XIV
OUR LORD IN THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS

WE are told that our Lord began His ministry by teaching about the "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven," which He declared to be very close at hand. This "kingdom" was a conception peculiar to the Jews, which would have meant nothing to other people. To understand how our Lord speaks of it, we had better note what scholars say as to the exact meaning of the words used.

"Heaven," in this particular connection, -- though of course in many other connections it is not so, -- is simply and solely a reverent way of saying "God." The English "kingdom" does not quite correspond with the word which our Lord must have used. "Sovereignty" would be nearer to it. The original word suggested necessarily a state of things in which God exercised sovereign rule, giving actual commands which somebody actually obeyed. It did not necessarily suggest a region where or a time when His rule would prevail to the exclusion of all adverse powers, though naturally it could be so used. It implied that men, few or many, were being governed by God's known will. This obviously is a state of facts which might be present in very different degrees, so that at a given time it might be spoken of as already there or as still to come. Our Lord compared it to yeast, beginning to work in dough, and to a small seed that would become

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