The Kingdom of God & The Gospel

The Kingdom of God (aka Kingdom of Heaven) has been a subject of interest to me for at least the last 5 years. I remember starting a Bible study on it with Marianne when we were dating. I quit after the first session because I realized I didn’t know enough to continue.

Two things about the Kingdom of God have piqued my interest over the last three years: (1) the realization that the Kingdom of God was core to the Gospel message that Christ preached, yet I can’t ever remember hearing a gospel message that had the Kingdom at the core of the message; and (2) the realization that the Kingdom of God has a culture and the Bible is its manual for acculturation.

Here’s the data that shows how integral the Kingdom of God was to the gospel preaching of the NT:

  1. John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 3:2).

  2. Jesusmessage was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17); “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

  3. Jesus’ teaching, as recorded in the Gospels, include around 80 references to the Kingdom of God/Heaven.

  4. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all describe Jesus as preaching a “gospel of the kingdom of God” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 16:16)

  5. Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry was characterized by “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

  6. Philip the evangelist preached “the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.”

  7. Paul’s missionary message consistently included the Kingdom of God as theme (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31).

  8. Paul’s epistles reference the Kingdom of God across the span of his ministry (Gal. 5:21; 2 Thess. 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9, 10; 15:24, 50; Romans 14:17; Col. 1:13; 4:11; Eph. 5:5).

Hard to argue with that kind of ubiquity! It is central to the gospel.  Why have we lost sight of this?    


Anonymous said…
Thanks for this, Phil. You may already be including this book in your study, but I recommend it nonetheless:

Goldsworthy, Graham. The Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, The Gospel in Revelation (Cambridge: Paternoster), 2000.

-Scott A.
Justin said…
I have been working through the concept of the Kingdom here recently. It was only within the last year or two that I really began to see the connection your talking about. I would love to see where this leads you in light of eschatology.
Randy said…
Stumbled on this today, Phil. I assume you have seen what Dallas Willard does with this. I found his approach deeply helpful, though I am sure there are scholarly angles of critique of which I am unaware. Would be interested in what you think of it -- his emphasis on it in "Divine Conspiracy" makes it sort of central to his Gospel hermaneutic. I found it satisfying because as he -- and you-- observed, Kingdom of God language is curiously neglected in our preaching while at the same time ubiquitous in the scripture. Curious!
Loved his treatment of Beatitudes as well though I need to re-read and process because the way he 'connects the dots' left me a little dis-satisified. I do find for myself that he is an author for which a second (or 3rd) read is helpful.

Appreciate you and your life and work.

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