Kingdom Language, Part 1

In a discussion on the kingdom of God based on the words of Jesus via His sermon on the mountain, it is necessary for us to interpret His message in its native setting. Then we must carefully and creatively bring it forward to the present day.  As stated earlier, the message of Jesus is profoundly translatable across languages, cultures, time, and geographical locations.

As Jesus spoke of the kingdom, His language was charged with political, religious, and cultural implications.  But “Kingdom” language is not as dynamic today.  Kingdoms are of the past and have given way to nations, states, and provinces which have constitutions, parliaments, and congresses.   Where kings do exist, they are anachronisms and they play only a ceremonial role.  In Jesus’ day, kingdom language was relevant, whereas today it is not.  How then do we make His message relevant for today?

It is imperative that we craft fresh ways to translate this message into the contemporary cultures of this world.  This is the implied intention of all of Scripture.  It has been said that “searching for the best translation then becomes an artistic pursuit as well as a theological one.  Whatever metaphors we choose will probably have a limited shelf life, and will be given to various misunderstandings, as it was in Jesus’ own time.”  Several of these possible metaphors for the kingdom of God will be discussed in our next post.