The Kingdom of God is the manifestation of God’s ruling presence. And it rests upon the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God produces the church . . . the community of the King. The church, in turn, submits to the sway or rule of the Kingdom. As it does, the church expresses, represents, and advances God’s Kingdom on the earth.
Properly conceived, the church is the community of believers who possess Divine life. This community joyfully enthrones Jesus Christ, expresses His sovereign rule in the world, and as a result, enjoys the blessings of the future age here-and-now (Romans 14:17; Hebrews 6:5).
According to the New Testament, the church is not a building. Neither is it a denomination, a religious service, nor a non-denominational organization. The church is a living organism. It is simply this: A community of people who possess the life of God’s Kingdom and are learning to express that life together.
Your New Testament contains the epic saga of the early church. That saga centers on how God the Father has made Jesus of Nazareth both Lord and King of the world.
According to the Gospels, the master thought of Jesus was the Kingdom of God which is “at hand.” The book of Acts continues this thought and tells the story of how the Kingdom made its introduction in Jerusalem and spread to Rome through the church — the community of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is a dual reality. It is “already,” but it is “not yet.”
The Kingdom is present. At the same time, it is future.
The Kingdom is today; but it is also tomorrow.
In effect, the future age of the Kingdom is present on the earth even though it is a future reality. With the coming of Christ, the Kingdom that belongs to the future age has broken into this present age.
Consequently, those Christians who gather as a shared-life community under the Lordship of Christ are living in the presence of the future.
The Kingdom of God is also a mystery. It does not set out to destroy human authority in this age. Instead, the Kingdom dismantles the powers and principalities in the spiritual realm. Its enemy is the kingdom of darkness and “the ruler of this age” (see Ephesians 6).
Put another way, the Kingdom of God does not seek to change the political order of things by fleshly effort. It rather makes changes in the spiritual order, effecting the lives of men and women at a deeper level. Sometimes this work touches the political and social order, especially when the church prophetically speaks to the powers that be.
By and large, the Kingdom works quietly and secretly among men and women. It is not a forceful power that cannot be resisted. It does not take up the tools of Caesar nor does it sit at Caesar’s table. The Kingdom is rather like a man planting a seed. And its success depends on the type of soil in which it is planted.
Like a mustard seed, its growth is slow and imperceptible. Yet at a future day, the Kingdom will be manifested in great power and glory. The fact that the Kingdom is fulfilled today, yet is waiting to be consummated, is indeed a mystery.
In all of Paul’s letters, the theme of the Kingdom of God appears. However, Paul’s letters were primarily written to Gentile audiences. Thus he speaks more of the Lordship of Christ than he does the Kingdom of God.
For Paul, Jesus as Lord is a synonym for the Kingdom. In addition, terms such as “reigning,” “rule,” “majesty,” “Lord Jesus Christ,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords,” “Christ the Head,” “the age to come” are all Paul’s shorthand ways of describing the Kingdom.
For a more detailed discussion of this subject, see: