“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:10, King James Version)
This brief verse has been used as the basis of songs, poems and quotations for centuries. It provides the most basic and ideal definition of the term “kingdom of God” to be found in Scripture – a place where God’s will is done.
It pictures that desire disciples have to see all inhabitants of earth submit to the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in the same way that all of heaven submits to him. Who could imagine a better portrayal of life on planet earth than that one? However, looking at all sides of what the Bible says about the kingdom and trying to harmonize it leaves one’s head spinning. It almost defies a description in which all loose ends are tied up tightly. But is that unexpected? Can any human look at everything said about God and describe him in simple terms without similar loose ends hanging out everywhere? Obviously, no. Then we should not be surprised to find the same challenges when trying to describe his ruling realm.
As was stated in the exposition of Acts 1:3-6 in my book, World Changers, the kingdom is a very broad and complex subject. I sometimes find it easier to explain what it is not than what it is. I appreciate other author’s efforts to deal with the subject, but I never finish reading any article or book on the kingdom without questions and without a sense of unsettledness, a feeling that something still isn’t quite clear about the topic.
Likely that says much more about the subject itself than about men’s efforts to delve into it. I am quite sure that anyone reading my comments about it will finish with similar feelings. But it is a glorious subject, one of great significance in Old Testament prophecy and one that prompted many comments in the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation. With all of that in mind, please begin reading with the thought in mind that you are going to receive some introductory knowledge that will hopefully prompt in you the desire to dig deeper, and that the subject deserves to have you start (or continue) digging soon.
If we were to accept the Matthew 6:10 definition of the kingdom as a realm in which God’s will is done, we would soon encounter the complexity of which we spoke earlier. For example, consider these broad, sweeping comments regarding the reign of God:
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Psalm 29:10 10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
Psalm 103:19 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Isaiah 10:13-14 13 For he says: “‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. 14As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.'”
Isaiah 37:16 16 “O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
Lamentations 3:37-38: “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”
Daniel 2:21 21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Daniel 4:17 17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’
So, what are all of these passages saying? That God reigns over all of creation, animate and inanimate, and nothing happens without his knowledge of it, and in one sense, his approval of it. He indeed is King of kings, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without it fitting into the will of God in one way or another. Because of his absolute sovereignty, he can call Nebuchadnezzar his “servant” (Jeremiah 43:10) and use one wicked nation after another to punish his own people or one another. All of these sinful, rebellious kings were instruments of God to accomplish his purposes, for he is King over all and the whole universe is thus his kingdom!
In this broadest sense of the kingdom, are those in it doing his will? Yes and no. The pigs, lizards, and the like are doing pretty well. They are doing what they were created to do, and without any comprehension of it whatsoever, they are doing his will for them – fulfilling their purpose.
Similarly, human beings in general, including those in rebellion, are involuntarily doing his will in some ways. But as we begin this consideration, we have to keep Paul’s words in mind when he wrote: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out” (Romans 11:33). God has always had spiritual goals in mind as he led history toward Golgotha, and while choices have always been left up to man, especially spiritual choices, he still had his way in working all things together for his purposes. As Galatians 4:4 puts it, when the time was fully ripe for his coming, he sent his Son into the world. As McGuiggan described it, “Within the scope of God’s rule are two classes of men, those in his favor (and in subjection to him) and those who don’t have his favor (and who are in subjection to him). (The Reign of God, page 20)
A Kingdom Within a Kingdom
This statement brings us to a consideration of men who are in the favor of God. Everyone from Adam onward who were (or became) people of faith, were a part of a kingdom within a kingdom. They voluntary submitted to their God as their King, which made them a part of two kingdoms at once. The spiritual part of the kingdom has gone through various phases, and can easily be overlooked or misunderstood. Before the Law of Moses was given at the inauguration of the Judaistic kingdom, those who were faithful to God were in his spiritual kingdom – whether it was officially called a kingdom or not. If he was the king, they were his subjects. If his will was being done by them, they were in his kingdom of the redeemed. This kingdom before the cross was nonetheless based on the sacrifice made on the cross, for Jesus was the Lamb slain from the creation of the world – Revelation 13:8. The citizens of that early kingdom understood none of this, but they didn’t have to. God did. They just had to be faithful to the light God had given them.
Then historically, the kingdom of the Jews was established at Sinai. God’s will was for all of those descendants of Abraham to be a spiritual kingdom under his kingship. He made this clear through Moses in Exodus 19:5-6: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” However, although this lofty goal for Israel represented God’s ideal will, it didn’t play out in an ideal fashion. In fact, by the end of the Wilderness Wandering period, Deuteronomy was written to correct legalistic views of observing the Law that had developed in just a forty year period, which explains why so much in this amazing Book was addressing the heart. But Deuteronomy did not halt the slide into legalism (and worse). From its inception, the nation of Israel became a nation within a nation, a kingdom within a kingdom. The whole nation was used as God’s instrument to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and to produce him. Sadly, only a remnant (the spiritual kingdom within the physical kingdom) was faithful to him.
Paul certainly made this principle clear with his comments in Romans 9-11. For example, in Romans 9:6 he wrote, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” In those same chapters, he made it abundantly clear that it had always been the case that only a remnant was faithful and a part of the true Israel. The reason the majority were not right with God during the first century can be traced back to their mistaken view of what being an Israelite meant, and did not mean, spiritually.
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone’” (Romans 9:30-32).
Thus, the Jews (particularly the religious ones) believed that they were right with God by virtue of being the physical descendants of Abraham. John the Baptist addressed this mistaken view by saying in Matthew 3:9, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
This explains why there had to be a kingdom within a kingdom, a spiritual kingdom and a physical kingdom existing concurrently. The nation may have become a nation at Sinai, and although God used them for his ultimate purposes, they were often a nation in rebellion. Praise God for the encouragement we get from knowing that there was a remnant even in the worst of times, Ruth being a shining example of that – even though a foreign proselyte. Even in the largely apostate Northern Kingdom during the time of the divided kingdom, Elijah was told by God that the remnant numbered 7,000 (1 Kings 19:18).
The most important phase of the Israelite kingdom began when David was made king, for God promised him that someone from his lineage would remain on the throne forever. Saul’s family lost the throne due to his sin, but David’s family would never abdicate the throne to another family. Of course, the ultimate Davidic king who would reign forever and ever was none other than Jesus the Messiah.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7).
As mentioned in our earlier comments under Acts 1:6, the apostles’ question about restoring the kingdom to Israel was not a dumb or naive question. The kingdom of the Messiah was a restored kingdom, especially relevant historically because from the time of the Babylonian captivity until Jesus was crowned, there was not a king on David’s throne (meaning from his lineage). Read back over the comments in the Acts 1 exposition if this is unclear to you. The kingdom of Christ was given first to the Jews as a fulfillment of many OT prophecies, and it was a number of years before Gentiles began flooding into his kingdom. Of course, the OT foretold the inclusion of the Gentiles, but the Jews evidently understood this to mean that they would come in through the funnel of Judaism. That misinterpretation led to the Jew/Gentile controversy in the early church that nearly split it.
The Ultimate Kingdom of David
This phase of the kingdom became a reality in conjunction with the Messiah. In this phase of the kingdom, the “kingdom within a kingdom” scenario was destined to become a thing of the past. Although God used the physical kingdom of Judaism for his ultimate purposes to bless mankind, this kingdom essentially failed as a spiritual kingdom, for several reasons. This failure is described by Jesus in Matthew 21:43 thusly: “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” In this case, he is saying that the special purpose of the physical kingdom was ending and being given to those who would comprise the Messianic spiritual kingdom. The whole approach to God was undergoing a radical change – a change that few of the Jews understood. The author of Hebrews gives us insight into that change in Hebrews 8:11, as he describes the difference between the old covenant of Moses and the new covenant of Christ. “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
In the old covenant, a person was born into the covenant and had to be taught about God (which was a part of the failure mentioned previously). In the new covenant, every person has to be first taught and then born (reborn spiritually). That marked a monumental change and insured that none could enter the covenant of Christ without knowing what they were doing and choosing to do it. Hence, the introduction of the new covenant of the risen Christ marked the end of having a kingdom within a kingdom in the same sense as during the Mosaic covenant.
The term kingdom is used over 100 times in the four Gospel accounts, and about a third that often in the remainder of the NT. Jesus’ uses of this term were quite varied. Many times, especially in parables, he spoke of kingdom growth (mustard seed, leaven) or the judgment of his kingdom (tares among the good seed, fish in the net) or kingdom value (pearl of great price, treasure in the field). Passages like Matthew 13:38 seem to use the term in the universal sense that we spoke of near the beginning of this article, for the field was referred to as the whole world in this passage.
The Inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the Messianic kingdom comes in trying to ascertain when it actually was instituted. Keep in mind as we move to this consideration that I believe that the church and the kingdom are not exact equivalents. I said that in the Acts 1 exposition, but I will need to say it again here to avoid any possible confusion.
Traditionally, leaders in our movement have equated the church and the kingdom, and have thus taught that the kingdom (church) was established in Acts 2 – as Isaiah 2, Daniel 2 and Joel 2 converged on the Day of Pentecost. I can see what seems to be fairly compelling reasoning for teaching it in this manner. On the other hand, I see passages in the Gospels that seem to clearly say that the kingdom was in existence during the ministry of King Jesus. This complexity is not easily solved, at least in my mind.
The main passages that are used for pointing to the kingdom being in existence during Jesus’ ministry are easy to find and list. (All are from the NIV unless noted.)
Matthew 4:17: From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 12:28: “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Matthew 19:14: “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
Matthew 21:31: “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
Matthew 23:13: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Luke 10:9: “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”
Luke 12:32: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 17:20-21: “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!‘ or, ‘There it is!‘ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (NASB).
In looking at these passages, it cannot be doubted that the kingdom of Jesus was present in his ministry. After all, in Matthew 9:6 Jesus said that he had authority on earth to forgive sins, and if one’s sins were forgiven, they were a part of his kingdom. However, the greater question to me is in what sense his kingdom was present. Other passages seem to point to a sense in which the kingdom was not yet present, and I don’t refer to the kingdom in heaven after the resurrection. Look at these passages also from the Gospel accounts.
Matthew 3:1-2: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 11:11: “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matthew 16:18-19 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 20:21 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
Mark 14:25 25 “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
Mark 15:43 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Luke 19:11 11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
Both John and Jesus said that the kingdom of God was near. Given what is said about John in Matthew 11, it doesn’t seem possible that he was saying that the kingdom of God was then present when he said that it was near. The apparent interchangeable use of church and kingdom in the same context of Matthew 16, combined with the fact that the apostles didn’t begin to use their binding and loosing authority mentioned there until after Pentecost gives pause as well. In Matthew 20, the request of James’ and John’s mother seemed to indicate that she saw the kingdom as yet future. Correctly or incorrectly, I’ve long thought that Jesus joining us in communion (Mark 14:25) happens in the church in a spiritual sense. Joseph of Arimathea evidently wasn’t aware of the kingdom being present. Luke 19:11 seems to have been spoken to clarify that the kingdom of God was not going to appear immediately. Of course, it could be argued that this passage was referring to the heavenly stage of the kingdom.
But then we come back to Acts 1. Jesus had opened the minds of the apostles in order to teach and prepare them for all that was soon to occur. The teaching took place over a forty day period. They still were asking about when the kingdom was coming, regardless of what you choose to do about the word “restore.” These men who were closest to Jesus all during his ministry and personally were instructed by him in this forty day crash course about the kingdom topic didn’t see it as being in existence yet – even after his resurrection from the dead. Something much bigger was to come regarding the kingdom.
Therefore, while it seems apparent that the kingdom of God was present in the person of Jesus during his earthly ministry, those who saw and heard him did not seem to grasp much of what that meant, including the apostles. To assume that it was as much in evidence before Pentecost as afterwards strains my sense of knowledge and my sense of logic. As another writer stated it, could there really have been a crown without a cross? I know that the fairly popular “now, not yet” formula sees two phases of the kingdom as being an earthly phase instituted during the ministry of Jesus and a heavenly phase when time is no more.
At this point of my own study, I would propose a “now, not yet, not yet” formula from the vantage point of Acts 1. The now was largely the preparatory phase of Jesus’ ministry, in which much groundwork was laid for the future and much teaching was addressed toward the Jewish mindset. The first not yet phase was ushered in at Pentecost when the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was first publicly proclaimed after it became a reality. It was still a not yet phase during the ministry of Christ. And of course the final not yet phase would refer to the kingdom after it is delivered up to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
One final consideration leads me to the conclusions stated above – namely, the connection between the Messiah’s kingdom and his covenant. Ezekiel 37:15-28 is without doubt a Messianic passage, predicting the new David (Jesus) reigning over his kingdom forever, ruling it with an everlasting covenant of peace. The reign of Jesus as King occurs in conjunction with his new covenant. Therefore, the question must be asked, when was the new covenant instituted? That cannot be other than in Acts 2.
Hebrews 9:15-17: “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.”
The new covenant is compared to a will, which only goes into effect after the maker of the will dies. The period from the death of Christ to the Day of Pentecost, when I believe the new covenant went into effect, was something like a probationary period before a will becomes totally legal. That is at least the case with manmade wills.
To my way of thinking, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom that took place during the earthly ministry of Jesus had to be primarily preparatory preaching. The very foundation of the kingdom gospel message is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 was not heart and soul of the message, it was yet an incomplete gospel. Of course, Jesus taught about his death and resurrection during his earthly ministry, but who really understood it? The apostles certainly didn’t, and they were of all people the best candidates to understand it. Instead, even immediately after the resurrection they were fearfully hiding behind closed doors – until the Spirit came on Pentecost. From that time forward, they were boldness personified, preaching and living the gospel of the resurrected, ascended King and spreading his new covenant everywhere. Passages like Isaiah 2, Daniel 2 and Joel 2 come together in Acts 2 in a way that they do not come together elsewhere – including during the earthly ministry of Jesus.
What Are the Real Issues Here?
I don’t think the real underlying issue is when the Messianic phase of the kingdom was instituted. 2000 years have passed. In my Appendix about Apollos and whether he was re-baptized or not, I make it clear that it really doesn’t matter at all now, one way or the other. You can read that Appendix if you like, but my opinion is that those baptized before the cross and who remained faithful were not re-baptized. That would have included the apostles and others. But what difference does it make to us two centuries later? The same circumstances don’t (can’t) exist now, so it is a moot question. The same principle could be applied to the institution of the kingdom. Whether that occurred during the ministry of Jesus or on the Day of Pentecost, the kingdom of the Messiah has been around for a long time and the real issue for us is to discover exactly what being a part of that kingdom now should mean to us and how it must show up in our thinking and doing. If we are indeed kingdom people, we must live like it! That’s the real issue.
It seems to me that the renewed emphasis on the kingdom in the Gospels comes at least partially from the desire to avoid the malady of equating the kingdom with the church, especially in combination with the strong tendency to have an institutionalized view of the church. I understand that malady, and malady is a good word to describe it. Most who claim to follow Christ have indeed developed a very institutional view of the church, and tend to preach the gospel of the church rather than the gospel of Christ. However, we have two problems to address and hopefully solve – wrong views of both the kingdom and of the church.
If I am correct in my assumption regarding one motivation behind the renewed kingdom emphasis, we have somewhat of a parallel in the motivation behind using the term disciple rather than Christian. The word Christian is only used three times in the NT, and not defined well at all. Perhaps for that reason, the word has come to be used in so many ways that violate Scripture that those in our movement have opted to use the term disciple. It is used many times and is defined from many angles. In perhaps a similar way, using the term kingdom gets us back into the Scripture with fresh eyes and helps reduce the focus on the term church, which is so misunderstood and misapplied in our day.
However, a real difference exists in these two word choices (kingdom and disciple, in lieu of church and Christian). It is true that Christian is little used and defined in the NT. Conversely, it is not true that church is little used and defined in the NT. From Acts through Revelation, kingdom is used 35 times, whereas church is used 75 times. Most of the times the word church is used, it refers to a local assembly of believers. Perhaps that makes the term easier to institutionalize. However, some of the passages about the church are as lofty as could be imagined, and in these cases, using the word kingdom interchangeably would seem appropriate. Read the following verses and see what you think.
Acts 20:28 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
Ephesians 1:18-23 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Ephesians 3:14-21 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Hebrews 12:22-29 22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Again, I think I understand the reluctance some have of in any way equating the kingdom with the church. But both terms need to be clarified, sanctified and perhaps fumigated. I am totally supportive of all efforts to help us see what Jesus envisioned his kingdom to be (regardless of the date of its institution), for we have lost our radical edge as a movement. At one time, using the term disciple called us to that radical edge, but it too has become an institutionalized term for many of us. To those in that category, it means little more than being a part of an ICOC related church. Therefore, if using the term kingdom can direct us back into studying the kingdom life, which is biblically a very radical, cross-cultural life, I say “Amen and Amen!” I just want to make sure I get to that point by employing a correct hermeneutic in the process.
I deeply desire to help us see the kingdom of God in its eternal significance, reaching back into eternity before the world was created and reaching forward into the eternity of which I long to be a part. I also want to help us see the church as the blood-bought Body of Christ, consisting of all the saved on earth, who are at the same time a part of the kingdom – called to be his spiritual representatives to do what Christ did while in his earthly sojourn. While the church is not equal to the kingdom, it is certainly a part of God’s kingdom. In the church, we are subjects of the King and we subject our lives to the rule and reign of God. It may not all be simple and easy to understand, hence the need to keep digging, but our study should lead us to a deeper understanding of the kingdom and its ever increasing glory as we await that day when “Thy Kingdom Come” is fulfilled in the grandest way possible, for all eternity.
Culled from disciplestoday.org