Your kingdom come

Indeed, what are we praying for when we pronounce these absolutely unique words, “Thy kingdom come”? Above all, of course, we pray that this encounter may take place now, here, and today, in the present circumstances, that in my mundane and difficult life I could hear the words, “the kingdom is near you,” and that my life would be filled with the power and light of the kingdom, with the power and light of faith, love, and hope. Furthermore, we desire that the whole world, which so evidently lies in evil and longing, in fear and in striving, would see and receive this light, which entered the world some two thousand years ago, when at the outskirts of the Roman empire was heard that lonely, yet still sounding voice: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt. 3:2). We pray also that God would help us to not betray this kingdom, not to constantly fall away from it, not to sink into the engulfing darkness, and that finally, this kingdom of God would come in power, as Christ says.

–Alexander Schmemann, Our Father

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“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Here, in Matthew 3:2, is at least one instance where the NIV2011 offers a slightly better rendering, in my opinion, than the ESV (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”), and is certainly an improvement over the NIV84 (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”). Although the ESV is better than the NIV84, the NIV2011 better captures the perfect tense of the original Greek. In his Grammar of the Greek New Testament, A.T. Robinson categorizes the verb as an extensive present perfect=a completed state, and here it is likely “durative-punctiliar”. Fancy grammar aside, when the definition of the Greek word engizo (“draw near, come near, approach” according to BDAG) is combined with the perfect tense, “has come near” seems a very good translation, which reflects the decisive change that Jesus’ coming has inaugurated.

Published in: on February 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm  Comments (1)  
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