This article concisely explored the Synoptic Gospels’ theme of the kingdom of God. The Old Testament, to which I did not explored, presents a rich background that is craftily captured by Goldsworthy:
The idea of the rule of God over creation, over all creatures, over the kingdoms of the world and, in a unique and special way, over his chosen and redeemed people, is the very heart of the message of the Hebrew scriptures. (Goldsworthy 2000: n.p)
In the Old Testament, the story of Israel reveals that God is the Lord over creation, fall, redemption and final glorification. In New Testament, Israel’s story becomes Christians’ story.
Mark and Matthew announced the dawn of the kingdom of God in the person of Christ Jesus (Matt. 1:1) and in His teachings and miraculous works (Mark 4: 35-41; Matt. 12:28). These works revealed that Jesus, the son of David, was the Lord over sickness, demons and evil spirits, nature, death, and people. N. T. Wright put it well,
Jesus was announcing that the long- awaited kingdom of Israel’s god was indeed coming to birth, but that it did not look like what had been imagined. The return from exile, the defeat of evil, and the return of YHWH to Zion were all coming about, but not in the way Israel had supposed. (Wright 1996: 201)
Luke merged the kingship and priesthood roles of Jesus son of David, son of Abraham. Jesus is the King who is given the throne of his father David and He reigns “over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”(Luke 1:32-33) In the person and works of Jesus, the Lord God of Israel has not only visited His people but also redeemed them. The author of the epistle of Barnabas poetically wrote, “by cross Jesus holds His kingdom, so that [through the cross] those believing on Him shall live for ever”(Barn. 4.9)
Luke addressed the Jewish political expectation of the coming of God’s Kingdom, that would overthrown all powers against God and handling the power over to God’s Messiah, which overlooked that the Messiah had to suffer before he entered into His glory (Luke 24:25-27). It appears, in Acts 1:6, that even in the light of resurrection, Jesus’ disciples held a similar expectation about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. The time of full restoration is know by God alone, according to Jesus, the task that was at hand was that of a Spirit-empowered witnessing of His person and works to the whole world (Acts 1:7-8).
Clement of Rome thus concluded,
Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe.(1 Clem. Cor 42)
Those who responded with repentance and baptized into the lordship of Jesus through the disciples’ and early Church’s witnessing of the person and works of Jesus “receive the blessings of the kingdom, the forgiveness of their sins and the eschatological power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 19:5–6; 22:16)”(ibid). According to Charles Erdman, “The very essence of the Gospel becomes embodied in the promise of a place in the Kingdom for all who will repent of sin and believe in Christ.”(Erdman 1966: 35)
The time is coming and now is here to hail the King of the Jews. He is the King over all. He is here. He reigns.
Erdman, Charles (1966) The Gospel of Mark: An exposition. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Goldsworthy, G. (2000) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Alexander, T. D., & Rosner, B. S. (Eds.) New dictionary of biblical theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Wright, N. T. (1996) Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Concepts and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.