POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

The Kingdom of Heaven in Time – A Trans-temporal Kingdom

The KOH Coming in the Time of Christ The KOH is a kingdom that spans time and links all of history together within the redemptive plan of God. The KOH in Matthew’s gospel is presented as having come, but yet still coming in the future but in a different form. The evidence for the inauguration of the kingdom at the time of Christ begins with the proclamation of John the Baptist that “The kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2) and with Jesus himself making the same claim after his temptation in the wilderness to begin his public ministry (Matthew 4:17). Jesus also gives strong evidence that his kingdom had indeed come with him to the earth when he sent out the twelve disciples to preach the message “the kingdom of heaven is near” accompanied by a supernatural ministry which validated this claim (Matthew 10:7,8). Jesus himself directly claims that his kingdom had come when he told the Pharisees that he drives out demons by the Spirit of God giving evidence that “the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28) Finally, in Matthew 16:28, Jesus tells his disciples plainly that they would “not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” This statement is followed by the supernatural experience where Jesus is transfigured and appears with Moses and Elijah before Peter, James and John. Many evangelical scholars feel that during this transfiguration event, the disciples received a foretaste of the coming kingdom in its future form, when it is to come in full power, honor, and glory.[i] The KOH Future Even though it is clear that Jesus inaugurated the KOH in his first coming, it is equally clear that there are still some elements of his kingdom yet to be fully realized. This is articulated by Jesus when he speaks to his followers about the faith of the Roman centurion in Matthew 8:8-12. After the centurion’s expression of trust in Jesus’ power and authority to heal his servant, Jesus makes a statement about people coming from all over the world to “take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Clearly this is a reference to a future time in the kingdom where the living and the dead will rejoice together. The apocalyptic teachings of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24,25) also point strongly to a future time when the kingdom will be consummated with God’s final judgment. The parables in Matthew 25, which begin “At that time the KOH will be like”, give further evidence of this future aspect of the kingdom. The Kingdom’s Trans-temporal Nature Perhaps the most striking evidence of the now and future aspect of the KOH is found in Jesus’ parables about the kingdom in Matthew 13. The parable of the weeds (or tares) vividly teaches of a present kingdom age where the sowing of the word of God takes place in an imperfect world. This same parable also points to a future judgment where at the end of this age the wicked (the weeds, sons of the evil one) will be condemned and the Son’s of the kingdom (the wheat) will come into the KOH (God’s barn is used as a metaphor for the kingdom in this case). The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast then tell of present kingdom activity of growth which will take place before the judgment, while the parables of the treasure and the pearl tell of those coming into the kingdom during this time period. Finally, the parable of the dragnet again illustrates a coming judgment and eradication of evil from God’s eternal kingdom at a future time. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth illustrate the kingdom’s span over time will the following diagram:[ii]

This idea of the KOH spanning time past, present, and future comes to us forthrightly in the most holy of ordinances left to the church by the King himself. In the apostle Paul’s description of the Lord’s Supper we find these striking words:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (emphasis mine)[iii]
In this statement we see the trans-temporal nature of Christ’s kingdom exhibited in this in this most sacred observance of the church. Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup (in the present), you proclaim the Lord’s death (in the past) until he comes again (in the future). In this ordinance kingdom subjects reflect on the nature of the kingdom living in their midst, inaugurated in the past, and coming in fullness and power at some time in the future.

Up Next - Some Personal and Pastoral Thoughts on the Kingdom of Heaven [i]Ibid. “Matthew 17:1-8” [ii] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth- A Guide to Understanding the Bible, 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993) p. 133 [iii]Holy Bible, The New International Version, “1 Corinthians 11:23-26” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.