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Theology > Jesus > Life and Teaching > The Kingdom > Establishment of the Kingdom   


In the Olivet Discourse Jesus states that the Kingdom was prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). That which was in the mind of God from eternity was and is to be realized in the arena of history and in the coming everlasting age. To be in His mind is to be determined by Him. Therefore, the establishment of the Kingdom is God’s doing. It cannot be effected by man, either the conception, the initiation, the development, or the culmination. The Kingdom is the Kingdom of God in all of its comprehensiveness. Any discussion of the establishment of the Kingdom must make reference to the eternal knowledge and determination of God.

All concepts that enter into the mind of man are related to Theism and Creation, whether recognized by man or not, and can only be interpreted properly when interpreted from the perspective of Theism and Creation (see: Foundations). And the Kingdom concept is no exception, for Creation serves as the arena for the Kingdom and the Kingdom is Theistic, meaning it is of God. That which has been determined by the God of Creation is to be made manifest in the Creation created by God. The Kingdom realized on earth is the Kingdom of heaven; the Kingdom among men is the Kingdom of God.

Early in the Scriptures are glimpses into the establishment of the Kingdom, an establishment known only by Revelation and known only by those who are blessed with the Revelation. Not everyone knows of the Kingdom and not everyone will be a part of the Kingdom. Regarding the parables, Jesus states: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11; see: Mystery of the Kingdom and Parables of the Kingdom). For it to be given is for the recipient to experience the gift of Grace.

It should be expected that the Kingdom would be found in the Old Testament and, indeed, it is found throughout the Old Testament; it was in operation when Adam and Eve sinned and God slew an animal and provided a covering for them; it was in process in and through the faith and life of Abraham and the covenant God made with him; in and through Moses and the giving of the Law; in and through David and the establishment of his dynasty; in and through the prophets and the prophecy of the coming Messiah. Whether the word “Kingdom” is used or not it is obvious that the concept is present throughout the Old Testament and the determination to bring about the Kingdom is evident; the Kingdom is in its embryonic stage throughout the Old Testament.

In the New Testament the founding and development of the Kingdom is seen in and through the announcement of John the Baptist, in the Person and Work of Christ, in the establishment of the Christian Church, which is a present and continuing process, and in the writings of Paul and others; the Kingdom is growing and expanding, bringing in all of the elect. In time God is accomplishing what was determined in eternity.

The Kingdom is multidimensional: present and future. Two statements from Jesus support the present aspect: “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lu. 17:21; NKJV: “the Kingdom of God is within you”), and “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lu. 11:20). Whether “midst” means within the individual or among the people, it does not matter; the point is that the Kingdom is still a present reality. Additionally, in the above text, Jesus simply announces that “the kingdom is at hand” (Mk. 1:15).

Not only is the Kingdom present, it is future. The believer has been taught to pray: “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10), a prayer that will be realized when Christ returns and not until He returns. Therefore, the future realization of the Kingdom is the work of Christ—of God—not of man. The Kingdom will not be brought about by human achievement, but by supernatural intervention (see: The Kingdom and Social Action).

Jesus speaks of the present age and the future age: “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32). To bring the current age to a close and to initiate the age to come is the purpose of the Second Coming; it is to establish the Kingdom of God. First the Kingdom is established in its visible and historical form, and then in its eternal and immutable form which will characterize the new heavens and the new earth.

It is difficult to determine exactly when the age to come begins; there are two considerations: the beginning of the Millennium, or the conclusion of the Millennium. Perhaps the issue is a false issue because the age to come includes both, because the rule of Christ during the Millennium will merge into the rule of Christ throughout eternity. It seems that the phrase, “the age to come,” and “the Kingdom,” both in its earthly and heavenly manifestations, are virtual synonyms. With this perspective, the age to come has already begun.

Regarding the course of this world Jesus says: “The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age” (Matt. 13:39-40; see v. 49). Evidently the apostles associated the return of Christ with the end of the age, for they asked Jesus: “What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). Responding to the Sadducees, Jesus says: “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but whose who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead . . .” (Lu. 20:35).

From the above verses it is obvious that the conclusion of this age and the beginning of the age to come is related to the Second Coming and the resurrection of believers. Until that time Jesus will sustain the believer: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). But He is returning in order “that He might deliver us from this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4; see: Eph. 2:1-2 where “course” transl. aion, age).

The Kingdom is inclusive, individuals from across the world will be a part of it: “Many will come from the east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11). Paul writes that God has “delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Believers become part of the Kingdom in the present, a reality spoken of when Jesus says that the “the kingdom of God is within you” (Lu. 17:21; some prefer the reading: “in your midst”; with either transl. the present reality of the Kingdom is intended). For the believer to be in the Kingdom is for the Kingdom to be within the believer, an unseen, spiritual, present reality. In this manner the believer partakes of the future in the present, waiting for the time when the future will replace the present. And those in the Kingdom will come from the ends of the earth.

The coming rule of Christ—the age to come—was anticipated by the the writers of the Old Testament, and especially the Prophets (see: Anticipation of Christ). The writer of Hebrew says that long ago “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), so one of the concepts that unites the Old and New Testaments is the Kingdom. Clearly the Lord predicted His rule over His people. The Kingdom is not a reaction by God to the choices of men; rather, the unfolding of the Kingdom is according to eternal decree.

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