It is essential we correctly identify “the kingdom of the Son” into which God transfers the lost when saved (delivered out of sin’s powerful darkness). Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). While He was on the earth, He withdrew from those who wanted to make Him king forcibly (John 6:15). The nature of His kingdom is spiritual. Therefore, it is established or advanced by earthly means (Luke 17:20-21). Premillennialists teach Jesus will conquer evil and return to earth to reign over a thousand-year kingdom. But, the saved ones are already fellow citizens of His kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9). Jesus identified His kingdom as His church in Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus now reigns as the victorious king over His kingdom, the church (Psalm 2; 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36; Heb. 1:8-9, 13). Christ has secured victory over sin and death. His church triumphs over sin and Satan by the blood of the Lamb, who is worthy to reign (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10, 13). Thus, Scripture says we are “receiving a kingdom” (receiving is a present, active participle) now (Heb. 12:28). The church of Christ is the kingdom of Christ. Christians currently serve the King “in the day of His power” (Psalm 110:3; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 1:3). The saved compose Christ’s kingdom, His church (Acts 2:47). The church is the kingdom that cannot be shaken by the kingdoms of men (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28). God be thanked Jesus reigns today as “the Lord of righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6; Heb. 1:8-9).
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28, NKJV)
King David looked beyond his rule over Israel to the kingdom over which his seed, the Messiah, would rule (Psa. 89:3-4, 34-36). The nations would turn to God and worship before Him (Matt. 8:11). Christ’s messengers, the apostles, called the nations to the Lord’s kingdom by preaching the gospel of the kingdom to the world (Isa. 2:2-3; Matt. 13:18-23; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:1-7; 16:25-27). Preaching the same gospel continues to draw people of every nation to worship before the Lord and King, Jesus Christ (Acts 2:32-41). The church built by Jesus is the kingdom of prophecy (Matt. 16:18-19; Mk. 9:1; Col. 1:13-14). Christ the King adds lost souls to His church (His kingdom) when they believe and obey the gospel (Acts 2:40-41, 47). King David knew God rules over the nations of men (Psa. 22:28). We (and our rulers) do well to remember the Lord God is Sovereign of every nation, and He rules in the affairs of men (Dan. 4:25, 32, 35). History is a boneyard of kingdoms, weak and strong. God’s kingdom is the only one that endures (Dan. 2:44). The Son of God reigns today at God’s right hand in righteousness (Psa. 110:1-2; Acts 2:33; Heb. 1:8-9). The gospel calls us to bow our knee to Jesus to be blessed by Him with salvation. To fight against Him and His gospel brings inevitable, eternal defeat (Psa. 2:10-12; Rom. 2:4-11; 2 Thess. 1:6-10).
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 6:16–17, NKJV)
The nation of Israel was chosen by God, fulfilling a promise He made to Abraham to make his seed a great nation (Gen. 12:2; Deut. 10:22). God told Israel through Moses, “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Exo. 19:5-6). Sadly, Israel often rebelled against God. Their crowning rebellion was rejecting the promised Messiah. As a result, the kingdom was taken from Israel and given to Christ’s kingdom, His church (Matt. 21:42-45; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 2:4-10). Because His kingdom is “not of this world,” physical descend and possessing land do not define “the Israel of God” in this gospel age. Faith, not flesh, identifies the children of God (Israel) now (Rom. 2:25-29; 9:6-8). No longer does physical lineage and circumcision of the flesh by the Law of Moses. Now, the gospel of the cross of Christ produces and identifies God’s chosen people (Gal. 3:26-29). Paul experienced great physical suffering for Christ and the gospel. Yet, God’s peace and mercy rested on him and on all who walk according to the standard of truth, the gospel, that God’s Spirit revealed through the apostles and prophets of Christ (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:7, 16-26).
7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” (Psalm 2:7–9, NKJV)
Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophetic proclamation of God’s plan to establish His Son as King (Acts 13:32-33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Rev. 1:5; 12:5). Thus, He is Jesus “Christ” (anointed). Christ begins speaking in verse 7 and rehearses the divine decree spoken to Him by the Lord. This verse is not describing the fleshly birth of Jesus. Instead, Scripture shows its fulfillment when God raised Jesus from the dead. That is when God brought forth or declared Jesus “to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The apostle Paul declared this fulfillment, “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You” (Acts 13:33). Jesus is the Son of God and King on God’s holy hill of Zion (Psa. 2:6-7). The full authority of Jesus Christ in heaven and on earth is recognized with His ascension to heaven and coronation at God’s right hand (v. 8; Acts 2:32-36; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23). Christ has the authority to give life and to punish sin (Jno. 5:26-27; 17:2). While offering merciful redemption to the world, Christ’s rule includes punishing those who fight against Him (Psa. 2:9, 1-3). To resist God’s Son brings sure condemnation (Jno. 5:28-30).
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5:38–42, NKJV)
The rule of law provides justice while reining in unrestrained wrath against others. For example, the Law of Moses decreed judgment against wrongdoers in accord with the crime they committed, hence, “an eye for an eye…” (Exo. 21:22-25). But, the scribes and Pharisees had turned the Law into a tool of personal revenge (Matt. 5:20). Jesus resists such lawlessness, teaching citizens of the kingdom of heaven not to retaliate against the evil person. His apostle would explain, “Repay no man evil for evil…If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; at it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-19). To respond with personal wrath and revenge against evil is arrogant, for by doing so, we displace God as Judge and trust ourselves rather than Him to correct evil and punish the evildoer. Going the second mile gives us the chance to calm our souls and trust the Lord.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15, NKJV)
The gospel calls us to peace with God and with others. Sin introduced conflict between man and God, producing spiritual death and consequentially, physical death (Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23). The angelic announcement at Christ’s birth (“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”) praised God for His goodwill toward humanity that brought peace between Himself and sinners through His Son (Lk. 2:14; Tit. 3:4-5). Jesus Christ “is our peace” (first with God, then with other sinners) – “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one…” (Eph. 2:14). Being reconciled to God “in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity,” hostility with God is removed and replaced with harmonious tranquility “in one body” (the church). That is the peace the angels announced. That is the peace Christ’s death accomplished. That peace must now rule (govern) our hearts. Being at peace with God, we can successfully strive to “live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Until then, sin rules the heart, infusing our marriages, families, nations, and the church with its selfishness, confusion, and every evil thing (Jas. 3:14-16). By contrast, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (Jas. 3:17). Thank God for His peace! Without Him, peace is unattainable.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)
All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.
1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Psalm 110:1–2, NKJV)
With this prophecy, David announced the coming reign of his Lord. Elevated to the throne by Jehovah, this mighty ruler (the Christ) would reign at the exalted position of God’s right hand. Every enemy would be subjugated to His powerful authority as He reigned from Zion (Isaiah 2:2-4). This is a declaration of the rule and reign that now resides in Jesus Christ. Although born of the seed of David, He is David’s Master, being “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Matthew 22:41-46; 1 Timothy 6:15). His authority is established over His enemies and over God’s people (Psalm 110:2-3; Hebrews 12:22-24). It is this very reign of Christ that was announced by the apostle Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:32-36). We do not wait for Christ’s coronation as King over His kingdom. He now rules and reigns over a kingdom that is not of this world, and that cannot be shaken – “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (John 18:36-37; Hebrews 1:8-9; 12:28, 22-23). Upon His return, every enemy will be vanquished, and every servant will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). The day of His power has arrived. Now is the time to honor the King (Psalm 110:3).
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, NKJV)
All of us live under multiple authority structures. In the home, at school, and as citizens of communities, state and the nation, there are layers of authority under which we live. We either respect the authority under which we live unto our benefit, or we defy the authority to our shame harm. The local church also has an authority structure which Christians are taught to respect. Since Christ is the head of the church, His authority (revealed in His word) rules. He has set bishops or overseers (also called elders and pastors or shepherds in the Scriptures) in each local church to rule or lead them. Each member of that church is to “be submissive” as we obey them. With willing hands and hearts, let us humble ourselves to the rule of our elders and be a source of their joy instead of grief as they “watch out for our souls.”
8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. 9 The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47:8–9, NKJV)
In this political season, God’s people remember the majestic rule of God. Men and nations scurry about, trying to secure their fleeting power and prominence on the earth. At the same time, God remains solemnly and securely seated on His throne, ruling over all the kingdoms of men. The leaders of ancient Israel gathered in worshipful awe of His might (Psalm 47:1-2). This same praise and adoration is to define God’s people today. All the military might of men pale in comparison to our God, who is exalted in the heavens. We trust in the Lord God, not the fancies and foibles of men who do not honor Him who rules heaven and earth.