Updated: Dec 30, 2021
What does the violent take it by force scripture mean? Matthew 11:12 (NASB) says "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." When I first read this I thought it meant that Satan and his demons were attacking God and His kingdom. After reading and studying, I found that it meant something different.
One thing to remember when studying scripture is to ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and to look before and sometimes after the referenced verse. If you look at verse 11, you can see that Jesus was talking about how great John the Baptist was. Mark 1:4-5 you can see that many people came to be baptized and repented of their sins.
Mark 1:4-5 says:
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
John the Baptist and Jesus had huge crowds that followed them. People were desperately coming to them to hear their teachings and were seeking after God and repenting of their sins. Think about it, the people had been reading of the coming messiah for years, then He actually shows up. Of course there would be masses of people flocking to Him. John led to the way and prophesied that the Messiah was coming soon. The people heard, believed, and responded with faith.
The violent take it by force scripture is just a figurative way to show the excitement and zeal that the people had towards John's message and the coming of Jesus. The people were so excited that they literally tried to take Jesus by force! John 6:14-15 says "Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” So Jesus, aware that they intended to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself, alone."
Here are some other versions of Matthew 11:2 to get a better understanding of the way Jesus spoke of the violent take it by force.
Amplified Classic Version (AMPC)
And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].
King James Version (KJV)
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Worldwide English Version (WE)
From the time of John until now, people try hard to break into the kingdom of heaven. And strong people take hold of it.
International Children's Bible Version (ICB)
Since the time John the Baptist came until now, the kingdom of heaven has been going forward in strength. People using force have been trying to take the kingdom.
Amplified Version (AMP)
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize].
The Bible is not just some book. It is the living and active supernatural word of God (Hebrews 4:12). One part might mean a literal meaning and another just a parable. It can also be used for many meanings. This particular scripture explains that sometimes you have to be like a violent person to get what you want. Not violent that you have to physically or verbally abuse someone, but that you will stop at nothing to obtain what you are after.
In the case of Matthew 11:12, these people were deliberately pursuing the kingdom of God with such intensity that Jesus called it violent. Proverbs talks about pursuing God's wisdom in the way that people pursue silver and gold (money). I would consider this as violent as the way Jesus described it regarding the kingdom of heaven. Most people strive as hard as they can to make more money. Why don't we strive like this after God?
Proverbs 2:1-6 says
My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom; Incline your heart to understanding. For if you cry out for insight. And raise your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Think what kind of relationship you would have with God if you spent even 1/100 of the energy you spend towards making money. Think of the wisdom and understanding you would have. The violence that Jesus describes can get you that wisdom and understanding. Not to mention everything that comes with wisdom and understanding.
Don't just look at these verses as just one meaning. Take the time to study and meditate on them. God will give you wisdom and understanding beyond what you can think or see. He is the author of life and everything we can think or dream of. "...Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you." (Matthew 6:33)
Like this article or have something to add about the violent take it by force scripture? Leave a comment below. No need to register or sign in.