David McGregor is a professor at Tabor Adelaide. Story: David and his wife took Kris and me out to eat in Adelaide, David made a wonderful choice for dinner … and then was interrupted by an emergency need at the hospital for his ailing father, he had to leave… and now we await another time to dine with David and enjoy some Barthian discussions!
Kingdom of God by David McGregor: The Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God ‘comes.’ It cannot be built, ushered in or extended by us – despite the way that many people talk of the mission and responsibility of the church these days – and despite the many prayers offered on Sunday mornings after the collection: ‘Lord these monies are for the extension of your kingdom’. Karl Barth maintained that any minister who thinks of his or her task as ‘building the kingdom of God’ should resign immediately!
Despite popular practice, one should not abstract the word ‘kingdom’ from the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ and use it as an adjective to identify a particular perspective or practice, as in ‘Kingdom Ethics’ or ‘Kingdom Living,’ for example.
What do you think about this “God” orientation of “kingdom” and the way we use “kingdom” language?
Have you noticed the subjective genitives and the personal possessive pronouns in the biblical phrases ‘kingdom of God’, ‘Christ’s kingdom’, ‘his kingdom’, ‘my kingdom’ and ‘your kingdom’? This is because the kingdom of God is the kingdom of God. It has reference to God himself and not to anything else. It is about him and his action.
Drawing on his study of Jewish literature, the New Testament scholar Bruce Chilton tells us that the phrase is a reference to ‘the dynamic personal presence of God’. The kingdom of God, he says, is ‘God as he manifests himself for his people.’ It is ‘God in strength,’ ‘the sovereign activity of God,’ ‘the saving revelation of God himself.’
Joel Marcus, another New Testament scholar, tells us that it means ‘God’s Kingly power.’ It is for this reason that we must affirm, along with the early church father Origen, that Jesus Christ is the auto basileia – the kingdom of God in person. Jesus Christ is God himself come among us in Kingly power, acting to save us from the powers that enslave us in order to free us to be truly ourselves as we are truly his.