Kingship and kingdom of God

The concept of the kingship of God appears in all Abrahamic religions, where in some cases the terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are also used. The notion of God's kingship goes back to the Hebrew Bible, which refers to "his kingdom" but does not include the term "Kingdom of God".[1][2]

The "Kingdom of God" and its equivalent form "Kingdom of Heaven" in the Gospel of Matthew is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The Gospel of Mark indicates that the gospel is the good news about the Kingdom of God. The term pertains to the kingship of Christ over all creation. Kingdom of "heaven" appears in Matthew's gospel due primarily to Jewish sensibilities about uttering the "name" (God). Jesus did not teach the kingdom of God per se so much as the return of that kingdom. The notion of God's kingdom (as it had been under Moses) returning became an agitation in Palestine 60 years before Jesus was born, and continued to be a force for nearly a hundred years after his death.[3] Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the "Kingship of God".[4][5]

Bahá'í writings also use the term "kingdom of God".[6] The Quran does not include the term "kingdom of God", but refers to Abraham seeing the "Kingdom of the heavens".[7]

Hebrew Bible

The term "kingdom of the LORD" appears twice in the Hebrew Bible, in 1 Chronicles 28:5 and 2 Chronicles 13:8. In addition, "his kingdom" and "your kingdom" are sometimes used when referring to God.[2] "Yours is the kingdom, O Lord" is used in 1 Chronicles 29:10–12 and "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" in Daniel 3:33, for example.[8]

"The Hebrew word malkuth [...] refers first to a reign, dominion, or rule and only secondarily to the realm over which a reign is exercised. [...] When malkuth is used of God, it almost always refers to his authority or to his rule as the heavenly King."[9] The "enthronement psalms" (Psalms 45, 93, 96, 97–99) provide a background for this view with the exclamation "The Lord is King".[5]

1 Kings 22:19, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7:9 all speak of the Throne of God, although some philosophers such as Saadia Gaon and Maimonides interpreted such mention of a "throne" as allegory.[10]

Intertestamental period

The phrase the Kingdom of God is not common in intertestamental literature. Where it does occur, such as in the Psalms of Solomon and the Wisdom of Solomon, it usually refers "to God's reign, not to the realm over which he reigns, nor to the new age, [nor to ...] the messianic order to be established by the Lord's Anointed."[11]

The term does occasionally, however, denote "an eschatological event," such as in the Assumption of Moses and the Sibylline Oracles. In these cases, "God's Kingdom is not the new age but the effective manifestation of his rule in all the world so that the eschatological order is established."[12] Along these lines was the more "national" view in which the awaited messiah was seen as a liberator and the founder of a new state of Israel.[13]


The Gospel of Luke records Jesus' description of the Kingdom of God, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; ... For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."[14] The Apostle Paul defined the Kingdom of God in his letter to the church in Rome: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."[15]

In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus speaks frequently of God's kingdom. However within the New Testament, nowhere does Jesus appear to clearly define the concept.[16] Within the Synoptic Gospel accounts, the assumption appears to have been made that, "this was a concept so familiar that it did not require definition."[16] Karen Wenell wrote, "Mark's Gospel provides for us a significant place of transformation for the space of the Kingdom of God, precisely because it can be understood as a kind of birthplace for the Kingdom of God, the beginning of its construction ...".[17]

Within the non-canonical, yet contemporary Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying, "If those who lead you say to you: ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fishes will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you and outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father."[18] This same Gospel of Thomas further describes Jesus as implying that the Kingdom of God is already present, saying, "The kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”[18]

The Kingdom of God (and its possibly equivalent form Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel of Matthew) is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.[3] Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the "Kingship of God".[4][5]

Most of the uses of the Greek word, basileia (kingdom), in the New Testament involve Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven).[19] Matthew is likely to have instead used the term heaven because the background of his Jewish audience imposed restrictions on the frequent use of the name of God.[20] However, Dr. Chuck Missler asserts that Matthew intentionally differentiated between the kingdoms of God and Heaven: "Most commentators presume that these terms are synonymous. However, Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven 33 times, but also uses Kingdom of God five times, even in adjacent verses, which indicates that these are not synonymous: he is using a more denotative term." [21] Kingdom of God is translated to Latin as Regnum Dei and Kingdom of Heaven as Regnum caelorum.[22]


Gottvater thronend Westfalen 15 Jh
God the Father on a throne, Westphalia, Germany, late 15th century.

The Old Testament refers to "God the Judge of all" and the notion that all humans will eventually "be judged" is an essential element of Christian teachings.[23] Building on a number of New Testament passages, the Nicene Creed indicates that the task of judgement is assigned to Jesus.[23][24]

No overall agreement on the theological interpretation of "Kingdom of God" has emerged among scholars. While a number of theological interpretations of the term Kingdom of God have appeared in its eschatological context, e.g. apocalyptic, realized or Inaugurated eschatologies, no consensus has emerged among scholars.[25][26]

R. T. France points out that while the concept of "Kingdom of God" has an intuitive meaning to lay Christians, there is hardly any agreement among scholars about its meaning in the New Testament.[27] Some scholars see it as a Christian lifestyle, some as a method of world evangelization, some as the rediscovery of charismatic gifts, others relate it to no present or future situation, but the world to come.[27] France states that the phrase Kingdom of God is often interpreted in many ways to fit the theological agenda of those interpreting it.[27]

In the New Testament, the Throne of God is alluded to in several forms.[28] Among these are Heaven as the Throne of God, The Throne of David, The Throne of Glory, The Throne of Grace and many more.[28] The New Testament continues Jewish identification of heaven itself as the "throne of God",[29] but also locates the throne of God as "in heaven" and having a second subordinate seat at the Right Hand of God for the Session of Christ.[30]


The term "kingdom of God" does not occur in the Quran. The modern Arabic word for kingdom is mamlaka (المملكة), but in the Quran mul'kan (مُّلْكًا), refers to Heaven, e.g. in 4:54 "Or do they envy mankind for what Allah hath given them of his bounty? but We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom" and 6:75 "Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth."[7] The variant Maalik (Owner, etmologically similar to Malik (king)) occurs in 1:4 "[Allah is] The owner of the Day of Judgement".[31]

Bahá'í Faith

The term "kingdom of God" appears in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, including the religious works of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, and his son `Abdu'l-Bahá.[6][32][33][34] In the Bahá'í teachings, the kingdom of God is seen both as a state of individual being, and the state of the world. Bahá'u'lláh claimed that the scriptures of the world's religions foretell a coming messianic figure that will bring a golden age of humanity, the kingdom of God on earth. He claimed to be that figure, and that his teachings would bring about the kingdom of God; he also noted that the prophecies relating to the end times and the arrival of the kingdom of God were symbolic and referred to spiritual upheaval and renewal.[35] The Bahá'í teachings also state as people perform good deeds they become closer to God spiritually, so that they can attain eternal life and enter the kingdom of God while alive.[36]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ "Abrahamic Faiths, Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflicts" (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change. Series I, Culture and Values, Vol. 7) by Paul Peachey, George F. McLean and John Kromkowski (Jun 1997) ISBN 1565181042 p. 315
  2. ^ a b France, R. T. (2005). "Kingdom of God". In Vanhoozer, Kevin J.; Bartholomew, Craig G.; Treier, Daniel J.; Wright, Nicholas Thomas (eds.). Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. pp. 420–422. ISBN 978-0-8010-2694-2.
  3. ^ a b The Gospel of Matthew by R.T. France (21 Aug 2007) ISBN 080282501X pp. 101–103
  4. ^ a b Mercer Dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Edgar V. McKnight and Roger A. Bullard (2001) ISBN 0865543739 p. 490
  5. ^ a b c Dictionary of Biblical Imagery by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III (Nov 11, 1998) ISBN 0830814515 pp. 478–479
  6. ^ a b Bahá'u'lláh (2002). Gems of Divine Mysteries. Haifa, Israel: Bahá'í World Centre. p. 9. ISBN 0-85398-975-3.
  7. ^ a b Biblical Prophets in the Qur'an and Muslim Literature by Roberto Tottoli (2001) ISBN 0700713948 p. 27
  8. ^ Psalms: Interpretation by James Mays 2011 ISBN 0664234399 pp. 438–439
  9. ^ George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 46–47.
  10. ^ Bowker 2005, pp. Throne of God entry
  11. ^ George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 130.
  12. ^ George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 131.
  13. ^ Encyclopedia of Theology: A Concise Sacramentum Mundi by Karl Rahner (2004) ISBN 0860120066 p. 1351
  14. ^ Luke 17:20–21 NKJV
  15. ^ Romans 14:17 NIV
  16. ^ a b George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: 1974), 45.
  17. ^ Wenell, Karen (August 2014). "A Markan 'Context' Kingdom? Examining Biblical and Social Models in Spatial Interpretation". Biblical Theology Bulletin. 44 (3): 126.
  18. ^ a b Gospel of Thomas’s 114 Sayings of Jesus Biblical Archaeological Society. June 4, 2017. Downloaded Sept. 4, 2017.
  19. ^ Theology for the Community of God by Stanley J. Grenz (2000) ISBN 0802847552 p. 473
  20. ^ Matthew by David L. Turner (2008) ISBN 0801026849 p. 41
  21. ^ Missler, Chuck. A Kingdom Perspective
  22. ^ A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins (1985) ISBN 0813206677 p. 176
  23. ^ a b Introducing Christian Doctrine (2nd Edition) by Millard J. Erickson (2001) ISBN 0801022509 pp. 391–392
  24. ^ Systematic Theology Vol 2 by Wolfhart Pannenberg (2004) ISBN 0567084663 pp. 390–391
  25. ^ Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael James McClymond (2004) ISBN 0802826806 pp. 77–79
  26. ^ Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans (1998) ISBN 9004111425 p. 255–257
  27. ^ a b c Divine Government: God's Kingship in the Gospel of Mark by R.T. France (2003) ISBN 1573832448 pp. 1–3
  28. ^ a b Kittel 1966, pp. 164–166
  29. ^ William Barclay The Gospel of Matthew: Chapters 11–28 p. 340 Matthew 23:22 "And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it."
  30. ^ Philip Edgecumbe Hughes A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews p. 401 1988 "The theme of Christ's heavenly session, announced here by the statement he sat down at the right hand of God, .. Hebrews 8:1 "we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven"
  31. ^ Quran 1:4
  32. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 86. ISBN 0-87743-187-6.
  33. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-85398-999-0.
  34. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1908). Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust (published 1990). p. 58. ISBN 0-87743-162-0.
  35. ^ Momen, Moojan (2004). "Baha'i Faith and Holy People". In Jestice, Phyllis G. (ed.). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-355-6.
  36. ^ Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 118–119. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.

External links


Christology (from Greek Χριστός Khristós and -λογία, -logia), literally "the understanding of Christ," is the study of the nature (person) and work (role in salvation) of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; and the role he plays in salvation.

The earliest Christian writings gave several titles to Jesus, such as Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures. These terms centered around two themes, namely "Jesus as a preexistent figure who becomes human and then returns to God," and "Jesus as a creature elected and 'adopted' by God."From the second to the fifth century, the relation of the human and divine nature of Christ was a major focus of debates in the early church and at the first seven ecumenical councils. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 issued a formulation of the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, one human and one divine, "united with neither confusion nor division". Most of the major branches of Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy subscribe to this formulation, while many branches of Oriental Orthodox Churches reject it, subscribing to miaphysitism.

Glossary of Christianity

This is a glossary of terms used in Christianity.

King of the Gods

As polytheistic systems evolve, there is a tendency for one deity, usually male, to achieve preeminence as king of the gods. This tendency can parallel the growth of hierarchical systems of political power in which a monarch eventually comes to assume ultimate authority for human affairs. Other gods come to serve in a Divine Council or pantheon - such subsidiary courtier-deities are usually linked by family ties from the union of a single husband or wife, or else from an androgynous divinity who is responsible for the creation.

Historically, subsequent social events, such as invasions or shifts in power structures, can cause the previous king of the gods to be displaced by a new divinity, who assumes the displaced god's attributes and functions. Frequently the king of the gods has at least one wife who is the queen of the gods.

Examples of this displacement of kings of the gods include:

In the Mesopotamian Anunnaki, Enlil displaces Anu and is in turn replaced by Marduk.

The Ancient Egyptian Ennead and Ogdoad, where the deity Osiris assumes pre-eminence, to be displaced by Seth or Sutekh, who is in turn replaced by Horus, son to Osiris and Isis

In the Canaanite pantheon, Baʿal (Hadad) displaces El

In the Hurrian/Hittite pantheon, Teshub or Tarhunt or Arinna displaces Kumarbi.

In the Armenian Ar, later – Aramazd.

In the Historical Vedic religion, the King of the Gods was originally Dyaus, later subsumed by Indra. Though Indra still retains the title of the King of the Gods and the Ruler of Heaven, the trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu assume his protective functions as the Vedic religion evolved into Brahmanical Hinduism. Hindus often regard Indra as inferior to the Trinity.

In the Ancient Greek system of Olympian Gods, Cronus displaces Uranus, and Zeus in turn displaces CronusAccording to feminist theories of the replacement of original matriarchies by patriarchies, male sky-gods tend to supplant female earth-godesses and achieve omnipotence.There is also a tendency for kings of the gods to assume more and more importance, syncretistically assuming the attributes and functions of lesser divinities, who come to be seen as aspects of the single supreme deity. Examples of this include:

Ancient Iranian Ahura Mazda of the Zoroastrians

Hinduism where Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are seen as comprising the essence of all other divinities, and are considered aspects of the same monist reality, an impersonal force called Brahman.

Kingdom of God (Christian denominational variations)

Denominations often have diverse teachings on the Kingdom of God. These denominations interpret the Kingdom of God in distinctly different ways.As new Christian denominations emerged, their experiments with the linking of personalism with new notions of community based on the ideals of the Acts of Apostles regarding the sharing of property produced various interpretations and eschatological perspectives that linked social and philanthropic issues to the religious interpretations of the Kingdom of God.R. T. France has stated that, while the concept of Kingdom of God has an intuitive meaning to lay Christians, there is hardly any agreement among theologians about its meaning in the New Testament, and it is often interpreted in many ways to fit the theological agenda of those interpreting it.

Kingship of God (Judaism)

For an overview see Kingship and kingdom of GodThe concept of kingship of God appears in the Hebrew Bible with references to "his Kingdom" and "your Kingdom" while the term "kingdom of God" is not directly used. "Yours is the kingdom, O Lord" is used in 1Chronicles 29:10-12 and "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" in Daniel 4:3, for example. It is tied to Jewish understanding that through the messiah, God will restore the Kingdom of Israel, following the Davidic covenant.

The "enthronement psalms" (Psalms 45, 93, 96, 97-99) provide a background for this view with the exclamation "The Lord is King". However, in later Judaism (after the destruction of the First Temple) a more "national" view was assigned to God's kingship in which the awaited messiah may be seen as a liberator and the founder of a new state of Israel.1 Kings 22:19, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7:9 all speak of the Throne of God, although some philosophers such as Saadia Gaon and Maimonides interpreted such mention of a "throne" as allegory.


In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias (Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ‎, romanized: māšîaḥ; Greek: μεσσίας, romanized: messías, Arabic: مسيح‎, romanized: masîḥ) is a saviour or liberator of a group of people.

The concepts of moshiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible; a moshiach (messiah) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.

Ha mashiach (המשיח, 'the Messiah', 'the anointed one'), often referred to as melekh mashiach (מלך המשיח 'King Messiah'), is to be a human leader, physically descended from the paternal Davidic line through King David and King Solomon. He is thought to accomplish predetermined things in only one future arrival, including the unification of the tribes of Israel, the gathering of all Jews to Eretz Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, the ushering in of a Messianic Age of global universal peace, and the annunciation of the world to come.In Christianity, the Messiah is called the Christ, from Greek: χριστός, romanized: khristós, translating the Hebrew word of the same meaning. The concept of the Messiah in Christianity originated from the Messiah in Judaism. However, unlike the concept of the Messiah in Judaism, the Messiah in Christianity is the Son of God. Christ became the accepted Christian designation and title of Jesus of Nazareth, because Christians believe that the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled in his mission, death, and resurrection. These specifically include the prophecies of him being descended from the Davidic line, and being declared King of the Jews which happened on the day of his crucifixion.

They believe that Christ will fulfill the rest of the messianic prophecies, specifically that he will usher in a Messianic Age and the world to come at his Second Coming.

In Islam, Jesus was a prophet and the Masîḥ (مسيح), the Messiah sent to the Israelites, and he will return to Earth at the end of times, along with the Mahdi, and defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal, the false Messiah.

In Ahmadiyya theology, these prophecies concerning the Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus have been fulfilled in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and the terms 'Messiah' and 'Mahdi' are synonyms for one and the same person.In Chabad messianism, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (r. 1920–1950), sixth Rebbe (spiritual leader) of Chabad Lubavitch, and Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994), seventh Rebbe of Chabad, are Messiah claimants. Resembling early Christianity, the deceased Schneerson is believed to be the Messiah among some adherents of the Chabad movement; his second coming is believed to be imminent.


Statolatry, which combines idolatry with the state, first appeared in Giovanni Gentile's Doctrine of Fascism, published in 1931 under Mussolini's name, and was also mentioned in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks (1971) sometime between 1931-1932, while he was imprisoned by Mussolini. The same year, the encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno by Pope Pius XI criticized Fascist Italy as developing "a pagan worship of the state" which it called "statolatry".The term politiolatry was used to describe reason of state doctrine in the 17th century with similar intent.

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