Pope Francis on Violence, Jesus, and the Kingdom of God


Zenit, a pro-Vatican news agency reported the following about Pope Francis:

July 27, 2014

Pope Francis says Christians who wish to inherit the kingdom of heaven must place God first in their lives and say no to corruption and violence. …

The Pontiff said although Jesus “doesn’t bother explaining” what the kingdom is, he says it “is at hand,” for the Lord is not only “near” his people, but “among” them. …

On how to possess the kingdom, the Pope said Christians must put God first in their lives. “Giving primacy to God means having the courage to say no to evil, violence, oppression, and [instead] living a life of service to others and in favor of the law and the common good,” he said. “When a person finds God, the true treasure, they leave a selfish lifestyle and look to share with others the love that comes from God.”

Putting God first, the Holy Father explained, requires you “to have the courage to say no to any form of corruption and lawlessness” and “to be a servant of the truth and to assume every situation in the style of the living Gospel,” which is “manifested in the gift of self and attention to the poor and the excluded.”

Speaking off the cuff, the Pontiff asked those present a question. “How many of you read a passage of the Gospel every day?” He joked they didn’t need to raise their hands, but suggested they may be misplacing their priorities by asking: “How many of you rush to finish your work to not miss a soap opera?”  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-at-caserta-how-to-inherit-the-kingdom-of-god

As far as violence goes, history shows that Francis’ church has directly and employed employed violence against perceived opponents throughout the centuries.  Popes told the Crusaders that by dying in battle that they would attain the kingdom that way.  All of this is contrary to the Bible and what Pope Francis at least implied today.

Unlike the Church of Rome, the Church of God has always opposed its members participating in military and similar violence.  See also Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?

Jesus Taught About the Kingdom

As far as the report that Pope Francis said Jesus “doesn’t bother explaining” what the kingdom is, this shows a lack of understanding what is recorded in the gospel accounts that Jesus said.

Jesus taught that His followers would pray for the kingdom to come, hence they do not already possess it:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).

During His ministry, He sent the disciples out to preach the kingdom of God:

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2).

Jesus taught that His presence alone was not the kingdom, because it was not there yet:

28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28).

The kingdom is in the future, it is not here now as these verses from Mark show:

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast (Mark 9:47).

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23-25).

25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).

43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage (Mark 15:43).

Jesus taught that the kingdom is not now part of this present world:

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

Jesus taught that the kingdom will come after He comes again and that He will be its King:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:31-34).

Jesus provided some explanations of what the kingdom of God is like:

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Luke 13:18-21).

These parables suggests that, at first, the kingdom of God is quite small, but will become large.

Luke also recorded:

29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29).

Thus, the kingdom is something that one can sit down in. And that is true of all kingdoms. They have a king, they cover a geographic area, they have rules, and they have subjects.

Also, people will actually eat in the kingdom:

15 “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).

Since people will (in the future) eat in the kingdom, it is not just something set aside in their hearts now (in spite of mistranslations of Luke 17:21 which suggest otherwise).

The disciples knew that the kingdom was not within them, and that it had to appear as the following shows:

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately (Luke 19:11).

Jesus confirmed this, as Luke records:

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 21:29-31).

Jesus clearly showed that the kingdom of God was something that would happen in the future when He taught:

“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:15-18).

39 But one of those evildoers who were crucified with him was blaspheming him and he said, “If you are The Messiah, save yourself and save us also.” 40 And his companion rebuked him and he said to him, “Are you not even afraid of God? For you also are in condemnation with him. 41 And we justly so, because we are worthy, for we are repaid according to what we have done, but nothing evil has been done by this one.” 42 And he said to Yeshua, “My Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43But Yeshua said to him, “Amen, I say to you that today you shall be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

Jesus and His faithful followers did explain what the Kingdom of God was. For more information, see also The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church.

Seek First the Kingdom of God

Perhaps I should add that Pope Francis is correct in his insinuation that people should make time to read the gospels.  I would have stated that Christians should make Bible reading (the entire Bible and not just the gospels) and studying a true priority in their lives.  [We also have a free online Study the Bible Course. It is also available in French (Leçon 1 En francés), Kiswahili (Somo 1 Katika Kiswahili), Mandarin Chinese (首页 › 中国), Tagalog (KURSO SA PAG-ARAL NG BIBLYA), and Spanish (Lección 1 En castellano).]

Although I would have worded it differently, Pope Francis is also correct that one who truly wishes to be a Christian should seek first the Kingdom of God and make it a top priority.

The kingdom of God was not only the emphasis of Jesus’ ministry, He wanted it to be the top priority for those who would follow Him as He taught:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:31-32).

Notice that the kingdom will be given to a little flock. Hence the kingdom cannot be a massive church that now exists in the Western world nor the massive ecumenical-interfaith church that Pope Francis and the United Nations have advocated.  The Bible warns about the type of unity that these groups are working on (Revelation 13:4,8; 17; 18).

It is only AFTER the Kingdom of God is established on this earth that the true unity of faith can and will come per Zechariah 2:12-16, Ephesians 4:13, and Revelation 11:15-18.  See also Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians? A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? A related video would be United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
Study the Bible Course Want to learn more about the Bible? This new course is for you! It is also available in French (Leçon 1 En francés), Kiswahili (Somo 1 Katika Kiswahili), Mandarin Chinese (首页 › 中国), Tagalog (KURSO SA PAG-ARAL NG BIBLYA), and Spanish (Lección 1 En castellano).
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading. Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: 读圣经 Here is a link in the Spanish language: Lea la Biblia.
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? Former Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis. According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis is in the position of “Peter the Roman,” the pontiff who reigns during tribulations until around the time of the destruction of Rome. Do biblical prophecies warn of someone that sounds like Peter the Roman? Could Francis be the heretical antipope of Catholic private prophecies and the final Antichrist of Bible prophecy? Could a Jesuit be “the black pope”?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
The Last Pope Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Why might Pope Francis be the last pope? What happens if he is? Biblical and other prophecies help explain what to expect.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Amazon Book What does the Bible say about a pope near this time? Is the final pope to be an antipope and antichrist? Does Catholic prophecy point to Pope Francis as being the dreaded “Peter the Roman”? This 186 page book provides information and answers.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle This electronic version of the printed book which is available for only US$2.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle.

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