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The Kingdom of God
In Summary:
The Kingdom of God is not Heaven.
The Kingdom of God is not the Church.
The Kingdom of God is not good-overcoming-evil.
The Kingdom of God is not Jesus Christ because of His deity/incarnation.
The Kingdom of God is not a future Israel ruling the world under a messianic king.
The Kingdom of God is not a territory or sphere within which the rule/reign/authority of God is recognised.
The Kingdom of God is the immediate authority/rule/reign of God present – in one of only two forms:  

The Mystery
of the Kingdom
the visible,

*This is the first resurrection
through which
the righteous of all ages
will enter the fellowship of the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob (Matthew 8:11).
– which will yet appear in the glorious return of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ* (hallelujah!);
the invisible,
– which was directly present in the sinless Jesus through the special relationship of the Spirit of God to His humanity, from when after His baptism by John He thereby became the Christ, to fully reveal the true nature of God,
which same relationship to the Spirit now continues in principle since Pentecost in Christ's people today.
who does NOT have
the Spirit of Christ
does NOT belong to Him."

(Romans 8:9).

3. The Mystery of the Kingdom   5. The Kingdom Ethic   7. The Entrance
The Kingdom Concept in Time   
4. The Need of the Kingdom   6. The God of the Kingdom   8. The Continuance
Kingdom of God, or 'basileia tou theou,' of the New Testament, was the sum and central theme of the preaching of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15), yet strangely Jesus never once defined what He meant by it. This term and the concept it carries should therefore be understood in the light of Christ's presupposition to His own ministry; namely, Israel's faith and its background as given in Holy Scripture.
Although this expression itself is not found in the record of Israel's faith, our Old Testament, the idea of God's kingship over His whole creation is well known in these Scriptures (e.g. Psalm 103:19). But even more, in contrast to other nations it is the special kingship of God over the Israel nation, in His covenant relationship, that is part of the expression of this kingdom concept ("King of Jacob" Isaiah 41:21, and Judges 8:23).
standard phrase of the Rabbis, 'Malkuth Shamaim' (Kingdom of Heaven), which is echoed in Matthew's gospel, is simply a reverent Semitic circumlocution to avoid the word "God", and NOT a different kingdom concept from 'kingdom of God'. However, among the post-Second Temple Jews (after 70 AD/CE) this phraseology used by Matthew became degraded by lack of understanding to often mean no more than submission to the Torah (Mosaic Law) and technically even to merely the reciting of their 'Shema' proclamation of faith (Gamaliel II, 110 AD). Yet even then, the rabbinical literature, and 4 Esdras in particular, still strongly anticipate the coming of an "Anointed One" to introduce this divine Kingdom and establish it on earth.
essential character in this idea of the 'basileia tou theou'/kingdom of God is the sovereign rule/reign/authority of God as expressed by Jesus in the inspired prayer:
"Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth
as it is done in Heaven"
as mankind was mandated to do in its beginning.
Matthew 6:10
Very sadly,

Death Penalty/
Capital Punishment
the Church's understanding of the Kingdom of God has been disconnected from this background which it was given in Holy Scripture, namely the authority given to the human race in its beginning as the Creator's true 'image' (representative) to His creation –
"Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion [רדה/râdâh/rule] over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
...And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue
[כּבשׁ/kâbash/conquer] it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth'."
Genesis 1:26, 28.
Polluted by human experience of government, the 'Kingdom of God' concept has been debased to simply the idea of divine rule over the human race and thereby disconnected from its founding human mandate which is to be fully restored through Jesus Christ: Jesus, human ('Son of Man') as human was meant to be, which is given to be the new beginning of the Beginning, It was Christ's humanity which spoke thus to the fig tree, and He directly stated that the same level of authority was available to His very human disciples.
Matthew 21:21.
end-time prophetic aspect of the Kingdom ("Thy Kingdom come") is based in the Old Testament prophets' idea of the "Day of the Lord" (as in Joel, Amos, Zephaniah, etc.). This is the establishment of the anticipated Kingdom as the climax of all history. This prophetic message of the coming Kingdom was, however, always purposefully ethical in its application. This end-time hope arose from faith in God's eventual righteous judgment on history and the faithfulness of His covenant mercy applied to the people who bore His name (Daniel 9:19).
This Kingdom was not understood as competing among the kingdoms of the world. This Kingdom would be received by God's people as an award directly from God and not in any way produced by effort of it's citizenry (Daniel 7:27). God, as Judge, would break-in to human history – "to make an end to sin" and to "bring in everlasting righteousness" in Israel (Daniel 9:24).
Thus the tension between these two ideas: the ethical concept of the Kingdom character in the present and its future historical establishment, provided the range of differences in the Christian church's recent confused understanding of the Kingdom.
Some Confused Views
The former (the ethical) was stressed to the exclusion of the latter (the end-time) in the so-called liberal theological school of thought, as found in Ritchl, Harnack, Holtzmann, and Wellhausen. And so, the Kingdom became little more than an ethical community.
Against this, Johannes Weiss, and later Albert Schweitzer counter posed an end-time Kingdom as being the full picture of Christ's proclamation of the Kingdom. To Schweitzer Jesus was simply an ardent apocalyptist whose attempted precipitation of the Kingdom backfired on Him. He understood Christ's words of "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" as a dying cry of disillusionment that His sacrifice had not triggered a reaction from God to introduce the end-time Kingdom. Rudolph Bultmann's explanation however, leaves Jesus in an undiscoverable past with His kingdom message as simply a challenge to come to a decision in favour of God, and the Kingdom is merely an existential ideal. CH Dodd's so-called 'realized eschatology', which so influenced Robinson, is simply a swing back to the old liberal view where the apocalyptic language of Jesus is considered as romantic additions by the early church.
Ridderbos well remarks that Schweitzer –
"clearly shows how much of the whole history of exegesis has been determined, not by historical objectivity but rather by subjective theological prejudice" (1962:xv).
Post-enlightenment Albrecht Ritchl's liberal conception was repudiated by Weiss as being more Kantian than biblical. Karl Barth on the other hand promoted a "supra-historical eschatology" in his Romerbrief, appealing that – "the New Testament end is not a temporal event, not a fabulous down-fall of the world; it is entirely without any relation to any historical, terrestrial, or cosmic catastrophe" (Ridderbos 1962:xxii).
Hendrikus Berkhof attacks Dodd for this same idea of "timeless fact", "eternal order" and declares it "almost Platonic" (1966:67). Yet Ridderbos in turn opposes Weiss by declaring – "what Jesus meant by the coming of the Kingdom, or what He cannot have meant by it, can certainly not be answered from the apocalyptic sector of the late Jewish expectation of the future, as is done by Weiss and his followers" and continues significantly, that – "the answer is only possible in the light of the synoptic 'kerygma' itself, with a continuous consultation of the references to the Old Testament" (1962:67).

The Darby Deception
made the statement that from John the Baptist's time, as the great watershed period, and still continuing at that time 
"the Kingdom of Heaven has been coming violently" (Matt.11:11-13)
or radically, as some translate, to indicate the uniqueness of His ministry (see also Luke 16:16), a mission that had begun under John with Christ's baptism (Acts 1:22). Jesus' was NOT just another prophet pronouncing on the coming Kingdom – He was the essence of the Kingdom itself! His disciples, the 'biastai' – the violent – the radical, were seizing hold of the Kingdom. In other words, entrance into the Kingdom was not a passive acceptance of history's goal but a radical response to follow Jesus Himself (Luke 14:26).
That Jesus saw the Kingdom as uniquely existing in Himself (the only person ever who did the Father's will on earth as it is done in Heaven) is shown clearly in the transfiguration record in all three synoptic gospels. All three carry the statement that, of the crowd hearing Jesus, some would not die before they saw the Kingdom of God, and immediately follow with the description of His glorious physical transfiguration before Peter, James and John, with Moses and Elijah's witness to Him  (Lk.9:27-31; Mk.9:1-5; Mat.16:28-17:3). That the kingdom could be directly present in Jesus yet not be visible to the crowds that milled around Him, was its mystery form. Christ revealed was the epitomé of the Kingdom, the appearance of which will be physically revealed at His return.
The Kingdom Parables
Herein lay the "mystery" of the Kingdom of Heaven, as Christ described it. His disciples could receive this mystery for they had received Him, but to "those outside" the message was deliberately hidden in parables (Mk.4:11,12).
This "mystery" is first described as the Sower sowing the "word of the Kingdom" in the hearts of the hearers (Mat.13:19). The provisional nature of the Kingdom's coming in Jesus is shown. The coming of the Kingdom is the way of the "seed". Its consummation or harvest is still FUTURE, yet the Kingdom, as a seed, HAS come.
Next, the parable of Wheat and Weeds further develops the relation between the coming of Jesus and the 'eschatos', the End. It teaches that the judgment (the "day of the Lord"), as prophesied by John the Baptist, necessarily waits until a future "close of the age" (Mat.13:40). The "favourable year of the Lord" had come, but not the "day of vengeance of our God" (Isaiah 61:1-2 & Luke 4:19). The Son of Man is thus first the Sower before He becomes the Reaper. For this reason the harvest of judgment is not yet.
The parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven (or Yeast) form a complementary couplet, as the Sower and Weeds parables. They show the apparent insignificance of the Kingdom-presence in Christ when compared to its future fulfilment. The first parable expresses it extensively (the birds lodged), the second intensively (every part of the flour).
Again, the parables of Hidden Treasure and Costly Pearl form a couplet. Both emphasize the radical decision that is necessary for the Kingdom. If it cost all, it is but little! The shock words of Jesus, "except you hate...", amplify this as the 'biazetai' or radical nature of the Kingdom's coming.
The Fish Net explains the strange mixture of people among the company of Jesus' followers, which was only to be judged in the end-time consummation. The tale of a crop's Spontaneous Growth also connects inseparably the coming of Jesus to the final consummation. Both seed-time and harvest are God's work!

the work of Jesus a continuing conflict is evident. From Christ's Temptation to His Crucifixion the "ruler of this world is judged "(John 16:11). Christ's casting out of demons was thus the effect and therefore evidence of the Kingdom's presence (Mat.12:28; Luke 11:20). Satan's activity in this world made the Kingdom a necessity.
In addition to this spiritual conflict, is humanity's preoccupation with possessions (Mat.16:26; Lk.12:15-21), and also the structural hostility of this world to God's personal rule among us where the "worries of the world" threaten to choke the "word of the Kingdom" (Mat.13:19,22).

See: The Antichrist
nature of this Kingdom is an ethic described as a "new commandment". It is essentially that the heirs of the Kingdom (Lk.12:32) are to –
"love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (Jn.13:34).
This is to be the identifying characteristic of the Kingdom heirs (John 13:35), and of their life-style (John 14:15,21,28,31; 15:9,10,12,17), for which reason God's own love is poured out into the heirs of this Kingdom–
"God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us"
Romans 5:5.
This ethic does not exist in copying the ideal. This ethic is the practice of the new nature thus received through being born of the Spirit.
strangely, to Schweitzer this was an abnormal 'interim ethic' – especially in loving one's enemies as expounded in Christ's Sermon on the Mount (Ladd 1974:122). Hans Windisch attempted to find two degrees of ethic: the so-called permanent 'wisdom ethic' and the temporary 'eschatological ethic', and the ethic itself as the qualification for entrance to the Kingdom. This latter idea is in harmony with  the views of  Weiss, Schweitzer, Petersen, and Wilder. Yet, this view is completely excluded by the unmerited grace expressed in Christ's prayer-parable of the Pharisee and Sinner!

call to His disciples was to be "perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt.5:48). God is not the far off unapproachable One. He is as committed to His own as a father to his children (Mat.5:45), and thus expects them to share in His own nature, His moral nature, His love!
Christ's coming to humanity is really God's coming (Jn.13:20). He is the seeking God as for a lost 'sheep', a lost 'coin', or a 'prodigal son', and has joy in the finding –
"joy in Heaven over one sinner that repents"
He therefore invites as a rich man, a king, a bridegroom, to come and enjoy His beneficence. Yet He is also a judging God who divides humanity by their response to the person of Jesus ("a sword", Matt.10: 32-40).

Luke 15:7.
Jesus is the entrance to God's Kingdom and to the salvation that it offers in the "age to come" (Mk.10:23-30). Therefore, Jesus has authority to forgive sin (Mk.2:10), so that God's righteousness may be given as a gift to those who seek it (Matt.5:6;6:33; Lk.11:9-13). The church, in its message, carries the keys of entrance to the Kingdom of God (Matt.16:19), yet more than this.
This coming salvation of the new age to come will then include the whole person in God's resurrection glory (Luke 20:35,36; Matthew 25: 34,46).

mystery of this Kingdom continues in Christ's Church as it was in Jesus, for as He lived by the Father so His own live by Him (Jn.6:57). This "seed" form of the Kingdom therefore did not consist in Christ's deity but in His practical human relationship to God which began from His baptism in the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon His humanity.
The essence of this was His unique relationship to the Holy Spirit which was portrayed in the Spirit's descent upon Him in the sign of a dove; Noah's new beginning. This unique human relationship of His to the Holy Spirit was what Jesus gave to His people on the day of Pentecost. It was this which constituted them as a spiritual body, His Body, to be Christ in the world.
is no higher authority within the Christian Church than the Spirit of God by whom this Kingdom is present in the Church. Therefore, the Bible says to all Christians concerning any leaders who mislead –
"I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
But the Anointing that you received from Him abides in you,
and you have no need that anyone should teach you
[as an ultimate authority].
But as His Anointing
[of the Spirit] teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie --
just as it has taught you, abide in Him."
1 John 2:26-27.
Therefore, as He was in this world so are His own in this world,  
•   with authority to forgive (John 20:23);
•   to continue His works (John 14:12); and,
•   enjoy direct access to the Father (John 16:26,27);
  because of Him ("in My name"), so that they are truly His Body in this world (I Corinthians 12:27).  
This Kingdom mystery, already foreseen in Christ's words to the embryo-church concerning the discipline of reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-20) became a new spiritual organism in the earth (Ephesians 3:4-6,9-10). For this reason Jesus said –
"there I am in their midst" (Matt.18:20).
By virtue of which their spiritual fellowship in Him constitutes the divine authority on earth relative to humanity's salvation (Matt.18:18). There is no greater role!
it needs to be remembered that, due to the corrupted character of human society in general and widespread misrepresentations of the ways of God in particular, the approach of the Kingdom presence must necessarily first be perceived in its authority before it can be understood/comprehended in its moral character which is the attributes of love..
However, in no way can this authority or presence of the kingdom ever be construed as simply referring to the visible fellowship or organization of the believers, in any congregation or denomination. It lies only in the new spiritual identity given them through being personally –
“in Him”
“in Christ”
“in the Beloved”
and thus in them as His spiritual Body, which is the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph.1:3,6,23), as they actively await the final consummation in His visible coming as King of the Kingdom (Rev.22:20).
Barclay, William 1962 Jesus as they saw Him. Amsterdam: SCM Press.
Berkhof, Hendrikus 1966 Christ the Meaning of History. London: SCM Press.
Bright, John 1953 The Kingdom of God. Nashville, USA: Abingdon Press.
Dodd, CH 1971 The Founder of Christianity. London: Collins.
Ladd, GE 1974 A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, USA: Eerdmans.
Richardson, Alan 1969 A Dictionary of Christian Theology. London: SCM Press.
Ridderbos, Herman 1962 The Coming of the Kingdom. Philadelphia, USA: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Robinson, H. Wheeler 1964 The History of Israel. London: Duckworth
Tenney, Merril C. 1963 Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand rapids, USA: Zondervan.

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