The Year 2003
Jesus here speaks
of the swiftness of his arrival, implying the urgency of
the work of preaching.
Verse 21, `within you', should rather be translated
`in your midst', as would be consistent with the point being made, namely
that the kingdom is coming when not expected, as he goes on to compare it to
lightning, to the deluge, and to the destruction of Sodom. Thayer's Lexicon
gives `in the midst of you' as the primary rendering of this phrase, and
Strong gives the root of the Greek word `entos' (G1787) [according to Strong
meaning inside, within] as `en' (G1722), `a primary preposition denoting
(fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality
(medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest'.
Further to this
point, the Greek word for kingdom, `basiliah', used here is described by both
Strong and Thayer as meaning primarily `royalty' or `royal power' respectively.
Jesus is, in fact, in their midst at that time as a representative of the kingdom,
and he refers also to a coming future time in verses 22-36. Jerusalem was
actually destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. along with its temple, and so ended
the system of worship associated with the Jews, their genealogical records having
been destroyed thereby preventing the legal establishment of any priestly line.
Since prophecies may have multiple fulfillments, some people have dared to hope
for a much greater and later fulfillment as well. This is consistent with the
concept of the fall of man and the need for the restoration of paradise on earth.
The kingdom is not truly said to have come in its entirety until the earth is
restored to that pristine, garden-like state that it had in the first days of
Adam and Eve, when peace will reign supreme and death will be no more.
Referring back to the original question of when the kingdom was coming, Jesus further
points out the futility of looking for the kingdom's arrival, saying also that
those who would seek to save their own lives would not be able, the undexpectedness
of the event being such that only those prepared to offer their lives unselfishly could
be expected to survive.
Jesus is not saying, as some have wrongly inferred, that the
kingdom is something completely internal, in the mind of each of us, but rather that
it had already arrived, that it was real. He, as the Messiah, and as Moses the Messiah
before him, was urging them not to underestimate the significance of this moment.