Brief Thoughts Concerning the "Kingdom of God"
But for many evangelical Christians, especially those of a verbal plenary inspiration stripe, the matter is easily settled and it goes something like this: Jesus was sent by God (indeed, was God in the flesh) to fulfill the prophecies of the OT which included the coming of God's kingdom; Jesus fulfilled these prophecies of the kingdom by inaugurating its coming principally via his death and resurrection; the ekklesia or Church which his apostles founded is in some sense the incarnation or manifestation of this inaugurated kingdom of God; and this kingdom will be fully realized or concretized at Jesus' Parousia. Thus the "kingdom of God" has two stages: fulfillment and consummation. Jesus at his first coming ushered in the former stage and will usher in the consummate stage at his second coming.
I at one time subscribed to this viewpoint known as "inaugurated eschatology". But the more and more I've come to study and analyze the Hebrew Bible, especially concerning its restoration of Israel motifs, the more and more that I'm beginning to see this interpretation as apologetic nonsense. The uncomfortable fact that many of the eschatological kingdom characteristics normally associated with its arrival such as the general resurrection of the dead, a Messianic rule, the restoration of Israel, etc. did not occur at Jesus' coming has forced Christians into this semantic word game by neatly dividing up the kingdom into 'fulfillment'and 'consummation' stages.
I will have more to say on this in the next post.