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Luke 17:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Cometh not with observation - With scrupulous observation. That this is the proper meaning of the original, μετα παρατηρησεως, Kypke and others have amply proved from the best Greek writers. As if he had said: "The kingdom of God, the glorious religion of the Messiah, does not come in such a way as to be discerned only by sagacious critics, or is only to be seen by those who are scrupulously watching for it; it is not of such a nature as to be confined to one place, so that men might say of it, Behold it is only here, or only there: for this kingdom of God is publicly revealed; and behold it is among you; I proclaim it publicly, and work those miracles which prove the kingdom of God is come; and none of these things are done in a corner."

Dr. Lightfoot has well observed that there are two senses especially in which the phrase "kingdom of heaven," is to be understood.

  1. The promulgation and establishment of the Christian religion.
  • The total overthrow of the Jewish polity.
  • The Jews imagined that when the Messiah should come he would destroy the Gentiles, and reign gloriously over the Jews: the very reverse of this, our Lord intimates, should be the case. He was about to destroy the whole Jewish polity, and reign gloriously among the Gentiles. Hence he mentions the case of the general deluge, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As if he had said: "The coming of this kingdom shall be as fatal to you as the deluge was to the old world, and as the fire and brimstone from heaven were to Sodom and Gomorrah." Our Lord states that this kingdom of heaven was within them, i.e. that they themselves should be the scene of these desolations, as, through their disobedience and rebellion, they possessed the seeds of these judgments. See on Matthew 3:2; (note).

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Was demanded - Was asked.

    Of the Pharisees - This was a matter of much importance to them, and they had taught that it would come with parade and pomp. It is not unlikely that they asked this merely in “contempt,” and for the purpose of drawing out something that would expose him to ridicule.

    The kingdom of God - The “reign” of God; or the dispensation under the Messiah. See the notes at Matthew 3:2.

    With observation - With scrupulous and attentive looking for it, or with such an appearance as to “attract” observation - that is, with pomp, majesty, splendor. He did not deny that, according to their views, the time was drawing near; but he denied that his kingdom would come in the “manner” in which they expected. The Messiah would “not” come with pomp like an earthly prince; perhaps not in such a manner as to be “discerned” by the eyes of sagacious and artful people, who were expecting him in a way agreeable to their own feelings. The kingdom of God is “within” people, and it makes its way, not by pomp and noise, but by silence, decency, and order, 1 Corinthians 14:40.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The kingdom of God was among the Jews, or rather within some of them. It was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the heart by the power of Divine grace. Observe how it had been with sinners formerly, and in what state the judgments of God, which they had been warned of, found them. Here is shown what a dreadful surprise this destruction will be to the secure and sensual. Thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. When Christ came to destroy the Jewish nation by the Roman armies, that nation was found in such a state of false security as is here spoken of. In like manner, when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, sinners will be found altogether regardless; for in like manner the sinners of every age go on securely in their evil ways, and remember not their latter end. But wherever the wicked are, who are marked for eternal ruin, they shall be found by the judgments of God.
    Ellen G. White
    This Day With God, 193.5

    God desires men to understand the claims He has upon them. He will judge any man who shall interpose between his fellow men and their God, to lead them into paths not cast up for the ransomed. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). He has ordained that His works shall be presented before the world in distinct, holy, sacred lines. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, but by the gentleness of the inspiration of His word, by the operation of His Spirit in the soul. His work in many places of the world would now be much farther advanced had not man interposed between the people and God, to do a work God has not appointed.—Letter 93, July 3, 1900, to Elder G. A. Irwin, president of the General Conference. TDG 193.5

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    Ellen G. White
    That I May Know Him, 50.2

    The world's Redeemer did not come with outward display, or a show of worldly wisdom. Men could not see beneath the disguise of humility the glory of the Son of God.... TMK 50.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 497

    Among God's people are some who have had long experience in His work, men who have not departed from the faith. Notwithstanding the great trials through which they have passed, they have remained faithful. These men should be regarded as tried and chosen counselors. They should be respected, and their judgment should be honored by those who are younger or who have had less experience, even though these younger men may be in official positions. TM 497.1

    We are engaged in a great work, and there are many opportunities for service in various lines. Let all pray earnestly that God may guide them into the right channels of service. God's workmen should not neglect any opportunity to help others in every possible way. If they seek God unselfishly for counsel, His word, which bringeth salvation, will lead them. They will engage in labor on the right hand and on the left, doing their best to remove from the minds of others every doubt and every difficulty in understanding the truth. The Spirit of God will make their labors effectual. TM 497.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 143

    Thus in their business life Christ's followers are to be light bearers to the world. God does not ask them to make an effort to shine. He approves of no self-satisfied attempt to display superior goodness. He desires that their souls shall be imbued with the principles of heaven, and then, as they come in contact with the world, they will reveal the light that is in them. Their honesty, uprightness, and steadfast fidelity in every act of life will be a means of illumination. 7T 143.1

    The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. It comes through the gentleness of the inspiration of His word, through the inward working of His Spirit, the fellowship of the soul with Him who is its life. The greatest manifestation of its power is seen in human nature brought to the perfection of the character of Christ. 7T 143.2

    An appearance of wealth or position, expensive architecture or furnishings, are not essential to the advancement of the work of God; neither are achievements that win applause from men and administer to vanity. Worldly display, however imposing, is of no value with God. 7T 143.3

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