ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν – ‘‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’’ What Does Luke 17:21 Mean?
Kerry A. Shirts MM, 32°, CM, RAM, KT
Eagle Rock Lodge #19
Idaho Falls, Idaho
January 2, 2011
After healing the ten lepers, Luke then presents (17:20-21) the Pharisees as questioning Jesus about when the Kingdom of God would come. Jesus’ response is interesting because he tries to show them their expectations are inaccurate in how they perceive what is to happen. The discussion of the meaning of the Greek statement βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν – ‘‘The Kingdom of God is within you,’’ in biblical scholarship circles is fascinating. It is ambiguous and various interpretations give shades of meanings that teach us a very important lesson. Based on syntactical, linguistic, and grammatical considerations, there is simply no one single correct way to interpret this statement. Dogmatism has to be laid aside with the realization that the Bible itself is never clearly one sided and simple in its meaning. Nor is there always a single correct interpretation and meaning. It isn’t the fault of the scholars, it is the very nature of the way Greek is constructed (and recorded as well as written by the ancient authors styles and choices of expression!) and how it can legitimately be translated into various ways, perfectly logic and coherent, and yet sometimes arriving at contradictory readings and meanings. ‘‘Ernst Kasemann argues that such theological variety in the early church is ‘so wide even in the New Testament that we are compelled to admit the existence not merely of significant tensions, but, not infrequently, of irreconciliable theological contradictions.’ Krister Stendahl agrees that such differences cannot and should not be resolved through clever exegesis because ‘when they are overcome by harmonization, the very points intended by the writers are dulled and distorted.’’’