20.And being interrogated by the Pharisees This question was undoubtedly put in mockery; for, since Christ was continually speaking of the kingdom of God as at hand, while no change was taking place in the outward condition of the Jews, wicked and malicious persons looked upon this as a plausible excuse for harassing him. As if all that Christ said about the kingdom of God were idle talk and mere trifling, they put a sarcastic question to him, “When shall that kingdom come?” If any one shall consider this question to have been put on account of the grossness of their own views, rather than for the sake of jeering, I have no objection.
The kingdom of God will not come with observation. My opinion is, that Christ now disregards those dogs, and accommodates this reply to the disciples; just as on many other occasions, when he was provoked by wicked men, and seized the opportunity of giving instruction. In this manner God disappoints their malice, while the truth, which is maintained in opposition to their sophistry, is the more fully displayed.
The word observation is here employed by Christ to denote extraordinary splendor; (341) and he declares, that the kingdom of God will not make its appearance at a distance, or attended by pompous display. He means, that they are greatly mistaken who seek with the eyes of the flesh the kingdom of God, which is in no respect carnal or earthly, for it is nothing else than the inward and spiritual renewal of the soul. From the nature of the kingdom itself he shows that they are altogether in the wrong, who look around here or there, in order to observe visible marks. “That restoration of the Church,” he tells us, “which God has promised, must be looked for within; for, by quickening his elect into a heavenly newness of life, he establishes his kingdom within them.” And thus he indirectly reproves the stupidity of the Pharisees, because they aimed at nothing but what was earthly and fading. It must be observed, however, that Christ speaks only of the beginnings of the kingdom of God; for we now begin to be formed anew by the Spirit after the image of God, in order that our entire renovation, and that of the whole world, may afterwards follow in due time.