Kingdom—Church: A Biblical Study -- By: William H. Bates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: Kingdom—Church: A Biblical Study
Author: William H. Bates


Kingdom—Church: A Biblical Study

Willliam H. Bates

There are three phrases, “kingdom of God,” “kingdom of heaven,” and “the church,” that are often used quite indiscriminately, frequently as synonymous; and while it is true that in large respects they do cover the same spaces of meaning, is it not also true that in other and very important respects each has a concept that distinguishes and differentiates it from the others?

This much it seems but reasonable should be expected and conceded if we allow the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Divine Word and caused it to be written, to have only as much intelligence as is commonly assumed must be possessed in the authorship of even a respectable literary production. And all through the centuries has there not been a troubled and troublesome exegesis because of not regarding the Bible as saying what it means and meaning what it says, and not discriminating between the things that differ?

The attempt is here made to ascertain, if we can, the content of these three terms and their distinguishing differences.

Their relations to each other and the distinctions between them may possibly receive something of explication and illustration by the following diagram :—

The word “kingdom” is from “king” and the old Saxon “dom,” doom, dominion, and denotes the king’s dominion, authority, sway, rule. And the king’s rule, it should be specifically noted, may be either — or both — the actual exercise of his power, or the realm in which he exercises it: his dominion or domain.

The Kingdom Of God

The Kingdom of God, then, is God’s dominion and domain: his rule and realm.

This kingdom is universal, all-inclusive, all-comprehending, for “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (Ps. 103:19). It is an “everlasting kingdom” (Ps. 145:13), covering all time and all space. All objects in time and space, worlds and their contents organic or inorganic, sentient or insentient, material or spiritual, belong to it — “all.”

The distinction between rule and realm must constantly be borne in mind. This earth, through the introduction of sin, became a (let us hope there is no other) revolted province. So there is much in God’s earthly realm over which he does not “rule,” at least immediately: devils, wicked men, all rebels against his authority. There is much, for reasons

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