Luke 17:20
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
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(20) When he was demanded of the Pharisees.—The question may have been asked in a different tone, by different classes of those who bore the common name of Pharisee. There were some who were really looking for the coming of the Messianic kingdom; there were some who altogether rejected the claim of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ. In the lips of the one set, the question implied a taunt; in those of the other, something like impatience. The terms of the answer contain that which met both cases.

Cometh not with observation.—The English noun exactly answers to the meaning of the Greek, as meaning careful and anxious watching. There was, perhaps, a special force in the word, as referring to the two forms of “watching” of which our Lord had been the object. Some of the Pharisees had “observed” Him once and again with a purpose more or less hostile. (Comp. Luke 6:7; Luke 14:1; Mark 3:2; where the Greek verb is that from which the noun here used is derived.) Others were looking for some sign from heaven, to show that He was the promised Head of the Kingdom. They are told that when it comes it will not be in conjunction with any such “observation” of outward things; it would burst upon them suddenly. In the meantime they must look for the signs of its presence in quite another region. The marginal reading, “outward shew”—that which is subject to observation—though giving an adequate meaning, is rather a paraphrase than a translation.

Luke 17:20-21. When he was demanded of the Pharisees — It is uncertain whether what is here mentioned took place while our Lord was on his journey, or after he came to Jerusalem; when the kingdom of God should come — That is, when the kingdom of the Messiah, which they had learned to term the kingdom of God, was to commence? They had very grand notions of the extent of the Messiah’s kingdom, of the number of his subjects, the strength of his armies, the pomp and eclat of his court, and were eager to hear of its being speedily erected. Or, being inveterate enemies of Christ, they might possibly ask the question in derision, because every thing about Jesus was very unlike to the Messiah whom they expected. He answered, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation — With such outward pomp as draws the observation of mankind: or, as Dr. Whitby explains the expression, not with that royal splendour or worldly grandeur which shall render it conspicuous in the eyes of the world, as you expect. Neither shall they say, Lo here, or, Lo there — This shall not be the language of those who are, or shall be, sent by me to declare the coming of my kingdom, nor shall men seek for it in this or that place, saying, Lo, it is here, or, Lo, it is there; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you — It is an internal, spiritual kingdom; erected in the hearts of men, consisting in the subjection of their wills to the will of God, and in the conformity of their minds to his laws. Wherever it exists, it exists in men’s hearts. See Romans 14:17. Or, as our Lord was addressing the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, and cannot be understood as speaking of the power his kingdom had gained over their hearts, whose temper was entirely alienated from the nature and design of it; the clause, perhaps, ought rather to be rendered, The kingdom of God is among you. Thus Beza, Raphelius, Whitby, Doddridge, and many others understand it: namely, as signifying that the Messiah’s kingdom began now to appear among them, the gospel of the kingdom being now preached, miracles, in confirmation of it, being wrought, and the grace of God, which accompanied it, turning many sinners from the evil of their ways, and transforming them into the divine image. Thus Grotius paraphrases the passage, “Already among you;” that is, “among this very Jewish people, that kingdom begins to exert its power; you not observing it, and an evident sign of this are miracles. Accordingly, Matthew 12:28, Christ speaks to the same Pharisees after this manner: If I, by the finger of God, cast out devils, then is the kingdom of God come nigh unto you; or rather, come upon, or among you, (as εφθασεν εφυμας, properly means,) where, by the word you, the whole Jewish people are in like manner intended.” See also Matthew 21:43, where our Lord says, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you.

17:20-37 The kingdom of God was among the Jews, or rather within some of them. It was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the heart by the power of Divine grace. Observe how it had been with sinners formerly, and in what state the judgments of God, which they had been warned of, found them. Here is shown what a dreadful surprise this destruction will be to the secure and sensual. Thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. When Christ came to destroy the Jewish nation by the Roman armies, that nation was found in such a state of false security as is here spoken of. In like manner, when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, sinners will be found altogether regardless; for in like manner the sinners of every age go on securely in their evil ways, and remember not their latter end. But wherever the wicked are, who are marked for eternal ruin, they shall be found by the judgments of God.Was demanded - Was asked.

Of the Pharisees - This was a matter of much importance to them, and they had taught that it would come with parade and pomp. It is not unlikely that they asked this merely in "contempt," and for the purpose of drawing out something that would expose him to ridicule.

The kingdom of God - The "reign" of God; or the dispensation under the Messiah. See the notes at Matthew 3:2.

With observation - With scrupulous and attentive looking for it, or with such an appearance as to "attract" observation - that is, with pomp, majesty, splendor. He did not deny that, according to their views, the time was drawing near; but he denied that his kingdom would come in the "manner" in which they expected. The Messiah would "not" come with pomp like an earthly prince; perhaps not in such a manner as to be "discerned" by the eyes of sagacious and artful people, who were expecting him in a way agreeable to their own feelings. The kingdom of God is "within" people, and it makes its way, not by pomp and noise, but by silence, decency, and order, 1 Corinthians 14:40.

Lu 17:20-37. Coming of the Kingdom of God and of the Son of Man.

20-25. when, &c.—To meet the erroneous views not only of the Pharisees, but of the disciples themselves, our Lord addresses both, announcing the coming of the kingdom under different aspects.

It cometh not with observation—with watching or lying in wait, as for something outwardly imposing and at once revealing itself.

Whether the Pharisees spake this deriding him, who in his discourses had been often mentioning a kingdom of God to come, or in simple seriousness, for they generally expected the coming of a Messiah, and a secular kingdom, which he should exercise in the earth, particularly over the Jews, (having first destroyed the Gentiles), is very hard to determine; their mean opinion of Christ inclineth some to think the former; their generally received opinion about the kingdom of the Messiah giveth some countenance to the latter. Our Saviour’s answer fitteth them, whatsoever they intended by their question:

The kingdom of God (saith he) cometh not meta parathrhsewv, with observation. The word signifies a scrupulous and superstitious observation. Thus the verb from whence it cometh signifieth, Galatians 4:10. The verb also signifies a captious observation, Mark 3:2 Luke 6:7 14:1 Luke 20:20 Acts 9:24. But that sense cannot agree to the noun used in this place. The generality of the best interpreters agree the sense here to be, with external pomp and splendour; and therefore Beza expounds the noun here by a periphrasis, ita ut observari poterit, in such a manner as it can be observed. As if he had said, Men have taken up a false notion of my kingdom, as if it were to be a secular kingdom to be set up in the world, with a great deal of noise, and pomp, and splendour, so as men may observe it and gaze upon its coming. But that which I call my kingdom is not of this nature. Our Lord expounds it in the next verse:

The kingdom of God is within you; it is of a spiritual nature, not obvious to human senses, but exercised over the hearts of my people. Whether our Saviour speaketh this in reply to the Pharisees, or (as some think) beginning a discourse with his disciples, which he further pursueth, I cannot determine.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees,.... Or "asked" by them; who expected the Messiah, and that when he was come he would set up a temporal kingdom, and deliver them from the Roman yoke; when they should enjoy great liberty, peace, and prosperity; so that they might put the following question to Christ in a serious manner, agreeably to these expectations: or it may be occasioned by the frequent mention that had been made of the kingdom of God by John, and Christ, and his disciples in their ministry, and so be put in a way of derision; or, as most of their questions were, with a view to ensnare or puzzle:

when the kingdom of God should come; either the kingdom that God had promised, or the kingdom of the Messiah, who is truly God, that had been so often spoken of by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles. The Ethiopic version reads, "the kingdom of heaven", which is the same with the kingdom of God; for these phrases are promiscuously used. This question they need not have asked, had they carefully attended to the writings of the Old Testament they had in their hands; and had they diligently observed the signs of the times, in which they lived; and had they seriously regarded the ministry and miracles of Christ among them; from these things, they might have concluded, not only that the time was at hand, when the kingdom of God should be set up, but that it was already come: they might have observed, that not only the harbinger of the Messiah was come, who was John the Baptist; but that the Messiah himself was among them, by the many wonderful things which he wrought among them, and by the many Scripture prophecies which were fulfilled in him; they might have seen that the sceptre was manifestly departing from Judah; that all power and authority were falling into the hands of the Romans; and that only a mere shadow and appearance of it were among them; they might have known, by calculation, that the time fixed in Daniel's prophecy, for the coming of the Messiah, was now up, and therefore he must be come; and they had very good reason to believe that Jesus was he.

He answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation; or so as to be observed by the eye, or to be distinguished when it comes as the kingdoms of this world, by outward pomp and splendour, by temporal riches, external honours, and worldly power and grandeur; though it so far came with observation, that had they had eyes to see, they might have observed that it was come, by what they saw done by Christ, particularly the power that he showed in the dispossessing devils out of the bodies of men; see Matthew 12:28. The Syriac version reads, "with observations"; and some understand the words of the observances of the ceremonies of the law, of days, months, and years, and the difference of meats, and the like, which the kingdom of God is not in, and which were to cease upon its coming; but the former sense is best.

{7} And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with {b} observation:

(7) The kingdom of God is not discerned by many although it is most present before their eyes, because they foolishly persuade themselves that it is to come with outward pomp.

(b) With any outward pomp and show of majesty to be known by: for there were still many plain and evident tokens by which men might have understood that Christ was the Messiah, whose kingdom had been so long looked for: but he speaks in this place of those signs which the Pharisees dreamed of, who looked for an earthly Messianic kingdom.

Luke 17:20-21. What follows, and indeed as far as Luke 18:30, still belongs to these border villages, Luke 17:12. It is not till Luke 18:31 that the further journey is intimated, on which, at Luke 18:35, follows the approach to Jericho.

To consider the question of the Pharisees as a mocking one (Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Calvin, Paulus, Kuinoel, and others), is unfounded. According to the analogy of other Pharisaic questions, and according to the indirect manner of the answer of Jesus, an intention to tempt Him is rather to be supposed. They wished to perplex Him, since he represented Himself by words and (as just at this moment) by deeds as the Messiah, by the problem, When is the kingdom of Messiah coming?

μετὰ παρατηρήσεως] μετά of accompanying circumstances (Bernhardy, p. 255): under observation, i.e. the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom is not so conditioned that this coming could be observed as a visible development, or that it could be said, in consequence of such observation, that here or there is the kingdom. See what follows. The coming is ἀπαρατήρητον—it developes itself unnoticed. This statement, however, does not deny that the kingdom is a thing of the future (Ewald: “as something which should first come in the future, as a wonderful occurrence, and for which men must first be on the watch”), but only that in its approach it will meet the eye. In the signification of watching and waiting for, παρατήρησις would convey the idea of malice (insidiosa observatio, Polybius, xvi. 22. 8); but in the further descriptive οὐδέ (not even) ἐροῦσιν κ.τ.λ., is implied only the denial of the visibility of the event which, developing itself (“gradatim et successive,” Bengel), might be able to be observed (comp. παρατήρησις τῶν ἄστρων, Diod. Sic. i. 28). But if the advent of the kingdom happens in such a manner that it cannot be subjected to human observation, it is thereby at the same time asserted that neither can any limited point of time when it shall come (πότε, Luke 17:20) be specified. The idea: with pomp (Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, comp. Kuinoel and others), conveys more than the text, which, moreover, does not indicate any reference to heathenish astrology or augury (Lange).

οὐδὲ ἐροῦσιν] Grotius aptly says: “non erit quod dicatur.” On the more definite future after the more general present, see Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 368 f.

ἰδοὺ γάρ] a lively and emphatic repetition of the ἰδού at the beginning of the argument urged against them. This, as well as the repetition of the subject, ἡ βασιλ. τ. Θεοῦ, has in it something solemn.

ἐντὸς ὑμῶν] the contrary of ἐκτός, ἔξω: intra vos, in your circle, in the midst of you. Comp. Xen. Anab. i. 10. 3 : ὁπόσα ἐντὸς αὐτῶν καὶ χρήματα καὶ ἄνθρωποι ἐγίνοντο; Hell, ii. 3. 19; Thuc. vii. 5. 3; Dem. 977. 7; Plat. Leg. vii. p. 789 A: ἐντος τῶν ἑαυτῶν μητέρων; Aelian, Hist. ii. 5. 15. So Euthymius Zigabenus, Beza, Grotius, Calovius, Wolf, Bengel, and others, including Kuinoel, Paulus, Schleiermacher, Fleck in Winer’s Exeg. Stud. I. p. 150 ff., Bornemann, Kaeuffer, De ζωῆς αἰ. not. p. 51, de Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 146. In the midst of them the Messianic kingdom was, so far as He, the Messiah, was and worked (comp. Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28) among them (μέσος ὑμῶν, John 1:26). For where He was and worked, He, the legitimate King and Bearer of the kingdom, ordained thereto of the Father (Luke 22:29), there was the Messianic kingdom (which was to be formally and completely established at the Parousia) in its temporal development, like the seed, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven, etc. Rightly, therefore, does Jesus argue (γάρ) from the ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν that it comes unnoticed, and not in an appearance to be observed, wherein He certainly evades the point of the Pharisaic question which referred to the currently expected appearing of the kingdom (comp. Luke 9:27, Luke 21:28) in so far as the ἔρχεσθαι, which He means refers to the development in time; an evasion, however, which was fully calculated to make them feel the impudent prying spirit of the question they had started, and to bring near to the questioners the highest practical necessity in respect of the coming of the kingdom (the perception of the Messiah who was already in the midst of them). If others[218] have explained ἐντὸς ὑμῶν by in animis vestris (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Vatablus, and others, including Ch. F. Fritzsche in Rosenmüller, Repert. II. p. 154 ff., Olshausen, Glöckler, Schaubach in the Stud. u. Krit. 1845, p. 169 ff., Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Schegg), there is, it is true, no objection to be raised on the score of grammar (comp. Plat. Tim. p. 45 B, Soph. p. 263 E, Pol. iii. p. 401 D; Psalm 38:4; Psalm 109:22; Psalm 103:1; Sir 19:23; Matthew 23:26); but it is decidedly opposed to this that ὑμῶν refers to the Pharisees, in whose hearts nothing certainly found a place less than did the ethical kingdom of God,[219] as well as the fact that the idea itself—to wit, of the kingdom of God, as of an ethical condition in the internal nature of the Ego (“a divine-human heart-phenomenon,” Lange)—is modern, not historico-biblical (not even contained in Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:13).

[218] So also Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 1080, yet blending with it the other explanation.

[219] Quite opposed to the words of the passage is the evasion of Olshausen, that the expression only establishes the possibility of the reception of the Pharisees into the kingdom, inasmuch as the inwardness of its revelation is laid down as its general criterion.

Luke 17:20-37. Concerning the coming of the Kingdom and the advent of the Son of Man. In this section the words of Jesus are distributed between Pharisees and disciples, possibly according to the evangelist’s impression as to the audience they suited. Weiffenbach (Wiederkunftsgedanke Jesu, p. 217) suggests that the words in Luke 17:20-21 were originally addressed to disciples who did not yet fully understand the inward spiritual character of the Kingdom of God. I am inclined to attach some weight to this suggestion. I am sure at any rate that it is not helpful to a true understanding of Christ’s sayings to lay much stress on Lk.’s historical introductions to them.

20-37. The ‘When?’ and ‘Where?’ of the Kingdom of God.

. And when he was demanded of the Pharisees] Literally, “But being further questioned by the Pharisees.”

should come
] Literally, “is coming.” They seem to have asked with impatient irony, ‘When is all this preparation and preaching to end, and the New Kingdom to begin?’

with observation] i.e. by narrow, curious watching. See Luke 14:1. He implies that their entire point of view is mistaken; they were peering about for great external signs, and overlooking the slow and spiritual processes which were at work before their eyes.

Luke 17:20. Πότε, when) They ask rather concerning the time, than concerning the place, which without dispute (or distinction) they supposed would be Jerusalem. The Lord answers both concerning the time and concerning the place, but in a way widely different from what they were supposing. Comp. Luke 17:37, ch. Luke 19:11, et seqq. [All along from Luke 17:20 to ch. Luke 18:14 there is one continued reply to that question of theirs; and those particulars which we have in ch. Luke 17:22-37, were repeated by the Saviour on the occasion recorded in Matthew 24, etc.—Harm., p. 419. It is a course full of danger, to neglect present duties, and then to extend the exercise of our prudence forward to what is future.—V. g.]—μετὰ παρατηρήσεως, with observation) with such pageant as that one can gradually and successively observe the πότε and the ὧδε, the time and the place. The correlatives are: the messengers, whom these who are observing [i.e. who are on the look out, as if the kingdom of God came with observation] would wish to say, here or there: and these observers themselves, who require to know the here or there.

Verse 20. - And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come. The following discourse of the Lord in reply to the Pharisee's question, 'When cometh the kingdom? was delivered, clearly, in the closing days of the ministry, probably just before the Passover Feast, and in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The query was certainly not put in a friendly spirit. The questioners had evidently caught the drift of much of our Lord's late teaching, and had seen how plainly he was alluding to himself as Messiah. This seems to have been the starting-point of their bitter, impatient inquiry. We must remember that the great rabbinic schools in which these Pharisees had received their training connected the coming of Messiah with a grand revival of Jewish power. If in reality this Galilaean Rabbi, with his strange powers, his new doctrines, his scathing words of reproach which he was ever presuming to address to the leaders in Israel, - if in reality he were Messiah, when was that golden age, which the long looked-for Hope of Israel was to introduce, to commence? But the words, we can well conceive, were spoken with the bitterest irony. With what scorn those proud, rich men from Jerusalem looked on the friendless Teacher of Galilee, we know. We seem to hear the muttering which accompanied the question: "Thou our King Messiah!" The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. This answer of our Lord's may be paraphrased: "The kingdom of God cometh not in conjunction with such observation and watching for external glorious things as now exist among you here. Lo, it will burst upon you suddenly, unawares." The English word "observation" answers to the signification of the Greek as meaning a singularly anxious watching. Luke 17:20With observation (μετὰ παρατηρήσεως)

Only here in New Testament. The progress of the kingdom cannot be defined by visible marks like that of an earthly kingdom. Its growth in the world is a process of pervasion, like the working of the leaven through the lump.

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