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A Series of volumes on the " Teachings of Jesus " 
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Geerhardus Vos, Ph. D. y D. D. 



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vi Contents 







/N the body of our Lord s teaching 
as recorded in the Gospels the ref 
erences to the kingdom of God oc 
cupy a prominent place. According to 
the common testimony of the Synoptical 
Gospels Jesus opened his public ministry 
in Galilee with the announcement, that 
the kingdom was at hand, Matt. iv. 17 ; 
Mk. i. 15 ; Lk. iv. 43. In the last men 
tioned passage he even declares that the 
main purpose of his mission consists in 
the preaching of the good tidings of the 
kingdom of God. And not only does 

2 The Kingdom and the Chiirch 

the conception thus stand significantly at 
the beginning of our Lord s work, it 
reappears at the culminating points of 
his teaching, as in the beatitudes of the 
Sermon on the Mount and in the king 
dom-parables. Its importance will best 
be felt by considering that the coming 
of the kingdom is the great event which 
Jesus connects with his appearance and 
activity, and that consequently in his 
teaching, which was so closely dependent 
on his working, this event must also have 
a corresponding prominence. 

If this be true from Jesus own stand 
point, it is no less true from the stand 
point of his disciples. In their life 
likewise the kingdom of God forms the 
supreme object of pursuit, and there 
fore of necessity the theme about which 
before all other things they need care 
ful instruction. Again, the work of 
those whom Jesus trained as his special 
helpers in preaching related chiefly to 
this same subject, for he speaks of 

Introductory 3 

them as scribes made disciples to the 
kingdom of heaven, Matt. xiii. 52. 
Better than by mere statistics showing 
the explicit references to the kingdom in 
our Lord s discourses can we along the 
above lines be led to appreciate how large 
a place the subject of our investigation 
must have had in his thought. 

It might be objected to all this, 
that in the version which the Fourth 
Gospel gives of Jesus teaching, the 
idea of the kingdom plays a very 
subordinate role, indeed occurs only 
twice altogether, viz., Jno. iii. 3, 5 ; 
xviii. 36. But this is a feature explain 
able from the peculiarity of John s Gos 
pel in general. Here the person of 
Jesus as the Son of God stands in the 
foreground, and the whole compass of 
his work is represented as given in and 
resulting from his person. Salvation 
according to the discourses preserved 
in this Gospel is made up of those 
primal elements into which the being of 

4 The Kingdom and the Church 

Christ can be resolved, such as light, 
life, grace, truth. What the Saviour does 
is the outcome of what he is. In the 
Synoptists on the other hand the work 
of Jesus is made central and all-important, 
and especially during the earlier stages 
of his ministry his person and personal 
relation to this work are only so much 
referred to as the circumstances of the 
discourse make absolutely necessary. 

After all, however, this amounts only 
to a different mode of viewing the same 
things : there is no contradiction involved 
as to their inner essence. In a significant 
saying uttered even before the beginning 
of his great Galilean ministry our Lord 
himself has affirmed the identity of the 
kingdom with at least one of the concep 
tions that dominate his teaching accord 
ing to John, viz. , that of life. To Nicode- 
mus he speaks of the mysterious birth of 
water and the Spirit as the only entrance 
into the kingdom of God. Now, inas 
much as birth is that process by which 

Introductory 5 

one enters into life, and since in the im 
mediately following context life is silently 
substituted for the kingdom, it is plain 
that these two are practically equivalent, 
just as the sphere of truth and the king 
dom are equivalent in the other passage, 
xviii. 36. With this accords the fact 
that in the Synoptical teaching the re 
verse may occasionally be observed, viz., 
that life is used interchangeably with 
the kingdom, cf. Mk. x. 17, with vs. 

While thus recognizing that the king 
dom of God has an importance in our 
Lord s teaching second to that of no other 
subject, we should not go to the extreme 
into which some writers have fallen, of 
finding in it the only theme on which 
Jesus actually taught, which would imply 
that all other topics dealt with in his dis 
courses were to his mind but so many 
corollaries or subdivisions of this one great 
truth. The modern attempts to make 
the kingdom of God the organizing cen- 

6 The Kingdom and the Church 

ter of a theological system have here 
exerted a misleading influence upon the 
interpretation of Jesus teaching. From 
the fact that the proximate object of his 
saving work was the realization of the 
kingdom, the wrong inference has been 
drawn, that this must have been also the 
highest category under which he viewed 
the truth. It is plain that the one does 
not follow from the other. Salvation 
with all it contains flows from the nature 
and subserves the glory of God, and we 
can clearly perceive that Jesus was ac 
customed consciously to refer it to this 
divine source and to subordinate it to this 
God-centered purpose, cf. Jno. xvii. 4. 
;He usually spoke not of " the kingdom " 
absolutely, but of " the kingdom of God " 
land " the kingdom of heaven/ and these 
names themselves indicate that the place 
of God in the order of things which they 
.describe is the all-important thing to his 

It is only with great artificiality that 

Introductory 7 

the various component elements of our 
Lord s teaching can be subsumed under 
the one head of the kingdom. If any 
deduction and systematizing are to be at 
tempted, logic and the indications which 
we have of our Lord s habit of thought 
on this point alike require, that not his 
teaching on the kingdom but that on 
God shall be given the highest place. 
The relation observable in the discourses 
of the Fourth Gospel between the per 
son of Christ and salvation, is also 
the relation which we may conceive 
to exist between God and the kingdom. 
Because God is what he is, the kingdom 
bears the character and embodies the 
principles which as a matter of fact belong 
to it. Even so, however, we should avoid 
the modern mistake of endeavoring to 
derive the idea of the kingdom from the 
conception of the divine fatherhood alone. 
This derivation expresses an important 
truth recognized by Jesus himself, when 
he calls the kingdom a fatherly gift to the 

8 The Kingdom and the Church 

disciples, Lk. xii. 32. But it represents 
only one side of the truth, for in the king 
dom other attributes of God besides his 
fatherhood find expression. The doc 
trine of God in its entire fulness alone 
is capable of furnishing that broader basis 
on which the structure of his teaching 
on the kingdom can be built in agree 
ment with Jesus own mind. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied 
that in many respects the idea of the 
kingdom acted in our Lord s thought and 
teaching as a crystallizing point around 
which several other elements of truth nat 
urally gathered and grouped themselves 
in harmonious combination. That the 
idea of the church, where it emerges in 
his teaching, is a direct outgrowth of the 
development of his doctrine of the king 
dom, will appear in the sequel. But not 
only this, also the consummation of the 
world and the final state of glory were 
evidently viewed by him in no other 
light than as the crowning fulfilment of 

Introductory 9 

the kingdom-idea. Still further what 
he taught about righteousness was most 
closely interlinked in his mind with the 
truth about the nature of the kingdom. 
The same may safely be affirmed with 
reference to the love and grace of God. 
The great categories of subjective reli 
gion, faith and repentance and regenera 
tion, obviously had their place in his 
thought as answering to certain aspects 
of the kingdom. Even a subject appar 
ently so remote from the kingdom-idea, 
in our usual understanding of it, as that 
of miracles in reality derived for Jesus 
from the latter the larger part of its 
meaning. Finally, the kingdom stood in 
our Lord s mind for a very definite con 
ception concerning the historical relation 
of his own work and the new order of 
things introduced by it to the Old Testa 
ment. All this can here be stated in 
general only ; our task in the sequel will 
be to work it out in detail. But what 
has been said is sufficient to show that 

io The Kingdom and the Church 

there is scarcely an important subject in 
the rich repertoire of our Lord s teaching 
with which our study of his disclosures 
concerning the kingdom of God will not 
bring us into contact. 


The Kingdom and the Old Testa 

f "*HE first thing to be noticed in 
i Jesus utterances on our theme is 
that they clearly presuppose a con 
sciousness on his part of standing with 
his work on the basis of the revelation 
of God in the Old Testament. Our 
Lord occupies historic ground from the 
outset. From first to last he refers to 
" the kingdom of God " as a fixed con 
ception with which he takes for granted, 
his hearers are familiar. In affirming 
that it is " at hand" he moreover as 
cribes to it the character of something 


12 The Kingdom and the Church 

forming part of that world of prophecy, 
which moves onward through the ages 
to its divinely appointed goal of fulfil 
ment. It were utterly out of harmony 
with this fundamental principle of our 
Lord s kingdom-gospel to represent him 
as the founder of a new religion. His 
work was the realization of what in 
the ideal form of prophecy had been 
known and expected ages before. We 
simply here observe at a peculiarly vital 
point what underlies as a broad uniform 
basis his official consciousness every 
where. No array of explicit statements 
in which he acknowledges his accept 
ance of the Old Testament Scriptures as 
the word of God can equal in force this 
implied subordination of himself and of 
his work to the one great scheme of 
which the ancient revelation given to 
Israel formed the preparatory stage. 
Indeed in appropriating for himself the 
function of bringing the kingdom, in 
laying claim to the Messianic dignity, 

The Old Testament 13 

Jesus seized upon that in the Old Testa 
ment which enabled him at one stroke 
to make its whole historic movement 
converge upon and terminate in himself. 
There is in this a unique combination of 
the most sublime self-consciousness and 
the most humble submission to the rev 
elation of God in former ages. Jesus 
knew himself as at once the goal of his 
tory and the servant of history. 

The Old Testament knows of a king 
dom of God as already existing at that 
time. Apart from the universal reign 
exercised by God as Creator of all things, 
Jehovah has his special kingdom in Israel. 
The classical passage relating to the latter 
is Exodus xix. 4-6, from which it appears, 
that the making of the covenant at Sinai 
established this relationship. In virtue 
of it, Jehovah, besides being Israel s God, 
also acted as Israel s national King. By 
direct revelation he gave them laws and 
by his subsequent guidance of their his 
tory he made his rule a living reality. 

14 The Kingdom and the Church 

Even later, when human kings arose, 
these had no other rights from the point 
of view of the legitimate religion than 
those of the vicegerents of Jehovah. The 
meaning of this order of things was that 
in Israel s life all other interests, both 
public and private, were subordinated to 
and made a part of religion. Whilst else 
where religion was a function of the 
state, here the state became a function of 
religion. In itself this idea of a kingship 
exercised by the deity over the entire 
range of life was not confined to the 
sphere of special revelation. Melekh, 
king, was a common name for the god 
head among the Semitic tribes, so that to 
some extent, the principle of what we 
call " the theocracy "was known to them. 
But the relation which they imagined to 
exist between themselves and their gods 
was in Israel alone a matter of actual 
experience. A most vivid consciousness 
of this fact pervades the entire Old Tes 

The Old Testament 15 

In view of this it creates some surprise 
at first sight, that Jesus never speaks of 
the kingdom of God as previously exist 
ing. To him the kingdom is through 
out something new, now first to be real 
ized. Even of John the Baptist he speaks 
as not being in the kingdom, because his 
whole manner of work identified him 
with the preceding dispensation. The 
law and the prophets are until John : 
from that time the gospel of the king 
dom of God is preached, Lk. xvi. 16 ; 
Matt. xi. 13. There are only two pas 
sages in which the old theocratic order 
of things might seem to be referred to 
under the name of the kingdom. In 
Matt. viii. 12, Jesus calls the Jews " the 
sons of the kingdom." But this is prob 
ably meant in the sense, that in virtue of 
the promises they are heirs of the king 
dom, not in the sense of their having had 
the kingdom in actual possession before 
the coming of Christ. On the same prin 
ciple we must probably interpret Matt. 

1 6 The Kingdom and the Church 

xxi. 43, where Jesus predicts that the 
kingdom of God shall be taken away 
from the Jews and given to a nation 
bringing forth the fruits thereof, the king 
dom being used for the title to the 
kingdom. Or, if the literal meaning of 
the words be pressed, it should be remem 
bered, that our Lord spoke them during 
the later stage of his ministry, at a time 
when through his labors the kingdom of 
God in its new and highest sense had been 
at least incipiently realized. 

The only indirect recognition of God s 
kingship under the Old Testament is 
found in Matt. v. 35, where Jerusalem 
is called "the city of the great King." 
When the question is put, how must 
we explain this restriction of the term 
by Jesus to the new order of things, 
the answer cannot of course be sought 
in any lack of appreciation on his part 
of the reasons which underlie the op 
posite usage prevailing in the Old Tes 
tament. Nor can the reason have lain 

The Old Testament 17 

in a desire to accommodate himself to the 
contemporary Jewish conception, for, 
although the Jews at that time ex 
pected the kingdom from the future, 
they also knew it in another sense as 
already present with them through the 
reign of God in the law. The true 
explanation is undoubtedly to be found 
in the absolute, ideal character our Lord 
ascribed to the order of things associated 
with the name of the kingdom. To his 
mind it involved such altogether new 
forces and such unparalleled blessings, that 
all relative and provisional forms pre 
viously assumed by the work of God on 
earth seemed by comparison unworthy 
of the name. Thus, while he would not 
have denied that the Old Testament 
institutions represented a real kingdom 
of God, the high sense with which he 
had invested the term made it unnatural 
for him to apply it to these. 

And after all the Old Testament itself 
had pointed the way to this restricted 

1 8 The Kingdom and the Church 

usage followed by our Lord. Side by 
side with the kingdom that is we meet 
in the Old Testament a kingdom yet to 
come. This is due to three causes. In 
the first place, among the Semitic tribes 
the kingship very often originated by 
some powerful personality performing 
great acts of deliverance and obtaining in 
result of this a position of preeminence, as 
we see it happen in the case of Saul. Thus, 
though Jehovah was King, he never 
theless could perform acts in the future, 
work deliverances for his people, such 
as would render him King in a new sense, 
cf. Is. xxiv. 21 ; xliii. 15 ; Hi. 7 ; Mic. ii. 
12 ; iv. 6 ; Obad. 21 ; Ps. xcvii. 1 ; xcix. 
1. Secondly, the suspension of the visi 
bly exercised rule of Jehovah during the 
exile naturally led to the representation, 
that he would in the future become King 
by resuming his reign. It is especially 
in the Book of Daniel that the idea of the 
future kingdom of Jehovah is developed 
in contrast with the world-monarchies 

The Old Testament 19 

through which his kingdom appeared in 
abeyance for the present. Thirdly, the 
rise of Messianic prophecy had the natural 
result of projecting the true kingdom of 
God into the future. If not the present 
king was the ideal representative of 
Jehovah, but the future ruler as the 
prophets depict him, then, as a correlate 
of this, the thought would suggest itself 
that with this new ideal instrument the 
rule of God in its full ideal sense will first 
be realized. The expectation of the 
kingdom of God became equivalent to 
the Messianic hope of Israel. Now, inas 
much as our Lord knew himself to be 
the promised Messiah and knew that the 
Messianic King had had his typical pred 
ecessors under the Old Testament, we 
can indirectly show that the conception 
of the theocracy as a typical kingdom oi 
God cannot have been unfamiliar to him. 
In the Gospels both the thing and the 
name of the kingdom appear familiar 
to the people among whom Jesus taught, 

2o The Kingdom and the Church 

cf. Matt. iii. 2 ; Mk. xv. 43 ; Lk. xiv. 
15 ; xvii. 20. It would be rash, however, 
to infer from this, that Jesus simply 
accommodated himself in his mode of 
speech about the kingdom to the pre 
vailing usage of his time. The way in 
which he handled the conception in gen 
eral not only, but the very prominence 
to which he raised it, bore the marks 
of great originality and were productive 
of the most momentous changes from a 
religious point of view. This can be 
best apprehended if we place our Lord s 
usage by the side of that found in the 
contemporary Jewish literature. Here, 
as in the Old Testament, besides the divine 
kingship over the world both the present 
reign of Jehovah over Israel and his fu 
ture kingdom are referred to. In these 
references we notice two peculiarities. 
The first is that the kingdom itself is 
not strictly speaking represented as fu 
ture, but only the enforcement or man 
ifestation of the kingdom. God s rule 

The Old Testament 21 

is ever existing, only at present it is not 
recognized. In the future the world 
will be made to submit to it, thus the 
kingdom is manifested. This peculiarity 
is the result of the one-sided manner in 
which the relation of God to his people 
and the world appeared to be bound up 
in the law. Hence the Jewish phrase, 
" to take up the yoke of the kingdom of 
heaven," meaning to vow obedience to the 
law. The second peculiarity consists in 
the rareness with which even in this qual 
ified sense the Jewish sources speak of 
God s kingdom as a future thing. In 
comparatively few cases, where the new 
order of things expected in the Messianic 
age is referred to, does the name king 
dom of God appear in connection with it. 
This cannot be accidental. Probably the 
reason is as follows : the conception 
which the average Jewish mind had 
framed of the new order of things and 
the interest which in its view attached to 
it, were not sufficiently God-centered to 

22 The Kingdom and the Church 

favor the use of the phrase " kingdom of 
God/ The emphasis was placed largely 
on what the expected state would bring 
for Israel in a national and temporal sense. 
Hence it was preferably thought of as 
the kingdom of Israel over the other 
nations. Or the place of the kingdom- 
idea was taken by different conceptions, 
such as that of " the coming age," which 
were indefinite enough to leave room for 
the cherishing of the same self-centered 

Now it is from a comparison with these 
two peculiarities that our Lord s prefer 
ence for the name " kingdom of God" re 
ceives its proper light. While to the mind 
of Judaism the divine rule is equivalent to 
the sovereignty of the law, Jesus, though 
not excluding this, knew of a much 
larger sphere in which God would 
through saving acts exercise his glorious 
prerogatives of kingship on a scale and 
in a manner unknown before. In his 
teaching the kingdom once more be- 

The Old Testament 23 

comes a kingdom of grace as well as of 
law, and thus the balance so beautifully 
preserved in the Old Testament is re 

The consequence of this was, of course, 
that great emphasis had to be thrown 
upon the newness of the kingdom, upon 
the fact of its being and bringing some 
thing more than the reign of law in which 
the Jews found their ideal. Thus the 
Lord s method of not calling even the Old 
Testament legal organization the king 
dom may have been partly due to a revolt 
in his mind from the Jewish perversion of 
the same. Further, by making the idea 
as prominent as he did in his teaching and 
at the same time speaking of it exclusively 
as the kingdom of God, our Lord pro 
tested against the popular misconception of 
it as a national kingdom intended to bring 
Israel supremacy and glory. Finally, 
through the enlargement which the idea 
of God s reign had undergone, so that it 
stood for a reign of saving grace as well 

24 The Kingdom and the Church 

as of law, it became possible for our Lord 
to subsume under the notion of the king 
dom the entire complex of blessing and 
glory which the coming order of things 
would involve for the people of God, 
and yet to keep before men s minds the 
thought that this new world of enjoy 
ment was to be enjoyed as a world of 
God. Thus by bringing the name of 
" God s kingdom" and the whole content 
of the Messianic hopes of Israel together, 
he imparted to the latter the highest ideal 
character, a supreme religious consecra 


Kingdom and Kingship. The 
Kingdom of God and the King 
dom of Heaven 

W* ^HE Greek word Basileia used in 
I the Gospels for " kingdom " and 
the corresponding Hebrew and 
Aramaic words, such as Malkuth and Mem- 
lakhah, can, like many words in the Eng 
lish language, designate the same concep 
tion from two distinct points of view. 
They may stand for the kingdom as some 
thing abstract, the kingship or rule exer 
cised by the king. Or they may describe 
the kingdom as something concrete, the 
territory, the sum total of the subjects and, 

26 The Kingdom and the Church 

possessions ruled over, including what 
ever of rights, privileges and advantages 
are enjoyed in this sphere. Now the 
question arises, in which sense did our 
Lord mean the phrase when he spoke of 
the "kingdom of God/ In the Old 
Testament where a kingdom is ascribed 
either to Jehovah or to some human 
power, the abstract sense is usually the 
one intended, although in some of the 
latest writings of the Old Testament ex 
amples of the concrete usage occur, with 
reference always, however, to human 
kingdoms. God s kingdom is here al 
ways his reign, his rule, never his do 
main. When Obadiah predicts " the 
kingdom shall be the Lord s," his mean 
ing is that in the future to Jehovah will 
belong the supremacy. That such was 
also the common Jewish usage in our 
Lord s time appears from the manner in 
which the supremacy of Israel over the 
nations is associated with the idea of the 

Kingdom and Kingship 27 

We have already seen that the 
relative absence of the phrase " the 
kingdom of God " from the Jewish 
sources points to the same conclusion, 
for it was a lack of interest in the truth 
that Jehovah would be supreme that 
prevented this phrase from becoming 
popular. On the other hand, to Jesus 
the thought that God would rule was a 
glorious thought which filled his soul 
with the most sacred joy. In so far it 
is undoubtedly correct when modern 
writers insist that in interpreting our 
Lord s sayings the meaning " reign/ 
" kingship/ shall be our point of depart 
ure, and warn against the misleading as 
sociations of the English word " king 
dom," which in modern usage practically 
always means the territory or realm. Still 
it is advisable to proceed slowly here. 
Attention has already been called to the 
significant enlargement which Jesus in 
troduced into the current use of the 
phrase. If to him it covered all the priv- 

28 The Kingdom and the Church 

ileges and blessings which flow from the 
coming reign of God, then it is plain how 
inevitably it would tend in his mouth 
to become a concrete designation. From 
meaning at first " a rule " it would begin 
to mean, if not a territory or body of 
subjects, at least a realm, a sphere of life, 
a state of things, all of these more or less 
locally conceived. To be sure, even 
so the connotation would always remain, 
that the kingdom thus understood is pos 
sessed and therefore pervaded by God, 
but after all the rendering "reign of 
God " would no longer apply. In point 
of fact a single glance at the Gospel-dis 
courses shows how utterly impossible it 
is to carry through the abstract rendering 
in each single instance where our Lord 
speaks of the kingdom of God. 

Briefly stated the matter stands as fol 
lows : In a few instances the translation 
" reign " is required by the connection, as 
when it is said " the Son of man shall come 
in his kingdom." In some other cases, 

Kingdom and Kingship 29 

less rare than the foregoing, it is possible, 
perhaps slightly more plausible, to adopt 
the abstract rendering, as when we read 
of the kingdom "coming," "appear 
ing," " being at hand," " being seen," al 
though in these and other instances no 
one can maintain that the substitution of 
the concrete would make the sense un 
natural. While neither meaning is un 
suitable, one may in such cases for general 
reasons be inclined to believe, that the 
thought of a revelation of God s royal 
power lay uppermost in our Lord s mind. 
Then there are a great number, perhaps 
the majority, of passages in which the 
note of the concrete plainly predominates. 
When the figure is that of " calling" to 
the kingdom of God, of " entering " into 
it, of its being " shut " or of people being 
" cast out " from it, of its being " sought," 
" given," " possessed," " received," " in 
herited," everybody feels, that in such 
modes of speech not the exercise of the 
divine rule itself, but the resulting order 

30 The Kingdom and the Church 

of things, the complex of blessings pro 
duced by it, the sphere in which it works, 
stand before the speaker s mind. Taking 
this into consideration we may say that, 
if hasileia is everywhere to be rendered 
by the same word, that word ought to 
be " kingdom." To introduce a distinc 
tion and translate in some cases " reign/ 
in other cases "kingdom," is obviously 
impracticable, because, as above stated, 
in a number of cases we have no data for 
choosing between the two. 

Even less satisfactory is the recent pro 
posal to translate everywhere " the sover 
eignty of God," for not only is this 
unsuitable for all sayings in which the con 
crete usage of the term is undoubtedly fol 
lowed, it also fails to express with fulness 
and accuracy the abstract sense where 
this may be recognized. Sovereignty 
denotes a relation existing by right, even 
where it is not actually enforced. In the 
case of God, therefore, it can be scarcely 
said to come. The divine hasileia in- 

Kingdom and Kingship 31 

eludes, as we have seen, besides a right 
to rule, the actual energetic forth-putting 
of God s royal power in acts of salvation. 
Besides "the kingdom of God" we 
find "the kingdom of heaven/ The 
Evangelist Matthew uses this well-nigh 
exclusively ; only in vi. 33 ; xii. 28 ; 
xiii. 43 ; xxi. 31, 43 ; xxvi. 29, does he 
write "the kingdom of God " or "the 
kingdom of my" or "their Father," 
whereas " the kingdom of heaven oc 
curs more than thirty times in his Gos 
pel. In Chap. xii. 28 the use of 
" God " instead of " heaven " is explained 
by the preceding " Spirit of God ;" in the 
two other instances in Chap, xxi, no 
reason for the substitution is apparent. 
In Mark and Luke "the kingdom of 
heaven " is not found. This raises the 
question, which of these two versions 
more literally reproduces the usage of 
Jesus himself. In all probability Mat 
thew s does, since no good reason can be 
assigned, why he should have substituted 

32 The Kingdom and the Church 

"the kingdom of heaven/ whilst a suf 
ficiently plausible reason for the opposite 
procedure on the part of Mark and Luke 
can be found, in the fact, that, writing 
for Gentile readers, they might think 
such a typically Jewish phrase, as " the 
kingdom of heaven " less intelligible than 
the plain "kingdom of God. " Of course, 
in holding this, we need not imply that 
in each individual case, where the first 
Evangelist has " kingdom of heaven," this 
phrase was actually employed by Jesus. 
All we mean to affirm is the general prop 
osition that Jesus used both phrases, and 
that in so far Matthew has preserved for 
us an item of information no longer ob 
tainable from the other two Synoptical 

But what were the origin and mean 
ing of this phrase " the kingdom of 
heaven," and what light does it throw on 
our Lord s conception of the kingdom ? 
Among the later Jews a tendency existed 
to forego employing the name of God. 

Kingdom and Kingship 33 

Various substitutes were current and 
" heaven " was one of these. Apart from 
the phrase under discussion, traces of this 
mode of speech are found in Matt. xvi. 
19; Mk. xi.30; Lk. xv. 18, 21. It was a 
mode of speech which had arisen from 
the Jewish habit of emphasizing in the 
nature of God more than anything else 
his exaltation above the world and un 
approachable majesty, to such an extent 
even as to endanger what must ever be 
the essence of religion, a true communion 
between God and man. But this custom, 
though exponential of a characteristic 
fault of Judaism, had also its good side, 
else our Lord would not have adopted it. 
In his human nature Jesus had a profound 
sense of the infinite distance between 
God and the creature. Whatever there 
was of genuine religious fear and rever 
ence of God in the Jewish consciousness 
awakened an echo in his heart and found 
in him its ideal expression, from which 
all the one-sidedness that belonged to it 

34 The Kingdom and the Church 

in Judaism had disappeared. If, there 
fore, Jesus spoke of God as heaven, this 
did not spring from a superstitious fear 
of naming God, but rather from a desire 
to name him in such a way as to call up 
at once the most exalted conception of 
his being and character. To do this the 
word "heaven" was eminently fitted 
since it draws man s thought upwards 
to the place where God reveals his glory 
in perfection. 

This can best be felt in another 
phrase which likewise among the Evan 
gelists Matthew alone has preserved for 
us, and which likewise our Lord had in 
common with the Jewish teachers of that 
age, the phrase "the Father in heaven" 
or " the heavenly Father/ If in this the 
name "Father" expresses the conde 
scending love and grace of God, his infinite 
nearness to us, the qualification " in 
heaven " adds the reminder of his infinite 
majesty above us, by which the former 
ought always to be held in balance lest 

Kingdom and Kingship 35 

we injure the true spirit of religion. It 
may be affirmed, therefore, that, when 
Jesus referred to "the kingdom of 
heaven/ he meant this in no other sense 
than "the kingdom of God," except in 
so far as there was an added note of 
emphasis on the exalted nature of him 
whose kingdom this is. 

The word " heaven/ however, al 
though it primarily qualifies God and 
describes his greatness, not that of the 
kingdom, must also have been intended 
by our Lord to color the conception 
of the latter. If the king be one who 
concentrates in himself all the glory of 
heaven, what must his kingdom be ? 
We shall not go far amiss in saying 
that Jesus desired to awaken in his disciples 
a sense of the mysterious supernatural 
character, of the absolute perfection and 
grandeur, of the supreme value pertaining 
to this new order of things, and desired 
them to view and approach it in a spirit 
appreciative of these holy qualities. Al- 

36 The Kingdom and the Church 

though the phrase " kingdom of heaven 
is not found in the Old Testament, the 
word "heaven " appears there already in 
significant association with the idea of the 
future kingdom. In Daniel it is said 
that " the God of heaven " will set up a 
kingdom, and this means that the new 
reign will take its origin in a supernatural 
manner from the higher world. To 
Jesus also " heaven " and the supernatural 
were cognate ideas, cf. Matt. xvi. 17 ; 
Mk. xi. 30. That the thought of the 
absolute perfection of the heavenly 
world as determinative of the character 
of the kingdom may well have been 
associated with the name "kingdom 
of heaven " in Jesus mind, appears from 
the close connection between the second 
and third petitions in the Lord s prayer : 
" Thy kingdom come Thy will be done, 
as in heaven, so on earth/ cf. also 
Matt. v. 48. For heaven as the sphere 
of supreme unchangeable values and the 
goal of aspiration we may refer to such 

Kingdom and Kingship 37 

words as Matt. v. 12 ; vi. 20. In view 
of the profound significance which Jesus 
throughout ascribed to the contrast be 
tween the heavenly and the earthly world, 
it is hardly likely that heaven was to him 
a mere formal circumlocution for God. 
It meant not God in general, but God as 
known and revealed in those celestial 
regions which had been our Lord s eter 
nal home. Only with this in mind can 
we hope to understand something of the 
profound sense in which he called the 
kingdom " a kingdom of heaven." 


The Present and the Future King 

J" JTT E have already seen that our 
pis Lord makes a sharp distinction 
between the Old Testament or 
der of things and the kingdom of God, 
and in doing this conforms to that side 
of the Old Testament representation 
which itself looks upon the kingdom as 
future. Now the very important ques 
tion arises : how did he conceive of the 
coming of this kingdom both as to time 
and manner? Until not long ago the 
view quite generally prevailed and was 


Present and Future Kingdom 39 

thought to be in harmony with Jesus own 
teaching, that the coming referred to 
might be conceived of as a lengthy proc 
ess covering ages and reaching its consum 
mation by a sudden crisis at the end coin 
ciding with the second coming of Christ 
and the end of the present world. And 
this prolonged process, in distinction from 
the final crisis, was supposed to consist in 
our Lord s view of essentially inward, 
spiritual, invisible changes. The king 
dom, it was believed, comes when the gos 
pel is spread, hearts are changed, sin and 
error overcome, righteousness cultivated, 
a living communion with God established. 
In this sense the kingdom began its com 
ing when Jesus entered upon his public 
ministry, his work upon earth, including 
his death, was part of its realization, the 
disciples were in it, the whole subsequent 
history of the church is the history of its 
gradual extension, we ourselves can act 
our part in its onward movement and are 
members of it as a present organization. 

40 The Kingdom and the Church 

In recent years, however, this view has 
been subjected to severe criticism by a 
certain group of writers and rejected as 
unhistorical. It is claimed, that Jesus 
took an entirely different view of the 
matter than that outlined above. Jesus 
did not for a moment think that by his 
prophetic activity or by any spiritual 
changes thus wrought among Israel, the 
kingdom would come. All that he 
meant to accomplish by his labors was 
merely preparatory to its coming : the 
people had to be made ready for its ap 
pearance. To introduce the kingdom 
was God s work, not his. No man could 
do anything towards either hastening 
or delaying it. And when it came it 
would come at one single stroke, by a 
sudden supernatural interposition of God, 
in a great world-crisis, consequently not 
for a part but with its whole content all 
at once, fulfilling all the promises, giving 
the signal by its arrival for the end of 
the present world. And this stupendous 

Present and F^lture Kingdom 41 

event Jesus expected to happen in his 
lifetime, or, after he had attained to the 
certainty of his intervening death, at least 
within the time of the then living genera 

Before endeavoring to test which of 
these two opposing views is in accord 
with our Lord s teaching, we must care 
fully note the real point of divergence 
between them and must also make clear 
to ourselves what issues are at stake in our 
decision in favor of the one or the other. 
The two views have this in common that 
they both recognize the coming of the 
kingdom in its final absolute sense to 
have been associated by Jesus with the end 
of the world. The older view therefore 
is inclusive of the more recent one, and 
the difference arises from the fact that the 
former affirms something more which 
the latter denies. The sole point in dis 
pute concerns our right to ascribe to 
Jesus such a conception of the kingdom 
that he could also find the beginning of 

42 The Kingdom and the Church 

its arrival in the purely spiritual results of 
his labors and accordingly extend this 
gradual coming of it over an indefinite 
period of time. 

But this sole point at issue is fraught 
with the gravest consequences as it is 
decided one way or the other. For, 
first of all, it involves the question of 
the infallibility of our Lord as a relig 
ious teacher. If he expected and an 
nounced only one coming of the king 
dom and that to happen shortly within 
his lifetime or the lifetime of that 
generation then there is no escape from 
the conclusion that the outcome has 
proved him mistaken. Secondly, the 
distribution of emphasis in our Lord s 
teaching becomes essentially different if 
we adopt the most modern view on this 
matter. By common consent the center 
of gravity in his preaching, that to which 
he attaches supreme importance, is the 
kingdom. Now, if we may believe that 
this kingdom was to him in part identical 

Present and Fiiture Kingdom 43 

with the existence of certain spiritual ; 
states, such as righteousness and com 
munion with God, then these receive 
with the kingdom the highest place in 
our Lord s estimation of values. If, on 
the other hand, these lie outside of the 
kingdom and are mere preparatory states, 
then they lose their central position and 
become means to an ulterior end consist 
ing in the kingdom. In the third place, 
the controversy affects the character of 
our Lord s ethics. The advocates of the 
recent view believe that Jesus conviction 
with reference to the rapidly approach 
ing end of the world largely colored his 
ethical views, in that it prevented him 
from developing a positive interest for 
the duties which pertain to this present 
life. Finally, the conception of our Lord s 
character itself may be said to be involved. 
Some at least who ascribe to him such 
high-strung expectations seek to explain 
this on the theory, that he was an ecstatic 
visionary person, rather than a man of 

44 The Kingdom and the Church 

calm, equable spiritual temper. It thus 
appears that the aspect of our Lord s 
kingdom-doctrine now under discussion 
is interlinked with the gravest problems 
touching the value and authority of his 
character and work in general. 

It must be admitted that the Old Tes 
tament does not distinguish between sev 
eral stages or phases in the fulfilment of 
the promises regarding the kingdom, but 
looks upon its coming as an undivided 
whole. John the Baptist also seems to 
have still occupied this Old Testament 
standpoint. This, however, was due to 
the peculiar character of prophecy in 
general, in which there is a certain lack 
of perspective, a vision of things sep 
arated in time on one plane. We may 
not argue from this, that Jesus, who was 
more than a prophet and stood face to 
face with the reality, must have been 
subject to the same limitations. Nor are 
we justified in saying, that, because con 
temporary Judaism took such a view of 

Present and Future Kingdom 45 

the matter, Jesus likewise must have 
held this. For, on the one hand, Juda 
ism was no norm for him ; on the other 
hand, within Judaism itself a distinction 
between successive stages in the fulfil 
ment of the Messianic promises had al 
ready arisen. 

We have seen that the Jews were 
accustomed to look forward not so 
much to an entirely new and first 
arrival of the kingdom, but rather to a 
manifestation of God s rule in a higher 
form. And even within the limits of 
this future manifestation of the kingdom 
stages had begun to be distinguished. 
The idea of a preliminary Messianic 
kingdom on earth lasting for a definite 
number of years, to be followed by the 
consummation of the world and an eter 
nal kingdom under totally new con 
ditions may possibly have been developed 
as early as our Lord s day. In the later 
teaching of the New Testament a some 
what similar distinction certainly exists, 

46 The Kingdom and the Church 

as when Paul distinguishes between the 
present reign of Christ, dating from the 
resurrection, and the final state after he 
shall have delivered the kingdom to the 
Father, 1 Cor. xv. 23-28. 

The view, therefore, that the kingdom 
might be present in one sense, and yet have 
to come in another, did not lie beyond the 
doctrinal horizon of Judaism even, and 
we must a priori reckon with the possi 
bility that in some form or other this view 
may appear also in the teaching of Jesus. 
In point of fact certain statements of 
Jesus concerning the kingdom as an in 
ward spiritual state strongly resemble the 
Jewish representation, e. g. the words 
in Mk. x. 15 about " receiving the king 
dom of God " sound like an adaptation 
of the Jewish figure which speaks of 
" taking up the yoke of the kingdom of 
heaven/ cf. also Matt. xiii. 52. 

The difference between this Jewish rep 
resentation and Jesus idea of the prelimi 
nary kingdom lies in this, that according 

Present and Fitture Kingdom 47 

to the Jewish view the kingdom is always 
there, it being only a question whether 
man will take it upon himself, whereas 
according to Jesus, who thought less of 
human efforts, but had a deeper insight 
into the sinfulness of man and a higher 
conception of what the true reign of God 
involves, even this partial kingdom must 
first come through an act of God before 
man can be invited to receive it. As to 
the other point of contact in the Jewish 
expectation, it should be remembered 
that the intermediate kingdom was to 
begin with the appearance of the Mes 
siah. If then Jesus regarded himself 
even while on earth as the Messiah and 
as engaged in Messianic work, which we 
have no reason to doubt, he must also 
have looked upon the stage of this earthly 
Messianic labor as a provisional stage of 
realization of the kingdom. Of course 
here again he transformed the Jewish 
conception by his spiritualizing touch 
into something entirely different and 

48 The Kingdom and the Church 

infinitely higher than what it was be 

Coming to the facts themselves we ob 
serve that no one denies the presence of 
the idea of a spiritual provisional king 
dom in the gospel record of Jesus 
teaching as it lies before us. The view 
that Jesus did not entertain this idea, of 
necessity involves ascribing to the Evan 
gelists an unhistorical representation of 
what our Lord actually taught. It is al 
leged that the gospel-tradition on this 
point was colored by the later develop 
ment of things, which showed that a 
long time had to intervene between the 
first and second coming of the Lord and 
therefore compelled the assuming of a 
provisional kingdom of protracted dura 
tion. Upon this critical phase of the 
question our present limits and purposes 
forbid us to enter. We only note it to 
remark that for those who hold to the 
historical trustworthiness of the Gospels 
no doubt can here exist. The present 

Present and Future Kingdom 49 

spiritual kingdom is by common consent 
plainly recognized in such sayings as 
Matt. xi. 11 ; xiii. 41 ; xvi. 19. 

Apart, however, from critical attempts 
to eliminate this element from Jesus 
teaching efforts have been made to attain 
the same object by means of exegesis, 
and into these we must briefly look 
while examining the available evidence. 
Clearest of all seem the words spoken by 
our Lord in answer to the Pharisees who 
had accused him of being in league with 
Beelzebub : " If I by the Spirit (Lk. 
finger) of God cast out demons, then the 
kingdom of God has come upon you. " 
The underlying supposition of this ar 
gument is, that, where the kingdom of 
Satan is destroyed, there of necessity the 
kingdom of God begins. If the former 
already took place at that time, then the 
latter also had become a present reality. 
Now it has been urged, that this saying 
proves nothing in favor of the usual con 
ception of a spiritual kingdom to be 

50 The Kingdom and the Church 

gradually realized, because our Lord 
might look upon the casting out of de 
mons and other miracles as signals of the 
rapidly approaching final coming of the 
kingdom, the beginning as it were of the 

In answer to this we observe that, 
even if this were a correct interpretation, 
the presence of a certain element of grad- 
ualness in our Lord s conception of the 
matter would thereby be in principle ad 
mitted. The coming would not be en 
tirely abrupt, there would be not only 
premonitions but actual anticipations. 
But it is impossible to interpret the words 
in the above sense, because at an early 
point of his career our Lord looked for 
ward to his death as something that had 
to intervene before all things could be ful 
filled, so that he could not have regarded 
his conquest over the demons as imme 
diately preceding and heralding the end. 
His meaning must be, that when Satan s 
power ceases, a new order of things be- 

Present and Fztture Kingdom 51 

gins, which in itself is equivalent to the 
rule of God. In one respect only it will 
have to be conceded that the saying un 
der discussion does not embody the full 
idea of the spiritual kingdom of God. 
It proves the actual presence of the king 
dom at the time of our Lord s ministry, 
but does not directly affirm that this 
kingdom has its reality in inward, invisible 
states. The casting out of demons like 
other miracles belongs rather to the out 
ward, visible sphere. 

The same qualification will have to 
apply to another passage at least in one 
of the two renderings of which it is cap 
able. According to Lk. xvii. 21 Jesus 
answered the question of the Pharisees 
as to the time of the appearance of the 
kingdom of God by declaring " behold 
the kingdom of God is eVro? vpuv." 
This may mean: "within you," or it 
may mean "in your midst." In the 
former case both the spiritual nature and 
the present reality are affirmed, in the 

52 The Kingdom and the Church 

latter case only the presence of the king 
dom in some form at the time of speak 
ing is implied. Recently it has been as 
serted that on the rendering "in your 
midst " even the last-mentioned inference 
is not warranted, because our Lord 
speaks of the future, and means to say: 
at its final appearance the kingdom of 
God does not come so as to be subject 
to observation or calculation ; people 
will not be able to say, "Here or there/ 
lo, all at once it will be in your midst. 
But this is untenable because from other 
sayings we know, that the final com 
ing of the kingdom is preceded by 
certain signs and in so far is actually 
subject to observation and calculation. 
We must choose between the two ren 
derings given above, and of these the 
second, "in your midst," deserves the 
preference for two reasons : first, because 
it suits best the purpose of the question 
of the Pharisees, which was as to the 
time of the coming of the kingdom, not 

Present and Fiiture Kingdom 53 

as to its sphere, and because of the 
unbelieving Pharisees it could scarcely be 
said that the kingdom was " within " them. 
Our Lord means to teach the enquirers 
that, instead of a future thing to be fixed 
by apocalyptic speculation, the coming of 
the kingdom is a present thing, present 
in the very midst of those who are cu 
rious about the day and the hour of its 
sometime appearance. Now this does 
not directly explain how the kingdom is 
present. The view remains possible that 
Jesus referred to miraculous works as 
one form of the manifestation of God s 
royal power, in which case this saying 
would not carry us beyond the foregoing 
about the casting out of demons. But 
the view is equally plausible, that he re 
ferred to the establishment of God s 
rule in the midst of Israel through the 
spiritual results of his labors. 

Another statement which clearly 
teaches both the actual presence of the 
kingdom and its spiritual form of exist- 

54 The Kingdom and the Church 

ence is Matt. xi. 12 ; Lk. xvi. 16. Here 
" the law and the prophets " are said to 
extend until John, that is to say, the 
prophetic looking-forward dispensation 
of the old covenant reaches its close in 
John : from there onward begins a dis 
pensation in which the kingdom of God 
is the theme no longer of prophecy, but 
of gospel-preaching, therefore is no 
longer future but present. John him 
self is not in this kingdom while others 
are. This, of course, cannot apply to 
the final kingdom, for from this Jesus 
certainly could not have excluded the 
Baptist. It can only mean, that John 
does not share in the privileges made 
available in the new order of things in 
troduced by Jesus work, because he 
virtually continued to stand on the basis 
of the law and the prophets, on the basis 
of the old covenant. And these priv 
ileges to which John had no access cer 
tainly consisted not in the mere oppor 
tunity to witness the miracles of Jesus 

Present and Future Kingdom 55 

as external acts ; a participation of in 
ward spiritual blessings must be referred 
to, for on account of this our Lord pro 
nounces the smallest or smaller in the 
kingdom greater than John, and we know 
from other sayings that Jesus measured 
true greatness in a different way than by 
contact with his miracles. 

The well known saying from the Ser 
mon on the Mount : " Seek ye first his 
kingdom and his righteousness and all 
these things ( i. e. food and raiment ) shall 
be added unto you," Matt. vi. 33, may 
also be quoted in this connection. Even 
though the view that righteousness is 
here present righteousness and as such 
a closer specification of the kingdom, 
should be subject to dispute, the fact re 
mains that the kingdom itself appears as 
a possession obtainable in this life. For 
food and clothing are here represented 
as something to be added not to the seek 
ing of the kingdom but to the kingdom 
itself, and it goes without saying, that this 

56 The Kingdom and the Church 

is applicable only to the kingdom in its 
present state of existence. 

Most clearly, however, both the pres 
ent reality and the internal nature of the 
kingdom are taught in some of the great 
parables, Matt, xiii, Mk. iv. Lk. viii. 
In the parable of the wheat and the tares 
the kingdom appears as a state of things 
in which the good and the bad still inter 
mingle. The same is true of the parable 
of the fish-net. Here, then, obviously 
our Lord speaks of the kingdom in a 
form different from its final form, which 
is represented as beginning with the sepa 
ration between the two kinds. Now these 
two parables, and the interpretation of 
the second, especially in Matt. xiii. 36-43, 
are said to betray the influence of later 
conceptions. But what shall we say about 
the one of the mustard seed and the 
leaven ? It cannot be denied that Jesus 
here conceives of the kingdom as a grow 
ing organism, a leavening power, concep 
tions which will scarcely apply to anything 

Present and Future Kingdom 57 

else than to a spiritual order of things. To 
interpret these as describing the immense 
contrast between the small beginning of 
things in Jesus miracles and the great 
world-renewing conclusion of his work 
soon to be witnessed is, it seems to us, a 
forced exegesis, which unnecessarily 
charges Jesus with an artificial use of 
these figures so exquisitely chosen and so 
strikingly applied on the common view. 
Finally, it should be noted that in con 
nection with these parables Jesus spoke 
significantly of " the mysteries " or " the 
mystery " (Mk.) of the kingdom of 
heaven. The most plausible explanation 
of this statement is, that it refers not so 
much to the parabolic form of teaching 
as to the principal idea embodied in some 
of these parables. What else could so 
suitably have been designated by Jesus 
"a mystery" in comparison with the 
Jewish expectations than the truth that 
the kingdom comes gradually, impercep 
tibly, spiritually ? 

58 The Kingdom and the Church 

It appears from the foregoing that it 
is impossible to deny to our Lord the con 
ception of an internal kingdom which 
as such comes not at once but in a 
lengthy process. Some writers, recog 
nizing the necessity of this, are yet un 
willing to admit that it was a conception 
held by Jesus from the beginning of his 
ministry. In their opinion his mind un 
derwent a development on the subject ; 
beginning with the expectation of a 
kingdom to appear suddenly by an imme 
diate act of God, he afterwards became 
convinced that the opposition offered to 
his person and work rendered this im 
possible, that the kingdom of glory could 
not immediately be realized, and thus 
was led to believe, that only on its inter 
nal, invisible side the rule of God could 
even now be established. The opposi 
tion encountered would lead to his death, 
but death would be a transition to an 
exalted state, which would in turn be fol 
lowed by his coming with the clouds of 

Present and Future Kingdom 59 

heaven and the establishment of the king 
dom in its full final form. 

A single glance at the Gospels, how 
ever, will show how impossible it is to 
distribute the sayings relating to the pres 
ent and final form of the kingdom in 
such a way as to make out a period at the 
beginning of which Jesus knew only the 
latter. Some of the clearest utterances 
regarding the spiritual coming of the 
kingdom belong to a comparatively early 
stage of his teaching, cf. Matt. xi. 11 ; 
Mk. ii. 18-22. Nor do the general argu 
ments adduced in favor of this hypothesis 
have sufficient force to commend it. It 
is true Jesus began with representing the 
kingdom as future, but this applied at 
the beginning equally to its spiritual, and 
to its visible, final realization. He urged 
the disciples continually to seek after 
the kingdom, but this only implies that 
within them it has to come ever increas 
ingly. He speaks of the eschatological 
kingdom as " the kingdom " absolutely, 

60 The Kingdom and the Chitrch 

but this mode of speech is not confined 
to the early period of his teaching : it 
occurs also later at a time when he is ad 
mitted to have been familiar with the 
idea of an immanent kingdom. He 
could thus speak because only at the end 
of time will the kingdom in its ideal com 
pleteness appear. This does not ex 
clude that he recognized less complete 
embodiments of the kingdom-idea as 
present long before. Again it is true 
that he does not at first announce himself 
as Messiah, and from this the inference 
might be drawn that with his Messiah- 
ship he put also the coming of the 
kingdom into the future. This in 
ference would be correct, if restraint in 
the announcement of himself as Messiah 
had proceeded from the conviction that 
he was not as yet the Messiah, nor his 
present work Messianic work in the strict 
sense of the term. In point of fact Jesus 
kept his Messianic claims in the back 
ground for pedagogical reasons, while 

Present and Future Kingdom 61 

perfectly conscious that he was exercis 
ing Messianic functions. The correct 
view on this point is that he distinguished 
two forms of Messianic activity, one on 
earth in humility, one from the throne 
of glory, and corresponding to this two 
forms of the kingdom,one invisible now, 
one visible at the end, and, thus under 
stood, the two-sidedness of his Messianic 
consciousness affords a striking parallel 
to the two-sidedness of his kingdom-con 
ception. On the whole, therefore, we 
have no reason to believe that in our 
Lord s subjective apprehension of the 
truth there was any appreciable progress 
on this important subject within the limits 
of his public ministry. 

In Jesus objective teaching, on the 
other hand, as distinguished from his 
subjective consciousness, a certain devel 
opment in the presentation of truth con 
cerning the kingdom cannot be denied. 
We are able to affirm this, not so much 
from a comparison of the utterances be- 

62 The Kingdom and the Church 

longing to the earlier or later periods. 
This would be difficult since the material 
in our Gospels is not all arranged on the 
chronological plan. The fact appears 
rather in this way, that at two points in 
our Lord s ministry a certain phase of 
the doctrine of the kingdom is introduced 
with such emphasis as to mark it rel 
atively new. These two points are the 
occasion on which our Lord uttered the 
great kingdom-parables and the an 
nouncement of his passion near Caesarea 

From the manner in which the 
great parables draw the distinction be 
tween the immanent and eschatologi- 
cal coming of the kingdom, and from the 
elaborateness with which Jesus here de 
scribes the gradual, invisible character of 
the former as resembling the process 
of organic growth, we are led to infer 
that previously this principle had not 
been accentuated in his teaching. This 
does not mean that he had hitherto ab- 

Present and Future Kingdom 63 

stained from referring to the spiritual side 
of the subject. We have seen above that 
the opposite is true. It simply means, that 
up to this point, while sometimes predicat 
ing of the kingdom things true of it in its 
purely spiritual stage, sometimes predicat 
ing of it things of eschatological charac 
ter, he did not on purpose formulate the 
difference and the relation between the 
two, but treated the kingdom as a unit 
of which both classes of statements could 
be equally affirmed. The historical ex 
planation of this peculiarity is probably 
to be sought in our Lord s desire to keep 
in close touch during the first period of 
his ministry with the Old Testament type 
of teaching, which, as we have seen, did 
not as yet distinguish between periods 
and stages in the realization of the king 
dom. Thus in condescension to Israel 
he took up the thread of revelation where 
the Old Testament had left it, to give a 
new and richer development to it soon 
after in his epoch-making parabolic de- 

64 The Kingdom and the Chztrch 

liverances. The new element introduced 
at the second critical juncture, in the re 
gion of Caesarea Philippi, concerns the re 
lation of the church to the kingdom and 
will be discussed afterwards in a separate 

It should be observed that our Lord s 
teaching relates to two aspects of the 
same kingdom, not to two separate king 
doms. The ancient theological distinc 
tion between a kingdom of grace and a 
kingdom of glory is infelicitous for this 
reason. In the parable the growing of 
the grain and the harvest belong together 
as connected parts of the same process. 
There is one continuous kingdom-form 
ing movement which first lays hold upon 
the inward spiritual center of life by it 
self, and then once more seizes the same 
in connection with its external visible 
embodiment. In the second stage the 
essence of the first is re-included and re 
mains of supreme importance. The im 
manent kingdom as at first realized con- 

Present and Future Kingdom 65 

tinues to partake of imperfections. Hence 
the eschatological crisis will not merely 
supply this soul of the kingdom with its 
fitting body, but will also bring the ideal 
perfection of the inner spirit itself. Our 
Lord s doctrine of the two-sided kingdom 
thus understood is an eloquent witness 
to the unique energy with which he sub 
ordinated the physical to the spiritual, as 
well as to the sobriety with which he 
upheld the principle, that the physical is 
not to be despised, but appreciated in 
its regenerated form, as the natural and 
necessary instrument of revelation for the 


Current Misconceptions regarding 
the Present and Future Kingdom 

T CAVING found that both the im- 
J^ I manent and the eschatological 
conceptions of the coming of the 
kingdom are clearly represented in Jesus 
teaching and having in general defined 
the relation of the one to the other, we 
may now proceed to look at each sepa 
rately in order to guard against certain 
misconceptions to which both may easily 
become subject. A tendency exists with 
some writers, especially of the class who 
insist that Jesus had no other than the 

Current Misconceptions 67 

eschatological conception of the king 
dom, to identify the view ascribed to him 
with the current Jewish expectations. 
This would involve, that he was not only 
mistaken in regard to the time of the 
kingdom s appearance, but also held an 
inherently false idea regarding its nature, 
not having entirely outgrown the limita 
tions of his age and environment on this 
point. It has in all seriousness been as 
serted by a recent writer of this class, that 
the notion of the kingdom in the historic 
form in which our Lord embraced it, is 
that element of his teaching to which we 
cannot ascribe abiding value, that in the 
experience of Jesus himself it proved a 
delusion, that to his teaching on the 
fatherhood of God rather than to it is 
due the enrichment which our Lord 
wrought in the religious consciousness 
of humanity. 

This error results from the failure to 
recognize the immanent, spiritual aspect 
of the kingdom-idea as actually present 

68 The Kingdom and the Church 

in Jesus teaching and the thorough re 
construction which in result of it the idea 
as a whole underwent. It was little more 
than the name that Jesus borrowed from 
the kingdom-expectation of Judaism ; 
whatever of the content of his own king 
dom-teaching he had in common with 
the eschatological belief of his time be 
longed to the purer and nobler type of 
Jewish eschatology, that built up around 
the idea of "the coming age/ And 
even the latter he lifted to an infinitely 
higher plane by subsuming it under the 
principle of the supremacy of God. So 
far as connected with the kingdom the 
Jewish hope was intensely political and 
national, considerably tainted also by sen 
suality. From all political bearings our 
Lord s teaching on the kingdom was 
wholly dissociated, cf. Mk. xii. 13 ; Jno. 
xviii. 36. There is no trace in the Gos 
pels of the so-called chiliastic expectation 
of a provisional political kingdom, that 
strange compromise whereby Judaism 

Current Misconceptions 69 

endeavored to reconcile the two hetero 
geneous elements that struggled for the 
supremacy in its eschatological conscious 
ness. What formally corresponds in our 
Lord s teaching to this notion is the idea 
of the invisible, spiritual kingdom, and 
how totally different it is ! 

Equally broad and free is Jesus king 
dom-doctrine in its attitude towards the 
problem of Israel s national prerogative. 
Sayings like Matt. viii. 11 ; xxi. 43 ; xxviii. 
19 ; Mk. xiii. 10 ; xiv. 9 ; Lk. iv. 26, 27, 
prove that he distinctly anticipated the 
rejection of many in Israel and the ex 
tension of the gospel to the Gentiles on 
a large scale. It is true these are all 
prophetic words. In his own pastoral 
activity he confined himself deliberately 
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel 
and kept his helpers within the same 
limits. But even so there is in his whole 
attitude as a teacher of Israel that which 
has been strikingly characterized as "in 
tensive universalism." In the Jew it is 

70 The Kingdom and the Church 

the man he seeks and endeavors to save. 
The problems raised, the duties required, 
the blessings conferred are such as to be 
applicable to all without distinction of 
race, caste, or sex. 

Lk. xxii. 30 is sometimes quoted to 
prove that Jesus had not freed himself 
from the Jewish particularism. Though 
possibly the " judging " may have to be 
understood in the sense of " reigning," 
yet the words by no means imply the 
salvation of all Israel, nor do they exclude 
the calling of the Gentiles. They were 
spoken at a time when Jesus could no 
longer doubt that the masses of Israel 
would reject him. Besides the words are 
figurative, to judge from the context with 
its reference to " eating " and " drinking." 
All we can legitimately infer from them 
is that the apostles will have a position 
of preeminence in the kingdom. 

The third feature in which our Lord s 
kingdom-message differs from the Jew 
ish expectation consists in the absence of 

Current Misconceptions 71 

the sensualistic element so prominent in 
the latter. True he speaks in connection 
with the kingdom of eating, drinking, 
reclining at table, inheriting the earth, 
etc., and it is said we have no right to 
spiritualize all this. But the Old Testa 
ment already used such forms of speech 
with the clear consciousness of their 
metaphorical character. Even in the 
apocalyptic literature this sense is not en 
tirely wanting, as the statement of Enoch 
xv. 11, " They will not partake of any 
food, nor will they thirst," shows. With 
reference to one point at least, Jesus pos 
itively affirmed that the sensual enjoy 
ments of the present life will cease in 
the world to come, Mk. xii. 25. On the 
other hand, we must remember that it 
is possible to go too far in the spiritualiz 
ing interpretation of this class of utter 
ances. We may not dissolve everything 
into purely inward processes and mental 
states, as modern theologians do when 
they say that heaven and hell are in the 

72 The Kingdom and the Ch^trch 

hearts of men. The eschatological king 
dom has certainly in our Lord s concep 
tion its own outward forms of life. These 
figures stand for objective, external real 
ities in which the body will have its own 
part and function. When our Lord 
speaks of earthly enjoyments, he means 
something that will be truly analogous to 
these and yet move on an altogether 
higher plane. Our difficulty lies in this, 
that we cannot frame a concrete con 
ception of outward forms of life without 
having recourse to the senses. But our 
difficulty does not prove the impossibility, 
nor does it prove that the same difficulty 
existed for Jesus, who was familiar with 
the heavenly world by experience. 

We believe, however, that there is 
greater need at the present day to guard 
against a misunderstanding of the other 
side of our Lord s kingdom-teaching, 
that which relates to the spiritual, in 
visible form of the kingdom. Modern 
writers do not always sufficiently em- 

Current Misconceptions 73 

phasize that, notwithstanding its internal 
character, the kingdom remains to all 
intents a supernatural kingdom. It is 
easy to speak disparagingly of the gross 
realistic expectations of the Jews, but 
those who do so often attack under the 
pretense of a refined spiritualism the very 
essence of Biblical supernaturalism. After 
all deductions are made, it must be main 
tained that the Jews could not have cher 
ished this vigorous realism, had they not 
been supernaturalists at heart, trained in 
that great school of supernaturalism, the 
Old Testament. In this matter Jesus 
was in full agreement with their posi 

The circumstance that some of the 
parables which deal with this aspect of 
the kingdom have been taken from the 
sphere of organic life has sometimes led 
to misconceptions here. The point of 
comparison in these parables is not the 
naturalness of the process but only its 
gradualness and invisible character. In 

74 The Kingdom and the Church 

the parable of the imperceptibly grow 
ing seed, Mk. iv. 26-29, rather the 
opposite is implied, viz., that God gives 
the increase without human intervention. 
Jesus performs all his work, even that 
pertaining to the immanent kingdom, in 
the Spirit, and the Spirit stands for the 
supernatural. That we must not identify 
the processes whereby this side of the 
kingdom is realized with purely natural 
processes can be best seen from the 
Fourth Gospel. Here the present life is 
equivalent to the immanent kingdom. 
But this present life appears to be 
thoroughly supernatural in its origin and 
character. Regeneration introduces into 

At a subsequent point of our enquiry, 
when discussing the relation of the 
church to the kingdom, it will appear 
still more clearly, that by its translation 
into the sphere of the internal and in 
visible the kingdom-idea has lost noth 
ing of the supernaturalistic associations 

Current Misconceptions 75 

which belonged to it from its very or 
igin. The difference between the two 
stages of its coming does not lie in 
that the one is brought about by forces 
already present in the human world, 
whereas the other has to be accom 
plished by the introduction of new 
miraculous forces from above. It is a 
difference merely in the mode of opera 
tion and revelation of the supernatural 
common to both stages. The same 
omnipotent power at work through the 
ages will also effect the consummation 
at the end. But it will assume a new 
form when the end has come, so as to 
work instantaneously, and will draw 
within the sphere of its operation the en 
tire physical universe. It would not be in 
harmony with Jesus view so to conceive 
of it, as if by the gradual extension of 
the divine power operating internally, by 
the growth of the church, by the ever- 
widening influence of the truth, the king 
dom which now is will become all-corn- 

76 The Kingdom arid the Church 

prehensive and universal and so of itself 
pass over into the final kingdom. This 
would eliminate all true eschatology and 
obliterate the distinction between the two 
aspects of Jesus teaching on the subject. 
The parables of the wheat and the 
tares and of the fish-net, while on the 
one hand they do imply, as we have seen, 
the higher unity of the entire movement, 
also imply on the other hand that its 
consummation does not spontaneously 
result from the preceding process, super 
natural though this be. The harvest is 
conditioned by the ripeness of the grain, 
and yet the ripeness of the grain can 
never of itself set in operation the 
harvest. The harvest comes when the 
man puts forth the sickle, because the 
fruit is ripe. So when the immanent 
kingdom has run its course to maturity, 
God will intervene in the miracle of all 
miracles. It would also plainly be im 
possible for the final kingdom to come 
in any other way than this. For this 

Current Misconceptions 77 

final state of the kingdom presupposes 
great physical, cosmical changes, which 
no force working in the spiritual sphere 
can produce. It would be difficult to 
overestimate the vividness with which 
our Lord realized and the emphasis with 
which he describes the new and mar 
velous conditions under which the life 
of the blessed in the future kingdom 
will be lived. It is an order of things 
lying altogether above this earthly life, 
in which the righteous shall shine as the 
sun, in which all the prophets will be 
seen, in which the pure in heart shall 
enjoy the beatific vision of God, in which 
those who hunger and thirst after right 
eousness shall be completely filled. 
Surely to effect this there must take place 
a great crisis, a great catastrophe at the 
end which will be the very opposite of 
all evolution. Our Lord himself has 
marked its unique character by calling it 
the palingenesis, the regeneration, Matt, 
xix. 28. 

78 The Kingdom and the Church 

Still further we must guard against con 
fining the internal, spiritual kingdom to 
the sphere of the ethical. This is an er 
ror which has had considerable vogue in 
recent times, owing to the fact that cer 
tain systems of theology constructed from 
a one-sided ethical point of view have 
adopted the kingdom-idea as their or 
ganizing center. The kingdom has been 
defined as an ethical community realized 
by the interaction of men on the prin 
ciple of love. This is erroneous in two 
respects. In the first place, according to 
our Lord the whole content of religion 
is to be subsumed under the kingdom. 
While it is true that the kingdom con 
sists in righteousness, it is by no means 
coextensive with the same, but consists 
in many other things besides. Such 
blessings as life, forgiveness of sin, com 
munion with God, belong to it just as 
much and have just as vital a connection 
with the kingdom-idea, as the cultivation 
of love, as will subsequently appear. And 

Current Misconceptions 79 

secondly, all that belongs to the kingdom, 
the ethical and religious alike, is repre 
sented in Jesus kingdom-teaching, not 
as the product of human activity, but as 
the work of God. He nowhere says 
that men make the kingdom. In our 
Lord s Prayer the words : " Thy will be 
done " explain the preceding words 
"Thy Kingdom come," but both are 
petitions, in uttering which we are taught 
to look to God that he may set up in us 
his reign even in that form which will be 
revealed through our actions. 


The Rssence of the Kingdom : The 
Kingdom as the Siipremacy 
of God in the Sphere of Saving 

/T has been shown in the foregoing 
how our Lord designates the new 
order of things he came to introduce 
"the kingdom of God/ and that not 
merely in its final outcome but in its en 
tire course of development. The ques 
tion must next be raised, Why did he 
adopt this name, what is the appropriate 
ness of the designation to his own mind ? 
It certainly would be wrong to assume 

The Sphere of Saving Power 8 1 

that he used it from mere accommoda 
tion to a popular parlance, that it was in 
no wise suggestive to him of important 
principles and ideas. This is excluded 
by the fact pointed out above, that it was 
not by any means the most familiar of 
the names current among the Jews for 
the Messianic age. If Jesus nevertheless 
favored it above all others, he must have 
had a positive reason for this. Nor can 
we explain his choice from mere depend 
ence on the Old Testament. Jesus de 
pendence on the Old Testament was 
never a mere matter of form. He always 
sought in the form the substance, in the 
terms appropriated the great ideal prin 
ciples they were intended to express. 
We must therefore look for these. In 
looking for them we must not expect to 
find anywhere in his teaching a definition 
of the kingdom. Jesus method of teach 
ing was not the philosophical one of de 
fining a thing, but the popular, parabolic 
one of describing and illustrating it. 

82 The Kingdom and the Church 

Paul, though speaking much less of the 
kingdom, has come much nearer to de 
fining it than our Lord, cf. Rom. xiv. 17. 
The absence of definition, however, does 
not involve a lack of order or correlation 
in the aspects and features described. In 
the great variety of statements made con 
cerning the kingdom the careful observer 
will not fail to discover certain general 
lines along which the description or com 
parison moves, certain outstanding prin 
ciples to whose elucidation it constantly 
returns. If we can ascertain these, we 
shall also have found the key to our Lord s 
own view about the deeper meaning of 
the name "kingdom of God." 

At the outset we must, reject as inade 
quate the favorite modern explanation 
that in the figure of the kingdom the 
point of comparison lies primarily in the 
mutual association of men so as to form 
a moral or religious organism. The king 
dom is indeed a community in which 
men are knit together by the closest of 

The Sphere of Saving Power 83 

bonds, and especially in connection with 
our Lord s teaching on the church this 
is brought out. Taking, however, the 
kingdom-teaching as a whole this point 
is but little emphasized, Matt. xiii. 24-30, 
47-50. Besides, this conception is not 
nearly wide enough to cover all the things 
predicated of the kingdom in the Gos 
pels, according to which it appears to con 
sist as much in gifts and powers from 
above as in inter-human relations and ac 
tivities. Its resemblance to a community 
offers at least only a partial explanation of 
its kingdom-character, and so far as this 
explanation is correct it is not ultimate, 
because not the union of men as such, 
but that in God which produces and 
underlies it, is the true kingdom-forming 

The main reason for the use of the 
name by Jesus lies undoubtedly in this, 

that in the new order of things God is in 

& ^--"-^ 

some such sense the supreme and con 
trolling factor as the ruler in a human 

84 The Kingdom and the Church 

kingdom. The conception is a God- 
centered conception to the very core. In 
order to appreciate its significance, we 
must endeavor to do what Jesus did, look 
at the whole of the world and of life from 
the point of view of their subserviency 
to the glory of God. The difficulty for 
us in achieving this lies not merely in that 
we are apt to take a lower man-centered 
view of religion, but equally much in that 
by our modern idea of the state we are 
not naturally led to associate such an order 
of things with the name of a kingdom. 
According to our modern conception, 
especially in its republican form, the in 
stitution of the state with its magistrate 
exists for the sake of the subjects, even 
the king, at least in a constitutional mon 
archy, may be considered as a means to 
an end. In the ancient state this is dif 
ferent. Here the individual exists for 
the state, and in the Oriental monarchy 
the state is centralized and summed up 
in the person of the ruler. 

The Sphere of Saving Power 85 

Now whatever may be the merits or de 
merits of such a principle as the construc 
tive principle for our human political 
life, it affords obviously the only point of 
view from which we can properly con 
strue the fundamental relation between 
God and man. It was on the basis of 
such a conception of kingship, that from 
early times the relation of God to Israel 
had been expressed in the form of a royal 
rule. The primary purpose of Israel s 
theocratic constitution was not to teach 
the world the principles of civil govern 
ment, though undoubtedly in this respect 
also valuable lessons can be learned from 
it, but to reflect the eternal laws of re 
ligious intercourse between God and man 
as they will exist in the consummate life 
at the end. Judaism had lost the sense 
for this, had shifted the center of gravity 
from God to man ; in Jesus teaching the 
proper relation was restored. To him 
the kingdom exists there, where not 
merely God is supreme, for that is true 

86 The Kingdom and the Church 

at all times and under all circumstances, 
5 but where God supernaturally carries 
through his supremacy against all oppos 
ing powers and brings man to the willing 
recognition of the same. It is a state of 
things in which everything converges 
and tends towards God as the highest 

The closing words of the Lord s 
Prayer, according to the version in 
Matthew, are the purest expression of 
this kingdom-consciousness which Jesus 
desired to cultivate in the minds of his 
disciples : Thine is the kingdom, and the 
power, and the glory, for ever." Even 
if these words should not be authentic, 
since they are wanting in the text of Luke, 
and in the text of Matthew in some im 
portant authorities, whence the Revised 
Version places them in the margin, still 
they retain their weight as a very ancient 
witness to the conception of the kingdom 
in the early church. It will be observed 
that Paul in 1 Cor. xv, where he speaks 

The Sphere of Saving Power 87 

of the delivering up of the kingdom by 
Christ to the Father, describes the con 
tent of the final kingdom of God in pre 
cisely the same way as consisting in this 
that " God will be all in all" vs. 28, cf. 
also Rev. xi. 15. Because the kingdom 
is thus centered in God himself, it can be 
represented by our Lord as thejupreme 
object of human pursuit. This would 
plainly be impossible if the idea of the 
kingdom was conceived on any lower 
plane, for in that case some other object 
would be interposed between God and 
man as the absolute end of man s reli 
gious aspiration. Because the kingdom 
of God means the ideal of religion in 
this highest sense realized, Jesus de 
clared the scribe to be not far from the 
kingdom, because the latter recognized , 
the commandment to love God with all 
the heart, all the soul, all the strength, 
and all the mind as the supreme com 
mandment, Mk. xiv. 34. In Matt. vi. 
33 the seeking after the kingdom is op- 

88 The Kingdom and the Church 

posed to the seeking after earthly things, 
because it is at the bottom the seeking 
after God himself. And the same God- 
centered view, which thus finds expres 
sion in the thought of the kingdom, is 
also the highest aspect under which Jesus 
views his entire work in the discourses 
of the Fourth Gospel. Here Christ at 
the close of his ministry speaks to the 
Father : " I glorified thee on the earth, 
having accomplished the work which 
thou hast given me to do/ xvii. 4. We 
find, therefore, that though the name 
kingdom is absent, the main idea em 
bodied in it is found in John as well as 
in the Synoptists. The principle thus 
disclosed is of the greatest conceivable 
practical significance. It teaches that 
in the very order of things provided for 
the salvation of mankind, everything is 
in its ultimate analysis designed to glorify 
God. The kingdom is a conception 
which must of necessity remain unintel 
ligible and unacceptable to every view of 

The Sphere of Saving Power 89 

the world and of religion which magni 
fies man at the expense of God. 

The supremacy of God in the king 
dom reveals itself in various ways. It 
comes to light in the acts by which the 
kingdom is established, in the moral 
order under which it exists, in the spirit 
ual blessings, privileges and delights that 
are enjoyed in it. The first constitute 
the kingdom a sphere of divine power, 
the second a sphere of divine righteous 
ness, the third a sphere of divinely be 
stowed blessedness. These rubrics are 
not, of course, so many sections into 
which the content of the kingdom can 
be divided, but rather so many aspects 
under which it may be considered. 
What is kingdom-power from one point 
of view is kingdom-righteousness from 
another and kingdom-blessedness from 
still a third. The exercise of power is 
needed to render possible the realization 
of righteousness, the realization of right 
eousness to render possible the bestowal 

go The Kingdom and the Chitrch 

of blessedness. Remembering the de 
scriptive character and the practical pur 
pose of our Lord s teaching we should 
not endeavor to draw any hard and fast 
lines, but make allowance for the easy 
passing over of one aspect into the other. 
The element of power is one of the 
earliest and most constant elements in 
the Biblical disclosure of the divine king 
ship. The Song of Moses celebrates 
Jehovah as King because he has glori 
ously overcome his enemies, Ex. xv. 
And from these ancient times onward 
the note of conquest is never absent from 
the Old Testament utterances regarding 
the kingdom. Especially in Daniel the 
kingdom is presented from this side, 
when it appears as a stone breaking to 
pieces the image of the world-kingdoms 
ii. 45. How familiar this idea was to 
the Apostle Paul we may gather from 
his words in 1 Cor. xv. 25, " For he 
(Christ) must reign, till he (God) hath 
put all his enemies under his feet." 

The Sphere of Saving Power 91 

Here the kingship of Christ is equivalent 
to the process of subjecting one enemy 
after another. After the last enemy, 
death, has been conquered, there is no 
further need for the kingdom of Christ : 
hence it is delivered up to God the 
Father. Christ s kingdom as a process of 
conquest precedes the final kingdom of 
God as a settled permanent state. 

To the Jewish conception of the coming 
kingdom also this feature was essential. 
What our Lord did was to give to this 
Jewish mode of representation an in 
finitely higher content, while formally 
retaining it. He lifted it out of the po 
litical sphere into the spiritual. The con 
quests to which he refers are those over 
Satan and the demons, over sin and evil. 
It is kingdom against kingdom, but both 
of these opposing kingdoms belong to a 
higher world than that to which Rome 
and her empire belong. In the words, 
" If I by the Spirit of God cast out de 
mons, then the kingdom of God has 

92 The Kingdom and the Church 

come upon you/ already commented 
upon in another connection, our Lord 
refers to the forth-putting of this divine 
conquering power as a sure sign of the 
coming of the kingdom. 

But we must broaden this idea : not 
merely the casting out of demons, all 
the miracles of Jesus find their interpre 
tation at least in part from this, that they 
are manifestations of the kingdom-power. 
It is a mistake to think that Jesus looked 
upon them exclusively as signs authen 
ticating his mission. Undoubtedly this 
was one of the purposes for which the 
miracles were intended, and it is brought 
out prominently in the Fourth Gospel. 
But in the Synoptists, where the teach 
ing of Jesus is centered in the kingdom- 
idea, the miracles do not appear primarily 
in this light. Here they are signs in a 
different sense, viz., signs of the actual 
arrival of the kingdom, because they 
show that the royal power of God is al 
ready in motion. He rebukes the people 

The Spliere of Saving Power 93 

because they can interpret the signs of 
the weather, but cannot interpret the 
signs of the times. These signs of the 
times are nothing else than the miracu 
lous works which prove the kingdom to 
be there. The forces which will rev 
olutionize heaven and earth are already 
at work. 

On the same principle Jesus answered 
the inquiry of John the Baptist, as to 
whether he were the one that was to 
come, or they should expect another, 
with a reference to his Messianic works : 
" The blind receive their sight, and the 
lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and 
the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, 
and the poor have good tidings preached 
unto them," Matt. xi. 5. The Messianic 
works are the works which inaugurate 
the kingdom. Still more clearly this 
appears from the discourse in the syna 
gogue at Nazareth recorded by Luke, 
which had for its text the prophecy of 
Isaiah : " The Spirit of the Lord is upon 

94 The Kingdom and the Church 

me, because he anointed me to preach 
good tidings to the poor: he hath sent 
me to proclaim release to the captives, 
and recovering of sight to the blind, to 
set at liberty them that are bruised, to 
proclaim the acceptable year of the 
Lord," Lk. iv. 18, 19. Here the accept 
able year of Jehovah, the year of jubilee, 
in which all things return to their normal, 
wholesome condition, is none other than 
the era of the kingdom, and by the be 
stowal of the blessings enumerated it 

It will be observed that the miracles 
which Jesus wrought were with one ex 
ception beneficent miracles. To give a 
sign from heaven, a sign not possessing 
this beneficent character, he persistently 
refused. The true signs had to be king 
dom-signs, exhibitions of God s royal 
power. This power, therefore, has two 
sides : so far as the enemies of God are 
concerned, it is a conquering, destructive, 
judging power ; so far as man is con- 

The Sphere of Saving Power 95 

cerned, it is a liberating, healing, saving 
power. In the casting out of demons 
both sides are revealed. In the other mir 
acles it is chiefly the beneficent side which 
finds expression. Jesus brings release to 
the captives and sets at liberty those that 
are bruised, for the satanic power not 
only renders man miserable but also re 
duces him to bondage, as is even exter 
nally indicated by the fact that the de 
mons control the physical organism of 
those possessed. 

The question naturally arises, how can 
this identification of the kingdom with 
the effects of a power working largely 
in the physical sphere be reconciled with 
the emphasis placed by Jesus upon the 
spiritual nature of the kingdom. The 
answer is that the physical evils which 
the kingdom-power removes have a 
moral and spiritual background. Satan 
reigns not merely in the body, nor merely 
in the mind pathologically considered, 
but also in the heart and will of man as 

g6 The Kingdom and the Church 

the instigator of sin and the source of 
moral evil. Hence Jesus made his mir 
acles the occasion for suggesting and 
working the profounder change by which 
the bonds of sin were loosed and the 
rule of God set up anew in the entire in 
ner life of men. Because this real con 
nection exists, the physical process can 
become symbolical of the spiritual. In 
the Synoptical Gospels, it is true, this is 
nowhere directly stated, although the 
external and the internal are sometimes 
significantly placed side by side as coordi 
nated parts of one identical work, Mk. 
ii. 9. In the Fourth Gospel, however, 
Jesus gives clearly to understand that the 
physical acts are intended to point to cor- 
1 responding spiritual acts. The healing 
of the blind, the raising of the dead find 
their counterpart in what he does for the 
souls of sinners. 

On the other hand, it should not be 
overlooked that these physical signs have 
also a connection with the kingdom in the 

The Sphere of Saving Power 97 

external sphere itself. The miraculous 
power is prophetic of that great kingdom- 
power which will be exerted at the end. 
It is especially in eschatological connec 
tions that a revelation of power is referred 
to, Matt. xxiv. 30; Mk. xii. 24. All the 
supernatural phenomena that accompa 
nied not merely the ministry of Jesus, but 
characterized also the history of the apos 
tolic church, must be interpreted in this 
light. It had to be shown immediately, 
that the work inaugurated by Jesus aims 
at nothing less than a supernatural re 
newal of the world, whereby all evil will 
be overcome, a renewal of the physical 
as well of the spiritual world, Matt. xix. 
28. Because the Old Testament had 
treated these two as belonging inseparably 
together, and because in reality it would 
now appear that the two lay far apart in 
point of time, it was all the more neces 
sary that some solid anticipations of the 
eschatological change should be given. 
Verbal prophecy was not sufficient : a 

98 The Kingdom and the Church 

prophecy in acts was required, and this 
the miracles furnished. In so far there is 
an element of truth in the modern view 
which represents Jesus as looking upon 
the miracles as the beginning of the final 
arrival of the kingdom. Here, as on 
other points, our Lord s teaching warns 
us against that excessive spiritualizing 
tendency, to which the external world 
becomes altogether worthless and indif 
ferent or even withdrawn from the direct 
control of God. 

The source of this kingdom-power is 
according to our Lord s teaching the 
Spirit. In the saying Matt. xii. 28 the 
point evidently is, that where the Spirit of 
God operates, there the kingdom of God 
comes. To his being anointed with the 
Spirit Jesus ascribes all his power to do 
miracles, Lk. iv. 18. To accuse him of 
casting out demons in league with Beel- 
; zebub is to blaspheme the Spirit, cf. for 
the interchangeableness of the concep 
tions of "Spirit" and "power," such pas- 

The Sphere of Saving Power 99 

sages as Lk. i. 17, 35; xxiv. 19, 49; Acts 
i. 8 ; x. 38. Indeed our Lord s references 
to the Spirit as the author of saving acts 
are almost entirely connected with his 
miracles. Still it would be inaccurate, as 
is sometimes done, to deny to Jesus the 
idea, so beautifully worked out by Paul, 
that the Spirit is the source of the moral 
and religious renewal of man, the author 
and bearer of the entire Christian life 
with all its graces and virtues. In the 
Fourth Gospel the presence of this idea 
is acknowledged by all. Here our Lord \ 
teaches that man must be born of water ! : 
and the Spirit in order to see and to enter 
the kingdom of God. In the closing 
discourses of this Gospel the work of the 
Spirit as guiding all the disciples into the 
knowledge of the truth is made very 
prominent, and the knowledge of the 
truth in our Lord s Johannine teaching 
distinctly includes its moral and spiritual 
saving apprehension and appropriation by 
the disciples, so that the Spirit is here 

ioo The Kingdom and the Church 

brought into direct connection with the 
ethical and religious life of man. 

Even from the Synoptical sayings the 
same idea is not entirely absent. Though 
the Spirit may work in the sphere of the 
miracles, yet these miracles are wrought 
for the moral purpose of overthrowing 
the kingdom of evil. The Spirit leads 
Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted 
of Satan and thus appears as pursuing the 
end of the Messiah s moral victory over 
the Prince of Evil. Satan exerts an evil 
influence over man in the moral and re 
ligious sphere, consequently on the prin 
ciple of opposition the Spirit of God must 
have been believed to exert a good in 
fluence. Probably also the saying of 
Jesus, that the heavenly Father out of 
his goodness is ready to give the Spirit 
to his children, Lk. xi. 13, does not have 
exclusive reference to the Spirit as the 
source of miracles. Thus we see that 
the first outlines of the doctrine of the 
Spirit, as afterwards developed in apostolic 

The Sphere of Saving Power 101 

revelation, are already drawn by Jesus. 
The full disclosure of this doctrine could 
not be expected then, because the full 
bestowal of the Spirit could not come until 
after the Saviour s death, Jno. vii. 39. 
But in his Messianic works Jesus exhib 
ited in a revelation of facts the funda 
mental part taken by the Spirit in the sal 
vation of man. Thus Jesus stands at the 
transition point between the Old Testa 
ment doctrine of the Spirit on the one 
side and the full apostolic unfolding of 
the doctrine on the other side. In the 
Old Testament the emphasis still rests on 
the charismatic character of the Spirit s 
work as qualifying the office-bearers of the 
theocracy for their task. Jesus began to 
show how the official Spirit, w r hich be 
longs to him as Messiah, becomes a 
source of communication of the Spirit to 
others, and that not merely for the per 
formance of supernatural works but also 
for conferring the religious and moral 
blessings of the kingdom. The part, 

IO2 The Kingdom and the Church 

however, of our Lord s teaching in which 
the connection between the Spirit and 
the internal aspect of the kingdom finds 
clearest expression, and which approaches 
most closely to the apostolic type of 
doctrine, is that relating to the church. 
With this we shall deal in a later chapter. 


The Essence of the Kingdom con 
tinued : The Kingdom in the 
Sphere of Righteousness 

/N regard to the relation between the 
kingdom and righteousness three 
lines of thought can be distinguished 
in the teaching of Jesus. According to 
the one the ideal fulfilment of the will 
of God in man s moral life is in itself 
a revelation of the divine supremacy, and 
the act of declaring man righteous in it 
self a prerogative of the divine kingship. 
According to the other the righteousness 
needed by man appears as one of the 


IO4 The Kingdom and the Church 

blessings which God in his kingdom be 
stows. According to still a third repre 
sentation the kingdom is given as a reward 
for the practice of righteousness in this 
life. Each of these we shall consider 

According to the Old Testament and 
the Semitic conception generally, the 
kingship and the exercise of legislative 
and judicial authority are inseparably 
united. The modern distribution of 
these several functions of government 
over distinct institutions is entirely un 
known. The king gives laws and exe 
cutes laws. "To judge" and "to 
reign " are synonymous expressions. 
This should be kept in mind in order to 
apprehend correctly the first aspect of 
our Lord s teaching on righteousness as 
related to the kingdom. Righteousness 
is always taken by Jesus in a specific 
sense which it obtains from the refer 
ence to God as Lawgiver and Judge. 
Our modern usage of the word is often 

The Sphere of Righteousness 105 

a looser one, since we are apt to associ 
ate with it no further thought than 
that of what is fair and equitable, in 
herently just. To Jesus righteousness 
meant all this and much more than this. 
It meant such moral conduct and such a 
moral state as are right when measured 
by the supreme norm of the nature and 
will of God, so that they form a repro 
duction of the latter, a revelation, as it 
were, of the moral glory of God. 

When the disciples are exhorted to let 
their light shine before men that these 
may see their good works and glorify 
the Father in heaven, this thought is ex 
pressed in terms of fatherhood, but the 
conception of glory involved is closely 
allied to that of kingship. In the Lord s 
Prayer the petition " Thy kingdom 
come " naturally leads on to the petition 
1 Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on 
earth/ so that the fulfilment of the will 
of God is obviously regarded as one of 
the principal forms in which his king- 

io6 The Kingdom and the Church 

ship is realized. Its consummate expres 
sion this principle finds in the command 
ment : " Ye therefore shall be perfect, 
as your heavenly Father is perfect/ 
Matt. v. 48. The sayings just quoted 
affirm not merely that the norm of right 
eousness is to be found in God, they like 
wise imply that the aim of righteousness, 
the final cause of obedience, lies in God. 
Righteousness is to be sought from the 
pure desire of satisfying him, who is the 
supreme end of all moral existence. 

In both these points our Lord s teach 
ing on righteousness was no less vitally 
connected with his conception of the di 
vine kingship than with that of the divine 
fatherhood. And in both respects we 
must place his teaching over against the 
principles and tendencies which were at 
work in the Jewish ethics of the time, 
in order fully to appreciate its profound 
significance. The characteristic faults of 
the Jewish ethics were formalism, casu 
istry, an inclination to emphasize the pro- 

The Sphere of Righteousness 107 

hibition rather than the commandment, 
and, worst of all, self-righteousness and 
hypocrisy. These faults proceeded from 
a twofold source. On the one hand, 
Judaism had virtually become a worship 
of the law as such. The dead letter of 
the law had taken the place of the living 
God. The majesty and authority of the 
holy nature and perfect will of God were 
no longer felt in the commandments. 
On the other hand, the Jewish law-ob 
servance was self-centered, because it was 
chiefly intended to be the instrument for 
securing the blessedness of the coming 

Where the norm of righteousness is a 
deified law rather than a personal law 
giver, and where the supreme motive for 
obedience is a self-interested one, there 
inevitably the faults above enumerated 
must make their appearance. God being 
kept at a distance, no strong need will 
be felt for yielding more than compli 
ance with the law in the outward act. 

io8 The Kingdom and the Church 

Because the ultimate root in which all 
the commandments are one in the nature 
and will of God is lost sight of, the law 
will become a mere aggregate of unre 
lated precepts, a collection of statutory 
ordinances, for adjusting which to the 
compass of the entire outward life a com 
plicated system of the most refined casu 
istry will be required. Because the con 
trolling motive is self-centered, the 
escape from transgression will form a 
more serious concern than the positive 1 
fulfilment of what the spirit of the law 
demands. Finally, where the moral life 
is thus concentrated on the outward con 
duct, where the conscience does not 
search and judge itself in the presence 
of the personal God, who knows the 
heart, there the sins of self -righteous 
ness and hypocrisy find a fertile soil for 

Such was the moral consciousness in 
which our Lord wrought a revolution 
by enunciating the twofold principle 

The Sphere of Righteousness 109 

above stated. He once more made 
the voice of the law the voice of the 
living God, who is present in every com 
mandment, so absolute in his demands, 
so personally interested in man s conduct, 
so all-observant, that the thought of 
yielding to him less than the whole inner 
life, the heart, the soul, the mind, the 
strength, can no longer be tolerated. 
Thus quickened by the spirit of God s 
personality, the law becomes in our 
Lord s hands a living organism, in which 
soul and body, spirit and letter, the 
greater and smaller commandments are 
to be distinguished, and which admits of 
being reduced to great comprehensive 
principles in whose light the weight and 
purport of all single precepts are to be 
intelligently appreciated. 

The two great commandments are to 
love God supremely and one s neighbor [ 
as one s self, Mk. xii. 30, 31. The prac 
tical test of conduct is to do unto men 
all things whatsoever one desires to have 

no The Kingdom and the Church 

done to one s self, for this is the sum 
mary of the law and the prophets, Matt, 
vii. 12. In case of conflict the mere 
ceremonial must give way before the 
ethical, Matt. v. 23, 24. There are com 
mandments in reference to which it is 
sufficient to say that they should not be 
left undone, such as the tithing of mint, 
anise and cummin, and there are com 
mandments of such supreme and intrinsic 
importance as to demand in men a posi 
tive and energetic determination to do 
them, viz., the weightier matters of the 
law, justice, mercy and faith, Matt, xxiii. 
23. Because righteousness is a matter 
of immediate, personal concern between 
the soul and God, it can rest on nothing 
else than the divinely revealed command 
ments, and no human tradition can bind 
the conscience : " Every plant which the 
heavenly Father planted not, shall be 
rooted up," Matt. xv. 13. Finally, 
what alone can impart value in the sight 
of God to any act of obedience is the 

The Sphere of Righteousness 1 1 1 

sincerity of the heart from which it pro 
ceeds. Righteousness must be fruit, the 
organic product of the life and character, 
exponential of what is within, Matt. vii. 
16, 20 ; xxi. 43. 

All this was the result of bringing men 
face to face with God as the righteous 
Lawgiver and King, personally cognizant 
of every man s conduct. In view of it, 
it is hardly necessary to observe that our 
Lord also represents God as the supreme 
Judge of the moral life. To be right 
eous is strictly speaking equivalent to 
being justified of God. And this ref 
erence to the judgment of God is to 
Jesus not a subordinate matter, it is an 
essential ingredient of his conception of 
righteousness. The process of moral 
action does not appear complete to him 
until it receives in the divine justifying 
sentence its crown and consummation. 
The right to hold accountable and judge 
ranked clearly in his mind among the 
highest of God s royal prerogatives. On 

112 The Kingdom and the Church 

this point he carefully preserved the 
valuable kernel of truth contained in 
the exaggerated Jewish ideas about the 
forensic relation between God and man. 
While making much of the divine love, 
our Lord did not suffer his emphasis on 
this to obscure the important principle 
of the divine justice. In correcting the 
one-sidedness of Judaism, which had no 
eye for the grace of God, he did not fall 
into the opposite extreme of reducing 
everything to the love of God. On the 
contrary, in his teaching the two divine 
attributes of love and justice are perfectly 
balanced. In the well-known saying of 
Matt. vi. 33 we can observe the close con 
nection he assumed between the king 
ship of God and his forensic righteous 
ness. The disciples are here urged, first 
to make God s kingdom the object of 
their pursuit, and then, as a closer speci 
fication, to seek God s righteousness. 
By the latter is meant either the exercise 
of God s justifying righteousness on 

The Sphere of Righteousness 113 

man s behalf, or that righteousness as a 
human state, which is counted before 
God. On either view, the kingship of 
God and the exercise of forensic right 
eousness are intimately associated. 

The supreme importance which Jesus 
in virtue of this God-centered concep 
tion attached to righteousness may be in 
ferred from the fact that its pursuit is 
spoken of in equally absolute terms as the 
seeking of the kingdom. It is the high 
est concern of the disciple. He must 
hunger and thirst after it, treat it as the 
very sustenance of his life, the only thing 
that will satisfy his most instinctive desires. 
He must submit to persecution for its 
sake, Matt v. 6, 10. All this becomes 
intelligible only on the assumption that 
to Jesus the question of right and wrong 
was not a purely moral, but in the 
deepest sense a religious question. His 
teaching on righteousness means the 
subsumption of ethics under religion. 

We need not wonder that with such a 

1 1 4 The Kingdom and the Church 

sublime conception of what righteous 
ness implied, even this aspect of the 
kingdom, in which formally at least, it 
closely resembled the Jewish idea of the 
already existing reign of God through 
the law, appeared nevertheless to Jesus 
as something future. The kingdom had 
yet to come, because it consisted in an 
observance of the law conformed to an 
altogether new ideal, practised in an al 
together new spirit. Something far 
greater and higher stood before his mind 
than had ever been contemplated by the 
mind of Judaism. Thus the God-cen 
tered ideal of righteousness itself prepared 
the way for the second line of thought 
traceable in our Lord s teaching on the 
subject, viz., that righteousness is one of 
the blessings to be bestowed in the king 
dom. For this there was an Old Testa 
ment basis. The prophets had predicted 
that the lawgiving function of Jehovah s 
kingship would enter upon a new stage 
in the Messianic age. According to 

The Sphere of Righteousness 115 

Jeremiah God will then write his law 
upon the hearts of the people, xxxi. 33. 
According to Ezekiel he will make Israel 
to walk in his statutes, xxxvi. 27. The 
prophecies in the second part of Isaiah s 
book promise an impartation of righteous 
ness to the people of God as a result of 
a new marvelous disclosure of Jehovah s 
own righteousness in the future. Jesus, 
who derived so many evangelical ideas 
from the last-mentioned source, may 
have had these prophecies in mind, when 
in the Sermon on the Mount he spoke of 
such as hunger and thirst after righteous 
ness, Is. Iv. 1. At any rate the other 
beatitudes show that the state of mind 
here described is a receptive rather than 
a productive one. The hungering and 
thirsting stand on a line with the poor 
and the meek, they are conscious of 
not possessing the desired good in them 
selves and look to God for supplying it. 
When they are satisfied, this is due not 
to their own effort but to an act of God. 

1 1 6 The Kingdom and the Chiirch 

The same thought is indirectly expressed 
in the " seeking " of righteousness com 
manded in Matt. vi. 33. In the parable 
of the Pharisee and publican the term 
" justification " is applied to an acceptance 
of man by God not based on self-right 
eous works, but on penitence and trust in 
the divine mercy. 

It would be historically unwarranted 
to read into these utterances the whole 
doctrine of the imputed righteousness of 
Christ. It was impossible for Jesus to 
develop this doctrine with any degree of 
explicitness, because it was to be based on 
his own atoning death, which still lay in 
the future. Our Lord speaks of a state 
of righteousness before God to be con 
ferred as a part of the coming kingdom. 
How far this will be done by imputation, 
how far it will also be done by changing 
the heart and life of men so as to pro 
duce works which God will be able in 
principle to approve in his judgment, 
which of these two will be the basis of 

The Sphere of Righteousness 1 1 7 

the other is not clearly explained. Our 
Lord s doctrine is the bud in which the 
two conceptions of a righteousness im 
puted and a righteousness embodied in 
the sanctified life of the believer still lie 
enclosed together. Still it should not be 
overlooked, that in more than one re 
spect Jesus prepared the way for Paul 
by enunciating principles to which the 
latter s teaching could attach itself. He 
emphasized that in the pursuit of right 
eousness the satisfaction of God should 
be man s supreme concern. This, car 
ried out to its ultimate consequences with 
reference to sinful man, could not but 
lead to the conception of a righteousness 
provided by God himself in the perfect 
life and atoning death of Christ. He 
also affirmed that the righteousness re 
quired of the disciples was of an infinitely 
higher kind than that possessed by the 
Scribes and Pharisees, something as new 
and unprecedented as the kingdom itself, 
and thus raised the problem as to how this 

1 1 8 The Kingdom and the Church 

unique standing before God was to be 
acquired. Still further, he gave to un 
derstand that this righteousness was at 
tainable by the disciples only, so that it 
must be held to rest on a previous state 
of acceptance by God, determined by his 
fatherhood and grace. 

The third representation connects the 
kingdom with righteousness practised in 
this life as a reward. Here obviously the 
kingdom denotes not the kingship of 
God, but the entire complex of resulting 
blessings, and that as they will be be 
stowed in the last day. Thus in Matt, 
v. 20, the possession of a righteousness 
exceeding that of the Scribes and Phari 
sees appears as a prerequisite for enter 
ing the kingdom. The same idea un 
derlies the numerous passages that speak 
of a future reward. It has been asserted 
that Jesus retained this whole line of 
thought, because he had not fully eman 
cipated himself from the fundamental 
error of Judaism, according to which 

The Sphere of Righteousness 1 1 9 

everything in religion revolved around 
the ideas of merit and reward. The 
charge, if well-founded, would be a se 
rious one, for the principle in question, 
far from appearing in isolated sayings 
only, prevades the entire teaching of 
Jesus. The disciple s life is depicted 
throughout as a labor in the vineyard, at 
the plow, in the harvest-field, in the 
household. Treasures can be laid up in 

In order to solve this difficulty it is 
necessary sharply to distinguish. The 
first thing to remember is that we have 
no right to declare the desire for re 
ward as a motive in ethical conduct 
unworthy of a high standard of morality 
and therefore unworthy of the better 
element in our Lord s own teaching. 
This would be the case only, if it figured 
as the only or the supreme motive, and 
if other motives of a disinterested God- 
centered kind did not exist side by side 
with or above it. If our Lord appealed 

1 20 The Kingdom and the Church 

to the fear of punishment as a deterrent 
from evil, why should he not have ap 
pealed to the desire for blessedness and 
reward as an incentive to the good? 
May we not believe that Jesus himself 
was strengthened in enduring his suffer 
ing by the prospect of the promised 
glory ? cf. Heb. xii. 2. Does anybody 
think that in his case this interfered in 
the least with his making it his meat and 
his drink to do the Father s will ? 

Secondly, it should be emphasized that 
the stimulus afforded by the promise of 
reward need not appeal to the lower, 
sensual instincts, as but too often it did 
in the Jewish mind, but may equally well 
address itself to the highest, spiritual de 
sires. In this respect our Lord s teach 
ing moves on the highest conceivable 
plane. The pure in heart shall see God, 
those that hunger and thirst after right 
eousness shall be completely satisfied with 
the same, the peacemakers shall be called 
sons of God. These second clauses 

The Sphere of Righteousness 1 2 1 

in the beatitudes describe the essence of 
the final kingdom in which the reward 
will consist. They show, therefore, that 
the reward towards which Jesus points 
his followers is not something morally 
or spiritually indifferent, but the highest 
enjoyment of what here already consti 
tutes the natural blessedness pertaining 
to the internal kingdom. Thus the re 
ward bears an organic relation to the 
conduct it is intended to crown. 

Still further, we must observe that 
there is a fundamental difference between 
the manner in which Judaism conceived 
of the principle of reward and Jesus 
conception of the same as regards the 
necessity with which this principle was 
believed to operate. According to the 
Jews this was a legal necessity ; the ful 
filment of the law being inherently 
worthy of and entitled to the reward 
following it. Hence also there existed 
between the two a ratio of strict equiva 
lence, so much being given for so much. 

122 The Kingdom and the Chitrch 

Jesus plainly taught that between God 
and man no such commercial relation 
can exist, not merely because this is im 
possible on account of man s sin, but for 
the deeper reason, that God s absolute 
sovereignty precludes it even under the 
conditions of human rectitude, because 
God as God is entitled, apart from every 
contract or stipulation of reward, to all 
the service or obedience man can render. 
The disciples are " unprofitable serv 
ants," even after they have done every 
thing required of them, Lk. xvii. 10. 
They are " unprofitable " not in the 
sense that their labors are useless, but in 
the sense that they can do no more for 
God their owner, than he can naturally ex 
pect of them. In the parable, the talents, 
for the increase of which the servants are 
rewarded, are not originally their own 
but entrusted to them by their Lord. 
As a result the relation of pure equiva 
lence between what is done and what 
is received is entirely abolished. The 

The Sphere of Righteousness 1 23 

reward will far exceed the righteousness 
which precedes it. He that is faithful 
over a few things will be set over many 
things, nay over all things, Matt. xxiv. 
47; xxv. 21, 23. He who receives a 
prophet or a righteous man obtains a re 
ward as great as that of the prophet and 
the righteous men, Matt. x. 41, 42. 
Restitution will be a hundredfold for 
things given up, Mk. x. 30. And the 
parable of the laborers in the vineyard 
teaches that in its ultimate analysis the re 
ward is a free gift, whence also the one 
who has labored but a little while can 
receive the full wages, Matt. xx. 1-16 ; 
cf. Lk. xvii. 10. 

We see, therefore, that Jesus, though 
giving a large place to the idea of reward 
in his teaching, keeps this idea in strict 
subordination to the two higher princi 
ples of the divine sovereignty and the 
divine grace, in other words to the di 
vine kingship and the divine fatherhood. 
In the latter respect as well as in the 

1 24 The Kingdom and the Ch^lrch 

former the relation between God and 
the disciples does not admit of the giving 
or receiving of rewards on the strictly 
commercial basis. The Father, as Father, 
gives to the little flock the kingdom, and 
in general bestows good gifts upon his 
children. What can be called wages 
from one point of view is a gracious gift 
from another, cf. Matt. v. 46 with Lk. 
vi. 32, 35. The reward serves simply 
the purpose of affording an incentive to 
the disciples zeal. Though the king 
dom itself is inherited by all, and inherited 
by grace, there will be individual degrees 
in the glory which it involves for each 
disciple, because the ultimate issue can 
not but be determined by the progress 
in righteousness made here below. 


The Essence of the Kingdom con 
tinued : The Kingdom as a State 
of Blessedness 

have already seen, that not 
the thought of man s welfare, 
but that of the glory of God was 
supreme in our Lord s teaching concern 
ing the kingdom. While emphasizing 
this, we must not forget, however, that 
to him this thought was inseparably con 
nected with the idea of the greatest 
conceivable blessedness for man. That 
God should reign was in his view so 
much the only natural, normal state of 


1 26 The Kingdom and the Church 

things, that he could not conceive 
of any true happiness apart from it, nor 
of it without a concomitant state of happi 
ness for those who give to God the first 
and the highest place. This is in general 
the connection between the kingship of 
God as a rule over man, and the king 
dom of God as a possession for man, a 
connection not obscurely indicated in 
the saying, Matt. vi. 33. With the king 
ship of God all other things must come, 
for, as Paul later expressed it : "If God 
be for us, who shall be against us ? " 
That this thought is not more fre 
quently and more directly formulated 
admits of easy explanation. In deriv 
ing the state of blessedness from the 
character and will of God it was so 
natural to think of the divine father 
hood as its source, that the reference 
to God s kingship would scarcely sug 
gest itself. Accordingly we find that 
the kingdom as a state of blessedness is 
represented as the Father s gift to the 

A State of Blessedness 127 

little flock rather than that of the King, 
Lk. xii. 32; cf. also Matt. xx. 32. It 
was quite possible, however, to reach 
the idea of blessedness by way of direct 
inference from that of the divine king 
ship. The Oriental king often bestows 
with royal munificence all manner of 
gifts upon his subjects. Illustrations of 
this both from sacred and other history 
will easily occur. Thus Jesus also speaks 
of the kingdom under the figure of a 
banquet prepared by the king as a mar 
riage feast for his son, Matt. xxii. 2. 
Nor should it be forgotten that the 
kingdom had been for Israel the instru 
ment of gracious help in times of dis 
tress and a source of great national pros 
perity. The kingship had been in its 
ideal intent, and to some extent, at least 
in its better days, also in effect a demo 
cratic institution, to which the poor and 
the oppressed and miserable looked for 
aid and protection. There was there 
fore an easy transition from the idea of 

128 The Kingdom and the Church 

kingship to that of grace and salva 

The inestimable value of the kingdom 
from man s point of view finds clearest 
expression in the parable of the treasure 
in the field and the pearl of great price. 
In both cases it is emphasized that the 
finder sells all his possessions in order to 
secure this one transcendent good, cf. 
Matt. xix. 12 ; Mk. ix. 43-47 ; Lk. xviii. 
29. That God himself regards the king 
dom in this light appears from the fact of 
his having prepared it for his own from 
eternity, Matt. xxv. 34. The prepara 
tion from eternity shows, that the king 
dom is the supreme embodiment of the 
divine gracious purpose. Hence also the 
kingdom is said to be "inherited." Be 
cause the kingdom thus includes all that 
is truly valuable and precious, our Lord 
in connection with the kingdom-parables 
pronounces the disciples blessed who see 
and hear the truth concerning it. In do 
ing this they are brought into immediate 

A State of Blessedness 129 

contact with the fulfilment of all the Old 
Testament promises. What many proph 
ets and righteous men in vain desired to 
see and hear, is theirs in actual possession, 
Matt. xiii. 16, 17. 

Looked at concretely, the blessings 
in which the kingdom consists are 
partly negative, partly positive in charac 
ter. Negatively, the kingdom includes 
the deliverance from all evil. Fore 
most among the blessings pertaining 
to this side stands the forgiveness of sins. 
Prophecy had already spoken of this as 
an important element in the blessedness 
of the Messianic age, Jer. xxxi. 34. That 
Jesus considered this not merely as a prep 
aration for the kingdom, but counted it 
of the very substance of the same may be 
seen from Matt, xviii. 23 ff., where the 
kingdom of heaven is likened unto a cer 
tain king, who graciously forgives the 
debt of his servant and releases him. 
Hence also the sequence in the Lord s 
Prayer, where the petition for the com- 

130 The Kingdom and the Church 

ing of the kingdom is followed first by 
that for the accomplishment of the will 
of God and next by that for the forgive 
ness of debts. Positively there corre 
sponds to this the gift of righteousness, 
which cannot but carry with itself a sense 
of the highest spiritual delight and satis 
faction for those who obtain it. The 
mind relieved from the burden of sin and 
assured of the divine acceptance enters 
upon a state of profound peace and rest, 
Matt. xi. 28, 29 ; Mk. v. 34 ; Lk. vii. 50. 
The positive side of the blessedness re 
ceived in the kingdom is chiefly described 
in the two important conceptions of son- 
ship and of life. On these, therefore, 
we must briefly dwell at this point. 
While the two attributes of kingship and 
fatherhood mark two distinct elements in 
Jesus conception of God, he certainly 
did not place them wide apart, much less 
regard them as intrinsically opposed to 
each other. The ease with which he 
passes over from the one to the other, 

A State of Blessedness 131 

e. g., in the opening words of the Lord s 
Prayer, shows that to his mind the two 
are perfectly harmonious attributes of the 
divine nature. There is a sense in which 
the effects of God s fatherhood can bej 
subsumed under the kingdom-idea. As 
on the one hand the kingship might 
frequently originate through extension of 
the patriarchal authority beyond the lim 
its of the tribe, so on the other hand the 
king could continue to sustain the relation 
of a father to his people. In point of 
fact the Old Testament represents Je 
hovah as by one and the same act becom 
ing Israel s King and Israel s Father, viz., 
by the deliverance of the exodus, Ex. iv. 
22 ; Deut. xxxii. 6 ; Isa. xliii. 15. 

That the place which belongs to son- 
ship as one of the blessings of the king 
dom is not always recognized with suffi 
cient clearness finds its explanation in a 
widely current misunderstanding of our 
Lord s teaching on sonship. He is fre 
quently interpreted as teaching the in- 

132 The Kingdom and the Church 

discriminate sonship of all men. Sonship 
then would be something which did not 
in any sense originate with the redemp 
tive relation to God or with the kingdom 
of God. It is easy here to go to an ex 
treme as well in absolutely denying as in 
indiscriminately affirming that our Lord 
made men the sons of God by nature. 
Some of his utterances, like the parable 
of the prodigal son, plainly imply that 
notwithstanding the sinner s estrange 
ment from God a filial relationship con 
tinues to exist. The whole trend of his 
teaching is that redemption restores what 
has been disturbed by sin. But, granting 
this, we must not overlook two important 
considerations which would inevitably 
lead him to emphasize the newness of 
the sonship which is enjoyed in the re 
demptive state. On the one hand, Jesus 
had too profound a knowledge of the se 
riousness of sin not to recognize that it 
must render man unworthy and incapable 
of sonship in the full, original sense. On 

A State of Blessedness 133 

the other hand, he had also too high a 
conception of the transcendent perfection 
of the kingdom not to find in it in this 
respect as well as in others something 
that would far surpass any religious priv 
ilege that man could call his own by 
nature. The kingdom neutralizes the 
effects of sin, but it does far more than 
this. It carries man to the highest limit 
of knowledge and love and service and 
enjoyment of God of which he is capable, 
and nothing less than the attainment of 
this our Lord associates with the term 
"sonship." The words recorded in Lk. 
xx. 36, " They are equal unto the angels ; 
and are sons of God, being sons of the 
resurrection/ suffice to show that sonship 
to God appeared to him as the acme 
rather than as the common level of re 
ligious privilege, cf. also Matt. v. 9. 

And not only the sonship of man, even 
the fatherhood of God admits of this high 
and exclusive application. For Jesus 
constantly speaks to the disciples of " your 

134 The Kingdom and tJie Church 

Father," Matt. vi. 32. " The Father " in 
the Synoptical Gospels always denotes 
God in relation to " the Son/ i. e., Jesus 
specifically. In the Fourth Gospel, 
where "The Father" is also used with 
reference to the disciples generally, this 
is not based on a conception of universal 
fatherhood, but on the thought that the 
relation originally existing between God 
and Jesus is extended to the disciples 
likewise. This, therefore, is the most 
emphatic assertion of the unique value of 
sonship. And this value was not confined 
in our Lord s estimation to the moral 
sphere, as one-sided modern representa 
tions sometimes make out. Sonship in 
volves more than moral likeness to God, 
although this is of course one of its chief 
elements. Its rich religious meaning 
may be best perceived from the jubilant 
words in which Jesus speaks of his own 
filial relation to the Father, Matt. xi. 
27, which, while unique in one sense, 
must yet bear a general resemblance to 

A State of Blessedness 135 

the sonship of the disciples. The most 
perfect mutual knowledge, the most di 
rect communion of life, the most absolute 
unity of purpose, the joint possession of 
consummate blessedness and peace be 
tween God and man, all this forms part 
of the sonship in which the kingdom 
consists. The highest gift that can be 
bestowed on the pure in heart is that 
in the final kingdom they shall have 
the beatific filial vision of God face to 

The second comprehensive term by 
which Jesus describes the blessedness of 
the kingdom is that of life. The Old 
Testament idea of life has for its promi 
nent characteristics not so much the ele 
ments of growth and activity but rather 
those of prosperity and happiness in the 
possession of the favor of God. To this 
our Lord in his Synoptical teaching in the 
main adheres ; only, in harmony with the 
prevailing Jewish usage, he projects the 
idea into the future, life being here 

136 The Kingdom and the Chtirch 

equivalent to the sum total of the bless 
ings and enjoyments of the final kingdom. 
Still even in the Synoptical teaching we 
find life occasionally spoken of as a pres 
ent religious possession, and, therefore, 
as in its very essence a spiritual state, 
Matt. viii. 22 ; Lk. xv. 24, 32 ; xx. 38. 
A present kingdom necessarily carries 
with itself a present enjoyment of life. 
And in the same degree as this is the case 
life also tends to become a life in the sub 
jective sense of the word, a name for the 
believer s spiritual growth and activity, 
something to be " lived" as well as 
"inherited." In the discourses of the 
Fourth Gospel we can clearly observe 
how our Lord developes the idea in these 
two directions. His classical definition 
of life is found in the so-called high- 
priestly prayer : to know the only true 
God, and him whom he did send, even 
Jesus Christ, Jno. xvii. 3. The knowl 
edge of God here spoken of is, of 
course, something which in principle 

A State of Blessedness 137 

is already imparted in the present, 
although its consummate possession still 
lies in the future. It is a knowledge 
which is far more than mere intellectual 
cognition : it includes that practical ac 
quaintance, that affectionate apprehen 
sion, which arise from congeniality of 
nature and the highest spiritual love. 
Hence what introduces into it is not a 
process of instruction, but a birth from 
above, or a re-birth, whereby the funda 
mental character is changed, so that from 
flesh, which naturally lives for this lower, 
earthly, sensual world, it becomes spirit, 
which naturally lives for the world of 
heaven and for God. Because Jesus 
is the personal representative and em 
bodiment of this heavenly life on 
earth, he is the way unto God, Jno. 
xiv. 6. 

We see, therefore, how thoroughly 
this life, which constitutes man s blessed 
possession of the kingdom, is dominated 
by the thought of communion with God, 

138 The Kingdom and the Church 

as its chief source of enjoyment. In 
principle, however, the same thing is 
implied in some of the Synoptical say 
ings cited above, which approach the 
conception of life as something to be 
developed in man. When the prod 
igal in his hunger remembers the riches 
of his Father s house, he is said to have 
"come to himself." His return to the 
Father is described as a change from 
death into life : " This thy brother was 
dead, and is alive again, and was lost and 
is found," Lk. xv. 32. Thus the re- 
adoption to sonship and the restoration 
to life are seen to coincide. If Jesus 
found in both the essence of the king 
dom-privilege and kingdom-blessedness, 
which can be enjoyed on earth, we 
cannot doubt, that he also regarded 
them as supreme among the treasures 
and delights of the final kingdom. As 
the point of departure for his kingdom- 
conception lay in God, in the active ex 
ercise of God s royal sway, so its point 

A State of Blessedness 139 

of arrival lies in God, in God s gift of 
himself to man for everlasting possession. 
It is the teaching of Jesus, as well as of 
Paul, that from God and through God 
and unto God are all things. 


The Kingdom and the Church 

rHE conception of the kingdom is 
common to all periods of our 

Lord s teaching, that of the 
church emerges only at two special points 
of his ministry as recorded in Matt. xvi. 
18 and xviii. 17. The second of these 
two passages refers to the church quite 
incidentally, and, even if it speaks of the 
Christian church and not, as some have 
thought, of the Jewish ecclesiastical or 
ganization, throws no further light on 
the conception. The first on the other 
hand deals with the church for the ex- 


The Church 141 

press purpose of introducing it as some 
thing new, of describing its character 
and defining its relation to the kingdom. 
We are fortunate in having so explicit a 
statement of our Lord on this important 
matter. The subject should, of course, 
be approached historically. We must 
ask ourselves what there was in the 
situation of that particular juncture of 
our Lord s ministry that will account for 
this solitary and significant declaration 
about the church. Simon Peter had just 
made his important confession, " Thou 
art the Christ, the Son of the living God/ 
Our Lord thereupon announces that 
upon Peter, as the first confessor of his 
Messiahship in the face of the unbelief 
of the majority of the people, he will 
build his church, his eccksia. The sup 
position is not that Peter has here for the 
first time reached this conviction regard 
ing the Messianic dignity of Jesus, nor 
even that here for the first time utter 
ance was given to such conviction. Un- 

142 The Kingdom and the Church 

less we must disbelieve all our Gospels, 
both had taken place on earlier occasions. 
But the momentous significance of the 
present confession lay in this, that it was 
made at a juncture where many, who 
had previously followed Jesus, had for 
saken him. It is the rock-character, the 
steadfastness of Peter that is praised by 
Jesus, that, when others wavered, he 
had remained true to his conviction. 
The revelation he had received from the 
Father in heaven was not the first disclo 
sure of Jesus Messiahship, but a revela 
tion which enabled him, in distinction 
from the multitude, to discern in Jesus 
the true attributes of Messiahship, not 
withstanding the outward appearance to 
the contrary. 

Peter s confession, therefore, was dis 
tinctly a confession which stood in con 
trast with the rejection of Jesus by others. 
From this we may gather, that the 
church of which Jesus speaks will have 
for its peculiarity the recognition of the 

The Church 143 

Messiahship of Jesus in contradistinction 
from the denial of this Messiahship by 
those without. But this follows not 
only from the situation in which the 
words were spoken, we may also draw 
the same conclusion from the tenor of 
the words themselves. When Jesus 
says "I will build my church/ he evi 
dently places this church over against 
another, to which this designation does 
not apply. The word Ecclesia is the 
rendering of the Hebrew words Qahal 
and Edah, which latter were the standing 
names for the congregation of Israel. In 
such a connection "my church " can 
mean nothing else than " the church 
which by recognizing me as Messiah will 
take the place of the present Jewish 

It would be a mistake, however, to 
suppose that the new church will rest 
exclusively on a subjective belief regard 
ing the Messiahship of Jesus. Our Lord 
says emphatically " I will build/ and 

1 44 The Kingdom and the Church 

thereby appropriates for himself the 
objective task of calling this church into 
existence by his Messianic acts. Though 
Peter confessing be the foundation, the 
church is not of Peter s or of any human 
making, the Lord himself will build it. 
And not only this, he will supremely 
rule in it, for out of the fulness of his 
authority he immediately proceeds to in 
vest Peter with the power of the keys : 
"I will give unto thee." Objectively con 
sidered, therefore, the church is that new 
congregation taking the place of the 
old congregation of Israel, which is 
formed by Jesus as the Messiah and 
stands under his Messianic rule. 

Even this, however, does not fully ex 
haust the import of our Lord s statement. 
It will be noticed, that he refers both 
the building of the church and the ex 
ercise of his authority with regard to it 
to the future : " I will build " and " I 
will give." At the present time of 
speaking the church is not yet ; if its 

The Church 145 

origin and government depend on the 
Messiahship of Jesus, then clearly this 
Messiahship must here be taken in a 
specific sense, the realization of which 
also still lay in the future. Our Lord 
can refer to nothing else than the new 
exalted, heavenly state upon which his 
person and work would enter through 
his death and resurrection and seating at 
the right hand of God. In order to 
understand this we must remember that 
Jesus, while in one sense conscious of 
having Messianic authority and doing 
Messianic work already here on earth, 
yet in another sense regarded the exer 
cise of his Messianic function as begin 
ning with his state of glory. It was en 
tirely in harmony with Jesus own point 
of view when Peter later declared that 
God by the resurrection had made him 
both Lord and Christ, Acts ii. 36. Now 
in this sense we can say that according 
to our Lord s teaching the church could 
not begin until after he should have en- 

146 The Kingdom and the Church 

tered upon the exalted stage of his 
Messiahship. That Jesus speaking in 
terms of the future has reference to this 
and nothing else, may also be gathered 
from the following fact: The Evan 
gelist tells us that from that announce 
ment concerning the church onward, 
Jesus began to show unto his disciples 
that he must go unto Jerusalem, and 
suffer many things of the elders and 
chief priests and scribes, and be killed, 
and the third day be raised up, Matt, 
xvi. 21. Plainly then in his mind there 
was a connection between the results 
of his suffering and the origin of the 

So far we have considered our Lord s 
words exclusively in their reference to 
the church and not inquired into their 
bearing upon the doctrine of the king 
dom. We now observe, that the church, 
here for the first time formally intro 
duced, is most closely related to the king 
dom, which had hitherto occupied the 

The Church 147 

foremost place in Jesus teaching. For 
immediately after the declaration con 
cerning the building of the church, our 
Lord continues to say unto Peter : " I 
will give unto thee the keys of the king 
dom of heaven ; and whatsoever thou 
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in 
heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt loose 
on earth shall be loosed in heaven," vs. 
19. It would not be impossible, of 
course, to give a plausible interpretation 
of this connection on the view, that the 
church and the kingdom are separate 
things. Understanding the kingdom as 
the final kingdom, and the power of the 
keys as the power to give or deny en 
trance, the sense might be that to Peter, 
as the foundation of the church, and 
therefore to the church, had been given 
the power in some way or other to open 
or shut the gates of the heavenly king 
dom. On this view the church would 
be distinct from the kingdom as here 
spoken of, would indeed stand related to 

148 The Kingdom and the Church 

it as a gate-keeper stands to a house. 
This is, however, scarcely a possible ex 
egesis so far as the words of the second 
declaration themselves are concerned. 
The binding and loosing do not refer to 
heaven itself, as if heaven were shut or 
opened, but refer to certain things lying 
within the sphere of heaven, and not of 
heaven alone but of earth likewise. 

The figure of binding and loosing will 
have to be understood in a different 
sense. We have the choice between in 
terpreting it of the binding and loosing 
of sin, i. e. the imputation and forgive 
ness of sin, and interpreting it as an in 
stance of the common Jewish parlance 
which employed " to bind " in the sense 
of " to forbid/ " to loose " in the sense 
of "to allow/* The former might 
seem to be favored by Matt, xviii. 18, 
where the same expressions occur and 
the connection leads us to think of the 
process of church discipline. In Matt, 
xvi, on the other hand, there is nothing 

The Church 149 

to indicate that the figure has this re 
stricted sense, on the contrary, everything 
points to the most generalizing inter 
pretation that can be put upon it. The 
keys spoken of are in all probability not 
the keys of the outer door, but the keys 
pertaining to the .entire Jdouse, the keys 
not of the gate-keeper, but of the house- 
steward, and therefore symbolize the ad 
ministration of the affairs of the house in 
general, cf. Isa. xxii. 22 ; Rev. iii. 7. 
But, whichever of these two last men 
tioned views we may adopt, in either 
case the kingdom of heaven appears as 
something existing, in part at least, on 
earth. Peter receives the keys of the 
kingdom to bind or loose on earth. 
What he does in the administration of 
the kingdom here below will be recog 
nized in heaven. Now this promise 
immediately following the declaration 
concerning Peter as the foundation rock 
of the church, it becomes necessary to 
assume that in Jesus view these two 

150 The Kingdom and the Church 

are identified. The force of this will be 
felt by observing that in the two state 
ments made the figure is essentially the 
same, viz., that of the house. First the 
house is represented as in process of build 
ing, and Peter as the foundation, then the 
same house appears as completed and 
Peter as invested with the keys for ad 
ministering its affairs. It is plainly ex 
cluded that the house should mean one 
thing in the first statement and another in 
the second. It must be possible, this 
much we may confidently affirm, to call 
the church the kingdom. It is another 
question, to which we shall presently re 
vert, whether the kingdom can under all 
circumstances be identified with the 

The kingdom as the church bears the 
features of a community of men. It ap 
pears as a house. This character be 
longed to the Old Testament church for 
which that of Jesus is substituted, it also 
finds expression in the very name ecclesia, 

The Church 151 

which designates the assembly of free 
citizens called together to deliberate and 
take action in matters pertaining to the 
commonwealth. There are traces in 
Jesus earlier teaching of his having 
viewed the kingdom under this aspect as 
an organism of men, although the rep 
resentation is by no means prominent. 
Sayings like Matt. xx. 25 ; Mk. ix. 35 ; 
Lk. xx. 25, at least suggest the idea of 
the kingdom as a society based on a totally 
different principle from that governing 
the kingdoms of this world. In point 
of fact, Jesus gathered around himself a 
company of disciples, and it is plausible 
to assume that he found in their mutual 
association the beginning of what the 
kingdom of God was from its very na 
ture intended to be. The two parables 
of the wheat and the tares and of the 
fish-net equally imply the thought that 
the kingdom is an aggregate of men, 
though their point does not lie in this 
thought as such, but in the inevitable in- 

152 The Kingdom and the Church 

termingling of the good and bad until 
the end. The nearest approach to the 
later declaration about the church occurs 
in the expression "his kingdom " of 
Matt. xiii. 41. This " kingdom of the 
Son of man " agrees with the " church 
of Jesus/ in that both phrases make the 
kingdom a body of men placed under the 
Messiah as their ruler. 

From the foregoing it appears, that, if 
the church represents an advance be 
yond the internal, invisible kingdom, 
which had hitherto figured so largely in 
our Lord s teaching, the advance must 
be sought in something else than the 
mere fact of its being a body of disciples. 
The advance lies in two points. In the 
first place, the body of disciples pre 
viously existing must now take the place 
of the Old Testament church and there 
fore receive some form of external or 
ganization. This the kingdom had not 
hitherto possessed. It had been in 
ternal and invisible not merely in its es- 

The Church 153 

sence, but to this essence there had 
been lacking the outward embodiment. 
Jesus now in speaking of the house and 
the keys of the house, of binding and 
loosing on earth, and of church discipline, 
makes provision for this. In the second 
place, our Lord gives to understand that 
the new stage upon which his Messiah- 
ship is now about to enter, will bring 
to the kingdom a new influx of super 
natural power and thus make out of it, 
not only externally but also internally, 
that new thing which he calls his church. 
It is possible to find this referred to in 
the words about the gates of Hades, 
which immediately follow the Lord s 
declaration that he will build his church. 
According to some, these words imply 
a conflict between Hades as the realm 
of death and the church as the sphere of 
life. They then would mean that death 
will not be able to conquer the church, 
or that the church will be able to con 
quer death, and the ground for this 

154 The Kingdom and the Church 

promise would be that Jesus will soon 
win a victory over death and fill his 
church with unconquerable life, Rev. i. 
18. Probably, however, the correct ren 
dering is " the gates of Hades shall not 
surpass it." The gates of Hades seem 
to have been a figure for the highest 
conceivable strength, because no one can 
break through them. On this rendering 
our Lord simply means to say that the 
church will not be excelled in strength 
by the strongest that is known ; the fig 
ure is a further elaboration of the idea 
that the church is built upon a rock. 
There are, however, other sayings be 
longing to the same closing period of 
our Lord s ministry, in which he predicts 
the coming of the kingdom with a new, 
previously unknown power. In Matt. 
xvi. 28 ; Mk. ix. 1 ; Lk. ix. 27 ; Matt. 
xxvi. 64 ; Mk. xiv. 62 ; Lk. xxii. 69, 
Jesus speaks of a coming of the Son of 
man in his kingdom, of a coming of the 
kingdom of God with power, which 

The Church 155 

will take place in the near future, so that 
some of the people then living will wit 
ness it. A common way of interpreting 
these sayings is to refer them to the final 
coming of the kingdom at the end of the 
world. Those, however, who adopt this 
view, must assume that our Lord was 
mistaken as to the nearness of the event in 
question and hence give up the infalli 
bility of his teaching. 

Another exegesis is quite possible. 
We can interpret these sayings of the 
coming of the kingdom in the church. 
The strong terms in which they are 
clothed do not absolutely forbid this. 
It must be acknowledged that these 
terms resemble the language in which 
elsewhere the final coming of the king 
dom is spoken of. It is a coming of the 
kingdom with power, a coming of Jesus 
in his kingdom, even a coming of Jesus 
with the clouds of heaven. But these 
expressions become more easily explain 
able, if we endeavor to realize what the 

156 The Kingdom and the Church 

church in her first appearance was to be, 
and how the immediate future presented 
itself to Jesus from his own personal 
point of view. In the early church 
there were to be many extraordinary 
manifestations of the Spirit s power, so 
extraordinary indeed as to anticipate in 
some respects the phenomena that will 
be observed at the end of the world. 
And, even apart from this, the presence 
of the Spirit in the church in its more 
ordinary form of operation is something 
sufficiently marvelous and stupendous to 
justify the strong terms employed. The 
church actually has within herself the 
powers of the world to come. She is 
more than the immanent kingdom as it 
existed before Jesus exaltation. She 
forms an intermediate link between the 
present life and the life of eternity. 
Here we can best observe how thoroughly 
supernaturalistic our Lord s conception 
of the church-form of the kingdom is. 
And our Lord looked upon the appear- 

The Church 157 

ance of this church from a point of view 
that was peculiarly his own. He was to 
be its Lord and King. Now to him 
there was not that sharp division be 
tween the church-kingdom and the final 
kingdom which there is for us who live on 
earth. For him the consummation of the 
kingdom in which all is fulfilled began 
with his resurrection and ascension. It 
is therefore not unnatural that he should 
speak of this approaching state in terms, 
which, in themselves considered, might 
make us think of the final coming of the 

Besides these passages we have the 
statement of Matt, xviii. 20, in which 
our Lord promises to be present in the 
midst of his disciples in a peculiar man 
ner, and which throws light upon the 
idea of a coming of his which shall pre 
cede the final coming. But especially 
do the Saviour s last discourses preserved 
for us in the Gospel according to John 
afford us help in apprehending his 

158 The Kingdom and the Church 

meaning on this point. Here he plainly 
represents himself as coming to the dis 
ciples in the Spirit, and that in a way 
quite distinct from the manner in which 
he will come at the end of the world. 
It is a coming which the disciples will 
witness, whilst to others he will not re 
veal himself. It cannot be said to refer 
to the bodily appearances of Jesus after 
the resurrection, for it is intended to re 
sult in an abiding presence. Here, there 
fore, we have something quite analogous 
to the Synoptical statements previously 
quoted, the only difference being that 
the conception of the kingdom itself is 
wanting here as elsewhere in John. 

From what has been said it appears 
that every view which would keep the 
kingdom and the church separate as two 
entirely distinct spheres is not in harmony 
with the trend of our Lord s teaching. 
The church is a form which the kingdom 
assumes in result of the new stage upon 
which the Messiahship of Jesus enters 

The Church 159 

with his death and resurrection. So far 
as extent of membership is concerned, 
Jesus plainly leads us to identify the in 
visible church and the kingdom. It is 
impossible to be in the one without being 
in the other. We have our Lord s ex 
plicit declaration in Jno. iii. 3, 5, to the 
effect that nothing less than the new 
birth can enable man to see the kingdom 
or enter into it. The kingdom, there 
fore, as truly as the invisible church is 
constituted by the regenerate ; the re 
generate alone experience in themselves 
its power, cultivate its righteousness, 
enjoy its blessings. It is, of course, quite 
possible, while recognizing this identity 
of extent, to make distinctions as to the 
point of view from which the regenerate 
are called the kingdom and the church. 
Various attempts in this direction have 
been made. It may be said that the 
kingdom designates believers in their re 
lation to God as ruler, the church be 
lievers in their separateness from the 

160 The Kingdom and the Church 

world and their organic union with one 
another. Or, that the church designates 
believers in their attitude of worship to 
wards God, the kingdom, believers in 
their ethical activities towards one an 
other. Or again, that the church desig 
nates the people of God from the point 
of view of their calling to be God s in 
strument in preparing the way for and 
introducing the ideal order of things, the 
kingdom, the same people of God so far 
as they possess the ideal order in princi 
ple realized among themselves. These 
and similar distinctions have their doc 
trinal usefulness and are unobjectionable, 
so long as they do not obscure the fact 
that the kingdom, as well as the church, is 
circumscribed by the line of regenera 
tion, and that the invisible church itself 
is that which determines its inner es 
sence, its relation to God and Christ, a 
true kingdom, since it consists of those 
over whom the Messiah rules as the rep 
resentative of God. 

The Church 161 

But what about the relation of the 
visible church to the kingdom ? Here 
again we must first of all insist upon it, 
that our Lord looked upon the visible 
church as a veritable embodiment of his 
kingdom. Precisely because the invisible 
church realizes the kingship of God, the 
visible church must likewise partake of 
this character. We have seen that the 
power of binding and loosing given to 
the church is described under the figure 
of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. 
Our Lord in conferring this power acts 
in the capacity of King over the visible 
church. In Matt. xiii. 41 the kingdom 
of the Son of man, out of which the an 
gels in the last day will remove all things 
that cause stumbling and them that do 
iniquity, is nothing else but the visible 
church. The visible church is con 
stituted by the enthronement of Christ 
as the King of glory. Out of the fulness 
of his royal authority he gave immediately 
before ascending the great commission 

1 62 The Kingdom and the Church 

to preach the gospel and disciple the 
nations and instituted the sacrament of 
baptism. We must say, therefore, that ( 
the kingdom-forces which are at work, 
the kingdom-life which exists in the in 
visible sphere, find expression in the 
kingdom-organism of the visible church. c 
That Christ is King in this church and 
all authority exercised within any church- 
body derives from him is an important 
principle of church government, which 
those who endeavor to distinguish be 
tween the kingdom of God and the visible 
church do not always sufficiently keep in 

From this, however, it does not neces 
sarily follow, that the visible church is 
the only outward expression of the in 
visible kingdom. Undoubtedly the 
kingship of God, as his recognized and 
applied supremacy, is intended to pervade 
and control the whole of human life in 
all its forms of existence. This the par 
able of the leaven plainly teaches. These 

The Church 163 

various forms of human life have each 
their own sphere in which they work 
and embody themselves. There is a 
sphere of science, a sphere of art, a sphere 
of the family and of the state, a sphere 
of commerce and industry. Whenever 
one of these spheres comes under the 
controlling influence of the principle of 
the divine supremacy and glory, and this 
outwardly reveals itself, there we can 
truly say that the kingdom of God has 
become manifest. Now our Lord in his 
teaching seldom makes explicit reference 
to these things. He contented himself 
with laying down the great religious and 
moral principles which ought to govern 
the life of man in every sphere. Their 
detailed application it was not his work 
to show. But we may safely affirm two 
things. On the one hand, his doctrine 
of the kingdom was founded on such a 
profound and broad conviction of the 
absolute supremacy of God in all things, 
that he could not but look upon every 

164 The Kingdom and the Church 

normal and legitimate province of human 
life as intended to form part of God s 
kingdom. On the other hand, it was 
not his intention that this result should 
be reached by making human life in all 
its spheres subject to the visible church. 
It is true that under the Old Covenant 
something of this nature had existed. In 
the theocracy the church had domi 
nated the life of the people of God in all 
its extent. State and church were in it 
most intimately united. Jesus on more 
than one occasion gave to understand 
that in this respect at least the conditions 
of the Old Covenant were not to be per 
petuated, cf. Matt. xxii. 21 ; Jno. xviii. 
36 ; xix. 11. And what is true of the 
relation between church and state, may 
also be applied to the relation be 
tween the visible church and the various 
other branches into which the organic 
life of humanity divides itself. It is en 
tirely in accordance with the spirit of 
Jesus teaching to subsume these under 

The Church 165 

the kingdom of God and to co-ordinate 
them with the visible church as true 
manifestations of this kingdom, in so far 
as the divine sovereignty and glory have 
become in them the controlling prin 
ciple. But it must always be remenv 
bered, that the latter can only happen, 
when all these, no less than the visible 
church, stand in living contact with the 
forces of regeneration supernaturally in 
troduced into the world by the Spirit of 
God. While it is proper to separate be 
tween the visible church and such things 
as the Christian state, Christian art, Chris 
tian science, etc., these things, if they 
truly belong to the kingdom of God, 
grow up out of the regenerated life of 
the invisible church. 

As already stated, this is a subject on 
which our Lord s teaching does not bring 
any explicit disclosures and which can 
only be treated by way of inference. It 
has sometimes been thought that the 
parables of the wheat and the tares and 

1 66 The Kingdom and the Church 

of the fish-net contain an explicit declara 
tion concerning the kingdom as a wider 
sphere than the church. This is assumed, 
because these parables imply that in the 
kingdom the good and the evil are to be 
allowed to intermingle, which cannot be 
the rule in the church, as the obligation r 
to exercise church discipline plainly 
shows. Historically interpreted, how 
ever, these parables do not warrant such 
an inference. The current doctrine of 
the kingdom, shared up to that point by 
the disciples, assumed that the very first 
act of God at the coming of the kingdom 
would consist in an absolute and eternal 
separation between the good and the 
evil. This assumption was natural so 
long as no distinction between the two 
stages of the history of the kingdom had 
been made. When Jesus introduced 
this distinction, it became necessary to 
emphasize that not everything which was 
true of the final appearance of the king 
dom could therefore also be predicated 

The Church 167 

of its present, invisible mode of coming. 
As a warning to this effect these two 
parables must be interpreted. 

Our Lord desires to make plain that, 
while the kingdom is now actually com 
ing, a complete separation between the 
evil and the good cannot be effected until 
the end of the world. During the pres 
ent age the kingdom must partake of the 
limitations and imperfections to which a 
sinful environment exposes it. Of the 
church, as the externally organized king 
dom, this is eminently true. It exists 
upon the field of the world. At no time 
until the very last will it be entirely puri 
fied of all evil elements. This truth, 
however, in no wise interferes with the 
possibility nor absolves from the duty of 
church discipline. The process to which 
our Lord refers in Matt, xviii. 17 is not 
intended for effecting an absolute sepa 
ration between the good and the evil, and 
thus rendering the church as ideally pure 
as she will be in the final state of the 

1 68 The Kingdom and the Church 

kingdom. Its proximate end is the self- 
preservation of the church in that state 
of holiness which befits her profession, 
and would be destroyed by the exercise 
of religious fellowship with such as re 
main unrepentant in the face of open sin. 
Its ulterior end is remedial, consisting in 
the salvation of the sinner thus left to 
himself. Both ends can be pursued 
without forgetting or denying the lesson 
taught in the parables, that it is not given 
to men to judge the heart, and that God 
alone in the day of judgment will infal 
libly remove from the church all elements 
which, while simulating its outward ap 
pearance, do not belong to it in the inner 
spiritual reality. 


The Entrance into the Kingdom : 
Repentance and Faith 

~~1ROM the beginning our Lord s 
fi announcement of the nearness of 
the kingdom was linked with the 
demand for repentance and faith, Matt. 
iv. 17 ; Mk. i. 15. This was not acci 
dental, but an inevitable result from the 
nature of the kingdom. Repentance 
and faith are simply the two main aspects 
of the kingdom, righteousness and the 
saving grace of God, translated into terms 
of subjective human experience. Be 
cause the kingdom is in its very essence a 


1 70 The Kingdom and the Church 

kingdom of righteousness, therefore it is 
impossible for any one to be truly in it 
without having previously repented. 
Because the kingdom intrinsically con 
sists in the exercise of the divine saving 
grace and power, therefore it requires in 
every one who is to share its benefits 
that responsive and receptive attitude 
towards these divine attributes which is 
called faith. 

The relation of repentance to the king 
dom is strikingly defined in Matthew s 
version of the parable of the marriage 
feast, xxii. 1-14. Comparing this with 
the form in which our Lord uttered the 
same parable on a previous occasion, ac 
cording to Lk. xiv. 16-24, we find 
among other changes the significant 
touch added of the man without a wed 
ding garment. It is plain from the na 
ture of the invitation, that what this 
wedding garment stands for is not to be 
regarded as in any way entitling the 
bearer to a place at the feast. Those 

Repentance and Faith 171 

who come are taken from the highways 
and hedges, from the streets and lanes of 
the city and compelled to enter. They 
are received, therefore, without merit on 
their part, on the principle of free grace. 
Nevertheless, when once within, it is in 
dispensable that they should wear the 
garment appropriate to the occasion. 
Thus repentance and righteousness, 
while they do not in any meritorious 
sense earn the benefits of the kingdom, 
are yet indispensable concomitants of the 
state in which alone these benefits can 
be received. 

Our Lord s idea of repentance is as 
profound and comprehensive as his con 
ception of righteousness. Of the three 
words that are used in the Greek Gos 
pels to describe the process, one em 
phasizes the emotional element of re 
gret, sorrow over the past evil course of 
life, /xTa/xfXo/Acu, Matt. xxi. 29-32 ; a 
second expresses reversal of the entire 
mental attitude, /xeraz/oew, Matt. xii. 41, 

172 The Kingdom and the Church 

Lk. xi. 32 ; xv. 7, 10 ; the third denotes 
a change in the direction of life, one 
goal being substituted for another, 
emcrrpe^o/Acu, Matt. xiii. 15 (and par 
allels) ; Lk. xvii. 4 ; xxii. 32. Repent 
ance is not limited to any single faculty 
of the mind : it engages the entire man, 
intellect, will and affections. Nor is it 
confined to the moral sphere of life in the 
narrower sense : it covers man s entire 
religious as well as his moral relation to 
God. Repentance in the conception of 
Jesus is wide enough to include faith, 
Matt. xi. 20, 21. Here as elsewhere, 
what strikes us most is the God-centered 
character of our Lord s teaching on the 
subject. The state from which a re 
pentance must take place is condemned, 
because it is radically wrong with refer 
ence to God. The sin of the prodigal 
has for its central feature the abandon 
ment of the Father s house. The sinful 
are like wandering sheep, like lost coins, 
representations which imply a detach- 

Repentance and Faith 173 

ment of the spiritual consciousness from 
its center in God. 

The strongest way of expressing this 
is to designate the state of man without 
repentance a state of death, Matt. viii. 22 ; 
Lk. xv. 24, 32. And Jesus does not look 
upon this state as a godless state in the 
purely negative sense of the word. 
Where the love of God is absent, there 
an idolatrous love of the world and of 
self enters, and a positively offensive and 
hostile attitude towards God results. It 
is very significant that Jesus, in speaking 
of the two masters, does not say that to 
love the one is to neglect the other, or 
to hold to the one is to renounce the 
other, but employs positive terms in both 
clauses, " Either he will hate the one and 
love the other, or else he will hold to the 
one and despise the other," Matt. vi. 24. 
Man is so necessarily bound to God in 
his inmost consciousness, that absolute 
indifference or neutrality are excluded. 

In the crisis of repentance the offense 

174 The Kingdom and the Ch^lrch 

against God and the need of God are that 
upon which the repenting consciousness 
is focused. The sorrow of true repent 
ance is one which arises from conviction 
of sin. It is also a sorrow after God, such 
as proceeds from a sense of spiritual desti 
tution. Both principles are well brought 
out in the parable of the prodigal son, the 
discourse in which Jesus has so marvel- 
ously described the psychological process 
of repentance. The prodigal " comes 
to himself/ Previously he had been 
out of himself, had not known and felt 
himself in the simple truth of his funda 
mental relation to God. He realizes 
that he perishes with hunger, whilst in 
his Father s house there is bread enough 
and to spare. In his confession the of 
fense against God is significantly placed 
before that against the human father. 

Again, in the new life which follows re 
pentance the absolute supremacy of God 
is the controlling principle. He who 
repents turns away from the service of 

Repentance and Faith 175 

mammon and self to the service of God. 
Our Lord is emphatic in insisting upon 
this absolute, undivided surrender of the 
soul to God as the goal of all true re 
pentance. Because this and nothing less 
is the goal, he urges the necessity of a 
constant repetition of the process. Even 
to his followers he said at a compara 
tively late stage of his ministry, " Ex 
cept ye turn and become as little chil 
dren, ye shall in no wise enter into the 
kingdom of heaven/ Matt, xviii. 3. 
From this necessity we must also explain 
the uncompromising manner in which 
Jesus requires of his disciples the renun 
ciation of all earthly bonds and posses 
sions which would dispute God his su 
preme sway over their life, Matt. x. 39 ; 
xvi. 25; Lk. xiv. 25-35. The state 
ments to this effect are not meant in the 
sense that external abandonment of these 
things is sufficient or even required. 
The idea is that the inward attachment 
of the soul to them as the highest good 

1 76 The Kingdom and the Church 

must be in principle destroyed, that God 
may take the place hitherto claimed by 
them. Within the kingdom they are 
entitled to affection on the disciple s part 
in so far only as they can be made subor 
dinate and subservient to the love of 
God. The demand for sacrifice always 
presupposes that what is to be renounced 
forms an obstacle to that absolute devo 
tion which the kingdom of God re 
quires, Mk. ix. 43. That not the external 
possession but the internal entangle 
ment of the heart with temporal goods 
is condemned, Jesus strikingly indicates 
by the demand " to hate" one s father 
and mother and wife and children and 
brethren and sisters, yea and one s own 
life also. The energetic determination 
of the will to forego even the pleasures of 
natural affection, where they come in 
conflict with the supreme duty of the 
kingdom, is thus described and the word 
" hating" chosen on purpose to express 
that in such cases an internal change of 

Repentance and Faith 177 

mind alone, not a mere external act, can 
make man fit for the kingdom of God. 
Matt. x. 37 gives us Jesus own interpre 
tation of such seemingly harsh sayings. 

Jesus affirms the necessity of repent 
ance for all men, Mk. vi. 12 ; Lk. xiii. 
3, 5 ; xxiv. 47. In an indirect way the 
universal need of it is shown by his 
utterances on the universality and per 
vasiveness of sin. Even to the disciples 
it can be said without qualification, " If 
ye then, being evil, etc.," Matt. vii. 11. 
None is good save one, even God, Mk. 
x. 18. It is true Jesus draws a distinc 
tion between "righteous" and "sin 
ners," Matt. ix. 13 ; Mk. ii. 17. But 
the context shows that this distinction is 
drawn from the point of view of the 
judgment pronounced by men on them 
selves, not from the objective standpoint 
of Jesus own knowledge of them. 
These statements were made in answer 
to the charge of the Pharisees that Jesus 
ate with publicans and sinners. The 

178 The Kingdom and the Chiirch 

Saviour means to say that, if their com 
parative estimate concerning themselves 
and these degraded people be correct, 
there is all the more necessity for his 
associating with the latter in order to 
save them. Perhaps the reference to 
the ninety and nine righteous persons, 
which need no repentance, in Lk. xv. 
7, 10, must be explained on the same 

The connection between faith and the 
saving grace and power of God in the 
kingdom is just as close and vital as that 
just traced between repentance and right 
eousness. It is a striking fact that in 
the Synoptical Gospels nearly the whole 
of our Lord s teaching on faith attaches 
itself to the performance of miracles. 
This implies that the miracles were emi 
nently adapted to bring out the inner 
essense of faith and to reveal the true 
reason for its necessity. They embody 
that aspect of the kingdom to which 
faith is the subjective counterpart. Now 

Repentance and Faith 179 

the miracles almost without exception 
have two features in common. In the 
first place, they are transactions where 
the result absolutely and exclusively de 
pends on the forth-putting of the di 
vine supernatural power, where no hu 
man effort could possibly contribute 
anything towards its accomplishment. 
And secondly, the miracles are, as we 
have seen, healing miracles in which 
the gracious love of God offers itself 
to man for his salvation. Faith is 
the spiritual attitude called for by this 
twofold element in the saving work 
of God. It is the recognition of the 
divine power and grace, not, of course, 
in a purely intellectual way, but prac 
tically so as to involve not only convic 
tion of the mind but to carry with it 
also the movement of the will and the 
affections. How faith stands related to 
the saving power of God is most clearly 
illustrated in the narrative Mk. ix. 17-24. 
When the disciples could not heal the 

180 The Kingdom and the Chztrch 

child with the dumb spirit Jesus ex 
claimed, "O unbelieving generation." 
The father says, after describing the se 
verity of the case, " But if thou canst do 
anything, have compassion on us and 
help us." To this Jesus replies, " If 
thou canst ! all things are possible to him 
that believeth." This ascribes to faith 
something that can be affirmed of God 
alone, viz., absolute omnipotence. Else 
where also this principle is emphasized 
by our Lord, Matt. xxi. 21, 22 ; Mk. xi. 
22, 23 ; Lk. xvii. 6. The explanation 
lies in this that faith is nothing else than 
that act whereby man lays hold of, ap 
propriates for himself the endless power 
of God. If faith were a human endeavor, 
something working by its own inherent 
strength, then it would be indeed rea 
sonable to say with reference to the one 
exercising it, " If thou canst/ On the 
other hand, if the innermost meaning of 
faith consist precisely in this, that man 
with an utter renunciation of his own 

Repentance and Faith 181 

strength, casts himself upon the strength 
of God, then plainly all further concern 
about what is possible or impossible, 
every " If thou canst," is out of place. 
Hence also faith is not a quantitative 
matter, as it would have to be, were it a 
principle of human endeavor ; faith like 
a grain of mustard seed will accomplish 
the greatest conceivable results, because, 
small though it be, it nevertheless, pro 
vided it be genuine faith, connects man 
with the exhaustless reservoir of divine 
omnipotence, Lk. xvii. 6. 

This line of reasoning, however, is not 
applicable to the miracles only. The 
miracles illustrate the saving work of 
God in general. All salvation partakes, 
humanly speaking, of the nature of the 
impossible, can be accomplished by God 
alone. Jesus answers the question of 
the disciples, " Who then can be saved ?" 
with an appeal to the almighty power of 
God, " With men this is impossible, but 
with God all things are possible," Matt. 

1 82 The Kingdom and the Church 

xix. 25, 26. All genuine saving faith is 
as profoundly conscious of its utter de 
pendence on God for deliverance from 
sin as the recipients of our Lord s mi 
raculous cures were convinced that God 
alone could heal their bodies from dis 

But faith is more than a conviction 
regarding the necessity and sufficiency 
of the divine power. It also involves 
the recognition of God s willingness 
and readiness to save, is a practical ap 
propriation of the divine grace. Thus 
there enters into it an element of trust. 
Jesus never encouraged the exercise of 
faith as a mere external belief in super 
natural power. The performance of a 
sign from heaven, which men might 
have witnessed without such trust in 
God or himself, he persistently refused. 
Where there existed an antecedent hin 
drance to the exercise of this trust, he 
would not even perform any healing mir 
acles. He, who truly believes, vividly 

Repentance and Faith 183 

realizes that God is loving, merciful, for 
giving, glad to receive sinners. Faith 
transfers to God what human parents ex 
perience in themselves with reference to 
their own children, the desire to help 
and supply, Matt. vii. 7-11. Not to 
trust would be to ascribe to him the evil 
disposition of sinful men towards one an 
other. This reliance of faith is not con 
fined to the critical moments of life, it 
is to be the abiding, characteristic inner 
disposition of the disciple with reference 
to every concern. To trust God for 
food and raiment is as truly the mark 
of the disciple in the kingdom as to de 
pend on him for eternal salvation, Matt, 
vi. 30. Faith in those on whom the 
wonderful cures were wrought may have 
manifested itself at first as a momentary 
act, but Jesus frequently called the atten 
tion of such people to what faith had 
done for them, thus suggesting that this 
faith could be made fruitful also on fu 
ture occasions. Of the disciples he ex- 

184 The Kingdom and the Chiirch 

plicitly required faith as an abiding dis 
position of trust. When in the storm 
they came to him saying, " Save Lord, 
we perish," he rebuked them because 
they were without confidence in his 
presence with them as a source of ab 
solute safety. 

Being in its very essence trust, faith nec 
essarily rests in a person. It is not con 
fidence about any abstract proposition, 
but reliance upon a personal character 
and disposition. The disciples are urged 
to have "faith in God/ Mk. xi. 22. 
But, inasmuch as Jesus is the revelation 
and representative of God, nay, one 
with God, he also is the personal object 
of faith. It is true, in the Synoptical 
Gospels this is explicitly stated in one 
passage only, viz., Matt, xviii. 6, "These 
little ones that believe on me." But 
this almost entire absence of the formula 
is easily explained. It was the result of 
Jesus method of not directly proclaiming 
at first his own position in the kingdom, 

Repentance and Faith 185 

but rather of allowing it to be gradually 
inferred from practical experience. It 
does not prove the assertion of some 
modern writers, that in the gospel, as 
Jesus preached it, there was no place for 
his own person, that it was merely a gos 
pel about God. Though not frequently 
in so many words, yet in acts we find 
our Lord seeking to elicit and cultivate a 
personal relationship of faith between 
the disciple and himself and in himself 
with God. Conscious of being the Mes 
siah, he could not help assigning to him 
self a place in the gospel, and viewing 
himself as in a real sense the object of 
religious trust. This appears from his 
saying to Peter shortly before the passion, 
" Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked 
to have you, that he might sift you (no 
tice the plural pronoun) as wheat : but I 
made supplication for thee, that thy 
faith fail not." Here the crisis of our 
Lord s suffering is represented as the 
great testing crisis of true discipleship. 

1 86 The Kingdom and the Church 

Satan will in it sift the true disciples 
from the false. The true will approve 
themselves in this, that, when everything 
goes against Jesus, their faith fails not. 
And, on the other hand, when Peter s 
faith begins to fail, this is described as a de 
nial of Jesus ; faith, therefore, must in 
volve the opposite of denial, an avowal, a 
personal bond of identification between 
the master and the disciple, Lk. xxii. 31- 
34. And it is psychologically inconceiv 
able that in those who were helped by the 
miracles of Jesus, faith should not have 
assumed the form of personal trust in him 
as the instrument of the saving grace and 
power of God. Faith in God and faith 
in Jesus here inevitably coalesced. 

Faith is not represented by our Lord 
as an arbitrary movement of the mind, 
which would be independent of the 
deeper-lying dispositions and tendencies 
of life. Jesus knows of antecedent states 
of heart by which faith and unbelief 
are determined. The unbelief of the 

Repentance and Faith 187 

Jews he explains from the fact of their 
being " offended " in him. What Jesus 
was and did and taught stood at almost 
every point in direct antithesis to what 
they expected their Messiah to be, to do 
and to teach. But these expectations 
and beliefs of the Jews were deeply 
rooted in their general religious state 
and character : their unbelief, therefore, 
resulted from the fundamental disposition 
of their hearts. They that refuse faith 
do so, because they are an evil and adul 
terous generation. If they were what 
they ought to be and had not broken 
the pledges of their covenant mar 
riage to God, if their attitude towards 
God were normal, they would believe 
on him whom God had sent. And all 
this is true likewise of faith. In its ul 
timate analysis faith is, according to Jesus, 
a divine gift. Faith must be the work 
of God in man, because only so can it 
be in harmony with itself as the recog 
nition that we owe everything to God s 

1 88 The Kingdom and the Church 

working for us and in us. It is the Fa 
ther who reveals to the babes what he 
hides from the wise and understanding, 
Matt. xi. 25. Jesus prays for Peter, that 
his faith fail not : that which we pray for 
we affirm to be dependent on the opera 
tion of God. When Peter makes his 
confession, "Thou art the Christ, the 
Son of the living God," Jesus declares 
that not flesh and blood has revealed this 
unto him, but the Father in heaven. 

In the discourses of the Gospel accord 
ing to John, several important points of 
our Lord s doctrine of faith are brought 
out with greater clearness and explicitness 
than in the Synoptical statements. Faith 
here is from beginning to end faith in 
Jesus, and not merely in Jesus as the in 
strument of God, but as the image and 
incarnation of God, so that to believe in 
him is to believe in God. Consequently 
this faith in Jesus is also more clearly 
represented as a comprehensive faith in 
him as a Saviour for life and death, for 

Repentance and Faith 189 

time and eternity, and not merely faith 
in Jesus as helper in a concrete case of dis 
tress. Still further our Lord here by 
anticipation describes how faith will stand 
related to his atonement and resurrection, 
how it will become faith in the heavenly, 
glorified Christ, Jno. iii. 14 ; vi. 51 ; vii. 
29, 38; xi. 25; xv. 7, 16; xvi. 23, 24. 
Because the testimony of Jesus concern 
ing himself in this Gospel is so much 
fuller and richer, faith is more closely 
identified with knowledge, Jno. vi. 69 ; 
viii. 24, 28 ; xiv. 9, 10, 20 ; xvi. 30. We 
have already seen above, however, that 
knowledge here means far more than 
intellectual cognition. It implies prac 
tical acquaintance, confidence and love, 
Jno. x. 4, 14, 15 ; xvii. 25, 26. Finally, 
our Lord is here much more explicit on 
the causes of faith and unbelief than in 
the more popular Synoptical teaching. 
Faith and unbelief are experimental states 
and acts in which the whole spiritual 
condition of the individual comes to 

190 The Kingdom and the Church 

light. Not to believe is the great sin, 
because the deep inherent sinfulness of 
the heart displays in this sin its true 
character of hostility towards God, Jno. 
ix. 41; xv. 22, 24; xvi. 8, 9. In the 
same manner faith is the outcome of an 
inward condition of the heart. This our 
Lord describes as a doing of the truth, a 
working in God, a being of the truth, a 
having of the love of God in one s self, 
a hearing from the Father, a learning 
from him, a being drawn by the Father, a 
having been given by the Father to the Son, 
in virtue of which believers are Jesus* 
own sheep even before he manifests him 
self to them, Jno. iii. 21 ; v. 42 ; vi. 44, 45 ; 
xvii. 11 ; xviii. 37. In all these respects 
the teaching of Jesus here recorded is not 
in contradiction with, but simply the 
legitimate expansion of that delivered to 
us in the three other Gospels. 



JTJ^AVING reached the end of our 

i i discussion we may now endeavor 

briefly to formulate the impor 

tant principles embodied in our Lord s 

teaching on the Kingdom of God and 

the Church. They are the following : 

In the first place, the kingdom-con 
ception involves the historic unity of Jesus* 
work with the Old Testament work of 
God. These two constitute one body 
of supernatural revelation and redemp 

Secondly, the doctrine of the kingdom 
stands for the principle that the Chris- 


192 The Kingdom and the Church 

tian religion is not a mere matter of sub 
jective ideas or experiences, but is related 
to a great system of objective, supernatural 
facts and transactions. iThe kingdom 
means the renewal of the world through 
the introduction of supernatural forces./ 

Thirdly, the kingdom-idea is the 
clearest expression of the principle that 
in the sphere of objective reality, as well 
as in the sphere of human consciousness, 
everything is subservient to the glory of God. 
In this respect the kingdom is the most 
profoundly religious of all biblical con 

Fourthly, the message of the kingdom 
imparts to Christianity, as Jesus proclaims 
it, the professed character of a religion of 
salvation, and of salvation not primarily 
by man s own efforts but by the power 
and grace of God. The kingdom rep 
resents the specifically evangelical ele 
ment in our Lord s teaching. The same 
principle finds subjective expression in 
his teaching on faith. 

Recapitulation 193 

Fifthly, Jesus doctrine of the king 
dom as both inward and outward, com 
ing first in the heart of man and after 
wards in the external world, upholds 
the primacy of the spiritual and ethical 
over the physical. The invisible world 
of the inner religious life, the righteous 
ness of the disposition, the sonship of 
God are in it made supreme, the essence 
of the kingdom, the ultimate realities to 
which everything else is subordinate. 
The inherently ethical character of the 
kingdom finds subjective expression in 
the demand for repentance. 

Sixthly, that form which the kingdom 
assumes in the church shows it to be in 
separably associated with the person and 
work of Jesus himself. The religion 
of the kingdom is a religion in which 
there is not only a place but in which the 
central place is for the Saviour. The 
church form of the kingdom rightly 
bears the name of Christianity, because 
in it on Christ everything depends. 

194 The Kingdom and the Church 

Finally, the thought of the kingdom 
of God implies the subjection of the 
entire range of human life in all its forms 
and spheres to the ends of religion. The 
kingdom reminds us of the absoluteness, 
the pervasiveness, the unrestricted dominion, 
which of right belong to all true religion. 
It proclaims that religion, and religion 
alone, can act as the supreme unifying^ cen 
tralizing factor in the life of man, as that 
which binds all together and perfects all 
by leading it to its final goal in the serv 
ice of God. 



Age, the coming, 22, 68. 


Basileia, 25. 
Beatitudes, 2, 121. 
Blessedness, 89, 125-139. 


Chiliasm, 45, 68. 
Church, 8, 102, 140-168. 
Community, the Kingdom as a, 82, 


Death, of Jesus, 50, 146. 
Demons, 49, 50. 

Development in Jesus conception of the Kingdom, 


Ethics of Jesus, 43, 103-124. 
of Judaism, 106-108. 


1 96 Index of Subjects 

Faith, 9, 178-190. 
Fatherhood, 7, 34, 130-135. 
Final kingdom, 8, 17-19, 21, 40. 
Forgiveness of sin, 129-130. 


Grace, 4, 9, 23, 123. 


John the Baptist, 15, 44, 54. 

Judaism, its conception of the Kingdom, 19-22, 
26, 27, 45, 67-72, 85. 
its ethics, 106-108. 


Kingdom and kingship, 2531. 

of God and of heaven, 3137. 

parables, 2, 56-57* D2 - 6 3i 73~74- 

the preliminary, 45. 

the present and the future, 38-41, 64, 65. 
Knowledge, 99, 136-137. 


Law, 13, 17, 21, 22, 107-111. 
Life, 4, 5, 74, 135-139- 
Love, 9. 

Index of Subjects 197 


Malkuth, 25. 

Memlakhah, 25. 

Messiahship, 12, 47, 60-61, 141-145. 

Miracles, 9, 92-95, 178-181. 


Old Testament, 9, 11-19, 44? 54? 81. 


Paul, his conception of the Kingdom, 46-82. 
Power, of the Kingdom, 90-102. 
Prophecy, Messianic, 19. 


Regeneration, 4, 74, 77, 137, 159- 

Repentance, 9, 169-178. 

Resurrection of Jesus, 146. 

Reward, 118-124. 

Righteousness of the Kingdom, 9, 89, 103-124. 


Sermon on the Mount, 2. 
Sonship in the Kingdom, 130135. 
Spirit of God, 98-102, 156. 

Spiritual nature of the Kingdom, 39,4957, 7172. 
Supernatural character of the Kingdom, 36, 73-77. 
Supremacy of God in the Kingdom, 8389. 

198 Index of Subjects 


Theocracy, 14. 
Truth, 4, 5, 99. 


Universalism, 6970. 


Matthew ii. 44 


Matthew vi. 30 




33 3i, 85, 


iii. 2 




iv. 17 i, 



v. 6 113, 115, 


vii. 711 



I 2O 

ii 69, 


9 120, 












1 7 


viii. 12 




22 136, 


23, 24 






ix. 13 




* 39 


48 36, 




vi. 9, 10 

I3 1 

xi. 5 




ii 49,59 











2O, 21 




Index of Texts 

Matthew xi. 25 188 

Matthew xviii. 

17 140, 

2 7 134 


28-29 J 3 



xii. 28 31, 49, 91, 98 



41 171 



xiii. ii 57 

xix. 25, 26 


15 122 



16,17 129 

xx. 1-16 


24-30 83, 151, 






3 6 ~43 56 

Xxi. 21, 22 


41 49, 152, 161 



43 3 1 

3 1 

3 1 

44-46 128 

43 i5, V 

[, 69, in 

47-50 83, 151, 

xxii. 114 





52 3, 46 



xv. 13 no 

xxiii. 23 


xvi. 17 36, 1 88 

xxiv. 30 


18 140,153,154 



J 9 33, 49, J 47- 

xxv. 15 




I2 3 

25 i75 



28 154 

xxvi. 29 

3 1 

xviii. 3 175 



6 184 

xxviii. 19 

6 9 

Index of Texts 



i. 15 

i, 169 

Luke i. 1 7 







1 7 


iv. 18, 19 

94, 98 



26, 27 









vi. 32, 35 





vii. 50 





ix. 27 





xi. 13 












xii. 32 8, 

124, 127 




xiii. 3, 5 


J 7 


xiv. 15 











22, 23 

1 80, 

xv. 7, 10 

172, 178 











18, 21 





136, 173 



3 2 i3 6 > 

138, i73 



6 9 

xvi. 1 6 




6 9 

xvii. 4 





180, 181 





122, 123 


Index of Texts 

Luke xvii. 20 


John xiv. 9, 10, 20 


xviii. 14 


xv. 7, 16 


xx. 25 

I5 1 

22, 23, 24 


J 33 





xvi. 8, 9 


xxii. 31-34 






xvii. 3 




4 6 


xxiv. 19 






25, 26 




xviii. 36 3, 68, 




John iii. 3, 5 

3> J 59 

xix, II 




Acts i. 8 




ii. 36 


v. 42 


x. 38 


vi. 44, 45 




i Cor. xv. 23-28 






vii. 29, 38 






Hebrews xii. 2 


viii. 24, 28 


ix. 41 


Revelation iii. 7 


x. 14, 15 


xi. 15 


xi. 25 


xiv. 6 


Exodus iv. 22 


Index of Texts 203 

Exodus xv. 


Jeremiah xxxi. 33 


xix. 4-6 




Deut. xxxii. 6 


Ezekiel xxxvi. 27 


Psalms xcvii. i 




xcix. i 


ii. 44 




Isaiah xxii. 22 


xxiv. 21 


Obadiah 21 


xliii. 15 

18, 131 

lii. 7 


Micah ii. 12 


Iv. i 


iv. 6