The Matthean Community in Early Christianity
Chapter 5. The Kingdom of Heaven and the Matthean Community
Chapter5.TheKingdomofHeavenandtheMattheanCommunity In the material unique to Matthew there are at least seventeen explicit references to the Kingdom of Heaven/ God, some of them embedded in material of significant length and importance in the Gospel.1 It will be claimed that many of them underline the intimate relationship between the Kingdom and the church, which, if it can be shown to be the case, has the potential to provide valuable insights into the Matthean Community and the claims it made for itself. Many, however, strongly disagree that there is any link made by the Gospel between the Kingdom and the church, so such a link will first need to be demonstrated to exist before any use can be made of it in this study. 5.1.ProtestsagainstlinkingtheKingdomofHeavenwiththeChurch Many scholars have raised protests against any identification of the church and the Kingdom of God. Says John Bright: There is no tendency in the New Testament to identify the visible church with the Kingdom of God. The church that makes such an identification will soon begin to invite God to endorse its own very human policies and practices, will equate the people of God with those nice people who share its particular beliefs and participate in its services, and will reckon the advance of the Kingdom in terms of its numerical growth. But it will not be the New Testament church! 2 Bright is not alone in denying any linkage between the Kingdom and the Church. George Eldon Ladd also strongly denies the identification, and backs...
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