The Coming Kingdom
10-17-18 John 18:36 Lesson 53
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to John’s Gospel, chapter 18 and verse 36. As you all know we are continuing our study on the kingdom and the first part of the study was what does the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, reveal about the kingdom? It was in that section we saw the Kingdom carefully developed, explained, offered to Israel and then rejected, making the kingdom in a state of postponement.
The second part of the study was what’s the problem with saying that we’re in the kingdom now? And the major problem with it is that you have to change what the Old Testament reveals about the kingdom to turn it into like a spiritual reign of Christ now. And from there we went into what does the Bible say… let me rephrase that, why do a lot of people think we’re in the kingdom now? So we’ve been going through passages in the New Testament that kingdom now theologians use to argue that we are currently in the kingdom?
So we’re going to be looking at several passages in this section of the study but we started off with passages from Christ’s ministry. That’s generally where people go, they go to the ministry of Christ and they try to argue He set up a spiritual form of the kingdom in His first coming. So what it takes is you’ve got to do the whole hard work and you’ve got to go through each passage people use and you have to try to figure out is that really what the passage says. So we’ve been scrutinizing these various passages and we only have two passages left to cover for the life of Christ. One of them is John 18:36, the verse we opened up to, and the other one, if we have time tonight we’ll get to it as well, the great commission passage where Jesus says “all authority has been given to Me.” [Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”] So we’re basically trying to learn how to answer these passages from a futuristic kingdom perspective.
Take a look at John 18:36. No doubt many of you have heard this passage used and taught many times. “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.’” So what the amillennialist does, the amillennialist is someone who doesn’t believe that there is a future millennium, the “a” is a negation in front of the word millennium, no millennium, no future reign of Christ. It’s probably the most popular view in church history; it’s been taught in the church ever since the fourth century A.D. through the influential writings of Augustine and his book, The City of God, but the amillennialist loves this verse because when Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world” and then He says it again, “If My kingdom were of this world My servants would be fighting…My kingdom is not of this realm.”
What they basically believe it means is there is no future kingdom so quit talking about it. The millennial kingdom is completely off the table, there is no future millennial kingdom because after all, Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world.” So it’s a verse when you look at it at first glance it looks like it supports amillennialism or kingdom now theology but with all of these verses what we’re learning is that the devil is in the details. Right?
So let me give you, if I could, three responses to what I think is a misuse of John 18:36. My first response is this: the kingdom offer was already rejected. Now you all remember the kingdom offer that we talked about, how the kingdom was predicted in the Old Testament, offered to first century Israel on a silver platter through the expression “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The nation rejected it, Matthew 12 is really the key chapter where the religious leaders turned down the offer, which led, not to the kingdom’s cancellation but the kingdom’s postponement, where God is doing an interim program today. And that’s where we come in, we’re the church. We’re not the kingdom, we’re an interim program on the earth until He establishes His kingdom one day.
But we know one of these days there’s going to be a translation of the church, hopefully sooner than later, amen! And then God, who has not forgotten His promises to Israel will re-extend that offer to Israel in the tribulation period in which time they will accept it because Israel always gets it right the second time. So this is basically a framework that I think the Bible supports that we’ve been using to explain the kingdom concept.
The hinge verse in all of that is Matthew 12:24. Once you get to Matthew 12:24 the offer is withdrawn and the whole tenor of Matthew’s Gospel shifts and you remember what Matthew 12:24 is about, right? It’s when the leaders attributed Christ’s miracles to the devil. They couldn’t dismiss the miracle, the miracles were obvious, right in front of them, so the next best solution they had is well, if we can’t dismiss it in front of all these eyewitnesses we’ll just say the devil did that through Jesus. And once it gets to that point it’s obvious that the nation’s heart is so hard they’re not going to see the King or His kingdom.
So at that point everything shifts but the hinge verse is 12:24. It says, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’” Matthew’s Gospel, we talked a little bit about this is chiastically structured. A chiasm comes from the Greek word kai, which is a letter of the Greek alphabet, it looks kind of like an X and so it kind of goes in so chapters 1 and 2 the same idea is mirrored in chapter 28, at the end of the chiasm. Chapters 3 and 4, the first leg there, the same idea is sort of mirrored in the passion, there it is, in the second to last peg there, chapters 26 and 27. And a lot of the books of the Bible are set up this way. The Book of Esther is set up this way, The Gospel of Mark is set up this way. And the middle point of the chiasm is the hinge or the transition and what is in the middle of the Mathian chiasm is the chapter we looked at very briefly, chapters 11 and chapters 12, because that’s where the nation rejects the offer.
So that happened in Matthew chapter 12 and ever since Matthew 12, right up until the present, the any moment appearance of the kingdom was off the table. So at that point, late in Christ’s ministry, now I’m in John 18, the verse we looked at a little earlier, which follows Matthew 12, at that point, John 18, late in Christ’s ministry the kingdom of God was no longer an imminent threat to Pilate’s kingdom. And so that’s why Jesus makes the statement, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In other words, in your lifetime, Pilate, you’re not going to see the stone cut without human hands that Daniel talks about that shatters the feet of this statue, the kingdoms of man instantaneously crushes them. [Daniel 2:34, “”You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.”]
Hypothetically Israel could have seen that; they could have seen that right up until Matthew 12 but following Matthew 12 that opportunity disappeared because Israel rejected the offer. I mean, Israel could have seen in a nanosecond the immediate overthrow of Rome and the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth had Israel accepted the King on the King’s terms.
But John 18, in the life of Christ, follows Matthew 12. John 18 is very late in Christ’s ministry, He’s about ready to be executed for the sins of the world, and that’s why He makes the statement, “My kingdom is not of this world.” [John 18:36, “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 world.’”]
He’s not saying the kingdom will never come when He says that. What He’s saying is the any moment appearance of the kingdom, which you could have seen had Israel received the offer of the kingdom, that opportunity is gone. And that’s His only point, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He’s not saying the kingdom will never come, that’s the amillennial misconception of the passage. What He’s saying is it’s not going to come now, it’s not going to appear now in Pilate’s lifetime. So Pilate’s manmade kingdom is safe is what he states by saying that. Just to show you that I’m not making this up I like to quote people, not to bore you with quotes but to show you that my thinking on this is consistent with generations that have preceded me. Here’s Thomas Constable, one of my mentors at Dallas Seminary.
Thomas Constable say concerning John 18:36, and by the way, if you’re into Bible study he has on his website 7,000 pages of Bible study material. He has a commentary on every single book of the Bible, all 66 books; you just go to his notes at Sonic Light.com. and you click on what you’re interested in and his wonderful commentary comes out and he gives you verse by verse analysis of any verse you might be working in. And there probably isn’t a sermon or lesson that goes by that I don’t try to at least click on his notes and see what he has to say. So he’s done a wonderful service for the body of Christ, it’s his lifetime of work and he offers these all for free online, he’s not trying to make money off of it or anything like that. So it’s just a huge resource if you’re teaching or leading a Bible study or whatnot I would encourage you to be aware of that source.
But Constable, on John 18:36 says, “Jesus was not denying that His kingdom was an earthly kingdom. He was not saying it was only the spiritual rule of God over the hearts of His people.” That’s what amillennialist say. The only kingdom you’re going to get is Jesus reigning in your heart, there is no future kingdom, using John 18:36 as a pretext. Constable says, “He” Jesus “was not saying that His kingdom had nothing to do with this world, either. This should be clear from Jesus’ other references to His kingdom as being an earthly kingdom. His point was that He and His kingdom were not a present threat to Rome” at the time Jesus made the statement. “It was non-threatening because God had postponed the messianic kingdom—due to Israel’s unbelief—though Jesus did not explain this to Pilate.” [Notes on John,” 294, accessed February 5, 2014, http://www.soniclight.com/] As this Roman trial was taking place and this conversation occurs between Jesus and Pilate.
The verse isn’t saying what everybody thinks it’s saying. What it’s saying is it’s not an immediate threat, the kingdom is not an immediate threat to Pilate’s kingdom That’s Christ’s only point.
The second issue I would raise is the emphasis on “now” and this kind of goes with the first point. Jesus was making an issue out of “now” because the final clause in John 18:36 has in it, and in some of your English translations it doesn’t show up, the word “now” but it’s there in the Greek. I have it there in brackets and underlined. [John 18:36, “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 [nyn], My kingdom is not of this realm.’”] It’s the Greek word nyn, which basically means now, immediately in other words.
So Jesus at the very end of the verse says, “as it is” or “now My kingdom is not of this world.” So what Jesus is saying is My kingdom is not now going to be established; that’s His only point. His point is not the kingdom will never be established; His point is it’s not going to be now established within Pilate’s lifetime. So Jesus is denying only one thing here, the immediate arrival of the kingdom. That’s all He’s denying; He is NOT, very important to understand this, He is NOT denying the ultimate arrival of the kingdom.
And here’s a citation from a scholar that I’ve been quoting throughout this study, E. R. Craven, back in 1874, writes this: “In this utterance,” John 18:36, “it is contended that our Lord intended to declare to Pilate that the kingdom He came to establish was not after the manner of the kingdoms of this world, i. e., not external, political.” See, that’s what the amillennialist says, there’s not going to be a future earthly kingdom. Craven says, “It is admitted that the utterance considered in itself will bear this interpretation;” and see, this is one of the important things to understand about Bible study is we say this over and over again at this church but the three rules of real estate are what? Location, location, location!
The three rules of Bible study are context, context, context! What everybody does is they cherry-pick verses that support their preconceived idea. And your gullible Christian just looks at their preconceived verses without looking at the context of those verses. The fact of the matter is you can make the Bible say whatever you want it to say if you don’t care about context. I’ve used this example before, Judas went out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise and what you do, do quickly. So wow, the Bible supports suicide, right? Well, not if you care about the context of those verses but anybody can string together a bunch of out of context verses and make it sound any way they want. And theologians, very sadly, will do this all the time. They have a preconceived theology, in this case amillennialism, and they’re just stringing verses together to make it sound like there is no future kingdom of God.
So Craven says “It is admitted that the utterance considered in itself will bear this interpretation; but it will also bear one consistent with the theory herein advocated, especially in view of the introduction of nyn in the last clause of the verse, which may be regarded as a particle of time—“ see, the amillennialist is not telling you about the word nyn in the Greek text, they’re kind of hoping you don’t know it’s there because if the word “now” is there (and it’s there in the Greek) some of your English translations pick it up, others don’t, Christ’s only point is you’re not going to have the kingdom now. He’s not saying you’re not going to have the kingdom ever the way amillennialists want us to believe.
Craven says, “My kingdom is not now established. Which of these interpretations are we to adopt” he says. [Excursus on the Basileia,” in Revelation of John, J. P. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 100.] The future kingdom, what he’s advocating? Or the idea that there is no future kingdom. So he says, “The one” the amillennial view, “supposes that our Lord whispered into the ear of a heathen” who was Pilate? Pilate is not one of the disciples of Christ, he’s the opposite, he’s responsible for the execution of Christ. The amillennial view “supposes that our Lord whispered into the ear of a heathen” and then he puts in parenthesis, “(neither the disciples nor the Jews were in the Praetorium,) in fact look back at verse 28, you’ll see that none of the disciples were even in there during this particular trial. It says in verse 28, and verse 28 comes before verse 36, right, you guys with me on that… amen! “Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium and it was early and they themselves did not enter the Praetorium, so that they would not be defiled but might eat the Passover.”
Christ’s whole entourage, His disciples were Jewish, right, and those that turned Christ over to the Romans for execution were Jewish and so they wouldn’t go into a Roman Praetorium anyway because of the Jewish custom that they be defiled by being too close to the Gentiles. So when Jesus is talking here He’s not talking to the disciples at all.
So Craven says, “The one supposes that our Lord whispered into the ear of a heathen (neither the disciples nor the Jews were in the Praetorium, verse 28), the great truth concerning His kingdom, which he had not only concealed from His disciples (hid from them in a bewildering enigma) but a few hours before on the solemn occasion of the institution of the Supper, Luke 22:29, 30; but which, also, He continued to conceal throughout the forty days of His subsequent continuance with them, during which time He is represented as ‘speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,’ Acts 1:3, and as opening ‘their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,’ Luke 24:45!” In other words, what he’s saying is look how silly the amillennial position is. Jesus was talking about literal kingdom, literal kingdom, literal kingdom all the way through His ministry and now, suddenly when He’s away from His disciples and He’s around this unbelieving heathen, Pilate, Jesus says hey Pilate, just between you and Me, let Me give you the real interpretation of the kingdom… there is not kingdom!
And then subsequent to that in His forty days in between His resurrection and ascension as He spoke about the kingdom of God for forty days, Acts 1, He went back to a literal interpretation of the kingdom. So literal before He met Pilate, literal after He met Pilate, but then He gives the true interpretation to Pilate, who wasn’t even saved. Now how plausible is that? I mean, that’s about as plausible as being struck by lightning two or three times, isn’t it? And that’s what theologians do to make their theories work; that’s how they mutilate (many times) the context of the Bible.
Craven, the last sentence is, ”The other interpretation supposes that He spake” now he says “spake” he’s writing in 1874 using that old English. “The other interpretation supposes that He spoke inconsistency with His previous and subsequent teaching.” So you pick which view you want. As for me and my house I believe he kept the interpretation of the kingdom all the way through the same. The amillennialist says no, He changed it when He was talking to a pagan and gave the pagan the special insight. Why does this verse, “My kingdom is not of this world” not teach amillennialism? (A) The kingdom was already rejected by that time so all He’s saying is you’re not going to have it now. (B) The emphasis of “now” or “nun” in the Greek text emphasizes that; He’s not saying the kingdom will never come, He’s saying the kingdom is not coming now.
And then my third point is this: He’s making a statement here, really, in John 18:36 about the origin of the kingdom. [John 18:36, “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 [nyn], My kingdom is not of this world.’”] He’s not saying the kingdom will never come to the earth when He says “My kingdom is not of this world, He’s making a statement that when the kingdom originates, although it will come to the earth, it does not originally come from the earth. It comes from where? It comes from heaven to the earth. And you get that because in chapter 18, verse 36 there is a two-fold repetition, I put it in brackets there, but the Greek preposition ek which means of or from, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of” now a lot of your translations say “of,” you could easily render that “from” ek, “My kingdom is not from this world. If My kingdom were” ek “from this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews;” and then He’s very clear here, “but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Amillennialists say well that means there’s never going to be a kingdom on the earth. That’s not what He’s saying at all. He’s saying My kingdom, when it originates and ultimately comes to planet earth, which it will, it’s not going to come from the earth to the earth, it’s going to come from heaven to the earth. In other words, it’s a statement about not the nature of the kingdom but the source of the kingdom. See the difference there? Because what the amillennialist says is oh, it’s just a spiritual kingdom, that’s all it is, it’s not earthly. Christ is not making a statement about the nature of the kingdom; He’s making a statement here about the source or origination of the kingdom.
Once again to show you I’m not just up here making things up, Alva J. McLain in his book, The Greatness of the Kingdom: which I recommend to you, says, “My kingdom is not of this world (italics added), the word translated “of” is the Greek preposition ek. McClain notes its significance:” Here’s a quote from Alva J. McLain, “The preposition is ek, indicating source or originating cause. His kingdom does not originate in the present cosmos or world system.”
Back to Constable’s notes, Constable says the same thing: “Jesus’ kingdom is not of this realm or from another place.” And then he says literally, “not from this place in another sense.” It will come down from heaven to the earth rather than originating from the earth. It will begin when Jesus comes down from heaven to the earth at His second coming. When… not the rapture because when the rapture happens His feet don’t touch the earth, if we’re alive and remain on the earth at this time we’re caught up, that’s seven years (at least) before the second advent. But when Jesus comes back in His second advent at the end of the tribulation period He is coming from heaven to the earth; His feet are going to touch the Mount of Olives, it’s so literal, Zechariah 14:4. [Zechariah 14:4, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”]
And what is He bringing with Him? His kingdom, which was with Him in heaven that He’s bringing to the earth because Satan, in the events of the tribulation period will have been evicted from the earth so when He sets up His kingdom upon the earth, which will last for a thousand years, Satan will be bound and then ultimately at the end of the kingdom thrown into the lake of fire. So when Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world” He’s not saying there’s never going to be a kingdom one day; He’s saying that when it comes it’s going to originate from heaven to the earth; that’s His only point. That’s a meaning that’s completely foreign to what you find in amillennialism and kingdom now theology and their total mistreatment of this verse.
And this is why when Christ offered the kingdom in the first century to Israel it was called the kingdom of what? Heaven. Why would it be called the kingdom of heaven? Because it originates in heaven, that’s why it’s called the kingdom of heaven. When it was offered again, I gave you Matthew 3:2, He called it the kingdom of heaven, that’s John the Baptists anyway. Jesus called it the kingdom of heaven when it was offered to Israel. And when Jesus sent out the twelve to offer it to Israel in Matthew 10 they again called it the kingdom of heaven. Why do all these guys keep calling it the kingdom of heaven? Because they’re making a comment, not about its nature but about its source or where it comes from.
And it’s very important to understand this because most people look at this phrase “kingdom of heaven” and they think it’s just kind of this fuzzy shapeless kind of morphic kingdom of Jesus reigning in our hearts and that’s not at all what the phrase means. Jesus is not in these passages making any kind of statement concerning the nature of the kingdom. It’s just as literal and earthly as the Old Testament passages portray it. The only thing He’s saying here with the expression “the kingdom of heaven” is it’s origination point or its source. And this is why Daniel 2:44 says, when the kingdom comes, the prophecy of Daniel, “In the days of those kings” now what kings would those be? The ten nation confederacy controlled by the antichrist. That’s the kings in context that he’s talking about.
In other words, the antichrist is going to be ruling planet earth in that time period through ten kingdoms or kings or regions and I find it sort of interesting that the Club of Rome already has a map where they’ve got the world divided up into ten regions. So the United States, Canada and Mexico would be a region, and they’ve got ten of these all over the world. It’s sort of interesting that an unbelieving organization has ten regions for world government. I mean, why not nine, why no seven, why ten? Why do they pick the exact number ten? Because that’s what the Bible says is going to exist in the end times, there’s going to be a ten region confederacy under the antichrist. It’s all in Daniel 2.
So in the days of those kings… which kings? The ten kings under the antichrist. “…the god of heaven will set up the kingdom which will never be destroyed.” [Daniel 2:44, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”]
And that’s the stone cut without human hands that shatters the feet of the statue and on each foot of the statue are how many toes? Five on one foot, five on another foot, five plus five equals what? Ten, that’s the ten regions that the antichrist is ruling over so at the height of his dominance this kingdom cut without human hands shatters that ten nation confederacy. But it’s very clear here that this comes from the God of heaven because the kingdom is ultimately sourced where? In heaven. See how this works.
So summing up the first part of the study, “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] This is not teaching there will never be a kingdom on the earth. What it’s saying is the kingdom offer was already rejected, therefore it posed no threat to Pilate’s empire and when that kingdom finally comes to the earth it’s going to originate from heaven. That’s his only point. You get all that (that I just taught there) based on the context of John 18.
All right, can we shift gears here for a minute? Let’s go over to Matthew 18-20. Take a look at Matthew 28:18-20, this is the last passage we’re going to look at that kingdom now theologians use from the life of Christ. And you already know the passage, it’s the famous great commission. And here’s what it says: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’
Now you see the expression I have underlined there, “‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What people think that means is Jesus possesses all authority now, which He does, but they think He’s actually exercising that authority. He has all authority and therefore He’s exercising all authority and therefore we must be in the kingdom now because He has all of the authority and He’s exercising the authority presently. So this becomes a really important verse to people who think the kingdom is now, not future.
This was a favorite of one of my professors, Darrell Bock, who is what you call a progressive dispensationalist; he’s not a full blown amillennialist but he believes that we are in what he thinks is phase A of the kingdom, he calls it “already not yet.” It’s kind of a like being a little bit pregnant as far as I’m concerned, already not yet. Either you’re in the kingdom or you’re not! So he has two phases of the kingdom, and he makes a big deal about these verses in the Great Commission.
Bock says, “The point made here is like that of Matthew 28:18, where all authority resides with Jesus, who has formed a community through which He provides spiritual blessing. This is the first stage of the kingdom program. Nonetheless, the demonstration of full authority awaits his return.” [Darrell Bock, “The Reign of the Lord Christ,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 61.] So you see the already not yet language.
Bock goes on concerning this passage. ““The biblical terminology and conceptual field” now this is how these guys talk, whenever the text doesn’t really support what they think it should support they take the vocabulary right over your head, and they make you feel that if you ask a question you’re kind of stupid because you don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s sort of like nothing to see here folks, move right along, I have the PhD from Europe, you just accept what I say by way of faith. That’s what he means here when he starts talking about here. “The biblical terminology and conceptual field” I didn’t know what he was talking about here and I was one of his students. “The biblical terminology and conceptual field (even the name Christ) shows that the authority of Jesus is received now and involves” watch this, “the exercise of that authority at certain” here we go with the big words, “key soteriological points.” Which point? He doesn’t tell me. “Jesus’ executive authority in a variety of areas as shown in this listing indicates that His activity is messianic, and thus regal,” regal means what? Kingly. Now watch this, “not merely high priestly….
Now there are three offices of Christ. What are those? If you come Sunday morning we’re going to go into these in depth because we have a passage in Revelation that deals with this, Revelation 3:21. [Revelation 3:21, “He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne.”] Prophet, priest and king, threefold ministry of Jesus, Prophet, first coming, King second coming, does that mean He’s not, just because He’s not reigning as King He’s not doing anything right now? No, He’s functioning at the right hand of the Father as high priest after the order of Melchizedek. So He’s in a higher priesthood than Aaron. That’s what He’s doing, and there’s a lot of functions He does but they don’t involve Him reigning over the earth.
And He’s rejecting those three categories; He’s blending priestly function with kingly function and here at Sugar Land Bible Church we don’t do that, we keep them separate. And if you read our doctrinal statement you’ll see that the three offices are kept separate. You can’t blend the two. And our doctrinal statement is patterned after Dallas Seminary’s doctrinal statement so when he’s doing this at Dallas Seminary he’s violating the doctrinal statement of the school (in my humble opinion). But if you bring this up, and I brought this up to him, you’re just immediately dismissed as some kind of crackpot.
And my point is if you can violate the doctrinal statement at one point that opens the door to violating it at other points. So to me the doctrinal statements are important. In other words, when a church or a school puts out its doctrinal statement the public has a right to expect people that teach in that church or school to follow the doctrinal statement. Right?
So he’s saying there are no three offices because he’s blending two of them, priest and king, together in his already spiritual form of the kingdom. He says, “…If it is messianic and Davidic, then it is regal and indicates initial manifestations of Jesus’ rule.” Now where is he getting this whole thing from? He’s getting this whole thing in that paragraph from Matthew 28:18 where Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me” in heaven and on earth.” [Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”]
So as someone who believes that the kingdom is yet future, how would I answer this? I have at least six answers, I’m not sure if I can go through all of them before the clock turns 8:00 o’clock but I’ll do my best here.
Number one, do you see the word “kingdom” at all in Matthew 28:28-20? [Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’]
The Greek word for kingdom is what? Basileia, did you see the word “kingdom” in that passage? It doesn’t even show up. So it’s very strange to me that you can build a whole doctrine on the present form of the kingdom from these verses when the word “kingdom” is not even found in these verses.
And it’s interesting that when Jesus was making the kingdom available to Israel on a silver platter did you see the word “kingdom” in those passages? I mean, it showed up all the time, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:2. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 10:7. God is pretty good at using the word when the kingdom is right there and available but the word is not even found in Matthew 28.
Other passages that make the availability of the kingdom plain when God is making it plain is Matthew 24:14 where the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world. That’s in the tribulation period, when the kingdom is right around the corner. [Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”]
Matthew 25, when Jesus sits on David’s throne and executes the sheep and the goat judgment and says, “Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the” what? “the kingdom.” [Matthew 25:34, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”]
And then you can jot down Matthew 26:29, there late in Christ’s ministry He talks about the kingdom, and Luke 10:9. [Matthew 26:29, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Luke 10:9, “and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”]
So the Lord knows how to use the word “kingdom” when the kingdom is either present or available and I just find it very, very odd that the word “kingdom” is not found at all in the great commission passage. So that’s why Darrell Bock has to go on and on talking about a conceptual field and all these kinds of things, because he’s trying to wow you with a bunch of language to compensate for the fact, the simple fact that the word “kingdom” is not there. And it’s almost like… you know that story where the little kid says the king is naked; that’s almost how you feel in these sort of discussions because it’s so obvious and yet it gets lost in all of this high-minded scholarship.
The second problem with making Matthew 28, “All authority has been given to Me” as a manifestation of the kingdom is the world that we’re living in today where Matthew 28 is being fulfilled through the great commission, it doesn’t really seem like the kingdom, does it? [Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”] I mean, what is the kingdom as we’ve seen it developed in the Old Testament? It’s Jerusalem will be the center of world spiritual and political authority. Is that happening today? NO! There’s going to be perfect justice and world peace and peace in the animal kingdom and universal knowledge of God. Is that happening today? NO, it’s not. And yet the Prophet Isaiah describes that as existing on the earth when the kingdom comes.
What is happening today? Massive apostasy is happening today. What is apostasy? Departure from known truth. Would you say that’s happening in the Christian world today? Paul said it would happen when he said, 2 Timothy 3:1, “But know this, in the last days perilous times will come.” 2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and imposters will” what “grow worse and worse, [deceiving and being deceived.”] Would you say that’s happening today? I would say that’s happening today. If that’s happening today then how in the world could the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord today? I mean, which is it?
Don’t get me wrong, God is working but the world that we’re living in is not getting any better. The churches aren’t getting better, with very few exceptions. There’s a downward slide and that’s what the Bible said would happen in the last days. That’s why 2 Timothy was written. Paul said in Acts 20:29-31 as He’s speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus, ““I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;” now this must have freaked them out because to these elders he said “from your own number men will arise” and distort the truth. [Acts 20:29-31, ” I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;” now this must have freaked them out because to these elders,  “and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”]
That’s the church age we’re in. That doesn’t fit Kingdom Now conditions at all, with the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord and Jesus reigning with a rod of iron. Now we’re studying on Sunday mornings the seven letters to the seven churches. Has that been an interesting study to you? It’s been interesting to me, it’s been a little bit depressing also because five of the seven churches are apostate. That’s just sixty years after the life of Christ—five of the seven churches are in decline. And in fact in one of the churches, Laodicea, that we studied Sunday, Jesus is outside the door of the church knocking to get in. Does that sound like the kingdom?
Remember Newell’s comment, “The name Laodicea comes from Laos meaning people and dikeō, to rule, the rule of the people, democracy in other words. What’s happening in Laodicea is the people are having their way and Jesus is pushed outside. That isn’t the kingdom at all. I don’t know how people can confuse that with the kingdom. It’s never made any real sense to me. I mean, if this is the kingdom I’m thinking I’m sorry I signed up for the whole deal to begin with because I’m really disappointed. I’m looking for the real kingdom that the Bible speaks of. That’s my hope.
And also in the present age we have carnality, don’t we? Doesn’t Paul describe three kinds of Christians? Spiritual, infant and carnal. Now are you going to have that in the kingdom? Not openly because Jesus is going to be reigning with a rod of iron and there’s going to be instantaneous punishment. But in the present age, very sadly, you can have this and Paul even says in this passage, Hebrews 5 says it to, “By this time you ought to be teachers,” you should have grown out of this a long time ago. [Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”]
So my second point is that the present age does not at all describe the kingdom.
My third point is for Darrell Bock’s interpretation to work he has to completely change the definition of the kingdom. First of all, what is the kingdom? It’s Israel ruling over her land territory. It’s all of those conditions that I just mentioned becoming a reality in the world. So to say that we’re in a spiritual form of the kingdom today when these things aren’t happening means you’ve got to change all of this. And this is how these people think; they think the New Testament changes the Old Testament. I don’t think that ever happens because if that happened that would make the things that God said in the Old Testament, to the Old Testament people to be what? Lies! God cannot lie, it’s impossible for God to lie. [Hebrews 6:18, “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie….”] So he’s kind of changing horses in midstream, is what he’s doing.
My fourth problem with what he’s doing here, and this is maybe the most important point, is he’s confusing authority being granted with the exercise of that authority. Being granted authority and exercising authority are two different things. So all authority has been given to Christ. Right? Is that true? That’s what it says there in verse 18, “All authority has been given to me.” [Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”] It doesn’t say He is exercising all authority. It doesn’t say that, does it?
He obviously is not exercising all authority because where is Jesus now? “…at the right hand of the Father, “well how long is He there for, “until” see the word heos in brakets, “His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. [Hebrews 10:12-13, “ but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,  waiting from that time onward until [heos] His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.”]
Have His enemies been made a footstool for His feet on this earth? Not yet. If He were exercising all authority now there would be no “until” in that passage, would there. His enemies would be “a footstool for His feet.” So the Nelson Illustrated Bible Commentary says this: “All authority has been given to Jesus although He is not exercising all of it. He will manifest His power when He returns in all His glory.” Now who is the type of Jesus in the Old Testament? Which king? David! David is anointed as the next king in 1 Samuel 16. Does that mean that David immediately took the throne? NO, who was on the throne? Saul. So there’s a transitionary time where David is the king but Saul is still ruling. And David had the authority but did not exercise it because he was waiting for God to depose Saul. It’s a great illustration of learning to wait on God.
And in fact, David, twice, 1 Samuel 24 and 1 Samuel 26 had the chance to kill Saul. Did David take that opportunity? He did not, he waited on the Lord. So David was anointed but he was not yet ruling. Do you see that? If you want to understand where Jesus is right now He is exactly where David was in that transitional time in between his anointing and ruling with Satan or a Saul-like character still on the throne. So what is Jesus waiting for at the right hand of the Father. He is waiting until Satan is deposed by the Father, even though Jesus has the authority to reign on this earth if he wanted to. So you want to talk about somebody who knows how to wait on the Father it’s Jesus Christ. He’s waiting on the Father’s timing for the Father to depose Satan so Jesus can reign. So just because He has the authority doesn’t mean He’s exercising it. Are you with me on that.? Just like David!
So just because the passage says, “All authority has been given to me” doesn’t mean we’re in the kingdom. You guys follow me? Very fast, what authority is Jesus exercising? See the word “therefore” in verse 19, “Go therefore,” that’s the Greek word oun, which connects verse 19 back to verse 18. Verse 18, “All authority has been given to Me,” okay Jesus, what are you doing with that authority? I’m not exercising all of it right now, I’m exercising it in a limited sense by propelling my church into their assignment of fulfilling the great what? Commission. When you step out and fulfill the great commission you’re functioning under the Son’s authority because that’s the authority He’s wielding today. He’s not reigning as King, He’s exercising limited authority although all authority has been given to Him but here is what He is doing—He’s propelling His church in the fulfillment of the great commission.
See, as we go out and fulfill the great commission we’re not out there to conquer the world. Why not? Because Jesus is not conquering the world right now. He’s exercising authority in a limited sense. That’s the church of Jesus Christ. (I hope I’m not losing you all.) And in my sixth argument as to why Matthew 28:18-20 cannot be the kingdom is where is the kingdom going to be headquartered? Jerusalem. That’s in Isaiah 2:3, “The word of the LORD will go forth from Zion, from Jerusalem.” [Isaiah 2:3, “And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”]
In fact, when the kingdom manifests itself on the earth and nations are going to be forced to go to where to worship Jesus? Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:16-18. [Zechariah 14:16-18, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.  If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”]
Now if this is the kingdom age where would Jesus be sending His disciples to rule from? He would be sending them back to Jerusalem, wouldn’t He. He would be sending them back to Jerusalem, wouldn’t He? But He’s not doing that here, He’s sending them where? Into all the nations. Isn’t that kind of odd? I mean, if this is the millennial reign of Christ, if this passage is the kingdom even though the word doesn’t even show up in the passage, I would think He would say go back to Jerusalem and exercise your authority. But He doesn’t do that, He sends them into all the world.
He says “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” so “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….” [Matthew 28:18,, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”]
Tim LaHaye says, “Instead of sending His disciples back to the house of Israel, they were sent into all the world.” [Tim LaHaye, ed. Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga: AMG, 2001), 1163.Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 1202.]
So to disbelieve that Matthew 28:18-20 is talking about a spiritual form of the kingdom, number 1, the word “kingdom” is not there in the passage. Number 2, the present age doesn’t mirror kingdom conditions. Number 3, you have to change the Old Testament definition of the kingdom. Number 4, there’s a big difference between exercising authority and being granted authority. Number 5, Christ’s limited authority is explained in the passage. He’s propelling the church to fulfill the great commission. And then number 6, the kingdom is headquartered in Jerusalem so why would He send them out of Jerusalem?
So what we just walked through are all the passages that kingdom now theologians use in the life of Christ to argue that we’re in the kingdom now. There’s a lot of passages we looked at. The study is going to go a little faster now, believe it or not, because there’s fewer passages in Acts and Paul and the letters in Revelation. But I’ll take you through those passages too and show you that all of them don’t say that we’re in the kingdom now. So that’s sort of the direction we’re going in and so next week we’ll start looking at the Book of Acts, particularly Acts 2.