The Synonymous Expressions For “Kingdom”
The following is Appendix 112 from Dr. E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible. While many have sought to keep distance from being associated with Dr. Bullinger over the last century or so, it must be acknowledged that he was an astute and careful student of the Word of God. He was a lover of God, of Christ, of God’s people, and of the Bible. He did, in some instances in my understanding, come to erroneous conclusions, but I would urge you to look into why he arrived at the conclusions that he did. While in the past, most fundamentalists decried Bullingerism and practically used his name as a “curse word”, his work is very valuable to true students of the Word. I have come to many (not all) of the same conclusions as Dr. Bullinger, independent of what he wrote. I have also come to some that differ. We should be careful in all cases to “rightly divide” our teachers, and compare them with Scripture, but we should also acknowledge the value of those on whose shoulders we stand.
Initially, I wanted to write this out because of item #5 regarding the Kingdom of His dear Son, relating to the Colossians study that I am undertaking, particularly the study of Christ the King. Since I have found it valuable in its entirety, I decided to write all of it.
For a true understanding of the new Testament, it is essential that the “Word of Truth” should be “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15) as to the various usages of the word “kingdom” in all the different combinations and contexts in which we find it.
Each has its own peculiar and particular sense, which must not be confused with another.
As to the word basileia, it denotes sovereignty, which requires the actual presence of a sovereign, or king. There can be no kingdom apart from a king. We all know of countries which were once “kingdoms” but are now “republics”, for the simple but sufficient reason that they have no “king”, but are governed by the “public”, which is sovereign.
The countries remain the same, have the same peoples, the same cities, the same mountains and rivers, but they are no longer kingdoms.
The common practice of taking the Kingdom as meaning the Church (See Appendix 113), has been the source of incalculable misunderstanding; and not “trying the things that differ” (Philippians 1:10, see note there) has led to great confusion in the interpretation of the whole of the New Testament.
The following definitions may help towards a clearer view of many important passages :—
- “The Kingdom of Heaven”. The word “heaven” is generally in this connection in the plural, “of (or from) the heavens”. For the difference between the use of the singular and plural of this word, see the notes on Matthew 6:9, 10. This expression is used only in the Gospel of Matthew, as being specially in harmony with the purpose of that Gospel. See notes in the (Companion Bible pages 1304-5), and Appendix 114.
It is the dispensational term; and is used sometimes of Messiah’s Kingdom on earth, and sometimes of the heavenly sovereignty over the earth. It is not from or out of (Greek ek, Appendix 104. vii) “this world” (Greek kosmos Appendix 129. 1). This sovereignty comes from heaven, because the King is to come from thence (John 18:36). It was to this end He was born, and this was the first subject of His ministry (see Appendix 119). That Kingdom (Matthew 4:17, etc.) was rejected, as was also the further proclamation of it in Acts 3:19-26 (according to the prophetic parable of Matthew 22:2-7). Thenceforth the earthly realization of this Kingdom was postponed, and is now in abeyance until the King shall be sent from heaven (Acts 3:20). The “secrets” of this Kingdom (Matthew 13:11) pertained to the postponement of its earthly realization, on account of its being rejected.
- “The Kingdom of God” is the sovereignty of God, which is moral and universal. It existed from the beginning, and will know no end. It is over all, and embraces all. See Appendix 114.
- “The Kingdom of the Father” (Matthew 13:43) is not universal, but has regard to relationship, and “a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1), and to the heavenly sphere of the Kingdom, in its relation to the earthly. It is sovereignty exercised toward obedient sons, when the Son of man shall have gathered out of His Kingdom “all things that offend” (Matthew 13:41). Compare Daniel 7:25-27. Matthew 25:31-46. Luke 20:34-36. The way of entrance into this may be seen in John 3:3. It is going on now concurrently with No. 5.
- “The Kingdom of the Son of man” (Matthew 16:28). This aspect of “the Kingdom of heaven” has regard to Israel on earth (compare Daniel 7:13, 14, 18, 21, 22), as distinct from the “sons” who, as partakers of “a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1), will possess the heavenly sphere as sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:34-36. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:23. Revelation 20:4-6). These two spheres are distinct, though they are one. No. 3 concerns “the saints of the most high [places]” (Daniel 7:18, 24). No. 4 concerns “the people of the saints of the most high”. These have their portion in “the Kingdom under the whole heaven”, which has regard to earthly sovereignty, in which “all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:27).
These two would have had their realization even then, had Israel repented at the summons of the Lord, and of “them that heard Him” in Acts 3:19-26. In that case the later revelation of the “Mystery” (or the great secret) which, with its exanastasis and its “heavenward Call” (Philippians 3:11, 14), was hidden in God, would have remained in the keeping of the Father’s Divine sovereignty.
- “The Kingdom of His dear Son”. Greek: the Kingdom of the Son of His love, or of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13), has regard to quite another sphere, above all heavens, and refers to the sovereignty of God’s beloved Son as made the “Head over all things to His ekklesia, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:10, 20-23). See also Ephesians 5:5.
This sovereignty had been “kept secret” (Romans 16:25), “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), “hid from ages and from generations” (Colossians 1:25); but after the Kingdom (No. 4) proclaimed by the Lord and by “them that heard Him” (Hebrews 2:4) had been postponed, it was revealed and “made known” (Ephesians 3) for the “obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). The subjects of this Divine sovereignty, on their believing this subsequent revelation, are “sealed” (or designated) for their inheritance, which is to be enjoyed with Christ (Ephesians 1:13).
This relates to the position of those who come under that sovereignty.
- “The Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). This has regard to No. 5, but was then future (not having been revealed when Peter wrote); but it relates to the outward display of His sovereignty in millennial glory; while No. 5 relates to the inward position and experimental enjoyment of it in present grace.
- “The Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (or Messiah). (Revelation 11:15). This has regard to the end of the present time of abeyance of Nos. 3 and 4, and the millennial manifestation of both by Divine power, and in glory. See also Revelation 12:10.
At the end of the thousand years, No. 1, and perhaps others of them will cease, and be absorbed in the Kingdom of God (No. 2).
Charles Miller View All
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.
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