Kingdom of God
in 13 Weeks
Theres a War Going On! The Kingdom in the New Testament: Week 2
Observing the Stuff!
This "now-but-not-yet" concept is seen throughout the New Testament. Matthew illustrates it at 12.28 when he writes, Since I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, the kingdom of God has come upon you. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15.24, Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and every power. John writes in 1 John 3.2, Beloved, we are God's children now, it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him. What Jesus did was as important as what he said. Twentieth century Chrstians are often more preoccupied with what he said, too often forgetting that what he did carries the same message. He taught as much by doing as by saying.Interpreting the Stuff!
What Did Jesus Do in His Ministry?
It is fair to ask the question: What did Jesus do in his ministry? Mark's Gospel makes it clear that the mission of Jesus was to destroy the activity of Satan in the world. He gave his hearers an optical illustration of the Kingdom in his ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons. Jesus and Satan were in a cosmic conflict that was being played out in the battle for ownership and rule in the lives of men and women. In like manner other battles were afoot: hunger (John 6), natural catastrophes (Mark 4.35-41), sickness (Luke 7.21), and death (Luke 7.11-17).
Matthew's Gospel (12.22-31) clearly demonstrates that the war between Jesus and Satan is not a civil war within a kingdom. Rather, it is a battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. The strong man, Satan, is bound (deo: to binda metaphorical term indicating the curbing of power) so the strong man's house (Satan's kingdom) may be plundered. The power is curbed, but not rendered completely powerless (Matt. 16.23; Mark 8.33; Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament. 1974. 66).
How Others Explain the Kingdom
An illustration from Oscar Cullmann's book Christ and Time will help us understand this concept of cleanup. He shares a story from World War II's D-day and V-day. D-day was June 6, 1944, a day that the result of the war was decided. However, the war did not officially conclude until May 7-8, 1945, on V-day (Cullmann. 1964. 84). Between these two dates, almost a year, there were still battles being fought and allied lives being lost. In fact, more lives were lost during this period than any other period during the war. Even though the battles went on, the war had been decided. So it was with Jesus. The earth was his. In his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension God had overthrown Satan. God planted his flag in the form of a cross and Jesus said, "It is finished." The war is over, but the aftermath still continues and will until the return of Jesus.
To understand the Kingdom of God, its present and future aspects, is to understand the theme from which the ministry of Jesus and the writings of the New Testament flow. We live in the presence of the future, the "now-but-not-yet." When we view any passage of Scripture in the New Testament, we must put on our Kingdom of God glasses and ask questions of that passage with that set of presuppositions. The Kingdom of God was in the Old Testament. It can be clearly demonstrated that the Kingdom is seen in events like the Exodus and Israel's captivity in Babylon. God acted in kingly power to deliver and judge his children. The Kingdom came into history once-and-for-all in the person and works of Jesus.
Two Ways to View the Kingdom in The New
When the New Testament material is observed from the perspective that the ministry of Jesus was indeed aimed at Satan in a cosmic war fought on earth, it is called the Satanward view. This term was coined by Dr. James Kallas and is meant to demonstrate that Christians should take Satan seriously as God's enemy.
Which View? Both the Godward and Satanward views are legitimate. According to Dr. Kallas, the following approximate percentages are found:
Both interpretations are true. It is a fact that Biblical truth can never be discerned by choosing one truth over another. Both truths must be held in tension. "When the two are separated," states Dr. Kallas, "it is not that one has half a truth, but that one has no truth, but distortion."
To accurately understand the Kingdom of God, we must be committed to the Satanward view of Scripture as well as the Godward view. Within the Satanward view the Church is seen as the army of God which continues the cleanup mission until the return of the King. In the Godward view the Church is seen as the functioning body of the King left on earth to minister redemption to those outside and care to those inside the body.
Doin' the Stuff!
BibleHandbook: Resource Stuff
Read the following Dictionary Articles from Easton's Bible Dictionary. Easton's is about a century old, therefore, some of the information is not current with newer Bible Dictionaries. You might read the articles off-line in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. One of these should suit your personal needs.