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Kingdom of God in Acts

2012 February 27
by Mike

It isn’t surprising that the book of Acts focuses on the kingdom of God, since in Luke’s gospel:

– the angelic birth announcement said that Jesus would “reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (1:33);

– Jesus’ summary of his message was “the good news of the kingdom of God” (4:43);

– the priority of the kingdom of God exceeds other pressing responsibilities (9:60, 62);

– Jesus said to pray this: “your kingdom come” (11:2);

– the 72 were send out with the message to tell people “the kingdom of God has come near to you” (10:9, 11);

– we discover that the the kingdom of God is in our midst (17:20f).

But even after all that, it’s striking how Luke summarizes the forty days of final instruction from Jesus to his apostles before he ascended: “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). He has forty days, a short course. The topic? God’s reign/rule/kingdom.

That was apparently the focus of the teaching by Philip in Samaria (8:12) and Paul in Ephesus (19:8; 20:25)

Then Luke ends his second volume with this account of Paul’s stay in Rome:

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (28:30f).

Lest this be reduced to some sugary, devotional topic . . . don’t forget how dangerous such a message was in a world where there was already a king!

That wasn’t missed by an unhappy crowd in Thessalonica who complained that the believers were causing trouble all over the world. “They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus” (17:7).

The kingdom of God continues to challenge us. If Jesus is the king, then we are not ultimately in charge. If God is the one ruling, then our job is to follow his lead. If God is seeking to repair his world, then our work is cut out for us—work that may be messy and tiring (though joy-filled!).

To announce that God’s kingdom is breaking in, that Jesus is king, is to make a radical political claim—one that constantly reorders our lives.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. joey tilton permalink
    February 27, 2012

    In Rowe’s book World Upside Down, he says, “For almost three hundred years, the dominant trend in NT interpretation has been to read the Acts of the Apostles as a document that argues for the political possibility of harmonious existence between Rome and the early Christian movement.”
    (How I think we use this today: American democracy and capitalism go hand-in-hand with Christianity.)
    He goes on to say, “No longer can Acts be seen as a simple apologia that articulates Christianity’s harmlessness vis-a-vis Rome….Luke’s second volume is a highly charged and theologically sophisticated political document that aims at nothing less than the construction of an alternative total way of life – one that runs counter to the life patterns of the Graeco-Roman world.”

  2. February 27, 2012

    Preach the word!!!

  3. February 28, 2012

    Joey – Great quote! Thanks so much.

  4. james permalink
    February 28, 2012

    How is it possible that I’ve read Acts so many times but have never noticed that the topic of his 40 day crash course was the kingdom of God? You just added that, didn’t you?

  5. February 28, 2012

    Yes, indeed I did, James. It’s part of the Wikipedia Bible project—you get to add and correct as part of an ongoing work. 🙂

  6. joey permalink
    February 28, 2012

    No longer can Acts be read merely as a manual on how to grow the Church (if it was ever intended to be read that way). Nor is it merely a history book of “information.”
    Acts is the Church AS the continued Incarnation. IN ITS READING, we (WE!) are shaped, transformed and recreated.
    What happened 2000 years ago was so radical that it’s taken us this long to work through it all. Well, of course, we’re still working through it, aren’t we?

  7. Desmond Owusu permalink
    August 18, 2017

    I think it’s important we separate the message of the Kingdom of God from the message about Jesus Christ (Calvary, Salvation etc). Christ focus was on the Kingdom of God and not His death, resurrection etc, Once people get to know this Kingdom, they will press into it and then we can present Christ as the channel/medium to enter into the Kingdom. He’s also the King of this Kingdom. Our focus have been on other gospels and not the Kingdom of God.

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