Audio Transcript

Today in the United States we inaugurate our 45th president. Politics aside, there’s always something majestic about presidential inaugurations and royal coronations. They carry with them an unusual weightiness. These rare events transcend time by the regalia of their gravity — something more like a wedding or a funeral. Inaugurations are events so significant, they almost seem to overshadow the person at the center of it all, the people present, and even the generation. In an inauguration we get a small sense of a nation’s weight.

And the theme of kingdom is a very significant one in Scripture. Christ himself is a sovereign King, he was coronated in his resurrection and ascension, and he now reigns over a kingdom. And here to explain how this works out from Genesis to Revelation, we welcome to the podcast Dr. Don Carson. Carson is the co-founder and president of The Gospel Coalition, and also the editor of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.

Before I start to trace out the theme of kingdom through the Bible, it will prove helpful, I think, to make four distinctions about how the word “kingdom” is used in the Bible. These are distinctions that every Bible reader comes to terms with, with time, but they really are very important.

1. The notion of kingdom in the Bible is often closer to what is sometimes called king dominion, that is, reign. When we speak of kingdom today, we often think of a realm rather than a reign: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the United Kingdom. We are thinking of a geographical area with its people and buildings and institutions and so on. The kingdom is that over which the king reigns. And there are some usages like that in the Bible, of course, like the kingdom of Israel. And the kingdom of God can be seen as the domain over which he reigns. But very frequently kingdom has to do with more of the reign of God rather than the realm of God’s reign. And that will become important as we will see in due course.

2. This is a republic here in America. So, our mental associations connected with kingdom are not necessarily very positive. The last king that Americans acknowledged didn’t turn out too well and, hence, the American Revolution. Moreover, if we think nostalgically about a monarchy today, probably for many Americans the first monarch that they think of is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, II. And she is a constitutional monarch. She has precisely two powers apart from her enormous personal influence and integrity and all the rest. But she has two powers: (1) She signs legislation that gets through parliament into law and (2) she can dissolve parliament any time she wishes to. Yet, in point of fact, if she did either of those things over against what the Parliament wanted, over against what the Prime Minster wanted, it would precipitate a national crisis, and there would be an election called, and whatever party was in power would be returned with a massive majority.

So, we are used to the notion of a king or a queen, a monarch who is head of state, but not head of government; whereas, there is no such distinction in the Bible. If you are the king, you reign. That is what you do. You have the authority. So, we should not be thinking: United Kingdom. We should be thinking Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where there is an absolute authority. And even then, it is often mediated through an extended family or something like that. But when we speak of the kingdom of God, we are not saying that he is the constitutional monarch. We are not saying that he is head of state, but he doesn’t reign. By definition this is the reign of God: God rules. God reigns. So, that is the second distinction we simply have to come to grips with.

3. The Bible can make a distinction between the reign of God in all of God’s sweeping sovereignty — the reign of God under which everybody falls, whether they even believe in God or not — and what might be called that subset of God’s sweeping reign under which there is life, under which there is salvation. The first is found strongly, for example, in a psalm like Psalm 145: “I will extol you, my God and King” (verse 1). And God is reigning over all. That is part of the point of many verses in the psalm. In that sense, you are in the kingdom of God, whether you like it or not. You don’t choose to be in that kingdom. It is part of being a creature. God reigns. In that sense, kingdom is virtually equivalent to divine sovereignty or to divine providence. God reigns, and everyone, everything, every event, every item, every matter, every thought is finally subject to that sovereignty.

“God reigns, and everyone, everything, every event, every matter, every thought is finally subject to his sovereignty.”

On the other hand, sometimes the kingdom is that subset of God’s sovereignty under which there is life. For example, in John 3:3, 5, “Unless one is born again he cannot see [or enter into] the kingdom.” Well, clearly in that sense, there are some people who are in the kingdom and some people who are not. That is not to be confused with God’s sovereignty. It is that subset of God’s sweeping sovereignty under which there is life. And in that sense, then, the kingdom comes.

The kingdom of God in the sovereignty sense doesn’t come. It is here. It is unavoidable. It is eternal. It is primordial. It has come from forever and will go to forever. You can’t escape it. You are never outside it. But if “kingdom” refers to that subset under which there is salvation and reconciliation and forgiveness and eternal life and so forth, then that opens up the possibility to speak of the kingdom coming. And it can then be mediated through the coming of the king par excellence. We will come to the notion of the Davidic kingdom in another session.

And it has to be said that this distinction between the kingdom as God’s sovereignty and the kingdom under which there is life is not only a New Testament distinction. You can find something of the same thing, for example, in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 4 when King Nebuchadnezzar makes his decree, he says of God, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3).

On the other hand, when Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a succession of kingdoms, we read, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). So, in that sense, this kingdom of which Daniel 2:44 is speaking comes. It is not an eternal kingdom. It comes at a certain point in redemptive history. And so, it is important to understand that.

In a few places, the two themes are getting merged a wee bit. Think, for example, of the parable of the wheat and the tares or the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24–30). It is with the kingdom of God as it is with the parable of the wheat and the weeds. That is, a farmer goes forth to sow, sows good seed, but then an enemy comes in and sows a lot of weeds. And the disciples want to go out immediately and pull the weeds, but the Master says: No, wait until the end, and then a distinction will be made.

So, at one level, that means that this dawning kingdom is a kingdom that allows weed and wheat to grow together in anticipation of a consummated kingdom where there will be a final division that is absolute. Here you have got a couple of distinctions being made. The kingdom comes with the sowing of the seed, but it is being contested so that, under this coming of the kingdom, you have not only a sphere of life, but a distinction between what has been done in the past — the wheat hadn’t started to be sown — and what is happening now — the wheat is being sown. Yet there’s a distinction between the wheat being sown and the tares also being sown, the weeds also being sown. So, you have really got a mixture of the second and the third distinctions mingled together in one parable, and then we introduce the fourth distinction: the difference between the present and the future.

“When Jesus said the kingdom was at hand, he not only meant it was impending. He meant that he himself is King.”

4. There is a sense in which the kingdom has dawned with the coming of Christ. There is a sense in which the kingdom is not yet. So, on the one hand, Jesus, after his resurrection, can say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). So, he reigns already. We will see more of that in a few moments. But not only does he reign with all authority, all of God’s mediated authority runs through him, according to 1 Corinthians 15:25–28.

And yet, under that mediatorial reign of King Jesus, that reign is being contested. It is being challenged. There are weeds as well as wheat. But the time is coming when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God, when the last enemy will be destroyed (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 15:26). I will say much more about that in the second part of this reflection on the kingdom. And so, there is a distinction to be made between the present and the future, and that is what stands, then, behind the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Here is a distinction: God’s will is being done without being contested in heaven. And there will come a time in the new heaven and the new earth when it will not be contested anywhere. But right now it is being contested, even though Christ is reigning, even though God’s sovereignty is not removed. Yet there is a sense in which it is still being contested and, therefore, we pray, “Your kingdom come” — that is, in a fashion in which it is no longer contested. So, all of these subtleties and the notion of kingdom have to be borne in mind when we start wrestling with the way the kingdom theme begins to develop and run through the whole of holy Scripture.

The last time we talked I introduced the theme of kingdom, I introduced some distinctions that need to be observed, distinctions that are found in Scripture on the use of the word “kingdom.” God’s kingdom is not a constitutional monarchy. God reigns. And sometimes the use of the kingdom is as extensive as the sweep of God’s sovereignty, of his providence. And sometimes it is used as something that comes. It comes at a particular time in history when the kingdom of God is introduced, and it crushes other kingdoms. It comes at the end of the age when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Christ and he reigns forever. So, there is a distinction between the present and the future and one or two other distinctions we worked through.

But now we want to follow how it develops through the Scripture. And we begin, as always, with creation and fall. Just as other themes find their rootage in Genesis 1, 2, and 3, so also kingdom. And just as these other themes find their rootage in Genesis 1, 2, and 3 without the technical terms showing up, so also with kingdom. For example, the notion of covenant is introduced in these chapters without the word showing up. The notion of the sacrifice for sin is introduced, but only in a gentle, preliminary, anticipatory sort of way when you have the skin coverings made for the people who have fallen into rebellion against God. And more than a dozen themes develop in these first two or three chapters without actually being teased out in any sort of detail. They anticipate — they point the way forward.

There is no explicit reference to the Trinity. It is nothing like the detail that you get in the gospel of John. Yet you still have some hints where God speaks in this mysterious, “Let us make man in our image” — this plural fashion that is really quite striking (Genesis 1:26). So also with kingdom. There is no word for king or kingdom found in these first chapters, but you just begin with God. Again, the doctrine of the Trinity is not established in the first three chapters of Genesis. There is nothing like what you find in John 14 and following. But, on the other hand, there is this hint: Let us create mankind in our image and that plural reference, self reference to God, is seminal. It is evocative. It points forward to what is teased out much later in Scripture.

So also for the notion of kingdom. There is no use of the word king or kingdom in these opening chapters, and yet what you get is a picture of God reigning. He is the King. He exists and he, by his word, decrees the world into being. He establishes what is right and wrong. He rules. He holds people accountable. In all of these ways, the notion of kingdom is bound up with the doctrine of creation, right from the very beginning.

But it is not too long until you find kingdom used in a more restrictive sense — not for all of creation, but for the sphere that takes in the covenant people of God. Perhaps the most crucial passage, initially, is Exodus 19:1–6,

On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

So, on the one hand, God reigns over everybody and everything and all the nations. And on the other hand, there is a sense in which the Israelites are peculiarly the people of God. They are peculiarly a kingdom of priests. And now in this sense, you are not only facing a more restricted realm, but also the focus is on the realm, rather than the reign. They are the kingdom of priests. What is interesting is that that theme is taken up and applied to the new covenant people of God in 1 Peter 2:9. The same thing there is addressed to Christians.

What is most striking is that this same language is applied to all the people of God under the terms of the new covenant. So, exactly the same “kingdom of priests” language is picked up in 1 Peter 2:9 and in Revelation 1:6. Then the notion of God as King, the God who rules over his people, is very common in the Old Testament and traces, in many ways, to this use of kingdom in Exodus 19:1–6. So, God is the King. God is the Lawgiver. God is the one who judges his people. God is the one who is sovereign. And so, Moses and other leaders are regularly seen as the under reigners. It is not a very useful word, but God’s spokesman. God is reigning through them. And it is in that connection that shepherd language is often used. Shepherd language has many elements to the image, but the shepherd cares for the sheep, rules over the sheep, disciplines the sheep, provides for the sheep. And all of those notions are bound up with the notion of kingdom in the ancient world, where you are not thinking of a constitutional monarch.

So, it is worth remembering, for example, the book by Tim Laniak, Shepherds After My Own Heart. The kings of Israel, about whom I will say more in a few moments, are under kings. They are under God’s kingship. So, this notion of God as King runs right through Holy Scripture with God being the particular King, the peculiar King of his King dominion and of the people who are then called his kingdom of priests.

But already in the time of Moses, there is an anticipation of the time when God will raise up a human king over his people. Moses is not called king, although in many ways he reigns. Joshua is not called king, though, of course, there are many ways in which he reigns. But already in the book of Deuteronomy, there is the anticipation of the time when there will be a king who must act in a certain way. Perhaps the most telling passage is Deuteronomy 17:14–20,

“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

In other words, they will reign — that is the active notion of rule — over the kingdom of the Israelites. That is the notion of realm. And, thus, you see a picture of a coming king who is, on the one hand, authoritative. He rules. He reigns over the people. And yet, on the other hand, he is under God’s authority, so much so that the first responsibility he has when he takes on the throne is not to appoint a secretary of state or to arrange for the military to war. His first job is to write out longhand the words of the book of the law, and that will be his reading copy every day of his life as long as he lives, so that he learns not to turn to the left or to the right — away from the word of God. If those few verses in Deuteronomy 17 had been followed, all of Old Testament history would have been different. So, that is the anticipation of the coming of a king even in the time of Moses.

Then, finally, the people do get in the land, and in the days of the judges, there are these wretched cycles that see the people spiraling down into idolatry again and again. God raises up not kings, but judges who have some kind of kingly function. They rule, they lead the people, they hold the people to account, they fight off the Midianites, they fight off the Philistines, and so on. But then it is not long — a generation or two — and everything cycles down again. Gradually, the cry becomes stronger and stronger. O God, how we need a king. “In those days . . . everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). How we need a king. And so, there is a kind of wretched tendency toward sin and a hope that a king would hold people in line and fight their battles for them.

But when the people do ask of a king, they ask with a most appalling motives. They think that a human king is going to save them in a way that God the King cannot. So God, in the time of Samuel, let’s them have a king and even gives them one that seems promising, King Saul. But Saul turns out to be a very insecure man who wants to take over not only the kingdom, but also the priesthood. And eventually, he falls in disgrace. He dies. There is no succession. There is no dynasty. And that is when God raises up a man whom he calls a man after my own heart, a king after my own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). That brings us to the great passage, 2 Samuel 7.

So, in 2 Samuel 7, by which time King David has been installed, King David appears as the king whom God chooses, God’s own appointment. He reigns for 7 years in Hebron over the southern tribes and then another 33 years over the whole 12 tribes with a capital in Jerusalem. And he wants to build a temple for God. But God says that he, God, will build a house, that is, a dynasty, for David (2 Samuel 7:26–27). And thus, the Davidic dynasty is finally, wonderfully established. That becomes one of the major story line threads right through all of the Bible, the Davidic dynasty. And even the promise that there will be continuity in this succession. There will be a succession that lasts forever, which can only be fulfilled finally by a king that replaces his father and another king that replaces that father, another king that replaces that father — or conceivably pleases God, a King who actually lived forever. And that promise takes place about 1000 BC, during the time of King David himself.

“Jesus rules in such a way as to seek the good of those over whom he reigns.”

Then, in the late eighth century, in the time of the prophet Isaiah, you find more references to the Davidic King. “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” And he will reign “on the throne of David” his father. So, we are talking about the Davidic dynasty. “Of the increase of his government . . . there will be no end.” But “his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6–7). So now, you have anticipation of a kingship that is being so associated with God himself that it is unlike any Davidic king that has appeared up to that point or that is anticipated in the near future.

There are other hints along the line. The prophecy in Micah 5:2 foretells that this coming, crowning King will be born at Bethlehem and then, using the shepherd language that has already been introduced, in Ezekiel 34:10–31 God himself says again and again and again that he will come and shepherd his people. That is equivalent to God saying: He will come and reign. He will come and rule over them directly. He will nurture them. He will provide them with the food and the water they need. He will discipline them. He will separate sheep from goats. He will be their shepherd. It is shepherd language to talk about his coming kingdom. And then at the end of that he says — after declaring about 25 times that he will come and reign — then he says: I will send my servant David to do so (see Ezekiel 34:23–24). So again, you are seeing the coming of God himself in the coming of the promised Davidic King.

And so, we can trace out more of the drama of the Old Testament when Jerusalem falls and the nation of Judah follows the fate of the nation of Israel off into exile, and there is no Davidic king in Jerusalem. It just seems so bleak for the covenant people of God. Where are the promises of God? The temple is destroyed. There is no Davidic King. They know who it should be. The genealogical records are maintained, but there is not one on the throne. Then, the people of God return after the end of the exile and the Medo-Persians. God allowed them back under Cyrus and Darius, under Artaxerxes and so forth, and the city is rebuilt, the temple is rebuilt. The temple first, then the city, the city under Nehemiah. But still there is no Davidic King.

Then, you turn to the pages of the New Testament, and the first words you read are, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). And then you begin with the genealogy, a genealogy slightly artificially constructed into three fourteens where the central fourteens are the years of the Davidic monarchy, the Davidic line, the Davidic dynasty. And now, what you have is the coming of Jesus who is legally in line to take up that claim. And so, the magi come and they ask, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).

When John the Baptist and Jesus begin to preach, they use the same words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). But they probably mean “at hand” in slightly different ways. John the Baptist seems to mean it in the sense that the kingdom is impending. It is just around the corner. Jesus is maybe saying the same thing, but he may also have another overtone in his utterance. It is near you. It is come, and it is near you. It is close, for he himself is there.

Then, whether you are talking about the Sermon on the Mount or the parables of Jesus and so many of his miracles, the kingdom theme is never far away. Who inherits the kingdom? Well, the Beatitudes address that question (Matthew 5:3, 10). We are to pursue the kingdom of God and his righteousness, knowing that all other things will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). And the miracles of healing and of raising the dead and of transformation, all of these things are announcements that the kingdom is near (Matthew 4:23). It is dawning. It is present. It is manifesting itself.

At the same time, there is patently misunderstanding on the part of the disciples as to how the kingdom will manifest itself. One of the most striking passages of this regard, of course, is Matthew 20:20–28 with a parallel in Mark 10:35–45. And on this occasion the two brothers, James and John, approach Jesus with their mother. And what they are really asking for is a leg up when the kingdom dawns — when he, Jesus, enters into his kingdom, that is, into what they take to be the full plentitude of a restored Israel with powerful dominion over the nations and great displays of righteousness and integrity and authority. They want to be senior administrators above the other disciples in that kingdom. “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21).

It turns out that they don’t really understand at all what that kingdom is going to be like. “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” He is going to drink the cup of the cross. Can they go there? They have no idea what they are saying when they reply, “We are able” (Matthew 20:22). They think that they can no matter what. And Jesus says: Well, there is a sense, of course, in which you will drink from my cup. After all, one of them would become the first apostolic martyr, and the other would end his life in exile. So, in that sense, he will suffer, too. But it is up to my heavenly Father to grant these things (see Matthew 20:23).

Then, when the ten other apostles hear about this, “they were indignant” (Matthew 20:24). And they are indignant because those two got their dibs in first, not because they are indignant that what they did was wrong. And that is when Jesus calls them all together and says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25–27).

It is the sort of passages like this that we have sometimes spoken of servant leadership. Jesus is the servant King, which does not mean that he is less authoritative. It means that he rules in such a way as to seek the good of those over whom he reigns. He is adamantly committed to seeking the good of those over whom he reigns, which follows also as to the way servant leadership should be exerted in the church. It is not for self-promotion. It is not to gain power. It is not to become highly respected and wonderfully known or the like. Rather, it is to seek the good of those over whom the Lord has placed you. And that goes all the way to the cross, for the section ends, “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27–28). So, Jesus uniquely goes to the cross to serve as a ransom. But there is a sense in which we take up our cross and follow him, not least leaders who are committed to the kind of service that is seeking the good of those over whom the Lord has placed us.

And then, in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and the parallels scattered throughout Luke, we learn from the parables of the kingdom that the kingdom, again, is not coming with a big bang — not yet. It is not some big dénouement where suddenly the nation of Israel is at the center of everything. Rather, parable after parable after parable tells us how the kingdom comes in subtle ways. The sower goes forth to sow the seed, and some seed is wasted. It is squeezed to death by thorns. It is picked up by birds. But it also produces some fruit: thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold (Matthew 13:1–9; Mark 4:1–9; Luke 8:4–10). The parable of the tares and the wheat we have already seen. And so, Jesus spends quite a lot of time trying to adjust their anticipation of what the kingdom will be like.

Then, in Matthew 27 Jesus reigns from the cross. That is what the titular says, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). And that is why the soldiers mock him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” laugh at him, and spit on him (Matthew 27:29–30). But the fact of the matter is: He is the King of the Jews. They think they are laughing at him and using a cheap irony, “Hail, King of the Jews!” when they don’t think he is the King of the Jews at all. He is just a scumbag.

But Matthew realizes there is a deeper irony upon the irony. He really is the King of the Jews, and he is reigning from the cross. That is why for the first three centuries of the Christian church, the Christians often spoke with self-conscious irony: Our King reigns from the cross. And that is tied to many other passages, of course, like John 10:11, where Jesus sovereignly goes and gives his life as the shepherd of the sheep. “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). He lays it down. He sovereignly lays down his life as the King who cares for his sheep in this way.

And then, after the resurrection from the dead, that is when Jesus says, in Matthew 28:18–20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And 1 Corinthians 15:25–28 describes Jesus as the mediatorial King, the one through whom all of God’s sovereign reign is mediated. So Jesus is reigning over the entire universe, over absolutely everything. And yet it is a contested reign. It is still a contested reign at this juncture, and he must reign, as 1 Corinthians 15:25–26 puts it, “until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Jesus reigns over everything, but there is a subset of that sovereign reign under which there is light. There is one sense in which you are either in the kingdom or you are not, not only in a passage like John 3:3 “Unless one is born again he cannot see [or enter into] the kingdom,” but also texts like 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, where you get a long list of vices. And those who do these things will not “inherit the kingdom of God” because this kingdom is transformative. And so, although Jesus is reigning, what we anticipate in the New Testament increasingly is his return as King where he comes to reign in a way that is uncontested. And the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, and he will reign forever.

“Our King reigns from the cross.”

So, the theme runs from creation all the way through to the new heaven and the new earth, and God will be seen as all in all — not a constitutional monarch, but the reigning King who reigns from the cross, reigns in resurrection glory, reigns even now in his mediatorial role, and reigns ultimately in the new heaven and the new earth. Christians divide somewhat on how they understand the reign of the millennium, but all the ultimate hope for all Christians is the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness where God will be all in all, and all will see him as King.

is emeritus professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a founding member of The Gospel Coalition, and the author of How Long, O Lord?