Kingship and kingdom of God

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Stained glass by Hallward depicting Matt 5:10: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". St Peter's 2.jpg
Stained glass by Hallward depicting Matt 5:10: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven".

The concept of the kingship of God appears in all Abrahamic religions, where in some cases the terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are also used. The notion of God's kingship goes back to the Hebrew Bible, which refers to "his kingdom" but does not include the term "Kingdom of God". [1] [2]

The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as Abrahamism, are a group of Semitic-originated religious communities of faith that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic, with the term deriving from the patriarch Abraham.

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Contents

The "Kingdom of God" and its equivalent form "Kingdom of Heaven" in the Gospel of Matthew is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The Gospel of Mark indicates that the gospel is the good news about the Kingdom of God. The term pertains to the kingship of Christ over all creation. Kingdom of "heaven" appears in Matthew's gospel due primarily to Jewish sensibilities about uttering the "name" (God). Jesus did not teach the kingdom of God per se so much as the return of that kingdom. The notion of God's kingdom (as it had been under Moses) returning became an agitation in "knaan" (also known today by Palestine and Israel) 60 years before Jesus was born, and continued to be a force for nearly a hundred years after his death. [3] Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the "Kingship of God". [4] [5]

Kingdom of Heaven is a term used in the Gospel of Matthew in reference to the "kingdom of God" in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke. Thought to be the main content of Jesus's preaching, the "Kingdom of Heaven" described "a process, a course of events, whereby God begins to govern or to act as king or Lord, an action, therefore, by which God manifests his being-God in the world of men".

Gospel of Matthew Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells how the promised Messiah, Jesus, rejected by Israel, is killed, is raised from the dead, and finally sends the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. Most scholars believe it was composed between AD 80 and 90, with a range of possibility between AD 70 to 110. The anonymous author was probably a male Jew, standing on the margin between traditional and non-traditional Jewish values, and familiar with technical legal aspects of scripture being debated in his time. Writing in a polished Semitic "synagogue Greek", he drew on the Gospel of Mark as a source, and likely used a hypothetical collection of sayings known as the Q source, although the existence of Q has been questioned by some scholars. He also used material unique to his own community, called the M source or "Special Matthew".

Jesus The central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Bahá'í writings also use the term "kingdom of God". [6] The Quran does not include the term "kingdom of God", but refers to Abraham seeing the "Kingdom of the heavens". [7]

Quran The central religious text of Islam

The Quran, also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature. The Quran is divided into chapters, which are subdivided into verses.

Hebrew Bible

The term "kingdom of the LORD" appears twice in the Hebrew Bible, in 1 Chronicles 28:5 and 2 Chronicles 13:8. In addition, "his kingdom" and "your kingdom" are sometimes used when referring to God. [2] "Yours is the kingdom, O Lord" is used in 1 Chronicles 29:10–12 and "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" in Daniel 3:33, for example. [8]

"The Hebrew word malkuth [...] refers first to a reign, dominion, or rule and only secondarily to the realm over which a reign is exercised. [...] When malkuth is used of God, it almost always refers to his authority or to his rule as the heavenly King." [9] The "enthronement psalms" (Psalms 45, 93, 96, 97–99) provide a background for this view with the exclamation "The Lord is King". [5]

Psalms Book of the Bible

The Book of Psalms, commonly referred to simply as Psalms or "the Psalms", is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings"), the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and thus a book of the Christian Old Testament. The title is derived from the Greek translation, ψαλμοί, psalmoi, meaning "instrumental music" and, by extension, "the words accompanying the music". The book is an anthology of individual psalms, with 150 in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition and more in the Eastern Christian churches. Many are linked to the name of David, but his authorship is not accepted by modern scholars.

1 Kings 22:19, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7:9 all speak of the Throne of God, although some philosophers such as Saadia Gaon and Maimonides interpreted such mention of a "throne" as allegory. [10]

Throne of God Reigning centre of God in the Abrahamic religions

The Throne of God is the reigning centre of God in the Abrahamic religions: primarily Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The throne is said by various holy books to reside beyond the Seventh Heaven and is called Araboth in Judaism, and al-'Arsh in Islam. Many in the Christian religion consider the ceremonial chair as symbolizing or representing an allegory of the holy Throne of God.

Sa'adiah ben Yosef Gaon (Arabic: سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي‎ / Saʻīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi, Sa'id ibn Yusuf al-Dilasi, Saadia ben Yosef aluf, Sa'id ben Yusuf ra's al-Kull; Hebrew: רבי סעדיה בן יוסף אלפיומי גאון'; alternative English Names: Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon, often abbreviated RSG, Saadia b. Joseph, Saadia ben Joseph or Saadia ben Joseph of Faym or Saadia ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi; was a prominent rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and exegete of the Geonic period who was active in the Abbasid Caliphate.

Maimonides 12th-century Spanish-born rabbi and philosopher

Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam, was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician. Born in Córdoba, Almoravid empire on Passover Eve, 1135 or 1138, he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias.

Intertestamental period

The phrase the Kingdom of God is not common in intertestamental literature. Where it does occur, such as in the Psalms of Solomon and the Wisdom of Solomon, it usually refers "to God's reign, not to the realm over which he reigns, nor to the new age, [nor to ...] the messianic order to be established by the Lord's Anointed." [11]

The term does occasionally, however, denote "an eschatological event," such as in the Assumption of Moses and the Sibylline Oracles. In these cases, "God's Kingdom is not the new age but the effective manifestation of his rule in all the world so that the eschatological order is established." [12] Along these lines was the more "national" view in which the awaited messiah was seen as a liberator and the founder of a new state of Israel. [13]

Gospels

The Gospel of Luke records Jesus' description of the Kingdom of God, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; ... For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." [14] The Apostle Paul defined the Kingdom of God in his letter to the church in Rome: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." [15]

In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus speaks frequently of God's kingdom. However within the New Testament, nowhere does Jesus appear to clearly define the concept. [16] Within the Synoptic Gospel accounts, the assumption appears to have been made that, "this was a concept so familiar that it did not require definition." [16] Karen Wenell wrote, "Mark's Gospel provides for us a significant place of transformation for the space of the Kingdom of God, precisely because it can be understood as a kind of birthplace for the Kingdom of God, the beginning of its construction ...". [17]

Within the non-canonical, yet contemporary Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying, "If those who lead you say to you: ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fishes will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you and outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father." [18] This same Gospel of Thomas further describes Jesus as implying that the Kingdom of God is already present, saying, "The kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.” [18]

The Kingdom of God (and its possibly equivalent form Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel of Matthew) is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. [3] Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the "Kingship of God". [4] [5]

Most of the uses of the Greek word, basileia (kingdom), in the New Testament involve Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven). [19] Matthew is likely to have instead used the term heaven because the background of his Jewish audience imposed restrictions on the frequent use of the name of God. [20] However, Dr. Chuck Missler asserts that Matthew intentionally differentiated between the kingdoms of God and Heaven: "Most commentators presume that these terms are synonymous. However, Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven 33 times, but also uses Kingdom of God five times, even in adjacent verses, which indicates that these are not synonymous: he is using a more denotative term." [21] Kingdom of God is translated to Latin as Regnum Dei and Kingdom of Heaven as Regnum caelorum. [22]

Christianity

God the Father on a throne, Westphalia, Germany, late 15th century. Gottvater thronend Westfalen 15 Jh.jpg
God the Father on a throne, Westphalia, Germany, late 15th century.

The Old Testament refers to "God the Judge of all" and the notion that all humans will eventually "be judged" is an essential element of Christian teachings. [23] Building on a number of New Testament passages, the Nicene Creed indicates that the task of judgement is assigned to Jesus. [23] [24]

No overall agreement on the theological interpretation of "Kingdom of God" has emerged among scholars. While a number of theological interpretations of the term Kingdom of God have appeared in its eschatological context, e.g. apocalyptic, realized or Inaugurated eschatologies, no consensus has emerged among scholars. [25] [26]

R. T. France points out that while the concept of "Kingdom of God" has an intuitive meaning to lay Christians, there is hardly any agreement among scholars about its meaning in the New Testament. [27] Some scholars see it as a Christian lifestyle, some as a method of world evangelization, some as the rediscovery of charismatic gifts, others relate it to no present or future situation, but the world to come. [27] France states that the phrase Kingdom of God is often interpreted in many ways to fit the theological agenda of those interpreting it. [27]

In the New Testament, the Throne of God is alluded to in several forms. [28] Among these are Heaven as the Throne of God, The Throne of David, The Throne of Glory, The Throne of Grace and many more. [28] The New Testament continues Jewish identification of heaven itself as the "throne of God", [29] but also locates the throne of God as "in heaven" and having a second subordinate seat at the Right Hand of God for the Session of Christ. [30]

Islam

The term "kingdom of God" does not occur in the Quran. The modern Arabic word for kingdom is mamlaka (المملكة), but in the Quran mul'kan (مُّلْكًا), refers to Heaven, e.g. in 4:54 "Or do they envy mankind for what Allah hath given them of his bounty? but We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom" and 6:75 "Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth." [7] The variant Maalik (Owner, etmologically similar to Malik (king)) occurs in 1:4 "[Allah is] The owner of the Day of Judgement". [31]

Bahá'í Faith

The term "kingdom of God" appears in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, including the religious works of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, and his son `Abdu'l-Bahá. [6] [32] [33] [34] In the Bahá'í teachings, the kingdom of God is seen both as a state of individual being, and the state of the world. Bahá'u'lláh claimed that the scriptures of the world's religions foretell a coming messianic figure that will bring a golden age of humanity, the kingdom of God on earth. He claimed to be that figure, and that his teachings would bring about the kingdom of God; he also noted that the prophecies relating to the end times and the arrival of the kingdom of God were symbolic and referred to spiritual upheaval and renewal. [35] The Bahá'í teachings also state as people perform good deeds they become closer to God spiritually, so that they can attain eternal life and enter the kingdom of God while alive. [36]

See also

References and notes

  1. "Abrahamic Faiths, Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflicts" (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change. Series I, Culture and Values, Vol. 7) by Paul Peachey, George F. McLean and John Kromkowski (Jun 1997) ISBN   1565181042 p. 315
  2. 1 2 France, R. T. (2005). "Kingdom of God". In Vanhoozer, Kevin J.; Bartholomew, Craig G.; Treier, Daniel J.; Wright, Nicholas Thomas (eds.). Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. pp. 420–422. ISBN   978-0-8010-2694-2.
  3. 1 2 The Gospel of Matthew by R.T. France (21 Aug 2007) ISBN   080282501X pp. 101–103
  4. 1 2 Mercer Dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Edgar V. McKnight and Roger A. Bullard (2001) ISBN   0865543739 p. 490
  5. 1 2 3 Dictionary of Biblical Imagery by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III (Nov 11, 1998) ISBN   0830814515 pp. 478–479
  6. 1 2 Bahá'u'lláh (2002). Gems of Divine Mysteries. Haifa, Israel: Bahá'í World Centre. p. 9. ISBN   0-85398-975-3.
  7. 1 2 Biblical Prophets in the Qur'an and Muslim Literature by Roberto Tottoli (2001) ISBN   0700713948 p. 27
  8. Psalms: Interpretation by James Mays 2011 ISBN   0664234399 pp. 438–439
  9. George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 46–47.
  10. Bowker 2005 , pp. Throne of God entry
  11. George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 130.
  12. George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 131.
  13. Encyclopedia of Theology: A Concise Sacramentum Mundi by Karl Rahner (2004) ISBN   0860120066 p. 1351
  14. Luke 17:20–21 NKJV
  15. Romans 14:17 NIV
  16. 1 2 George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 45.
  17. Wenell, Karen (August 2014). "A Markan 'Context' Kingdom? Examining Biblical and Social Models in Spatial Interpretation". Biblical Theology Bulletin. 44 (3): 126.
  18. 1 2 Gospel of Thomas’s 114 Sayings of Jesus Biblical Archaeological Society. June 4, 2017. Downloaded Sept. 4, 2017.
  19. Theology for the Community of God by Stanley J. Grenz (2000) ISBN   0802847552 p. 473
  20. Matthew by David L. Turner (2008) ISBN   0801026849 p. 41
  21. Missler, Chuck. A Kingdom Perspective http://www.khouse.org/articles/2013/1117/
  22. A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins (1985) ISBN   0813206677 p. 176
  23. 1 2 Introducing Christian Doctrine (2nd Edition) by Millard J. Erickson (2001) ISBN   0801022509 pp. 391–392
  24. Systematic Theology Vol 2 by Wolfhart Pannenberg (2004) ISBN   0567084663 pp. 390–391
  25. Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael James McClymond (2004) ISBN   0802826806 pp. 77–79
  26. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans (1998) ISBN   9004111425 p. 255–257
  27. 1 2 3 Divine Government: God's Kingship in the Gospel of Mark by R.T. France (2003) ISBN   1573832448 pp. 1–3
  28. 1 2 Kittel 1966 , pp. 164–166
  29. William Barclay The Gospel of Matthew: Chapters 11–28 p. 340 Matthew 23:22 "And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it."
  30. Philip Edgecumbe Hughes A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews p. 401 1988 "The theme of Christ's heavenly session, announced here by the statement he sat down at the right hand of God, .. Hebrews 8:1 "we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven"
  31. Quran 1:4
  32. Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 86. ISBN   0-87743-187-6.
  33. Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN   0-85398-999-0.
  34. `Abdu'l-Bahá (1908). Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust (published 1990). p. 58. ISBN   0-87743-162-0.
  35. Momen, Moojan (2004). "Baha'i Faith and Holy People". In Jestice, Phyllis G. (ed.). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN   1-57607-355-6.
  36. Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 118–119. ISBN   0-521-86251-5.

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Kingdom of God (Christianity) phrase in the New Testament

The Kingdom of God is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the Kingship of God. The Old Testament refers to "God the Judge of all" and the notion that all humans will eventually "be judged" is an essential element of Christian teachings. Building on a number of New Testament passages, the Nicene Creed indicates that the task of judgment is assigned to Jesus.

The concept of kingship of God appears in the Hebrew Bible with references to "his Kingdom" and "your Kingdom" while the term "kingdom of God" is not directly used. "Yours is the kingdom, O Lord" is used in 1Chronicles 29:10-12 and "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" in Daniel 4:3, for example. It is tied to Jewish understanding that through the messiah, God will restore the Kingdom of Israel, following the Davidic covenant.

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