The Kingdom of God, Progressively Revealed

The kingdom of God is a major theme in the Bible. Generally speaking, the “kingdom” of God refers to the church, for Paul told the Colossians, “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14, emp. added). It is the church that must “be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28, emp. added). And, John wrote, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6, emp. added).

Depending on which part of the Bible one is studying, he will find the status of the kingdom described in different ways. This is because the kingdom was predicted long before it came into existence, and the details concerning it were made known gradually, as the restorationist preacher Benjamin Franklin explained in his sermon, “The Kingdom” (published in 1923).

  • From eternity, the kingdom was in the mind of God. “… through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known. . . . This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).
  • The kingdom was promised to come through Abraham and his family (Genesis 12:1-3; 28:14).
  • Old Testament prophets specified the general time period when the kingdom was to come and some details about its coming (Daniel 2:41-45; Isaiah 2:1-5; Joel 2:28-32).
  • The angels and Old Testament prophets desired to know all the details about the kingdom (1 Peter 1:10-12).
  • John the Baptist and Jesus announced that the kingdom was “at hand” (Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17). Jesus said that the coming kingdom would be build upon the reality that He was the Christ (Matthew 16:15-18). Jesus said that the coming kingdom would come prior to the deaths of all apostles (Mark 9:1), and He taught His disciples to pray that the kingdom would come (Matthew 6:10).
  • The kingdom was founded on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; 2).
  • Thereafter, in the New Testament, the kingdom of God is spoken of as being a present reality, i.e., as having come (e.g., Hebrews 12:28).

How wonderful to live in an age in which the kingdom has already come, and to be a part of it.

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