Friday, June 04, 2010

Is Jesus Kingdom of this world?

I was intrigued after I learned from a Greek scholar that in John 18:36 Jesus never said that his kingdom is not of this world. The RSV translates the verse closest to the original: ‘My kingdom is not from this world.’ 

Christ’s kingdom is certainly of and for this world, but it does not arise out of or (from) this earth. It comes from heaven to the earth just like Jesus did. That is why Jesus taught us to pray, ‘thy kingdom come on earth…as it is in heaven’ (Mat. 6:10). The phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ in the gospels has this same underpinning, referring to the rule of heaven (that is, of God), being brought to bear in the present space-time world. This draws on the theological backdrop of passages like Daniel 7: 26-27 and is the same crowning vision we find in Rev. 11:15, (which is not a future description, by the way, but a present reality) where we are told that “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ…”

Those interested in reading further on this subject, and what this means practically for the church today, would do well to consult my article 'Political Christianity in the Early Church' as well as the following resources by Tom Wright:

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