Paul like all Pharisees, was expected a physical Kingdom set up with a physical Savior and King on earth as seen in Luke 17.20+ saying “when does the Kingdom appear”. And Christ’s reply? “It cometh not with (carnal) observation for the Kingdom of God is within you”. Meaning it takes no physical form visible to the human eye. As it says in John 3 that only those born again can see the Kingdom of God. See they could not. The Pharisees were still looking without for something that is within.
Now Pauls starting point was a Pharisee of Pharisees of the most religious sect so don’t be surprised that his writings started off with some of those concepts. Even as we see Paul try to have Timothy circumsized in Jerusalem after his encounter with Christ. Later he taught that we are of the circumsision of the heart as the true Jew. Paul started out believing that circumcision was necessary, but later he writes this in Philippians, “beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”.
He also said in Romans 3 that ” we are those of the circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh, showing the work of God on our invisible members and not our outer body.
Yes like all the Pharisees he was looking for a physical manifestation of a savior, King and Kingdom to appear on earth. From this he had to be transformed by the Spirit.
The Pharisees also believed in s resurrection, but not the resurrection of faith but of fact. Terms like “the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the resurrection are all misunderstood by the Pharisaic mind as carnally experienced events for the eyes to behold. But you see flesh and blood does not inherit the things of God, but the re-spirited mind of faith does.
As a Pharisee Paul believed in a bodily resurrection and a physical savior in a physical Jerusalem. From this Paul/Saul needed to be transformed in mind from and saved. He conveyed this to us saying “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. And he learned that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God pulling down strongholds and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”. Where? In the mind and not as visible events played out on planet earth.
The book of Acts spells out the qualifications to be an apostle to replace Judas as “one who witnessed the resurrected Lord. And Paul did, but not the way you think. He did not witness the event at the cross or the events after the empty tomb. But on the way to Damascus he saw a light 7 times brighter than the sun, brighter than humanly possible. Jesus said to paul “for this reason I have appeared to you”. He took no carnally visible form. This is what qualified Paul as the 12th by being one who had witnessed the resurrection, as one who had seen the Lord not as a man but in His true construct of light unknowable to the human senses. Yes Paul had “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11) Do you?
Paul had persecuted the people of the Way for believing in a resurrection and a kingdom different than the physical one that was common to him as a Pharisee. The difference between the two views was so large in fact that Paul was categorizef as an enemy of Christ. He consented to the murdering the people of The Way. The people of The Way persued “The Kingdom of God at hand” and the resurrection as attainable. They were not of the crowd to “sit and wait”.
So as one who is qualified having seen the Lord to be a true apostle Paul had to become a witness unto the resurrection. Paul strove for just this cause as he explained to Harod “think it not strange that God raises the Dead?” who also pointed out that this was the resurrection that “the fathers strove night and day hoping to attain”. Not an event to wait for or something to be experienced after the body dies, but their duty to God to try to lay hold of.
Paul acknowledged in Philippians that he sought to “lay hold of why Christ laid hold of” him, to attain to the richness and the fullness of Christ, to become a perfect man, “to attain to the resurrection” one revelation at a time saying “to the degree so walk ye in it”. He said that all who are mature are seeking the resurrection. But the resurrection that he was seeking was not like he had thought when he was a Pharisee. That mindset only made him at odds with the true Christ who said “why do you kick against the goads?
The purpose for Paul was to transform from a Pharisee expecting a physical kingdom to experience revelation by degree, one revelation after the other until he attain to the resurrection, to attain his full status as “a fellow member and citezine of the house of God in the here-and-now for that was his calling and goal. This too is for us to learn from Paul’s journey “by degree”. Let us go up to Jerusalem in our understanding.
Paul was “chief among sinners” saying “that Christ would show in me first a pattern, yes a progression, for all to believe “. For all with a Pharasitic mindset to transition out of that beleif. To be saved from.
So Paul learned to understand that the Kingdom of God is not to carnally assimulate. He said “flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom ” but the inner man of the Spirit does. The one made in His image brought forth by word and spirit being “a kind of first fruits of His creation” of invisible components and of eternal composition.
This is the object of our faith. Anybody who seeks Christ in any other way than Paul encountered in the bright light is looking for God to appear in the construct that is not natural to Him. As it is written “I am the Lord, I change not”.
This is the very reason why if one does come in the way the Pharisees accept or expect of a physical Kingdom in a physical City they are misled and their leaders are Pharasees, sons of Satan and a brood of vipers, whited sepulchers full of dead mans bones. Those are the words of Jesus to that bunch. They are not entering “The Kingdom At Hand” and are not allowing those who are trying to do so to enter”. And if God does honor the end time seekers desire of a visible Kingdom like the Pharases of old, than He would have to apologize to the Jews for condemning them for that very thing.
And so it is Christianity Today that predominantly proclaims another coming Christ with an earthen fabricated kingdom with another saving act like the Pharisees anticipated back then. Being spiritually blind they never say what Christ told them to. “Go village to village and house to house proclaiming that “The Kingdom of God is at hand”. They parallel and align themselves with the Pharisees of old having a mindset of Christ and His kingdom in an earthen construct saying “when does the Kingdom of God appear” and they call it a 2nd coming with the expectation of another saving from Satan, sin and death.
With this they devise theories with raptures and bodily resurrections and earthly destruction. So many in fact that it has scattered God’s flock all over the place. What confusion. Who authored that? It’s just a re-hash of old testament expired and fulfilled parables designed only to help the mind understand the invisible realities of God in a way for us to be one with Him now. To be reconciled to Him as Paul pleaded “be ye reconciled to God”. He is “eternal, immortal and invisible “
So we shouldn’t expect Him to become physical to please our carnal senses. He is not physical for “the Father is spirit and truth and seeketh such”. We are remade in the spirit of our mind to interact with Him perfectly. It is in this way that we are temples of the Living God.
The purpose of all the law, the sacrifices, the feasts and the prophets were only to clear the conscience and make visible the invisible components, concepts and attributes of the “lo I am with you always”. “Christ, the same yesterday today and forever”. Hebrew 11.8
So it is those who reject God in this way wonder why there’s no power in their gospel. By expecting a physical Kingdom in this way they allege themselves with the Pharisees of old who were condemned, and come to the same conclusion. They regurgitate scripture and come up with the same conclusion saying the Kingdom comes with carnal observation and deny the saving of faith. They call it a 2nd coming. By the way, this phrase is not found once in scripture.
The power to defeat death has now become a gospel to hold in limbo and wait for another. Isn’t that what the Pharisees were doing saying “when does the kingdom come?” Of whom the Christ answered “it cometh not with observation”. Their Christ was looking at them ready to save them then and they rejected, despised and killed Him.
If you believe what Saul/Paul did and you see this luminous revelation, you should commence your journey and sojournship as pilgrims from a physical, visible Kingdom as did Paul. Depart from the end time seeker sit and waits and join the followers of The Way. Christ saying “I am the way, the truth and the light”.
We are of those whom it was written of that “they looked for the city whose builder and maker is God”. Whose construct is superior to time and matter being “the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world”. Even as Paul finally understood in Colossians that “if you then be risen with Christ, and we are, then seek the things that are above”. Yes where Christ sits. And “while we look to the unseen, for the things that are seen are temporal but the things that are unseen, the invisible, are eternal. In this way Paul transitioned from being a Pharisee expecting a physical kingdom on earth, to entering the Kingdom in the here and now as should we.
If we follow Paul through the succession of Revelations “to the degree ye are able” then we too can hope to acquire the resurrection. Not only that, but we can see by his consecutive revelations an exchange takes place. An old mindset for a new mindset. An old concept for a new concept a physical for an invisible.
That is why we are asked to be renewed in the spirit of our mind for that is our invisible place for the invisible God. In this way we are the temples of the Living God and not a construct of matter on planet earth called Jerusalem. We are complete in him who is the head of all principality and Power and “it is in Him we live and dwell and have our being”. We are in CHRIST our destination. We do not need a physical Jesus to be “raised and seated” meaning resurrected and empowered in the Kingdom for we have this (Eph 2.8)
And As Isaiah said of the Lord.”with My dead body they shall arise”. And so we do.
We have to learn to quit seeing God as a 3rd party distant, disconnected entity needing to reappear physically to complete His work because “it is finished”. We do not need a 2nd coming physical appearing for saving. He is the “lo I am with you always”.
It was Paul who laboriously stated “be ye reconciled to God the Father” for this purpose for ‘today is the day of salvation.” And “the gospel is the power of God into salvation” and not another coming Jesus.
It is this article and this chapter as all subsequent chapters are meant to define and explain and reason without doubt that the kingdom of God is just as much at hand and available now as it was when Christ first proclaimed it. Amen
The Kingdom of God is at hand! He is present to perform His work in us now.