The Apostles: The Kingdom Beyond and Within (Kingdom Visionaries 3, Part 7)

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1.22, 23

From beyond

For the Apostles, the Kingdom was centered “above,” where Christ is seated in the heavenly places in glory. But it also exists beyond our present and within us at the same time.

The “beyondness” of the Kingdom of God consists of two aspects, according to the Apostles.

First is the fact that the Kingdom is unfolding from within a spiritual realm which lies beyond the reach of our physical senses. If we would understand the protocols and promise of the Kingdom and draw on its resources and power for daily living, we must learn to “see” the rule of King Jesus with the eyes of the heart, by faith, and not by sight (Eph. 1.15-23).

Thus we search the Scriptures in order to gather and assemble the many images and teachings about the unseen realm and how we must “view” it. We seek the Kingdom of God as we set our minds on these things and prosecute all our daily affairs and activities with a view to serving as ambassadors of the risen Christ (Col. 3.1-3; 2 Cor. 5.17-21). We do not see Jesus now, at least, not with the eyes of the flesh; nevertheless, we love and adore Him because we “see” Him by faith, as He reveals Himself to us in His Word, and we conduct our affairs from within the framework of what we thus see and know to be true (1 Pet. 1.8, 9).

We know that we are surrounded by a cloud of faithful witnesses, whose lives we emulate and hope we share, and thus we desire to be like them faithful servants in the Kingdom which they anticipated, and which we now have entered as sons and daughters and heirs (Heb. 12.1, 2; Lk. 12.41-48).

Unto beyond

Second, the Kingdom is “beyond” us because it is still to come, both increasing daily on earth, and in its perfection and full glory when Jesus returns to consummate His work of redemption (Rev. 19-22). We understand that this world is not our permanent place of abode and that we are on a journey culminating in a new heavens and new earth (2 Pet. 3.8-14). This being so, we live toward the coming of the unseen Kingdom, daily striving, through God’s Word and Spirit, to become transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, Whom, we believe, we shall one day see face to face (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Jn. 3.1-3).

The Kingdom of God exists beyond us – ontologically and temporally – and it is our calling to seek that Kingdom, both as it presently exists in the unseen realm and as it shall come to be increasingly on earth and finally upon the Lord’s return in glory. The “beyondness” of the Kingdom makes of our lives a perpetual seeking to realize the Kingdom in greater fullness.

The Kingdom within

Thus the Apostles understood, as Jesus declared, that the Kingdom of God is within us, and we exist within it. It is a realm of true and transforming spiritual power (1 Cor. 4.20) where Jesus Christ is making new all those who come to Him in faith and follow in His holy and righteous and good way, according to the Law of God (Matt. 5.17-19).

The Kingdom is within us, and, by the Spirit and Word of God, the Kingdom brings forth the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy, which honors God and brings abundant benefit to men (Rom. 4.17-19). We expect to see more evidence of the Kingdom in us – the fruit of the Spirit, the tokens of love, the virtues of holiness – and to demonstrate more of the Kingdom’s power by our witness to Christ in the world (Acts 1.8).

Thus the Apostles repeatedly urge and remind us, acknowledging that such a way of living is a struggle against spiritual forces determined to destroy us (2 Pet. 3.1-7; Eph. 6.10-20) and wicked men who seek only their own interests rather the glory of God (Rom. 1.18-32; 1 Pet. 4.1-19; 2 Tim. 3.1-13).

Living within the Kingdom, we are called to grow as disciples, becoming equipped for the work of ministry so that we might help to grow our churches in unity and maturity unto the Lord (Eph. 4.11-16). The Church, which the Apostles labored to found and build, is the outpost and agent of the Kingdom of God, and it is important that she strive always to heed the Word of her King and to be faithful in all her Kingdom duties until He returns (Rev. 2, 3).

The Apostles do not speak as frequently about the Kingdom as Jesus did, or even as much of the Old Testament does. This is because they assumed all that prior teaching and vision and were experiencing the reality of it through their lives and ministries. What patriarchs and prophets only foresaw, and what Jesus anticipated and proclaimed, the Apostles – and we as their spiritual offspring – now realize day by day as we meditate on, seek, and live in the power of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is coming on earth as it is in heaven.

Next steps

How would you describe your vision of the Kingdom of God at this time? In what ways is this vision affecting your daily walk with and work for the Lord? Share your thoughts with a church leader.

Additional Resources

Download this week’s study, Kingdom Visionaries 3: Jesus and the Apostles.

Sign up for ViewPoint Leaders Training and start your own ViewPoint discussion group.

For a concise explanation of the Kingdom of God, and help in learning how to proclaim it, order a copy of T. M.s little book, The Gospel of the Kingdom from our online store, by clicking here.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.