The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, November 08, 2007
Two-Kingdom Covenanters
Who woulda thought...Over at De Regno Christi comes William Chellis' argument for the otherworldliness of the Kingdom. Covenanters historically have vigorously insisted that Christ's rule should be acknowledged by civil as well as ecclesiastical authorites.

He takes a pretty standard, yet misguided argument, based on Matt. 18:

Against the violent backdrop of this world’s kingdoms, Christ vindicates Himself against the charge of sedition declaring, “ My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Emphasizing the spiritual nature of His kingdom, Christ explains, “if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews” (John 18:35,36).


As Christ stood before Pilate two kingdoms were in conflict. Before Pilate stood a king whose kingdom transcends the passing order of this present age. Asked, are you guilty of treasonous rebellion, Christ justified Himself as sinless by declaring, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Rather, He is king over an eternal realm, the concerns of which far surpass the mundane realities of earthly politics. In response, Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, brutal bearer of the sword, punisher of all rebellion against Caesar, justified Christ with his just pronouncement; “I find no guilt in him” (John 18:38).

Chellis (as do many other commentators) fails to hear Christ's words accurately. Jesus did not say, "My kingdom is not in this world", but, "My kingdom is not of this world". The preposition Jesus uses makes all the difference.

Christ is not talking about the location of the Kingdom but its holy nature. When the NT warns of being "not of the world", it is referring to the danger of being influenced or "possessed" as it were by the rebellious, God-hating system of those opposed to rule of Christ (e.g. John 17:14). In other places of scripture "in the world" refers to being in the physical location (the upshot of 1 Cor 5:10).

The ultimate irony of "heavenly" references to the Kingdom of God is that, at the end of history, heaven and earth will be made one. Such "heavenly" talk is really shorthand for the life we live on the renewed earth!