Friday, September 9, 2016

The kingdom of heaven “suffereth violence?”

“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence [biazō], and the violent [biastēs] take it by force [harpazō]. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (KJV Matthew 11:11-3).

Verse 12 can be confusing.

Biazō appears to be a verb that means “to force” or “to apply force.” In addition to “suffereth violence,” other translations have used “has been forcefully advancing” or “is forcing its way in.”

The word occurs in another verse in the Bible: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth [biazō] into it” (Luke 16:16).

Biastēs appears to be a noun that refers to someone “forceful” or “strong.”

Harpazō appears to be a verb that means “to carry off by force,” “to seize,” or “to claim for oneself eagerly.” It has been translated in the KJV as: “catch up,” “take by force,” “catch away,” “pluck,” “catch,” “pull.”

The context of the verse also helps clarify the meaning.

Therefore, my translation of verse 12 would be something like: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcing its way in, and people of force take it.”

Fortunately, although people of (spiritual) strength eagerly seize the kingdom of heaven and claim it for themselves, there is more than enough of it to go around.