The Kingdom of God in 8 Words by Jeremy Treat for The Gospel Coalition
The number-one thing Jesus talked about is the kingdom of God. It’s everywhere in the Gospels and impossible to miss. But if the theme of the kingdom is so significant, then we need to make sure we know what it means. A good starting place is to have a solid working definition.
Here’s one: The kingdom is God’s reign through God’s people over God’s place.
That’s the message of the kingdom in eight words. Now let’s break down each aspect to begin plumbing the depths.
The kingdom is first and foremost a statement about God. God is king, and he is coming asking to set right what our sin made wrong. The phrase “kingdom of God” could just as easily be translated “reign of God” or “kingship of God.” The message of the kingdom is about God’s royal power directed by his self-giving love.
Claiming that the kingdom of God is primarily about God may seem obvious, but many today use “kingdom” to refer to the way we as human beings make the world a better place (“kingdom work”) or to refer to all the Christians in the world (“kingdom minded”). Unfortunately, much of the contemporary talk about the kingdom paints a picture of a kingdom with a vacant throne. But if the kingdom is portrayed as a utopian world without mention of God, then the Bible’s vision of the kingdom has been lost. The kingdom of God is the vision of the world reordered around the powerful love of God in Christ.
God is king, and he reigns over his creation. But in a world marred by sin, God’s kingship is resisted, and the peace of his kingdom has been shattered. After Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God’s reign is revealed as a redemptive reign. He’s the king who is reclaiming his creation. His kingdom is not the culmination of human potential and effort, but the intervention of his royal grace into a sinful and broken world.
God the Creator-King reigns over all his creatures, but he also reigns through his people. This was his design from the beginning. Adam and Eve were commissioned as royal representatives of the king, called to steward his creation and spread the blessings of his reign throughout the earth. Instead, they chose to seek their own path to power and glory, apart from God. Their rebellion fractured humanity’s relationship with God and shattered the goodness of his creation. Ever since sin entered the world, God’s kingdom project has at its heart a rescue mission for rebellious sinners, drawing them into his renewing work.