Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Kingdom of God (Part 3 of 3)

The Approaching Kingdom:
     In preparing the way for Christ, John the baptizer proclaimed: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3.2).* Jesus preached the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4.17); “surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12.28); “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand . . .” (Mark 1.15). Jesus said to his contemporary disciples: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9.1; cf. Matt. 16.28; Luke 9.27).
     During the ministries of John the baptizer and Jesus, the kingdom was at hand. The kingdom was to be fully realized during the lifetime of Christ’s 1st-century disciples. The kingdom was to come with power. When Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16.16), upon that solid foundation Jesus promised to build his church (v. 18). The Lord’s very next statement to Peter was: “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . .” (v. 19). Why did Jesus promise to build his “church” and then immediately mention the “kingdom”?  Either he was abruptly changing subjects or there is a connection between the church and the kingdom.
The Kingdom Realized:
     Between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus spent nearly six weeks speaking to his apostles “of things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3). He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem “for the promise of the Father,” and they would receive “power” when the Holy Spirit had come upon them (vv. 4, 8). N.B. The kingdom was to come with “power” (Mark 9:1) in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3). In Acts 2 the Lord’s promise to them was fulfilled, and Peter stood with the eleven and began to preach the gospel (v. 14). N.B. Peter had been promised “the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19). Keys are a means of entrance, and when Peter preached the gospel and his hearers obeyed it, they were “added” to the community of the saved, i.e. the church (vv. 41, 47). 
     From Acts 2 onwards we read of the existence and growth of the church (5:11; 8:1, 3; etc.), proclaimed as “the kingdom of God” (8.12; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23, 31), into which penitent baptized believers enter and serve (2.38, 41, 47; 8.12; 14.21-22; cf. John 3.5; Col. 1.13; 4.11). In Col. 1.13 Paul writes: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” The apostle John was “in the kingdom” and affirmed that the Lord “has made us to be a kingdom . . .” (Rev. 1.6, 9; 5.10 NASB). 
     Christ is now reigning in his kingdom (Acts 2.30-36; Rom. 15.12; 1 Cor. 15.24-25; 1 Tim. 6.13-16) and all Christians are citizens of it (Eph. 2.19). It is not a physical kingdom “of this world” (John 18.36) but is a spiritual kingdom, governed from heaven, that will be delivered to God the Father when Christ comes again (1 Cor. 15.23-25).
     Citizenship in God’s kingdom is actualized when one’s sins are forgiven (Col. 1.12-14; Rev. 1.5-6) and is maintained by faithful and holy living (Rom. 14.16-17; 1 Cor. 4.20; 6.9-10; Gal. 5.21; Eph. 5.5; 1 Thess. 2.12; James 2.5; 2 Pet. 1.10-11). Note the connection between church/kingdom in Matt. 16.18-19; Col. 1.13, 18; Heb. 12.23, 28. Note also the connection between suffering in this life and being part of God’s kingdom (Acts 14.22; 2 Thess. 1.4-5; Rev. 1.9). Those who are now citizens of God’s kingdom have an inheritance in the future heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 15.50; 2 Tim. 4.1, 18; 2 Pet. 2.11).
Conclusion:
     An important aspect of the message of missions is the gospel of the kingdom of God. This was the message preached by John the baptizer, Jesus, the apostles, and early evangelists. The kingdom of God is synonymous with God’s sovereign rule, but only those who accept and submit to the Lord’s reign can comprehend, enter, and comprise God’s spiritual kingdom. This spiritual kingdom is variously designated as the kingdom of heaven, of God, and of Christ.
     The sovereignty of God, having been challenged by Satan and rejected by men through the ages, was to be established on earth by way of the Messiah and his kingdom – prophesied throughout the Old Testament. During the earthly ministry of Jesus, the kingdom was said to be “at hand,” “upon you,” and ready to be realized during the lifetime of Christ’s contemporary disciples; it was to come with “power” and Peter would be given its “keys.”
     On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the power was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit and Peter preached the gospel, through which obedient hearers were added to the community of the saved. The kingdom of God is the church into which all penitent baptized believers (purified of sin) enter and obtain heavenly citizenship. This spiritual kingdom will last beyond this life on into the eternal heavenly kingdom of God.
--Kevin L. Moore

*Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the NKJV.


Related Articles: FHU's Kingdom journal 1:11:2; Stan Mitchell's The Kingdom

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Kingdom of God (Part 2 of 3)

The Kingdom According to the Old Testament:
     God’s kingdom is synonymous with his sovereign rule (Psa. 22.28; 24.1-2; 145.10-13; Dan. 4.3). Satan challenged the rule of God at the beginning (Gen. 3.1-5), and mankind has been wont to reject God’s dominion ever since (Gen. 6.5-6; 11.4-6; Deut. 32.15-18; Is. 1.1-4). God purposed to defeat the powers of Satan and bring his own rule into the world through the Messiah (Gen. 3.15; 12.1-3; etc.; cf. Heb. 2.14-15; 1 John 3.8; Col. 2.15).
     A predictive prophecy of God’s kingdom: Isaiah 2.2-4 (ca. 700 BC).* (a) Now it shall come to pass in the latter days (v. 2) = the last period of Bible history, beginning in the 1st century AD (Acts 2.16-17; Heb. 1.2; cf. Dan. 2.28, 36-44); (b) that the mountain = symbol for kingdom (Jer. 51.24-25; Amos 6.1; Dan. 2.35, 44-45), of the LORD’s house = the church (1 Tim. 3.15; Heb. 3.6; Eph. 2.19), shall be established on the top [chief] of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills = superior to all other kingdoms, large or small (cf. 2.14; 5.25; etc.; Dan. 2.44; John 18.36; Heb. 12.28); (c) And all nations shall flow to it = a universal kingdom (Matt. 28.19; Acts 1.8; 2.5); (d) Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob’ (v. 3) = an evangelistic/ growing kingdom (Acts 2.41, 47; 4.4; 5.14); (e) He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths = a teaching kingdom that calls for obedience (Matt. 28.20; 2 Tim. 2.2); (f) For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem = the church started in Jerusalem (Luke 24.47; Acts 1.8; 2.5) and is figuratively described as “Mount Zion . . . the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12.22-23); (g) He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many (v. 4) = the word of the Lord, proclaimed by the church, is the standard of judgment (John 12.48; 2 Tim. 3.16; 4.2); (h) They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore = a peaceable kingdom, not spread by force and violence (John 18.36; 14.27). 
     Another predictive prophecy of God’s kingdom: Daniel 2.28-45 (ca. 530 BC; dream vv. 28-35/interpretation vv. 36-45). (a) God . . . has made known . . . what will be in the latter days (v. 28) = same as above (Isa. 2.2; Acts 2.16-17; Heb. 1.2; cf. 1 Pet. 1.20; 1 John 2.18); (b) Four earthly kingdoms foretold: Babylonian (v. 38) 606-538 BC, Medo-Persian (v. 39a) 538-331 BC, Grecian (v. 39b) 331-168 BC, Roman (v. 40-43) 168 BC–AD 476; (c) And in the days of these kings (v. 44a) = during the Roman Empire; (d) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed = in contrast to the temporary kingdoms of men, God’s kingdom is invincible and everlasting (Dan. 7.14, 18, 27; Luke 1.33; Heb. 12.28; 2 Pet. 1.11); (e) and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever = God’s kingdom is for God’s people, not for disobedient outsiders (1 Pet. 2.9-10); it is superior to all other kingdoms and gains victory over them by conquering the hearts of men (Rom. 8.37-39; 1 Cor. 15.24, 57; 1 John 5.4); (f) the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands (v. 45) = this is God’s work, not man’s (Acts 7.48; 17.24; Heb. 8.2; 11.10).
--Kevin L. Moore

*Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the NKJV.


Related Articles: FHU's Kingdom journal 1:11:2

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Kingdom of God (Part 1 of 3)

     Jesus preached “the gospel [glad tidings] of the kingdom of God” (Matt. 9:35; Luke 8:1; cf. Luke 4:43).* The spiritual seed that is to be planted in men’s hearts is “the word of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:19, 23). “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations . . .” (Matt. 24:14). Jesus spent his last 40 days on earth speaking to his disciples “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Early evangelists like Philip, Barnabas, and Paul preached “the kingdom of God” (Acts 8.12; 14.22; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23, 31), which is also a recurring theme in the writings of Paul (Rom. 14.17; 1 Cor. 4.20; Gal. 5.21; etc.), Luke (Luke 4.43; 6.20; Acts 1.3; 28.31; etc.), John (John 3.3, 5; Rev. 1.9; 12.10), and other NT writers (Matt. 6.33; 12.28; Mark 1.15; 4.11; Heb. 1.8; 12.28; James 2.5; 2 Pet. 1.11).
The Kingdom Defined:
     The word “kingdom” (Greek basileia) is “primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion . . . . then, by metonymy, a concrete noun, denoting the territory or people over whom a king rules” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of NT Words 634). The kingdom of God is the sphere of God’s rule, so in a general sense “the kingdom of God” is a reference to God’s universal sovereignty and reign (cf. Psa. 22.28; 145.13; Dan. 4.3; Rom. 13.1-2). 
     In Jesus’ parable of the tares (Matt. 13.24-30), “the kingdom of heaven” refers to the whole world (vv. 36-43). However, since the majority of the world’s population rejects the rule of God in their lives, “the kingdom of God” is also used in a more limited sense, viz. the sphere in which the Lord’s dominion is acknowledged. Only those who accept and submit to the Lord’s reign can comprehend, enter, and comprise God’s spiritual kingdom (Mark 4.11; John 3.3, 5). In this sense the “kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within [or ‘among’] you” (Luke 17.20-21). 
     The kingdom is where the king is, whether in the heart of the individual child of God (Eph. 3.17; 1 Pet. 3.15) or among all of God’s children (Rom. 8.10-11; Col. 1.27).  It is this kingdom which, when Christ returns, will be delivered to God the Father (1 Cor. 15.23-24) to receive the everlasting kingdom in heaven (Matt. 13.43; 25.34; Phil. 3.20; 2 Peter 1.10-11).
The Kingdom Designated:
     Designated according to its Origin or Nature: The kingdom of heaven (Matt. 3.2; 4.17; 5.3, 10, 19, 20; 7.21; 8.11; 10.7; 11.11, 12; 13.11, 24-52; 16.19; 18.1-4, 23; 19.12, 14, 23; 20.1; 22.2; 23.13; 25.1); His [the Lord’s] heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18).
     Designated according to its Source: The kingdom of God (Matt. 6.33; 12.28; 19.24; 21.31, 43; Mark 1.15; 4.11, 26, 30; 9.1, 47; 10.14, 15, 23-25; 12.34; 14.25; 15.43; Luke 4.43; 6.20; 7.28; 8.1, 10; 9.2, 11, 27, 60, 62; 10.9, 11; 11.20; 12.31; 13.18, 20, 28, 29; 14.15; 16.16; 17.20, 21; 18.16-17, 24-25, 29; 19.11; 21.31; 22.16, 18; 23.51; John 3.3, 5; Acts 1.3; 8.12; 14.22; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23, 31; Rom. 14.17; 1 Cor. 4.20; 6.9-10; 15.24, 50; Gal. 5.21; Col. 4.11; 2 Thess. 1.5; Rev. 12.10; cf. 1 Thess. 2.12; Heb. 1.8); The Father’s kingdom (Matt. 6.10; 13.43; 26.29; Luke 11.2).
     Designated according to its King: The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 20.21; Luke 22.30; 23.42; John 18.36; 2 Tim. 4.1, 18; 2 Pet. 1.11); The kingdom of God’s Son (Luke 1.33; Col. 1.13; cf. Matt. 16.28); The kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. 5.5).
     Simple designations: The kingdom (Mt. 8.12; 9.35; 13.19, 38, 41; 24.14; 25.34; Luke 12.32; Jas. 2.5; Rev. 1.9); A kingdom (Heb. 12.28; Rev. 1.6; 5.10). Interchangeable designations: The kingdom of heaven = the kingdom of God (Matt. 19.23-24; and compare Matt. 4.17 and Mark 1.15; Matt. 5.3 and Luke 5.3; Matt. 13.11 and Mark 4.11; Matt. 13.31-33 and Luke 13.18-21); The kingdom of Christ = the kingdom of God (Eph. 5.5; Matt. 13.41, 43; and compare Matt. 16.28 and Luke 9.27).
--Kevin L. Moore

*Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the NKJV.

Related PostsThe Kingdom of God Part 2Part 3

Related Articles: FHU's Kingdom journal 1:11:2

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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hebrew

     The first time the word “Hebrew” (Heb. Ibri’; Greek Hebraios) occurs in scripture, it is applied to Abram (Genesis 14:13). It is then employed as a designation for his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 40:15) and also for their language (1 Kings 18:26). This term is most often used to distinguish the Israelite people from other nations (Exodus 1:19; 2:11; 1 Samuel 4:9; etc.), and also applies to the Jews of Palestine in contrast to Greek-speaking Jews (Acts 6:1).1    
     The origin of the name is uncertain. It may have been derived from one of Abraham’s ancestors, Eber (Genesis 11:16). Those who came to be known as the Hebrews descended from Shem, who is called “the father of all the children of Eber” (Genesis 10:21). Another possibility is that Ibri’ is linked to a similar noun meaning “the region or country beyond,” referring to Abraham’s former homeland beyond the Euphrates (Joshua 24:2-3). It has also been suggested that the word is derived from a verb meaning “passing through” and came to describe Abraham and his descendants as sojourners (cf. Hebrews 11:13).
     The name “Israel” (Heb. Yisraêl’; Greek Israêl) means “Prince of God” and was first given to Jacob (Genesis 32:28; 35:10), then later used to designate Jacob’s descendants (Joshua 3:17). When the nation divided, the northern kingdom was called Israel in contrast to the southern kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 15:9). After the Babylonian exile, the united kingdom again carried the name Israel (Ezra 6:16). The word “Jew” (Heb. Yehudi’; Greek Ioudaios) is a form of the name Judah and was first applied to those of the separate kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 16:6; 25:25 KJV). During the Babylonian captivity and onward the name was extended to all the Israelites (cf. Esther 2:5; 3:4; 5:13; Ezra 4:12; etc.).
     While the ancient Jews adopted the Phoenician script in writing the Hebrew language, around the time of King David it developed into Paleo-Hebrew and was eventually replaced with the Aramaic script from which the modern Hebrew alphabet is derived. The Old Testament (also known as the Hebrew Bible) was originally written in Hebrew, except the Aramaic sections of Ezra (4:8–6:18; 7:12-26) and Daniel (2:4b–7:28). Following the Babylonian exile, Aramaic had replaced Hebrew as the everyday vernacular of the Palestinian Jews.2
     The earliest recorded words of God are in the Hebrew tongue. The LORD employed this language to communicate to Moses and the ancient prophets, who in turn used it to proclaim the divine message both orally and in written form. Jesus read and understood Hebrew (Luke 4:16-21); it was the sacred language of the synagogues where he regularly worshiped and taught (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; cf. Acts 15:21). In fact, the smallest stroke of the smallest letter of the Hebrew scriptures was important to him (Matthew 5:18).3
     Not everyone has to master the Hebrew language to understand the Old Testament, but somebody does! Let us be thankful for the scholars, the tools, the translations, and the resources that enable us to gain insight into the word of God in every language through which it has been conveyed.
-- Kevin L. Moore

Endnotes:
     1 The designation “Hellenist” (Greek Hellênistês) is similar to the words Hellênos (“Greek person”) and Hellênikos (“Greek language”), and generally refers to a Jew who settled in another country and adopted the Greek language and culture (cf. Acts 6:1; 9:29). It is sometimes rendered “Grecian” (KJV).
     2 See Aramaic.
     3 After the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, Hebrew was only used for religious literature and ceremonies until it was revived in the mid-nineteenth century as a colloquial language. Today over seven million people, mostly in Israel, speak Hebrew.

Related Posts: AramaicGreek NT Translated

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