Vol.XV No.X Pg.4
December 1978

Kingdom Truth

Robert F. Turner

The Lord's disciples misunderstood His teaching regarding the kingdom despite his patient coaching (Matt. 20: 20-f., Acts 1:6-8). It was only after the Holy Spirit and "all truth" was given (Jn. 16:12-f), that they recognized the true nature of the kingdom, and penned a record we can understand. The whole picture also shows us why they could not understand. Kingdom prophecies were couched in Jewish historical terms, interwoven in their national life. They were prejudiced by popular misconceptions which their nation had drawn from prophets of old.

Isaiah had said, "Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom... Gomorrah" — i.e., utterly destroyed. Israel lost her civil sovereignty, but God promised another King on David's throne (Isa. 9:6-7). Israel was scattered, but God promised a remnant (not the whole) would return "unto (10:20-23). Israel suffered bondage, but "the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant" (11:10-16). Isaiah further says that He who would restore the preserved of Israel would also be "for a light to the Gentiles" (49:5f). There is little excuse for today's student to continue the prejudice and blindness of 1st. century Judaism. Paul reviewed Jewish history (Acts 13: 14-f) and said Jesus Christ fulfilled the promise (v. 23), was resurrected to be "the sure mercies of David" (v. 32-34), and further states that the deliverance is from sin (v. 38).

Peter had understood this clearly on Pentecost following the resurrection. He cited prophesies that Christ would be raised to sit on David's throne. He then testified that Jesus was resurrected, and concluded "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted..." He commanded believers to "repent and be baptized ...in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:30-39). Paul said the Colossians had been "translated into the kingdom of His dear Son," receiving the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12-14).

Kingdom teaching is not the only facet of Christianity expressed in "Jewish" terminology, but whose literal and physical aspects have given way to spiritual application. The Jews had a priesthood, of the tribe of Levi, who served at the altar. In Isa. 66:18-f. not only shall "all nations" be gathered, but "of them also will I take for priests and for Levites." No Gentile is literally a "Levite," but Christians are "a holy," and "a royal priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). They are both holy and royal for Christ is "high priest after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 7:17), who was both King and Priest (7:1-3). The Jews were a "holy nation" "peculiar people" (Ex. 19:5-6, Deut. 7:6-f), and so are Christians (1 Pet. 2:9-10). No wonder they are called "Abraham's seed" and "Israel of God" (Gal. 3:29, 6:16). The literal was a type or shadow of the spiritual (Heb. 10:1-f).

"Kingdom" is but one of many figures for describing the relation of saints to God through Christ. We are children in His family, laborers in His vineyard, sheep in His flock, members of His body, etc. The kingdom figure emphasizes the rule of Christ, and our submission to His authority.