This article continues the discussion about the three manifestations of the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t already, I suggest you begin with the article – Do You See the Three Kingdoms? Here, we’ll continue the discussion by looking briefly into the work of Yeshua the Christ and his kingdom-building process, beginning with the kingdom of the priests.
Christ’s Revelation to Paul about the Kingdoms
Let’s return to 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 where Paul indicates an order to the salvific work of Christ. Note the clarification in verse 23.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
These seven verses are fundamental to Paul’s viewpoint of the gospel and the work that God the Father and Christ his Son are engaged in. Notice that when mentioning the order, Paul starts with the past work which is already completed; Christ the firstfruits.
- Regarding the resurrection, Christ is the end of the argument for all those who deny it (vs 20).
- As the Son of God, Yeshua would have preeminence in all things, especially the resurrection of the dead (Acts 26:22-23; Romans 8:29).
- It was God’s intention, before the foundations of the world, that Yeshua would be the firstborn of his intended creation to ascend in glory, and only through him would many follow (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1).
- Though he was called the second Adam according to the flesh, as regarding the new creation Yeshua the Christ is the first to be resurrected to glory (1 Corinthians 15:45-46; Colossians 1:19-22; Hebrews 9:11-12, 23-28).
Next, Paul addresses those who belong to Christ. They too are referred to as the first; the first to hope and trust in Christ, the firstfruits of salvation. These are the elect of God who look to Yeshua and his return for the fulfillment of the promise entrusted first to them. (Ephesians 1:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,13-14; James 1:18)
His kingdom is our inheritance
To understand the role of those referred to as the elect of God, we must look at the characteristics of their calling, their experience, and the various promises given to them. We’ll see that although there is a personal benefit for each called into Christ, the fruit they bear is not for themselves, but for the world. Let’s begin by looking at God’s calling and the inheritance we are promised. Paul provides a good overview from which we can start.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
- It is according to God’s purpose that we are called to be the first to hope in Christ
- This is intended to lead to the praise of his glory
- He qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints
- He alone has delivered us out of darkness and into his light
It was always God’s intention that those called to be faithful to his son would first be called and justified, then finally to be glorified with him when he returns in glory. In this he reveals a process.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God calls us out of disobedience and we are saved only by his grace. And is this salvation only for ourselves? No. He preordained that together with Christ, we might be the first among many (Romans 8:23). First called, then justified in Christ, finally to be glorified with him (2 Peter 1:3-4).
To whom does he desire to show our justification and glorification to?
Ephesians 2:7 – so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
There’s more to learn about Christ’s called, chosen, and faithful. Discover more.
The Holy Spirit is our guarantee
The apostle Paul points to a part of God’s purpose in extending the gift of the Holy Spirit to some.
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
It is by the Spirit of God that we are children of God (vs 14). If we are children of God, then we are co-heirs with Christ. He is the firstborn (resurrected to glory) of many brethren. Yet to follow Christ into glory, we must first suffer with him in the flesh.
The spirit of truth is unique to those called into Christ at this time, and it is not given to the world (Mark 4:33-34).
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
He has put his seal on us as a mark of his promise, to fulfill in us what he has already completed in Christ our Lord.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22
20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Leads us out of darkness and into light
The work of the Holy Spirit indwelling within us leads one out of darkness and into Christ’s glorious light. To us he is the perfect image-bearer of the Father, the one to emulate, and the firstborn of the new creation.
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians and for us is that we walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord; bearing fruit in good works and increasing in all spiritual wisdom and understanding of God’s will (Colossians 1:9-10).
It is the Spirit of God that leads us into this spiritual understanding.
Fourth Gospel(1) 14:15-17
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can see and hear to follow in the way outlined by Christ, accept and live in the truth which is Christ, so that he might complete in us the same gift of eternal life the Father has completed in him (Fourth Gospel 14:6):
- This is the desire of Christ in the will of God, to lead as many as the Father will call into the same glorified life (Fourth Gospel 17:1-4)
- The Spirit of God is both the power and the guarantee by which he’ll achieve it (Romans 8:9-11)
- It is the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit which leads to our future glory (Romans 8:23-25)
It is through Yeshua, the Christ (the way), that we’ve been promised the inheritance, having shared in his suffering we’ll also share in his glory (the truth), we are among the firstfruits of salvation to share in the glorified life to be revealed in him (the source of eternal life), and all this to the praise and glory of God and his Christ (Ephesians 1:11-14; Romans 8:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Rulers and Priests when the High Priest returns
Our hope lies in the return of our Lord, the light of the world. It is only then that we will experience the complete resurrection and the full transformation into the glorious light of his kingdom.
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Not only is he our life, but he is our High Priest as well, soon to be both King and Lord over all the nations. Those the Father has called out of darkness and into his marvelous light are the kings and priests who will serve with Christ in his coming kingdom.
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
These are the primary characteristics of those being called now by God. These characteristics not only describe the firstfruits of salvation it identifies the role we’re to play in the kingdom of the Son.
- A chosen race
- A royal priesthood
- A holy nation
- His own possession
- God’s people
The inheritance we’ve been called into is not just for our benefit, but is intended to be a blessing to the whole world; a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that through the gift and demonstration of faith in him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Galatians 3:7-9).
But there is a process to kingdom-building, and it begins with the King, whose example and preeminence clear the way for those who will follow as heirs of the glory given by God the Father. He calls the firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13), first to share in the glory and the rulership under Christ Jesus, but also as an example to the many he will call in the earthly kingdom of the Son. That is where the nations of the world really meet their Lord and Savior, and it begins with the Lord’s own people, Israel.
See what God has in store for the descendants of Jacob (Israel). Read more.
There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.
To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, read my recent book . . .
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View
At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.
- God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
- God is faithful and will first fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
- The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
- God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
- A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
- Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
- All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
- God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)
1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
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