COVENANT — a contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word berish is always thus translated. berish is derived from a root which means “to cut,” and hence a covenant is a “cutting,” with reference to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant (Gen. 15; Jer. 34:18, 19).
The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is diatheke, which is, however, rendered “testament” generally in the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the word berish of the Old Testament, “covenant.”
This word is used (1.) of a covenant or compact between man and man (Gen. 21:32), or between tribes or nations (1 Sam. 11:1; Josh. 9:6, 15). In entering into a convenant, Jehovah was solemnly called on to witness the transaction (Gen. 31:50), and hence it was called a “covenant of the Lord” (1 Sam. 20:8). The marriage compact is called “the covenant of God” (Prov. 2:17), because the marriage was made in God’s name. Wicked men are spoken of as acting as if they had made a “covenant with death” not to destroy them, or with hell not to devour them (Isa. 28:15, 18).
(2.) The word is used with reference to God’s revelation of himself in the way of promise or of favour to men. Thus God’s promise to Noah after the Flood is called a covenant (Gen. 9; Jer. 33:20, “my covenant”). We have an account of God’s covernant with Abraham (Gen. 17, comp. Lev. 26:42), of the covenant of the priesthood (Num. 25:12, 13; Deut. 33:9; Neh. 13:29), and of the covenant of Sinai (Ex. 34:27, 28; Lev. 26:15), which was afterwards renewed at different times in the history of Israel (Deut. 29; Josh. 24; 2 Chr. 15; 23; 29; 34; Ezra 10; Neh. 9). In conformity with human custom, God’s covenant is said to be confirmed with an oath (Deut. 4:31; Ps. 89:3), and to be accompanied by a sign (Gen. 9; 17). Hence the covenant is called God’s “counsel,” “oath,” “promise” (Ps. 89:3, 4; 105:8–11; Heb. 6:13–20; Luke 1:68–75). God’s covenant consists wholly in the bestowal of blessing (Isa. 59:21; Jer. 31:33, 34).
The term covenant is also used to designate the regular succession of day and night (Jer. 33:20), the Sabbath (Ex. 31:16), circumcision (Gen. 17:9, 10), and in general any ordinance of God (Jer. 34:13, 14).
A “covenant of salt” signifies an everlasting covenant, in the sealing or ratifying of which salt, as an emblem of perpetuity, is used (Num. 18:19; Lev. 2:13; 2 Chr. 13:5).
COVENANT OF WORKS, the constitution under which Adam was placed at his creation. In this covenant, (1.) The contracting parties were (a) God the moral Governor, and (b) Adam, a free moral agent, and representative of all his natural posterity (Rom. 5:12–19). (2.) The promise was “life” (Matt. 19:16, 17; Gal. 3:12). (3.) The condition was perfect obedience to the law, the test in this case being abstaining from eating the fruit of the “tree of knowledge,” etc. (4.) The penalty was death (Gen. 2:16, 17).
This covenant is also called a covenant of nature, as made with man in his natural or unfallen state; a covenant of life, because “life” was the promise attached to obedience; and a legal covenant, because it demanded perfect obedience to the law.
The “tree of life” was the outward sign and seal of that life which was promised in the covenant, and hence it is usually called the seal of that covenant.
This covenant is abrogated under the gospel, inasmuch as Christ has fulfilled all its conditions in behalf of his people, and now offers salvation on the condition of faith. It is still in force, however, as it rests on the immutable justice of God, and is binding on all who have not fled to Christ and accepted his righteousness.
CONVENANT OF GRACE, the eternal plan of redemption entered into by the three persons of the Godhead, and carried out by them in its several parts. In it the Father represented the Godhead in its indivisible sovereignty, and the Son his people as their surety (John 17:4, 6, 9; Isa. 42:6; Ps. 89:3).
The conditions of this covenant were, (1.) On the part of the Father (a) all needful preparation to the Son for the accomplishment of his work (Heb. 10:5; Isa. 42:1–7); (b) support in the work (Luke 22:43); and (c) a glorious reward in the exaltation of Christ when his work was done (Phil. 2:6–11), his investiture with universal dominion (John 5:22; Ps. 110:1), his having the administration of the covenant committed into his hands (Matt. 28:18; John 1:12; 17:2; Acts 2:33), and in the final salvation of all his people (Isa. 35:10; 53:10, 11; Jer. 31:33; Titus 1:2). (2.) On the part of the Son the conditions were (a) his becoming incarnate (Gal. 4:4, 5); and (b) as the second Adam his representing all his people, assuming their place and undertaking all their obligations under the violated covenant of works; (c) obeying the law (Ps. 40:8; Isa. 42:21; John 9:4, 5), and (d) suffering its penalty (Isa. 53; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13), in their stead.
Christ, the mediator of, fulfils all its conditions in behalf of his people, and dispenses to them all its blessings. In Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24, this title is given to Christ. (See DISPENSATION.) 1

LAW — a rule of action. (1.) The Law of Nature is the will of God as to human conduct, founded on the moral difference of things, and discoverable by natural light (Rom. 1:20; 2:14, 15). This law binds all men at all times. It is generally designated by the term conscience, or the capacity of being influenced by the moral relations of things.
(2.) The Ceremonial Law prescribes under the Old Testament the rites and ceremonies of worship. This law was obligatory only till Christ, of whom these rites were typical, had finished his work (Heb. 7:9, 11; 10:1; Eph. 2:16). It was fulfilled rather than abrogated by the gospel.
(3.) The Judicial Law, the law which directed the civil policy of the Hebrew nation.
(4.) The Moral Law is the revealed will of God as to human conduct, binding on all men to the end of time. It was promulgated at Sinai. It is perfect (Ps. 19:7), perpetual (Matt. 5:17, 18), holy (Rom. 7:12), good, spiritual (14), and exceeding broad (Ps. 119:96). Although binding on all, we are not under it as a covenant of works (Gal. 3:17). (See COMMANDMENTS.)
(5.) Positive Laws are precepts founded only on the will of God. They are right because God commands them.
(6.) Moral positive laws are commanded by God because they are right. 1

I. In the Old Testament

a. Terminology
The term tora is used in some instances in the OT for law in general. In the great majority of cases it is used for commandments in the vetitive (‘you shall not do this’), imperative (‘do this’) and jussive (‘you shall do this’). It is a commandment from a person of higher authority to a lower one. It could have originated in the family circle where it refers to the education given by a mother to her children. Closely related to tora is miswa It is usually used as a direct command from a higher authority, e.g. the Lord, the king, the father, etc. These commandments are sometimes prohibitives and in other cases positively stated (German: heischendes Präsens). The term hoq or huqqa is used in a great variety of meanings. hoq is not something pronounced like tora and miswa, but established. It points occasionally to a newly-established stipulation. In the priestly sphere of meaning it means a cultic obligation, in the royal sphere of meaning a royal pronouncement. The term bari'm is usually connected to the commandments of the Lord. Where law is sanctioned by the Lord, it becomes d bari'm The term mispat has also a great variety of meanings, ranging from legal verdict to a fixed pattern of the legal community. From the meaning ‘legal verdict of a judge’ developed the meaning of a rule of law or customary law which becomes normative for future judges. In this sense it was used as a technical term for case or casuistic law. The term’s dut in the legal sphere means ‘admonition’ and piqqudim ‘assignment’. In later Hebrew literature from the Persian period dat is used to denote a royal decree or government law, but it is also used for the law of the Lord (cf., e.g., Ezr. 7:12, 14, 21). It is thus clear that the different terms originated as legal material from the pronouncement of a person in higher authority. In the religious sphere it is the Lord; in the legal sphere it might be the king, judge or elders (z qeriim); in the family sphere it might be the father or mother.

b. Israelite law and the ancient Near East
Discoveries of ancient Near Eastern legal material make it clear that the legal tradition, as we also have it in the OT, started well back in the 3rd millennium BC. A fragmentary code of Ur-Nammu goes back to the 3rd dynasty of Ur, 2050 Hs. It has a preamble like most of the other codes. The few readable stipulations are in the casuistic style. Another Sumerian code is that of Lipil-Ishtar of c. 1850 BC;. It has a preamble and epilogue. The oldest code in Akkadian is the one of the city of Eshnunna probably from the time of Dadusha c. 1800 BC. It also has a preamble. A. Goetze, who has published the tablets, could in quite a few instances point to a remarkable similarity between these laws and certain laws of the Covenant code of the OT (Ex. 21-23). The first Near Eastern code to be discovered was that of Hammurapi, king of Babylon. It originated in c. 1700 BC, if we follow the low chronology of Albright. It has a preamble and epilogue. Some of these laws have thrown fresh light on the legal material of the OT. This is by far the largest corpus of laws we have from the ancient Near East. The Middle Assyrian Laws come from the time of Tiglath-pileser I in c. 1100 BC:. They also have a preamble and epilogue. The main characteristics are the Draconian approach and the detailed stipulations on marriage. Only one tablet has been found of the Neo-Babylonian Laws which originated from c. 600 BC. The Hittite Laws come from the time of Hattusilis III in c. 1280 BC. It is, however, clear that the code is much older than that. The main characteristic is that a difference is made between laws that are still in force and others that are antiquated. Along with these codes we have a wealth of legal material like contracts, court procedures, etc. In Egypt no corpus of laws has yet been discovered, but there we also have a large amount of legal material of which the marriage-contracts are the most significant.
The style generally used in the codes is casuistic and comparable to that of a large amount of legal material in the OT. The one exception is the Neo-Babylonian Laws where relative sentences are used and only in the subsections is the casuistic style applied. When we compare the OT casuistic laws with those of the ancient Near East, the similarity of subject-matter stands out clearly. At the same time there are certain differences in smaller detail. It is obvious that the Israelites have dealt in the same tradition as that of Mesopotamia. Legal traditions were conservatively handed over from one generation to another. Some of the Israelite casuistic material has its roots way back in Mesopotamia and points to a common heritage. This ties perfectly with the biblical record of Abraham’s migration from Mesopotamia. Another similarity in form is the usage of the preamble and epilogue. In Mesopotamia the codes are accompanied by the preamble and epilogue to place the laws in a definite historical and religious framework. The name of the promulgator of the laws is mentioned as well as the gods to whom the laws are dedicated. The Covenant code has a similar framework where Moses is mentioned as the receiver of the laws and the Lord as the One who sanctioned them.

c. The style of Israelite law and its origins
A. Alt has made an important contribution to the understanding of Hebrew law with the distinction of certain formal types of law and their possible origin. He has distinguished three types of law: in the first place, apodictic law which consists of positive and negative commands (‘you shall. . ., you shall not’). This type of law he has regarded as Yahwistic and of pure Israelite origin. In the second place, he has discovered a type of law consisting of participle clauses in which the command is given to kill the transgressor (‘one doing such and such shall be put to death’). He has regarded this kind of law as closely related to the apodictic form and thus also of Israelite origin. The third type is called casuistic (‘if a man. . .‘). The typical style is to start with ki or im (‘if’) and to give the transgression in the protasis and the legal verdict in the apodosis. The major case is always introduced by ki and the subsections by im This is also the general style of the laws of the ancient Near East. Alt has held that the Israelites came into contact with these laws in Palestine and borrowed them from the Canaanites.
Meanwhile this view of Alt has been scrutinized from several angles. The so-called apodictic laws were studied by E. Gerstenberger on a much wider scale. Alt’s research was more or less restricted to the Covenant code. Gerstenberger has widened his scope to include this genre of literature also in Wisdom Literature and elsewhere. He has proposed new nomenclature for these laws, e.g. vetitives and prohibitives (‘you shall not’). Looking for the Sitz im Leben (life-setting) of these laws he is more inclined to regard it as an Ethos and more specifically as a Sippenethos (clan ethics). The Sitz im Leben of these laws is the family circle where the father gives certain commands according to the customs of the clan to which he belongs. The next step was taken by W. Richter who does not want to restrict the Sitz im Leben only to the clan, but to connect these types of law with the school situation. The attitude to widen the scope of the Sitz im Leben is to be welcomed. The situation as we have it in the OT shows that the vetitives and prohibitives can be given by a variety of persons in authoritative positions: the Lord (cf. Ex. 20), the king, the tribal leader, the teacher, the father, etc. An important question is whether we should regard the vetitives and prohibitions as law at all, or not. In the OT they are intermixed with other types of law. This could lead us to accept that they are indeed legal stipulations. But the laws are sometimes intermixed with kerygmatic material (cf. e.g. Ex. 22:27b, 26b in MT which is of a religious nature and has nothing in common with legal material. We might, thus, regard the vetitives and prohibitives as policy. To regard the Decalogue as the Lord’s policy and not as a cluster of laws is more satisfactory. It is observable that in the case of the vetitives and prohibitives no punishment is prescribed, as it is in the casuistic laws.
The latest studies have shown that the participial and relative clauses must be studied as a whole. H. Schulz has studied especially those with the death-penalty clause and has reached the conclusion that their Sitz im Leben is the tribal circle. In the tribal circle the tribal chief gave these kinds of death-penalty verdicts. The typification of these laws is still not settled. G. Liedke has recently suggested that these laws be called apodictic.
The casuistic material or case law is designated in the OT with mispat (cf. Ex. 21:1). These laws are verdicts of judges which became legal examples to be followed by later judges. And so it became customary law. The presence of the laws in legal codes does not mean that they have originated with the promulgation of the codes, but that they were regarded as typical legal examples to be followed. Recently Liedke has given careful attention to these laws. He has held that they are case law formed from customary law which were used as examples for the solution of civil cases.

d. The different Israelite codes

1. The Covenant code. This is by far the oldest code of Hebrew law; its core goes back to the time of Moses. It is even possible that some of the casuistic material might go back to the time of the patriarchs while they were in Mesopotamia. It is also true that later material was added and that existing material was altered in later times. It is to be expected that older legal material is continually adapted to new circumstances. In Exodus this code is placed in a definite historical framework, viz. the forming of the covenant at Sinai. These laws are, thus, intended as the stipulations of the covenant. The laws, however, do not cover all the possible judicial fields and show that they are merely a torso or an extract of laws. The most important characteristic of the Covenant code is that it is sanctioned by the Lord as his law for his people.

2. The Deuteronomic code. This is to be found in Dt. 12-25. Here we have the codification of old Hebrew laws in later times, possibly in the time of Josiah (c. 622 BC). It is wrong to assume that the promulgation of laws indicates the time of their origin, as we have seen. Many of the laws have an archaic character and some of them are similar to the laws in the Covenant code (cf. e.g. Ex. 23:15-16 and Dt. 22:23-29). It is thus quite probable that most of the stipulations of Deuteronomy may have an early date. As has been pointed out by various scholars, Deuteronomy has in some instances ancient material, but it is also probable that later material was added. This could have been the case in the time of Josiah. The old laws were then adapted to new circumstances and new laws added according to the need of later times.

3. The Holiness code. It is to be found in Lv. 17-26. This compilation of laws is called the Holiness code on account of the phrase ‘for I the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy’ (Lv. 21:8). The contents of this code mainly comprise stipulations in connection with the sanctuary, the priests and the covenant community. All the stipulations must be kept by the Israelites and regarded as holy and thus the property of the Lord. Although these laws could have been compiled in later times, the archaic character of some of them is obvious and they might go back to the time of the Exodus.

4. The final compilation of laws. Many of the legal compilations were not in the exact form as we have them in the Pentateuch. After the exile compilations were made, some laws were readjusted to new circumstances and other laws added. The different codes were then placed in the broad framework of the Pentateuch as we have it today. The final form of the Pentateuch was reached only in c. 450 BC, in the time of Ezra, when it was promulgated by being publicly read (cf. Ne. 8).

e. Types of Israelite laws

1. The lack of legal theory. One of the characteristics of Israelite law as well as the legal compilations of the ancient Near East is the lack of legal theory. It is e.g. difficult to find any rationale or any logical sequence in these laws. Sometimes we have a cluster of laws on a certain subject, e.g. the goring ox (Ex. 21:28-32, 35-36). In this case the goring ox is placed in the centre of the reasoning and not the kind of transgression. The subject matter can suddenly change from the rape of a virgin (Ex. 22:16-17) to sorcery (Ex. 22:18), to bestiality (Ex. 22:19) and to idolatry (Ex. 22:20). There might have been a rationale behind this for the Semites, but to us it is totally lost.

2. Civil and criminal law. Another distinction which we make between civil and criminal law does not seem to have been made by the Semites. Recently A. Phillips has held that the so-called apodictic material is to be regarded as criminal law, but this cannot be upheld in the light of what we have said above. What we should regard as a criminal offence, e.g. theft, was regarded in Hebrew law as a civil case in which the transgressor must make amends for his deed by paying back the owner in kind. The whole rationale behind the stipulations is to redress the damage done to someone’s property, viz. to restore the balance. Even in the case of the rape of a virgin the transgressor must pay her father the bride’s price to redress his loss, because after her violation he could not ask the bride’s price for his daughter.
(i) Murder and assault. It is noteworthy that in Hebrew law a difference is made between premeditated murder and unintentional manslaughter (Ex. 21:12-14). In the case of murder the penalty is death. In the case of unintentional manslaughter, which is described by the phrase ‘God let him fall into his hand’, or ‘he met with an act of God’, the person can flee to a place of asylum. Assault is also regarded as a grave offence. A distinction is made between assault on parents (Ex. 21:15), assault that leads to incapacitation (Ex. 21:18-19), assault on a pregnant woman (Ex. 21:22-25) and assault on slaves (Ex. 21:26-27). These cases are differently approached. As a result of the strong conviction of the value of family solidarity, the son who beats his parents is sentenced to death. The cases of incapacitation and of the pregnant woman are approached from the restitution angle. For the incapacitated man redress must be made for his medical expenses and for his loss of time; while in the case of the pregnant woman who has lost her foetus, a redress must be made to her husband for loss of his child, his property. Very interesting is the case of assault on one’s own slaves. When a serious bodily injury is incurred, the slave receives manumission. This is a typical Hebrew law and not to be found in any legal compilation in the ancient Near East. This testifies to a unique humane approach to slaves.
(ii) Theft. This offence can broadly be viewed in three aspects: viz. kidnapping, theft of cattle and theft of movable property which is given in custody. Kidnapping is regarded with severity. Two proofs of guilt are mentioned, viz. when the thief sells the kidnapped person and when the kidnapped person is found in the possession of the thief. In this case the death penalty is prescribed (Ex. 21:16). In a nomadic and semi-nomadic society the possession of animals is regarded as very important. Theft of these animals is thus regarded as a grave offence. A good example occurs in Ex. 22:1-3. Restitution must be made by the payment of five cattle for one stolen and four sheep for one. In some cases the penalty is double payment in kind. The co-existence of these two kinds of penalty is an enigma. B. S. Jackson has held that the heavier penalty is the older one and that double restitution is a later reduction in penalty. This cannot be proved, however. Certain stipulations occur in which a depositor of movable property, like cattle, is protected against theft by the bailee. If such a theft can be proved, the bailee must pay double in kind (cf. Ex. 22:6-12).
(iii) Negligence and damage. Negligence is regarded all over the ancient Near East as a serious offence. In cuneiform law a technical term egum occurs which is absent in Hebrew law, though negligence plays an important role in Hebrew jurisprudence. A good example is the goring ox. When the owner of the ox is aware of its habit to gore, or has been warned against it, and the ox kills a free man or woman, the owner and the ox are liable. Both must be killed (Ex. 21:29). Another case of negligence is where a well is dug and not properly covered. If an animal falls into the well, the owner of the well must compensate the owner of the animal with money.
(iv) Offences of a moral and religious nature. Under this subsection a great variety of offences can be classified. They range from cursing parents to the seduction of a virgin, combating sorcery, bestiality, idolatry, a variety of cultic prescriptions (especially in Lv.) and the ill-treatment of alien, widow and orphan. We want to single out the latter offence as example (Ex. 22:21-24). The principle of protecting a widow and orphan is a very old one. As early as the time of Urukagina (c. 2400 BC) this principle is propagated. Even in Egypt traces of this principle are present. In the case of the Hebrew commandment it is stated as the policy of the Lord for his people not to oppress widows and orphans.
(v) Family law. In the OT world the family was regarded as very important. The father was the head of the family. In a certain sense his wife and children were his property. The most important laws on the family are those on marriage and on inheritance. In the first instance laws were made to forbid marriage in certain circumstances (e.g. Lv. 18), to prescribe the levirate marriage (cf. especially Dt. 25:5-10) and to prescribe divorce (cf. Dt. 24:1-4). The laws against beating and cursing parents point in the direction of family solidarity in which the authority of the father must be accepted without any question.
(vi) Slavery. As we have seen, a unique humane approach to slaves is visible in Hebrew law. A distinction must be made between Hebrew slaves and foreign slaves. It is not always clear to which form of slavery the laws refer. According to Ex. 21:2-6 a Hebrew slave who is taken into slavery by sale, possibly as a result of his debts, must be released at the end of 6 years of service. In Ex. 21:7-11 the case of the second woman is described which is regarded as a kind of slavery. Interesting in this case is that the rights of this woman are defended by law. It is thus clear, by and large, that the excesses of slavery are neatly combated in Hebrew law.
(vii) Lex talionis. In the Covenant code, the oldest Hebrew corpus of laws, the law of talion (retaliation) is awkwardly brought in. The previous law treats the case of assault on a pregnant woman. It is probable that the final editor of Exodus has reasoned that he must give in addition to this case of assault a general introduction to assault and single out those cases in which the lex talionis can be applied (Ex. 21:23-25). Lex talionis is there to restrict blood-revenge to certain prescribed cases, because of its danger to the prosperity of a society. It is not a primitive form of jurisprudence, but it is made to discourage homicide and wilful acts of assault.

3. International law. A long legal history of international law existed in the ancient Near East. Scores of tablets with treaties between various nations have been discovered. Two main types of contracts occur, viz. parity-treaty between equals and vassal-treaties. The Israelites were well aware of both for they formed a parity-treaty with the Phoenicians and a vassal-treaty with the Gibeonites. In the OT legal material the principles for forming a vassal-treaty are given in Dt. 20:10-14. The Israelites must offer the enemy peace (salom) which means a peaceful co-existence in which the enemy as minor partner must have certain obligations, e.g. to serve the major partner and to pay tax to him. We know from vassal-treaties that the major partner is also obliged to defend the minor partner when he is attacked by an enemy.
f. The religious nature of Israelite laws
It is clear from the OT laws, even from those with a purely secular character, that the Lord promulgated them in the interest of his people. In some instances the Lord is suddenly introduced in the third, second or first person to give force to the particular law (e.g. Ex. 21:13). Sometimes the kerygmatic element is clearly visible (e.g. Ex. 22:9). The laws are given to extol the mercy of the Lord. This characteristic in Hebrew law is unique in the legal tradition of the ancient Near East. It points to a direct involvement of the Lord in the laws of the covenant community. The binding of the laws to the covenant, and thus to the Major Partner of the covenant, ensures that the stipulations must be kept or else the covenant is broken and also the relationship with the Lord. The keeping of the laws is thus necessary to secure the blessing of the Lord. These laws have a twofold character: they are to promote love to the Lord and love to one’s neighbour. The summary of the law given by Jesus (Mt. 22:35-40) is exactly in accordance with the twofold character as it is presented in the OT.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. A. Alt, ‘The Origins of Israelite Law’, in Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, 1968, pp. 101-171; W. Beyerlin, Origins and History of the Oldest Sinaitic Traditions, 1965; D. Daube, Studies in Biblical Law, 1947; Z. Falk, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times, 1964; F. C. Fensham, ‘Widow, Orphan and the Poor in Ancient Near Eastern Legal and Wisdom Literature’, JNES 21, 1962, pp. 129-139; idem, ‘Aspects of Family Law in the Covenant Code’, Dine Israel 1, 1969, pp. 5-19; E. Gerstenberger, Wesen und Herkunft des ‘apodiktischen Rechts’, 1965; M. Greenberg, ‘Some Postulates of Biblical Criminal Law’, in Y. Kaufman Jubilee Volume, 1960; B. S. Jackson, Theft in Early Jewish Law, 1972; idem, Essays in Jewish and Comparative Legal History, 1975; L. Köhler, Der hebräische Mensch, 1953; G. Liedke, Gestält und Bezeichnung alttestamentliche Rechtssätze, 1971; N. Lohfink, Das Hauptgebot, 1963; M. Noth, The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Studies, 1966; G. Östborn, Tora in the Old Testament, 1945; S. M. Paul, Studies in the Book of the Covenant, 1970; A. Phillips, Ancient Israel’s Criminal Law, 1970; G. J. Wenham, ‘Grace and Law in the Old Testament’, and ‘Law and the Legal System in the Old Testament’, in B. N. Kaye and G. J. Wenham (eds.), Law, Morality and the Bible, 1978; D. J. Wiseman, ‘Law and Order in Old Testament Times’, Vox Evangelica 8, 1973, pp. 5-21. F.C.F.

II. In the New Testament

a. The meaning of the term
There is much flexibility in the use of the term ‘law’ (nomos) in the NT.

1. Frequently it is used in the canonical sense to denote the whole or part of the OT writings. In Rom. 3:19a it clearly refers to the OT in its entirety; Paul has quoted from various parts of the OT in the preceding context, and he must be understood as culling these quotations from what he calls ‘the law’. But the flexibility of his use of the term is apparent. For, when he speaks of those ‘under the law’ in the next clause, ‘law’ in this instance has a different meaning. It is likely that this broader denotation comprising the OT as a whole is the sense in Rom. 2:17-27. It is likewise apparent in the usage of our Lord on several occasions (cf. Mt. 5:18; Lk. 16:17; Jn. 8:17; 10:34; 15:25).
But the term is also used in a more restricted canonical sense to designate a part of the OT. In the expression ‘the law and the prophets’ it will have to be understood as comprising the whole of the OT not included in ‘the prophets’ (cf. Mt. 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Lk. 16:16; Acts 13:15; Rom. 3:21b). In a still more restricted sense it is used to denote the Pentateuch as distinct from the other two main divisions of the OT (cf. Lk. 24:44). There are some instances in which it is uncertain whether ‘the law of Moses’ refers merely to the Pentateuch or is used in the more inclusive sense to denote the rest of the OT not included in ‘the prophets’ (cf. Jn. 1:45; Acts 28:23). It is possible that, since the simple term ‘the law’ can be used in a more inclusive sense, so ‘the law of Moses’ could even be understood as embracing more than was strictly Mosaic. This again is symptomatic of the flexibility of terms in the usage of the NT, arising, in this connection, from the fact that the expression ‘the law and the prophets’ is a convenient designation of the OT in its entirety.

2. There are instances in which the term designates the Mosaic administration dispensed at Sinai. This use is particularly apparent in Paul (cf. Rom. 5:13, 20; Gal. 3:17, 19, 21a). Closely related to this denotation is the use by Paul of the expression ‘under the law’ (1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 3:23; 4:4-5, 21; cf. Eph. 2:15; ‘of the law’ in Rom. 4:16). This characterization, in these precise connections, means to be under the Mosaic economy or, in the case of 1 Cor. 9:20, to consider oneself as still bound by the Mosaic institutions. The Mosaic economy as an administration had divine sanction and authority during the period of its operation. This use of the term ‘under law’ must not be confused with another application of the same expression which will be dealt with later.

3. Frequently the term is used to designate the law of God as the expression of God’s will. The instances are so numerous that only a fraction can be cited (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 7:2, 5, 7, 8-9, 12, 16, 22; 8:3-4, 7; 13:8, 10; 1 Cor. 15:56; Gal. 3:13; 1 Tim. 1:8; Jas. 1:25; 4:11). The abiding obligation and sanctity of the law as the expression of God’s such references. The obligation for men involved is expressed in terms of being ‘under law’ (1 Cor. 9:21, ennomos).

4. On occasion ‘law’ is used as the virtual synonym of law specially revealed in contrast with the work of the law natively inscribed on the heart of man (Rom. 2:12-14). It is to be understood that law in the other senses is law specially revealed. But in the instance cited attention is focused on this consideration because of the contrast respecting mode of revelation. There is no indication that a different law is in view. The emphasis falls upon the greater fullness and clearness of special revelation and the correlative increase of responsibility for the recipients.

5. In varying forms of expression ‘law’ is used in a depreciatory sense to denote the status of the person who looks to the law, and therefore to works of law, as the way of justification and acceptance with God. The formula ‘under law’ has this signification (Rom. 6:14-15; Gal. 5:18). As indicated above, this use of the formula is not to be confused with the same when applied to the Mosaic dispensation (cf. Gal. 3:23 and others cited). Interpretation of the NT, particularly of the Pauline Epistles, has been complicated by failure to recognize the distinction. The person who is ‘under law’ in the sense of Rom. 6:14 is in bondage to sin in its guilt, defilement and power. But this was not the consequence of being under the Mosaic economy during the period from Moses to Christ. Nor is ‘under law’, in this sense, to be confused with a similar term as it applies to a believer in Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). Of the same force as ‘under law’ in this depreciatory sense is the expression ‘of the law’ (Rom. 4:14; Gal. 3:18; Phil. 3:9); and the phrase ‘by works of the law’ (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10) refers to the same notion. ‘Apart from works of law’ (Rom. 3:28) expresses the opposite. Several expressions are to be interpreted in terms of this concept and of the status it denotes. When Paul says, ‘the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from Law’ (Rom. 3:21), he means a righteousness apart from works of law, and therefore antithetical to a works-righteousness. When he says that we have been put to death to the law and discharged from the law (Rom. 7:4, 6), he refers to the breaking of that bond that binds us to the law as the way of acceptance with God (cf. also Gal. 2:19). Law as law, as commandment requiring obedience and pronouncing its curse upon all transgression, does not have any potency or provision for the justification of the ungodly. The contrast between law-righteousness, which is our own righteousness, and the righteousness of God provided in Christ is the contrast between human merit and the gospel of grace (cf. Rom. 10:3; Gal. 2:21; 5:4; Phil. 3:9). Paul’s polemic in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians is concerned with that antithesis.

6. Law is sometimes used in the sense of an operating and governing principle. In this sense Paul speaks of ‘the law of faith’ (Rom. 3:27, AV; RSV ‘principle’), which is contrasted with the law of works. The contrast is that between the principle of faith and that of works. It is the same idea that offers the best interpretation of the word ‘law’ in Rom. 7:21, 23, 25b; 8:2.
There is thus great diversity in the denotation of the word ‘law’, and sometimes there is deep-seated difference in connotation. The result is that a meaning totally diverse from that intended by the NT speaker or writer would be imposed upon his words if we did not appreciate the differentiation which appears in the usage. There are instances, especially in Paul, where transition from one meaning to another appears in adjacent clauses. In Rom. 3:21, if we did not appreciate the two distinct senses of the word, their would be patent contradiction. In Rom. 4:14 the expression ‘of the law’ is exclusive of faith. However, in v. 16 ‘of the law’ is not exclusive of faith, for those of the law are represented as having the promise made sure to them. Different senses are thus demanded. There are other classifications beyond those given above that other nuances of meaning and application would suggest. And on numerous occasions it is difficult to ascertain what the precise denotation is. In the main, however, when the distinctions given above are recognized, interpretation will be relieved of frequent distortions and needless difficulties will be resolved.

b. Law and gospel
The foregoing analysis makes it apparent how important is the question of the relation which a believer sustains to the law of God. To be ‘under law’ in one sense (Rom. 6:14) excludes a person from the enjoyment of the grace which the gospel imparts; to be ‘under law’ is the opposite of being ‘under grace’ and means that the person is the bondslave of the condemnation and power of sin. In this sense, therefore, it is by the gospel that we are discharged from the law (Rom. 7:6) and put to death to the law (Rom. 7:4)—‘we are . . . dead to that which held us captive’ (cf. Gal. 2:19). The gospel is annulled if the decisiveness of this discharge is not appreciated. In that event we have fallen away from grace and Christ becomes of no effect (cf. Gal. 5:4).
But this is not the whole account of the relation of law and gospel. Paul said also in the heart of his exposition and defence of the gospel of grace, ‘Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law’ (Rom. 3:31). As a believer he protests that he agrees that the law is good, that he delights in the law of God in his inmost self, that with the mind he serves the law of God (Rom. 7:16, 22, 25), and that the aim of Christ’s accomplishment was that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in those who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:4). An example of the law he had in mind is in Rom. 7:7. And no doubt can remain that in Rom. 13:9 he provides us with concrete examples of the law which love fulfils, showing thereby that there is no incompatibility between love as the controlling motive of the believer’s life and conformity to the commandments which the law of God enunciates. The conclusion is inescapable that the precepts of the Decalogue have relevance to the believer as the criteria of that manner of life which love to God and to our neighbour dictates. The same apostle uses terms which are to the same effect as that of being ‘under law’ when he says, ‘not being without law toward God, but under the law of Christ’ (1 Cor. 9:21). In respect of obligation he is not divorced from the law of God, he is not lawless in reference to God. And this is validated and exemplified in his being bound to the law of Christ.
When Paul says that ‘love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Rom. 13:10) it is obvious that the commandments appealed to in the preceding verse are examples of the law in view. But by the words ‘and any other commandment’ he intimates that he has not enumerated all the commandments. The distinction is, therefore, that ‘the law’ is the generic term and the commandments are the specific expressions. Hence, although the apostle John does not speak in terms of fulfilling the law, the emphasis placed upon the necessity of keeping and doing the commandments (1 Jn. 2:3-4; 3:22, 24; 5:2-3) is to the same effect. And when he writes that ‘whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected’ (1 Jn. 2:5), he is pointing to what he elsewhere defines as that of which the love of God consists, namely, that ‘we keep his commandments’ (1 Jn. 5:3). The sum is that the keeping of God’s commandments is the practical expression of that love apart from which we know not God and our Christian profession is a lie (cf. 1 Jn. 2:4; 4:8). John’s teaching is the reproduction of our Lord’s, and it is John who records for us Jesus’ corresponding injunctions (Jn. 14:15, 21; 15:10). It is also significant that our Lord himself should enforce the necessity of keeping commandments by appealing to his own example of keeping the Father’s commandments and thus abiding in and constraining the Father’s love (cf. Jn. 10:17-18; 15:10).
No NT writer is more jealous for the fruits that accompany and vindicate faith than James. The criterion by which these fruits are to be assessed is ‘the perfect law of liberty’ (Jas. 1:25). James, like other NT writers, is well aware that love is the motive power. The ‘royal law’ is ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Jas. 2:8). But for James also neither love nor law is conceived of apart from the concrete examples of law and expressions of love in commandments, instances of which he provides (Jas. 2:11). It is by this law that we shall be judged (Jas. 2:12); it is in this law we are to continue (Jas. 1:25); it is this law we are to keep in each of its demands (Jas. 2:10); it is this law we are to perform (Jas. 4:11).
The reason for this sustained appeal to the law of God as the norm by which the conduct of the believer is to be judged and by which his life is to be governed resides in the relation of the law to the character of God. God is holy, just and good. Likewise ‘the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good’ (Rom. 7:12). The law is, therefore, the reflection of God’s own perfections. In a word, it is the transcript of God’s holiness as the same comes to expression for the regulation of thought and behaviour consonant with his glory. We are to be holy in all manner of life because he who has called us is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). To be relieved of the demands which the law prescribes would contradict the relation to God which grace establishes. Salvation is salvation from sin, and ‘sin is lawlessness’, (1 Jn. 3:4). Salvation is, therefore, to be saved from breaking the law and thus saved to conformity unto it. Antinomian bias strikes at the nature of the gospel. It says, in effect, let us continue in sin.
A believer is re-created after the image of God. He therefore loves God and his brother also (1 Jn. 4:20-21). And because he loves God he loves what mirrors God’s perfection. He delights in the law of God in his inmost self (Rom. 7:22). Obedience is his joy, disobedience the plague of his heart. The saint is destined for conformity to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29) and he is remade after the pattern of him who had no sin and could say, ‘thy law is within my heart’ (Ps. 40:8). 2

GRACE — (1.) Of form or person (Prov. 1:9; 3:22; Ps. 45:2). (2.) Favour, kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 2 Tim. 1:9). (3.) God’s forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:5). (4.) The gospel as distinguished from the law (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 1 Pet. 5:12). (5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy, tongues (Rom. 15:15; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 3:8). (6.) Christian virtues (2 Cor. 8:7; 2 Pet. 3:18). (7.) The glory hereafter to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13). 1

GRACE, MEANS OF — an expression not used in Scripture, but employed

(1.) to denote those institutions ordained by God to be the ordinary channels of grace to the souls of men. These are the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer.

(2.) But in popular language the expression is used in a wider sense to denote those exercises in which we engage for the purpose of obtaining spiritual blessing; as hearing the gospel, reading the Word, meditation, self-examination, Christian conversation, etc. 1

KINGDOM OF GOD — (Matt. 6:33; Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 4:43) = “kingdom of Christ” (Matt. 13:41; 20:21) = “kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5) = “kingdom of David” (Mark 11:10) = “the kingdom” (Matt. 8:12; 13:19) = “kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 13:41), all denote the same thing under different aspects, viz.: (1) Christ’s mediatorial authority, or his rule on the earth; (2) the blessings and advantages of all kinds that flow from this rule; (3) the subjects of this kingdom taken collectively, or the Church. 1

KINGDOM OF GOD, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ preaching, according to the Synoptic Gospels. While Matthew, who addresses himself to the Jews, speaks for the most part of the ‘kingdom of heaven’, Mark and Luke speak of the ‘kingdom of God’, which has the same meaning as the ‘kingdom of heaven’, but was more intelligible to non-Jews. The use of ‘kingdom of heaven’ in Matthew is certainly due to the tendency in Judaism to avoid the direct use of the name of God. In any case no distinction in sense is to be assumed between the two expressions (cf., e.g., Mt. 5:3 with Lk. 6:20).

I. In John the Baptist
John the Baptist first comes forward with the announcement that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt. 3:2) and Jesus takes this message over from him (Mt. 4:17). The expression ‘kingdom of heaven’ (Heb. malkut samayim) originates with the late-Jewish expectation of the future in which it denoted the decisive intervention of God, ardently expected by Israel, to restore his people’s fortunes and liberate them from the power of their enemies. The coming of the kingdom is the great perspective of the future, prepared by the coming of the *Messiah, which paves the way for the kingdom of God.
By the time of Jesus the development of this eschatological hope in Judaism had taken a great variety of forms, in which now the national element and now the cosmic and apocalyptic element is prominent. This hope goes back to the proclamation in OT prophecy concerning both the restoration of David’s throne and the coming of God to renew the world. Although the OT has nothing to say of the eschatological kingdom of heaven in so many words, yet in the Psalms and prophets the future manifestation of God’s royal sovereignty belongs to the most central concepts of OT faith and hope. Here too various elements achieve prominence, as may be clearly seen from a comparison of the earlier prophets with the prophecies regarding universal world-sovereignty and the emergence of the Son of man in the book of *Daniel.
When John the Baptist and, after him, Jesus himself proclaimed that the kingdom was at hand, this proclamation involved an awakening cry of sensational and universal significance. The long-expected divine turning-point in history, the great restoration, however it was conceived at the time, is proclaimed as being at hand. It is therefore of all the greater importance to survey the content of the NT preaching with regard to the coming of the kingdom.
In the preaching of John the Baptist prominence is given to the announcement of divine judgment as a reality which is immediately at hand. The axe is already laid to the root of the trees. God’s coming as King is above all else a coming to purify, to sift, to judge. No-one can evade it. No privilege can buy exemption from it, not even the ability to claim Abraham as one’s father. At the same time John the Baptist points to the coming One who is to follow him, whose forerunner he himself is. The coming One comes with the winnowing-fan in his hand. In view of his coming the people must repent and submit to baptism for the washing away of sins, so as to escape the coming wrath and participate in the salvation of the kingdom and the baptism with the Holy Spirit which will be poured out when it comes (Mt. 3:1-12).

II. In the teaching of Jesus
a. Present aspect
Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom follows word for word on John’s, yet it bears a much more comprehensive character. After John the Baptist had watched Jesus’ appearance for a considerable time, he began to be in doubt whether Jesus was, after all, the coming One whom he had announced (Mt. 11:2f.). Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom differs in two respects from that of the Baptist. In the first place, while it retains without qualification the announcement of judgment and the call to repentance, it is the saving significance of the kingdom that stands in the foreground. In the second place—and here is the pith and core of the matter—he announced the kingdom not just as a reality which was at hand, something which would appear in the immediate future, but as a reality which was already present, manifested in his own person and ministry. Although the places where Jesus speaks explicitly of the kingdom as being present are not numerous (see especially Mt. 12:28 and parallels), his whole preaching and ministry are marked by this dominant reality. In him the great future has already become ‘present time’.
This present aspect of the kingdom manifests itself in all sorts of ways in the person and deeds of Christ. It appears palpably and visibly in the casting out of demons (cf. Lk. 11:20) and generally in Jesus miraculous power. In the healing of those who are demon-possessed it becomes evident that Jesus has invaded the house of ‘the strong man’, has bound him fast and so is in a position to plunder his goods (Mt. 12:29). The kingdom of heaven breaks into the domain of the evil one. The power of Satan is broken. Jesus sees him fall like lightning from heaven. He possesses and bestows power to trample on the dominion of the enemy. Nothing can be impossible for those who go forth into the world, invested with Jesus’ power, as witnesses of the kingdom (Lk. 10:18f.). The whole of Jesus’ miraculous activity is the proof of the coming of the kingdom. What many prophets and righteous men desired in vain to see—the breaking in of the great epoch of salvation—the disciples can now see and hear (Mt. 13:16; Lk. 10:23). When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?‘ they were shown the wonderful works done by Jesus, in which, according to the promise of prophecy, the kingdom was already being manifested: the blind were enabled to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear; lepers were being cleansed and dead people raised to life, and the gospel was being proclaimed to the poor (Mt. 11:2ff.; Lk. 7:18ff.). Also in the last of these—the proclamation of the gospel—the breaking through of the kingdom is seen. Since salvation is announced and offered as a gift already available to the poor in spirit, the hungry and the mourners, the kingdom is theirs. So too the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed, not merely as a future reality to be accomplished in heaven, nor merely as a present possibility, but as a dispensation offered today, on earth, through Jesus himself; ‘Son, daughter, your sins are forgiven; for the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins’ (see Mk. 2:1-12, et passim).
As appears clearly from this last-quoted word of power, all this is founded on the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The kingdom has come in him and with him; he is the 'auto basileia' Jesus’ self-revelation as the Messiah, the Son of man and Servant of the Lord, constitutes both the mystery and the unfolding of the whole gospel.
It is impossible to explain these sayings of Jesus about himself in a future sense, as some have wished to do, as though he referred to himself only as the future *Messiah, the Son of man who was to be expected on a coming day on the clouds of heaven. For however much this future revelation of the kingdom remains an essential element in the content of the gospel, we cannot mistake the fact that in the Gospels Jesus’ Messiahship is present here and now. Not only is he proclaimed as such at his baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration—as the beloved and elect One of God (plain Messianic designations)—but he is also endowed with the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:16) and invested with full divine authority (Mt. 21:27); the Gospel is full of his declarations of absolute authority, he is presented as the One sent by the Father, the One who has come to fulfil what the prophets foretold. In his coming and teaching the Scripture is fulfilled in the ears of those who listen to him (Lk. 4:21). He came not to destroy but to fulfil (Mt. 5:17ff.), to announce the kingdom (Mk. 1:38), to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10), to serve others, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45). The secret of belonging to the kingdom lies in belonging to him (Mt. 7:23; 25:41). In brief, the person of Jesus as the Messiah is the centre of all that is announced in the gospel concerning the kingdom. The kingdom is concentrated in him in its present and future aspects alike.

b. Future aspect
There is a future aspect as well. For although it is clearly stated that the kingdom is manifested here and now in the gospel, so also is it shown that as yet it is manifested in this world only in a provisional manner. That is why the proclamation of its present activity in the words, ‘The blind receive their sight; the dead are raised; the poor have good news preached to them’, is followed by the warning: ‘Blessed is he who takes no offence at me’ (Mt. 11:6; Lk. 7:23). The ‘offence’ lies in the hidden character of the kingdom in this epoch. The miracles are still tokens of another order of reality than the present one; it is not yet the time when the demons will be delivered to eternal darkness (Mt. 8:29). The gospel of the kingdom is still revealed only as a seed which is being sown. In the parables of the sower, the seed growing secretly, the tares among the wheat, the mustard seed, the leaven, it is about this hidden aspect of the kingdom that Jesus instructs his disciples. The Son of man himself, invested with all power by God, the One who is to come on the clouds of heaven, is the Sower who sows the Word of God. He is depicted as a man dependent upon others: the birds, the thorns, human beings, can partially frustrate his work. He has to wait and see what will come of his seed. Indeed, the hiddenness of the kingdom is deeper still: the King himself comes in the form of a slave. The birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man (Dn. 7:13) has no place to lay his head. In order to receive everything, he must first of all give up everything. He must give his life as a ransom; as the suffering Servant of the Lord of Is. 53, he must be numbered with the transgressors. The kingdom has come; the kingdom will come. But it comes by the way of the cross, and before the Son of man exercises his authority over all the kingdoms of the earth (Mt. 4:8; 28:18) he must tread the path of obedience to his Father in order thus to fulfil all righteousness (Mt. 3:15). The manifestation of the kingdom has therefore a history in this world. It must be proclaimed to every creature. Like the wonderful seed, it must sprout and grow, no man knows how (Mk. 4:27). It has an inward power by which it makes its way through all sorts of obstacles and advances over all; for the field in which the seed is sown is the world (Mt. 13:38). The gospel of the kingdom goes forth to all nations (Mt. 28:19), for the King of the kingdom is also Lord of the Spirit. His resurrection brings in a new aeon; the preaching of the kingdom and the King reaches out to the ends of the earth. The decision has already come to pass; but the fulfilment still recedes into the future. What at first appears to be one and the same coming of the kingdom, what is announced as one indivisible reality, at hand and at close quarters, extends itself to cover new periods of time and far distances. For the frontiers of this kingdom are not co-terminous with Israel’s boundaries or history: the kingdom embraces all nations and fills all ages until the end of the world comes.

III. Kingdom and church
The kingdom is thus related to the history of the church and of the world alike. A connection exists between kingdom and church, but they are not identical, even in the present age. The kingdom is the whole of God’s redeeming activity in Christ in this world; the church is the assembly of those who belong to Jesus Christ. Perhaps one could speak in terms of two concentric circles, of which the church is the smaller and the kingdom the larger, while Christ is the centre of both. This relation of the church to the kingdom can be formulated in all kinds of ways. The church is the assembly of those who have accepted the gospel of the kingdom in faith, who participate in the salvation of the kingdom, which includes the forgiveness of sins, adoption by God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the possession of eternal life. They are also those in whose life the kingdom takes visible form, the light of the world, the salt of the earth; those who have taken on themselves the yoke of the kingdom, who live by their King’s commandments and learn from him (Mt. 11:28-30). The church, as the organ of the kingdom, is called to confess Jesus as the Christ, to the missionary task of preaching the gospel in the world; she is also the community of those who wait for the coming of the kingdom in glory, the servants who have received their Lord’s talents in prospect of his return. The church receives her whole constitution from the kingdom, on all sides she is beset and directed by the revelation, the progress, the future coming of the kingdom of God, without at any time being the kingdom herself or even being identified with it.
Therefore the kingdom is not confined within the frontiers of the church. Christ’s Kingship is supreme above all. Where it prevails and is acknowledged, not only is the individual human being set free, but the whole pattern of life is changed: the curse of the demons and fear of hostile powers disappears. The change which Christianity brings about among peoples dominated by nature-religions is a proof of the comprehensive, all-embracing significance of the kingdom. It works not only outwardly like a mustard seed but inwardly like leaven. It makes its way into the world with its redeeming power. The last book of the Bible, which portrays Christ’s Kingship in the history of the world and its advancing momentum right to the end, especially illuminates the antithesis between the triumphant Christ-King (cf., e.g., Rev. 5:1ff.) and the power of Satan and anti-christ, which still survives on earth and contends against Christ and his church. However much the kingdom invades world-history with its blessing and deliverance, however much it presents itself as a saving power against the tyranny of gods and forces inimical to mankind, it is only through a final and universal crisis that the kingdom, as a visible and all-conquering reign of peace and salvation, will bring to full fruition the new heaven and the new earth.

IV. In the rest of the New Testament
The expression ‘kingdom of heaven’ or ‘kingdom of God’ does not appear so frequently in the NT outside the Synoptic Gospels. This is, however, simply a matter of terminology. As the indication of the great revolution in the history of salvation which has already been inaugurated by Christ’s coming, and as the expected consummation of all the acts of God, it is the central theme of the whole NT revelation of God.

V. In theological thought
As regards the conception of the kingdom of heaven in theology, this has been powerfully subjected to all kinds of influences and viewpoints during the various periods and trends of theological thought. In Roman Catholic theology a distinctive feature is the identification of the kingdom of God and the church in the earthly dispensation, an identification which is principally due to Augustine’s influence. Through the ecclesiastical hierarchy Christ is actualized as King of the kingdom of God. The area of the kingdom is coterminous with the frontiers of the church’s power and authority. The kingdom of heaven is extended by the mission and advance of the church in the world.
In their resistance to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Reformers laid chief emphasis on the spiritual and invisible significance of the kingdom and readily (and wrongly) invoked Lk. 17:20f. in support of this. The kingdom of heaven, that is to say, is a spiritual sovereignty which Christ exercises through the preaching of his word and the operation of the Holy Spirit. While the Reformation in its earliest days did not lose sight of the kingdom’s great dimensions of saving history, the kingdom of God, under the influence of the Enlightenment and pietism, came to be increasingly conceived in an individualistic sense; it is the sovereignty of grace and peace in the hearts of men. In later liberal theology this conception developed in a moralistic direction (especially under the influence of Kant): the kingdom of God is the kingdom of peace, love and righteousness. At first, even in pietism and sectarian circles, the expectation of the coming kingdom of God was maintained, without, however, making allowance for a positive significance of the kingdom for life in this world. Over against this more or less dualistic understanding of the kingdom we must distinguish the social conception of the kingdom which lays all the stress on its visible and communal significance. This conception is distinguished in some writers by a social radicalism (the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Christianity of Tolstoy and others, or the ‘religious-social’ interpretation of, e.g., Kutter and Ragaz in Switzerland), in others by the evolutionary belief in progress (the ‘social gospel’ in America). The coming of the kingdom consists in the forward march of social righteousness and communal development.
In contrast to these spiritualizing, moralistic and evolutionary interpretations of the kingdom, NT scholarship is rightly laying stress again on the original significance of the kingdom in Jesus’ preaching—a significance bound up with the history of salvation and eschatology. While the founders of this newer eschatological direction gave an extreme interpretation to the idea of the kingdom of heaven, so that there was no room left for the kingdom’s penetration of the present world-order (Johannes Weiss, Albert Schweitzer, the so-called ‘thoroughgoing’ eschatology), more attention has been paid latterly to the unmistakable present significance of the kingdom, while this significance has been brought within








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