The Earthly Kingdom of God

In keeping with my posts titled “The Politics of the Message 1, 2, 3“, and with my series in Glad Tidings (A Vision of the Kingdom… Setting the Scene…) I would like to talk more about the Kingdom of God, and perhaps clarify our language when we speak about it. So, you could almost think of this as a catechism and defense.

  • * When we say the Kingdom is earthly, we mean it has dominion over the entire creation, from sea to sea. That it will take place on this earth. (Ps 2.8)
  • * When we say the Kingdom is heavenly, we mean it shares the qualities and attributes of heaven (Jn 6.58, Jam 1.17)
  • * When we say the Kingdom is spiritual, we mean it is regenerative, pure, and holy. (Acts 3.21, Romans 8.21-23)
  • * When we say the Kingdom is temporal, we mean it occupies a place in time, it has a definitive starting point, it “has not always been”. Though it will be forever once it comes. (Mt 25.34)
  • * When we say the Kingdom is political, we mean it is juxtaposed to all human-kingdom judgment. It stands against the kingdoms of this world. One cannot be a citizen of both.(Phil 3.20, Mt 6.24)
  • * When we say the Kingdom is not of this world/kosmos(Jn 18:36), we mean it will not be born out of any existing Kingdom, but rather come from God (Dan 2.44/Isaiah 9.7)

I hope that is clarifying. All in all, the NT is very clear that the return of Christ is the same as the Day of the LORD(2 Peter 3.10-12). And at that same time, the Kingdom will commence with Jesus ruling from the throne of his father David (Lk 1.35). So then, if Messiah has returned, the Kingdom has begun. If Messiah has not, the Kingdom has not.

Now on to what has been posited are differences among early church fathers from our position. And there may very well be differences. That is not the point. The overarching point is that none of the church fathers record the return of Jesus in 70 AD. Therefore the Kingdom cannot have come.

The Kingdom is said to be “near”, however, no one – including Jesus cannot tell us exactly when it will come. Therefore because it was the expectation of all the followers of Jesus that the Kingdom would return in their own lifetime – this is not binding but merely reflective of their hope. Secondly, there is another emphasis placed on “near” – that is not temporal! But rather, it is near or close, because you feel its effects (Matt 12.28, Luke 10.9-11). Those who are healed feel the effects of the Kingdom now – even though it isn’t yet here.

We understand “this generation” of Mt 24 to be indicative of this generation of people described by Paul in 2Tim3. We understand Mt 16.28 to be fulfilled in the very next chapter, the vision seen by Peter, James and John.

Therefore with such a great cloud of verses (outlined in my previous writings in Glad Tidings on the OT) I’m not prepared to analogize away the verses about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is as much physical as it is spritual. To deny either is to deny God’s plan for his creation and the brothers and sisters of Christ. It is the single most important unifying theme of Christians (Rom 14.17)


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