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What is the kingdom of God? The answer can be stated simply: the kingdom of God is the supreme and sovereign rule and reign of God over all. But the answer can also be stated comprehensively, in terms of all that the Bible teaches. Therefore, to properly understand the what of the kingdom of God, we also need to understand biblically the when and the how of the kingdom of God. Or, stated differently, “What does Scripture teach us about the nature of God’s kingdom as it teaches us when and how God’s kingdom comes?”

Leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ, many Jews anticipated that their long-awaited Messiah would bring about the fullness of God’s kingdom all at once. They believed that the Messiah would take over the world; overthrow Caesar, Rome, and all governing authorities; and rescue Israel and destroy their enemies. In keeping with this belief, some sought to make Jesus their earthly king, and they were perplexed when He did not allow it. Many Jews therefore became frustrated with Jesus and stopped following Him. They did not believe that He could be their Messiah because He didn’t meet their expectations of a conquering king. His humility confounded them, along with His message about praying for our enemies, His telling Peter to put down his sword, His riding on a donkey’s colt and not a warhorse, His washing His disciples’ feet, His not defending Himself before the governing authorities, and His allowing Himself to be crucified. They were not expecting a suffering servant who cleansed the temple so that the God-fearing gentiles could worship, who declared that God so loved the world, and who said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Many Jews wrongly understood the kingdom of God because they did not have the eyes to see or the hearts to perceive what their Hebrew Scriptures teach about the kingdom of God. Therefore, they turned to what they could understand and follow—their own traditions.

When Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, He primarily taught about the nature of the kingdom so that His followers might understand that in His first coming He established and inaugurated God’s kingdom, that, through the Holy Spirit, He is now expanding and increasing God’s kingdom, and that one day He will return to judge all people. When He does return, He will bring the full and final consummation of God’s kingdom; establish the new heaven and new earth; conquer all His and our enemies; save all who are true Israel and united to Him by faith; dry every tear from our eyes; and fully and finally eradicate sin and death. All these Christ secured on the cross and manifested in His victorious resurrection.

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From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue