THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM
BY KEVIN J. CONNER
One of the greatest areas of controversy and confusion is that which pertains to the distinction and relationship of the Church and the Kingdom.
Dispensationalists speak of the Kingdom as being a Jewish thing and the Church as being a parenthetical plan of God after the Jews rejected the King, Jesus Christ. They teach that the Kingdom was postponed during this Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and that the Church is God’s temporary purpose in this period of time of Jewish unbelief.
However, this is very far from the truth of Scripture as it pertains to both the Church and the Kingdom.
Questions are asked: Are the Church and the Kingdom synonymous? Is the Church in the Kingdom or is the Kingdom in the Church? Is the Church Gentilish and the Kingdom Jewish? Is the Kingdom past, present or future? Materialistic? Spiritual?
A. The Kingdom Defined
The word “Kingdom” is made up of two words: “King’s Domain” = King-Dom. It is the territory or area over which a King rules and reigns; the King’s Domain. God’s Kingdom is the reign or the rule of God, whether in heaven or earth. It is the purpose of God–the extension of God’s rule.
Greek = “Basileia”. It speaks of the sway, rule, administration of a king. The royal reign of the kingdom of God. One cannot separate the King and the Kingdom as far as God is concerned.
The word “Kingdom” is used about 160 times in the New Testament.
1. How long has the Kingdom of God been in existence?
a. The Kingdom of God is an everlasting Kingdom (Psalms 145:10, 13; 103:19; Daniel 4:3). There has never been a time when the Kingdom of God has not been in existence. It has neither beginning nor end.
b. The Kingdom of God is sovereign, ruling over kingdoms (Psalms 103:19; Revelation 11:5).
c. The Kingdom of God is all-inclusive, including within itself, its domain, the total universe, the elect angels, heaven, the fallen angels and all creatures and mankind on this earth. All are under His control and dominion. None could exist or act without His sustaining power (Psalms 103:19; Exodus 15:18, Psalms 145:10-13).
2. What is the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?
There is no difference between these terms; they are synonymous. A comparison of the following Scriptures shows that what is said of the Kingdom of God is also said of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 23:22).
Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew I 1:11
Matthew- 13:3 1
Matthew 19:23, 24
Kingdom of God
Luke 13:18, 19
Mark 4:30, 31
Matthew (writing particularly for Jewish converts) almost invariably uses the expression “Kingdom of Heaven”, while Mark, Luke and John substitute “Kingdom of God.”
It was customary among the Jews to use the word “Heaven” for God, and in Matthew 23:22 the Lord Himself states that to swear by heaven is to swear by “the throne of God and by Him that sitteth thereon.”
B. The Progressive Revelation of the Kingdom
In each age there has been a further or progressive revelation of the Kingdom of God. This is the purpose of God for His kingdom to be manifested.
1. The Kingdom of God in Heaven–Time Past
Matthew 6:6-9; Psalms 102:19; 145:10-13. The angels and the archangels were created as subjects of the heavenly kingdom in the eternity past. Sin brought confusion and originated a rebel kingdom of Satan and fallen angels here (Revelation 16:10; John 8:44; II Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
2. The Kingdom of God in Eden
Genesis 1-2. God created Adam and Eve giving them dominion and rulership over the earth. In and through them God desired to rule and reign. His Kingdom was to be established in the earth, in Adam’s race. However, as instruments for the expression of God’s Kingdom, they failed because of sin and sold all their unborn generations over to Satan and the Kingdom of Darkness.
3. The Kingdom of God in Patriarchal Times
Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were faithful patriarchs and covenant men. In them was illustrated and demonstrated the Kingdom of God in the earth. The promises of King Messiah were preserved in these men who were the instruments for the expression of God’s Kingdom. These men, though imperfect, knew the rule and reign of God in their hearts and lives in the midst of corrupt and apostate nations about them. (Genesis 8-50 Chapters).
The Kingdom of God in Israel
Exodus 19:1-6. In due time God brought forth the nation of Israel, and chose it out of the midst of other nations (Deuteronomy 4-5). In this nation He established more fully His Kingdom, His laws. Israel was a theocracy. God was their King (Numbers 24:5-7; Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
God intended Israel to be the instrument in earth to demonstrate His rule and reign to other nations; to give all nations the revelation of the true God.
Saul (I Samuel 9-10), David (I Samuel 16; I Chronicles 10:14), Solomon (I Kings 1:46) were the first kings to reign over a united nation. In due time the Kingdom of Israel was divided into two houses, the House of Israel and the House of Judah (I Kings 11-12; Ezekiel 16; Ezekiel 23). Both houses had prophets of God sent to them to remind them of the Laws of God. The tragedy is that Israel failed to be all that God intended them to be. For this reason God allowed the captivity of both houses; the House of Israel going into Assyrian Captivity and the House of Judah into Babylonian Captivity.
5. The Kingdom of God in the Gentile World
During the Captivity of Israel and more especially that of Judah, God used the Gentile nations to be the instrument of His rule and reign in the earth. The Book of Daniel especially shows the sovereignty of God’s Kingdom. He rules in the heavens and the earth and He gives the Kingdom to whomsoever He will (Daniel 2; Daniel 4; Psalms 9:16; Ezra 1:1-4; Daniel 7:9- 14, 26,27; Psalms 22:28, 29; I Kings 2:15; II Samuel 16:8; II Chronicles 36:22, 23; Daniel 4:17, 25; 32-35).
Thus Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman Kingdoms were given the reign, under God, over the people of God because of their failure.
The Kingdom of God in Christ
God held the House of Judah in the land of Palestine until the advent of the King, Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Matthew is the Gospel of the King and the Kingdom. Jesus preached, taught and demonstrated the Kingdom of God. He gave the laws of the Kingdom in Matthew 5-6-7. He presented the rule and reign of God to the House of Judah (Matthew 4: 17, 23-25). The King was actually the personification of the Kingdom of God in the earth.
* Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom–Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:14; Acts 1:3.
* Jesus taught the Kingdom of God was at hand–Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15
* Jesus showed that His ministry ushered in the next stage of the Kingdom–Matthew 12:24-28; Luke 11:20; 16:16
* Jesus told His disciples to preach the Kingdom of God–Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2, 60; 10:9-11
* Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom come”–Matthew 6:6-9; Luke 11:2
* Jesus told some of the disciples they would not die until they had seen the Kingdom of God come with power–Matthew 16:28; Mark 9: 1; Luke 9:27.
* Jesus said He would not eat and drink of the fruit of the vine until He did it anew in the Kingdom–Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:28; Luke 22:16-18,
This was demonstrated in the communion times He had with them after His resurrection–Acts 1:4; 10:41; John 21:13; I Corinthians 11:23-34.
However, because the Jews had such a nationalistic and materialistic concept of the Kingdom of God, they rejected their King and crucified Him (Matthew 26-27). But, contrary to the Dispensationalists, the Kingdom was not postponed until the end of the age and the lifting of Jewish blindness and unbelief, nor was the Church brought in as a parenthetical plan. The Kingdom was transferred over to the Church. The Kingdom was taken from Jewry and given to a nation, which was the New Testament Church (Matthew 21:41-46; I Peter 2:59).
7. The Kingdom of God in the Church
That there is a relationship between the Church and the Kingdom is evident from Matthew 16:18,19. Jesus said “Upon this Rock I will build My CHURCH and I will give unto thee the keys of the KINGDOM of heaven.”
As will be seen, the Church now becomes the instrument for the demonstration of the Kingdom of God in the earth. It is also the final instrument for that ministry. The Church is entrusted with the administration and authority of the Kingdom in earth; symbolized by the ”Keys of the Kingdom” given to it. This will be seen more fully at the close of this chapter.
8. The Millenial Kingdom
There is a further aspect of the Kingdom of God as to its manifestation in earth and that is the 1000 years reign of Christ on earth with the saints (Daniel 2; Daniel 7; Revelation 20:1-10).
However, there is much controversy and confusion over the fact and nature of this aspect of the Kingdom. It is not the purpose of this text to deal with this matter, but simply to note that this is just the final aspect of the Kingdom revelation in earth after Christ’s second advent.
9. The Kingdom in Eternity
The final aspect of the progressive revelation of the Everlasting Kingdom of God is that which takes place at the close of the 1000 year period. Paul says “Then cometh the end when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the Kingdom to the Father” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
Here we complete the cycle. The Everlasting Kingdom has been expressed in its seven-foldness in earth, reaching from eternity to eternity in its completeness.
IN SUMMARY then, the Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God over the universe and all creatures therein, angelic and human. There has been and is but ONE KINGDOM of God, but the instruments through which this one Kingdom has been expressed have varied. The final instrument for the expression and manifestation and demonstration of the Kingdom of God is THE CHURCH! The instrument of God has changed over the centuries but the purpose of God has never changed!
C. The Church and The Kingdom
Having defined and followed the cycle and progressive revelation of the Kingdom of God from eternity to eternity, through time, we consider more fully the Kingdom in relation to the Church.
1. Distinction and Relationship
The Church and the Kingdom are distinct, yet related. The Kingdom is the universal reign of God over all creation and creatures and the universe of worlds, including in itself angels and men.
The Church is composed of redeemed believers, out of every kindred, tongue, tribe and nation. The Church does not include the angelic hosts. So we may say that the angelic hosts are in the Kingdom, but only the redeemed are in the Church and also in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom is eternal and unlimited. It is all encompassing. The Church is God’s eternal purpose, manifested in time. It is limited to those of mankind who are redeemed by Christ.
The Church becomes the instrument for the full demonstration of the Kingdom. God s Kingdom–His rule and reign–is to be established in the Church. The Church is in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is in the Church. But the Church is not the totality, but only a part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is far more inclusive than the Church.
This distinction, yet relationship between the Church and the Kingdom needs to be recognized and understood to avoid confusing the real issues involved in both. We do not pray ”Thy Church come” but the Church prays “Thy Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:6-10). Nor do we preach ”The Gospel of the Church, but the Church preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14).
2. The Church and The Kingdom
The word “Church” is used about 115 times, and the word “Kingdom” about 160 times in the New Testament.
A study in the Book of Acts, along with other major Scriptures from the Gospels shows that the early Church was indeed the channel, the instrument, the vehicle and vessel for the expression of the Kingdom of God. It was through the Church that the Kingdom of God was extended in the earth in the hearts of men. We note some of the major truths concerning the Kingdom in these verses:
* Christ would build His Church and give her the keys of the Kingdom–Matthew 16:18, 19.
* Repentance and faith are the doorway into the Kingdom (Matthew 3:2; 4:17, 23).
* The Kingdom is at hand (Mark 1:14, 15; Hebrews 6:1; Acts 2:34-42).
* One must be born again from above by spiritual and heavenly birth to enter the Kingdom (John 3:1-5). If the Kingdom was postponed, then it means that none could be born again until then!
* Regeneration is a translation out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light and love (Colossians 1:13, 14).
* The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit (Romans 14:17; Matthew 6:33).
* The Kingdom of God is not of this world system (John 18:36; Matthew 6:9, 10; Luke 17:20, 21).
* The Gospel of the Kingdom is to be preached in all the world for a witness all nations before the end comes (Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15-20).
* The Law and the Prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom is preached (Luke 16:16; Matthew 5:17, 18; 11:13; 12:28).
* The Kingdom was taken from Jewry and given to the holy nation, which is the Church (Matthew 21:42-46; I Peter 2:5-9).
* Believers are the good seed of the Kingdom in the Kingdom in its mystery forte (Matthew 13:37, 38; Mark 4:11; Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28, 29).
* We are to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6;33; Luke 21:31).
* The Kingdom of God is within the heart (Luke 17:20).
* The Church taught and preached and demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God in the Book of Acts.
a) Jesus spoke to the disciples of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3-6).
b) Philip, from the Church at Jerusalem, preached the Kingdom of God, as and Evangelist (Acts 8:1, 12).
c) Paul preached the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25), as an apostle from the Church.
d) John and Paul, apostles of the New Testament Church, believed they were then in the Kingdom (Revelation 1:9; Colossians 4:11; Acts 28:23, 31).
e) Jesus Christ is the King-Priest after the order of Melchisedek (Hebrews 7:1, 2; Revelation 15:3; I Timothy 1:17; 6:15; Revelation 19:16), and the Church is also a Royal Priesthood after the same order (Revelation 1:6; 5:9, 10; I Peter 2:5-9; Romans 5:17, 21).
f) Believers were born into the Kingdom as subjects of the Kingdom (John 3:1-5), and they were added as members to the Church (Acts 11:24; 2:41-47).
g) The Church preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, for there is only one Gospel for Jew and Gentile. It is spoken of as:
1) The Gospel of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14, 15; Matthew 24:14).
2) The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1).
3) The Gospel of God (Romans 1:1).
4) The Gospel of His Son (Romans 1:9).
5) The Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24).
6) The Glorious Gospel (I Timothy 1:11).
7) The Everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6).
8) The Gospel of the Circumcision (Galatians 2:7).
9) The Gospel of the Uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7).
10) The Gospel (Mark 16: 15-20).
11) The Gospel of Paul (Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 2:16; 16:25).
THE CHURCH today is the agent for the demonstration of THE KINGDOM of God in the earth. Though the Church and the Kingdom are distinguishable, they are indivisible in God’s eternal purpose!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, AND PUBLIHSED BY BT PUBLISHING, 1982, PAGES 31-36. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.