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Governmental Introduction To The Kingdom Of God Part 1

Governmental Introduction To The Kingdom Of God Part 1

Biblical Theology of Mission Course – 6a

 

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This teaching gives a detailed overview of the government of God, thus helping to define His Kingdom and how it is run.

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GOVERNMENTAL INTRODUCTION TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Diagram1-Christonaturalistic-Salvation Diagram2-Messianic-Salvation

INTRODUCTION: HISTORICAL CONCEPTS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

INTRODUCTION: HISTORICAL CONCEPTS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Definition concerning the “Kingdom of God” is one of the most disputed subjects in church history.  What exactly is the “Kingdom”?  How does it function?  And, who does it involve?  There have been many different interpretations over the centuries including:

A.           Kingdom = Church.  As most clearly defined by Augustine, the Church universal is the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the physical realm.[1]  Put differently, the Kingdom of God finds metaphysical substantiality in the Church.  Thus, the Kingdom is ultimately identified and equated with the church.  From Augustine to the Reformers, this was the prevalent view, and still remains the underlying foundation for most modern understanding of the Kingdom of God.[2]

B.           Kingdom = Moral Ethic.  With the rise of liberalism during the Enlightenment, the Kingdom of God became viewed as simply a personal religious experience in which God reigns over the individual soul through the moral teachings of the Bible, especially those of Jesus.[3]

C.   Kingdom = Apocalyptic Eschaton.  At the turn of the 20th century, the idea that Jesus believed in a purely eschatological reality of the Kingdom became popular.[4]  The Kingdom is simply an idea that finds fulfillment at the end of the age when God destroys evil from the earth, much like that of the Jewish apocalypses.[5]  Thus, since the Kingdom never actually came, Jesus died in despair and disillusionment, a deluded first-century apocalyptist.

D.   Kingdom = Divine Reign.  The increasingly common view of the Kingdom of God in modern academia is classically proposed by George Eldon Ladd: “the Kingdom of God means God’s rule or sovereignty… The coming of the Kingdom for which we pray in the Lord’s Prayer means that God’s will be done on earth, i.e. that his rule be perfectly realized (Mt. 6:10).  The ‘kingdom’ that Jesus appointed for his disciples (Lk. 22:29) is ‘royal rule.’”[6]  This is the Kingdom commonly referred to as “already—but not yet,” which primarily attempts to deal with both the present and eschatological realities of the Kingdom.[7]

Diagram3-Gods-Reign-Kingdom-Of-God

E.    Kingdom = Dispensational Schema.  In dispensationalism, the Kingdom of God is simply the means of “salvation,” which is attained by the dispensation of “grace” over time throughout redemptive history.  Arguing for a “literal” interpretation of scripture, classical British and American dispensationalists make a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church, corresponding to a sharp distinction between the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Heaven.”[8]  The Church rules with God in heaven, while Israel will rule on the earth through the restored Davidic “theocratic kingdom.”[9]  Thus, the Church and Israel have two separate destinies under two separate divine programs of redemption within the Kingdom of God.[10]

 Diagram4-Dispensational-Schema-Kingdom-Of-God

F.    Kingdom = Real Governmental Entity.  In this study we will focus on the Kingdom of God as a real governmental entity with a dominion extending over a real existential region.  The Kingdom of God is just that: a kingdom—“the domain ruled by a king or queen.”[11]  A kingdom is essentially a government, with a governor at its head, which has ownership of a region (i.e. the heavens and earth), thereby entitling it to authority concerning the decisions made therein.  It is a real government, presently functioning in an amnestic manner, that will maintain its law eschatologically by executing judgment upon the wicked.

1.    Thus, the Kingdom of God is not an arbitrary “reign of God” that finds “realization” on the earth, but rather it is a real kingdom in real time over real space, whose existence has been from everlasting to everlasting (cf. Ps. 29:10; 145:13; Dan. 4:34, etc.) and whose dominion has never diminished or decreased (cf. 1 Chr. 29:10ff; Ps. 103:19ff; Is. 40:21f; Jer. 27:5, etc.).

Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.  11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. (ESV 1 Chronicles 29:10-11)

This is what the LORD says: “The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me?” (NET Isaiah 66:1)[12]

2.    Moreover, the Kingdom of God has not functioned in different arbitrary “dispensations,” but rather it has related uniformly in a governmental manner, administrated on the basis of covenants, which are not simply promises but holistic “agreements” made over time between the Kingdom of God and representatives of the kingdom of man, ultimately prophesying the restoration of the original Adamic order.


[1] See City of God, 20.6-10; e.g., “Therefore the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, even now His saints reign with Him…” (ch. 9).

[2] Though a classical Augustinian definition of the Kingdom is seldom officially defended today in the academic realm, even among Catholic scholars, the Church/Kingdom Theory is generally assumed at a popular level across Body of Christ (though not logically applied, except among camps of “dominionism” (e.g. Dominion Theology, Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy, Kingdom Now Theology, etc.).

[3] As exemplified by Adolf von Harnack, What Is Christianity? (1901), trans. T. B. Saunders (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1987).

[4] See Johannes Weiss, Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God (1892), trans. R. H. Hiers and D. L. Holland (Fortress Press, 1971); and Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1911), ed. John Bowden (Fortress Press, 2001).  For a more modern application, see Werner G. Kümmel, Promise and Fulfillment (A. R. Allenson, 1957).

[5] Later, “realized eschatology” tried to deal with the present reality of the Kingdom—that a numinous transcendent reality beyond time and space (the “wholly other”) has broken into history through the mission of Jesus, which will ultimately find fulfillment at the end of the age [see C. H. Dodd, The Founder of Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1970); see also Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology I: The Proclamation of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1971).].

[6] G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, Revised ed., D. A. Hagner ed. (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993), 60-61; originally put forth by Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (P & R Publishing, 1952); see also G. E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism (revised and updated version of Jesus and the Kingdom, 1970) (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974, reprint ed., 1996), and G. E. Ladd, “The Kingdom of God – Reign or Realm?” JBL 31:230-238 (1962).  A more recent treatment is seen in Ben Witherington III, Jesus, Paul and the End of the World: A Comparative Study in New Testament Eschatology (InterVarsity Press, 1992).

[7] The strength of this view is that the Kingdom of God has present and eschatological implications.  However, there is still a strong sense of metaphysical dualism, as seen in its theology of “the coming of the Kingdom” and its consistent use of “manifestation” type language.  In this regard, the Kingdom of God has limited involvement in the OT because the “coming” of the Kingdom was substantially achieved at the time of Jesus.

[8] See J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Zondervan Publishing, 1965); John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom: A Basic Text in Premillennial Theology (Dunham Publishing, 1959); Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Moody, 1965).

[9] See George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, 3 Vols. (Kregel Academic & Professional, 1952).

[10] The power of this view is that the Kingdom of God is seen as both present and eschatological, and more importantly it is a substantial and independent entity.  However, the dispensational redemptive program and the duality between Israel and the Church simply cannot be sustained by scripture.  Chart by Shawn Abigail, “Dispensational Chart,” available at http://www.brethrenonline.org/graphics/dispen2.gif.

[11] HyperDictionary.com, “Kingdom,” available from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=kingdom.

[12] Often Scripture directly equates “house” and “kingdom”, e.g. Gen. 41:40; 2 Sam. 3:10; 7:13, 16; 16:3, 8; 1 Kgs 12:21, 26; 14:8; 1 Chr. 17:14; 2 Chr. 11:1; 22:9; Is. 9:7; 22:32; Jer. 22:4; 33:17; Ez. 43:7; Hos. 1:4; Amos 9:8; Matt. 13:52; 20:1; Luke 1:33.

THE DIVINE IMAGE AS AN EPISTEMOLOGICAL STARTING POINT

THE DIVINE IMAGE AS AN EPISTEMOLOGICAL STARTING POINT

A.    Marriage

1.    Divine Reality

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…  9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (NIV Revelation 21:1-9)

2.    Human Image

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV Genesis 2:24)

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church30 because we are members of his body.  31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (cf. Gen 2:24) 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (ESV Ephesians 5:28-32)

B.    Parenting

1.    Divine Reality

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…” (NIV Genesis 1:26)

2.    Human Image

When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. (NIV Genesis 5:3)

C.   Government

1.    Divine Reality

Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. (NIV 1 Kings 22:19)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. (NIV Isaiah 6:1)

Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. (NIV Ezekiel 1:26)

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.  4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.  5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,  6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind (ESV Revelation 4:2-6)

2.    Human Image

Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth.  9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD… 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. (NIV Genesis 10:8-10)

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.  40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” (ESV Genesis 41:39-40)

OVERVIEW OF THE UNIVERSAL ELEMENTS OF GOVERNMENT

OVERVIEW OF THE UNIVERSAL ELEMENTS OF GOVERNMENT

A.    Government – The Kingdom of God is essentially a government, which is that universal institution found in every realm of human relations: political (e.g. city, state, nation, etc), professional (education, business, military, etc), and private (civic, religious, recreational, family, etc).  In Scripture, government is the primary overarching theme which ties together the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (NIV Genesis 1:26)

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him… 5 And they will reign for ever and ever. (NIV Revelation 22:3-5)

1.    Well-being as the ultimate end of government – All government ultimately exists to establish the highest well-being (i.e. life, welfare, security, joy, gladness, etc.) of the whole.  In an ultimate existential context, “good” is simply that which leads to well-being, while “evil” is that which leads to ill-being.  In the beginning, God created everything for the infinite propagation of well-being, and likewise at the end, God will restore everything to achieve an infinite well-being.  The gospel is thus ultimately defined as ill-being in all its forms (e.g. death, sickness, pain, suffering, anxiety, etc) being eradicated from the earth—i.e. the resurrection of the dead.

God saw that the light was good10 And God saw that it (land and seas) was good12 And God saw that it (plants and trees) was good18 And God saw that it (sun, moon and stars) was good21 And God saw that it (fish and birds) was good 25 And God saw that it (land animals) was good31 God saw all that he had made (including man), and it was very good. (NIV Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… 4 There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life2 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (NIV Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-2)

2.    Government as the context for intimacy and relationship (i.e. love, union, communion, etc.), which is the means to well-being – Government itself is never the ultimate end.  It is secondary in nature, serving only to establish a context, or safe environment, for loving edifying relationships.  Ultimately, it is only through intimacy and communion that well-being is generated.  Thus, throughout Scripture God’s ultimate desire is to dwell with man that we might commune with Him and flourish in well-being.

…the LORD God…was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… (NIV Genesis 3:8)

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (NKJV Exodus 25:8)

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (NIV Revelation 21:3)

B.    Governor – The primary element of any government is its governor, because there must be one who decides and establishes that which actually leads to the well-being of the whole.  In other words, any time more than one being interacts, there is a differing of opinion concerning that which leads to well-being, and thus there must be a standard set concerning that which actually attains well-being.  From the beginning, God established Himself in this position as Supreme Governor over the heavens and the earth, delegating authority over the earth to humanity and sitting/resting enthroned over His creation.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished (cf. “founded” Gen. 40:21), and all the host of them.  2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested (Hb. shabath ~ yashab) on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (ESV Genesis 2:1-3)

  • <3427> bv;y” yashab {yaw-shab’}

Meaning:  1) to dwell, remain, sit, abide 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to sit, sit down 1a2) to be set 1a3) to remain, stay 1a4) to dwell, have one’s abode 1b) (Niphal) to be inhabited 1c) (Piel) to set, place 1d) (Hiphil) 1d1) to cause to sit 1d2) to cause to abide, set 1d3) to cause to dwell 1d4) to cause (cities) to be inhabited 1d5) to marry (give an dwelling to) 1e) (Hophal) 1e1) to be inhabited 1e2) to make to dwell

Origin:  a primitive root; TWOT – 922; v

Usage:  AV – dwell 437, inhabitant 221, sit 172, abide 70, inhabit 39, down 26, remain 23, in 22, tarry 19, set 14, continue 5, place 7, still 5, taken 5, misc 23; 1088

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded (cf. “finished” Gen. 2:1)?  22 He sits enthroned (Hb. yashab) above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens (cf. Gen. 2:1) like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in (Hb. yashab).  23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. (NIV Isaiah 40:21-23)

1.    Based on loving intent – The choosing and installing of a governor within a government is ultimately determined by the desire for the well-being of the whole.  The governor must love those whom he/she leads and makes decisions concerning their well-being vs. ill-being.  The fundamental revelation that God wants to communicate to those He governs is that He actually cares for their well-being—i.e. He loves His creation.

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.  6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (NIV Exodus 34:5-7)

The kings of the earth (who have no loving intent) take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One… 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them… saying,  6 “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill… 7 You are my Son; today I have become your Father (because of like benevolent character).  8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (NIV Psalm 2:2-8)

2.    Based on ability and power – Likewise, the governor must have the ability and power to actually follow through and establish the well-being of the whole.  A governor can possess loving intent toward the whole, but if he/she is incompetent and unable to implement the decisions for well-being, then the government fails in the end.

Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (NIV Revelation 19:15-16)

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong12 and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (NIV Psalm 62:11-12)

C.   Law – Once a governor comes into power, the first thing he/she does is establish authority over the decision making process concerning that which leads to well-being (good) vs. ill-being (evil).  This standard of well-being is the fundamental issue (regardless of time, space, culture, etc) of all government, i.e. the “knowledge of good and evil.”  What leads to well-being, and who gets to “know” or decide?

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge (Hb. daath) of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV Genesis 2:16-17)

One of the reasons for the lack of historical commentary on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is confusion concerning the nature of “knowledge” itself.  The Western concept of knowledge is generally abstract because of the underlying Hellenistic metaphysical construct.  However, the Hebraic concept of knowledge is always related to one’s experience of something.

  • <1847>  t[;D; da`ath {dah’-ath}

Meaning:  1) knowledge 1a) knowledge, perception, skill 1b) discernment, understanding[1]

Origin:  from 3045; TWOT – 848c; n m/f

Usage:  AV – knowledge 82, know 6, cunning 1, unwittingly 2 + 01097 2, ignorantly + 01097 1, unawares + 01097 1; 93

  • <3045>  [dy yada` {yaw-dah’}

Meaning:  1) to know 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to know 1a1a) to know, learn to know 1a1b) to perceive 1a1c) find out and discern 1a1d) to discriminate, distinguish 1a1e) to know by experience…[2]

Origin:  a primitive root; TWOT – 848; v

Usage:  AV – know 645, known 105, knowledge 19, perceive 18, shew 17, tell 8, wist 7, understand 7, certainly 7, acknowledge 6, acquaintance 6, consider 6, declare 6, misc 90; 947

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  5 For God knows (Hb. yada) that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing (Hb. yada) good and evil.”… 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing (Hb. yada) good and evil. (ESV Genesis 3:4-22)

  • Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew (Hb. yada) that they were naked. (ESV Genesis 3:7)
  • Now Adam knew (Hb. yada) Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” (ESV Genesis 4:1)

Another reason for the lack of commentary on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is because of its simple lack of use elsewhere in the Scriptures.  The phraseology of “good (Hb. tob) and evil (Hb. ra)” is only found seven times in the Old Testament (Gen. 2:9, 17; 3:5, 22; Deut 1:39; 2 Sam. 14:17; 1 Ki 3:9)

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”  6 And Solomon said… 9 “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern (Hb. bin) between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (ESV 1 Kings 3:5-9)

And your (king David’s) servant (the wise woman from Tekoa sent by Joab to save Absalom) thought, “The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,” for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern (Hb. shama) good and evil. The LORD your God be with you!”  18 Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide from me anything I ask you…” (ESV 2 Samuel 14:17-18)

Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge (Hb. yada) of (“between” KJV) good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. (NKJV Deuteronomy 1:39)

  • Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows (Hb. yada) how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (ESV Isaiah 7:14-15)

Thus, the Tree of Knowledge is not referring to an abstract non-experiential knowledge, but rather, it is referring to an active, involved possession of knowledge.  It would therefore be better translated (i.e. dynamic equivalence) “the tree of the discernment between good and evil.”  God was simply saying to Adam and Eve, “I don’t want you to assume ultimate possession over the decision making process concerning good and evil.”

The governor’s law has a subjective aspect (i.e. ultimate and unmeasurable authority over the decision making process) and an objective aspect (i.e. the specific and measurable rules or precepts which flow from that position of authority over the decision making process).

1.    Disobedience – Sin is simply the transgression or disobedience of a governor’s law (i.e. his/her knowledge of good vs. evil), which corresponds to the two aspects of law:

a)    Subjective Aspect (pride) – Sin begins internally within the heart as an attitude of superiority toward the governor’s ultimate authority over the knowledge of good vs. evil.  This unmeasurable attitude of superiority is commonly known as “pride.”

b)             Objective Aspect (moral autonomy) – Sin finds consummation externally with an independent action in violation of the governor’s contextual knowledge of good vs. evil, which causes measurable damage to the well-being of the whole—i.e. “moral autonomy.”[3]

When the woman saw (subjective aspect) that the fruit of the tree was good (vs. evil) for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom (i.e. knowledge), she took some and ate it (objective aspect). (NIV Genesis 3:6)

2.    Obedience – The opposite of sin and rebellion is submission and compliance toward a governor’s law, which also corresponds to the two aspects of law.

a)    Subjective Aspect (humility) – Obedience to the law ultimately begins at the heart level with an attitude of surrender toward the governor’s ultimate authority over the knowledge of good vs. evil.  This is the opposite of pride, commonly known as “humility.”

b)    Objective Aspect (moral submission) – Humility finds consummation externally with actions in congruence with the governor’s law, which contribute to the well-being of the whole.  This is the opposite of moral autonomy—i.e. “moral submission.”

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself (subjective aspect) and became obedient (objective aspect) to death– even death on a cross! (NIV Philippians 2:5-8)

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God (subjective aspect) and keep his commandments (objective aspect), for this is the whole duty of man.  14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (NIV Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)


[1] “This feminine noun is from the root y¹da± “to know.” The root expresses knowledge gained in various ways by the senses. The noun occurs ninety-three times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the wisdom literature… da±at is a general term for knowledge, particularly that which is of a personal, experimental nature (Prov 24:5)… da±at is also used for discernment (Psa 119:66). Both deeds committed unintentionally (Deut 4:42; Deut 19:4; Josh 20:3, 5) and mistaken opinions are “without knowledge” (lœ° da±at, Prov 19:2).” (“t[;D; (da±at),” TWOT, 848c.)

[2] “This root, occurring a total of 944 times, is used in every stem and expresses a multitude of shades of knowledge gained by the senses. Its closest synonyms are bîn “to discern” and n¹kar “to recognize.” The root is found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and the Qumran materials. In addition to “know,” the KJV uses the archaic forms “wot” and “wist.”… In certain contexts it means “to distinguish.” “To know good and evil” (Gen 3:5, 22) is the result of disobeying God. To distinguish between these is necessary for the king (2Sam 14:17). A child cannot distinguish between the left and right hands (Jon 4:11) nor between good and evil (Deut 1:39; Isa 7:15).” (“[d;y” (y¹da±),” TWOT, 848.)

[3] Considering the centrality of the Tree of Knowledge, the sheer lack of historical commentary on it is staggering.  When it is written about, it is generally interpreted in one of three ways: 1) ignorance (i.e. God wanted humanity to remain ignorant about evil, perpetually knowing only that which is good), 2) immaturity (i.e. God wanted humanity to remain perpetually incapable of making decisions of good vs. evil), or 3) moral autonomy (i.e. God wanted authority over the decision making process).  The last phrase was originally coined by W. Malcolm Clarke [“Legal Background to the Yahwist’s use of ‘good and evil’ in Genesis 2-3,” JBL 88:266-78 (1969)] in reference to decisions made in a legal context bearing legal responsibility, i.e. deciding what is right without reference to God’s revealed will.  Unfortunately, these decisions were never interpreted within a larger governmental framework.

John John (119 Posts)

John lives in Columbia, SC with his wife, Lydia, and four children. He travels and teaches on the Cross, the return of Jesus, and the Great Commission.


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