an ancient record. Over an extended period oftime, several authors were associated with the writing of the Bible.These old historical documents need to be studied and analyzed as anoverview of the theme of the Kingdom of God in the New Testament. TheBible was recorded in a way that it had a narrative account ofevents, similar features that are evident in the New Testament. Theseevents played a role in influencing the lives of the ancient Jews.Early Christians were also affected by the revelation of the events.Hence, the accounts of the historical backgrounds need to be analyzedin the contemporary contexts.
Thecritical arguments in the scriptures created controversies, whichwere older than the church itself (Fitzmyer 27). The arguments werepropelled over a period through several stages of change. These werethe primitive church, Reformation and the period since the rise ofmodern criticism. The first two controversies were very similar sincethey were theological in nature. The other one was unique anddifferent with more philosophical and culture overtones. Itintroduced a new method of interpreting the Scriptures puttingemphasis on the secular understanding of history.
Thefuture kingdom of God will be based on a spiritual rule. Christ willproclaim His message evident in the New Testament and titled, the“gospel of the Kingdom of God.” Therefore, the kingdom of God isamongst the believers. During the time of Jesus Christ, the Phariseesquestioned the Son of God seeking to know where the Kingdom of Godwas. Jesus in his response told them that the Kingdom of God wasamidst them. He explained that He was the King that represented thekingdom of God and insisted that children were part of it.
Accordingto the gospels, it will be difficult to enter the kingdom of God ifChristians without repentance. John the Baptist message to the Jewswas that “Repent, for the kingdom of God, is at hand.” While itis recorded in the gospels that John the Baptist came to prepare theway for Christ, his message to the Jews mirrored on the themes ofrepentance and the Kingdom of God. According to the New Testament,the message of Christ was referred to as the good news. The messageis very relevant to Christians since it implies that changes areneeded when one desires to enter the Kingdom of God. These scripturesmust be understood and interpreted well to acquire the knowledgeabout God and His Kingdom. Several methods of interpretation havebeen used, and some have faced criticism (Osborne 38). However, thereare still people who question the new way of interpreting the gospelregardless of the general acknowledgment. Various church groups, suchas the Roman Catholic Church, have approved the method. Theintroduction of the historical criticism led to the toughest task thechurch had to face during the nineteenth century. The validity of thetheological method has been questioned.
Longago, much of the Bible study was carried out in the church. Nowadays,the study takes place in institutional departments, which are lesslikely to be related to the church. Critically, the study of theBible uses similar methods like the ones used in all the ancientliterature. Historical criticism is relevant to the investigation ofthe Bible. It requires defending since it can bring justice to theinner meaning of religious literature. The book has also influencedthe beliefs of many people for more than two millennia.
Thereis a difference between the biblical scholarship and secular history.The difference regards the primary source, which is the Bible in thecase of the biblical study. The biblical scholars analyzed whathappened and established the truth from the book. It was possiblesince they used the methods of secular history in the Bible. Themethods employed were secular, and the procedure was modified to fitthe Bible. Nothing was changed from the contents of the book (William47). Extra- biblical literature in the form of chronology was used toilluminate the daily lives and cultures of the ancient Israel. Theuse of the Apocrypha`s and Talmud among others was to describe thehistory of the post-exilic Judaism.
Theemphasis on history has affected theology in various aspects. All ofthe theological methods have been altered. Therefore, the differentreligious branches acknowledge that the book should be readhistorically and interpreted appropriately based on the present age.Individuals who detach the contents of the Bible deny the nature ofthe scriptures. The theological disciplines have brought furtherunderstanding to today’s scriptures.
TheJewish of the first century frequently used the phrase “the kingdomof God. They were not happy with the Roman rule and wanted Judea tobe an independent nation. Therefore, they wanted God to send a leaderwho could liberate them. They hoped that the assigned leader wouldguide the nation to righteousness and blessings. Judea would be acountry attractive to everyone. However, it did not happen they hadhoped (Osborne 16). Judea was not restored, and furthermore, the Jewsbecame scattered and their temple destroyed. All these happeningshave since raised many questions among Christians regarding Christand the theme of the Kingdom of God in the New Testament. Did Christfail to fulfill His promises? Was He wrong in his prediction? Anddoes the kingdom of God exist?
Accordingto the scriptures, Christians do not believe that Christ was wrong inhis prediction or failed to fulfill His promises. What was wrong wasthe Jewish speculation and their big hopes. Jesus kingdom was lessfamiliar to the extent that the Jews wanted to get rid of Him. Thisargument suggests that the kingdom of God was not in that world. Formost people, the kingdom was invisible. To those who were able tounderstand and experience it, the intervention of God’s spirit wasbeside them. The kingdom of God is not like any other civilorganization, but a spiritual one.
Repentancemeans the change of mind from other things to seeing God as the onlytrue and worthy being. God deserves our obedience and is worthy ofall of our praises. This way of seeing God as a supreme being to beworshipped should also be reflected to Jesus (Fitzmyer 21). Thescripture records the words of Christ in Mark, “If God was yourFather, you would love me, for I came from God." Therefore,repenting your sins to Jesus is the same as repenting to God. Thereis no person that is excluded from Jesus demand to repent.
Anexamination of the New Testament reveals that the themes ofRepentance and the Kingdom of God are linked and run through theentire gospels. From the time John the Baptist is born to the momenthe starts preparing the way for Christ, His message to the Jewsremains to repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. When Christarrives and is baptized by John the Baptist, He starts layingemphasis on the Kingdom of God as the principal message. This themeis spread across the New Testament and is evident in the Epistles ofPaul. Christ at one time claims to have the authority to forgivesins, an action that occurs following true repentance. The book ofActs, which offers a continuation of the ministry of Christ alsoappear to reflect the theme of Repentance and the Kingdom of God.
Thecomprehensions of the scriptures were very transparent and open toall. This literal sense was the work of the Holy Spirit and not thechurch. Humanists used various means to create a little sense of thescriptures. However, a proper interpretation of the Word could notbe possible without the presence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, thekingdom starts as a small mustard seed and grows big to a powerfulthing.
Therevolution of the evaluation of the Bible has been significant in itsinterpretation. The scriptures were made secular and historicaldocuments and studied while being questioned together with otherancient sources. However, it is no longer considered a criterion ofwriting history. The Bible as the word is open and acts a preliminarystep in the case of interpretation. An individual is required to workon the text until he/she finds meaning and speak to the modern man(Kaiser 34). God’s word addresses the nature of man and uses thefaulty word to confront him. The historical-critical method oftoday’s biblical scholarship is regarded as tender. The human mindbecame reoriented by the help of the scientific revolution and thehistorical process. The changes took place during the 16th and 19thcentury respectively.
Historyhas remained a mystery even in the face of most critical examination.It has retained its perspective for an extended period. It hasresulted in an extraordinary man and opened new discoveries andcriterion. There are various criticisms related to the purpose ofbiblical interpretation. Textual criticism is well known to provideaccurate information. In order to determine the author’s sense, onehas to possess the text in the form it had when it originated fromthe author’s hand. It helps to discover any occurrence of theintentional corruption that might arise from interpolation. One ofthe examples of textual criticism is found in the New Testament inthe endings of Romans.
Whenauthors create texts in the form of a written document, it requires aresultant interpretation. The interpreter undergoes an objectivefact, and one needs to possess an intellectual understanding tocomprehend the material. For the purpose of developing a creativethought, it is important that individual attitudes be observed (Simon90). The biblical scholarship is presented in an ancient language.Therefore, it is important to consider the text and seek tounderstand it first from the original language and then theinterpretations. An examination of the themes of repentance and theKingdom of God becomes evident when the New Testament scriptures areinterpreted both literally and from the historical perspective.
Catholicsare known to be impatient when it comes to the historical-criticalmethod. They question why the modern biblical scholars should notinterpret the Bible like the Fathers of the Church or even thepastiric period. The right answer for this question is that a lot ofthings have happened since the patristic period. The Catholic Churchhas been able to interpret the scriptures and learned several thingsfrom the scholars of the Renaissance and Reformation.
TheRenaissance opened the study of the Bible to several originallanguages and ancient versions. This factor changed the orientationand the interpretation of the Bible by the Western Church.Previously, the Western Church could only read and understand theBible in the Latin language. The period opened new discoveries andthe translation of the Bible into different vernaculars. The earlymedieval modes of interpreting the Biblical text were broken fromhomiletic to the literal meaning of the scriptures.
Enlightenmentperiod also allowed the Catholic Church to learn more from thescholars. The period greatly influenced our ability to read andunderstand the Bible (Kaiser 26).
Scriptureshould play a constructive role in the up building of the church. Most churches base their beliefs on Scriptures. The church life hasbeen affected significantly by the shift in the form of Scripture.The historical-critical method has been influential to the church butalso has its limitation. It poses the risk of removing divine fromScripture and leaving human alone. This, in turn, facilitates theloss of unity of Scriptures. The overall effect is that there is areduction of the spiritual value of Scripture.
Fromall these defenses and the historicity of biblical account, it ispresumed that the historical truth is related to the religious truth. To the people who receive an inadequate view of the Scripture, thereis a pastoral concern for what will happen to them (Fitzmyer 45).These people may believe in Scriptures that are different fromothers.
Inconclusion, this paper attempted to trace the themes of repentanceand the Kingdom of God notingits developments through history and in the New Testament. The needfor proper interpretation and understanding of the scriptures isregarded as critical to unveiling the themes. Criticshave enhanced the understanding of what is required to enter thekingdom of God. However, according to the New Testament, the HolySpirit guides us in repenting our sins to enter God’s kingdom.
Fitzmyer, j. The Interpretation of Scripture:in Defense of the Historical Critical Method. New York: Paulist Press, 2008. Print.
Kaiser, Walter C. An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007. Print.
Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Print.
Simon, Perry. Ressurecting Interpretation. Bristol Baptist College: University of Bristol, 2005.Print.
William, Klein. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dalla, TX: Word Publishing, 2001.Print.