The Kingdom Of God Suffers Violence: What Did Jesus Mean?

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Published by Kenneth Garcia


Co-Founder of Biblekeeper, Author & Theologian

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The Greek word biazo, which the New King James Version translates as “pressing” in Luke 16:16—”the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it”—is also translated as “suffers violence” in the passage of Matthew. Using force, using one’s power, acting forcefully, assaulting, inflicting pain, oppressing, or restraining someone are all definitions of this term in secular usage.

Everyone wants to be in the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom experiences violence because violent people force their way in. Nonetheless, this leads to an inquiry into what kind of violence is meant. Who are these individuals? And how do they forcefully seize the kingdom? A deeper comprehension of the Divine Kingdom is necessary to fully understand these passages.

Key Takeaways

  • The phrase “The Kingdom of God suffers violence” reflects the intense pursuit and challenges faced by those seeking to enter God’s kingdom, rather than implying that the kingdom itself is under attack.
  • Jesus’ teachings, especially through John the Baptist and His own ministry, indicate that entry into the Kingdom of God requires active effort and may involve facing opposition and hardships.
  • Despite the violence or opposition faced, the ultimate triumph of God’s Kingdom is assured, and those who persistently seek it can find salvation and eternal life.

What Does It Mean That The Kingdom Of God Suffers Violence?

John The Baptist

Indeed, there has never been a greater man born of a woman than the Prophet John the Baptist[1], and the Heavenly Kingdom has seen violence since his time. Violent individuals have taken it by force. The passage “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence” is inserted between a few key verses concerning John the Baptist in the chapters of Matthew.

According to Jesus, the prophet John the Baptist was the greatest person (prior to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth) to have ever walked in 4000 years since Adam. It means that John was more influential than Abraham, Noah, Joshua, Moses, and all the prophets and apostles.

Nonetheless, Jesus declared that everyone in the Heavenly Kingdom—even the most helpless and lowly among them—was greater than John the Baptist and all the previous patriarchs, beginning with the declaration of the kingdom of God descending to the earth.


According to Jesus, Malachi’s prediction that Elijah the Hebrew prophet will arrive before the coming of the Lord was accomplished by John the Baptist. As Malachi 4:5-6 reads, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

Christ first appeared in human history, but He will also return in the future. Similarly to this, many people think Malachi’s prophecy will be fulfilled twice. Elijah is one of the Prophetic Two Witnesses in Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation and came back in the end times, just like how John completed the prophecy two thousand years prior.

To this end, in the twenty-first century, Messianic and Jewish Christian households always prepare a seat at the family table for Elijah in preparation for his predicted return during the annual Passover meal.

How Can God’s Kingdom Suffer Violence?

The key, as previously said, is to comprehend how the terms “heavenly kingdom” or “kingdom of God” are utilized. We are aware that there will be a future manifestation of the Kingdom of God when Jesus will reign over all peoples and His resurrected brethren and sisters will rule alongside Him.

There’s also a concept in the present that because we have been welcomed into God’s Kingdom, we now enjoy heavenly citizenship. The Divine Kingdom already includes us. Although not yet fully realized, it’s a present experience for the first fruits and will soon become a global reality.

But, there is a different perspective on the Kingdom of God. According to Matthew 4:17, Christ was speaking to Himself when He declared, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” which is a phrase that denotes proximity. He was referring to Himself when He said that the Divine Kingdom was among them or in their presence (Luke 17:21).

Since the king is a kingdom’s supreme symbol, the kingdom is always there whenever the king is present. These observations enable us to realize that Jesus was speaking of Himself. He was referring to the persecution He had already experienced during His work and would experience in the days leading up to His tragic death.

Do Violent People Have Something To Do With The Violence In God’s Kingdom?

The throngs of people who had followed John remained devoted to following Christ’s teachings (Luke 5:15; 12:1). The answer to Christ’s claim that violence occurs in the divine kingdom lies in this. Jesus compares the massive throngs who had followed John and were now pursuing Him to an army that is encircling a city in order to take it.

From John the Baptist’s days until now, we’ve seen an enormous influx of people crowding in from all directions, hoping to get a blessing. Metaphorically speaking, the kingdom of heaven “suffers violence” because so many people flocked to hear the message that they looked like an army attempting to blockade a certain city.

Furthermore, the statement “they violently take it by force” alludes to the fact that although those entering the kingdom weren’t violent in the traditional sense, their excitement for the arrival of the Savior was so great that it felt like they were invading a city and breaking the windows and doors to get in. Christ’s remark that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence” paints a vivid picture of the zeal and intensity that their teachings evoked in listeners.

The public was yearning for the answers and wasn’t going to be deterred. Since God’s prophets had been prophesying about the Messiah for so long, nothing could stop the tide of people who were pushing into the kingdom once the Messiah had arrived. In Luke 5:18–19, we can observe some of this intensity, when several men broke through a firm roof to reach Jesus, and even in John 6:15, a multitude “planned to arrive and forcibly appoint him King.”

an ancient mystical city on floating islands and the kingdom of god suffers violence

What Sort Of Violence Does The Kingdom Suffer From?

In the preceding passage of Chapter 10 in the Book of Matthew, Jesus forewarns the disciples of tribulation, scourging, and even death. But even as God’s kingdom advances furiously, mankind loots it by stealing its most valuable resources: the kingdom’s human representatives. The English translation of the verb harpazō used in the context of the Bible is “snatch” or “seize.”

Aggressive men capture kingdom inhabitants by torturing, detaining, and murdering them, by which they are suffering violence as the scripture shows, but still, the kingdom continues to move forward. When the others were defeated and died, the kingdom made sure that one of the remaining citizens took the throne. As a result, although there isn’t much violence in the kingdom, the inhabitants experience it which is unfortunate.

When we share the Gospel passionately and successfully in the wrong places, where resistance is fierce, we will experience persecution. In fact, Matthew 10 advises that we leave the place if we face persecution. Running away is perfectly acceptable; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. The bigger point is that those who seek to destroy the kingdom will steal its most precious assets, namely its active messengers like the prophet John the Baptist.

Hence, the more devout we become, the more likely it is that our relatives and close friends will try to negate us on some level. In their own, often subtle, ways, they will occasionally (though not usually) mock us for our devotion.

Non-religious people don’t fully understand why we attend church so frequently. Nevertheless, we should remain steadfast in moving forward and following the kingdom. The kingdom did not suffer, but occasionally people who pursued it did.

How To Understand “The Kingdom Of God Suffers Violence”?

According to Matthew 11:12, Jesus, along with the people in whom He resides, experienced violent attacks, including assaults involving verbal abuse, mental or physical kind, suffering, oppression, restraint, and perhaps even execution, from the time of John’s teaching to that of Christ—and possibly today. The strong and self-centered individuals of this world “seize” that Kingdom by obstructing its people in some way, just like they’d do in a besieged city.

The Kingdom Of God On Earth

Parallel to this, Jesus says in Luke 16:16 that the Divine Kingdom has been proclaimed and that everyone opposes it using violence, denoting opposition in various forms, in order to restrain or oppress the King, the kingdom, and His subjects. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” as John wrote (John 1:11).

Thus, the gospel revelation was not broadly acknowledged. Those whose names were called saw the consequence of it (Isaiah 55:11). Others yearned for the restoration of Judah’s kingdom, and they were presumably prepared to wait and observe this One as He walked about, as observers rather than opponents and adversaries.

The message, however, was viewed as a danger by those having a stake in upholding the existing quo in politics and religion, and individuals associated with the said Kingdom of the Lord Jesus faced a variety of opposition and persecution before, and more so, after His execution.

The Scribes And Pharisees’ Opposition

As an illustration, have a look at what Jesus said: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). At that time, some people were trying to enter the Kingdom, but they were being prevented from doing so by the scribes and Pharisees’ tyranny and opposition.

According to John 9:22, “The Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged that He was Jesus, he would be driven out of the synagogue.” The Pharisees and scribes, in addition to those who were swayed by them, persecuted the people that God was inviting into His Kingdom.

There was such hostility that the Lord and King Himself was the victim of the worst act of violence ever committed: a horde of creatures chastising their immaculate Creator willfully and with such vile resentment.

Modern Christians Face Adversities

A comparable situation exists today. In one region of the world, even nominal Christians are persecuted by Muslims, while in another, humanists and secularists obstruct, mock, and restrict others. Real Christians face various forms of violence and are accused of being cults and heretics. This aggression and hatred need not be physical in nature. It may be verbal. It may be passive acts. Opposition or resistance can take many different forms.

Wherever Satan’s presence is prevalent, his children obstruct the path of people who are in Jesus or are being called to Him. They mock the truth of God’s omnipotence and reject the regal authority of the Kingdom of God. They mock the words He made for the believers. The degree of violence experienced by the Kingdom will vary, but it is there wherever the monarch of this earth has power.

Jesus Christ As Our Savior

Jesus states through John 16:33 that we shall face persecution in the world, but He also encourages us to “take heart,” noting that He has already triumphed over the world. God’s Holy Spirit will protect us as Jesus places restrictions on the amount of violence He will tolerate, and He will use whatever violence He does tolerate for His own purposes.

The brutality Jesus Christ endured in our place will always be greater than the violence we experience. Though the violence and aggression against the Kingdom of God will eventually be put to an end, and the violent individuals will have the chance to worship the Almighty King they have violated (Zechariah 12:10). And when we suffered violence with Christ, God bless us, we will be given and blessed with eternal life in heaven.

a celestial realm filled with golden architecture and the kingdom of god suffers violence


Since the ministry of John the Baptist, men have been firmly pressing into the divine kingdom of heaven (biazetai), and restless men (biastai) have pursued it, seized it, and firmly laid claim to it too (harpazousin). The common interpretation of the phrase “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence” is inaccurate. It conveys a negative, defensive viewpoint, as though the armies of the devil are attacking God’s kingdom. Contrarily, this is real.

Christians face various forms of violence from others who don’t believe in God. The kingdom did not suffer, but occasionally people who pursued it did. This teaches us that we cannot passively enter God’s kingdom. We have to deliberately fight for it, chase it, and hold onto it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does “The Kingdom Of God Suffers Violence” Mean In A Biblical Context?

In a biblical context, “The Kingdom of God suffers violence” means that since the time of John the Baptist, there has been a fervent and aggressive pursuit of entry into the Kingdom of God, characterized by challenges and opposition faced by those seeking to enter.

Who Was John The Baptist In Relation To The Violence In God’s Kingdom?

John the Baptist, in relation to the violence in God’s Kingdom, was a significant figure whose ministry marked the beginning of this aggressive pursuit, as people sought the Kingdom of God with an intensity that Jesus likened to violence.

How Does The Concept Of Violence Relate To The Believers Of The Kingdom Of God?

The concept of violence relates to the believers in the Kingdom of God in that they may face opposition, persecution, and hardships in their pursuit and efforts to enter and promote the Kingdom, reflecting a spiritual struggle rather than physical violence.

What Is The Significance Of Elijah In The Context Of The Kingdom Of God?

In the context of the Kingdom of God, Elijah’s significance lies in his prophetic role, which Jesus attributes to John the Baptist, symbolizing the turning of people’s hearts back to God and the preparation for the coming of the Lord.

How Should Modern Christians Interpret And Respond To The Idea That The Kingdom Of God Suffers Violence?

Modern Christians should interpret the idea that the Kingdom of God suffers violence as a call to active faith and resilience, understanding that while they may face spiritual opposition, their persistent pursuit of the Kingdom is crucial and ultimately rewarded.

What Assurance Does Jesus Provide Regarding The Violence Against The Kingdom Of God?

Jesus provides assurance regarding the violence against the Kingdom of God by stating that despite the challenges and opposition, He has overcome the world, and His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will be protected and can find peace and victory in Him.

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