What Is the Kingdom of God?
Rooted in the Old Testament
When [the Jews in Rome] had appointed a day for [Paul], they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. . . . He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (Acts 28:23, 30-31)
Although the book of Acts ends here, the kingdom of God does not! How fitting that Paul's final days of ministry would be filled with proclamations of the "kingdom of God" and "the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:31). But what did he mean by this?
Jesus claimed that the fulfillment of the Old Testament hope with its attendant blessings was present in his person and ministry. The unexpected element was that fulfillment was taking place without the final consummation. The prophetic hope of the coming messianic kingdom of God as promised to Israel was decisively begun but not finally completed in the person and ministry of Jesus. Our Lord came with the message that, although the kingdom would come one day in ultimate fulfillment, it has nevertheless come in his own person and work in spirit and power. The kingdom, therefore, is both the present spiritual reign of God and the future realm over which he will rule in power and glory. It is here, and it is not here.
The kingdom, therefore, is both the present spiritual reign of God and the future realm over which he will rule in power and glory.
The Kingdom of God Is Not . . .
What then is the kingdom of God? What would Paul have said to those who were coming to him (v. 30)?
- It is not a geographical realm with clearly defined boundaries, such as those that separate the United States from Canada and Mexico. The kingdom, therefore, is not to be identified with any one nation or political body.
- The kingdom of God is not that place we call heaven—at least not yet!
- The kingdom is not the church. The church is the people through whom the reign of God’s presence and power is manifest.
- The kingdom is not a place, but a power. It is not a static thing, but a dynamic and living reign. It is not an issue of land, but of lordship!
- The kingdom is not yet deliverance from political oppression (but it will be).
- The kingdom is not yet renewal of the creation (but it will be).
- The kingdom is not yet material prosperity (but it will be).
The Kingdom of God Is . . .
So what is the kingdom that Paul proclaimed and that we too must make known?
- The kingdom of God is the presence and powerful lordship of the person of the King himself: Jesus!
- The kingdom is known and seen wherever Christ is acknowledged, where his subjects are saved, where his enemies are vanquished, and where his ways are obeyed.
- The kingdom of God, then, is anywhere or anytime or anyone over whom Jesus Christ exercises lordship.
- The kingdom is the King reigning in hearts and minds.
God’s dynamic and sovereign presence is now among us in Jesus. God is exerting royal force. The kingdom is God in strength, God in saving action.
And the one in and through whom this kingdom reign is manifest is Jesus Christ, his Son!
This article by Sam Storms is adapted from the ESV Women's Devotional Bible.