Chapter
Verse

Matthew 11:12

ESV From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.
NIV From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
NASB And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.
CSB From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.
NLT And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.
KJV And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

What does Matthew 11:12 mean?

Not all phrases are easy to translate into other languages. This verse represents a difficult concept to understand, and commentators offer several possible explanations of what Jesus meant. He has just said that John is the greatest person ever born, but that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is (Matthew 11:11).

The key phrase here, in the original Greek, is hē basileia tōn ouranōn biazetai, kai biastai harpazousin autēn. Most English translations follow the pattern of the ESV: "the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." Other translations, such as the NLT, render this as "the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it." The NASB adds some subtlety by noting, in footnotes, that these phrases can also be translated "is forcibly entered," and "seize it for themselves," respectively.

Jesus' reference to the days of John the Baptist likely means the time of John's ministry before he was imprisoned (Matthew 4:12). "Now," in this context, would then mean that moment in Jesus' ministry of introducing the kingdom of heaven.

The most direct meaning of these words seems to be that when Jesus began His public ministry, the kingdom of heaven was beginning on earth in the form of Jesus and His followers. But great opposition has risen up against heaven's kingdom in the form of men like Herod—who imprisoned John the Baptist—and the Jewish religious leaders.

Another possible meaning is that Jesus is speaking about the perversion of truth committed by His critics and opponents. In other words, a right understanding of the kingdom had been attacked. People had the wrong idea about what the kingdom of heaven really was. That's why John the Baptist asked if Jesus was really the Messiah. In that sense, then, Jesus would be saying that violent men are insisting the kingdom must be a political kingdom that begins by overthrowing the Romans. Jesus did not come to earth to do that.
Expand
Expand
Expand
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: