King & Kingdom in Genesis

This was written as an excursus for a chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant.

I am well aware of the view held by many respected scholars who believe that “the Kingdom of God” is the main theme of the Bible.1 But it must be admitted that it has not been an overarching theme of Genesis, and therefore of the first several thousand years of history. Though it may be rightly intimated from the image of God of Genesis 1:26-27, and the creation mandate of Genesis 1:28f., that man was to rule over the world for His Maker,2 the idea of a kingdom of God had not yet taken clear shape in the biblical text, especially from the time of the Fall.3

What we see, rather, is the story of fallen humanity moving away from their Creator and His program, and a providential counter-movement through Noah to Abram finalizing at some future point in a coming potentate from Judah. Hence, the kingdom theme emerges very gradually from the Hebrew narrative. Surely a more prominent theme has been the figure of the coming “Deliverer King”4 who is promised at the beginning and the end of the Book (Gen. 3:15; 49:8-10).

I am prepared to accept this thesis about the important status of the kingdom of God, but only if one allows certain objections to have their full weight. The fact is that there are several reasons which militate against this opinion, and it withstands them only on the strength of the totality of the Bible’s broader teaching about the Messiah, seen mainly through the prophetic writings in both Testaments. Let me unpack these objections below.

Firstly, one cannot brush over the fact that the Book of Genesis places little or no direct emphasis on the kingdom of God, and it is only through making the term do several chores at once that an argument from Genesis can be made. By “kingdom of God” are we to mean the universal rule of God over all He has made? If so then I respectfully point out that we are asserting a truism about providence which hardly requires an argument5: God is going to be God! Of course, what can be said about God in this sense cannot be said of man.

Secondly, we might agree with “the recent scholarly consensus [which] largely contends that the kingdom, while present in some sense, nevertheless still awaits a future consummation at the second coming of Jesus Christ, although the kingdom came in provisional fashion at his first advent.”6 That is how many people view it, but it requires us to read Genesis, and in fact the Old Testament, with the New Testament already in hand; something which my method here does not permit me to do.

Thirdly, if we define the kingdom of God as God’s reign over the earth and mankind in fellowship with us as vice-regents, we shall have to admit that such a kingdom is eschatological; that it is the goal of the Bible’s eschatology. Hence, teleology and eschatology move towards the realization of the kingdom of God. It has not been manifested yet in history. As Saucy observed,

God’s kingly rule is brought to the earth through the mediation of the kingdom of the Messiah… This pervasive mediatorial kingdom program, ultimately fulfilled through the reign of Christ, is the theme of Scripture and the unifying principle of all aspects of God’s work in history.7

With this I agree, and here the realization of the kingdom of God and the Creation Project are virtually synonymous. Here one encounters the “mediatorial” idea where God entrusts aspects of the nascent kingdom of God to chosen vessels (e.g. Abraham, David, etc.). I think this view has been successfully championed by men like Peters, McClain, Pentecost, Saucy, and Vlach. But in my opinion the actual kingdom of God, understood as “the earthly kingdom of Messiah” is proleptic; that is, seen in advance of its materialization. It is anticipated more than it is perceived. The Law of Moses and the throne of David provide concrete yet imperfect instances, not so much of Messiah’s kingdom, but rather of intensified illustrations of God’s universal reign in a fallen world. Understood this way it is rightly called “mediatorial.”

We find a theocracy, but not the one ushered in at the end of history by “he who comes to whom it belongs” (Gen. 49:10).8 If we wish to look for such a kingdom where God’s blessings are mediated to the nations, we will have to wait. However one sees it, “the earthly kingdom” will always suffer from contingency until the prophesied Messiah comes to rule.9

This is why I prefer to think of the arrival of the coming King as the telos of the Bible. It is the King who brings about the realization of the Kingdom of God. For example, in the time of Jesus, as we shall see, the kingdom was thought of mainly in terms of the future, not the present. The same is true in the Prophets, as I hope to show. The mediatorial kingdom view prior to the advent is at best a shadow of the actual kingdom of Messiah.10 The consummation of the mediatorial kingdom will be when it is “brought into conformity with God’s Universal Kingdom (see 1 Cor 15:24, 28).”11 It oughtn’t to surprise us that the idea emerges as the person of the Messiah comes more and more into focus in the progress of revelation.

King and Kingdom

The term “kingdom” occurs only twice in Genesis (Gen. 10:10; 20:9), and neither usage concerns the kingdom of God. Genesis 3:15 is at best a pale intimation of this kingdom, with nothing of any substance on the issue being broached to Noah or Abraham.12 What can be asserted is that God’s covenant with Abraham included the grant of a land in perpetuity to Abraham’s heirs (Gen. 15).

It is a similar story with the word “king” (melek). Although it is used many times in Genesis it is not employed to designate the coming Ruler over the future kingdom until Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:7. Added to this, and as was already noted above, Genesis 41:40 is the sole mention of “throne” in Genesis, and that is a reference to Pharaoh’s throne. So, to repeat, we find no real development of the kingdom of God concept in the Genesis period.13

Since a doctrine may be present without its being expressly mentioned, these facts do not force us to say that the kingdom of God is totally absent from Genesis, but the burden of proof lies squarely with those who hold that it is there. Alva McClain taught that the “mediatorial [kingdom] idea began to take concrete form historically in miniature” with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.14 By the term “mediatorial” he and others mean primarily “the rule of God through a divinely chosen representative”15 But his argument is rather slim. It takes shape through his gathering together the mostly messianic passages spread across the pages of the Hebrew Bible, not through finding the concept hidden in Genesis.16

In truth, the strongest testimony to the coming King is found on the lips of the aged Jacob right at the end of Genesis (Gen. 49:9-10 see above). Later, Numbers 24:7 contains the first clear indication of an “exalted” (nasa) future king. However, it is well that we remind ourselves that this important reference comes at least 2,500 years after Adam. The intervening period (which is only exacerbated by extending the chronologies in Genesis) contains no firmly developed doctrine of the kingdom of God. The teaching related to the subject is quite vague. There is barely a stir of progressive revelation regarding the kingdom of God in Genesis. What is strongly hinted at is the Noahic and Abrahamic covenants, especially the Abrahamic, seem to require something like it once they are fulfilled.

Genesis ends with the enticing promise of a coming king. With the emergence of this Deliverer (Gen. 49:8-10), who could be the Conqueror Adam heard about (Gen. 3:15), we move forward to a more conspicuous theology of redemption in the Book of Exodus.

Finally, and incidentally, the actual phrase “kingdom of God” is first used in Mark 1:14-15 (cf. Lk. 4:43), where it is a compact way to refer to the future eschatological kingdom.17 This gathers together the various covenantal predictions in the Old Testament in an instantly recognizable term.

Notes

1 E.g. George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, Vol. 1, 29-31; J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, 11; Eugene H. Merrill, Everlasting Dominion, 278; Michael J. Vlach, He Will Reign Forever, 25-26. Among those who believe the kingdom is not the central theme of Scripture, see Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Promise-Plan of God, 24-25.

2 E.g. J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, 34

3 It is noteworthy that even the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch does not contain an entry for “King” or “kingdom” within its many pages.

4 Though Genesis 1 – 3 does not.

5 This is a job better left to Systematic Theology.

6 Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 101. Riddlebarger is correct when he asserts that “the kingdom of God has been interpreted in different ways depending largely on the presuppositions of the interpreter.” (Ibid, 100). Dispensationalists of different stripes tend to coalesce around the teleological principle of a coming earthly kingdom. See e.g., Mark L. Bailey, “Dispensational Definitions of the Kingdom,” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands: Biblical and Leadership Studies in Honor of Donald K. Campbell, ed. Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Zuck, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 201-221. The influential scholar George Eldon Ladd defines the Kingdom of God as the restoration of God’s reign on earth through the history of redemption. See e.g., George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), 83-84.

7 Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, 28.

8 Exodus 19:5-6, where the word “kingdom” is first connected to the rule of God, contains a strong prophetic element. Even McClain admits, “This is no ordinary kingdom where men will rule upon earth in their own right, but rather a kingdom “unto me,” that is, unto Jehovah.” – Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, 61.

9 Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Contingency of the Kingdom,” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands, 227, 234-237.

10 Hence, in the Preface to his study of the subject, after saying that “the concept of the kingdom of God involves, in a real sense, the total message of the Bible,” John Bright goes on to observe that this is so “at least if we may view it through the eyes of the New Testament faith.” – John Bright, The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning For the Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1953), 7.

11 Michael J. Vlach, He Will Reign Forever, 56. I agree, but where can one find conformity to God’s universal kingdom other than in Heaven?

12 In its context Genesis 22:18 is too ambiguous to be a proof-text for the kingdom of God.

13 The idea of a coming King is developed, especially in the four major poems in the Pentateuch. But once more the onus is upon the culmination of the messianic hope. See John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch, 36-37.

14 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, 50. Emphasis added.

15 Ibid, 41.

16 Ibid, 147-160. Some of his reasoning in regards to “a final world supremacy” via the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis looks deductive rather than inductive (Ibid, 155).

17 This will be picked up in Volume Two.

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There are 23 Comments

josh p's picture

Interesting Paul. I am looking forward to seeing how this one develops. I have tentatively accepted McClain’s position so I’m also looking forward to being challenged and especially seeing what you propose.

Paul Henebury's picture

This is a one-off (at least at the moment).  However, my position is that the link between the messianic kingdom and the samples of mediatorial kingdom to which McClain alludes is not a strong one.  This is because of the requirement of New covenant circumstances which are presupposed by the messianic kingdom.

Another way to look at it is in terms of a second coming hermeneutic which requires Christ's return prior to the intermediate kingdom.  No examples before the advent could possibly be clearly related to post-advent circumstances.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

josh p's picture

I see what you are saying. I believe you have written in the past about the inadequacy of the dispensational claim that the glory of God is the overarching theme (or at least its exclusivity to dispensationalism) of history.
I would think covenants would fail your same hermeneutical test unless a person sees a covenant in the Garden or even the covenant of Redemption. What do you believe is the overarching theme of the Bible or is that asking the wrong question?

Paul Henebury's picture

Yes Josh, I have argued that the third sine qua non of Ryrie's triad is scarcely to be found in the works of dispensationalists, whereas it is easily discoverable in covenant theologians, where it is specifically taught.  Since Ryrie dispensationalists have given lip-service to the notion but I have not seen it proved.  

As far as the overarching theme of the Bible is concerned, if there is one I would say it is "the Redeemer-King".  Even the theology of creation is conditioned upon Him.  The divine covenants are not the theme, they are the road-map or the sign-posts of God's Creation Project as I call it.  That there are no covenants clearly set out before the Noahic means for me that the BASIC FUNCTION of covenants must be comprehended: they are "amplifications of plain speech concerning major things."  Hence, the covenants are hermeneutically essential!   

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

josh p's picture

Thanks Paul. I would think a lot of the discussion revolves around the dominion mandate. One thing that always seems incongruous to me is that the covenantal theologians who so rigidly asserts the Adam-as-King of creation and first Adam/last Adam typology don’t see the need for Christ’s earthly rule. It would seem to me that if Adam was meant to be vice regent ruler over creation that McClain can still stand. If not maybe it’s pretty shaky ground.

Paul Henebury's picture

My issue with the Adam as vice-regent line is not that it's not a valid inference; it is.  It's that ones definition of the Kingdom of God has to fit it, as well as fitting the post-return kingdom of Christ.  I see a large disconnect.  Is Christ a vice-regent for example?

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I can buy Christ the King as the overarching theme, rather than merely kingdom. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

josh p's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

My issue with the Adam as vice-regent line is not that it's not a valid inference; it is.  It's that ones definition of the Kingdom of God has to fit it, as well as fitting the post-return kingdom of Christ.  I see a large disconnect.  Is Christ a vice-regent for example?

Yes I see what you’re saying. Good point. 

RajeshG's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

My issue with the Adam as vice-regent line is not that it's not a valid inference; it is.  It's that ones definition of the Kingdom of God has to fit it, as well as fitting the post-return kingdom of Christ.  I see a large disconnect.  Is Christ a vice-regent for example?

I am not sure what all you mean when you ask whether Christ is "a vice-regent." As the God-Man, the Messiah will be exalted by the Father to be the mediatorial King in His Father's kingdom. His exaltation will not be only because He is God the Son.

Paul Henebury's picture

Rajesh,

I'm afraid you have lost me.  Let me therefore ask you a question or two: Do you think the returning Christ will be a vice regent on the Father's behalf?  If so, do you hold that He fulfills the same role as God intended for Adam?  If that is so then how does one account for the fact that Adam was not a God-man but Christ is?    

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

RajeshG's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

Rajesh,

I'm afraid you have lost me.  Let me therefore ask you a question or two: Do you think the returning Christ will be a vice regent on the Father's behalf?  If so, do you hold that He fulfills the same role as God intended for Adam?  If that is so then how does one account for the fact that Adam was not a God-man but Christ is?    

Paul,

I have not made any claims about Adam; my comments have only to do with your question about whether Christ is a vice-regent. Since vice-regent is not a biblical term, I am unsure of what all you mean when you use that term to refer to the returning Christ. Please specify what you mean in your use of that term.
 

Paul Henebury's picture

Rajesh,

We seem to be miscommunicating.  My comment about Christ as vice regent was connected to Josh's remarks about the kingdom theme a la Alva McClain being the central theme of Scripture.  My article challenges this notion, at least with regard to Genesis.  McClain's view is predicated to a large degree on whether Adam was God's vice regent, and hence a "king" of creation.  In a response to Josh I said that there appears to be some discrepancy between Adam as vice regent (which I said was a valid inference), and Christ assuming the mantle of King at the second advent.  The problem seems to me to be based on 1. whether it is a valid inference that Christ in His kingly rule is a vice regent like Adam was, and 2. how answering 'Yes' to that question then requires one to deal with the clear differences between Adam (a man) and Jesus (the God-man). 

I neither stated nor implied that Jesus would act as vice-regent.  But IF one wants to draw a parallel between Adam and Christ ON THIS MATTER then one must answer the questions I sent you and those above!  I merely showed a problem inherent in affirming the kingdom of God as Scripture's main theme.  Please review my interactions with Josh before responding.          

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

RajeshG's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

I neither stated nor implied that Jesus would act as vice-regent.  But IF one wants to draw a parallel between Adam and Christ ON THIS MATTER then one must answer the questions I sent you and those above!  I merely showed a problem inherent in affirming the kingdom of God as Scripture's main theme.  Please review my interactions with Josh before responding.          

I have reviewed your interactions with Josh. Thanks for the clarifications. 

ScottS's picture

Paul, regarding your questions in two of your posts:

Paul Henebury wrote:

Do you think the returning Christ will be a vice regent on the Father's behalf?  If so, do you hold that He fulfills the same role as God intended for Adam?  If that is so then how does one account for the fact that Adam was not a God-man but Christ is?    ...

The problem seems to me to be based on 1. whether it is a valid inference that Christ in His kingly rule is a vice regent like Adam was, and 2. how answering 'Yes' to that question then requires one to deal with the clear differences between Adam (a man) and Jesus (the God-man).         

I guess I have tended to believe that

  1. Christ is a vice-regent ruling the earth during the millennium on the Father's behalf (1 Cor 15:25), but in the "end" (in eternity), Christ returning the authority fully to the Father (1 Cor 15:24).
  2. This is includes the same role intended for Adam, in that the earth (and its creatures) were Adam's responsibility (Gen 1:26, 28, 2:15), so Christ takes that upon himself, but it is more than just that, in that Christ also deals with death (1 Cor 15:26; which is a problem Adam instigated upon the race of humanity, 1 Cor 15:22) and "all authority and power" that challenges God (which would include spiritual forces—1 Pet 3:22, Eph 1:21, 6:12—which were not at Adam's time under humanity's authority, though that is not to say such spiritual forces may not have come under human authority at some later point had Adam done what he was supposed to, and so the "world to come" may have evolved into that for humanity; Ps 8:4-6, Heb 2:5-8).
  3. I don't see that this assumption of Adam's place in ruling is a problem simply because Christ is the God-man (rather than merely a man). Christ does more than Adam in other areas as well, while still assuming a last/second Adam role (1 Cor 15:45, 47). Hamartiologically/Anthropologically, Adam could sin, Christ could not, and other parallels of Christ's greater role in bringing an incorruptible, spiritual body to people in 1 Cor 15:42-49, as opposed to just the original earthly body that Adam propagated; Soteriologically, Christ's work not only counters the issues with Adam's fall, but brings "much more" in blessings (Rom 5:12-20). So as noted in #2, Christ brings more to the ruling than Adam may have; but again, had Adam not sinned, what path might have otherwise led to immortality, perhaps through Adam and his access/rule over the tree of life, is speculation—we cannot know for sure what God intended of Adam in its fullness, but it seems we can know that Christ has corrected all that Adam did wrong, to bring about the end that God desired from the beginning.

I state all this simply to answer how I might answer your questions. I do think that you made a valid point that a coming kingdom is not nearly as obvious in Genesis as it becomes later, but that is, to me, partly a fact of the progressive nature of revelation. I think aspects of kingdom are visible in Genesis, especially looking back at it from the later revelation. And given that I think Genesis was composed by Moses largely during the same time as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, I think Genesis was laying the groundwork for things revealed within those other books of the Pentateuch regarding rule (like judgment by priests/judges [Dt 17:9, 12; 19:17] and a coming Prophet leader like Moses [Dt 18:15, and Abraham, Gen 20:7]).

But also I think you miss three key points in the Genesis revelation. First, it lays the groundwork for the idea of kings and kingdoms generally that God had emerge in history (Genesis ch. 14 et al., especially also the absolute authority held by them as shown in Pharaoh, king of Egypt, Gen 41:46). Second, as best I can tell, you missed discussing the reference to the prophecy of "kings" coming from the union of Abraham (Gen 17:6) and Sarah (Gen 17:16). Third, the King-Priest ruler demonstrated through Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20), which was a divine placement in the text of Genesis to later describe the role of Jesus Christ (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:6, 10, 6:20, and chapter 7). I agree with you that Gen 49:9-10 is the "strongest testimony to the coming King" in Genesis, but I don't think the other three points can be dismissed with respect to Genesis revelation and king/kingdom revelation.

Scott Smith, Ph.D.

The goal now, the destiny to come, holiness like God—
Gen 1:27, Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16

M. Osborne's picture

Thanks, Paul and others, for a fascinating read. There are a couple points/questions I may want to inject if I have the time, but for now...thanks.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

TylerR's picture

Editor

I think "kingdom" is a good summary of Scriptures story, but I think "Christ as King" is more precise. 

I don't like "Christ as vice-regent" concept because it opens the door even further to a very troubling eternal subordination of the Son. I don't think that's a concept we should advocate. Of course, this is a very complicated and separate, but related, issue all by itself. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

RajeshG's picture

TylerR wrote:

I don't like "Christ as vice-regent" concept because it opens the door even further to a very troubling eternal subordination of the Son. I don't think that's a concept we should advocate. Of course, this is a very complicated and separate, but related, issue all by itself. 

I'm not wanting to take over this thread by any means, but I do want to say that Christ as the Agent of the Father is central to the message of the whole Bible.

Paul Henebury's picture

This is good interaction with the material.  Your answers have force.  I too think that 1 Cor. 15:20f. must be dealt with in relation to Christ as vice-regent.  In your second and third points you rightly bring out the similarities between Adam and Christ which I acknowledge.  In my raising of these questions I was trying to indicate that the Adam as vice-regent inference, which stems from the 'kingly' nature of his prerogatives in Genesis 1 - 3, is not as clear cut (I think) in the case of Christ.  Both are fair deductions, but I wanted to press some dissimilarities to show that the theme of a mediatorial kingdom (Alva McClain) has some work to do if it is to be declared the main theme of Scripture.

The article is actually an excursus in the book I am writing (which dv I'll complete this year).  Yes, the references you cite have some clout, but I think their contexts do not encourage much theological extrapolation.  

As for the three things I missed; I have commented on the important passages in Genesis 14 and 17, but not here. 

Where I come down is with the Redeemer-King as the great theme of the OT and (in clearer light) the New.  But I wouldn't care to be dogmatic about it.

Thanks again for your observations.     

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Paul Henebury's picture

Yes, you are right to stress that point.  Theologically I would be fine with your rather abstract way of putting it.  But eschatologically, in terms of the Kingdom, I go for Christ as King and Redeemer.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Paul Henebury's picture

I feel the same way Tyler.  Zechariah 14 has Christ as Yahweh coming (14:5), and reigning as King (14:9).  Because of passages like this I think the vice-regent label doesn't suit Christ in the way it suited Adam.  I am aware of Psa. 2 and 1 Cor. 15, but there are some pretty strong "rule" passages which dispose me to be uncomfortable with Christ as vice-regent.  Recall that the world was made FOR Him (Col. 1:16-17). 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

ScottS's picture

Paul, glad my interaction was of value. I think I understand better your objections to vice-regent from this statement of yours:

Paul Henebury wrote:

I feel the same way Tyler.  Zechariah 14 has Christ as Yahweh coming (14:5), and reigning as King (14:9).  Because of passages like this I think the vice-regent label doesn't suit Christ in the way it suited Adam.  I am aware of Psa. 2 and 1 Cor. 15, but there are some pretty strong "rule" passages which dispose me to be uncomfortable with Christ as vice-regent.  Recall that the world was made FOR Him (Col. 1:16-17). 

So first, let's be sure we have a similar definition for "vice-regent." I'll just go with the dictionary.com definition (accessed 2.28.2019):

a deputy regent; a person who acts in the place of a ruler, governor, or sovereign.

In our case, it is Christ (potentially, if vice-regent applies) acting "in the place of" the Sovereign Father.

Next, I agree that Christ is God (YHWH) and so in that sense, through the Person of Christ, God is ruling in a direct form, distinct from what a similar situation would be through Adam. Yet by the Person of Christ taking on humanity through the incarnation, and so becoming fully human as well as remaining fully God, Christ voluntarily placed Himself into a subordinate role in relation to the Person of the Father. And so the Father is

  • Christ's God (Jn 20:17, Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34).
  • Christ's source of authority to judge other people (Jn 5:22, 27)
  • the foundational Person whose will is behind Christ's decisions, rather than his own will (Jn 5:30)
  • the name in which Christ came (Jn 5:43)
  • the One Who Christ returns full authority to at the end (1 Cor 15:24), even subjecting Himself at that time (1 Cor 15:25-28; which is an interesting statement, as it implies that God entrusted Christ with the task to subject the ruling powers while being free to do so, i.e. not directly subject, since that direct subjection is stated as not occurring until "when" all others have been made subject to Christ and Christ submits himself then back to the Father, which that form of Christ's free(?) reign appears to end at that time, as it is only "till He has put all enemies under His feet.")

That last point seems to intersect with Tyler's objection. While it may or may not be that the Son was in an eternal subordination to the Father (i.e. including prior to creation and/or incarnation), it seems clear from 1 Cor 15:28 that the incarnated Son will forevermore be in a subject relation to the Father, and indeed enter that subjection specifically at the point of the beginning of the eternal state.

The bullet points above all, to me, show a definite case of Christ acting in the human realm "in place of" the Father and on the Father's behalf, which appears to fit precisely the definition of a vice-regent while also not denying that He is King over all the earth, and what Adam would have had to have been doing to be in right relation with the God as well. So there seems to be significant parallel in that sense between Christ and what Adam could'a/would'a/should'a had he obeyed. The fact is, a king or even the King of kings and Lord of lords, is a vice-regent to One Who holds sovereignty even above them, the Person of the Father. But then Messiah is also the Everlasting Father (Isa 9:6) ... so yes, the Trinity does complicate understanding of how all this works; but it seems the incarnate Christ functions in a vice-regent capacity as King under His God, the Father, in as many respects as we might think of for a normal vice-regent.

So I'm comfortable both with Christ as King and Christ as vice-regent under the Father. Both fit the picture in my understanding of Scripture.

Scott Smith, Ph.D.

The goal now, the destiny to come, holiness like God—
Gen 1:27, Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16

RajeshG's picture

ScottS wrote:

The bullet points above all, to me, show a definite case of Christ acting in the human realm "in place of" the Father and on the Father's behalf, which appears to fit precisely the definition of a vice-regent while also not denying that He is King over all the earth, and what Adam would have had to have been doing to be in right relation with the God as well. So there seems to be significant parallel in that sense between Christ and what Adam could'a/would'a/should'a had he obeyed. The fact is, a king or even the King of kings and Lord of lords, is a vice-regent to One Who holds sovereignty even above them, the Person of the Father. But then Messiah is also the Everlasting Father (Isa 9:6) ... so yes, the Trinity does complicate understanding of how all this works; but it seems the incarnate Christ functions in a vice-regent capacity as King under His God, the Father, in as many respects as we might think of for a normal vice-regent.

So I'm comfortable both with Christ as King and Christ as vice-regent under the Father. Both fit the picture in my understanding of Scripture.

Scott,

I do not believe that Isaiah 9:6 says that the Messiah and the Father are the same Person; that is not what the doctrine of the Trinity says. The Messiah is the Father of eternity, but He is not God the Father.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I might say more later, but I don't want to hijack the thread. It's always difficult to thread the needle between both ditches of over-emphasizing oneness or threeness with regards to the Trinity. We shouldn't emphasize the Persons different functions so much that we forget that when One acts, they really all act in unison. In our context here, consider the passages in Revelation that variously speak of the Lamb on the throne, then the Father, then both (etc.) Consider also the implications from Jesus teaching on how the Spirit's indwelling makes all three Persons (i.e. the one triune God) present, etc. 

Scott, I'll make one point regarding your list for now - "sonship" in Christ's context speaks to status, it doesn't have a relational thrust. It means Christ is ontologically equal to the Father in His nature

"Vice" is a subordinate term, and I don't buy that Christ's functional subordination is eternal. Complicated subject, but tangential to Paul's point. I'll bow out of this aspect, now.

As far as the point of the thread, again, "Christ as King" seems more precise than "kingdom." But, to be sure, the latter theme supports the former.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

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