I was struck by something I read from the introduction to Peter Leithart’s new commentary on 1 & 2 Kings in the Brazos Theological Commentary series that I think you should hear, first a word about the Brazos series. There are only two volumes in this series out so far, the first by Jaroslav Pelikan on Acts and this volume by Leithart. Unlike most commentaries that focus on historical criticism of the text, Brazos focuses on the theology of the text.

Leithart makes some very deep and disturbing yet freeing comments on the Church’s relation to the books of 1 & 2 Kings, listen, “The ecclesiology of 1 & 2 Kings is thus profoundly evangelical, and Israel’s history of division becomes a figure of sola gratia. Imitating the zeal of Josiah, Christians in a divided church must make every effort to reunite, but 1-2 Kings makes it clear that our hope for union does not lie in human efforts to unify.Ultimately, no matter how diligent and faithful the church’s efforts are, only the Lord can tie together…” (pg. 28)

This note of dependence on the Lord for strength to unify us, to once again engender a ‘koinonia’ that is reflective of the shepherding work of Christ and dependent on the Lord is so refreshing for me to hear. Its easy to live in the mindset of Acts, that the nature of the Church is only about the continual expansion of mission; but in reality its the most definite expression of Christ’s present Kingdom in this world, and its administration and care is a work riddled with divisions and heterodoxy’s as well as heteropraxy’s. The Lord calls us to believe with as much faith that he is able to expand his church, as well as keep it healthy and bring it peace. Any ecclesiology that is only focused on Acts without Kings is probably going to be formed in an overly triumphant tone (after all the church was very young in Acts, while Israel grew very old in the Kings account). Likewise any ecclesiology that is only focused on Kings is probably going to sound very defeated and dismall, in fact Leithart went as far as to suggest that Israel was promised death and did indeed die in order to be revived by YHWH. The Church living in the resurrection of Christ cannot be read merely in terms of Kings. Here is our tension and the pressing contradiction many of us experience as sojourner’s in this world – we live with two self-identity portraits for our communities, Acts and Kings. Triumph and tragedy, hope and hurt, homecoming and displacement…