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Tuesday
Dec112012

Theological Term of the Week

kingdom of God
God’s sovereign reign, especially his “redemptive rule in Christ, destroying his enemies, and bringing to his people the blessings of his reign.”1

  • From scripture:
  • Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESV)

    He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? [19] It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

    [20] And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? [21] It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21 ESV)

  • From George Eldon Ladd in The Gospel of the Kingdom:
  • Our problem [of various understandings of the kingdom of God], then, is found in this threefold fact: (1) Some passages of Scripture refer to the Kingdom of God as God’s reign. (2) Some passages refer to God’s Kingdom as the realm into which we may now enter to experience the blessings of His reign. (3) Still other passages refer to a future realm which will come only with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ into which we shall then enter and experience the fullness of His reign. Thus the Kingdom of God means three different things in different verses. One has to study all the references in the light of their context and then try to fit them together in an overall interpretation.

    Fundamentally, as we have seen, the Kingdom of God is God’s sovereign reign; but God’s reign expresses itself in different stages through redemptive history. Therefore, men may enter into the realm of God’s reign in its several stages of manifestation and experience the blessings of His reign in differing degrees. God’s Kingdom is the realm of the Age to Come, popularly called heaven; then we shall realize the blessings of His Kingdom (reign) in the perfection of their fullness. But the Kingdom is here now. There is a realm of spiritual blessing into which we may enter today and enjoy in part but in reality the blessings of God’s Kingdom (reign).

    We pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The confidence that this prayer is to be answered when God brings human history to the divinely ordained consummation enables the Christian to retain his balance and sanity of mind in this mad world in which we live. Our hearts go out to those who have no such hope. Thank God, His Kingdom is coming, and it will fill all the earth.

    But when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we also ask that God’s will be done here and now, today. This is the primary concern of these expositions, that the reader might meet the Kingdom of God, or rather, that the Kingdom of God might meet him. We should also pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” in my church as it is in heaven. The life and fellowship of a Christian church ought to be a fellowship of people among whom God’s will is done-a bit of heaven on earth. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” in my life, as it is in heaven. This is included in our prayer for the coming of the Kingdom. This is part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Learn more:
  1. George Eldon Ladd: What Is the Kingdom of God? 
  2. Brian Schwertley: The Kingdom of God
  3. Stephen Wellum: Reflecting on the Kingdom of God (pdf)
  4. D. A. Carson: Common Errors in Understanding the Kingdom
  5. The Gospel Coalition: The Kingdom of God from Confessional Statement
  6. Brian Vickers: The Kingdom of God in Paul’s Gospel (pdf)
  7. Don Carson: Carson on the Kingdom (video)

Related terms:

Filed under Last Things

1George Eldon Ladd

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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