The Church and the Kingdom

The Doctrine of the Church - Lesson # 3

I. Some definitions of kingdom (basileia)

A. Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon - "(1) kingship, royal power, royal rule, kingdom; (2) kindgom, i.e., the territory ruled over by a king; (3) especially the royal reign or kingdom of God, a chiefly eschatological concept."

B. Joseph Henry Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon - "1. royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; 2. a kingdom i.e. the territory subject to the rule of a king; 3. the Reign of the Messiah, the rule of God" (95-97).

C. George Eldon Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom - "(1) the abstract meaning of reign or rule, (2) the future eschatological order into which the righteous will enter at the end of the age (Mark 9:47; Matt. 8:11); (3) something present among men (Matt. 11:12; 12:28; Luke 17:21); (4) a present realm or sphere into which men are now entering (Matt. 11:11; 21:31; 23:13)" (119).

D. Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ - "In Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the primary meanong of `kingdom' is `kingship,' that is, royal power or kingly rule. The words more often refer to the `reign' than to the `realm' in which the rule is exercised, to the dominion rather than the domain....Of course, kingship does not operate in a void, so the word `kingdom' is often used in close connection with the people or territory living under a given reign" (19).

E. The Greek phrase "kingdom of God" goes back to a well-known Jewish phrase, the malkuth of God. C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom - "Malkuth, like other substantives of the same formation, is properly an abstract noun meaning `kingship,' `kingly rule', `reign' or `sovereignty'. The expression `the malkuth of God' connotes the fact that God reigns as King" (35).

F. The kingdom is broader is scope than the church (Mt. 13:36-43), but more importantly, the kingdom is qualitatively different. To equate the two does not work very well, since one is trying to equate an abstract noun with a concrete noun. Making them synonyms is like equating "eternal life" (an abstract quality) with the "church" (a concrete noun). Likewise, to separate totally the two would be a mistake. Just as "eternal life" and "church" are very closely related, because those in the church have eternal life, "kingdom" and "church" are very closely related.

G. Use a concordance and find how many times "church" is used in the Gospels by Jesus. Estimate how many times "kingdom" is used by him. Then estimate how many times "kingdom" and "church" are used in the rest of the New Testament. What pattern do you see? Who primarily spoke of the "church"? Who primarily spoke of the "kingdom"?

H. Since the "church" refers to the people of God, how are the kingdom and the church different according to the above definitions? How would they be related and connected?

II. Scripture study

A. Study the following passages and notice how the future reign of God in heaven is the chief meaning. In place of the word "kingdom" substitute "heavenly life," "heaven," or a similar phrase - Mt. 8:11; 25:34; Lk. 13:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:11.

B. Study the following passages and notice how the word "kingdom" can be replaced by terms such as "reign," "royal power," or "rule of God" and the meaning is consistent - Mt. 16:28; Mk. 10:15; 12:34; Lk. 10:9, 11; Rom. 14:17; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 1:8.

C. The kingdom and time

1. "The kingdom is active. It refers to the kingly activity of God, the rule of God among people. Thus the kingdom is present. The kingdom if God's reign over all his realms, and this is without beginning and end. His rule over Israel and over the church are manifestations on earth and occur within a time frame, but neither exhausts the reign of God, for his reign is in heaven as well as on earth" (Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ, 35).

2. Was the kingdom present during the ministry of Jesus? - Mt. 11:12; 12:28; Lk. 11:20; 16:16

D. Entering the kingdom

1. What must we do to enter into God's kingdom (his rule) in the present and inherit his kingdom (heavenly life) in the future?

2. Jn. 3:5; Mt. 18:2-4; Gal. 5:21

E. Your kingdom come

1. What is meant by praying: "Your kingdom come"? - Mt. 6:10

2. A common phrase in current religious vocabulary is that we should work and evangelize so that we might "build the kingdom" of God. Frank Stagg points out that fourteen different verbs are used in the New Testament in reference to the kingdom, but "not once does it speak of man as building the kingdom. It is God's alone to give or to establish; it is man's to await, to receive, to enter, and to proclaim" (New Testament Theology, 159). We witness to and proclaim God's kingdom, that is, God's kingly rule.

III. Significance

A. How extensive and widespread is God's kingdom (rule)? What part of our life can be excluded from the necessity of submission to God as king?

B. What are the results or consequences of God's kingdom? - Rom. 14:17; Mk. 9:43-47; 10:17, 23, 25

C. Name at least one hymn which speaks of God's kingdom.

D. Memory verse - Rom. 14:17

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