And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
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the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel, and the ministry of it, first by John, then by Christ and his apostles,
suffereth violence; or "comes with force", and power upon the souls of men: it was attended with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; as appeared by its being the means of quickening persons that were dead in trespasses and sins; enlightening the blind; causing the deaf to hear; melting and softening hearts of stone; making, of enemies, friends to God and Christ; turning men from the power of Satan unto God; setting at liberty such as were slaves and vassals to their own corruptions; and, in a word, in being the power of God unto salvation, to many souls: and which was further seen, in the manner it did all this; suddenly, secretly, powerfully, and effectually, and yet not against the wills of men; and by such instruments as the apostles were, poor, sinful, mortal men; despised by the world, and attended with opposition and persecution: or "suffers violence"; which may be understood, either of the vast numbers, that pressed and crowded to hear the Gospel preached: great numbers followed John, when he first began to preach, and baptize: still a greater number followed Christ, some to hear his doctrine, others to see his miracles, others to behold his person, others out of selfish ends; and some behaved rudely and indecently: or of the ardour and fervency of spirit, which appeared in some, to the ministry of John and Christ, and in their desires and expectations of the kingdom of the Messiah: or of the Gospel's suffering violence by the persecutions of its enemies opposing and contradicting it, reproaching it, intimidating the professors of it, and seeking to take away the life of Christ, the great subject of it:
and the violent take it by force; meaning either publicans, and harlots, and Gentile sinners; who might be thought to be a sort of intruders: or rather the same persons, as being powerfully wrought upon under the ministry of the Gospel; who were under violent apprehensions of wrath and vengeance, of their lost and undone state and condition by nature; were violently in love with Christ, and eagerly desirous of salvation by him, and communion with him; and had their affections set upon the things of another world: these having the Gospel preached to them, which is a declaration of God's love to sinners, a proclamation of peace and pardon, and a publication of righteousness and life by Christ, they greedily catched at it, and embraced it.And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.From the days of John the Baptist until now, etc. The idea is, that from the time when John began preaching, men of violence were trying to force their way into the kingdom. It is compared to a walled city that men try to storm and enter. They tried a little later to make Jesus a king by force.Verse 12. - It is curious that in St. Luke's account of this speech of our Lord's he should omit our vers. 12-14 (on ver. 15, see note there), thus leaving out all Christ's plainer and more direct teaching about the relation of John to himself. St. Luke places (Luke 16:16) our vers. 12 and 13 in what appears to be merely a cento of sayings. Possibly the original occasion has been recorded by neither evangelist, but in Matthew the passage certainly brings out the thought upon which our Lord was insisting on this occasion. And. Slightly adversative (δέ), for there is a change of subject. Christ urges his hearers to more definitely range themselves under his banner. From the days of John the Baptist until now. Yet this was not more than a few months! Possibly the sentence had become modified in oral teaching, so as to include many years, say up to A.D. or 60. St. Luke's ἀπὸ τότε is easy enough. Observe the implied success of John's work as herald. He so prepared the way that men were eager to enter the kingdom which he had said was at hand. The kingdom of heaven. The realm ruled over by Messiah, of which the then community of believers was the earnest (vide Introduction, p. 25.). Suffereth violence (βιάζεται). In Luke it is middle, "Every man entereth violently into it;" and though it is certainly passive here, St. Luke's phrase compels us to understand the reason of the violence to be entrance into the kingdom. The kingdom is not ill treated, but it is as it were taken by storm (Meyer). Nosgen strangely understands the phrase to mean that the kingdom is set forward with power, and he would apparently see in "the violent" a special reference to our Lord and John. And the violent; and men of violence (Revised Version); καὶ βιασταί: only they; men whose mind is made up and who care not what force and power they employ to attain their object. Take it by force; ἁρπάζζουσιν αὐτήν, "grasp it for themselves," like rough and violent bandits seizing their prey. Weiss sees in this verse blame of the politico-Messianic endeavours to hasten the completion of the kingdom. This explanation is good in itself (cf. John 6:15), but disconnects the verse from its context. Our Lord is describing the energy with which some souls are pressing in, and urging the need of such energy if salvation is to be obtained.
It has been much disputed whether the "violence" here is external, as against the kingdom in the persons of John the Baptist and Jesus; or that, considering the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees, only the violently resolute would press into it. Both things are true. The King and His herald suffered violence, and this is the primary and greater meaning, but also, some were resolutely becoming disciples. CF Lk 16:16.
suffereth violence, and the violent take. or, is gotten by force, and they that thrust men take, etc.
Lit., is forced, overpowered, taken by storm. Christ thus graphically portrays the intense excitement which followed John's ministry; the eager waiting, striving, and struggling of the multitude for the promised king.
The violent take it by force (βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν)
This was proved by the multitudes who followed Christ and thronged the doors where he was, and would have taken him by force (the same word) and made him a king (John 6:15). The word take by force means literally to snatch away, carry off. It is often used in the classics of plundering. Meyer renders, Those who use violent efforts, drag it to themselves. So Tynd., They that make violence pull it unto them. Christ speaks of believers. They seize upon the kingdom and make it their own. The Rev., men of violence, is too strong, since it describes a class of habitually and characteristically violent men; whereas the violence in this case is the result of a special and exceptional impulse. The passage recalls the old Greek proverb quoted by Plato against the Sophists, who had corrupted the Athenian youth by promising the easy attainment of wisdom: Good things are hard. Dante has seized the idea:
"Regnum coelorum (the kingdom of heaven) suffereth violence
From fervent love, and from that living hope
That overcometh the divine volition;
Not in the guise that man o'ercometh man,
But conquers it because it will be conquered,
And conquered, conquers by benignity."
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