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I was debating on whether or not to split up this section into two, but there really isn’t much in James and Peter, so we will just do them first. In this series, we have been looking at the coming of the kingdom passages independently in each author of the New Testament. In the first three articles, we’ve seen that in the majority of times, the kingdom would come at a time of judgement. In just a few exceptions, one in Luke 17, another in Matthew 21, and one more Colossians 1, the Bible talks about the kingdom as being present. I’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Today, we are focused on the kingdom passages in the remaining books of the New Testament: John, James, 2 Peter, and Revelation. Here are the uses for your convenience.
lemma:βασιλεία in John, Peter, and James
John 3:3, 5; 18:36
2 Peter 1:11
Revelation 1:6, 9; 5:10; 11:15; 12:10; 16:10; 17:12, 17, 18Exported from Logos Bible Software
As I mentioned above, we will do James and 2 Peter first.
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?James 2:5
This passage just speaks of the saints being heirs of the kingdom, so it seems to me to be viewing the coming of the kingdom as future. This makes more sense when we look at the “coming of the Lord” passage in James.
You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.James 5:8–9
So, James, like some of the other authors we have noticed, ties the inheritance of the kingdom to the judgement and coming of the Lord. As a side note, James seems to be referencing Matthew 24:33 here.
The next passage is in 2 Peter.
for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.2 Peter 1:11
From Peter’s perspective, they have not even entered the kingdom yet, but we will look more into that tomorrow. You see, Peter correlates the arrival of the kingdom with the New Heavens and New Earth of 2 Peter 3. Their entrance into one is their entrance into the other. We’ll see this more clearly when we get to the Revelation passages below.
There isn’t much in John’s account of the gospel that specifically talks about the arrival of the kingdom, but there is a passage that makes a lot of this kingdom talk make sense.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”John 18:36
The kingdom that the New Testament is concerned with, then, isn’t an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. This answers a lot of questions people might have such as, “Well, if the kingdom is here, then what is the address?”
This also brings up another question though: if the kingdom is “heavenly” and “doesn’t come with observation,” then, is the king coming in His kingdom able to be observed in that way?
Alright, now on to Revelation. There are nine kingdom passages in Revelation. We’ll be looking at two of them. One that you may expect me to go to, Revelation 1:9, just says that he is a partaker in the kingdom with them, so I don’t see how that is any different than some of the other passages we’ve seen so far. Here are the two I had in mind.
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”Revelation 11:15–18
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.Revelation 12:10
The first passage places the coming of the kingdom at the sounding of the last trumpet, the judgement of the dead, the rewarding of the prophets, and the rewarding of the saints. This would all happen at the fall of the city where Jesus was slain (Revelation 11:8). In fact, John places the entire book between two sets of passages which mention that the things within the book were at hand (Revelation 1:1, 3 and Revelation 22).
The second passage places the coming of the kingdom at the beginning of the “short time” following the millennium. See my paper on the millennium for more information on that. After the millennium is when the New Heavens and New Earth would come, so it makes sense for Peter to correlate the two in his second epistle.
In all of these passages, the kingdom was future to the authors. They were looking for their entrance into the kingdom, and it would be supplied to them shortly if we take the time statements in Revelation seriously.
The saints would enter the kingdom soon, but it would be at a time of judgement called “the end of the age” that would be a fulfillment of the Law and the prophets, including Daniel 9 and 12, and Abraham would be resurrected into this kingdom. The judgement in the previous statement would take place within that generation.
According to Luke, their entrance into the kingdom would be when Jesus would come again at the fall of Jerusalem. At this time, judgement would take place and the righteous would be resurrected.
Mark and Paul
They were in the kingdom in a sense, but they hadn’t inherited it yet because it wouldn’t come until a time of judgement and resurrection before some there would die.
John, James, and Peter
The kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, and the first century church was still looking forward to their entrance into it shortly. It would come at a time of judgement when the Old Heavens and Old Earth would be cast out. At this time, the prophets would receive their reward (Daniel 12:13).
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