Question: "What does it mean that the kingdom of God suffers violence?"and violence taketh it by force. HOW to apply in practical ways?
Here’s my answer:
Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God suffers violence is found in the context of His commendation of John the Baptist: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force”
Matthew 11:12 (NKJV) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,and violent people have been raiding it.
This is indeed a puzzling verse at first. How can God’s kingdom suffer, and what do violent people have to do with it?
The context in which Jesus made the statement is very important here. As already mentioned, Jesus is speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist’s ministry. Immediately before His statement that the kingdom of God suffers violence, Jesus honors John as the greatest prophet.
Matthew 11:11(NKJV) Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Immediately following His statement, Jesus says that that John was the crowning moment of the Old Testament revelation and the one who fulfilled the prophecy
of Malachi 4:5.
Matthew 11:13-14 (NKJV) For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
Malachi 4:5 (NKJV) “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
Jesus then speaks the familiar words “whoever has ears, let them hear”
Matthew 11:15 (NKJV) Whoever has ears, let them hear.
This suggests that He has been speaking figuratively.
Next we need to compare Scripture with Scripture. One thing about John the Baptist’s ministry was the big crowds of people who came to hear him.
Mark 1:4-5 (NKJV) 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
These crowds were very loyal to John. Those who responded to John’s message of the coming Messiah included people who some thought would never repent, including tax collectors and prostitutes and Roman soldiers.
Matthew 21:31-32 (NKJV)31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.
This crowd believed John to be a true prophet of God, and they were adamant about it.
Matthew 14:1-5 (NKJV)1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus2 and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.
4 Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
Mark 11:29-32 (NKJV)29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things:
30 The baptism of John--was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me."
31 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?'32 But if we say, 'From men' "--they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed.
The pressing multitudes that had followed John continued to follow Jesus’ ministry.
Luke 12:1 (NKJV)1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
This is the key to understanding Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God suffers violence. Pointing to the huge crowds that followed John and that were now following Him, Jesus likens them to an invading army surrounding a city to capture it.
Jesus’ statement that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence” is a graphic picture of the enthusiasm and excitement generated by John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ teaching. People were hungry for the truth and would not be kept away. For centuries, God’s prophets had predicted the Messiah’s coming, and now that the Messiah was here, nothing could hold back the flood of people pressing into the kingdom. We see some of this in, when some men literally tore through a roof to get to Jesus and, when a crowd “intended to come and make him king by force.”
Luke 5:18-19 (NKJV)18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
John 6:15 (NKJV)15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
We should take note of the response of the believing people in Jesus’ day and share their passion. Knowing Christ has come should create in us and a striving to be closer to Him. There is no place for lack of interest or uncertainty in the follower of Jesus Christ.