Mt 3:2, 4:17, & 10.7

Joe A. Friberg JoeFriberg at
Tue Nov 30 14:36:09 EST 1999

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Craig Miller" <scmiller at>
Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 7:16 AM
> As an aside, one might note that according to the Two-Source hypothesis,
> 4:17 derives from Mk 1:15; and Mt 3:2 appears to have been Matthew's
> attempt to make the preaching of John the Baptist parallel with Jesus'
> preaching.

I would like to suggest that the shaping in parallel of JB's message in 3.2
and Jesus' message in 4.17 is complemented further by the abbreviated
HGGIKEN hH BASILEIA TWN OURANWN of the apostles in 10.7, and that together
this threefold refrain serves a discourse function of providing coherence
for the major section 3.1-11.24.  This section focuses on the public and
explicit ministry of Jesus to disciples (5.1) in the presence of the
multitudes (7.28), teaching the Kingdom ethic and demonstrating the Kingdom
power.  The open attack on his ministry by the religious establishment does
not begin until ch.12, and the official parable-obscurantist ministry does
not begin until ch.13.

IMO, this refrain should be seen as a summary statement not just of a/the
message of Jesus, but of the revelation of the Kingdom in this section of
Matthew.  The Perfect aspect indicates the presence/nearness of the Kingdom
power/authority that is exhibited in the ministry of Jesus.  For JB, we
might arguably expect future tense, but find the Perfect because the
Present-time within which JB is speaking is bigger than a mere second or
hour or day, but encompasses the current relevant sequence of events that
are held within John's immediate attention and concern and message.  In
faith he looks ahead with confidence to the immediacy of the Messiah.
Matthew then uses this message to issue a call for the reader to repent
based on the nearness of the Kingdom exhibited through Jesus' ministry.

The debate about whether HGGIKEN should be translated as 'come near' or
'arrived' is, IMHO, based more on one's overall eschatological emphasis
(Realized--Dodd, Initiated, etc.) rather than the meaning of this one verb.
The two meanings are both within the scope of the one word, and can at most
merely reflect a difference of completeness or degree.  On the other hand,
no one word can either make or break a viable theology.  With either
translation, the meaning remains that in Jesus' ministry, something special
about God's Kingdom is taking place.  I think the rest of the narrative
bears this out, and gives the meat to flesh out a fully developed

God Bless!
Joe Friberg

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