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.


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.

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