In much of our religious world (i.e., Christendom) there is a good bit of confusion concerning the church (Matthew 16:18) Jesus came to build, and the kingdom (Mark 9:1) He came to establish. To a great many believers, Jesus came to establish his kingdom but was thwarted by the Jews and substituted the church instead. To other believers the church of Christ and the kingdom of God are one and the same. In this study we shall let the Scriptures speak.

Our English word "church” probably comes from "kuriakon” in the Greek, meaning "the Lord’s house.” However, our translators used "church” to translate "ecclesia,” which had reference to citizens called out in an assembly to conduct the affairs of the community. Thus Christians are those "called out” of the world by the Gospel to serve God (2 Thessalonians 2:14). We become Christians, and therefore new creatures in Christ (Romans 6:1 ff; 2 Corinthians 5:18), by virtue of being born again (John 3:3-8). The same process that makes us Christians or members of His church (i.e., the "called out”) also makes us citizens in his kingdom. Paul identifies "the house of God” as the "church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

Kingdom is defined as "(1) a country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen. (2) a realm associated with a particular person or thing. (3) the spiritual reign or authority of God. (4) each of the three divisions (animal, vegetable, and mineral) in which natural objects are classified.” Certainly the first three apply to the Lord’s Church. Under (1) the territory is the human heart and is ruled by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Acts 2:36). Under (2) the realm of Christianity is certainly under the authority of our heavenly father and His only begotten son who is seated at his right hand (Acts 2:33). Finally "kingdom” is defined as "the spiritual reign or authority of God,” simply points out Jesus’ statement, "my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

If the kingdom of God is not the same as the church of His son, Jesus fails as a prophet of God. In Mark 9:1 Jesus prophesied, "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” No believer in Jesus as the Christ would consider the possibility of Jesus being a false prophet. As one ardent believer in the Book of Books once said, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”

Dale I. Royal,
Elk City OK