For some, that was not good enough

For some, that was not good enough

3.2.3. Kingdom of God

With or without a human king at its head, many Jews expected God and God’s people to be their own kingdom . The idea that survived the longest was the idea that the Jewish people can live their way of life under foreign rule and dominant cultures. They thought that God’s people should be free of foreign rule, and perhaps themselves be the rulers of the world. They looked at the great empires of the world (the Persians, Medes, Seleucid Greeks, Romans) and thought their power was inversely proportionate to their virtue. Why would God allow that? Shouldn’t the righteous people be the ones in charge? Surely God is getting around to defeating the current great empire and setting up the Jews in their place.

To be clear, the kingdom of God (or God’s people) was originally meant very literally as an earthly, political kingdom. This was true before Jesus, and well into the early days of the followers of Jesus. Many early Christians expected Jesus to come back soon, overthrow the Romans, and establish a political kingdom. As that did not become the case, Christians began to reflect on Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God as something that can exist in their hearts, or in small communities of Christians sharing in a common life in the body of Christ. Some argue that the followers of Jesus came to understand the kingdom of God not as an alternative kingdom, but a critique of the very idea of domination in all aspects of life. Today most Christians will say that the kingdom of God is both already and not yet. It is already with us in the faith Jesus has given us, and remains not yet fulfilled until Jesus returns and makes manifest his victory over sin and death.

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