The Apostle Paul and the Kingdom of God

The kingdom of God was central to Jesus’ teaching ministry, but what about for Paul? In his letters and in his teachings in Acts, Paul demonstrates a kingdom vision that corresponds very closely to Jesus’ ideas. Here is an overview of the kingdom of God, according to Paul:

1) The kingdom is the Old Testament, Davidic kingdom, in which all of God’s promises to his people will be fulfilled through the Messiah (Rom 1:2-4; 15:12; 2 Tim 2:8; Acts 13:32-34).

2) Jesus reigns at the right hand of God, over spiritual powers and over his church (Phil 2:9-11; Eph 1:20-23; Col 1:15-18; 2:9-10).

3) Christ’s ultimate reign will be realized when he returns and rules over heaven and earth (1 Cor 15:24-28; Eph 1:9-10; 1 Tim 6:14-16; 2 Tim 4:1,18; Acts 17:31).

4) Believers have entered the kingdom already (spiritually) through God’s saving work in Christ (Col 1:12-14; see also Gal 1:3-5; 2 Thess 2:13-14).

5) Believers will enter the kingdom in full resurrected glory (physically) when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:50; Phil 3:20-21; see also 1 Thess 5:9-10; 2 Tim 2:10).

6) Believers encounter suffering on the road to their final kingdom destination (2 Cor 4:17-18; Rom 8:17-18; 2 Thess 1:5; 2 Tim 2:12; Acts 14:21-22).

7) Believers are called to live according to the values of the kingdom by embracing what is good (Rom 14:17; 1 Thess 2:12; Titus 2:11-14).

8) Believers are called to live according to the values of the kingdom by rejecting what is evil (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5).

9) The kingdom of God was a major preaching topic and ministry goal for Paul (Col 4:11; Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23,31).

We could also add Paul’s teaching on judgment (on those who oppose God’s kingdom, bringing vindication for God’s servants) and the church (as a “lab” in which kingdom priorities and relationships of peace and reconciliation are lived out).

Paul probably joined other early believers in praying “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (or the even shorter version, “Maranatha!” – “Lord, come!” – 1 Cor 16:22). Paul was a man of the kingdom and a lover of the King.




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Filed under Biblical Theology, Discipleship, New Testament

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