DEFINING KINGDOM – Some Key Definitions

We’re going to begin this chapter on new ground in order for us to understand what this Gospel of the Kingdom is. You know, I’ve gone to great lengths, and you probably are tired of me pounding it in, to point out that Jesus preached a gospel that is referred to in the Scriptures consistently as the gospel of the kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is this gospel of the kingdom that is the power of God unto salvation. And in order for us to understand what this gospel is, we need to deal with some very elementary things. And that is where we’re going to begin.

The key to understanding the gospel of the kingdom begins with a definition of this word that is translated “kingdom” in the New Testament. That Greek word is basileia – it’s a noun. However, this is one of those words that we find in the New Testament in both a noun and verb form. The noun is basileia, the verb is basileuō. And there is another word like that in the Greek that is often used in the New Testament that we use often, and it is the word pisteuō the verb and the noun pistis. The noun pistis and the verb pisteuō means faith. The word for faith in the New Testament in the Greek is pistis. The verb form of it is pisteuō and it means “to believe.” They are the same root. ‘To believe,’ the verb, is an action verb; “to believe” is “to have faith.” You can not have faith without the action of believing. That’s why James says, “Faith without works is dead” (see James 2:17). Faith that has no action in believing is a dead faith; it is an inadequate faith to accomplish anything.

And it is one of those words that we find translated with two different words: faith, which is perhaps would better be, in this illustration, translated “belief,” that which is held or believed, and “to believe” – we have faith “to believe.” And we have a similar thing going on with this word basileia and basileuō. And we’re going to look at that in the scriptures now. But the root meaning of this word basileia, if you were to go to Strong’s or Vine’s concordance or any of the Greek-English dictionaries, you will find that it has three basic meanings. Basileia will be first translated ‘kingdom.’ In the Webster’s dictionary, this will be the first meaning also. Kingdom, the first meaning, is the realm, the territory, the geography over which a king reigns.  When we think of kingdom in the 21st century,almost inevitably our thinking is limited to the realm itself – a kingdom is the realm. But that is not its root. It is realm by extension.

We have, for example, only a few kingdoms today where a monarch has the reign. For instance, Queen Elizabeth is the queen over the realm of the kingdom of Great Brittan. But she has absolutely no authority to reign over it. And the situation has developed over the last several centuries that we’ve had kings and monarchs who actually did not reign. And so, the meaning was lost. The realm became the prime meaning. And realm is one of the meanings by extension and it is used that way in the New Testament as we will see. Another meaning, the second meaning in Webster’s, is the people over which a king reigns. The subjects of a king are often referred to as his kingdom.

In the Webster’s dictionary, particularly the older Webster’s, published around 1950 or earlier, down around definition number 4 or 5, they will have the archaic meaning being the reign itself — the rule, or the right to rule. And that is its root meaning. The root meaning of the word “kingdom” is the reign or the rule itself; and by extension that over which the rule applies – the geography, or the people. And there is this kind of interrelationship between the three. Unless there is the reign, that is the right to rule, the authority to rule does not exist.

And, by the way, authority never exists without power. Power and authority go together. The limits of one’s authority or the limits of one’s reign are determined by how strong the king is, how strong his armies are. If a king’s armies are able to maintain and keep a realm of 500 square miles and no more, that’s the size of his kingdom. But if a kingdom on the North, South, East or West determines that it is able to take 100 square miles of that kingdom because they know the king is not able or does not have the strength with his armies to defend those 100 square miles, they move in on that territory and take it. The aggressor then becomes a king over that particular territory and the other kingdom decreases. The size and scope of a kingdom is determined by the strength of the power to rule. There’s that relationship between the two. But unless there is power to rule, the right to rule, and the authority to rule, with all of its power, then there is no kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth has a kingdom but she has no power, she has no reign over it or authority to reign – it’s invested in a parliament, in a democratic process – not her. She’s just a figurehead. There are a couple of countries who really do have a monarchy, for example Saudi Arabia. And there are others like it but they are very few, where the king really has the power and the rule. And, by the way, Saudi Arabia refers to their realm as ‘The Kingdom.’ The phrase ‘The Kingdom,’ is used by the rulers because they have the power and the authority to reign over it.

The Archaic Meaning

But, unless you see that the primary, the archaic, the first century use of the word ‘kingdom’ is always first the rule itself or the reign itself; unless you understand that, you’ll not understand the text that we are about to explore. For example, turn to Luke chapter 11, verse 1. In this passage Jesus is asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And Jesus comes back with what we call the Lord’s Prayer, or an example prayer. And right from the beginning, something is said. Beginning in verse 2,

And He said to them, “when you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.’ ”

Is He saying, “Your ‘realm’ come?” Is He saying, “The ‘reign’ itself come?” Can you see the significance of knowing what the definition of the word “kingdom” is? We’ve been praying this prayer for a long time and we’ve sort of had this fuzzy view of what this “kingdom” might be. And, on the whole, because of modern theology, most have held that this prayer is praying for the return of Christ when He sets up His earthly kingdom, when his realm is finally here. But the truth is, Jesus went everywhere preaching that the realm is already here, the reign is right here inside of us, it is at hand (see Mark 1:15).

Let’s now go to Matthew chapter 6, to verse 33 and let’s ask that question again: How is the word “kingdom” being used in Matthew 6:33?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The definition is made even clearer were we to study the context in this little portion of the Sermon of the Mount. But I think it’s pretty clear just reading the verse itself.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Is He telling us that in order for the things of the earth to be added to us we need to find the realm, the place where He rules? Is He saying to us, in order for us to enjoy not having to seek after the things of the world, what you eat, what you drink, how you are clothed, you need to find the people of the reign? No! What is He saying?

He’s saying, “Seek first the reign of God, and His righteousness.” That’s exactly what He is saying.

Question: Doesn’t that require some submission on our part? Yes! It would seem to me that submission is the very issue. The issue is, we want to see God’s reign in the earth and still maintain our own. The issue is, we want God’s kingdom to come but not at the expense of loss of our own kingdom and that over which we reign. But this is the very point that in order for man to be the man that God created for him to be, it is required that God reign in his heart.

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19 Responses to “DEFINING KINGDOM – Some Key Definitions”

  1. p4cs Says:

    Thanks for the post. Stay encouraged.

    David Zook
    http://www.p4cs.wordpress.com
    A Physical for the Christian Soul

  2. jeraldd Says:

    David,
    Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned. There’s more on this subject to come.

  3. timbob Says:

    Wow! The idea of a kingdom is indeed lost on this generation it seems. The few physical examplesl eft in the world may well leave folks thinking of “tyrrany.” As I was nearing the end of this post, the verse where Jesus tells us that no man can serve two masters came to mind. Too often we seek dual-citizenship instead of giving our all to jesus.

    Your posts are very deep and enlightening. Have a blessed day in Jesus.

    timbob

  4. jeraldd Says:

    It’s that dual citizenship that this entire teaching will be about. I heard John Brown (the originator of this teaching) say in a talk on New Year’s Eve that we should be rejoicing to see the dire economic times come. It’s an indication that the enemy – wealth – has been dealt a serious blow.
    It will enevitably force the church to rely more and more on God and His provision instead of the enemy’s provision.

  5. brotherjohnny Says:

    I’m interested in the ‘dual citizenship’ part of this seeing as how Paul didn’t have a problem with acknowledging his own Roman citizenship.

    I have my own thoughts on it…and I’ve been impressed with N.T. Wrights thoughts about it….

    So I’ll definitely be back to see how it unfolds here!

  6. jeraldd Says:

    Johnny, yes, Paul didn’t have a problem with acknowledging his Roman citizenship. It’s recorded several places and in Acts 22:25 where his Roman citizenship got him out of a jam.
    What I’m talking about is not a “physical” ‘dual citizenship’ but a “spiritual” one where we are either of the Kindom of God (and have the reign of God within us and trust Him for our provision) or we are of the kingdom of the enemy with includes “wealth” as used by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount where He talks about “serving two masters.”
    It’s not money that’s the issue, it’s the putting of money on the throne that’s the issue.
    Thanks for mentioning N.T. Wright. If you know of a particular place where his teaching on this can be found, please let me know.

  7. brotherjohnny Says:

    Wright touches on it a bit in these articles (lot’s of meaty reading):
    http://www.ctinquiry.org/publications/wright.htm

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Shipwreck_Kingdom.htm

    He doesn’t expound on the ‘dual citizenship’ very much, but it’s good reading nonetheless.

  8. Jerald Says:

    Thanks for the links Johnny. I’ll take a look.

  9. Bryan Riley Says:

    Submission and authority are such the key. I often think of the centurion of whom Jesus said demonstrated the most faith because he had a great understanding of authority.

    When we submit to God’s reign… it is all of it. That’s where it gets dicey.

  10. Jerald Says:

    Your analogy of the centurion is a good one because it illustrates what ruling and reigning really means.
    The dicey part, as you’ve said, is in submitting to it. The battle between the two reigns (kingdoms) goes on and on and on.

  11. marksan Says:

    Hi, I have just started my own thinking and reflection on ‘The Kingdom of God’ and what this means. In my own blog I wrote only this week, ‘The Kingdom of God is surely different in every which way from any Kingdom that we know or that those in Jesus day would have recognised. Jesus came to show and establish a new and different Kingdom- one of God’s dominion and rule and one for which we, as his followers are now ambassodors as well as purveyors. Our charge is not only to announce the good news of the Kingdom of God but to help spread and establish it.’
    I am particularly interested in the aspect of ‘announcing and proclaiming’ that God’s Kingdom is here and is coming, and this being backed up by the actions of God’s people.
    Thanks for your blog. Has added to my thinking and understanding as I start this journey.
    Witty

  12. Jerald Says:

    Witty, thanks for stopping by.
    Jesus started his public ministry with a proclimation of the Kingom of God and what it was. In Mark 1:14-15 it says, “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ ”

    I commend you for writing about the kingdom of God that is here now, not just coming at some future time.

    A word of explanation, if you want to read the entire story of this blog, you should go to the “Pages” and start with “1st – The Basis of Teaching” then “2nd – …….” and so on.

    Let me know what you think if it. And please leave me a link to your blog so I can read it too.

  13. middleman777 Says:

    Great article…very informative. I just wrote something similar to this and found your blog in the related topics. Keep up the good work! Blessings…

    MM777
    http://middleman777.wordpress.com/

  14. Marlene Says:

    Thank you for this insight on the realm/kingdom of God. I have a question, in your opinion; what would it mean to have a vision of a church and then have the Lord to say; “it is going to be revolutionary this time?” By the way my husband and I are pastors of 2 churches!

    Thanks again for your spiritual insight on this matter

  15. JeraldD Says:

    Marlene,
    Thanks for your comment. I would love to know how you came across my blog. It’s been a while since I’ve posted on it.
    When Jesus came he preached the gospel. In Mark 1: 14 – 15 Jesus used the word euaggelion (gospel) twice. This word is used 77 times in the KJV New Testament. So Jesus preached the gospel before his death, burial and resurrection. His gospel was a “gospel of the kingdom.” See Matt. 9:25 & 24:14 as an example.
    So my question is, are you preaching the same gospel as Jesus preached? Maybe the Lord wants you to begin preaching about the rule and reign of God in the hearts of mankind that leads to a relationship with the Father through the Son.
    It seems to me that if you are having visions about the Kingdom, so to speak, then it’s significant and shouldn’t be ignored. I’d hunker down and you and your husband assail the heavenlies for the ‘eyes of your heart to be enlightened.” (Eph. 1) What does the Lord mean by this new work being “revolutionary this time?”
    I’d love to know how all this works out.

    Blessings to you and your husband as you seek the will of the Father.

  16. Marlene Says:

    Thanks for the reply!
    I came across your blog by searching information on the kingdom of God and his realm. We are very hungry to know; live in and have revelation on God’s Kingdom. Since, the Kingdom is God’s domain and his Son Jesus is our Lord and King and living within us; we are very much apart of the Kingdom. We are very hungry for the kingdom to be opened up to us more everyday or have enlightment of him and his kingdom in a very intimate way. I pray daily for his will to be done in my life as it is going on in heaven. I very much want to be apart of what he is doing.

  17. Marlene Says:

    Sir, to answer your question: What does the Lord mean by this new work being “revolutionary this time?”
    I am not really sure; I know the Lord changes not and I am thinking for sure he is telling me to change, since he gave me the vision. Believe me I am trying daily to get closer to him and have a intimate relationship with him as Abba Father and King Jesus. Here are a few definitions I have found for “revolution and revolutionary”. I believe in all three of these definitions my Lord is trying to tell me something.

    •markedly new or introducing radical change; “a revolutionary discovery”;

    •revolution – a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving

    •A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. …

    We appreciate your wisdom and prayers!

  18. JeraldD Says:

    Marlene,

    Thanks again for your response. As for a definition of ‘revolutionary’ that fits my blog, it probably would be closest to your second choice.
    The gospel is not new but looking at the gospel that Jesus preached is “a change in ways of thinking” for some.
    This may be what the Lord is showing you – that the basics of your ministry is right on but He might be directing you to make a “change in ways of thinking” so that He will get all the glory and not you or your husband.
    Blessings

  19. JeraldD Says:

    In response to your post about the ‘kingdom’ I have a few words.
    You wrote that you were seeking “information on the kingdom of God and his realm.” Then you said, “the Kingdom is God’s domain.”
    You alluded to the Lord’s Prayer at the end of your post so let’s go there for a moment. In Matthew 6: 10 Jesus says “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The context of this verse of scripture does not lead us to the kingdom being a place or realm. In this particular verse of scripture you can easily substitute another translation of the Greek word for ‘kingdom’, basileia, that is ‘reign’. So the text in verse 10 could just as accurately be, “Your reign come, Your will be done…”
    Please re-read this particular post from the beginning and you’ll see what I’m getting at.
    It’s the rule and reign of God in the heart of man so that man can be the man that God intended for him to be in the first place. It’s not just the place of the reign, but the reign itself that matters. It’s not some place (realm) we’re trying to get to, it’s a condition of the heart where Jesus reigns.
    I’m interested in how all this fits with your vision so please keep me posted. You can email me directly at jerald@newrivercc.com.

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