A Biblical Survey of the Kingdom: Not Yet – Part 5

There is a popular theory on the Kingdom of God, first developed in the early 20th century by Geerhardus Vos, known as already but not yet.  The notion holds that the saints are currently partaking in the kingdom, while at the same time awaiting its arrival in a fuller and more glorious expression.  There are many premillennialists who espouse such a view in one form or another.  However, for the sake of Biblical clarity, the sense of the kingdom which fulfills the unconditional covenants, chiefly the Davidic King ruling on earth, is yet to come.  Whatever position one takes, an emphasis on the not yet is critical in understanding the story of the Scriptures.

“PROBLEM” VERSES

There are a few passages which are wrongly used to teach that the kingdom has already come.  Two of which are frequently summoned.  The first is Matthew 12:27-28:

And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.  But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Remember that Jesus was responding to the unpardonable sin that the Pharisees had just committed in attributing His works to Satan. (Matt. 12:24, 32).  The kingdom had come upon them, meaning that it was right next to them with the presence of the King.  It could hardly mean that the Pharisees were entering the kingdom, for Jesus soon after assures them that they will not be forgiven in the age to come (Matt. 12:32).

Luke 17 21The second passage is the related Luke 17:20-21:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,  nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 

Some translations read the kingdom of God is within you.  Such a rendering does not represent the Greek clearly.  In the midst of you is accurate and so none should think that the kingdom is literally inside people.  The Pharisees’ question may have been in response to Jesus’ recent teaching that the kingdom had been postponed (cf. Luke 13:31-35).  Even in answering that the kingdom was in the midst of the Pharisees, in the form of King Jesus, He still spoke of it as something yet to come.  No one will be able to observe the coming of the kingdom incrementally over an extended period.  For when the kingdom does come, it will do so suddenly.  Declarations that the kingdom has come or that it is somewhere else will be unnecessary.  The inauguration of the kingdom will be a super obvious world-wide event.  The coming of the Son of Man will be as lightning from the east that instantaneously shines as far as the west (Matt. 24:27).  Luke 17:20-21 verifies Daniel’s prophecy of the immediacy with which the Kingdom of God arrives (Dan. 2:34-35, 44).

Some verses which generically talk about a kingdom can cause confusion, such as Colossians 1:13.  The point here is of a legal transfer of the believer from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of God’s Son.  The teaching was not aimed at establishing an already inaugurated kingdom.  Ephesians, Colossians’ sister epistle, clarifies this matter further.  Believers are seated with Jesus in the heavenly places of Christ (Eph. 2:6).  This is where the saint’s citizenship resides even if he or she is not physically present there.  An American citizen would remain as such while he or she sojourned in another country for a season.  Members of the Body are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), representing His kingdom, which is not of this world (John 18:36).

Still other verses cause confusion because their context is overlooked, such as in Revelation 1:6.  This verse too speaks of a positional place in the coming kingdom.  The aforementioned Revelation 5:10 also teaches that the saints have been made into a kingdom of priests unto God, adding that they will reign upon the earth.  The time of rule within the kingdom is still future.  Passages that are unclear on a subject should be governed by those passages that speak directly to the topic.  This basic rule of hermeneutics is especially true when applied to the Kingdom of God.  The few murky passages are easily understood in light of the clear ones.  And there are many more, not covered here, that speak of the kingdom as something still to come (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5).

Upon a consistent and contextual reading of the pertinent passages, it becomes readily apparent that Lewis Sperry Chafer was correct in writing: Judging from the mass of Christian writings and from utterances in public address and prayer, this age is assumed by many, without question, to be the kingdom of Christ; though no Scripture is found to warrant that conclusion.[1]

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Motives and Methods (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990), 29.

A Biblical Survey of the Kingdom: Still Coming – Part 4

Peter Solomon's Portico

That the kingdom did not come in the gospel accounts is vindicated with the apostles’ question and Jesus’ response in Acts 1:6-7: So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said … [Continue reading]

A Biblical Survey of the Kingdom: the Gospel of the Kingdom – Part 3

Matthew 25 Sheep and Goats

The theme of Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus Christ as King and the Kingdom of God.  Matthew wrote of the offer of the King and the kingdom He brings, mysteries and parables about the kingdom and Israel’s rejection of the King and thus the kingdom.  The … [Continue reading]

A Biblical Survey of the Kingdom: Kingdom of Priests – Part 2

Israelites at Sinai

Though promises were made to Abraham and his descendants through Jacob, the Israelites were not part of a kingdom for over four centuries.  After the Exodus from Egypt, the people came to Mount Sinai.  It was there where the LORD told Moses to tell … [Continue reading]

A Biblical Survey of the Kingdom: Kingdom at Creation – Part 1

Adam and Eve Exiled

Narratives on the Kingdom of God literally bookend the Bible.  The kingdom’s loss and expectation of its restoration is the very saga of the Scriptures.  This is the theme of the Bible and the overall story it tells.  The kingdom was active at … [Continue reading]

The Kingdom According to the Prophet Daniel

Daniel 2 Great Image

A GREAT IMAGE The clearest explanation of the Kingdom of God comes from the Book of Daniel, especially in chapters two and seven.  In chapter two, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has a dream of a great and frightening image with a head of gold, … [Continue reading]

The Millennial Temple: His Sanctuary Shall Rise – Part 8

Millennial Temple Outer Wall

These numerous details on Ezekiel’s temple and on the work within require that they be taken seriously.  The exact measurements and point-by-point instruction are nothing like portions of Scripture that are to be understood symbolically, such as the … [Continue reading]

The Millennial Temple: the Prince of Feasts – Part 7

David the Prince of Feasts

The prince over Israel is a key millennial figure. His largely feast-centered duties are detailed in Ezekiel 45:9-46:18.  In Israel’s past she was often ruled by unjust princes that would expropriate property from the people and manipulate the … [Continue reading]

The Millennial Temple: Levitical Caretakers and Zadokite Priests – Part 6

Zadokite Priests

THE SHUT GATE Much of Ezekiel chapters 44 through 46 describe the priesthood, the sacrificial system that they will implement and related matters.  In 44:1-3 it is said that the outer eastern gate is to remain shut because it is through that … [Continue reading]

The Millennial Temple: the Altar of Sacrifice – Part 5

Ezekiel 43 Altar of Sacrifice

The altar of sacrifices’ design and statutes for its sanctification are given in Ezekiel 43:13-27.  The altar sits in the inner court before the temple proper (Ezek. 40:47).  The base is one-and-a-half feet high.  It is surrounded by a one-and-a-half … [Continue reading]