Logion 3 / Luke 17:2-20-21

Let’s look to the parallels.

There are two versions of Thomas here. The Coptic (from Nag Hammadi) and the Greek (a fragment called the Oxyrhynchus text).

Jesus said: If those who lead you say to you: See, the kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of the heaven will go before you; if they say to you: It is in the sea, then the fish will go before you. But the kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.

Nag Hammadi

Je[sus] says: [“If those] who seek to attract you [say to you: ‘See,] the Kingdom [is] in hea[ven, then] the birds of hea[ven will be there before you. If they say: ‘It] is under the earth!’ [then] the fishes of the sea [will be there be]fore you. And the Kingd[om of heaven] is within you! [He who? . . .] knows this will find [. . .] [When] you know yourselves, [then you will know that] it is you who are [the sons] of the [living] Father. [But if you do not] know yourselves, then [. . .] and it is you the poverty!”

Oxyrhynchus

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (note: The AV1611 (King Jimmy) and the NIV both read the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:20-21


Firstly, where do our sources agree?

Each contrasts the expectations/teachings of leadership which looks for a distant kingdom to be preceded by signs with another teaching, attributed to Jesus, that situates the kingdom very close and present and within/among.

I read this as witnessing to the kingdom as a present reality. This piece is anti-apocalyptic. Jesus’ return on the clouds as a conquering messiah — the whole book of Revelation schtick is basically denied. The kingdom manifests itself in human relationships.

The question isn’t — when will Jesus return to set up his kingdom? The question is — do your everyday relationships with people reflect the reign of Christ? Are you already living the kingdom into this world?

My answer? Not nearly enough.

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9 responses

  1. I agree that the kingdom of heaven is about a way of thinking and relating to others … maybe the actualization of those two commandments Jesus gave – to love God and love others. But does that negate the possibility of either an afterlife or of an end time? I’m pretty confused about the meanings of “the kingdom of heaven/God”, “heaven” and “the second coming” … do they obviate each other?

  2. I tend to take each passage on its own terms. I think these passages we’re looking at here are tel;ling us to not look to a distant future Parousia — and to not trust leaders who promise us one. Other passages will encourage us to take hope in the final settling of accounts.

  3. I’ll just jump in — I came from kwakersaur and have not read the preceding posts, which would take too long for me. I’ll stick with the simple question about the kingdom… I can’t leave it at the simplicity of whether I’m living in the kingdom here and now — I’m not, I can’t, I’ve tried. Which leads me back to the first question — When is Christ coming?I feel so torn between the liberal and conservative approach to Christianity. I get the psychological messages of the Bible and think there is truth, but that can’t be all. But I don’t want to be constrained by dogma. And yet, that dogma serves a very useful purpose — to keep people on the rails. I have been careening for a long time and I desperately want to be back on the rails. But I don’t want to be limited by the rails.Grace is a gift, so why is there so much work to be done?I will try to check in on a regular basis. I’ve been neglecting my religion and my relationship with God.

  4. You’re always welcome here Marjorie. You have an honesty and a faith that is appreciated by — I’m sure — more than me.

  5. Marjorie – it’s so good to see your post :-). I hope you check in more often – I feel a lot like you do, as far as the rails are concerned.

  6. I love the way it says the Kingdom of Heaven is both inside you and outside you. It brings balance. It’s not just about solitude and meditation, but also about relationships and love. If I focus solely on God’s Presence, I eventually hit a wall. It’s then that I remember to look outward.It also reminds me to see that of God in every one I meet and to honor the echoes of Presence within nature.

  7. There is a very interesting two volume book by Paramahansa Yogananda, titled, “The second Coming of Christ; The Resurrection of the Christ Within You” In this amazing book Yagananda interprets the entire Bible on this stance – that Christ is within you, and that the kingdom of God is here, now, and when you realize it, it is the “second coming” of Christ.I am not sure I understand what it means to be on “the rail”, but to me it connotes sitting on the sidelines, as on the rail of a paddock or a rink or a ring. To be on the rails perhaps is a feeling of security, where all one has to do is watch the show. However, all along, Jesus is inviting us in, into a relationship with him, into a union with God, into the kingdom of heaven, which is right here, right now, in the center of the ring.

  8. Marjorie, we’re all so glad you’re back– kill the fatted calf. Re your question about the kingdom: now or then? For me the answer lies in the concept of eternity. Eternity is both now and then.No question in my mind that life goes on after physical death. someone said something like- when you die you will realize that where you are now (then) is where you always were. The idea of eternal damnation is impossible for me– and for a great many others to believe. God is too good. I recently read that the Koran said that in the end even the devil will be forgiven. If you can forgive anyone, think how much God can forgive. We are all forgiven sinners– not Quaker theology, but Christian theology.God bless you and everyone.

  9. Thank you all so much for your responses — they make me feel so good.Twyla, I really like what you said about the kingdom being both inside you and outside you — I think that was what was on my mind when I saying I felt it can’t all be within me.Meredith — what do rails mean? You may have given me a subject for an actual post…

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