But he was not a king in the mold of Caesar. He was called first to conquer invisible, spiritual dark forces, and your heart by love. In the near future, the worldly kingdoms are going down in defeat, visible for all to see.
Let’s get started.
If there is a kingdom (and there is), there has to be a king. Jesus is the hidden king ushering in his kingdom. Here are the basics about the kingdom of God.
The word kingdom can be tracked in a variety of contexts and phrases.
“The kingdom of God” occurs these many times throughout the NT:
4 times in Matthew (12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43);
14 times in Mark;
32 times in Luke;
2 times in John (3:3, 5);
6 times in Acts;
8 times in Paul’s letters;
1 time in Revelation (12:10).
“The kingdom of heaven” (just a variation of the “kingdom of God”):
33 times in Matthew;
1 time in a variant reading in John;
“Kingdom”: 9 times (e.g. Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31; 22:29; 1 Cor. 15:24; Rev. 1:9);
“Your kingdom”: 2 times (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2);
“His kingdom”: 4 times (Matt. 25:34; Luke 12:32; 22:29; 1Thess. 2:12);
“The kingdom of their [my] Father”: 2 times (Matt. 13:43; 26:29);
“The good news [gospel] of the kingdom”: 3 times (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14);
“The message about the kingdom”: 1 time (Matt. 13:19);
“The subjects [sons and daughters] of the kingdom”: 2 times (Matt. 8:12; 13:38);
“The coming kingdom of our father David”: 1 time (Mark 11:10);
“kingdom” is used of the redeemed: 2 times (Rev. 1:6; 5:10)
Matthew: 52 times (and in addition 3 times it is used of worldly or satanic kingdoms);
Mark: 16 times (and in addition 3 times it is used of worldly or satanic kingdoms);
Luke: 38 times (and in addition it is used 4 times of worldly or satanic kingdoms);
Synoptic Gospels: 106 times (allowing for parallel passages in the Synoptics);
John: 4 times;
Acts: 7 times;
Paul’s epistles: 14 times (in addition it is used 1 time of the satanic kingdom);
General epistles: 4 times (in addition it is used 1 time of the worldly kingdoms);
Revelation: 6 times (in addition it is used 2 times of worldly or satanic kingdoms)
God’s kingdom: 141
Worldly or satanic kingdoms: 14 times
Conclusions from these data
In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus preached the kingdom of God often, indicating he was ushering in a new order, a new age.
The Gospel of John was written later, so the author focuses on revealing who Jesus is (God in the flesh; the good shepherd, the door, the bread of life, and so on). And he focuses on a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus (I am the good shepherd, so follow me and hear my voice; I am the bread of life, so partake of me; I am the vine, so connect with me, and so on).
Acts focuses on the progress of the church, and the key and timely appearance of the word kingdom reminds the readers that it is the kingdom of God that advances the gospel and the church.
And the same is true of the general epistles. They focus on how to live in the here and now, or how the New Covenant supersedes the Old (Heb. 8-10), but a few times in key and timely verses, the authors lift the readers to a bigger and higher perspective: the kingdom of God.
To sum up, the word kingdom appears in the Synoptics more often than the rest of the NT, but this does not mean God’s kingdom is less important in the other sections. Instead, the kingdom stands above the church and creates the church in the epistles. Numbers are not decisive; it is the meaning and contexts that are decisive.
Basic definition of Christ’s kingdom
Kingdom means his authoritative rule over a realm. And the realm can be in an individual’s heart, or it could be a visible and invisible, but universal realm. In other words, Christ has kingly authority to rule over and sustain the entire physical universe, and it means he rules over the invisible universe—the ideas and politics of all other worldly kingdoms, and Satan’s kingdom.
Basic theology of Christ’s kingdom
The kingdom of God has invaded history, during the rule of the Roman empire. In Christ’s birth and ministry, we can track the kingdom’s progress under various worldly rulers, like a variety of Herods and the governor Pontius Pilate at Christ’s passion (suffering) and death. We know that Christ’s kingdom invaded a geographical region called Israel, which had boundaries, established by culture, history, and Rome. If we have eyes to see, we can track the kingdom’s works in history. The four Gospels and the book of Acts can train our eyes to do this.
However, the kingdom comes at the end of the age, and it sweeps aside the old kingdoms and governments of human rulers and Satan’s kingdom, and ushers in the new age of the unrivaled and unending Messianic reign. Jesus separated the present and future dominion. The fulness of the kingdom, which will finally be manifest at his Second Coming, is in the future.
And so it is not yet manifested fully before our eyes. Jesus taught us to pray for his kingdom to come (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2). However, as noted in the second point under this question, God’s kingdom, inaugurated by Christ, has already invaded history, and Satan is defeated. And therefore we have the already and the not yet of God’s kingdom. In the meantime, we are in a battle to see God’s kingdom advance so the not yet retreats, and the already advances.
Further, the kingdom is supernatural. Only a supernatural kingdom can defeat Satan’s supernatural kingdom. God intends to rescue people from Satan’s kingdom. In Jesus’s ministry, signs and wonders pushed back disease and darkness. In the book of Acts, signs and wonders did the same. Now what about today? Renewalists (Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Neo-Charismatics) believe that they happen—must happen—today.
The parable of the seeds illustrates how the kingdom grows (Mark 4:26-29). A farmer sows seeds, and they grow of itself. Seeds represent the Word, and we preach it, and the kingdom grows by God, not us (Matt. 10:7; Luke 10:9; Acts 8:12; 28:23, 31). We don’t build the kingdom down here on earth by worldly methods or laws. God builds it, through the Word. People can receive the kingdom through the preaching of the Word, but God sends it forth; it is his kingdom working through people (Matt. 19:12; Luke 18:29; Col. 4:11; 2 Thess. 1:5). People can inherit it (Matt. 25:34; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 15:20), but they cannot bequeath it to others.
Stages in Christ’s earthly kingship
1.. The kingdom was present in Jesus at the beginning of his ministry.
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, and he preached that it was near (Matt. 3:2).
Jesus launched the kingdom of God and proclaim that it had come (Mark 1:15).
2.. The kingdom was present during his ministry.
Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom, which God’s right to rule over people’s lives and crush Satan under the Messiah’s feet and which brings restoration and reparations of the damage that humankind and Satan has wreaked on his earth (Matt. 4:23).
Parables describe how God controls it and causes its growth, which implies that we cannot cause its growth, other than just preach it (Matt. 13:11-52).
Jesus’s miracles proved he had kingly authority over diseases, which are outward signs of something that has gone wrong and needs repair (Luke 7:18-22).
Driving out demons proved he was shrinking Satan’s kingdom, and this will continue until God sweeps it aside forever (Luke 11:20).
Through Jesus the kingdom of God is present, which means he launches and sustains it to this very day (Luke 17:20-21).
3.. The kingdom was present at the end of his ministry.
It shines and comes through the death of Jesus, which means he disarmed ruling spirits through the cross (Luke 23:42-43; Col. 2:15).
It shines and comes through the resurrection of Jesus, which will inevitably conquer the final enemy: death (1 Cor. 15:20-25).
The King or the Son of Man will judge the nations (Matt. 25:31-36). Yes, this is talking about the final judgment, but he clearly identifies himself, the Son of Man, with being the King, at the end of his ministry, after he entered Jerusalem for the last time, before his death.
How does this post help me know Jesus better?
He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His rulership may not be completely visible to our eyes, but he is ruling, nonetheless. How do we respond to a king? We submit to his reign. If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus, then that is the only way to have peace in your heart. If everyone around the globe submitted to his reign by inviting him into their hearts, the world would have peace.
Therefore, our goal is to preach the kingdom of God and its king—Jesus. Let’s reach as many people as we can.
ARTICLES IN THE “TITLES OF JESUS” SERIES
7. Titles of Jesus: The King
Works Cited (but I especially used G. E. Ladd for the first section)