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‘he basileia tou theou’, or ‘the Kingdom of God’ is a phrase used often in the Gospel messages of Jesus, in fact each of the synoptic Gospels record Jesus first speech announcing the nearness of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17; Luke 4:19). This phrase is one of the most common interest’s of the Gospel writers as they looked at the life of Christ. It should not surprise us then that it is also one of the more common topics discussed in New Testament Theology and in Missiology today.

Geerhardus Vos, (1862-1949), was professor at Princeton Theological Seminary for 39 years as well as a professor at Calvin for 5 years. Vos raised some clarifying questions in his own essay on the Kingdom of God, now found in The shorter writings of Geerhardus Vos: Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation.

“The question may also be put whether in these two phrases the word ‘basileia’ has the abstract sense of “reign” or the concrete one of “realm.”” (pg. 305)

“The most important question with this central idea of our Lord’s preaching concerns the exact nature of the order of affairs designated by it [he basileia tou theou]. Did he mean by the kingdom a new state of things suddenly to be realized in external forms, more or less in harmony with the current Jewish expectations, or did He mean by it, primarily at least, a spiritual creation gradually realizing itself in invisible ways?” (pg. 305-306)

In my opinion most nominal, broad expressions of Reformed theology have a tendency to fall down more on the “reign” side of the Kingdom of God rather than the “realm” side. What are some implications of this tendency when it comes to the way we view the Church or view the missio dei?

Another though I have from Vos’s categories is that we tend to view apocalyptic symbolism and literature in our Bible’s as having reference only to the approach of ‘a new state of things suddenly to be realized in external forms’ rather than these apocalyptic symbols and literary portions having their reference in ‘a spiritual creation gradually realizing itself in invisible ways’. What are the implications of this on the way we view preaching, or the way we understand the religious pluralism of the 21st century?