Rethinking: Kingdom

Today I want to rethink what we mean by the term “kingdom.”  I see two predominant uses though some might prefer that I saw three; these two are reductions and my terms attempt to get to the essential theme:

Social justice: “when good people do good things in the public sector for the common good.”

If this is the meaning, then this is the question: “Who needs the church?”

Redemptive moments: “when God breaks through redemptively in one of three areas: personal salvation, miraculous healing, cultural influence.” The first two are soteriology, the third more creation theology.

I contend in Kingdom Conspiracy that kingdom is a complex of five elements, but before I get to the five elements, a brief definition: a kingdom is a people governed by a king.

  1. King: God of Israel, Jesus as king
  1. Rule
  • God rules by redeeming: Exodus, Holy Week
  • God rules by governing: Lordship
  1. People
  • Israel
  • Church
  • Church does not erase or eliminate Israel; it expands Israel as in Romans 11:17-21!
  • OT “kingdom” means “Israel” as a nation and once we see the church as Israel (a nation) expanded we see every reason to connect “kingdom” and “church.”
  1. Law: Torah, Sermon on the Mount, Life in the Spirit
  2. Land: dominates the OT from Exodus to Jordan River to life in the Land to Exile to Return from Exile to the hope for Rome to be “exorcised” from the Land so Israel can dwell in peace.

To reduce kingdom to social justice ignores 1, 2 (redeeming), and 3.

To reduce kingdom to salvation focuses on 2 (redeeming) and often fails to include 3.

Kingdom language, as often used in the church today, diminishes the church. Any kingdom theology that diminishes the church is failing to be biblical kingdom language.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.