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Who are the violent?

Submitted: 6/10/2015
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Question: I continue to disagree with you. I actually sent this same comment several years ago to an online Bible Group i.e. Learn the Bible. Here is their comment back to me. and I quote 'who are the violent who take it by force? In a quick study, I could find no one who is called violent in a good sense in scripture-unless, as some say, this verse is an exception. God destroyed the earth in the days of Noah partly because it was 'filled with violence' (Gen. 6:11) The only positive references to violence (if they can be called that) is when God brings judgment with violence (see Rev. 18:21). Other than that, the violent are always evil. This makes it difficult for me to see this verse as a description of how people come to know God -though that is a common explanation of the verse. However, if the kingdom of heaven is God's visible working of his kingdomon earth, then it is capable of suffering violence. Now, who are the violent? The violent are Herod and those who worked with him to imprison John (Luke 3:19-20) and will soon behead him. They are attacking the kingdom of heavy by attacking the forerunner of the King. They took John 'by force' and they will soon take the King (Jesus Christ) by force as well. The devil and the world will not win, but the kingdom of heaven will suffer much violence through their attacks. Pastor David Reagan. Additionally, in a book about the lives of the Fathers (some of the original Christians before the middle ages), one such person, St. Anthony also alludes to the kingdom of God being assaulted by violence. I continue to maintain my original feeling about the foregoing verse in question. I believe God's kingdom has always been violently assaulted by those who are non-believers. You used a verse wherein believers were at one with one another. But most examples of believers in a secular world is a different story. In many parts of the world where Christians have been martyred and killed violence is indeed against the kingdom of God. The early Christians saints were violently killed by the infamous 10 Roman emperorers i.e. Diocletion, Tacitus, etc. So I think your interpretation is inaccurate as to who the violent are. When you wholeheartedly seek God and His kingdom, you are not concurrently violent in your search. God tells us to seek him with whole heart and we would find him. He does not tell us to violently try to enter His kingdom. I don't think I missed the mark, but I do think your interpretation and that of similar others like yours are inaccurate as to what God has in mind.

Answer: I would not say 'the violent' are the people of God, because I would not use that word to describe God's people. I would, however, say that God's people are 'forceful and energetic,' which is what the word biastes actually means. The King James translators used the word 'violent' because they had no idea what Jesus was talking about. But since the connotation of the word 'violent' is negative, it is not a good word to translate biastes.

The Greek word translated “suffers violence” is biazo, which means to force, to crowd into, or to press. It is not talking about something being done to the kingdom, but something the kingdom itself is doing: the kingdom is pressing. The NIV says, “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”

I realize you disagree with this interpretation, but we stand by it. After all, we all have to be true to our best understanding.