Six years ago (23 April 2016) this blog was launched as an investigation into why Jesus made the kingdom of God the centre of his thinking, and how things would turn out if we did the same.
Talk about mind-expanding results! God restoring the earth as a kingdom under heaven’s management through the leader he anointed for us — this is the good news. God is calling us all to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord — our response to the gospel.
Call me a slow learner, but for the first time in my life I’m beginning to see the whole Bible narrative and the arc of history as the story of God’s reign, as Jesus saw it. From God’s intentions before he created, through the Scriptures of Israel as God’s prototype kingdom, to the core revelation of God choosing the powerless path of the cross with life-giving resurrection and cosmic enthronement in Christ, with God’s people empowered by his Spirit as the embodied presence of the Head, to the ultimate hope of a renewed heaven and earth when there is no longer any opposition to his kingship — the whole thing is the story of the kingdom of God.
There is no greater story we could be living in, no greater meaning for our existence.
At the same time, there is no greater challenge than following our Lord faithfully. Throughout the Bible narrative, evil has a history of relying on revenge for justice, doing violence to feed its power-cravings, and crucifying the humble agents of God’s reign. Followers of the Lamb are as vulnerable as our Lord, sharing in his sufferings, bearing away the sin of the world for the restoration of God’s reign. That’s kingdom life under the king who gives his life for his people.
With no exaggeration, the kingdom perspective has reframed everything for me. Even the most basic of things — the gospel — looks different when framed in terms of divine authority. The gospel is not a consumer making a decision to ask forgiveness for individual wrongdoing. The gospel is God’s call for us to recognize his Christ as our Lord — crucified by evil, resurrected by divine decree, enthroned with all authority, leading the earth back under heaven’s reign. The life-giving authority of the Lamb stands in such contrast to the beasts that he is the only leader worthy of the name, the only name given to earth by heaven through whom we can be rescued.
That is evangelical theology: everything we believe centres around the evangel, the gospel that Jesus called the good news of the kingdom.
So, why am I still writing? I’m showing how the whole story — everything in Scripture, and everything in life — grows from divine authority. With 285 posts on Matthew, we’ve shown how Christ’s kingship is the message of the Gospel. With over 100 posts on Genesis and Exodus, we started to show how the entire Old Testament story fits together as the story of the kingdom. With 58 posts on Ephesians, we showed how the New Testament defines our role as agents of the heavenly king who is rescuing his people. Observing Jesus repeatedly referring to it, we explored Zechariah to see how the kingdom hope remained after the kingdom fell. The posts on Zechariah and Ephesians are now available as commentaries.
There are also posts on the kingdom in Psalms (18), John (17), Romans (16), Isaiah (10), 1 Corinthians (10), Mark (8), Luke (8), Acts (7), Revelation (6), and other books. Altogether we’re talking over half a million words (excluding quotes), so you’ll need the Scripture Index to find a passage, or the Topic index for themes or particular kinds of posts (such as podcasts). Crossmap is also reblogging our posts.
The kingdom perspective isn’t new. Many NT scholars recognize that the kingdom of God was at the heart of Jesus’ teaching, practice, mission, and identity. What I’m seeking to do is apply that truth in a wholistic manner, to the entire narrative of Scripture. I cannot achieve that in my lifetime, so please accept the gift of this resource as a tiny contribution to something far greater than any of us, the restoration of the reign of God for the peoples of the earth through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you have a comment or a question on something kingdom-related that you’d like us to address, post a comment below or use the Contact link to send a private message. It would be good to get to know you better.
What others are saying
N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird, The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2019) 198–326:
Thus, ‘kingdom of God’, historically and theologically considered, was a slogan whose basic meaning was the claim that Israel’s God was the world’s true Lord, and that Caesar, or indeed Herod, was not. … In the ‘Nazareth Manifesto’ we find something like a kind of political declaration about what Jesus and this kingdom stood for and the constellation of hopes that it activated. (198–199)
The key thing was that the inbreaking kingdom Jesus was announcing created a new world, a new context, and he was challenging his hearers to become the new people that this new context demanded, the citizens of this new world. (206)
The sermon [on the mount] is, rather, the agenda for kingdom-people who want to work for the kingdom. … The ‘sermon’ was, and still is, a manifesto for those who glimpse the truth of Jesus’ kingdom-message and find themselves called to order their lives accordingly. (207–208)
Matthew’s final scene (Mt. 28:16–20) is highly significant as it condenses so many Matthean themes. The main emphasis of this closing paragraph is upon who Jesus is now revealed to be, the one who has been granted ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ — virtually identical in phraseology to the kingdom-clause in the Matthean version of the Lord’s Prayer. This, it seems, is how the prayer is being answered; this, in other words, is how the kingdom is coming, how the will of the ‘father’ is being done. The significance of the resurrection, as far as Matthew is concerned, is that Jesus now holds the role that had been marked out for the Messiah in Psalms 2; 72, and 89, which became concentrated in such imagery-laden figures as the ‘son of man’ in Daniel 7 (v. 18 echoes Dan. 7:14) and the texts which developed that line of thought. The worldwide commission Jesus gives the disciples depends directly upon his possessing all authority in heaven and on earth, within the ‘kingdom’ that is now well and truly inaugurated. The only explanation for this messianic authority on the one hand, and this kingdom-fulfilment on the other, is that Jesus has been raised from the dead. (326)