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Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002

See Back to Galilee (2012)


Kingdom of God

What is the kingdom for which Jesus prays? Brought up in Nazareth, Jesus, no doubt, received instruction in the Hebrew Scripture. In Hebrew Scripture, God is king and expects to rule his people. God’s disclosure as king, however, became more remote as the Davidic kingdom faded into history and Roman rule oppressed God’s chosen. The Oxford Companion explains that this kingdom can be entered by divine activity, that it is not limited to any temporality, and that it is a dynamic and unfolding process:

Although, in Jesus’ thinking, the kingdom “has come near” (Mark 1.15), or has made itself available (Luke 16.16 par.; Matthew 12.28 par.), it was part of his programmatic prayer that the kingdom’s coming should be sought (Matthew 6.10 par.). .. The kingdom in his preaching was not merely promised but announced as a divine activity that demanded repentance and that could be entered into by participating in its divine force. That stance is represented not only by the programmatic descriptions of his teaching but also by the parables. Those that involve images of growth or process (Mark 4.26–29; Matthew 13.24–30; Matthew 13.31–33 par.) particularly insist that the kingdom must not be limited to any single temporality, be it present or future. Such limitation would betray the dynamic unfolding such parables are designed to convey. For that reason, to describe the kingdom in Jesus’ expectation as apocalyptic, in the sense of an anticipated calendar of divine unveilings in which God’s rule can be dated, is misleading. The dearth of references to the kingdom in apocalyptic literature undermines that position, and much of the teaching attributed to Jesus militates against it (Luke 17.20; Luke 17.21; cf. Matthew 24.36 par.; Acts 1.7, in addition to passages cited above).


Jesus, thus, announced in his life and activity, this kingdom of God unfolding.

See Jesus of Nazareth.