The Kingdom of God

2

October 3, 2009 by fjmorgan

Thesis and Scope

It is widely held that the central theme of Jesus earthly ministry was the kingdom of God, and the New Testament is replete with textual support for this notion.  However, the Old Testament also bears witness, both explicitly and implicitly, to the “kingdom of God” theme, and the witness is so substantial that this theme should be central to any effort to expose the meta-narrative of the canon as a derivative of biblical theology.

Using the large exegesis methodology of biblical theology, this leitmotif will be traced through of the major divisions of the canon (following the Jewish canonical arrangement of the Old Testament) and the intertestamental literature.  Due to our space constraints, this will by no means be an exhaustive study; the scope will be limited to a few demonstrative passages from each of the major sections with special focus given to the Aramaic section (chapters 2-7) of Daniel.  Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.

Kingdom of God Defined

If one holds to the priority of Mark, the first recorded words of Jesus in history are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15).  The kingdom of God was the central proclamation of Jesus’ earthly ministry yet the term is somewhat nebulous to categorically define.  The phrase came to be iconic nomenclature representing a rather broad range of ideas and it took on an enigmatic aura in Jesus’ own teaching, inasmuch as a great deal of His public discourse regarding the kingdom was couched in parables.  In many instances, the gospel (εὐαγγελίζω, εὐαγγέλιον) itself is defined simply as the proclamation of the kingdom (Mt 4:23, 9:35; Mk 1:15; Lk 4:43, 8:1, 16:16).

The idea of the kingdom was developed by Jesus as “the inbreaking of God into history to realize his redemptive purposes” (Blomberg 384).  Blomberg continues this definition by saying,

Yet inasmuch as [Jesus] created a community of his followers, one may speak of the kingdom particularly manifested in the group of his disciples that would form the nucleus of the church.  Perhaps the English word “dominion” best captures the implied combination of sovereign authority with a group of subjects confessing allegiance to their sovereign. (384)

Accordingly, the concept of dominion will be considered as endemic to the notion of kingdom throughout this study.  From this perspective, the kingdom can be viewed quite literally as the people of God.  Moreover, it is clear from scripture that “God’s purpose in creation and, now, as displayed in the process of creation and in the flow of redemptive history, was/is that His created/redeemed People be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation before Him…” (Carpenter, You Are My People 5).

The kingdom of God is, however, a complex idea which can be viewed from a variety of angles. The phrase recorded in the New Testament is βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ (Mk 1:15, et al.), yet Jesus utterance of the phrase would have been in Aramaic and, more importantly, it would have been produced from a distinctively Jewish thought construct and world view.  The Hebrew words rendered “kingdom” in the Old Testament (מַמְלָכָה, מלכות) refer not only to an area, but also to a people ruled by a monarchial form of government.  Additionally, it connotes the idea of reign or royal power.[1] When these lexical definitions are taken together, it is clear that Jesus’ concept of the kingdom was not geopolitical in nature, but anthropocentric.  In other words, Jesus viewed the kingdom as a realm beyond geographical boundaries, made up of people over whom God’s authority would be asserted.

As we will explore later, the kingdom also exists in a peculiar tension. Ladd explains that the kingdom is simultaneously a present reality and a future hope; that there are aspects of the kingdom which are available in the here-and-now, yet there is an eschatological aspect which remains to be manifested (Ladd 61).

Old Testament

The Torah

The establishment of the kingdom of God can first be seen implicitly in the creation account.  God as creator necessarily transcends creation and naturally is sovereign over it.  Genesis 1:26-28 contains an interesting conference of authority as God tells mankind to subdue (כבש) the earth and have dominion (רדה) over all of creation, thus placing them in a vicegerent capacity.[2] Along these lines, Dumbrell sees the garden as a sanctuary and a foreshadowing of the new creation.  He points out, “…humankind is authorized to exercise dominion over the world as a king/priest who paradoxically exercises that dominion by worship and service in the divine presence” (Hafemann 60).

In this initial state, God, man, and creation were in a condition of perfect and holistic peace.  Since Jerusalem literally means “city of peace” (Tenney, Dictionary, 417), a solid case can be made that Eden before the Fall was the primordial Jerusalem and archetype of the New Jerusalem pictured in Rev 21:10ff.  Accordingly the first two chapters of Genesis in conjunction with the last two chapters of Revelation seem to serve as an inclusio to the entire canon, as the balance of Scripture testifies to the sovereign outworking of God’s plan to form a kingdom.

God’s kingship can also be clearly seen in the Exodus event as Yahweh intervenes in human history by doing battle against Pharaoh, an enemy king, in order to redeem His people and deliver them from oppression.  Citing Ex 15:3, Martens identifies God functioning in this capacity as “Yahweh the Warrior.”  In fact, in the ancient Near East, societies were often led by a warrior-king (Walvoord).  Pharaoh was a leader of this stripe, which is demonstrated by the fact that he led his army in pursuit of the Israelites to the Sea of Reeds (Ex 14:6ff).  The ancient Israelites would undoubtedly have seen God as a mighty warrior-king as they experienced His deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh, the would-be usurper.

Subsequent to deliverance, God entered into a covenant with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19, 20).  This covenant, in the literary form of the Hittite suzerain-vassal treaty of the Late Bronze Age (Hill & Walton 91) was, ipso facto, formal consummation of God taking Israel for His people and inaugurating His kingship over them.  The theocracy, or kingdom of God, was thus explicitly established.

Within the context of this covenant relationship God reveals His purpose for His people and explicitly declares the type of kingdom that He is establishing: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6).  The essential character of the kingdom then was to be marked by the holiness of the people therein and they were to function as priest-kings in relation to the nations around them.

Further Pentateuchal evidence for the kingdom of God can be found in Deuteronomy, inasmuch as the entire book is laid out in the form of a Hittite suzerain-vassal treaty as “…an official document ratifying a formal relationship between the Lord and Israel, with the Lord as suzerain and Israel as vassal” (Hill & Walton 134).  Moreover, and somewhat ironically, within the body of this document is the anticipation of Israel’s eventual rejection of God as her king, as well as instructions for the selection, training, and conduct of a human king to serve as God’s representative (Dt 17:14ff).

The Prophets

The Former Prophets

Straight away God continues to function as warrior-king as He leads Israel in the conquest of Canaan.  He promises to be with Joshua wherever he goes as he leads the people on the invasion (Jos 1:9).  Of note is the appearance of the commander of the Lord’s army to Joshua and the ensuing conversation.  Joshua sees the commander of the Lord’s army standing with drawn sword and asks to which side of the conflict he owes allegiance (Jos 5:13).  The commander simply replies, “Neither… but as commander of the Lord’s army I have now come” (Jos 5:14, NIV).   The implication is that it is not an issue of God taking sides, rather it is a matter of people choosing God’s side.  Furthermore, given the following verse, it is likely that this appearance was in fact a theophany, as Joshua was instructed, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy” (Jos 5:15).  Certainly it would seem, like on Mt. Sinai where the same instruction was given to Moses (Ex 3:5), it is in fact God’s presence that renders the ground holy.  If this is the case, then Joshua actually met the divine warrior-king in full armament with sword drawn.

The fact that Israel was intended to be the kingdom of God is evident in 1Samuel 8:4-7 when the people ask for a human king to rule over them so that they may be “like all the nations.”  Although their purpose was to be God’s special treasure (סגלה) from among all the nations, the people reject God’s model of dominion in favor of the corrupted forms of monarchy on display in the human kingdoms of the nations.  Accordingly, God instructs Samuel, “Listen to all the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”

God then selects Saul to be the human warrior-king serving as His representative in government of the Israelites; a sort of king pro tempore.  Samuel is instructed to “anoint him leader over my people” signifying that the people, and thus the kingdom, are still God’s possession (1Sa 9:16).  God goes on to say that Saul will “deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines” indicating the military implication of his role.  Saul was thus to serve as God’s anointed one (מָשִׁיחַ) which was “a person having sacred oil poured ceremonially on one’s head, and so become a person with special authority and function, with the implication of one having the choice and approval of God” (Swanson).

It is, however, important to note that although God allowed His people to have a human king, this king was only to function as God’s representative, and his continuation in office was entirely contingent upon his obedience to God’s instructions, a fact that is demonstrated all too soon for Saul.  When Saul takes it upon himself to offer sacrifices to the Lord for the military expedition, he actually attempts to seize the office of priest and violates the command of the Lord.  Samuel confronts him immediately, saying,

You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you. (1Sa 13:13-14)

Although God permitted Israel to have a human king over her, it is clear that He maintained absolute sovereignty over His kingdom.

The Latter Prophets

Ladd sees a two fold emphasis on God’s kingship in Judaic thought.  He points out that, “Although God is now King, other references speak of a day when He shall become King and rule over His people. (Isa. 24:23, 33:22, 52:7; Zeph. 3:15, Zech. 14:9ff.).”  He goes on to say,

The truly Hebraic prophetic hope expects the kingdom to arise out of history and to be ruled by a descendant of David in an earthly setting (Isa. 9, 11).  When this hope faded after the return from exile, the Jews lost hope of a Kingdom in history.  In its place, they looked for an apocalyptic inbreaking of God in the person of a heavenly Son of Man with a completely transcendental kingdom “beyond history” (Dan.7). (Ladd 58)

Thus it would seem that in the Old Testament canon, the kingdom of God is presented as having both current and future dimensions.

The future reality of the kingdom of God surfaces in the Latter Prophets under the idiom “The Day of the Yahweh” (Is 2:6, 13:6, 13:9; Eze 13:5, 30:3; Joel 2:31, Am 5:18, Ob 1:15, Zep 1:14, Zec 14:1, Mal 4:1-5, etc.).  Martens explains that there may be an aspect of this expression that foresees a time when the world will be restored to its original pristine state, unpolluted by sin.  However, he believes that there is greater support for the term referring to a time when God as warrior, deliverer, and king will wage divine war upon his enemies (Martens 151-52).  Ergo, the day of Yahweh is in fact a cataclysmic inbreaking of God into human history, and the day of salvation for God’s people as His kingdom is ultimately consummated and manifested on earth.

This cataclysmic inbreaking is quite evident in the book of Isaiah wherein we find God’s promise of a new heavens and a new earth; in other words an entirely new creation and a new order that supersedes the former (Is 65:17).  This new order promised in Isaiah is reiterated and elaborated upon in the Johannine apocalypse (Rev 21-22), and will be discussed below.

The Writings

Psalms

Although the exact phrase “kingdom of God” is not used in the Old Testament, the Psalter is filled with explicit references to His kingdom (Ps 45:6, Ps 103:19, Ps 145:11-13, etc.).  God is presented in true monarchial form, ruling, scepter in hand, from His throne.  His universal sovereignty is declared, as is the glory and eternal nature of His kingdom.  Of particular interest is Psalm 28 wherein God is viewed as the defender of His people in general, and His earthly agent, or anointed (משיח) in particular (28:8-9).  Here we see the three elements of the kingdom enumerated in hierarchical order as the Psalmist implores God to save, defend, and bless His people.

Daniel

Perhaps the most clarion picture of the kingdom of God in the Old Testament is found in the book of Daniel.  In fact the entire book is, in many respects, an exposition of the juxtaposition between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world.  Moreover, God’s sovereign rule of all human kingdoms in the present is presented in tension with the future (eschatological) manifestation of the kingdom.

God’s sovereignty over the kings and kingdoms of the earth is demonstrated in the fiery furnace narrative.  As he threatens the lives of the three Hebrew men whom refuse to bow down to the image he has set up, Nebuchadnezzar arrogantly asks, “And who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?” (3:15).  The men confidently answer that God has the power to deliver them out of the king’s hand, and He does so in dramatic fashion (3:17-30).

Although Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation,” (4:3) he quickly forgets the lesson learned and continues in his prideful ways.  Daniel then interprets a dream for the king, telling of his impending humiliation which will continue until he knows “that the most high rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (4:3-25).  Following his restoration, Nebuchadnezzar consequently acknowledges God as “King of heaven” and acknowledges that his pride was the source of the issue (4:37).

A similar turn of events is seen in the subsequent narrative of one of Nebuchadnezzar’s descendants, King Belshazzar.  At a great feast, Belshazzar ordered the vessels that had been taken as booty from the temple in Jerusalem to be brought to the feast so they might make use of them in the feast.  The king and his guests praised false gods as they drank from the vessels in a sacrilegious manner.  This action revealed Belshazzar’s pride, and God quickly moved in judgment of the supercilious king.  As Daniel interpreted the oracular writing on the wall, he announced that Belshazzar had lifted himself up against the Lord of heaven and announced that God had numbered the days of his kingdom, that it would be brought to an end, and divided between the Medes and Persians (5:22-28).

Chapter 6 then presents another narrative which deals with political intrigue and the use of man-made law in an attempt to manipulate an earthly king.  Here we find certain politicians in the Medo-Persian Empire who see Daniel as a competitive threat to their power positions.  These politicians contrive and elaborate plan to manipulate the king of this empire, Darius the Mede, by tricking him into making a decree which has the real potential of leading to Daniel’s ultimate undoing.  The essence of this decree was that no one in the kingdom would be permitted to make petition to any god or man for thirty days except to King Darius.

Deceived by their ruse, the king put the decree into written form and signed it; an act which evidently rendered the law irrevocable in some sense.  Scholars are divided regarding the nature of this irrevocability, but the text indicates that “it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians” (6:8; cf. Esth. 1:19, 8:8).[3] When God ultimately delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and from the law of the earthly kingdom, it demonstrated His sovereignty supersedes the laws and decrees of earthly kings; a fact which did not go unnoticed by Darius who in turn sent a proclamation to his entire dominion extolling the kingdom of God and admonishing all of his subjects to tremble before Him (6:25-27).

The last verse of chapter 6 is also of interest, “So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (28, Heb. 29).  The Aramaic word rendered prospered (הַצְלַח) is in the Aphel causative form[4] indicating that he was literally “caused to prosper.”  While on the surface it may appear that the Babylonian kings were the source of Daniel’s prosperity, the theological undercurrent and the overall context makes it clear that God is, in fact, the causative agent, and in spite of their bravado, the earthly kings function as pawns which God manipulates to accomplish the purposes and plans He has for the citizens of His kingdom.

This sequence of narrative episodes demonstrates the fact that God, as King of heaven, is absolutely sovereign over the affairs of earthly political kingdoms, thus the supremacy of the kingdom of God is affirmed.  Moreover, while the narratives illustrate the transient nature of earthly kingdoms, they clearly declare the permanency of the kingdom and dominion of God (שָׁלְטָן עָלַם).[5] This permanence is implicitly contrasted with earthly kingdoms which are presented as temporal and transient in nature (e.g., 2:44, et al.).

This brings us to chapter 7 which may be considered the theological center of the book.  Here Daniel is given a vision where the curtains are withdrawn to reveal the throne room of the kingdom of God, as the Ancient of Days takes His seat in judgment over the kingdoms of the earth.  In this judgment, the dominion of all of the kingdoms of the earth is removed, transferred to, and consolidated under an everlasting kingdom ruled by the “son of man” (7:13-14).   When contrasted against the other kingdoms depicted herein, the kingdom of the son of man appears to be of divine origin.  As Carpenter observes, “The Aramaic verb here translated ‘serve’ is also used in other contexts to indicate the obedience, reverence, and service given to Gods” (Diss 187).  Interestingly, reminiscent of the garden narrative (Ge 1:28), “the saints of the Most High” (קַדִּישֵׁי עֶלְיֹונִין) will share in the dominion in this new kingdom as vicegerents of the son of man (7:27).

Finally, chapter 12 speaks of the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, but we will delay our discussion of that topic, to be reviewed below under the eschatological/future aspects of the kingdom of God.

The Intertestamental Bridge

The intertestamental literature exposes the development of Jewish thought and theology and serves as a bridge spanning the 400 year canonic silence between the testaments.  Eschatological dualism found full expression in the apocalyptic literature in Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal writings of the intertestamental period.  The Apocryphal book of 2 Esdras, circa 100 A.D., gives voice to the Jewish theological milieu contemporary to the creation of the New Testament canon,

But the day of judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away, sinful indulgence has come to an end, unbelief has been cut off, and righteousness has increased and truth has appeared. (2 Esdras 7:113 NRSV).

Somewhere along the line, this dualism began to be articulated with the idiom “this age and the age to come” and it is obvious that this concept was prevalent in the theological zeitgeist of the first century A.D.  Not only did Jesus expound this eschatological dualism (Mt 12:32; Lk 18:30, 20:34) but it was central to Pauline theology as well (1Co 1:20, 2:6, 2:8, 3:18; 2Co 4:4).  Although, Paul’s writings go a bit further than the recorded sayings of Christ, as the present age is characterized as evil and stands diametrically opposed to the age to come (Gal 1:4).  Thus a clear contrast is drawn between the present order and the new redeemed order that will emerge in the Day of the Lord.  Essentially, “…when Jesus proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of God, he did so against the background of Hebrew-Jewish thought, which viewed people living in a situation dominated by sin, evil, and death, from which they needed to be rescued” (Ladd 45-46).

New Testament

Some, like Schweitzer, have attempted to dismiss the kingdom teachings of Christ by asserting that Jesus was simply “an apocalyptic prophet who believed the kingdom would come in all its fullness during his lifetime but who was sadly mistaken,” thereby advancing the “consistent eschatology” view of the kingdom as entirely future (Blomberg 78-79).  Others, like C.H. Dodd have moved to the opposite extreme by suggesting an entirely “realized eschatology,” or kingdom as fully present.  However, as mentioned briefly above, the consensus view among evangelical scholars is that the kingdom is in some sense both a present and future reality (Ladd 56).

The Present or “Already” Aspect of the Kingdom

From an eschatological perspective, the incarnation of Christ actually served as an inauguration of the kingdom.  In this most momentous event, we find an overlap of the old age and the age to come in which the present dimensions of the kingdom are manifested, yet the old order of things has not entirely passed away.  Jesus affirmed that He was in fact fulfilling a variety of Old Testament prophecies about the coming age.  After reading from Isaiah 61:1-2, Jesus explained that, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:18-21).  In this passage, several present aspects of the kingdom are enumerated.

First of all, we find the proclamation of freedom for the oppressed.  In His earthly ministry Jesus offered freedom from virtually every form of oppression.  On the physical plane His ministry of healing freed the sick from the oppression of illness, while on the spiritual plane it freed the spiritually oppressed from the burdensome and legalistic teachings of the Pharisees.  Likewise, while Jesus restored sight to the physically blind, he also enabled the spiritually blind to see (cf. Ac 26:18).  Further, He proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor” which is an allusion to the Year of Jubilee.  Inasmuch as the Year of Jubilee was a time of restoration and new beginnings, the inauguration of the kingdom was a symbolically parallel event.

The assertion of authority over evil is another present aspect of the kingdom.  After being accused of driving out demons by the power of the Satan, Jesus says, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) (Ladd 63).  Interestingly, in this exchange, Jesus is clearly functioning in the office of warrior-king as He attacks the realm of evil and expands the kingdom of God through the liberation/deliverance of His people.

Another present aspect of the kingdom is the forgiveness of sin and the fulfillment of the sacrificial system.  Not only did Jesus have authority to forgive sin on earth (Mk 2:10), He actually would become the ultimate atoning sacrifice for all sin, for all of mankind (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17, 9:5).  In this present aspect, Jesus rendered the sacrificial system and its associated festivals (i.e., Yom Kippur) obsolete, and offered forgiveness and redemption to all whom would believe (Mt. 26:28; Lk 24:47; Ac 5:31, 10:43, 13:38, 26:18; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14).

Another monumental present aspect of the kingdom is a new potential for authentic righteousness for God’s people.  The new covenant proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah promised that God’s law would be written on the hearts and minds of His people (Jer 31:31-34).  The fact that the law would be written on their hearts and minds implies a new level of efficacy that the law would have in governing the thoughts and actions of God’s people.  This internalization of the law was illustrated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  C. H. Dodd misinterpreted the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “We are not to suppose that we are capable of loving our enemies, or even our neighbors to the full measure in which God has loved us” (qtd. in Glascock 99).  Dodd saw this teaching as a kingdom ideal which was not actually practicable.  However, Dodd overlooked the indwelling, regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and the present, or “already” aspect of the kingdom of God.  Jesus is completely unambiguous in His explanation of the internal application of the law as He sets forth the quality of character that is expected from God’s people.

The Future or “Not Yet” Aspect of the Kingdom

There is of course a future dimension of the kingdom of God that is yet to be manifested.  One of the foundational elements of this future dimension is the resurrection of the dead which immediately precedes the new creation.  Daniel 12 explains, and Revelation 20 reinforces, that the dead will rise to be judged before God, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2).  This fact indicates that the citizens of the future/consummated kingdom will not exist in some disembodied, ethereal state, but in a physical reality.

Revelation 21 and 22 describe the new creation originally prophesied in Isaiah 65:17.  In this new heaven and new earth there is no longer any sea, and there is a new Jerusalem in which God will dwell with men (Rev 21:1-3) and there will no longer be any curse (Rev 22:3), which implies a restoration of shalom on the vertical axis between God, man, and creation.  In this new order of things there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain for the old order of things will have passed away (Rev 21:4).  In the new Jerusalem there is no night because the glory of God is its light and the Lamb is its lamp (Rev 21:23-25).  Through the city flows the river of the water of life and on each side of the river is the tree of life (Rev 22:1-2).  The leaves from the tree of life are for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2, cf. Ezek. 47:12), which implies a restoration of shalom on the horizontal axis between men.

The eschatological consummation of God’s kingdom will also bring “…the final and total destruction of the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41), the formation of a redeemed society unmixed with evil (Mt 13:36-43), perfected fellowship with God at the messianic feast (Lk 13:28-29)” (Ladd 62).

Entering the Kingdom of God

While historical earthly kingdoms are established by force or confederacy and entered into as a result of birth or conquest, the kingdom of God is established by grace and entered through faith and obedience.  Moreover, entrance into the kingdom of God presents a profound paradox.  While the final manifestation of God’s kingdom is a place where suffering ceases (Is 11), it must ultimately be entered through suffering and tribulation (Acts 14:22; Jn 15:20, 16:33; 1Thess. 3:3; 2Tim 3:12, etc.).

Clearly, in the overlap between the “already” and “not yet”, the inauguration and the consummation, those who desire to enter God’s kingdom (hence, live a life of obedience to the principles of the kingdom) will come under severe persecution from the world and the kingdom of darkness.  Nonetheless, Scripture is clear and consistent in its proclamation of the ultimate victory of God’s kingdom over all others and it is in this hope that the follower of Christ finds comfort, joy, and peace.

Conclusion

The kingdom of God was the central message of the earthly ministry of Jesus, and as such it holds substantial merit as a candidate for the meta-narrative of the entire canon.  We have seen the progression of this theme through some of the major divisions of Scripture and, although it may have been interpreted differently throughout the sweep of history by people possessing various degrees of revelation, when one allows the text to speak for itself, this theme emerges as an attractive prospect for the hub of biblical theology, and demonstrates the viability of a unitary reading of Scripture as well as the dialogic nature of the testaments.

We have seen how the pre-Fall creation and the new creation serve as an inclusio to the Bible while also serving as the exemplar of the kingdom of God.

In the final analysis, the Bible tells the story God and His people.  People are the centerpiece of creation and thus the centerpiece of God’s kingdom.  If this is the case, the ultimate questions then are questions of application.  If the church is in fact the vehicle of the “already” aspects of the kingdom, what would it look like if we were to function in human history in a fashion consistent with the responsibility which accompanies such a role?  What would it look like if we made a serious attempt to free the oppressed, bring healing to the sick, freely and graciously offer forgiveness?  What would it look like if we were to live life from the inside-out as we embody authentic righteousness, boldly expand the kingdom in this age, and confidently, paranetically anticipate the imminent consummation of the “not yet” aspects of the kingdom and the return of the King?


Bibliography

Blomberg, Craig L. Jesus and the Gospels. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997.

Brown, F., S. Driver, and C. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1906.

Carpenter, Eugene. You Are My People: I Am Your God: A Biblical Theology. Proposal, 2007.

Carpenter, Eugene E. The Eschatology of Daniel Compared With the Eschatology of

Selected Intertestamental Documents. “Diss. Fuller Theological Seminary, 1978.

Davidson, Benjamin. The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1850.

Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Press, 1989.

Glasscock, Ed. Moody Gospel Commentary: Matthew. Chicago: Moody Press, 1997.

Hafemann, Scott J. Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Hill, Andrew E. & Walton, John H. A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991, 2000.

Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament – Revised Ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993.

Martens, Elmer A. God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology – 3rd Ed. Richland Hills: Bilbal Press, 1998.

Meadowcroft, T. J. Aramaic Daniel and Greek Daniel. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Peter-Contesse, Rene and John Ellington. A Handbook on the Book of Daniel. New York: UBS, 1993

Swanson, J. 1997. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.) . Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor

Tenney, Merrill C. Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967.

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible

Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton: Victor Books.


[1] Swanson, J. 1997. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.) . Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor

[2] Both verbs are used in v. 28 in the Qal imperative, indicating that the clear and explicit divine plan for the creatures made in His image is to sit atop and expand a kingdom drawn out of the creative order.

[3] The idea of law here is worth noting.  Laws were designed for the specific purpose of the governance of a kingdom.  While the laws of the earthly empire were imperfect and could be even be used to manipulate its ruler, the laws of God’s kingdom are and beyond such cunning contrivances.  In fact, it could be said that the laws of a kingdom reflect the character of its ruler; hence God’s law is perfect in righteousness, justice, and immutability.

[4]Aramaic: Aphel, preterit, 3rd person, masculine, singular of צלח.

[5] Ironically, some of the most explicit declarations of the permanence of the kingdom of God emanate from the mouths of the pagan kings (4:3, 4:34, 6:26).

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Kingdom of God

  1. Don Samdahl says:

    In your opening paragraph you wrote, “It is widely held that the central theme of Jesus earthly ministry was the kingdom of God, and the New Testament is replete with textual support for this notion. However, the Old Testament also bears witness, both explicitly and implicitly, to the “kingdom of God” theme…” In a conventional sense this is true but technically the gospels are Old Testament. The kingdom Jesus proclaimed was the same kingdom Isaiah, Zechariah, Daniel, and all the prophets proclaimed. See Luke 1.31-33 for example.

    • fjmorgan says:

      That is exactly my thesis for this post. The idea in the article is that there is one kingdom of God which is proclaimed throughout the entire canon (as well as the non-canonical intertestamental literature) which makes it an ideal unifying leitmotif for biblical theology. My contrast of the Testaments was simply meant to highlight that although the exact term “kingdom of God” is not used in the OT it is nonetheless a central theme.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Peace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: