And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12, KJV).
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it (Luke 16:16, KJV).
Scripture cannot be understood by natural reason, nor can there be random interpretation applied to it. We must allow the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden truths by using the Word of God to bring definition to their meaning. Sometimes discipline is in order. That is to say, we need to take time to study and allow the Holy Spirit to shed light on the subject. We cannot assign arbitrary applications. Both Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 have been used in a teaching that says we are supposed to somehow force or press our way into the Kingdom. It has also been used to validate forms of “spiritual warfare,” which is another subject in of it self. Remember, if a premise is not scriptural, it is not spiritual.
As believers, we should realize that the Kingdom of heaven has been freely extended to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have not been called to force our way in, since we simply are to receive it by faith. In context with the verses, we find that phraseology used in both verses point to forms of self-righteous behavior resulting from self-righteous attitudes. Luke 16:14-15 says, “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (KJV). The words, “Suffereth violence” and “press (-eth)” come from the same Greek word, which means to force ones way in, or to press violently. It is a verb that suggests forceful behavior without careful thought. Simply put, we find reference to those who would justify themselves. As soon as they began to hear the preaching of the Gospel, people began to violently press their way into the Kingdom without given much thought to the way they did it. The phrase “take (it) by force” is found in John 6:15 which gives these passages some flavor to their meaning: “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (KJV). The people would enter into the Kingdom in their own way, while forcing Jesus to be their King, based upon their own understanding, which is self-righteousness personified.
Matthew 11:12 also gives a specific time element to “the violent taking the Kingdom by force”: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now . . .” (KJV). The phrase, “Until now” means strictly this specific moment in time, which refers to the time in which Jesus was speaking. It can also be rendered, “Until this present moment.” That means it ended at that time, and did not carry forward to our time. Essentially, the period lasted from the preaching of John the Baptist until the Cross. After the Cross-, came the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit. From that point forward the Kingdom of heaven became available by grace through faith, not the self-righteous acts of the Law that was for a people without faith.
One final thought: we could not seek God out and press into His Kingdom; at least not on their own. The truth is that the Father drew us to Jesus Christ, Who is the Door by Whom we enter into the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit drew us to the Father. The bottom line is that without His reaching out to us first, we would have never reached out to Him. After all, we love Him because He first loved us (see 1John 4:19). We are the ones apprehended by God, not the other way around. Our relationship with Him was never based upon our works. He freely extends the Kingdom to those who believe.
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