25.The Messianist Spirit, A World to Enslave?

The Apostles at first addressed themselves to millions of Hebrew-Arameans who lived in Palestine and even more of them who lived abroad, principally on the commercial routes of the East and West. Numerous were those who followed the Apostles despite the persecutions. Christianity speaks to people of the meaning of history, of hope, of motivation. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9, 28).

But a certain number have refused the announcing of the Gospel. It happened first in the circle of King Herod Agrippa [1] who finished by exalting himself as Messiah” [2]. Then the messianist spirit spread till it aroused in the year 66 a rebellion against the Roman protectorate called “the first Jewish war.” Finally, after 70, it took the form of the first messianist doctrine, that is to say, the first project of enslaving the world in the name of God, separating humans into “good” and “evil” and conceiving the salvation of the world as the submission or physical eradication of the “evil.” [3]

Of this vision of a world to enslave we find echoes even in the Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, who makes ‘Umar say (on the occasion of the reconstruction of the city of Kufa): “Do… [but] Keep faithfully the practices followed by the Prophet (~) and you will always keep the empire of the world.”[4]. Many read such a program of world domination in the Koran: “We have written in the Psalms, after the recall: Yes, they will inherit the Earth, my servants, people of substance” (Sura “The Prophets” 21, 105). In reality, in the Psalms “the earth” signifies the “promised land,” Palestine. Is it really God who divides the world between Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam, between the world to conquer and the world acquired by Islam?

The messianic spirit and the perspective of a world to enslave is counter to the Christian hope in which there is no place for the idea of enslavement. The judgment and eradication of “evil” will wait for the Second Coming of Al-Massih.

 ‘Issa Al-Massih will return for the vivification of those who await him (Heb 9, 28). And because this vivification is a process, the history of the end comprises what Saint Irenaeus calls a kingdom of the just on earth, “the prelude to incorruptibility, a kingdom by which those who will have been judged worthy of it will accustom themselves to grasp God [5].

This kingdom of the just on earth will come after the glorious Coming of Al-Massih.


[1] Born circa 10 BC and dying circa 44 in Caesarea, grandson of Herod the Great, he is the last Jewish king of Judea.

[2] Flavius JOSEPHUS reports the amazement of the crowd at the view of Herod Agrippa: “Up to now we have revered you as a man, but henceforth we recognize in you a nature superior to that of mortals!” (Antiquities of the Jews XIX, 345).

[3] We read in the Targum Jonathan on Genesis 49, 10-12 (2nd century): “(…) the time when the King Messiah will come to whom the royalty will return and to whom will be submitted all the kingdoms (…). How handsome he is the King Messiah who must spring from the House of Juda. The Messiah girds his loins and leaves for combat against his enemies, and he massacres the kings and the princes. He reddens the mountains with the blood of their dead and whitens the hills with the fat of their warriors, His vesture drips with blood. He resembles one who tramples grapes.

[4] Les prolégomènes, translater De Slane, Paris, Geuthner, 1934, t. 2, p. 273.

[5] Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies V, 32, 1.