2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [the Majesty of the heavens has arrived].


The word basileia is used in the proclamation of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and the Apostles, before the crucifixion. They preached, saying, "the basileia, or kingdom, of the heavens is at hand."

In this instance kingdom means neither territory, population, dominion, reign, nor power. ... Jesus is king of Israel of right; but instead of his reign being acknowledged by his people, they refused to submit to him, and put him to death. And after his resurrection the national will was still supposed to be his. The apostles spent their lives in urging his claims to the throne and kingdom of David, which were nevertheless rejected, and brought ruin upon the nation. What sort of a reign is this? The reign of a king over rebels, which is no reign at all.

John did not certainly proclaim the reign of heaven at hand in preaching repentance, because the basileia approached. He was too well instructed in the prophets to do this. What he cried was,

"Repent, because the kingdom of the heavens has approached."

The kingdom here was not something to appear seven years after; but a something that was actually present. Eggike is the perfect of eggizo, and imports what has already come to pass. It does not signity at hand to come, but has come to hand—it is present, in your midst. What is it that is present? The basileia—the Lord whose way I call upon you to prepare.

"He standeth among you;" and "that He should be manifested to Israel, I am come, as his precursor, baptizing in water, and preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."

Thus spake John, when in the spirit and power of Elijah he lifted up his voice in the wilderness in the performance of his mission to announce the presence, and approaching manifestation of the King of Israel, and to prepare a people to receive Him. Hence his proclamation was

"Repent, because the Majesty of the heavens has arrived;" or, "because His Majesty, the King of Israel, and of the nations, is about to appear before you." "I know not who he is; but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizeth with the Holy Spirit:"

and when John saw this, he bear record that Jesus is the Son of God.

That basileia is sometimes put for king, and the contrary, in the scriptures, appears from these words—

"Blessed is the that cometh in the name of the Lord; blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord."

According to another they said,

"Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord."

This he regards as a fulfilment of the saying,

"Behold, thy King, O Zion, cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass."

A third records it in the words

"Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord."

In the prophet Daniel also kings and kingdoms are used synonymously; so that it is according to the analogy of scripture to render basileia or kingdom by king, if the scope and context of the place demand it.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1851

Repent; for the King of the heavens has arrived

The word in the Greek is in the plural, and ought to be so rendered in the English. The king of Israel is styled the basileia ton ouranon, or the King of the Heavens—the royal authority of the kingdoms.

...Without denying that "heavens" is a word that sometimes signifies God in scripture, we remark that this is not its import in the phrase basileia ton ouranon, or, royal authority of the heavens. We concede that basileia tou theou is used by Mark in his testimony as the record of what Jesus preached. They are not, however, of exactly the same import in the case. The basileia tou theou is the royalty of God, which is the basileia ton ouranon, or royal authority of the heavens. Jesus proclaimed that God's royalty had come, and afterwards argued with the rulers that he was himself the personage to whom it was attached.

Being God's royal son he claimed "the heavens," or "kingdoms of the word," as "Heir of all things" "that are in the heavens—en lois ouranois—and that are upon the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers"—he claimed them all as being created (dia) on account of him, and (eis) for him; he being (pro) above them all, and all of them consisting (en) because of him.

"The Heavens," hoi ouranoi, are the same as "the heavenlies," hoi epouranioi. "The Heavens" imports the aggregation of "the heavenlies." A "throne" is a heavenly; so is a "dominion:" a "principality" is a heavenly; and so also is a "power." A dominion is called a heavenly, because it is ouranos epites ges a heaven over the earth, that is, a government over the people.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1851

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

... it was not Christ who would first join issue with the nation. Instead it was John Baptist who would open the account, for it had been prophesied of him by angelic lips that he would. As the forerunner of the Lord, his work of preparation was to turn the heart of the obdurate nation to their fathers, and to bend their spirit towards the father's mode of thinking that rejoiced in that justification which comes by faith. 5 Blazing in his righteous indignation, he rebuked the rulers for their spirit of unreasoning pride in their Jewishness:

Every word the messenger spoke was charged with significance. His blunt denunciation was not a rebuke of the public demeanour, which of course appeared outwardly righteous. He sought instead to challenge the far more insidious matter of their private reflections of self-worthiness.

Descent from Abraham meant nothing in itself, despite their confidence. The true offspring of Abraham were those who stood related to God and to His power operating in their lives. From the beginning, it had been the promise of Ail Shaddai that He would build the family of His friend, and so it was to be through all time.

First and foremost then, the seed of this illustrious couple were those who knew of and responded to God at work in their lives: His power not theirs; His wisdom not theirs. This was the common bond that bound all their children together, and it was not the bond of personal merit or inherent worthiness.

These children, everyone of them the subject of divine power in their lives, were the true inheritors of the epithet 'children of Abraham'. And since that power which fashioned them was so evidently from God above, there were no grounds for self glory, when God might just as easily have raised such seed to Abraham from the stones of the river.

The Baptist's stern words, administered as a corrective to national pride, did not mention Sarah directly, but he might have done so. For her role was implied in the course of his argument. Sarah, no less than Abraham, had herself been the subject of divine power, and the only son of Abraham who was produced by that same divine intervention was he who all the world knew to be the only begotten of Abraham and Sarah.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 9

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

...raising up children to Abraham from stones -- creating Israelites out of Gentiles upon the same principle that "Israelites indeed" were created out of mere natural Jews styled by Paul "Jews outwardly."

Peter, to whom the opening of the kingdom to the Gentiles was committed, went to the house of Cornelius upon this mission. He invited them to become Israelites in every respect except the accident of fleshly descent, which "profited nothing" in the begettal of sons to Deity.

When he recounted what he had done to the brethren, he told them that

"Deity put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."

And afterwards, when writing to these newly created Israelites, he says:

"Ye as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to the Deity through Jesus Christ."

Eureka 7.4

We have Abraham to our father

Pride in their ancestry, innate certainty in their inalienable right to possess the land, and of their unalterable position in God's purpose, were all based upon their link to Abraham by direct descent. It was as if God Himself was unable to undo His promises to the fathers. They were the chosen seed and nothing could, in their opinion, change their choosing.

It was high time indeed to review from whence they had sprung, and more particularly to establish what constituted them as Abraham's seed. This then was the issue of the day that confronted Christ and his disciples, an issue that would be met and challenged by them, in warning a people steeped in pride and hypocrisy.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 9

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

‭ ‬In the case of the wheat, at the proper time, the reaper appears, and cuts it down, gathers it together, and then separates the good ears from the chaff. He stores the wheat in his garner, but the chaff he burns or throws away.

Now to my mind,‭ ‬this is a most faithful picture in figure of the circumstances attending the judgment, as we are taught to understand it by Christ and his apostles; indeed it is a picture of the judgment that the Saviour himself paints for us in one of his parables.

Christ having effected his work as the fertilizer of the dormant seeds,‭ ‬now becomes the reaper, and proceeds, in exact analogy with the reaper of the grain, to separate the produce gathered before him: the good he admits into his garner-the kingdom of God; but the bad he rejects and destroys; and just as the grain of the farmer is not properly raised till it is placed in the storehouse, all clean and separated from the impurity which necessarily accompanied it in its growing state, so the believers in Jesus Christ do not arrive at the proper resurrected state-to that state spoken of by Christ as "in the resurrection"-until they have been winnowed by the winnowing fan of the judgment, and freed from all the imperfection that they necessarily possessed before that judgment process had been undergone.

Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1868

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. one knew that this unpretending carpenter was the one they were looking for.

After a word of protest from John, he is buried in the water. He rises: and, while all eyes are upon him, a shaft of light strikes from the heavens,

Nazareth Revisited Ch 5

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Had Jesus yielded to John (supposing the thing to have been possible), he would have stood before his nation as the High Priest of Israel, claiming to officiate in the Most Holy Place without baptism, a spectacle it had never seen before, nor ever will while the world stands.

But the symbolic righteousness of the Mosaic law not only required the High Priest to put on the Holy Vestments by having his body baptized, but it also commanded his Household to be baptized into theirs also.

The law reads thus:

"This is the thing Yahweh commanded to be done: and Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. And he put upon Aaron the coat, &c.; and he put coats upon his sons, and girded them with girdles, and put turbans upon them, as Yahweh commanded."

-Lev. 8:5, 6, 13; 16:4. *

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

To fulfil all righteousness

Shall it be said that it was necessary for the Melchisedec High Priest,‭ ‬who was innocent of transgression,‭ ‬and who,‭ ‬for thirty years,‭ ‬had enjoyed the favour of God and man,‭ ‬to be immersed in a baptism of repentance for remission of sins‭; ‬but that it was not necessary for the pious,‭ ‬who would compose his household,‭ ‬who are sinners by nature and practice‭?

Nay,‭ ‬if it were indispensable for Jesus to be buried in water,‭ ‬that he might begin an‭ (‬official‭) ‬career of holiness to Yahweh in coming up out of it,‭ ‬it is infinitely more so that all should tread in his steps of perfect faith and obedience,‭ ‬who would be invested with

‭ "‬robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb,‭"

having their loins girt around with the girdle of truth,‭ ‬and having on the breastplate of righteousness,‭ ‬and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,‭ ‬and in their hands the helmet of salvation.‭

An immersed High Priest requires an immersed household.‭ ‬There is one law for both,‭ ‬as there was one baptism for Jesus and his apostles‭; ‬on whom,‭ ‬as upon all others of the household,‭ ‬the necessity is imperative to fulfil all the righteousness foreshadowed in Aaron and his sons.‭ ‬There is no discharge from this necessity for Jew or Gentile

Bro Thomas

The Christadelphian, Nov 1873

Many have wondered why he should have been baptised, in view of the association of baptism with repentance and the remission of sins. There is no real occasion for quandary. There was a need for some circumstance or situation as the occasion for Christ's "manifestation" to Israel: and John's institution of baptism (first made an object of public attention in the way exhibited in chapters iv. and v.) was provided for this purpose.

Secondly, there was a fitness in Christ's submission to that ordinance, in view of the work he had come to do. Nay, we may go further and say there was a necessity. The work he had come to do was first of all a work of obedience in himself.

["By one man's obedience, shall many be made righteous" -- (Rom, v. 19). "He learnt obedience by (or in) the things that he suffered" (Heb. v. 8).]

Now, John's baptism was a matter of divine command. was no adaptation by John of a previously practised ceremony, but an institution of direct divine appointment. Consequently, submission to it was obligatory on every faithful Israelite.

Its observance was part of the "obedience" which Christ rendered. He had to be obedient in many things: for he was "made under the law," which imposed many duties, to all of which he had to conform in the process of extricating the faithful from the dominion of the law. He had to be obedient even unto death.

But he had to be obedient also at the hands of John. Without this submission, the "righteousness" he wrought out for repentant sinners would have been incomplete. Hence it is easy to understand his response to John's demur to baptise him.

"Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."

Whatever God appoints to be done is righteousness in the doing of it. For this reason, Christ's baptism in the Jordan was part of the righteousness he developed.

But why, it has been asked, should he who was sinless be called upon to submit to an institution which was for the remission of sin? We need not ask this question. It is sufficient if God required him to submit to it. But the question will be asked, rejoins the curious; and there ought to be an answer. Well, and there is an answer.

Although Jesus was not a transgressor by his own action he was partaker, for the time being, of a sin-constitution of things. He was born into a state that was evil because of sin: and he partook of all the evil of that state, even unto death itself, working in the nature he bore as the son of Mary. It was to open a way out of that evil state for man that he was

"made of a woman, under the law."

The way had to be opened conformably with the divine principles involved. A beginning had to be made with himself, as the foundation on which other men could build.

In the first instance, as "the son of David, the son of Abraham," he was as much subject to the reign of death, established in Adam's race by sin, as any of those he came to redeem. His mission was to break into this reign of death by obedience, death and resurrection, illustrating and establishing God's righteousness in all its bearings.

For his sake, men's sins were to be forgiven. Therefore, he was "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." In view of all this, it was not incongruous -- on the contrary, it was in beautiful harmony with his work, that, on the threshold of the public phase of it, he should be called upon to submit to a ritual act which symbolised the putting away of sin.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 11.

God said to Moses: and elsewhere he says that "the Jews have the model of the knowledge and of the truth in the law." From which, and other passages that can be adduced, it is evident that the following proposition is true, namely,That the Mosaic System of Righteousness is symbolical of the Righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.

Definition. - By "Mosaic System of Righteousness" is meant, All that was necessary to sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, but which could not free the conscience from sin. To impart this carnal purification to the worshipper a High Priest and his Household, distinct from the other classes of the Jewish nation, legally inaugurated and sanctified, were necessary; also a tabernacle, sacrifices, washings, &c., &c.

Definition. - By the "Righteousness of God" is meant, A justification from all past sins devised and enjoined by God-a purification of the heart, or conscience, without the necessity of obeying the law of Moses (which since the Destruction of Jerusalem cannot be kept) but attested by that law and the prophets-a justification through Jesus Christ's faith δια πιστεως Ιησου Ξριστου dia pisteōs Jēsou Christou) that is, through belief of what He and his apostles preached concerning the Kingdom of God and his Name (Acts 8:12): in other words, through belief of the Gospel to all that shall put on Christ-Gal. 3:27.

-The "Righteousness of God" is the "Gospel of the Kingdom, " sometimes called "the gospel of Christ, " and often simply "the gospel, " which Paul says,

"is the power of God for salvation of every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek," or Gentile.*

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

And thus John's work came to its culminating point. Its particular object was now accomplished, Jesus, by its means, was manifested to Israel under circumstances that made the introduction effectual, and free from doubt.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 5

...clearly evincing that he must first have gone down into it.

And now, mark this well-After he had done this, God acknowledged him as His son, and declared himself well pleased with him.-Mat. 3:13-17. Jesus had been God's most excellent Son for thirty years, but He withheld His acknowledgment of him till he commenced a course of obedience in being baptized.

Jesus was a Jew under the law of Moses. When, therefore, he spoke of the "all righteousness" to be "fulfilled," he spoke of the necessity of doing what was signified by the propheto-symbolic institutions of the Mosaic Law.

Jesus being the Anointed Seed long promised of God, was therefore the High Priest who was to arise after the similitude, likeness, or order of Melchizedec, and to sit upon his throne as a priest upon his throne, and to bear the glory (Zech. 6.). This being so, he would have at some future time to occupy the place formerly held by Aaron; and as the Aaronic Inauguration was representative of the Melchizedec, Jesus had to be consecrated after the same example or type, that in so doing he might antitypically fulfil the representation of the law.*

*Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, March 1855

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It was not necessary to prove his obedience, for this had been abundantly put to the test during a whole life without sin. There was a deeper reason: and in the contemplation of this deeper reason, we may understand how the death of Christ was "a sweet-smelling savour" to the Eternal Father. This deeper reason is hinted at by Paul in the statements that, God thus "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3) and set forth Christ crucified as a declaration of his righteousness (3:25) in the destruction of the devil having the power of death (Heb. 2:14) that "the body of sin might be destroyed" (Rom. 6:6, 10).

When we apprehend the principle that underlies these phrases, we may understand how the tragedy which they describe should be to God "an odour of a sweet smell." The principle involved is the supremacy of God and the absolute ascendancy of His will in the ways of man. This principle was set aside in the transgression of our first parents, and has been set aside ever since in the life of their posterity-in consequence of which, death reigns.

Sunday Morning 299