Biblical Theology Articles

The Kingdom of God

Peter Leithart

Since the middle of the last century, the meaning of the kingdom of God has been a major, and perhaps the major, issue in New Testament theology. Reasons for the intense interest in this subject are easy to discover. The kingdom of God is, after all, the major theme in the preaching of Jesus as presented by the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Jesus' entire message is summarized as "proclaiming the kingdom of God", "proclaiming the kingdom of heaven", or "proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom" (cf. Matthew 4:17; 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15). In Luke 4:43, Jesus says that the purpose for which He was sent was to preach the kingdom of God. To understand the message of the New Testament, it is necessary to understand the meaning of the kingdom of God.

In recent years, the kingdom of God has become a topic of interest among Christians. Many people are talking about the kingdom of God, but there is little agreement on what the kingdom is.

One of the fast-growing sectors of the charismatic movement espouses what is called "Kingdom Now" theology. Charismatic Kingdom Theology emphasizes the connection between the kingdom and the gifts of tongues and healing. The power of the kingdom is manifested in power over demons. For charismatics, the kingdom tends to be associated with spectacular manifestations of the power of the Spirit.

Liberation theologians also speak a great deal about the kingdom, but they see the kingdom manifested largely in political and social change. The Roman Catholic journal Crisis recently reprinted a letter from Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Fidel Castro. Cardinal Arns congratulated Castro on the thirtieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, adding that "Christian faith discovers in the achievements of the Revolution signs of the kingdom of God".[2] The phrase "sign of the kingdom", historically used in connection with the Sacraments, is applied by liberation theologians to Marxist revolutions and regimes of the most brutal and oppressive kind.

At the other end of the political spectrum, there are the "reconstructionists". Gary North, a leading "reconstructionist" writer, has recently written that "Kingdom means civilization. It means either the lawful or unlawful exercise of authority in history."[3] This might be taken to mean that the kingdom of God is something of an ideal social order, an idea more in accord with the liberal theologies of the nineteenth century than with the usage of Scripture. More recently, however, North has spelled out that "The kingdom of God is the civilization of God - internal, external, earthly, historical, and eternal."[4] By including the internal and eternal in his definition of God's civilization, North avoids the problems inherent in identifying the kingdom with an historical social order. The tendency of "reconstructionist" writing is, nonetheless, to emphasize the connections between the kingdom of God and socio-political transformation.

Faced with various kingdom theologies, some evangelicals have argued that the kingdom is exclusively future. Dave Hunt, a premillennialist, stresses that the kingdom of God will not be fully realized until the new heavens and new earth are established when the millennium is over. Hunt tends toward the view that the kingdom of God is not a present reality in any sense, and stresses the importance of heaven in the Christian life.

There is a certain truth in many of the kingdom theologies being preached today. Charismatic Kingdom Now theologians are quite biblical in their emphasis on the crucial connection between the Spirit and the kingdom of God. Liberation theologians and "reconstructionists" are, despite their differences, correct to emphasize that the kingdom is relevant to questions of political and social justice and order. Dave Hunt is correct to emphasize that the consummation of the kingdom is future, and to raise the question, "Whatever happened to heaven?" Given the variety of "kingdom theologies" that are being preached, however, it is important that we be able to distinguish the good and bad in each. In order to do this, we must turn to the Scriptures, and attempt to learn everything that God teaches there about His kingdom.

The Difficulty of the Topic

Turning to the Scriptures is the first step in understanding what the kingdom of God is, but determining what the Scriptures teach is not always an easy thing to do. When we study the biblical theme of the kingdom of God, we are faced with several difficulties.

First, some biblical doctrines, like sin, are defined with a high degree of precision (1 John 3:4). The kingdom of God, by contrast, is never precisely defined in the Bible. The phrase appears most often in the preaching of Jesus, but Jesus seems to have assumed His hearers would understand what He meant. Instead of defining the kingdom of God, Jesus explained its nature by a variety of images, metaphors, and parables. The kingdom is like a mustard seed that grows into a tree, like a pearl buried in a field, like a net that gathers fish, like a landowner who rents his vineyard to evil men, like a king who forgives his servant's debt, and so on. None of these metaphors, images, or parables exhausts the full meaning of the kingdom of God. Instead, Jesus' teaching provides a variety of different perspectives on the kingdom.[5]

Some scholars have concluded from the biblical evidence that the kingdom of God is not a "thing" or an "idea" at all. Instead, they call the kingdom of God a "tensive symbol". Some symbols always symbolize the same thing. With these symbols, there is a one-to-one relationship between the symbol and the reality. These are known as "steno-symbols". A "tensive" symbol, by contrast, brings to mind many different associations; it has a "set of meanings which can neither be exhausted nor adequately expressed by any one referent".[6] When Melville begins Moby Dick with the sentence, "Call me Ishmael", the informed reader will be reminded of Ishmael, Abraham's son. The biblical Ishmael was an outcast, a wanderer, a hunter. From the first sentence of Melville's classic, the reader has certain vague preconceptions about the character Ishmael.

Similarly, in the view of many scholars, when Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, He was not referring to a single "thing" or "idea" or "concept". Instead, he was using a symbol that evoked many different conceptions in His hearers' minds.[7] They thought of God's rule over all creation, His mighty acts on behalf of His people, the glory of the kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon, the prophetic promises of the restoration of David's kingdom, Daniel's prophecy of a "son of man" who would be given dominion and a kingdom, and other Old Testament events and institutions. For example, Norman Perrin suggests that "kingdom" in the Lord's Prayer is a tensive symbol, and that the petitions of the prayer "represent realistic possibilities for the personal or communal experience of God as king. God is to be experienced as king in the provision of 'daily bread', in the experienced reality of the forgiveness of sins, and in support in the face of temptation." The prayer thus explores the "fundamental possibilities for the experience of God as king in human life; they are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive".[8]

This approach to the study of the kingdom yields some very fruitful and fresh perspectives. In particular, it takes seriously the complexity of Jesus' teaching about the kingdom of God, and thus is a useful corrective to the temptation to narrow that teaching to one or two basic elements. It is surely true that Jesus' parables, prayers, similes, are "neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive". This approach is, moreover, sophisticated in its understanding of the use of language. And it must be said that, according to the synoptic witness, Jesus did use "kingdom of God" language to evoke a wide range of concepts and remembrances of Old Testament history and prophecy. In these senses, it seems legitimate to describe Jesus' use of the "kingdom of God" as a "tensive symbol".

Still, the "tensive symbol" approach is more useful in interpreting the use of "kingdom of God" language in specific passages than in producing a systematic understanding of Jesus' teaching about the kingdom. It is more a theory about the Jesus' use of language and its effect on His hearers than about His theology (though, of course, the two questions are related). If all we say about the kingdom is that Jesus used that phrase to evoke a range of conceptions, we have said nothing about the interrelationships among those various conceptions.

Not only must we make an effort to "symphonize" the various conceptions evoked by the phrase "kingdom of God", but we must make an effort to understand the relations between the various metaphors and images with which Jesus explicates the meaning of the coming of the kingdom. For example, Jesus sometimes speaks of the kingdom of God as a "grant" or a "gift" to His disciples, a conferring of privilege and authority (Luke 22:28-30). In a similar vein, the kingdom is the inheritance of the sheep (Matthew 25:34). Among other things, these descriptions stress that the kingdom is conferred by grace. An heir does nothing to earn his inheritance; he receives his inheritance because he is closely related to the person giving the inheritance. At the same time, Jesus also says that a righteousness exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is a pre-requisite for entrance into the kingdom (Matthew 5:20). There appears to be some tension between these two themes in Jesus' preaching. We cannot simply let them stand; we cannot simply say that in one sense the kingdom is a gift, but in another sense we must merit the kingdom by our righteousness. Harmonization and systematization are essential here, but the "tensive symbol" approach gives us little or no aid to that end.[9]

A second obstacle to understanding the Scripture's teaching on kingdom of God is that, until the last century, little attention has been devoted to this specific theme. Martin Bucer, the reformer of Strasbourg, wrote a book entitled, The Reign of Christ in England, but the other reformers devoted their efforts to defending the doctrine of justification or the Reformation doctrine of the Sacraments. When they (Bucer included) spoke about the kingdom of God, they most often equated it with the Church. This is the view taken by the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647): "The visible church consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation" (XXV.22). The kingdom and the Church are closely linked in Scripture, and in some senses the two might be interchangeable. But in general they are clearly not identical. Jesus did not come proclaiming the "gospel of the Church".

When the kingdom of God began to be studied in detail in the last century, the majority of scholars working on the subject no longer believed in the reliability of Scripture. It was only in reaction to liberal scholarship that conservative scholars began to study the issue in some depth. In the evangelical world, the study of the kingdom of God has been, at least in the popular mind, too much conditioned by dispensationalism. Both dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist writers have concentrated on the millennial question, which is of at most secondary importance; in other words, dispensationalists have selected the playing field and formulated the rules of the game. Modern liberal writers on the kingdom of God, in paying less attention to millennial questions and more attention to ecclesiological, Christological, and eschatological[10] questions, have often reflected the biblical priorities better than their orthodox counterparts.

Finally, the study of the kingdom of God is made difficult by the fact that it is related to so many different biblical doctrines. The kingdom is associated with forgiveness of sins (Matthew 18:21-35), repentance and faith (Matthew 4:17), righteous living (Matthew 5:3; 5:17-20), and the new birth (John 3:5). Seeking the kingdom should be our highest priority (Matthew 6:33), and the kingdom of God is our destiny and inheritance (Matthew 25:34). Many of these other biblical doctrines are themselves very central themes of Scripture. In order to understand the nature of the kingdom, we need to examine Scripture's teaching on these other themes as well.

Because of the complexity and difficulty of the topic, I do not claim that my treatment of the kingdom is definitive. On the other hand, I hope I have made some progress in understanding the kingdom of God.

The "Word-Concept" Distinction

Before offering my attempt at a comprehensive definition of the kingdom, it is helpful to mention one of the interpretive principles that have guided my study, namely, the distinction between a word and concept. This distinction implies that a concept can be discussed in many different ways, using very different language. The absence of a word does not necessarily imply the absence of a concept.

For example, the word "church" is used only twice in all the gospels (Matthew 16:18; 18:17). But this doesn't imply that the gospels do not teach us about the Church. On the contrary, Jesus had a great deal to say about the Church. He just didn't use the word Church. Instead, He talked about His "little flock" (Luke 12:32; John 10:16), His "disciples" (Matthew 10:24-25; 14:26-27), and about the "branches" in Himself, the Vine (John 15:1-8). In these and many different ways, Jesus taught His disciples what it meant to be members of His community. All of these passages are relevant to the doctrine of the Church, though none uses the word Church.

This distinction is extremely important in any study of the kingdom of God. In January 1990, I was involved in a dialogue about the kingdom of God between covenant theologians and dispensationalists, sponsored by the Coalition on Revival. One of the dispensationalists made the statement that the New Testament nowhere explicitly and unequivocally states that Jesus Christ is reigning now. Assuming that this is true, does it mean that the New Testament does not teach that Jesus is reigning? Not at all. Paul told the Ephesians that Jesus had been exalted far above all rule and authority and power and dominion "not only in this age, but also in the one to come", and that God had "put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:21-22). In a very crabbed and narrow sense, one might say that this passage says nothing about Jesus "reigning". It is true that the words "reign" and "rule" are never used. But the teaching of this passage is clearly that Jesus is reigning over all things, and that He is reigning now and will reign forever.

The word-concept distinction is especially important because the phrases "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven". are very oddly distributed in the Bible. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" never appears in that form in the Old Testament. The Old Testament speaks about the "kingdom of the Lord" or "His kingdom" (Psalm 103:19; 145:11; 1 Chronicles 17:14; 28:5), and has much to say about God as king. But the phrase is not used nearly so much as it is in the New Testament.

Even in the New Testament, the occurrences of the phrase are concentrated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew alone uses either "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven" more than 50 times. But John uses it only three times (3:3,5; 18:36), and in all of Paul's letters, the phrase appears only fourteen times (or seventeen, if Hebrews is counted as Pauline).

These facts have led some Bible students to begin and end their study of the kingdom of God with the synoptic gospels. Others have turned to extra-biblical Jewish writings in an effort to understand Jesus' teaching. These students tend to ignore the Old Testament's teaching about the kingdom, and the writings of Paul. Once we understand the word-concept distinction, however, we realize that it is possible that the Old Testament, John, and Paul use different words to speak about the same reality.[11]

The word-concept distinction implies, finally, that words can have different meanings in different contexts. Thus, some texts may refer to the kingdom of God as a future reality (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50). But this doesn't mean that the kingdom cannot be a present reality. In fact, other passages teach that we already enjoy the blessings of the kingdom (cf. Romans 14:17). In order to understand the kingdom as a whole, we cannot allow any one passage to determine imperialistically the meaning of other passages. We must try to understand each passage on its own terms, and then seek to put them together in a coherent way.

Definition of the Kingdom

As I have already noted, Scripture seems to be almost deliberately vague about the kingdom. It is like a seed, like leaven, like a sower going to sow His field, like a merciful master who forgives our debts. The kingdom is also a place where we enter to eat and drink with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus Christ Himself. We have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light and of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The coming of the kingdom, in John the Baptist's preaching, also brings judgment. The kingdom is our inheritance, a grant that has been taken from the Old Testament people of God, and given to a people producing its fruit.

Given this mind-boggling complexity (and these descriptions only scratch the surface), it is extremely difficult to arrive at a brief definition of the kingdom that does justice to every dimension of the reality. Of course, this is always the case when we study Scripture. We are always, as creatures, limited to looking at things from one perspective at a time. We cannot attain a God-like comprehension of the kingdom, or of anything that God says or does. But the problem is even more acute in the case of the kingdom because Scripture connects the kingdom with so many other important (and almost equally complex) themes.

Still, I think it proper, as much as we are able, to seek a brief summary definition of what the Bible means by the "kingdom of God". So, my effort at a single-sentence definition of the kingdom of God is this: The kingdom of God is the new world-order, in heaven and on earth, produced by the revolutionary changes brought about in Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Covenant in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.[12]

Let me point to several of what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of this definition. First, the weaknesses. This definition does not stress dynamic character and growth of the kingdom. The kingdom was established in Christ's first advent, but it is growing, and will be consummated. I could define the kingdom as a "growing world-order" or a "world-order in the process of realization", but such language makes for awkward definitions.

Similarly, this definition contains nothing explicit about the future consummation of the kingdom. The New Testament describes the kingdom of God as our "inheritance", and this is a crucially important facet of the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21). But my definition does not mention it. If someone wishes to define the kingdom as the "consummated new heavens and new earth", I will not quibble, so long as it is clear that the kingdom is already a reality in its main features. Since Jesus' preaching emphasizes the nearness of the kingdom's coming, however, I have made the present reality of the kingdom the focus of my definition.

My definition also tends to blur the Bible's focus on the fact that the kingdom is ruled by the Lord. One of the central features of the biblical doctrine of the kingdom is that it belongs to and is established by God. Along similar lines, my definition pushes into the background the stress that the New Testament places on God's sovereign will as a central feature of the kingdom.

I consider the strengths of the definition to be as follows: It is a comprehensive definition. Though the features of this "new world order" remain to be spelled out, the definition captures the absolutely universal dimensions of the kingdom. The kingdom is not, on this definition, confined to the Church. Christ has authority even over those who do not acknowledge it.[13]

My definition runs counter to much of modern scholarship, which emphasizes that the Greek word basileia means "rule", not "realm". That is, the word "kingdom" does not in the first instance refer to the geographic area over which a king rules, but to his authority as a ruler. Thus, some translate basileia as "rule" or "dominion" or "reign", rather than as "kingdom". I believe, however, that an emphasis on "realm" rather than "rule" is valuable. As much as I've tried, I have not been able to understand what such common evangelical definitions of the kingdom as "God's saving rule dynamically exerted" mean.[14] It makes much more sense to me to say that the coming of the kingdom of God means that God Himself comes in Christ - to assert His rule to be sure - but, just as importantly, to assert His rule by radically altering the existing order of things, or, better, by restoring and fulfilling the original order of things.

My definition has the advantage of calling attention to the structural characteristics of the kingdom, and this seems to me to be more in keeping with the political connotations of the phrase and with wider biblical themes than more abstract definitions. While I recognize the risk of treating the text in an overly rationalized manner, it makes sense to me to say that the "coming of the kingdom" involves some change in the way God governs and orders the world, and it does not make as much sense to say that the coming of the kingdom refers simply to His assertion of His royal rights within history. When God comes forth to exert His royal power in blessing and judgment, the face of creation is changed. Mountains are brought low, valleys exalted. The spirit goes forth and renews the face of the land (Judges 5:4-5; Psalm 68:7-8; Amos 1:2; Habakkuk 3).[15]

My definition, finally, avoids the distortions of some definitions of the kingdom by virtue of its comprehensiveness. This may best be explained by surveying different answers to the question, "If I were to point at the kingdom, what would I be pointing at?" Those who define the kingdom narrowly as "God's saving rule" would dismiss the question as itself embodying a misunderstanding of the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom cannot be pointed at. It is an abstract reality; though the kingdom manifests itself in righteousness and life, these are more the effects of the kingdom than the kingdom itself. We would receive a similar response from those who concentrate on the temporal aspect of the kingdom. The kingdom is the age of fulfillment, and as an "age" is not a "point-at-able" thing. Again, those who approach the kingdom from an exclusively linguistic viewpoint would dismiss the question; the kingdom is a "tensive symbol", not a "thing" or even a "concept".

Biblical scholars of earlier centuries would have pointed to the Church. Some today would point heavenward, others to the new heavens and new earth that will be established at Christ's return. Others, and not all of them liberation theologians, would suggest that social action is "kingdom-building" activity, and would imply that the kingdom is intimately related to, if not identical with, some ideal historical social order.

I believe that there is some truth and some distortion in all of these. But my answer to the question would be: I'd point to all of it, the whole cosmic order of things since 70 A.D., developing through history until it is perfectly realized at the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, for example, the breaking down of the wall between Jew and Gentile in the New Covenant Church is a feature of the kingdom; but the Church is not equivalent to the kingdom. Similarly, I believe that the revolution in heaven and earth that Jesus accomplished has implications for social and political order, and that social and political activity has a part to play in the full realization of the kingdom (see below). But social activism cannot, on my definition, be equated with "building the kingdom"; the kingdom "grows" by the power of the Spirit working through human agents. There will never be a historical social order that can be identified with the kingdom of God.

It might be objected against my definition that I am defining the kingdom so broadly that my use of the phrase "kingdom of God" is no longer interchangeable with biblical usage. I will concede the point, but only to the extent that every humanly constructed theological concept in some way modifies the biblical material. Having made this concession, however, I believe that in fact my definition is more directly interchangeable with Jesus' use of the phrase than some other definitions.

My reasons for this rather arrogant statement are the following. First, Jesus Himself uses the phrase to describe the proximate goal of His entire ministry.[16] His purpose on earth was to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43). Thus, from Jesus' own usage, we are justified in saying that everything that Jesus accomplished can be subsumed under the category of the kingdom of God. It remains then simply to determine what Jesus accomplished.[17]

Moreover, and this point is particularly directed against the definition of the kingdom as "saving rule", I think it is clear that Jesus' conception of the kingdom is more concrete than "rule" suggests. He speaks of "entering" the kingdom; how is it possible to "enter" a "rule"? It is, of course, possible to "come under the dominion" of a ruler, but this is not what Jesus said. Whatever He meant, He was referring to something that can be called an "environment" (Matthew 5:20; 7:21; 18:3; John 3:5; etc.), a place where people can sit to enjoy a meal (Matthew 8:11).

Finally, my definition does justice to the fact that Jesus preached the end of the world. A careful reading of the gospels, generations of liberals have argued, shows that Jesus preached that the world was about to end. It obviously didn't. Therefore, Jesus was wrong.[18] Evangelicals have had difficulty meeting this challenge. They do not stress the structural changes brought about by Christ's death and resurrection. Thus, they do not explain the coming of the kingdom of God as "the end of the world". But then they are hard-pressed to explain Jesus' emphasis on the nearness of the end.[19]

My definition answers this liberal criticism first by agreeing that Jesus indeed did proclaim the end of the world. But, I would argue, the world did in fact end. Jesus was right. From the moment of His incarnation, and more especially from His death, resurrection, and ascension, the old world ended, and a new world was born. Heaven and earth were never the same.

Features of the New World Order

The new world order of the kingdom is manifested at three "levels". First, there is a revolution in heaven. By the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, Satan has been cast from heaven (cf. Luke 10:18), from the position of power and authority that he had in the Old Testament (Job 1-2; Zechariah 3). The accuser of the brethren is cast down (Revelation 12:10). The bondage into which God delivered the descendents of Adam has been broken. In the place of Satan, we have an Advocate in the heavenlies, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:1). Our Advocate is also a King, who is seated to rule over all authority and power and dominion (Ephesians 1:19-23). And this King is both God and Man, and as man He is both the Son of David and the Last Adam (Hebrews 2:5-8). Jesus therefore fulfills not only the purpose of Israel, but God's original purpose for Man, that he should rule as God's vice-gerent. Finally, our King does not ascend to His heavenly throne only for His own glory; He also brings many sons to glory. The saints too are seated on thrones in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). We have been given dominion over Satan, sin, and indeed over all things, and all things now serve us (1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Romans 8:28).

Second, the kingdom involves a revolution at the sanctuary, or, more precisely, the opening of the true, heavenly sanctuary.[20] As James Jordan has shown, the Old Testament is dominated by the story of man's exclusion from God's presence in the sanctuary (Genesis 3:24; Leviticus 16:1-2; etc.).[21] When Jesus died, however, He paid the penalty that Adam and his seed deserved, and the temple veil was rent, revealing that the way into the sanctuary had been opened (Matthew 27:51). The rending of the veil was an earthly sign that the heavenly sanctuary had been opened, and that God's people could, through the blood of Jesus, enter boldly before His throne (Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:1-15; 10:19-20). In the sanctuary, the people of God are given the privilege of laying their petitions before the Lord, and also the privilege of eating and drinking in the presence of God (cf. Exodus 24).

The opening of the heavenly sanctuary may seem to have little to do with the coming of the kingdom. In fact, however, I am convinced that scholars have failed to understand the structure of Jesus' teaching about the kingdom precisely because they have neglected this background.[22] That the opening of the heavenly sanctuary is an element of the coming of the kingdom can be shown by noting, first, the connections between the kingdom, God's glory, and the sanctuary. In several parallels in the gospels, the kingdom is virtually equated with the glory of God (Matthew 16:27-28; Mark 10:37 with Matthew 19:28; cf. also Matthew 6:13). To enter into the glory of God is to enter the kingdom. The "glory of God" in the Bible is not some abstract attribute of God, but His visible presence among His people. Jesus Christ is the antitype to which the glory cloud pointed: He is the radiance of God's glory (Hebrews 1:3). Moreover, the glory of God is intimately connected with the sanctuary (Psalm 26:8; Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:14). Putting these together, we can see the following associations: To enter the kingdom of God is to enter God's glory; God's glory "dwells" in the sanctuary; therefore, to enter the kingdom is to enter the sanctuary, where God's glory dwells.

A more direct route to the same conclusion is to note that the sanctuary is the place where God is enthroned. Yahweh sat enthroned above the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. The Holiest was the throne room of God (2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 11:4; 80:1; 99:1). It was the "concentration point" of God's kingdom. Just as earthly rulers make and declare their decisions in their inner throne rooms, so also the Lord of heaven rules from the sanctuary. Just as earthly kings "step forth" from their inner chambers to do battle, so also God breaks out of His sanctuary for holy war. This association of the sanctuary with God's rule is even more direct when we consider that heaven, the place where God rules eternally, is the true sanctuary, now opened to God's people.

The connection of the kingdom and the sanctuary is shown, third, from the fact that both are places where God's people eat and drink and rejoice in God's presence. When the people of Israel settled in the land of Palestine, they were to construct a central sanctuary. The sanctuary was both the place of sacrifice and the place of feasting (Deuteronomy 12:7-14). So also, the kingdom is described throughout the gospels as the place where we sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to eat at the Lord's Table (cf. Luke 22:29-30).

Fourth, the sanctuary and the kingdom are identified eschatologically. The heavenly Jerusalem that John saw coming to earth was a cube, like the Holy of Holies in the Temple (Revelation 21:16; cmp. 1 Kings 6:20). The eschatological order of things - the final kingdom - is both a city and an inner sanctuary. The final kingdom is a sanctuary; the present kingdom is a sanctuary as well.[23]

Finally, in at least one Psalm, God's "dominion" and His "sanctuary" are set in poetic parallelism: "Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel His dominion" (Psalm 114:2). Though this parallelism does not conclusively prove the identification of God's kingdom and His sanctuary, it shows that the two were closely associated with one another. And, it adds weight to the more indirect connections shown above.[24]

More connections could be noted, but these suffice to permit this conclusion: The kingdom of God in the "narrow" sense, that is, the kingdom as the place that men "enter" and where they feast with God, is the sanctuary. The coming of the kingdom involves the opening of the true heavenly sanctuary to sinful men, through the blood of the Lamb slain once for all at the consummation of the ages.

Finally, the establishment of the kingdom involves a revolution on earth. It should be noted that in Psalm 114:2, quoted above, both "sanctuary" and "dominion" are equated with God's people.[25] God's sanctuary is His people because God dwells among them, and His people is His kingdom because they submit to His rule. This was true in the Old Testament of Israel and Judah. But with the coming of Christ, the Old Testament people of God has been rejected, and the privileges of the kingdom are granted to a new people who will produce the fruit of it (Matthew 21:33-46). A new people becomes God's sanctuary and His kingdom. This new people is not, as in the Old Covenant, centered on a single nation or place, but embraces all nations and tribes and tongues. The dividing wall is broken down, and Jew and Greek are reconciled in one new man (Ephesians 2:11-22). This new people is seated in the heavenlies, and has access to the heavenly sanctuary through Christ. In Christ, the new people of God has life and power, and has become a new race of rulers, just as God originally intended all sons of Adam to be. By virtue of a new covenant by which the law is written upon their hearts and the Spirit of God placed within them, they are enabled to do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven (Hebrews 8).

The kingdom, thus, is the new order of things in heaven, in the sanctuary, and on the earth. In each aspect, Christ is autobasileia, Himself the kingdom. The kingdom is heaven because Christ rules from a heavenly throne. The kingdom is the sanctuary because it is in the sanctuary that we feast upon Christ's flesh and blood. The kingdom is the Church because she is the Body and Bride of Christ, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. In heaven, we seek the Body of Christ incarnate. In the sanctuary, the Body of Christ sacramental. On earth, the Body of Christ ecclesiastical. In every way, Christ is the kingdom.[26]

The Spirit brings the life and blessings of the kingdom. Through the Spirit, the power of Christ's resurrection is communicated to us, and we are enabled to conquer sin and death. The Spirit dwells in the sanctuary. And the Church is the Temple of the Spirit. Where the Spirit is, there is the kingdom of God.

Finally, all of these "levels" of the new world order of the kingdom are perspectivally related. We may say both that each is the kingdom and also that the combination of the three is the kingdom, because each feature of the kingdom involves and leads to the others. A proper understanding of any of the features requires an understanding of the others. The kingdom as the heavenly rule of Christ cannot be properly understood unless we recognize that Christ distributes the benefits of His rule in the sanctuary; similarly, the kingdom as the rule of Christ involves the Church because they are the people who submit willingly to His rule.[27] A proper understanding of the kingdom as sanctuary involves a recognition that Christ rules from His sanctuary; the kingdom as sanctuary leads to the kingdom as people of God because the Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. A proper understanding of the kingdom as God's people involves an understanding of the kingdom as rule because God's people have been raised to heavenly thrones in Christ; the kingdom as the Church leads to a consideration of the kingdom as sanctuary because God's people are those who have access to the heavenly sanctuary and its benefits (communion with the Triune God by the Spirit working through Word and Sacrament).

The Kingdom and Culture

The kingdom is relevant to but not identical with human culture. When God created Adam and Eve, He told them to fill the earth, subdue, and rule it. As Meredith Kline has put it, this is a mandate for "maximal global mastery". Adam and Eve, with their descendants, were to construct on earth a glorious replica of the heavenly dwelling of God. I emphasize the use of the word "replica". The earth was to become like heaven, but never by the efforts of even sinless human hands could it actually become heaven. The goal was progressively to approximate God's eschatological order. Even without sin, the fulfillment of the creation would have come to man as a gift. "Replica" does not, however, capture the dynamic relationship that God intended to exist between heaven and earth. Earth was not merely to become "like" heaven, but it was to become more and more an "anticipation" or "foretaste" of the glorified eschatological order. Earth was not merely to "mirror" heaven; it was to "grow up into" heaven, without in fact becoming heaven.

The "dominion mandate", however, was not merely a command. It was also a definition. Scholars have noted that the early chapters of Genesis have an etiological character. That is, they are designed to answer the question of why things are the way they are. One set of questions that the early chapters of Genesis answers is, "Why are men the way they are? Why are men always seeking greater knowledge? Why are men always seeking greater mastery over the earth? Why are they always trying to invent new things, to find new uses of 'natural' resources? Why do men paint, sculpt, draw, build buildings, write music and poetry? Why are men constantly and invariably involved in cultural pursuits of art, science, and technology?" The answer of Genesis 1 is that God so made man. Man is God's image. God is the Creator and King. As His image, man creates and rules.

Thus, God not only commanded Adam and Eve to rule, but made them ruling creatures. God not only commanded Adam and Eve to construct cultures, He made them culture-constructing beings. Sex provides a good analogy. Few of us think of God's command to be fruitful and multiply when we try to have children. We do it not out of conscious obedience to God's command, but because we are created as sexual creatures, with an "in-built" desire for sexual union and procreation. So also, when we engage in "cultural" tasks, whether we are building bridges or painting a landscape, we are doing it because we have a built-in desire to rule and glorify the earth.[28]

That this is the point of Genesis 1 is clear from the events recorded in Genesis 4-5. After Adam and Eve sinned, their descendants continued to rule their earth. The problem was not that they were not taking dominion. On the contrary, Genesis 4 records their contributions to the development of music, metallurgy, animal husbandry, architecture and politics ("Cain built a city", v. 17). The main problem of sinful man has never been his refusal to rule over the earth. The main problem is that he rules over the earth in an ungodly manner. Adamic man rules to make a name for himself, not to glorify the name of the Lord. Sinful men try to rule while they themselves are slaves of sin and Satan. God created Adam and Eve to construct a replica of His city on earth. Their descendants constructed the perverted city of Man.

For this reason, "dominion" is never the Christian's ultimate goal. Our exhortation to fellow Christians should not be, "Take Dominion". To paraphrase James, even the devils have dominion (of a sort). Rather, the Christian's goal is faithfulness to God; the chief end of man is now, just as it was three centuries ago when the Westminster Shorter Catechism was written, to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We should therefore exhort men to faithfulness in whatever calling God has placed them. We are by definition ruling creatures; the issue is not so much whether we rule, but why and how we rule, the goal, standard, and motive of our rule. Redemption thus does not involve an impartation of new cultural abilities. Rather, redemption involves a redirection of God-given cultural abilities, so that whatever talents we have are used for the glory of God, and so that we fulfill our callings (our individual "spheres of dominion") in obedience to God's commandments. In this way, the original commission to Adam is fulfilled, as God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

How does this relate to the kingdom of God? To be in the kingdom means that we have been delivered from the power of Satan and sin under which men suffer as a punishment for their sin. In Christ, we have been exalted to the heavenlies. In Christ, we have dominion over Satan. And this is precisely the kind of dominion that Adamic men and women lack. They may have political authority, or produce breath-taking works of art, but as long as they are slaves of Satan and sin, they are not fulfilling their highest calling of ruling the earth for the glory of God. Without spiritual weapons, they are incapable of battling their greatest enemies. The really crucial form of dominion is not cultural, but "spiritual" or heavenly. Visible dominion is temporary, but the invisible things remain. As Christians are faithful, this invisible, heavenly dominion becomes more visible in history in the form of cultural and political dominion. God's blessing comes to those who live in fear of Him, so cultures in which the gospel and law have played a formative role will be "the head and not the tail". Someday, we shall judge angels. At present, however, the root of the Christian's dominion is his entrance into and enjoyment of the privilege of heavenly dominion, his enthronement with Christ in heavenly places.

To be in the kingdom also means that we have access to the sanctuary, where we can feast on the true bread of life. Men outside of God's kingdom are in a state of living death. They are dead in their sins. Admitted to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ, we are made alive by the Spirit of God, and are empowered to work in our callings to God's glory and in obedience to His commandments. Having entered the kingdom, we have the ear of the King, who has promised to grant whatever we ask in His Name.

The Church is the visible aspect of the kingdom; she is the people that has access to the privileges of heavenly kingdom. The Church consists of the new, reunited human race, the Adams and Eves who are called to fulfill the original command to rule the earth to the glory of God. We can say that the Church is the Bride of Christ, and also that the Church, as a Mother, produces the new people of God. The Church brings the nations under the yoke of Christ (through baptism and discipline) and teaches the nations all that God has commanded. As the Church fulfills this function, she gives birth to a new race, a race that will, in Christ, fulfill the original mandate of Adam.

Thus, the kingdom of God is indirectly, but inevitably related to human culture. It is in the kingdom of God that men are redirected to the fulfillment of the original mandate for human history: to know God and to share in His rule over the earth. The kingdom is not Christian civilization. But without the kingdom of God, there would be no hope of Christian civilization. We might say that while the kingdom is not Christian civilization, one of the achievements of the kingdom is to produce Christian civilization, that is, an historical social order that reflects and ushers in the eternal and eschatological order of God's heavenly city.

The Feast of the Kingdom

One of the implications of this paradigm of the kingdom is the emphasis it places on worship and particularly on the Lord's Supper. Throughout Scripture, the royal feast is one of the chief images of the coming kingdom of God.[29] Isaiah, for example, described the Messianic banquet that would take place on the Mountain of the Lord: "And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces of marrow, and refined, aged wine" (Isaiah 25:6; see Psalm 45; Song of Songs 5:1; Ezekiel 34:23). Just as life was to be communicated to Adam and Eve through the fruit of the Tree of Life, so also the life and blessing of the kingdom is given in a feast.

Viewing the Gospels with Old Testament eyes, therefore, it is evident that Jesus' feeding of the multitudes points to the fact that He is the promised Messianic King. Feeding the people was a royal act, not a magic act. When Jesus fed five thousand men reclining on the green grass, He was showing Himself to be the promised David, the Royal Shepherd who would lead His flock to green pastures (Mark 6:30-44; see Psalm 23:5; Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; Luke 9:11-17). The royal significance of these meals was not lost on the Jewish people; after one meal, "they tried to make Him king" (John 6:15).

Jesus made very clear the intimate connection of the kingdom of heaven and the feast. He summarized the blessing of the kingdom as sitting at His table, feasting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11; see Luke 14:15). Drawing on the Old Testament prophecies about the pilgrimage of the nations to the mountain of God (Isaiah 2:2-4), Jesus said that men will come "from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:29). The coming of the kingdom means that the nations of the earth will gather for a feast at the sanctuary.

The kingdom feast that Jesus taught about and enacted throughout His earthly ministry was "institutionalized" in the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). During the Last Supper, Jesus pointed to the connection between the Supper and the kingdom's feast (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). The Lord's Supper is a foretaste of the joy and fellowship of the final wedding feast that Christ's people will enjoy when the Bridegroom returns. Every time the Church celebrates the Supper of the Lord, Jesus is there as our host and guest and food. Every time the Church celebrates the Lord's Supper, the future kingdom is manifested in the present, and through the Spirit the kingdom's power and life comes to us.

In Biblical perspective, then, it is no exaggeration to say that the central act of the kingdom of God, and the most basic visible form of the kingdom in this world, is the Sacramental feast of the people of God within God's heavenly throne room, a feast that symbolizes and provisionally realizes the future feast of the consummation. Unless we keep the feast, we will not enjoy the blessings of the kingdom. Nothing is more important for the advancement of the kingdom in our day than the restoration of the feast of the kingdom to its central place in the life of the Church.


Practically, the conclusion of this description of the kingdom is to force us back to ecclesiology. The kingdom is not so much a matter of social and political action as a matter of the Church with its worship and sacraments. Our weapons are not so much political sophistication or boycotts as the Word, Sacraments, Discipline, and Prayer. This conclusion may seen a retreat from engagement with the world. In fact, however, this conclusion forces us to engage the world as Christians, because it forces us to engage the world precisely as the Church.


[1] I wish to thank Drs. Richard B. Gaffin and Vern S. Poythress, Profs. John M. Frame and William Edgar, and James B. Jordan for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
[2] "Clerical Illusion", Crisis, February 1990, p. 8.
[3] Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), p. 646.
[4] North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), p. 37, n. 22.
[5] See Vern S. Poythress, Symphonic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
[6] Norman Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), p. 30. Quoted in W. Emory Elmore, "Linguistic Approaches to the Kingdom: Amos Wilder and Norman Perrin", in Wendell Willis, ed., The Kingdom of God in 20th-Century Interpretation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), p. 61.
[7] Perrin says that the kingdom of God is a tensive symbol because "as a symbol it can represent or evoke a whole range or series of conceptions, but it only becomes a conception or idea if it constantly represents or evokes that one conception or idea". Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom, p. 33. Quoted in Elmore, "Linguistic Approaches", p. 61.
[8] Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom, pp. 47-48. Quoted in Elmore, "Linguistic Approached", p. 63.
[9] On this particular question, I believe an answer lies in another parable of Jesus, the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21:33-44. There Jesus threatens to take the kingdom from the Jews and give it to "a people producing the fruit of it". That is, the kingdom is a gift, but the King expects His subjects to bear fruit. If they do not bear fruit, they will be cast out. The righteousness of the kingdom, then, is a product of the gift of the kingdom; but it is a necessary product, because faith without works is no true faith.
[10] I use the adjective "millennial" to refer to what is popularly thought of as the "eschatological". I use the word "eschatology" in the broader sense employed by Vos, Ridderbos, Gaffin, and other biblical theologians.
[11] Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1948] 1983), p. 372, points out the John's use of "life" is equivalent to the synoptic "kingdom". See also Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1972), pp. 10-11.
It is worth noting at this point that, though Paul does not use the phrase "kingdom of God" often, he does use it. Luke records that Paul summarized his ministry among the Ephesians as a proclaiming of the kingdom of God (Acts 20:25). A careful reading of Paul's sermon in Acts 20 shows that Paul used several other phrases to describe his teaching, and that all of these phrases were virtually synonymous. In particular, he said he had preached repentance toward God and faith in Jesus (v. 21). In other words, for Paul preaching faith in Jesus was the same as preaching the kingdom. Once this connection is made, it becomes clear that all of Paul's letters were concerned with the kingdom of God. Other Pauline phrases, such as "new creation" and the "age to come", are, I take it, parallel to if not identical with "kingdom of God".
[12] Vos uses the phrases "new order of things" and a "state of things". Kingdom of God and the Church, pp. 22. I have chosen to use the highly charged word "revolution" because that word, I believe, best summarizes the teaching of such (primarily Lukan) passages as Matthew 5:1-12, Luke 1:46-55, and Luke 4:16-21. By "revolution" I mean a radical reversal and transformation.
[13] I recognize that the phrase "kingdom of God" is most often used in the New Testament in a narrower sense, describing the sphere of blessing, the blessings of the kingdom themselves, the place of feasting in God's presence, and the people who acknowledge and submit to the government of Christ. As I will explain below, I believe that my definition is also capable of doing justice to this narrower sense.
[14] See Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962). Despite the difficulty of the definition, Ridderbos himself generally develops this definition in a satisfying way. But others have taken this definition as a sufficient statement of the whole reality of the kingdom, and drawn unwarranted conclusions.
Vos argues that "there are a great number, perhaps the majority, of passages in which the note of the concrete [realm] plainly predominates". Kingdom of God and the Church, pp. 22-23.
[15] See G. R. Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 4-8.
[16] I agree with Vos and Gary North, who stress that the establishment of the kingdom serves the glory of Triune God as its ultimate goal.
[17] As noted above, the phrases "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" are often used in a more narrow sense in the New Testament. Jesus tells Nicodemus that only the reborn enter the kingdom, and that the unregenerate cannot even see the kingdom. In other words, for Jesus, some people are in the kingdom and some are not. It is a distortion of the New Testament theology of the kingdom to say, as some do, that everyone is in the kingdom already. While it is true that Christ reigns over all things, only those born of God are in the kingdom of God. My definition, I believe, fits this narrower sense quite well, without sacrificing the universal scope and implications of the kingdom. I have argued in previous writings on the kingdom of God that the "universal" and "particular" aspects of the kingdom are "perspectivally related". That is, each requires and assumes the other. The universal leads to the particular because Christ rules over all things for the Church (Eph. 1:22). The particular leads to the universal because the Church over which Christ rules exists for the sake of the world. The relationships between the broader and narrower senses of the kingdom will become clearer as we examine the features of the kingdom, below.
[18] See Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, 2nd edition (London: Adam and Charles Black, [1906] 1952). Schweitzer's viewpoint continues to exert influence on contemporary theologians. See the comments of Avery Dulles in Models of the Church, expanded ed. (New York: Doubleday, [1974] 1987), pp. 106-8.
[19] Dispensationalists have sometimes dealt with this problem by saying that the kingdom is delayed. That answer, I believe, is very mistaken, but at least it recognizes the problem.
[20] The "revolution at the sanctuary" overlaps considerably with the "revolution in the heavens", but for the sake of clarifying different features of the kingdom I thought it best to treat them as distinct "revolutions". Perhaps it is best to see these as a single revolution seen from two different viewpoints. Under "revolution in the heavens", I am referring to the "heavens" essentially as the place of God's rule; the question is, who is in a position of authority, Christ or Satan? Under "revolution at the sanctuary", I am referring to heaven as the place where God and man commune with one another; the question is, who has access to the presence of God? The "revolution at the sanctuary" also overlaps with the "revolution on the earth". In this context, it might be helpful to describe the sanctuary as the "connection point of heaven and earth". Practically, the sanctuary is historically manifest in the Church, which is the Temple of the Spirit, and particularly as the Church is assembled in sacramental worship around the heavenly throne of God (cf. Hebrews 12:18ff.).
[21] Jordan, Sabbath Breaking and the Death Penalty (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1986).
[22] I can no longer trace precisely how this insight became lodged in my mind. James B. Jordan's comments on the "Treasury of God" in several essays and in personal conversation have been crucial. Alexander Schmemann's work, and the works of other Orthodox scholars, assume the equation of the kingdom and the sanctuary, and associates both with the sacramental worship of the Church.
Also important in the development of this idea was my study of Jesus' parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21, in which the kingdom appears as a something, a set of privileges, that can be detached from one people and given to another. It is also significant that the kingdom is often described in the New Testament as a place where God's people eat and drink with Abraham, Issac and Jacob. This implied, first, that the phrase "kingdom of God" often refers to a narrower reality than "Christ's mediatorial reign", and, second, that the kingdom is a place of feasting, joy, worship - in a word, a sanctuary.
[23] See David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of Revelation (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), p. 556. It is also noteworthy that the city-kingdom-sanctuary is the Bride, the Church. The three "levels" of the kingdom are collapsed together in John's vision.
[24] One final thought on this subject: At times, Jesus refers uses the phrase "kingdom of God" in reference to the gifts of the kingdom, rather than the "sphere" in which those gifts are given and received. This is what Jesus has in view when He compares the kingdom to a pearl of great price: the kingdom is a treasure. In terms of the definition that I have adopted, I would associate these uses of "kingdom" with the sanctuary; the phrase "kingdom of God may refer either to the "room" men enter to receive the gifts of the kingdom, or to the gifts themselves.
[25] The relationship between the Church and kingdom is quite complex. Defining the kingdom as rule of Christ and the heavenly sanctuary, we can conclude that the Church, as the people of God, is in some senses distinct from and other senses identical to the kingdom. The chart below summarizes my thoughts on the subject:

Leithart Fig

The kingdom as Christ's rule is distinct from the Church because the Church is the people over whom Christ rules savingly; but the Church is also identified with the rule of Christ because the saints are enthroned in heavenly places. The kingdom as sanctuary is distinct from the Church in the sense that the Church is the people that has access to the sanctuary, that possesses the gifts of the sanctuary, and will inherit the fulness of the blessing of the kingdom; but the Church is also identical to the kingdom as sanctuary because the Church is the Temple of the Spirit.
[26] This new world order is a restoration of the order of creation. It is more precise to say that the new world order of the kingdom is a fulfillment, a "filling to the full" of the original order of creation. It is not merely a return to a pristine order, but represents progress over the original creation. First, Adam and Eve were created to rule the earth; they sinned and God delivered them into slavery to Satan. In Christ, the Last Adam, we are restored to and even transcend the dominion of Adam and Eve. Second, Adam and Eve were to be empowered to fulfill their task by access to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden; they sinned and were cast out of the Garden. In Christ, we have access to the true heavenly sanctuary. Finally, Adam and Eve were to multiply to produce a race of men and women who would rule the earth in obedience to God's commandments; they sinned and the human race became divided between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. In Christ, we are remade by the Spirit of God into the image of Christ, the Last Adam, so that we can fulfill our calling to rule the earth in obedience; the breach within the human race has begun to be healed, and it will be more completely healed as the nations come to worship at the mountain of the Lord.
These same features are present in the kingdom of Israel: a king, a sanctuary, and a nation of rulers. In his prophecies of the coming kingdom, Ezekiel looks for a restored Israel, with David on the throne, a new sanctuary, and an everlasting covenant with a new people (Ezekiel 37:24-28).
It might also be noted that the idea that the basic idea that redemption involves the restoration of the order of creation is a key theme in Calvin's theology. Cf. Benjamin Milner, Calvin's Doctrine of the Church (Leiden: Brill, 1970). I do not mean to imply, however, that Calvin described the order of creation and redemption in the same terms that I am using.
[27] Vos says that the kingdom "exists there, where not merely God is supreme, for that is true at all times and under all circumstances, but where God supernaturally carries through his supremacy against all opposing powers and brings men to the willing recognition of the same". Kingdom of God and the Church, p. 50.
[28] Czech playwright and President Vaclav Havel makes this interesting comment about the autobiography of his father, a real estate developer in Prague: "You can feel in almost every sentence that what drove my father. . . was not the notorious capitalistic longing for profit and surplus value, but enterprise, pure and simple - the will to create something." Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, trans. by Paul Wilson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 4.
[29] In this and the following paragraphs, I am indebted to Geoffrey Wainwright, Eucharist and Eschatology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 18-42.

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