Why do the apostles rarely mention the kingdom?

Are there other ways to talk about the kingdom that will communicate better in our time and culture? Here’s a lead to get us started thinking that way.

Jesus chose particular language to describe his identity (son of man) and his mission (kingdom of God). Yet his followers don’t use these terms as frequently as Jesus did. Why?

The first step is to analyse the distribution of the word kingdom in the New Testament.  Todd Scacewater posted that survey on Logos Academic. Check it out: Why the Apostles Rarely Mention the Kingdom.

Armed with that information, we can then proceed to uncover the language Paul and Peter and the others do use to proclaim the kingship of Messiah Jesus is gentile territory. Understanding what they did could prove invaluable for us as we seek relevant and appropriate ways to communicate Jesus’ kingship in our time and in our culture where “kingdom” language can sound archaic.

That’s a question I hope to pursue in 2 or 3 years’ time.  But first, I need a much richer sense of what Jesus meant by God’s kingdom and how his kingship resolves the entire narrative of the Bible. Matthew’s Gospel provides rich insight into how Jesus and his audience thought about the kingdom, within the framework of the Bible’s kingdom narrative.

Perhaps we could summarize that narrative like this:

  1. God is king over all nations.
  2. The establishment of Israel as God’s representative kingdom, for the purpose of restoring his kingship over the nations.
  3. The rise and fall of human kings in Israel, kings who ultimately could not represent the divine kingship. The kingdom of Israel falls, swallowed up by the nations.
  4. The restoration of God’s kingship through his anointed ruler (Messiah), by the most unexpected means (cross).
  5. The proclamation of his kingship among the nations.

On this blog, we’re exegeting step 4. Perhaps in a few years, we’ll identify some creative ways for step 5 as well. Post a comment if you have a reference to someone who is doing step 5 well (besides the apostle Paul).

Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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