January 21, 2021

Open Thread Question: Church and Kingdom- What’s the Relationship?

UPDATE: Winner so far: Thinkling Jared. Esp for saying whom he copied from.

I think we need to open a window at this little stop on the web. It’s been a bit stuffy in here lately.

Here’s a question that’s right at the heart of all kinds of important things going on in my life right now, and maybe yours, too.

What is the relationship (or distinction) between the Church (visible) and the Kingdom of God?

Keep your answers/discussion on topic and please don’t copy and paste large excerpts of other sources. Link them.


  1. Trying to fully answer the “what is the kingdom of God” question is like trying to find out if the beatles or the stones are better-there are just to many options to entertain. But I like this question

    I think the K.O.G encompasses the church eternal, lets think more bride and less body. Inside of the Kingdom is the visible church, who are at present the physical manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

    Thats the quick one. Great question Michael.

  2. I don’t have any external sources to cite (is that being requested?), but my basic conviction is that the church, as the Body of Christ, does what the physical body of Christ did: proclaim in word and deed the arrival of the kingdom.

    That means the church testifies to the kingdom’s presence by preaching the gospel and embodying it (as per the Sermon on the Mount, etc.).

    I like what N.T. Wright says about the church not building the kingdom (God does that) but building for the kingdom, that we aren’t the master architect and builder crafting the structure; we’re just making the bricks to hand over to him to use.

  3. Michael,

    A huge issue for me of late, especially during my recent Easter season focus leading up to Pentecost Sunday (last week). The NT opens with John the Baptist announcing the coming of the Kingdom, Jesus spoke of it often throughout the Gospels, and it apparently was a major topic of his conversations with the disciples in the period after his resurrection and up to his ascension (Acts 1:3). I wish I had some profound words of wisdom on this matter but all I have thus far is this.

    By adoption, we are a Kingdom people (the church) under the rule of the King of kings and Lord of lords. As such, our obligation is to his rule. Our King is away, but also in us (Holy Spirit). We are aliens and strangers, but He is our home. Could it be this simple? That we simply live our lives every day, with sober intentionality, seeking first His Kingdom and testifying by our lives His Kingship? While it is a very big issue, I think it is probably just that simple.

    There is my baby-step on the subject:-) Hope it helps.

  4. Memphis Aggie says

    I think (without references to other sources) that the Kingdom of God and His Universal Sovereignty has always been here and when Christ proclaimed the Kingdom He was calling us to recognize God’s ever-present reign in the here and now. The Church is simply the vehicle by which we approach Him: an important part of the Kingdom through which He is made known.

    P.S. Chad, at the risk of really being controversial: The Stones >> The Beatles, no contest.

  5. Well, it well may be that the Kingdom/Church distinction is a theological construct that was not intended by the writers of the New Testament.

    Having said that, here is my 2 cents worth (worth that much only because of inflation). I would say that the church is the people within the Kingdom of God who are in submission to the King. Those outside the church are those in the Kingdom of God who are in rebellion against the King. The church is the ones who built their house on a rock, the wheat, the good fish, the wise virgins, the profitable servants, and the sheep. Those outside the church are the ones who built their house on sand, the weeds, the bad fish, the foolish virgins, the unprofitable servants, and the goats.

  6. The Kingdom of God is simply the whole of God’s plan. It is comprised of three dispensations (or stewardships, administrations): OT saints, the Church, and Jews brought to salvation during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7).John the Baptist typifies the OT saints (John 3:28-30) as being separate from the bridegroom and yet friends of the bridegroom. Paul understands the church to be the wife of the bridegroom (Ephesians 5:22-33) while John provides apocalyptic imagery of the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6-9). Therefore the Kingdom of God is composed of the three: OT saints, the Church, tribulation Jews and saints.

  7. This is a big question. Not surprisingly, from me, I dip into the more mystical arena in thinking about this. I like to explain it like this…

    The “Kingdom of God” is the fullness of God’s Life Essence. This world is broken and disconnected from that fullness. Therefore, Jesus. He is the connection between God and the broken cosmos. It is through Him that the “Kingdom of God” flows back into union with our dimension of reality.

    The Church (the whole company of those inhabited by the Spirit of God) – that’s where we come in. We are Jesus – wait! Don’t stone me! We are incorporated into the mystical Body of Christ. We, therefore, are part of the conduit through which the “Kingdom of God” (the Life Essence of God) flows back into this realm of existence.

    Here, we are back to that union with God business. As much as we are in union with Him, in reality, is as much as we are able to act as a healthy part of that conduit which is Christ. That cooperation on our part, on the part of the visible Church, is key to how fully the Kingdom can come. Of course the Holy Spirit works in many ways outside us that we couldn’t possibly quantify or fully understand. As I’m talking about it here, Church = primary conduit.

    So, deeper union with God > more transformation > “arteries” through with the Kingdom Life’s Blood flows more open. Either that, or we can become proverbial “plaque” that clogs those arteries. I actually tried to be brief, but that’s my take. Peace to all in this house.

  8. The Church is the bride of Christ. Christ is the King. ‘Nuff said.

  9. Jared, thanks for your comment about N.T. Wright’s take on this. I think he is great. He always puts Jesus first and foremost in his writings, lecture, teachings. I admit to getting confused about the talk of church/kingdom. So do you think “church” is the people who are proclaiming the good news of Jesus and the kingdom already exists in part now and will be “complete” when Jesus returns? I know Scot McKnight did a many-part series on the Kingdom over on the Jesus Creed website. It’s all been put together in one place now. Let’s see if I can find it…here it is:

    One thing McKnight says is, “Second, many today have chosen to prefer “kingdom” over “church” in a way that is not unlike this idea: as I like Jesus instead of the Church, so I like kingdom instead of Church. This concerns me, and it concerns me deeply. It plays off the distinction between kingdom and church in a way that is out of
    line with what the New Testament says.” I need to spend more time reading that, but it’s 41 pages long, so it won’t be tonight.

    Joanie D.

  10. I would say the kingdom encompasses all of reality as the dominion of the Almighty. The institutional church is only one small part of this (one sphere, I would say as a good neo-calvinist! 🙂 ). Some have suggested that the church is like the inner motor which drives forward the kingdom through conversion, discipleship, etc. However, the church must be careful to never assume that it is the extent of the kingdom. The institutional church sends the organic church (i.e. everyday, ordinary believers who live in more societal spheres than the sphere of the church) into the world to promote the kingdom in the power of the Spirit. In this way, any work done to God’s glory can be called “kingdom work.”

    I think the church has a bad tendency to assume that it is the kingdom. The result is a suffocating ecclesiasticism which reduces everything to the church. Suddenly, only the clergy are doing “kingdom work,” and everyone else is simply waiting to die (alright… I’m overstating this a bit, but you get my point).

  11. I think the best place to look when considering the Kingdom is at the Parables and the Miracles of Jesus.

    The Parables…it is like a tiny mustard seed that falls into the ground and grows into a mature tree… It is like a treasure hidden in a field… It is like a Dude chuckin’ seeds as he walks along…It is like wheat growing up beside tares…it is like leaven in a loaf of bread.

    What do the Parables tell us? The Kingdom is Subversive. It slips in the back door. It’s not worried about other kingdoms. It sneaks around getting into every nook and corner…like salt…like light. Nobody’s growing it in a controlling way, they’re just planting. Jesus is doing it. It’s his Kingdom. He’s the King. Everybody else is just chuckin’ seed.

    The Miracles…the Kingdom is like dead dudes coming to life, it’s like cripple people walking, it’s like blind people seeing, it’s like people giving away cloaks, and turning cheeks, forgiving those that hurt them and loving those that hate them. It’s like Demon Possessed Dudes getting in their right minds. Miracles.

    What do the Miracles tell us? The Kingdom is Supernatural. It can’t be bought or sold. It can’t be manufactured. It can’t be produced, packaged, or advertised. Jesus is doing it. It’s his Kingdom. He’s the King. Everybody else is just dancing.

    I wrote and recorded a poem about the Gerasene Demoniac that I feel communicates the Supernatural and Subversive nature of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus heals the Demoniac – Powerfully – then he tells him, “Stay here. I want you to stay here and tell everyone you see. Seep into every corner of this place. The dead lives. The blind see. The cripple dance. Demoniacs preach. The glorious gospel of peace shouts ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand’!”

    Dude, that gets me so excited that I just want to cuss

    Link to “Crazy Bill: The Gerasene Demoniac Revisited”


  12. I quite frankly get a bit confused between scriptural images of the church as the Bride of Christ, and the church as the Body of Christ.

    Having admitted that, my default preaching/pastoral mode is that the church of Christ on earth* is called to embody the love of God to a hurting world, modeling our corporate life on the Body of Christ our Lord, who perfectly embodied the love of God into creation. We, as the church, embody the love of God as a witness and a testimony, since the perfect actual fulfillment of that embodiment comes only with the return of Jesus in the fulness of time at the end of days.

    [nod to Restoration Movement brethren — is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one! Thank you, Father Thomas.]

  13. What is the Church is at the heart of my struggles right now.
    I am exploring the RCC but a LONG way from commitment.
    I am anxious to see responses that actually are helpful as opposed to mine.
    I know what I have been taught and lean towards as a VERY disillusioned evangelical (a term that is now being rendered meaningless).
    I am so hungry for the Church and thirsty for Christ’s real touch that I am consumed daily by the thoughts and feelings.
    Please, no sanctimonious lectures. I’ve had a gutful. (these usually come in the form of that guy we all know who has it all down pat and is not afraid to tell you about it).
    I believed once that I had a handle on it all (I was one of those guys). Oh well.
    Any of you smart folks out there can be a real help with something that is not out of a Sunday School text. (Not referring to the folks above of course).
    I think this thread ties in great with recent posts by Mr. Spencer.
    Thank you again. Get some sleep.

  14. Sometimes the church does a good job building the Kingdom of God, sometimes not. We all do dumb things, Christians included. In the Middle Ages, the Crusaders thought they were going down to Jerusalem to build the Kingdom of God on earth. All of Europe was full of Christian zeal, just very little education; no one could read the Bible to know what “building the kingdom” was or wasn’t. The church – the body of Christ, not just “your” church – is the current physical presence of God’s kingdom. But the kingdom of God is made up of all the believers throughout the ages, and hasn’t been completed yet. In one sense, we work toward adding the kingdom. In another sense, God himself will bring the Kingdom into reality. Jesus only describes the Kingdom as being like small children, or being like finding the pearl of great price. He never comes right out and says “This is exactly what the Kingdom of God is.”

    The Church is the body of Christ; the Kingdom will be that and more. We cannot imagine how much more.

  15. Scott Miller says

    I think it is really the conflict between two worlds – the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not us turning the world into a nice place or a Christian country, etc.
    The absentee landlord is returning. His vineyard has been allowed to be overrun with weeds in his absence, but “word on the street” is that he is returning.
    Now I’m not talking about the “so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good”. I am not talking about wishing for the next life and hating this life. I simply state it as a fact.

  16. I mentioned Wright, but my view on this is mostly informed by George Eldon Ladd. The Gospel of the Kingdom and The Presence of the Future are indispensable.

    We are not the kingdom. We are the Church.

    We are in the kingdom, or “under” it, if you prefer.

    The kingdom is God’s sovereignty made manifest, and it is good news because Jesus is the King. At least, that’s how I’m defining it tonight. 🙂

    When the Church embodies the gospel by living, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, it proclaims that God’s kingdom has come near and that, in fact, we are citizens of that kingdom.

  17. Rob: Sleep is for quitters. Seriously though, I’m about in the same place you are. As I look at all the denominations, the RCC is the one with the strongest arguments, but I can’t bring myself to believe all its doctrines. I’ve been in denominational limbo for years, and I don’t feel any closer to finding the “true church.”

    As to the topic at hand, I think the church is the body of Christ. Included in it are all Christians. Where Christ is, so is his kingdom. Thus, his kingdom is here with us on earth, but the kingdom is not the church. Confused? Good. So am I.

    Obviously, one would think the kingdom of God would be better than the church we have. I know God is the head of his church, but God lets fallible human beings run the show. I envision God’s kingdom as something greater than the church, something that has yet to come.

    Perhaps all people are citizens of the kingdom of God. The rules of the Kingdom are the Gospel, and the king (God) deals out punishment (hell) to those that do not follow his rules (faith). But that still does not sound right. One envisions the kingdom of God as being peaceful, just, and without sin.

    Right now, (and this is subject to change) I think we are citizens of the kingdom of God just like an American citizen in Iraq is still an American citizen. We are a part of the kingdom, but not experiencing it fully. So…we are a part of the kingdom now, but we will reallllly be a part of it later. Hmmm. Guess I still don’t get it :).

  18. The church was not Jesus’ idea, was it? The church came later.
    Jesus’ kingdom, it seems to me, is not a group or collectivity, it is “within you,” an “ascendancy” or “reign” in the heart.
    I remember I was taught that there is an “invisible church” of all believers, which seems to me to be an attempt to interpret the kingdom “within you.”

  19. Great responses, folks.

    Alan, I particularly “resonate” with your description as I tend toward the “mystical” aspects of Christianity myself. I practice Centering Prayer as taught by Thomas Keating. His books are actually online for anyone to read at: http://www.centeringprayer.com/archives.htm in the “Past Articles” section. The book there called “Open Mind, Open Heart” actually teaches this method of prayer. It is not the ONLY way I pray, but it seems to makes all other ways more “powerful” somehow.

    Joanie D.

  20. Brian Pendell says


    When you say ‘the Kingdom’ — do you mean a Kingdom of this world, like the United States or Nigeria, or do you mean the Kingdom of Heaven?

    Are you trying to ask ‘what responsibility does a Christian owe to Jesus and to Caeser?”

    Or are you asking ‘Is there a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Body of Christ’?

    The first I can talk at length. If the second, it seems like a distinction without a difference — the body is a subset of the kingdom. The Kingdom consists of everything that acknowledges Jesus as Lord, which is most of creation except for a few rebellious humans and angels and (possibly) equivalent extra-terrestrial intelligences. The Body is a significant part of that, and I don’t think the other parts of the Kingdom are what you’re interested in.

    Or have I overthought the question? Again?


    Brian P.

  21. FYI: My comment was original to me and therefore not in need of a link to another source. 🙂

  22. Brian Pendell says

    Expanding on the above , assumption 2 — when I think of Jesus as King of Kings, I think of him as more an emperor than a king. Why? Well, that implies he is a ruler of many kingdoms and not one, the way Queen Elizabeth is Queen of Canada and Queen of Australia as well as Queen of the UK. All of these countries are distinct, with their own unique traditions and history, bound together by a common allegiance .

    Why? Because I think that fits the model of the denominations better. It implies that there could be a Catholic Church (England), an Orthodox church (Scotland), a Baptist Church (Falkland Islands). All of these would be separate kingdoms, yet owing allegiance to the same king.

    This allows them to retain their independence and traditions while still enabling them to co-operate as the Commonwealth does now — or possibly as the Empire did in the 19th century? Even then, though the UK was in the driver’s seat, Victoria was Empress of India as well as Queen of the UK.

    The only alternative would be to suggest that there was one tradition, one culture, and that we must destroy all others and replace it with the One True Culture. I don’t think that’s the case. I think a federation of cultures and traditions is what the apostles decided on when they ruled that circumcision was not necessary for Greek converts.

    So I don’t believe the Kingdom is the RCC and all other ‘churches’ are rebels. I don’t believe the SBC is the one true ‘Kingdom’ and all the others are rebels.

    I think instead that the Kingdom is a bit like the situation under James I of England — he was King of England and King of Scotland — two independent countries whose king happened to be the same person. In the future, perhaps the ‘kingdoms’ will become more closely related and a closer relationship a la the UK would be appropriate. But for the present, I see the church as being more like a feudalism — a collection of duchies (RCC), Free Cities (Baptists), etc. all owing allegiance to the same king. It’d be nice if the king had more authority and the feudalisms less, but human nature is such that this is the present nature of the kingdom.

    The alternative to Jesus as ’emperor’ would be to anoint one church as The Kingdom, and reduce all others to subjection to the One True Church. And I don’t think that’s what God wants. Why not? Because if it was so, wouldn’t he have done it already? He could have easily given one church or another a complete military victory back in the days when such a thing was both possible and likely. But no church has been permitted to gain an upper hand over the others. Protestants were not allowed to forcibly extirpate Catholism, nor have Catholics been allowed to extirpate Protestants or Orthodox or Quakers. If they were each a heresy to the degree the opponents teach, why would God allow such a thing to thrive, if he did not in fact have a plan for all of them?

    And why does he have a plan? Because they are both his kingdoms, and it is not his wish that they fight with each other. I think instead his desire is that they learn to cooperate in love while retaining their own traditions and distinctions. Perhaps the day will come when we will be not a motley empire but a single nation with one culture. But until that happens, we need to make the best of what we have.


    Brian P.

  23. Memphis Aggie says

    Just came across this in the Imitation of Christ: “the kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power” (1 Cor 4:20)

  24. To echo Scott Miller, I think George Frederic(k?) Handel had it right: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of Our Lord and of His Christ” and again, for emphasis, “and of His Christ.” Oh, yes, “and He shall reign forever and ever.” Hallelujah!

    The kingdom is simply the place where the king reigns. My Bible says, “He rules over all” and “every knee shall bow” and “Thy kingdom come.”

    That some are now in rebellion, even denial, is obvious. They shall know the error of their ways.

  25. P.S. – There are many rebels and deniers outisde the visible church. There are even many rebels and deniers in the visible church. There are none in the invisible church. This has been one man’s opinion.

    This goes against the grain of some Anabaptists who claim there is no invisible church, only the local, visible one, but I’m sticking with my point of view.

  26. I’ll echo Tim; a trip back to the kingdom parables in necessary. Jesus tells us through the parable of the wheat and tares that the enemy sows his imposters among God’s people, and there is no way to tell them apart until harvest time. The church is part of the kingdom, but not all who are in the church belong to the kingdom. In reformational speak (and Augustine), this is the difference between the visible and the invisible church. Many sectarians went off the deep end by claiming that true believers can be made visible by signature works, piety, morality, dress, temperance, church affiliation, etc. If that were possible, then one group theoretically could claim exclusive rights to the kingdom. I believe the parable indicates that we can tell by fruit, but again, some fruit will not be ready for harvest until judgement day. True fruit is the work of the Holy Spirit.

    We want so desparately to sort things out ourselves. All the puzzle pieces need to fall neatly into place so that we can have the complete picture now. We want to know who is in and who is out, so that we know where we stand. This uncertainty should drive us back to the cross.

    It’s not that different than the error the Israelites fell into with their exclusive claims to the kingdom. They thought they were “it” and refused to be a blessing to the world. The true blessing of Israel to the world was the Savior. The same is true for the church. Jesus is the church’s blessing to the world and not all the other stuff we become so fond of – including ourselves.

  27. I think a problem we seem to have is taking too literally the analogies of Scripture. And not, I’m not saying Scripture isn’t what God meant to say to us. I believe it is. But here’s the deal: When God talks to us about a “Kingdom” of something, either His or ours, He is talking our language, not His. He is using these terms so that we can have a way to at least partly understand His deep and unfathomable reality.

    What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t get hung up on the term “Kingdom” so much that we feel it necessary to extrapolate from it only what belongs to our concept of Kings and Nations and Countries and people-groups on earth. The analogy is fine as far as it goes, but God is far more than a King and His Kingdom is far more than some kind of jurisdiction over which He reigns. We’ve got to look underneath these things.

    And I’m pretty sure the (why does this always come up?) Catholic Church says no such thing like “we are the Kingdom of God” – not. The Kingdom of God is different from the Church, and sticking to the way I’ve already characterized it, the Kingdom is being poured into the world through the Church (all of it, visible and invisible) in as much as we are allowing ourselves to be made into “open arteries” of God’s Life.

  28. Great discussion, Monk. I’ll take a crack at it:

    The Kingdom is a term for the vision Jesus has for humanity and all of creation. The Church is the agency for introducing people to that vision.

    What is hard for me to figure out is why Paul spent so little time talking about the Kingdom (basilea), while Jesus was positively obsessed with it.

  29. Simple: the Church is external – something you can see. The kingdom of God is internal – it is, as the Scriptures say, ‘within you’. The kingdom of God spreads are individual’s hearts are submitted to accepting Christ as king, and living under his authority.

  30. Dan Smith says

    God is indeed sovereign over “creation.” That said, the “kingdom” announced by John and Jesus is not creation, but dwells within the heart of man.

    For much of my 70 years I have preached and heard preached the concept of “kingdom” in political terms: King (God), terriroty (church), subjects: Christians, law (New Testament). This view had and continues to lead to much distortion of Jesus’ message.

    BASILEIA can (and should?) be translated REIGN. Jesus’ proclaimed kingdom exists where ever one has surrendered his life to the reign of God. This reign has existed from the beginning — OT faithful, 1st century faithful, and all the faithful since.

    The kingdom/reign does NOT exist where God is not lord of an individual — thus we continue to pray as Jesus taught, “Thy kingdom come.”

    The church is the post-Pentecost expression of God’s reign — therefore, it constitutes the extent of God’s reign.

  31. Bob Brague,

    Good points, Bob. I think your opinion is backed up by scripture (which ones, I don’t know but I know that they are in there!)

    There are two churches. The one that sits in the pews on Sunday and the one that Christ knows.

  32. I think that the Kingdom of God is an intentionally vague term to unite people, motivate people,and include people who are coming from differing places. In Wis 10:10 it is associated with “knowledge of holy things.”
    Jesus describes the KOG both as a future goal and a present reality. Paul usually describes it as a future inheritance and seems to tie it in to behavior.

    The term church,on the other hand has an emphasis more on the Christian community; the people of God rather than this goal of the Kingdom of God.

  33. Brian Pendall said on on 15 May 2008 at 8:30 a.m., “But for the present, I see the church as being more like a feudalism — a collection of duchies (RCC), Free Cities (Baptists), etc. all owing allegiance to the same king. It’d be nice if the king had more authority and the feudalisms less, but human nature is such that this is the present nature of the kingdom.”

    That’s very good, Brian!

    (I wish the comments were numbered.)

    Joanie D.

  34. The Church is the sacrament of the Kingdom, as Father Alexander Schmemann would write. In it we find the Lord’s table, and when one is seated at the table, one is with the King and thus is experiencing the Kingdom.

  35. I like Bosch words on the church on mission, which integrate the role of God’s people with the reign of God:
    “A community of people who, in the face of the tribulations they encounter, keep their eyes steadfastly on the reign of God by praying for its coming, by being its disciples, by proclaiming its presence, by working for peace and justice in the midst of hatred and oppression, and by looking and working toward God’s liberating future.” (54) Bosch

  36. Steve Newell says

    The Kingdom of God is found on earth in the Church, both visible and invisible. It is wrong to separate the Church from the Kingdom of God.

    In Lutheran Theology, there is the concept of the two kingdoms. The first Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Church,which is the Kingdom of God. The second kingdom is the Kingdom of this world that we live in. God had dominion over both Kingdoms where in the Church we have the Gospel, the Forgiveness of Sin. In the other Kingdom, God rules through Law and reason.

  37. The KoG is an important issue for me as well. This is not a reply about the relationship between the church and the kingdom, but when I wanted to see what piper said about it, I listened to all of his sermons on the kingdom and in one, he had a short 4-part definition, which you can see here http://joelpatrick.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/piper-on-the-kingdom-of-god/

  38. Mark gives some pretty good insight on this question:

    Mark 1:14…Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

    The arrival of Jesus and the fulfillment of the Kingdom are no coincidence. Jesus is effectually saying “I am the Kingdom” and the church enters that kingdom through belief in the forgiveness of sins through His work for us. Just as important, the church is strengthened and encouraged by the King when we “devote [our]selves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” We participate in the The Kingdom of God whenever we gather around Word and Sacrament, through which we receive Christ our King.

  39. Now how did we get from Mark 1:14 to the sacraments again?

  40. Did it really seem like a leap?

    Where did the apostles gather? Around Christ, and on His last night with them He gave them the means by which they were to gather. “This is my body…This cup is the new covenant in my blood…Do this in remembrance of me.” This seems to be the pattern followed by the first Christians as reference in Acts 2:42, which is why I made the allusion to “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” That reads like a Mass to me.

  41. Adam, in your first post you said that Jesus was the king AND the kingdom. I think I would say that he is the King OF the kingdom and we have to define what the kingdom is. He did claim to be King (Mat. 21:5; Mat 27:11; Lk 23:2-3; etc.), but he never claimed to be the kingdom.

    My understanding is that the kingdom is a certain kind of rule of God- one that can come near you (Luk 10:9) or even upon you (Mat 12:28). It is the kind of rule that God exacts in heaven. This is why Jesus prays (and tells us to do so too) that God’s “kingdom would come, and will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When God’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven (immediately, apparently, obviously), it is evidence that his kingdom has/is come.

    The distinction between the (visible) church and the kingdom is that the church is the people of God, with a physical location(s) in space/time and the kingdom is not a physical place- it is a way that God manifests his rule, but usually not without using his people in some way or another. We shouldn’t say that the church is the kingdom, but at the same time we also shouldn’t say that there isn’t a close relationship between the two. Jesus (the king) gave Peter (a member of the church?) the keys to the kingdom.

    I hope all that made sense.

  42. pjedmonton says

    Since the question was about the relationship between the VISIBLE Church and the Kingdom of God I’m afraid that the answer is a much smaller overlap than the one we all would like to see. Ideally we would expect the Church to be the realm where the King’s rule in the lives of His people is already a reality. But things haven’t changed that much since New Testament times from what I have seen and experienced, particularly in the affluent part of global Christianity – the greatest opposition to the Kingdom is still coming from WITHIN the established religious community and many who wouldn’t even be considered part of that community have a better understanding and greater openness towards the kingdom message than the ones who are usually considered “in” rather than “out”.

  43. Joel,

    I can see your distinction between king and kingdom, so I’ll have to give on that one. From what I can see it doesn’t appear much harm was done to my overall point, so I’ll walk away with a “Phew” and a wipe from the brow. 🙂


  44. Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this? With 2,000 years at its disposal, the Church has had time to refine its theology on your question. Paragraph 768 in Article 9 seems to answer your question:

    “Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom.”


    God bless…


  45. The kingdom is everybody and everything that is under the kingship of Jesus. The church is the people of God assembled. Not the people of God in totality, but just when assembled. Church is the several hours we meet together during the week. Kingdom is the rest of the week, the rest of our lives. Jesus spoke very little about the church and a great deal about the kingdom. Maybe we should too.

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