A Lifetime’s Work: Defining the Kingdom of God

180px-geladd.jpgThe scholar George Eldon Ladd spent his life wrestling with all of the possible meanings of “The Kingdom of God” which Jesus came to inaugurate. Mr. Ladd came to a very clear, precise, and concise definition, which he carefully stated and elaborated in his major works on the subject, A Theology of the New Testament and The Gospel of the Kingdom.

As discussions of the Kingdom of God appear on the internet, and Professor Ladd’s definition is mentioned, even though we may disagree with his conclusions, we need to honor his life by making sure we quote him accurately:

“The kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not identical with its subjects. They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, live under it, and are governed by it. The church is the community of the Kingdom but never the Kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of women and men.”

                 A Theology of the New Testament, revised edition, 1993, p. 109

Professor Ladd’s definition informs Bishop Tom Wright’s internationally acclaimed analysis of Jesus and the Kingdom:

“Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven: Best understood as the kingship, or sovereign and saving rule, of Israel’s God YHWH.”
                     Matthew for Everyone, p. 218

Comments are disabled for this post