I am convinced that there is a unifying theme that holds the entire Bible together, introduced in Genesis 1 and fully developed in Rev 22. That theme is the Kingdom of God. To support this idea, we need only examine the first proclamation of Jesus following his baptism and wilderness testing.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”(Mat 4:17 ESV)
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mar 1:15 ESV)
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luk 4:43 ESV)
I suggest that there is not much meaning to this message if those who were listening had no idea what the Kingdom of God was. The Jews knew that Messiah would be the king, that they were his people and that he would rule them on the earth. The prophets frequently teach these truths. The masses were convinced that Jesus was that king, as indicated when they hailed him Son of David (the fulfillment of the promise to David that one of his descendants would rule on God’s throne forever (2 Sam 7:12-13). But I want to take a moment to put this truth in the context of the entire storyline of the Bible, beginning with its inauguration in the lives of Jesus’ first disciples.
First – the Kingdom of God is not of this world.
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (Joh 18:33-36 ESV)
There must be a spiritual dimension to the Kingdom of God.
Second – There will be a time when the Kingdom of God will physically envelop this world.
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 ESV)
Jesus, the Christ (anointed King), will reign on earth for a thousand years, a period known as the Millennium.
Third – Meanwhile, the Kingdom of God is present in the lives of those who believe.
According to George Ladd, Theology of The New Testament, the Kingdom of God is not the church, but the church (those who believe) enter into it. As such, the church (believers) is the instrument of the Kingdom of God as it carries on the ministry of Jesus (Matt 10:8; Luke 10:17). The church is also the custodian of the Kingdom of God, since Jesus gave Peter, and all who confess Christ (as he did), its keys. Therefore, the future reign of Christ during the Millennium breaks into the present through the followers of Jesus. It is already here (Matt 12:28; Rom 14:7), but it is not yet here in all of its fullness (Matt 25:34; 1 Cor 6:9-10). Therefore, as Wayne Grudem says in hisSystematic Theology (pg 864), believers “will know some measures of victory over sin (Rom 6:14; 14:17), over demonic opposition (Luke 10:17), over disease (Luke 10:9). They will live in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:28; Rom 8:4-17) who is the dynamic power of the coming kingdom.” But we can look forward to a time when the Kingdom of God will indeed reign over all of creation in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
This is certainly Good News worth proclaiming in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outermost parts of the earth.