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Ericdowden's Public Library

Mar 21, 16

"What is the Kingdom of God?

The Hebrew word for kingdom is malkut and its Greek counterpart is basileia. Both terms primarily mean “rule” or “reign.” Only secondarily do they denote a realm, sphere, or territory over which a rule or reign is exercised. Both terms have a dynamic or active meaning, and refer to the exercise of God’s power, dominion, or sovereignty.

This is clear in the Old Testament, particularly in the poetry of the Psalms where parallel lines clarify what the term “kingdom” means. For example, Psalm 22:28 says, “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over all.” Similarly, Psalm 103:19 states, “The Lord has established His throne [kingdom] in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 145:11 declares, “They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power.” Here kingdom is associated with the ideas of God’s rule, sovereignty, and power.

The New Testament term means the same thing. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10),” we are asking God to exert His authority in the world so that His purposes are achieved. In Jesus’ parable about “A certain nobleman who went to a distant country to receive a kingdom,” those over whom he was to rule said: “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:12, 14). In Colossians 1:13, Paul teaches that redemption amounts to an exchange of rulers over our lives, stating that God has delivered us believers “from the authority of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

Thus, the NT nuance for kingdom in these verses connect it with the exertion of God’s will, the act of ruling or reigning, the exercise of authority.

So, then, from this brief study, we see that the expression “Kingdom of God” does not refer to heaven or the church or the heart or to moral reform or to a future realm. Rather it refers to the active, dynamic exercise of God’s rule, authority, dominion, and power in the world!

So when John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he meant that God’s rule was just about to break into the world through the Messiah. When Jesus Christ Himself preached and proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, He meant that in and by Himself, God was exercising His power and authority in a redemptive way against all the evil in the world!

In short, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God manifested in Christ to bring redemption to the earth. No wonder the Kingdom is the central theme of the New Testament!

The big “Kingdom” picture

This makes good sense when we step back and take a look at the big picture. As we have seen, God established His Kingdom at creation. He was the ruler over His world and the people He had made. But His Kingdom was attacked and overtaken by the authority of Satan when humanity fell into sin. Ever since, God has been at work to reassert His rightful rule over the earth and to take it and His people back from the powers of sin, death, and Satan. In fulfillment of the covenants of redemption established by God in the Old Testament, the decisive moment in this war of all wars took place when God’s Kingdom arrived in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ who entered into conflict with and defeated God’s enemies. Those who now submit to Christ’s redeeming rule through faith are restored to God and become new creatures in Him. They anticipate the completion of His redemptive work at His second advent when the whole creation will be restored as God’s Kingdom and made new.

So the scenario is this: God’s Kingdom rule was established at creation; It was attacked by Satan at the fall; now it is being restored on earth through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ who defeats Satan, death, and sin! No wonder He taught us to pray in this way: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!”"

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