The definition of The Kingdom of God arose in posts with Q. It is an important issue for which I have posted this introduction to my understanding.
As Christians we pray ‘your kingdom come’ but what exactly are we praying for?
Evangelical Christians preach the ‘new birth’ but the new birth must be proclaimed in the context of the Kingdom of God, because entering into the Kingdom of God is the purpose for which men are born again.
The central theme of Jesus message is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven sometimes the Kingdom of the Father or even just the kingdom.
The current use of the term kingdom refers to the realm ruled by a king e.g. Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the United Kingdom. The older (archaic) meaning is the kingly rule, reign, authority, dominion or government exercised by a king. It is in this sense that the word kingdom is primarily used in the Bible. This is the meaning of the Greek ‘basileia’ and the Hebrew ‘malkuth’. This idea is expressed in Isaiah 9:6 “and the Government will rest on his shoulders”.
The Kingdom of God is the rule and authority of God in action, God getting his will done. In Aramaic ears Jesus could be heard saying “The kinging it of God is near” Matthew 4:17. Matthew 6:10 may be understood as a Hebrew parallelism ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’.
The geographical space where the activity of God is taking place does come into it. We pray for the coming of the kingdom to earth Matthew 6:10 and we are told “the kingdom of the world (cosmos) has (this is still in the future) become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” Revelation 11:15. Heaven is the place of the full expression of the kingdom. So the kingdom is designated the kingdom of heaven.
As we pray “your kingdom come . . . on earth as it is in heaven” we ask for the kingdom’s future consummation and its present expression. Our prayers express God’s desire to see His actively changing this world scene by the exercise of His power NOW as well as its future consumation. This understanding ties the request for the coming of the Kingdom with that of our present need ‘give us our daily bread’ and our present duty to forgive. We are requesting the drawing near of His kingdom, the exercise of the kingly activity of God. We want t the kingdom of the heavens to invade the kingdoms of this world, for His kingdom to come upon people by the activity of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Christ. Now is the only time in which our faith can operate as we pray!
The kingdom is already on the earth but ‘not yet’ as it is in heaven. It is the ‘yet’ but ‘not yet’ concept the Kingdom has been inaugurated but not consummated.
This coming of the kingdom is an event that can be observed and has been observed in:-
– The Gospel stories of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee Mark 1:14-15, 27-34.
– The outpouring of the Spirit in Jerusalem “the kingdom comes with power” Acts 2
– The ongoing works of Jesus (Acts 1:1) carried out by the church in the power of the Spirit recoded throughout the book of Acts
– The many lives of the saints and historic revivals throughout the history of the church
We can also note that as people become subject to the rule of God (his kingdom) by allowing his will to operate in their lives, they can be said to enter the kingdom of God into the realm of God’s saving activity. John 3:5, Matthew 23:13. By faith and the power of the Spirit the active rule of God can then be released through them. As the centurion understood in being subject to authority he was positioned to exercise authority. he possessed this in the military sphere and so recognised authority in Jesus.
The church then is the Lord’s chosen vehicle to carry The Kingdom of God into the world by the power of the Spirit in the authority of Christ and to share in and complete His mission working with the Lord.