the weblog of Alan Knox

The Kingdom and the Church

Posted by on Jan 20, 2010 in definition, discipleship | 7 comments

In the gospels (and occasionally in the epistles) we read alot about the kingdom of God (or kingdom of Heaven). However, when we get to the epistles, we most ready about the church.

I think there is a relationship between the kingdom of God and the church. But there may be some distinctions between the two also – at least there seem to be some distinctions in the way that the NT authors use the phrases “kingdom of God” and “church.”

So, what is the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church? Do the phrases refer to the same thing?


7 Comments

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  1. 1-20-2010

    Alan,

    They are different on many points, and it’s a good exercise to continually point this out. Too often, they are equated, resulting in a truncated view of Christianity for too many people.

    The kingdom is an all-encompassing thing, made up of all persons, places, things, concepts, on and on. In short, everything. The church is a part of the kingdom, and a small part at that.

    Church is a gathering of God’s people. We meet in the minority of the time, just a few hour per week for most of us. Everything else isn’t church, but is part of kingdom. My grocery store is not part of church, but as something subject to the lordship of God, it is part of the kingdom. The checkers and stockers and stockholders and management are all subject to Christ as king. They need to be honest about their prices, and serve their customers well. Yet we buy bread from the store and not break it there.

    This is a very interesting topic for me, and I hope you get many comments. Can’t wait to see what others think. (HINT!)

  2. 1-20-2010

    The Kingdom of God is within His people.

    “nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21 NIV)

    I think the Kingdom of God occurs when we allow God to reign in our lives, when we place Him as king or Lord of our lives. He is King, and Lord of all, but we are invited to join in that kingdom.

    Is this the same as the church? Good question.

    If I define ‘church’ as Christ’s church – the one without walls. The church that has Christ as it’s head. Then maybe yes it is the same. All those who are part of Christ’s church are members in His kingdom…. and all those who are members of His kingdom are part of His church.

    … ah.. but maybe I’m just confused with words. The word church does seem to have many meanings…

    Acts 8:3 (NIV)
    But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

    Here at least ‘church’ seems to refer not to the gathering of followers, but to all those who are of the faith.

    Good question, there’s my 2 cents.
    God bless.

  3. 1-20-2010

    Good post and good comments. I want to say “Yes” and “also.” Which means I do not disagree with the two comments thus made. The Kingdom is within every born again believer and when we gather as “church” we are a part of that Kingdom, because we are in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is in us. However, the Kingdom is much more than just us in our time period – it spans eternity.

    I am not talking about our denominational structures when I speak of church, but neither am I excluding those of us who work within these systems. God’s people comprise both church and Kingdom in its present expression. My end-time theology believes there will be time when the Kingdom on earth will be just as it is in Heaven but that is beyond the subject of this post.

  4. 1-21-2010

    I agree… there’s alot of good meat to chew on here. Without getting into too much detail, I would think that the church is a subset of the kingdom, but not exactly the same as the kingdom. From our perspective, the church may appear to be the kingdom.

    -Alan

  5. 1-21-2010

    Alan, I just finished a three part post on why I think the church is not possible without kingdom.

    http://jonathanbrink.com/2010/01/21/missional-community-formation-part-3/

    The kingdom is the larger framing story about what the church is revealing.

  6. 1-22-2010

    Those who are part of the church (by virtue of their reconciliation to the Father) are part of the kingdom. I don’t see how you can be part of one without being part of the other. It’s not that one is a subset of the other. It’s simply that both are part of the same concept.

    The problem in our culture seems to be that we have no grasp of the kingdom at all whatsoever, and we try to make church something that it’s not, nor was it ever intended to be.

    The church is not about the gathering, so much as we gather to live out being the church. The church can be the church wherever two or more are gathered. As has already been mentioned, the kingdom is within us, so therein is the only minor difference. I can live in the kingdom even when I’m by myself. I cannot live out being part of the church without at least one other.

  7. 5-21-2013

    The kingdom of God and the Church are not the same, however, the one cannot exist without the other. The Kingdom of God has to do with the rule and reign of God and the Church is the people. “The kingdom of God is within you”, means that whoever (people) receives Jesus Christ into their heart there the kingdom of God is established. Whoever submit under His rule and reign will become part of the kingdom! There can be no kingdom without subjects! A Monarchy cannot rule without people likewise the kingdom of God cannot exist without people (the church).