The Kingdom of God

The kingdom of God is central to Christ’s preaching and is fixed in the heart of all Christians through the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, but interpretations rarely focus on what exactly makes it a kingdom. God is, one assumes, one who deserves to rule alone, but to leave it at this would not explain why he ruled in a kingdom. Christ knew very well that not all autocratic regimes are kingdoms, since the Caesars or dictators or bandit chieftans all exercised monarchy without being kings.

The difference is not in the rule but in how the rule diffuses to others. Kings hand over power to their sons, who in turn hand over power to sons of their own. The occasion for handing over power is death, though in worldly kingdoms the power is handed over upon the death of the Father while in the kingdom of God it is handed over upon the death of the Son. Those born of the Son also only come into their inheritance though death, both literally (through the waters of baptism and dying in grace conformed to the Son) and figuratively (though mortification).

So Christ’s announcement of a kingdom does not announce a centralization of power wielded absolutely over subjects- it is not the empire of God or the dictatorship of God or the submission to God. It is also not the presidency of God, to which we would presumably elect God but then not share in the power we gave him. Christ announces the kingdom of God to speak to a diffusion of power from the Father to the Son, and then to those who were made sons by adoption.

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