Kingdom of God: Victory and Liberation

My last post offered a pdf article on my website from Scot McKnight on the Kingdom of God (see previous post, below). Today, I thought I’d add my two cents on the idea of what the “Kingdom of God” means.

Jesus saw his mission as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises that God would liberate his people through the coming Messiah. As George Eldon Ladd wrote, “The strongest statement is Matthew 12:28: ‘But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.’” (A Theology of the New Testament, p. 63) The power that Jesus displayed in his exorcizing of demons showed that he had command as the King to deliver people from the bondage of another, evil kingdom—the kingdom of Light was overthrowing the kingdom of darkness.

This is drawn out in the next verse: “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” (Matthew 12:29). In other words, King Jesus’ invasion of the dominion of Satan entails the process of binding Satan of his powers.

Ladd’s insights are helpful: “Instead of waiting until the end of the age to reveal his kingly power and destroy satanic evil, Jesus declares that God has acted in his kingly power to curb the power of Satan. In other words, God’s Kingdom in Jesus’ teaching has a twofold manifestation: at the end of the age to destroy Satan, and in Jesus’ mission to bind Satan. Before Satan’s final destruction, people may be delivered from his power. ‘Binding’ is of course a metaphor and designates in some real sense a victory over Satan so that his power is curbed.” (A Theology of the New Testament, p. 64).

It is like the often used military metaphor: The decisive battle in a World War II was D-Day. The war was won and the tide of battle was turned before the actual gaining of the victory. V-Day came later. The Jesus event—his incarnation, death, and resurrection—was the initial defeat of satanic power in the decisive battle, D-Day. V-Day will take place at the Parousia.

This was also the message of Paul. In his epistle to the Colossians, he wrote, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Christ) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15). In the words of Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, “Here is the classic paradox in Paul’s thought. Christ has already defeated the powers, but his reconciling rule has not yet been fully established in history.” (Colossians Remixed, [Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004], p. 155)

Tomorrow: Practical ideas about how God's Kingdom is overthrowing/subverting the evil kingdoms found in this world.

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