“For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-25)

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᾿Επερωτηθεὶς δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν Φαρισαίων πότε ἔρχεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ,  πεκρίθη αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· οὐκ ἔρχεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ μετὰ παρατηρήσεως, οὐδὲ ἐροῦσιν· ἰδοὺ ὧδε ἢ ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ· δοὺ γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν. Εἶπε δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς· ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι ὅτε ἐπιθυμήσετε μίαν τῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ  νθρώπου ἰδεῖν, καὶ οὐκ ὄψεσθε. καὶ ἐροῦσιν ὑμῖν· ἰδοὺ ὧδε, ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ· μὴ πέλθητε μηδὲ διώξητε. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ  στραπὴ  στράπτουσα ἐκ τῆς ὑπ᾿ οὐρανὸν εἰς τὴν ὑπ᾿ οὐρανὸν λάμπει, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ  νθρώπου ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ αὐτοῦ. πρῶτον δὲ δεῖ αὐτὸν πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ  ποδοκιμασθῆναι  πὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus answered them, The Kingdom of God does not come with observation. Neither will people say, ‘Look, here!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. Jesus told the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.And people will tell you, ‘Look there, look here!’ Do not go away or follow [them], for as the lightning that flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so also will the Son of Man be in his day.But first, he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation

Luke 17:20-25, Eastern Orthodox Bible New Testament

 


17:20-25

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“Many times the Lord mentioned the kingdom of God in His teachings. But when the Pharisees heard these things, they would ridicule Him. This is why they approached Him with the question as to when the kingdom would come, mocking Him as an eccentric who was preaching something strange and foreign. For none of the previous teachers and prophets had made mention of the kingdom of God. Or perhaps, since they had it in mind to kill Him, they approached Him and questioned Him with derision and sarcasm, as much as saying, “You make sermons about the kingdom – when will your kingdom be? As for you, soon you will be killed by us and meet your end on the cross, with all the dishonor that goes with it.” How does Christ reply? He does not answer these senseless men according to their foolish and senseless way of thinking, but He lets them be deceived by the several meanings of kingdom and does not reveal to them what He means. For they would not have accepted what He said concerning this kingdom, that it is not a worldly, but an other-worldly kingdom. They were not worthy of hearing this. on account of their willful deafness, and so the Lord lets it be, and speaks instead of the time of the kingdom, saying that its time is not knowable to us by means of observation. It has no fixed date: instead, the kingdom of God is always present for him who desires and wills it. When a man’s disposition and way of life are like that of an angel, most assuredly this is the kingdom of God. For God indeed is said to rule as King when nothing worldly meddles in the governing of our souls and when in every respect we live not of this world. This manner of life we have within us, that is to say, we have it within us when we desire and will it. We do not need to wait a long time, or until our departure from this life: instead, faith and a God-pleasing life which accompanies faith are very near us. The Apostle said the same thing: The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth. and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith [Romans 10:8].  To have faith, and, together with faith, to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, is indeed something within us.  The Pharisees. then, were mocking the Lord for preaching about the kingdom, which no one had preached before. But the Lord shows that they are ignorant of that which is within them. although those who so desire may easily understand it. “Now, while I am among you. it is entirely within your ability to have the kingdom of God, by believing in Me and by choosing to live according to My commandments.” To His disciples He said, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not see it. This means, “For you also the kingdom of God is present, while I am with you. It is present with you not only in that you have believed in Me and followed Me, but also in that you now live free of any cares while I am here to watch over you and to provide for you. But the days will come when I will be absent and you will be delivered over to dangers. When you are led before rulers and kings, you will long for the time you have now, free of dangers and cares while I am with you, as the kingdom of God. And often you will desire to have just one of the days of the Son of Man, that is, to have one day of this present life with Me, because it is free of danger.” On the one hand, the disciples, while they were with the Lord, did not in fact have a life that was altogether free of pain and danger, for they suffered hardships when they had to flee with Him when He fled, and were reviled with Him when He was reviled. But, by comparison with the dangers that were to come, the things that happened to the apostles while Christ was among them would appear to have been without danger. Thus, the kingdom of God was within the apostles in this sense also, that they lived without danger and pain while they were with the Lord. For after the Resurrection they went about from place to place like hunted men and prisoners. With these words the Lord is preparing the hearts of the apostles to be strong and to endure pains, and He forewarns them lest they be deceived. He says to them, “And if they should say, See here; or, see there: go not after them. Let no one persuade you,” He is saying, “that I have come here, or that I have come there. For My second coming, which will be more brilliant and more glorious than the first, will not be limited to anyone place.  Just as lightning does not escape anyone’s notice, but is visible from one end of the earth to the other, so too My coming will be dazzling and in full view, not hidden from anyone. Therefore, do not be deceived by false christs and messiahs.  When I come again I will not appear as I did before, in a manger and in poverty for thirty years, but all in glory, escorted by the angels, and in the twinkling of an eye.”  Because He had foretold to them the fearful things which they would face, He then consoles them and encourages them to be brave, strengthening them by His own example. “Do not marvel,” He says, “if you should experience such pains and tribulations that you desire to return to this life which you now live with Me.  For I Myself. Who will appear like the lightning. must first suffer many things, and be rejected, and only then come in glory. Let this be an encouragement to you to show valor, let this make you eager to endure. Look to Me, and hope in that glory which will result for you from enduring dangers and being rejected, just as it will for Me.”

St. Theophylact of Ochrid (Macedonia, 11th c.), Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (tr. from the Greek by Fr. Christopher Stade; Chrysostom Press, 2004)

 

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Having said that the Son of man will appear on His day like lightning, instantly illuminating everything under heaven, the Lord added: But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation …. He suffered in His person at one specific time [i.e. at His Passion and Crucifixion], after which sufferings continue in the person of believers. There is suffering as they are born, as they are brought up in the spirit, and as they ward off the actions of the enemy, both inward and outward …. The sorrows, temptations, and wavering of faith due to unbelief are continual arrows. Words and writings that exude unbelief are the flaming arrows of the evil one. These days, the evil one has led many blacksmiths to forge such arrows. The hearts of believers ache when they are struck by them and see others being struck …. But the day of the Lord’s glory will appear – then all the secret darkness will be revealed, and those who have suffered will rejoice with the Lord. Until that time we must endure and pray.

St. Theophan the Recluse (Russia, 19th c.), Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (tr. from the Russian by Lisa Marie Baranov, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010)

 


17:21
οὐδὲ ἐροῦσιν· ἰδοὺ ὧδε ἢ ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ· ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν.

Neither will people say, ‘Look, here!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.

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Ask not, He says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heavens shall again arise; but rather be in earnest that you may be found worthy of it, for it is within you, that is, it depends on your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it. For everyone who has attained justification by means of faith in Christ and is adorned by all virtue, is counted worthy of the kingdom of the heavens.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (5th c.), Homilies on the Gospel According to St. Luke, Homily 117

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The kingdom of God is within you, indeed, through the truth of grace, not through the servitude of guilt. Therefore, let those who would be free be a servant in the Lord, for inasmuch as we partake of servitude, we partake also of the kingdom.

St. Ambrose of Milan (4th c.), Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke


17:24 The Second Coming of the Son of Man

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The spiritual gaze of mankind which believes in Christ, beginning with the time of the Ascension from earth to heaven of the Son of God, has been directed to the greatest future event of world history: His Second Coming to earth.

Testimony to the reality of this expected Coming was given quite definitely many times by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, together with a whole series of derails regarding it (Matt. 16:27 and chap. 24; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:40 and 17:24; John 14:3). The angels declared it at the Lord’s Ascension (Acts 1:11). The Apostles often mention it: the Apostle Jude (VY. 14-15); the Apostle John (I John 2:28); the Apostle Peter (I Peter 4:13); and the Apostle Paul many times (I Cor. 4:5; I Thes. 5:2-6; and other places).

The Lord Himself described to His disciples the manner of His Coming in the following characteristics:

It will be sudden and obvious to everyone: For as the lightning cometh out of the east and sbineth euen unto the west, so shall also the Coming of the Son of Man be (Matt, 24:27).

First of all, there shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn (Matt. 24:30). This, according to the universal interpretation of the Holy Fathers of the Church, will be the sign of the life-giving Cross of the Lord.

The Lord will come surrounded by innumerable choirs of angels, in all His glory: And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Mart. 24:30), with the holy angels (Mark 8:38). He shall sit on the throne of His glory (Mart. 25:31). Thus, the Second Coming will be different from the first when the Lord humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:8).

He will come to judge the world in righteousiless (Acts 17:31) and to reward every man according to his works (Matt. 16:27). In this the purpose of His Second Coming into the world is to be distinguished in essence from the purpose of His first Coming, when He came not to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3: 17); He came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky (Russia, Poland, United States, 20th c.), Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (tr. from the Russian by Fr. Seraphim Rose, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2005)

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