This short post should help define the term. A simple five-step explanation of the Kingdom is included, as well.
The kingdom is God’s right to rule and reign. It is his realm that is controlled by him.
First, we can see these realms more clearly with contrasts. The kingdoms of humanity are controlled by men and women. The spiritual kingdom of darkness, invisible to the unaided eye, is under Satan’s control. And the kingdoms of man and Satan overlap. But God’s kingdom cannot be hindered by powerful humanity or Satan. God is large and in charge. God’s kingdom will sweep aside the inferior kingdoms at the Second Coming (Rev. 20-21).
Second, there is an aspect of the kingdom of God that is gradually descending or being revealed to humanity. It is called the “already and not yet,” combined. When the gospel is preached, the kingdom is already here. Wherever the gospel is not preached, the kingdom is in the “not yet” phase. Around the globe, the kingdom is already here in part, but not yet here in its fullness.
Third, proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” in the Roman empire was like saying “Caesar is not Lord.” It was like saying, “The true king and his kingdom are here!” It may be true that the word kingdom is not found in the epistles as often as in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), but the reality is behind the teachings of the epistles. The title Lord Jesus or the Lord is used often enough.
Fourth and finally, let’s boil it down. Kingdom means that God has the right to rule over our lives. It is not abstract, but is manifested in people. The global church is not the same as the kingdom of God, but the kingdom creates the church. If we equate the two, we blur essential distinctions. For example, we might believe, wrongly, that as the church gets bigger, then it has the right to rule over the world systems.
The Kingdom of God works out like this in five simple steps.
(1) Jesus proclaimed and launched the Kingdom of God in a new and dynamic way, though the hints were there in the OT. He began a new era and New Covenant.
(2) His death or atonement and resurrection ratify the new era and New Covenant, heading towards a grand culmination and climax in his Second Coming, when the Kingdom of God will be fully manifested and ruled over by King Jesus.
(3) At the moment, however, the kingdom is on a roll or is slowly working its way around the globe, in the hearts of the believers and new converts who become born again (John 3:3). The Kingdom creates the church by the Spirit of God causing the individual to be born again. And then he enters the kingdom. “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”.(John 3:3, ESV).
Further, the kingdom creates the church by saving / rescuing us and transferring us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Paul: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14, ESV). The church and the kingdom are not identical. The kingdom of God existed before the birth of the church, and the church is imperfect because it is made up of imperfect people, while God’s active reign and rule is perfect. Therefore the church ≠ the kingdom.
(4) Following Jesus, those who have entered the Kingdom of God by being born again and transferred into it proclaim the truths of the kingdom, like the gospel and surrender to the king and discipleship, etc.
(5) The Kingdom of God is rising like waters that cover the sea (Hab. 2:14) and as the Spirit goes forth in great power and touches everyone who has an open heart. Peter and Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-32, ESV)
Peter goes on to apply this promise to everyone who is “afar off” (i.e. you and me).
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39, ESV)
And we go back to the third point.
So how does this post help me grow in Christ?
Individuals Christians can get involved as deeply in the world systems as God calls them, say, in education or politics or business. But the church as an institution should not gobble up these systems of the world (though they may certainly create schools that honor God and his kingdom). That will happen only when Christ sweeps them aside at his Second Coming. Before then, the best way to introduce the kingdom of God to the world and see it expand is by preaching the gospel.
Questions and Answers about Kingdom of God
Bible Basics about the Kingdom of God
ARTICLES IN A SERIES
1 Introducing the Kingdom of God
2 Kingdom and Kingship in the Old Testament
3 The Kingdom Is in the Future
4 The Kingdom Is Right Now
5 The Kingdom of God: Already Here, But Not Yet Fully
6 The Mystery of the Kingdom
7 Life of the Kingdom
8 Righteousness of the Kingdom
9 The Demand of the Kingdom
10 Blessings of the Kingdom