The Coming Kingdom
5-15-19 Colossians 1:13 Lesson 69
Let’s take our Bibles to the Book of Colossians, chapter 1 and verse 13. I’m looking a little bit at my calendar, it looks like we have tonight and then two more Wednesdays after tonight, right? And then we’re going to have a summer recess [laughter], you need time to metabolize all this data we’ve been force feeding you. And we’re continuing to move through this study on the kingdom, I did write a book (as you know) called The Coming Kingdom and everybody gets one that wants one that’s taking this class. If you haven’t got one just see me and we’ll make sure you get that.
One of the reasons we’re trying to take on this subject is it really is a topic that if you understand it it’ll take you through the whole Bible. So it’s sort of a great way to capture synthetically what the whole Bible is about. We’re in chapter 19 of the book, hoping to finish chapter 19 tonight, God willing. But we’re in the part of the study where we’ve been teaching that the kingdom has been offered and rejected by Israel in the first century, not cancelled but… what’s the magic word? Postponed! So that’s our model of the kingdom, we believe that the kingdom is postponed and if that’s true people like to quote what about this passage, what about that passage. So we looked at passages from the life of Christ that allegedly teach the kingdom is now, answered those passages from the Book of Acts allegedly teaching that we’re in the kingdom now, answered those. And we’re in the midst of looking at passages from the teachings of the Apostle Paul. So we just have two more to cover with Paul, Colossians 1:13 and Colossians 4:11 and then we’ll be into the general letters in the Book of Revelation, which I think will go by fairly fast.
But one of the verses that people use over and over again, and if you get into any discussion with somebody on this topic whether we’re in the kingdom or not at some point someone is going to quote Colossians 1:13, so let’s see if we can tackle that one tonight. Paul says, concerning the Christian, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” So according to this upon faith alone in Christ alone I’m transferred from Satan’s kingdom, the domain of darkness, into God’s kingdom. My goodness, it sure looks like I’m in the kingdom now, doesn’t it?
There’s a parallel passage in the Book of Acts, Paul also speaking there, his words are recorded for us anyway, Acts 26:17-18 and there he’s recounting his testimony, how he got saved, and what God said to him and he recalls this, “rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,  to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan” you know, the domain of Satan, the rulership of Satan, “to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” So very clearly there again we’re told that when a person trusts Christ, like Paul, he’s taken from Satan’s domain to God’s domain. So if we’re in God’s domain now certainly we must be in the kingdom, you say, there must be a spiritual form of the kingdom present.
Let me just sort of remind us of something that Charles Ryrie said; we quoted him very early in our study on the kingdom. Charles Ryrie said this: “Because the King was rejected, the messianic, Davidic kingdom was (from a human viewpoint) postponed.” So there’s the “P” word, “postponed” and maybe you can breathe a little sigh of relief there because I’m not making things up, I’m just teaching what some of the mainline teachers (like Charles Ryrie) taught on this. “Though He never ceases to be King and, of course, is King today as always,” notice this next line, “Christ is never designated as the king of the church.” Acts 17:7 and 1 Timothy 1:17 are no exceptions, and Revelation 15:3, “King of saints,” KJV, is “King of the nations” in the critical and majority texts). Though Christ is King today, He does not rule as King.” That’s one of the points we’ve been making. “This awaits His second coming. Then the Davidic kingdom will be realized (Matthew 25:31; Revelation 19:15, 20). Then the Priest will sit on His throne, bringing to this earth the long-awaited Golden Age (Psalm 110).”
So you can see that our theology lines up perfectly with what Ryrie is saying. But he makes the point here that Christ in the present age is nowhere designated as the King of the church. And that’s sort of disappointing to people because it wrecks a lot of worship songs because everybody is singing about King Jesus this and King Jesus that. Nobody wants to hear some guy come along and say Jesus is never called the King of the church. But in Colossians 1:13 He makes the statement that we just talked about. Verse 13 is followed by verse 18 isn’t it? And what is Jesus called, verse 18? He is the “head of the body” of the church. [“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18]
And so this is something that’s really important to understand. Jesus is never called the King of the church; that’s not denying the fact that He will reign as King one day but His present occupation is not king but is high priest. And if you want to really understand what Jesus is doing today the New Testament gives different images than King subject. He’s called the groom and we’re called the bride, Ephesians 5:22-23. [Ephesians 5:22-23, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”]
And here in Colossians 1:18 we’re called the body and He’s called the head. Obviously He has a powerful position but it doesn’t say there that He’s King. And I think that’s something that’s important to keep in mind when you read a passage like Colossians 1:13 where we’ve been transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son. [Colossians 1:13, “Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”]
I think it’s important to let verse 13 have its place but also verse 18, where Jesus is never called the King of the church, He’s called the head of the body, the church. So with that being said how would myself, as a person that believed the kingdom is future, how would I handle Colossians 1:13? Now I think there are obviously two ways of handling it that work. One is, and you may remember this, we covered it, I think in the first lesson we taught on the kingdom and we’re already on lesson sixty-eight so you may not remember that far back, but one of the first things we said out of the gate is that there’s a difference between the Universal Kingdom and the Theocratic Kingdom. Now does anybody recall that we mentioned that? Even if you don’t recall it just say yes because it’ll make me feel better. [Andy laughs]
And you might remember at the very beginning of the study we drew a distinction between the Universal Kingdom and the Theocratic Kingdom. The Universal Kingdom is the left hand column, the Theocratic Kingdom is the right hand column.
Universal Kingdom Theocratic Kingdom
Time Eternal (Psalm 93:1-2) Future (Daniel 2:44)
Scope Universal (Psalm 103:19 Earthly (Daniel 2:35, 44-45)
Rule God rules directly (Daniel 4:17) God rules indirectly through a human (Ps. 2:6-9
Existence Always (Psalm 93:1-2) Contingent upon a human response (Ex. 19:5-6; Matt. 3:2; 11:2-6, 14; 23:37-39)
Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 19-21
The Universal Kingdom is always here. It’s always in effect; we’ve never disputed that there’s a Universal Kingdom where God is sovereign at all times and all places. What we have said is the right hand column, the Theocratic Kingdom where God rules through a man, that was lost in Eden and will not be restored until the millennial kingdom.
So how do we know that there are two kingdoms like this, a Universal Kingdom in which God always rules and a Theocratic Kingdom. Well, you can sort of surmise that by just looking at different Bible verses. For example, some verses say that the kingdom is eternal. Psalm 93:1-2. [Psalm 93:1-2, “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.  Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.”] Other verses say no, the kingdom is completely future, Daniel 2:44. [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.”]
Concerning the scope of the kingdom some verses say the kingdom is something that God rules over, He rules over everything. That’s Psalm 103:19. Other verses say no, He’s going to rule in the future over the earth. Daniel 2:35, 44-45. [Psalm 103:19, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” Daniel 2:35, “”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.” [Daniel 2:44-45 “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”  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.”]
Some verses talk about how God directly rules everything, Daniel 4:17. [Daniel 4:17, “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men.”]
Other verses, like Psalm 2:6-9 teach that He indirectly rules through a man. [Psalm 2:6-9, ““But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.”  I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”]
Some verses teach that the kingdom is always in existence, Psalm 93:1-2. [Psalm 93:1-2, “ The LORD reigns, He is robed in majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.  Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. Other verses say no, the kingdom only will come when Israel repents and trusts in Christ as her Messiah.
Some verses say that God is always ruling; other verses attach the rulership of God to a human response, Israel’s response to her King. Exodus 19:5-6, Matthew 3:2, Matthew 11, Matthew 23, end of the chapter, etc. etc. [Exodus 19:5-6, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”]
So the question is all these verses seem to be contradicting each other unless you understand that the Bible basically presents two kingdoms; there is a Universal Kingdom always in effect when God is always ruling and that never changes and we’ve never challenged the fact that that kingdom is always in the distance. What we’re dealing with is the Theocratic Kingdom which is future on the earth where God rules through a man.
Universal Kingdom Theocratic Kingdom
Time Eternal (Psalms 93:1-2) Future (Dan 2:44)
Scope Universal (Psalm 103:19) Earthly (Dan 2:35, 44-45)
Rule God rules directly, (Daniel 4:17) God rules indirectly through a human (Psalms 2:6-9)
Existence Always (Psalms. 93:1-2) Contingent upon a human response, (Ex. 19:5-6; Matt. 3:2; 11:2-6, 14; 23:37-39)
That right hand column was what was lost. It won’t be restored until the millennial kingdom. The left hand column is always in effect. I think that’s important to understand because a lot of people, when you talk about a postponed kingdom they’ll say well, you don’t believe God is sovereign, you believe God has lost control of the world. And not in the universal sense He hasn’t, but in the Theocratic sense He’s not ruling directly over the world through a man as He will in the millennial kingdom. So hopefully that helps a little bit.
So why am I bringing up this distinction right now between the Universal Kingdom and the Theocratic Kingdom? I think it’s a way of understanding Colossians 1:13. It says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” and I think it’s completely possible that Colossians 1:13 is not making any statement whatsoever about the Theocratic kingdom, on the right hand column but is simply reaffirming the Universal Kingdom in the left hand column.
So this could be a statement about the Universal Kingdom and have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever about the Theocratic kingdom. And so people, when they quote Colossians 1:13 they usually don’t make that distinction at which point you can respond and say well, are you talking about the Universal Kingdom or the Theocratic kingdom? And usually they’ll look at you with a blank stare because they’ve never heard that distinction before. Has anybody heard of that distinction outside of this class, the Universal Kingdom and the Theocratic Kingdom? I have a few hands, very good. Most people have never heard of this.
And it’s highly likely that Paul here in Colossians 1:13 is talking about the Universal Kingdom because what he does is he juxtaposes God’s kingdom with Satan’s kingdom. See where it talks about the “domain of darkness”? That’s Satan’s parallel kingdom that’s in operation. And just as Satan’s parallel kingdom is in operation so is God’s kingdom in operation. You know, Satan’s kingdom, ever since Genesis 3 is alive and well on planet earth. Did you ever read the book by Hal Lindsay, I love the title, Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. I mean, that’s just a fantastic title because it describes the kingdom of Satan, which is in effect today. That’s what the world system is marching under and it’s running parallel with God’s Universal Kingdom. In fact, John, in 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” So I think it’s highly likely that Paul is talking here about the Universal Kingdom because he parallels it with Satan’s Universal Kingdom which is also in effect as well.
For some verses that distinction won’t work. For example, you might remember what Jesus said early in His ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That’s what John the Baptist preached, Jesus preached, the twelve apostles preached, and the seventy preached. There’s the saying from John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2, Jesus said the same thing. Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” [Matthew 10:5-7, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”]
And a lot of people say well that’s talking about the Universal Kingdom. The problem is that can’t be talking about the Universal Kingdom because it talks about how God’s kingdom has drawn near. See that. The Universal Kingdom never draws near; the Universal Kingdom is always near and it’s always in effect. So sometimes the distinction between the Universal Kingdom and the Theocratic Kingdom is useful towards handling certain passages, like Colossians 1:13, but it’s not going to work with other passages, like Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 3:2, etc. [Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] But it seems like it works (to me) in Colossians 1:13. But it seems like it works for me in Colossians 1:13.
So what am I trying to get at? I’m trying to make a long story short here. Colossians 1:13 says, “For He rescued us” as Christians, “from the domain” or the kingdom of Satan or “darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” That could be a statement not so much about the Theocratic Kingdom but the Universal Kingdom. So this kind of defeats us of this class that the Theocratic Kingdom is future and postponed. And if Colossians 1:13 is talking about the Universal Kingdom rather than the theocratic kingdom them our use of that verse doesn’t jeopardize our hypothesis at all of a postponed kingdom. Hopefully what I said there makes a little bit of sense. So just kind of ruminate on it a little bit.
But let me give you a second way to sort of understand Colossians 1:13. And here’s a couple of fancy words; another possibility is to draw what’s called a Dejure vs. Defacto distinction. Now that’s vocabulary we’ve introduced before. I think we introduced it maybe last week, or the week before. Does that ring a bell at all? Okay, we’ve got a few hands. Dejure means legal; Defacto means factual. So the Dejure Defacto distinction means there are certain things that are ours legally, by virtue of our relationship to Jesus but they are not factually present.
For example, one of the legal realities that you have is a resurrection body; it is ironclad certain that one of these days you will be put in a future resurrection body because Christ’s resurrection is called the firstfruits, heroes, therefore who else will rise? We will rise. So Dejure legally the resurrection body is yours but factually are you currently enjoying a resurrection body? If you guys are you don’t look like it from my angle, and I don’t think I look like it from your angle. And my wife says you get one cup of coffee per day so I went and got this great big cup that looks like a barrel, a big Texas cup you know. So we have to keep loading our bodies up with all these chemicals just to get enough energy to get out of bed, etc. in the morning. In fact, when you’re in your resurrection body, maybe the Lord will let you drink coffee just for enjoyment but you won’t need it to energize your body. In fact, you won’t even be getting out of bed in the morning because you won’t need any sleep. Wouldn’t that be something. Like these little kids that run around, energizer bunnies, they don’t need any sleep, they just go and go and go and that’s sort of what you’re going to be like in your resurrection body.
So Dejure, that’s legally yours. It’s not Defacto present. Does that make sense? So I believe this is a great way to handle Colossians 1:13. When Colossians 1:13 says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” what it’s saying is legally you’re a citizen of the Theocratic Kingdom that’s coming. Dejure legally, that’s your identity but factually the Kingdom is not here yet. That’s another way, a legitimate way, to handle Colossians 1:13 in light of a postponed Kingdom.
Let me give you some reasons, I have four of them there, why I think the Dejure Defacto distinction is completely legitimate for understanding Colossians 1:13. The first reason is the nature of the prison letters. Who knows what the prison letters are, there’s four of them. What are they? Philippians, one of them our Bible is opened to, Colossians, now Colossians has a companion piece called Ephesians, and then there’s one more, it’s only one chapter, it starts with a P, we’ve got Philippians, that’s four chapters, what one am I thinking of? Philemon.
And here’s basically the order of them. Ephesians was written first, Colossians was written second, Philemon was written third, Philippians was written fourth and we put them in that order because you go through those four letters, Paul is in prison in Rome, so they’re called the prison letters. And as you go through those letters what’s happening is Paul’s optimism about his release from prison… remember, he’s in Rome waiting his trial before Caesar, his optimism is increasing. So his optimism is sort of going up about getting out of jail soon, from a human perspective. And by the time you reach Philippians his jail sentence is about ready to end, at least that’s the way he writes and the things that he communicates.
And so your Protestant New Testament won’t put them in that order for you but chronologically that’s the order that they’re written in: Ephesians first, Colossians second, Philemon third, Philippians last. And these are four letters called the Prison Letters and they are all written while Paul is in prison in Rome. And this is Paul’s last journey where he was taken as a prisoner to Rome, and why does he want to get to Rome? Because God told him you’re going to preach the gospel in Rome. The church at Rome was one of the only churches, other than the Colossian church, that was started without the help of an apostle and it was a real critical church. You see it there in the west, in Italy, and Paul wanted to make sure they were on the right footing theologically.
And Paul got the gospel to Rome because he kept insisting on his right of a trial before Caesar. Now Paul was smart, he was a Roman citizen and he knew that Roman citizens had rights and he knew that if he kept insisting on this trial eventually he’d have to appear before Caesar. And you see Paul using that strategy all the way through the Book of Acts, particularly here in Acts 27 and 28, the three missionary journeys are over now and he wants to get the gospel to Rome. Acts 27 and 28 records that journey beginning there in Jerusalem and migrating west all the way to Rome.
And once Paul gets to Rome the year is about A.D. 60-62 and you can read about his two year experience there at the very end of the Book of Acts. In fact, if you were to read Acts 28:16-31 it’s basically Paul in Rome and he’s there for two years under house arrest as he’s awaiting his trial before Caesar. And it’s in that place of house arrest that he writes these four prison letters which are Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. So Colossians is one of these prison letters. And in the prison letters it’s were Paul really starts to develop the Dejure Defacto distinction. I mean, he really gets down to business and starts drawing a distinction between things that are legally ours but are not yet factually present.
One of the things he mentions in the Philippians letter, in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is” where? “in heaven,” now is that a Dejure statement or a Defacto statement? It’s Dejure, legally our citizenship is in heaven. Are we in heaven now? Sugarland Texas is a great place but it certainly isn’t heaven. Right? So it’s like the resurrection body; it’s legally ours but factually it’s not present yet.
And then when you go to the Ephesians letter he makes another distinction between Dejure Defacto
and he says, “And raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” [Ephesians 2:6] Is that a Dejure statement or a Defacto statement? It’s Dejure, in other words, did you know that as a Christian that’s your identity? Not only is your citizenship in heaven but as I currently speak you are now seated with Christ “in the heavenly places.” That’s a pretty awesome legal reality, isn’t it? So whenever you get depressed during the day or when you’re down on yourself or whatever you just remind yourself of what your identity is. Legally that’s how God sees us, “in the heavenly places” seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father but obviously factually we’re not there yet.
So he makes this kind of statement in Ephesians and I believe he’s making a similar kind of statement in Colossians. Colossians 1:13 once again says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” I believe that Paul’s statement there needs to be understood as a Dejure statement, the same way Ephesians 2:6 is understood as a Dejure or legal statement.
And you say well why are you so confident of this? First of all, he writes Ephesians and Colossians at the exact same time, A.D. 60. Those are the first two letters he wrote when he finally got to Rome. Number two, he’s writing them from the exact same place. Where is he when he writes both letters, Ephesians and Colossians? He’s in Rome. Beyond that when you look at a map it’s very interesting, there is less than a hundred miles between Ephesus, to whom the Ephesians letter is written to, and Colossae who the Colossians letter is written to. And so you see there Paul in Italy, in the west, in Rome, and I’ve got a circle around a bunch of cities and within that circle if your eyes are real good you can see it, maybe you can see it better on your handout, but you can see in that circle many cities but two of which are Ephesus and Colossae. And I just want to show you how close Ephesus and Colossae are to each other; they’re less than a hundred miles apart.
So it’s obvious that when Paul addresses those two cities he’s dealing with overlapping themes and so if there’s a Dejure Defacto distinction in Ephesians (everybody interprets Ephesians 2:6 that way) why can’t there be a Dejure Defacto distinction in Colossians 1:13?
Beyond that, not only are Ephesians and Colossians written at the same time, from the same place, to almost the same audience, situated less than a hundred miles apart from each other, but Ephesians and Colossians are meant to be understood together. In other words, you’ll read things in Ephesians and you say wait a minute, I already read that in Colossians. And you read things in Colossians and you say wait a minute, I already read that in Ephesians. Have you noticed that when you read those two letters?
Ephesians is focused on Christ’s body which would be the what? The church! I mean, Ephesians is all about that, the church, that’s where we’re told about the mystery of the church, that’s where we’re told about the fact that He’s the groom and we’re the bride, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Ephesians is all about the body. Now what is a body mean unless it’s going to be a headless horseman? A body needs a head; now what book do you think we should study to learn about the head of the body? If Ephesians is about the body then Colossians is about the head, Jesus Christ. So if you take Ephesians and Colossians separately you’re reading about a head without a body or a body without a head, which would be a monstrosity. And the Holy Spirit has designed these two books to be understood together.
So what’s my point? My point is given the close relationship between those two books written the exact same year from the exact same place to virtually the same audience, containing overlapping themes. If I can understand Ephesians 2:6 as a Dejure statement why can’t I understand Colossians 1:13 as a Dejure statement? See that? [Ephesians 2:6, “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,”] In other words, if Ephesians 2:16 is a Dejure non Defacto statement why can’t I understand Colossians 1:13 the same way? So when Colossians 1:13 says He has “transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son” it’s completely reasonable to look at that and say you know what? That’s not talking about the presence of the kingdom factually, that’s talking about my legal identity in the coming kingdom. Do you follow what I’m doing here with this?
Let me give you a little bit more evidence why I’m convinced that there’s a Dejure non Defacto statement in Colossians 1:13. Colossians 1:13 is preceded by Colossians 1:12. Have you read verse 12? What does it say in verse 12? “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance” the Greek word klēros, “of the saints of light.” Then it says, verse 13, “For he has rescued us from the domain of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
So you notice right before verse 13 is verse 12, just before it talks about the kingdom it talks about inheritance. What’s an inheritance? An inheritance is something that is legally yours but are you enjoying it factually in the present? Not yet, but it’s still legally yours. It’s in the bank, it’s coming to you one day, it’s in the will, it’s in the trust or whatever, it’s just not something that you presently can access in terms of money or whatnot. And you’ll notice that the word “inheritance” there is used in verse 12, so I think we need to understand the word “kingdom” as an inheritance, something that’s not here yet but something that’s legally ours.
In the parallel passage that we read earlier, Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an” what’s the next word, “an inheritance” that’s the exact same Greek word. So what is the kingdom? The kingdom is an inheritance. It’s something that’s yours, it’s a certainty, but it’s not yet present. Dejure Defacto distinction.
Over in 1 Peter 1:4 Peter explains what an inheritance is; “to obtain an inheritance” now notice this is a slightly different Greek word, klēronomia which comes from the same root as klēros, so it’s almost an identical word, “too an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved” where? “in heaven for you.” So it’s a future reality. So since verse 12 comes before verse 13, verse 13 of Colossians 1 is speaking of the kingdom, verse 12 is speaking of an inheritance, I’m very confident that we can use the concept of kingdom in Colossians 1:13, the Dejure Defacto distinction, legally yours but it’s just not yet a factual reality. And I’m just sort of stacking up evidence, if you will, as to why I think there’s a Dejure Defacto distinction in Colossians 1:13.
Now in Colossians 1:13 it’s interesting, it mentions another word, domain, “For he has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.” This could be also a Dejure Defacto because that is exactly what has happened to you the moment you put your personal faith in Christ. Your whole legal identity was changed. In fact, once you put your personal faith in Christ you’re no longer under Satan’s domain. Did you know that? 1 John 5:13 says, “For we know that no one whose born of God sins but he who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.” That’s your legal identity.
However, in fact, de facto, factually do you still as a Christian have to wrestle with Satan? Yes or no? If your answer is no then I want to get the secret to your life because I wrestle with Satan and the demons in my fallen nature and the world system all the time. Even though my legal identity is such that I’m no longer under Satan’s domain that doesn’t mean that factually, de facto I don’t have a moment by moment daily battle with Satan. If I wasn’t involved in a moment by moment daily battle with Satan, Ephesians 6:12 wouldn’t have to be in our Bibles, would it. [Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”]
You remember Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God,” why would I need to do that? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,” people aren’t your enemy, we think people are the enemy, it’s the IRS, that’s the enemy, or whoever. It’s actually the devil using people. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Yet at the same time, even though that’s a factual reality the Bible still declares the legal reality that “We know that no one who is born of God sins but he who is born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.” [1 John 5:18]
I mean, how could 1 John 5:18 tell me the evil one does not touch me, but then Ephesians 6:12 comes along and tells me that I’m in a wrestling match with the devil? I mean, which is it? Well, this supposed contradiction starts to get harmonized once you become sensitive to the de jure de facto distinction. See that? De jure legally, 1 John 5:18, is true, absolutely true. However, on a factual basis we’re still in a wrestling match with Satan. And basically what I’m suggesting is that Colossians 1:13 is in that vein because it also uses the word “domain.” “For He rescued us from the domain” that’s the Greek word exousia, which is also used to describe powers in Ephesians 6:12. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.” [Colossians 1:13]
So just as exousia, domain, is making a de jure de facto distinction in terms of our relationship to Satan, we’re not legally his but we’re still factually in a wrestling match with him. That’s exactly what Colossians 1:13 is saying. I mean, legally my citizenship is in the coming kingdom but that doesn’t mean factually I’m there yet. Do you follow that? So I’m just stacking up evidence as to why a de jure de facto distinction is a completely legitimate reasonable way of handling Colossians 1:13. Yet people when they quote the verse to support their theology will never talk about the distinction that I’m giving you here. And if you understand that distinction you can understand why in the mind of God we’ve really been transferred into His kingdom and you can also say at the same time the kingdom is not present. It has to do with a legal versus factual distinction. It’s the same way you handle Philippians 3:20, our citizenship is in heaven. [Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”] Ephesians 2:6, we’re seated with Christ in the heavenly places. [Ephesians 2:6, “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”] We’re seated with Christ in the heavenly places, and all of this is a big, BIG distinction that Paul is developing in this two year period in Rome where he writes those four prison letters.
One more very fast reason why I’m convinced that there’s a De facto de jure distinction is because of the word “redemption” in Colossians 1:13; actually verse 13 is followed by verse 14 so you see what I’m doing here? All I’m doing is putting Colossians 1:13 in the context, looking at the verses that precede it, looking at the verses that follow it. Verse 13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Now look at this,  “In whom we have redemption,” that’s the Greek word apolytrōsin “redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.
Question: have I been redeemed already or is my redemption still future? And the answer to that question is yes, it’s both, because the Bible uses redemption in both senses. You remember what redemption is, right? Redemption is to be released from bondage through a proper Passover sacrifice offering. If you want to understand redemption read the story of the Jews in bondage in Egypt in the Book of Exodus where they were in bondage for four hundred years. And then God told them to sacrifice the Passover Lamb which had to be sinless and so forth. And through all of that and through the death of the firstborn and all the things that God did there, through the right sacrifice the Jews were released from bondage.
So that is what’s happened to us as Christians, because of the right sacrificial death, of Jesus Christ, we have been released from bondage. Our sins have been forgiven, redemption has already occurred but guess what? There’s more bondage we’re to be released from later. In what sense? How about your body? Does your body need redemption? Well, wait a minute, I’ve already been redeemed. You have, praise the Lord, but have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? I mean spiritually you’ve already been redeemed but this carcass that we’re in that’s decaying needs redemption as well. So I have been redeemed and my body is yet to be redeemed. So sometimes redemption can be used in a future sense. Isn’t that what Romans 8:23 says, “And not only this but we ourselves, having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves.” Anybody groaning lately? Earl, I don’t mean to broadcast his problems but he was telling me about a terrible that he had recently and I know he’s groaning. So you guys out there in cyber space can pray for Earl as he’s healing. Maybe you didn’t want you medical stuff all over the world but prayer helps, right.
Not only this, but we ourselves, having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves.  waiting eagerly for adoption as sons as the redemption of apolytrōsis of our body. Now how is redemption used there, past or future? It’s future, and what I’m suggesting is that’s how Colossians 1:14 is using the word redemption also. [Colossians 1:14, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”] And if the redemption is future then the kingdom associated with that redemption must be what? Future as well.
Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption” apolytrōsis “is drawing near.” Now is redemption there past or future? It’s future, and what I’m suggesting is that’s how it’s used in Colossians 1:14, as a way to understand verse 13 meaning the kingdom is future.
Romans 8:23, we’ve already dealt with. You remember Ephesians 1:13-14, remember Colossians is the companion piece with which book? Ephesians! Paul says,  “In Him also after listening to the message of truth” the gospel, “of your salvation— having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the spirit of promise  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption” there’s our word again, of apolytrōsis, “of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Now you look at that, is our redemption there past or future? It looks like it’s future.
Well how do I know I’m going to get that future redemption? Because God’s given a down payment. You know what a down payment is. A down payment is where the buyer promises through payment to the seller that the buyer is going to make subsequent what? Payments! So how do you know you’re going to get your future redemption in the future kingdom, in your future body? Because God has already given you a down payment.
What’s a down payment according to that verse? The Holy Spirit which is living where? Inside of you! The fact that the Holy Spirit is currently living inside of you is a down payment from God guaranteeing that everything He has for your future redemption, including the future kingdom and the future body is from God’s point of view a done deal. It’s just a matter of time because God Himself cannot lie and He has already put a down payment down. And when you put a down payment on something it guarantees other payments are coming. But my point is redemption here is used in the future tense.
How about Ephesians 4:30? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” So the Spirit of God is inside of me and I’ve been sealed for redemption and here redemption is used in which sense, past tense or future tense? Future tense! So what is the BLT? What’s BLT? Bottom Line Time. If believers can be said to be legally liberated from Satan and redeemed, despite the fact that these are not factual realities in the present, then why cannot the exact same thing be said for the believer’s relationship to the kingdom mentioned in the exact same context?
Why am I sort of high on this distinction between Dejure Defacto? Number one, it’s part of something that Paul develops in the prison letters and Colossians is one of the four prison letters. Number two, the context of these verses indicates an inheritance which is something that you factually enjoy later but legally it’s yours now. It mentions domain, and that same word is used to describe our relationship to Satan; we’re no longer under Satan’s domain legally but we fight him every single day, and his demons. Again, a Dejure Defacto distinction. And then, number four, the context of these verses also mention redemption which as we’ve tried to demonstrate clearly can refer to something future.
So if all of that is true how would we understand Colossians 1:13? Back to the verse, what does it say here, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” How would I understand that in light of the fact that I believe the Theocratic Kingdom is future. I can understand that as a statement of the universal kingdom rather than the Theocratic Kingdom, that’s a possibility. But I think a far better way to understand it is the Dejure Defacto distinction. Legally what has happened is my whole identity is changed, right down to my citizenship but I’m not factually yet in the kingdom… a Dejure Defacto distinction. And I tried to give you the evidence why I think that’s what Paul is doing here in Colossians 1:13.
A couple of fast quotes here, only two slides, I say that for my wife’s benefit, she says don’t put those long quotes up there, you’re going to bore people to death. So I try to actually cut them down in the interest of marital harmony. [Laughter]
So here’s a quote from E. R. Craven and he says concerning Colossians 1:13, he’s someone I’ve been referring to a lot in this study. In 1874 he says concerning Colossians 1:13, ”At first glance, the passage apparently teaches that believers are already translated de facto into the Basileia;” Basileia is the Greek word for kingdom. “…it may however legitimately be regarded as teaching a de jure translation. Not only does this interpretation bring the passage into that great mass of Scripture” and see what he’s saying there? He’s saying I’m going to interpret the word “kingdom” the way it’s used everywhere else in the Bible. I’m not going to [can’t understand word] with a special K so the present spiritual kingdom when there’s not any other biblical evidence to support it.
So if you’re coming up with an interpretation of Scripture that’s out of harmony with the rest of Scripture you need to rethink that interpretation because the Bible at the end of the day has to be completely consistent because God can’t lie!
“…it may however legitimately be regarded as teaching a de jure translation. Not only does this interpretation bring the passage into that great mass of Scripture but it seems to be required by the immediately preceding and succeeding contexts” isn’t that what we just did tonight? We didn’t just look at verse 13, we looked at verse 12 and verse 14. “believers are not yet delivered de facto from the exousia” authority “of Satan” why? Because they have put on the full armor of God. “(Eph. 6:12), nor have they yet received de facto, certainly not in completeness, the apolytrōsis” [ which means what? Redemption. We’ve been redeemed but we’re not perfectly redeemed yet because part of our redemption is what? Future.
I give you this quote because I want you to understand that the interpretation I’m giving you here is consistent with what greats in the past have said. In other words, the reason I like these quotes is I don’t want you guys to think I’m in here making up doctrines, because a lot of you have never heard the futuristic kingdom belief, the present manifestation of the kingdom is such a common belief and you come to a church like this and because the kingdom is future you think I’m making things up. All I’m saying is I’m interpreting the Bible (and this verse) consistently with how the greats of the past have interpreted it. That’s why I give you this quote from E. R. Craven, 1874. [“Excursus on the Basileia,” in Revelation of John, J. P. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 97]
And then one other fast quote from Alva J. McLain who wrote The Greatness of the Kingdom which is a classic on this subject. He says concerning Colossians 1:13, “The context here suggests that the action must be regarded as de jure [by right] rather than de facto [in reality]. Believers have been “delivered . . . from the power of darkness,” the apostle declares. Yet in another place he warns that we must still wrestle “against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). Our translation into the Kingdom of Christ, therefore, must be similar to that act of God when He “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” What verse is he quoting there? “Ephesians 2:6. Although we are not yet de facto seated in the heavenlies, the thing is so certain that God can speak of it as already done. In the same sense, we have been (aorist tense) transferred judicially into the Kingdom of our Lord even before its establishment.” [Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God as Set Forth in the Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 435.]
So legally we’ve been transferred into the kingdom but actually the kingdom is not yet here. Does that make sense at all. So this is consistent with what others in the past have said and I think that’s the best way to handle Colossians 1:13.
And the next time we’re together we’ll tackle Colossians 4:11 which won’t take us too much time and then we’ll be moving into the general letters, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, etc. and looking at some alleged kingdom now verses used in those letters.
Anyway, I hope I didn’t lose anybody tonight and we’ll let folks go; you get out at exactly 8:00 o’clock, the Spirit is moving, the pastor stops on time, and if you’ve to go to collect your kids or otherwise take off feel free. And for those that want to stick around for Q & A we can do that also.