One of the next books I studied in my quest to learn more about the Kingdom of God was “The Gospel of the Kingdom.” There were some concepts I found especially helpful in this book by George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982), an evangelical New Testament scholar and Professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
The first was the flat nature of Biblical prophecy. To quote Ladd:
“Usually the prophets, as they looked into the future, spoke of coming events without attempting to give the temporal sequence of the several stages of the accomplishment of God’s purpose. Not only is the distant future regarded as a single although complex event but the intermediate future and the distant future are described as though they constituted a single act of God.” (page 36)
An example would be the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus. Quite clearly there are two different prophetic views concerning the Messiah. There is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, and then there is the triumphant King of much of the rest of the Old Testament. The Jews missed Jesus as the Messiah because they were looking for the triumphant King. With the benefit we have of time, we know that Jesus has already come as suffering servant and will return to reign in victory in the future.
Now apply this concept to the apparently conflicting Biblical concepts about the Kingdom. Sometimes the Kingdom is portrayed as a present reality, at other times it is our inheritance in the future. The Jew’s were expecting a literal return of the glory of David’s kingdom. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world. Some parables seem to indicate that the Kingdom comes gradually. Others passages imply a sudden and glorious event.
Eldon Ladd describes two ages that are talked about in the Scriptures—this present age and the age to come. For example, in Ephesians 1:21, Paul describes Christ as being “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” As you investigate this idea further, you find that these two ages are separated by the return of Jesus.
The apparent conflicts about the Kingdom can be resolved by looking at whether we are referring to the Kingdom in this age or the age to come.
Again quoting Ladd:
“This is the mystery of the Kingdom, the truth which God now discloses for the first time in redemptive history. God’s Kingdom is to work among men in two different stages. The Kingdom is yet to come in the form prophesied by Daniel when every human sovereignty will be displaced by God’s sovereignty. The world will yet behold the coming of God’s Kingdom with power. But the mystery, the new revelation, is that this very Kingdom of God has now come to work among men but in an utterly unexpected way. It is not now destroying human rule; it is not now abolishing sin from the earth… It has come quietly, unobtrusively, secretly. It can work among men and never be recognized by the crowds. In the spiritual realm, the Kingdom now offers to men the blessings of God’s rule, delivering them from the power of Satan and sin. The Kingdom of God is an offer, a gift which may be accepted or rejected. The Kingdom is now here with persuasion rather than with power.” (page 55)
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4 replies on “The Gospel of the Kingdom”
I need to read Ladd’s book; thank you for sharing!
I believe that space and time are part of the creation, and that as one comes near the Creator the rules of space and time are no longer relevant. God sees the continuum of history at a glance, as a whole. All the generations of a family are before him as an entity – accounting for how his promises, say to Abraham or David, are fulfilled.
Regarding last days, prophecy doesn’t tell us the future but rather confirms the word of God as events occur. No one could have looked at the scriptures and predicted the nature of Jesus’ first coming. Jesus stopped reading smack in the middle of Isaiah 61:2 to allow 2000 years to pass. I’m confident that our best charts and timelines bear little resemblance to what will actually take place at the close of this age.
It seems that Ladd makes the common mistake that genders towards unbelief in Christ’s present Kingdom.
You said “Eldon Ladd describes two ages that are talked about in the Scriptures—this present age and the age to come. For example, in Ephesians 1:21, Paul describes Christ as being “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” As you investigate this idea further, you find that these two ages are separated by the return of Jesus.
The apparent conflicts about the Kingdom can be resolved by looking at whether we are referring to the Kingdom in this age or the age to come.”
Firstly, the time in which Paul wrote that statement in Ephesians was the “last days” of the national Jewish age which Jesus was speaking of in the Olivet discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). That age was brought to a close in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by the hand of God- hence “the end of the age [aion]” (Matt 24:3)
So the “this age” was Paul’s then present age, the “that which is to come” was the fuller release of the Kingdom age.
Also, where you/he said “these two ages are separated by the return of Jesus”: There is no place in scripture which presents such separation. I have recently been teaching on Christ’s Kingdom- protos and eschatos and none of the OT Messianic Kingdom scrips/prophecies present a second incarnation or a double Kingdom age/ages. It is rather man’s unbelief of scripture which causes these disasterous doctrines. Too many saints don’t live in faith concerning the Kingdom so they don’t believe that Jesus IS “the prince [archon- chief ruler] of the kings of the earth” and “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever [aion- ages] and ever [aion]” (Rev 1:5, 11:15).
In actuality “The apparent conflicts about the Kingdom can be resolved by” believing what God has said. It is the same as healing and other areas of our walk, we “call those things which be not as though they were” (Rom 4:17).
The Kingdom of God should be a passion for every Christians.
My studies of this topic are at Glorious Kingdom and Times and Seasons.
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