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The Kingdom and the Church

© 2024 Philip M Spence


In recent years there has been much discussion about the Kingdom of God and His Church. Some people have said that they are two different things. Others have asked if the church is the Kingdom, and some want to be in the Kingdom but not in the church.

 

There is a simple explanation about the Kingdom and the church - The Ekklesia exists to be an authentic expression of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

 

To understand this, we must define both the Kingdom and the church/Ekklesia, and then discuss how they work together.

 

[1] The Kingdom

 

Jesus came to earth as the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was announced in this way by the angels who appeared to the shepherds at the time of His birth.

 

Luke 2:11

 

For there is born to you this day in the city (Lineage) of David a Deliverer, who is the anointed King.

 

Where there is a king, there is a kingdom. When the King of Heaven came to earth, His purpose was to establish His Kingdom here. This Kingdom is both the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. It is God’s Kingdom and Heaven is His realm, so these are two names for the same thing.

 

Jesus clearly stated that His Kingdom is a spiritual and supernatural Kingdom.

 

John 18:36-37

 

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

 

Jesus declared to Pilate that because His Kingdom is not from this world, or of this world, His servants would not fight physically because it is a spiritual Kingdom. Jesus also told Pilate that He is a King, and that this was the reason that He was born: to be the King of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7

 

6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government (Authority) will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Chief of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

 

Christ’s Kingdom will always be increasing in the earth, and it will bring peace where He reigns. There can only be one king in a kingdom, so we must decrease so that His rule increases in our lives and churches.

 

Jesus’ mission and message was His Kingdom. In the Gospels He is recorded speaking about His Kingdom more than 100 times. Everything He did and said was in the context of His Kingdom.

 

Jesus only spoke about the church twice. However, this does not lessen the importance of the church. It establishes the Kingdom as the context for the church.

 

[2] Ekklesia

 

The word church is used when Jesus talked about Ekklesia. To understand what Jesus intended for His church we must understand the concept of Ekklesia in the first century.

 

Ekklesia is a Greek word which described the governmental gatherings of the city of Athens and the nation of Greece. The Roman Empire adopted this word to describe Caesar’s Senate. The concept is that mature citizens were called out of the population to govern with the emperor. The Biblical example of this is the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34.

 

For members of the Kingdom of God, this means a couple of things. Firstly, we are called out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of God. Secondly, all believers are then called to mature so they can govern in the Kingdom.

 

We must firstly learn to govern ourselves according to the Word of God, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Then we must learn to govern the purposes of God together in the world.


When Jesus first spoke about Ekklesia, He called it ‘My Ekklesia’. He is the King of the Kingdom, and the Body of Christ is His Ekklesia, governing His Kingdom in the earth. We cannot separate the head from the body. The body serves the purpose of the head, therefore the Ekklesia is to serve the King’s purposes in the earth.

 

Matthew 16:18-19

 

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Ekklesia, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

Jesus said that His Ekklesia would conquer the realm of the devil (Hades). He said that His Ekklesia would be equipped with the strategies of the Kingdom of Heaven (Keys) to fulfill His Kingdom purposes in the earth, and that His Ekklesia would partner with Heaven in outworking His Kingdom purposes (Binding and Loosing).

 

Jesus’ second mention of Ekklesia is about government within His Body. Where believers are out of order, there needs to be a body of people that represent the King in governing His Body.

 

Matthew 18:15-20

 

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’

17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the Ekklesia. But if he refuses even to hear the Ekklesia, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

 

We have an example of this government within the Body of Christ in the Old Testament. God directed Moses to appoint 70 elders who would be with Moses, and have the same spirit as him. This group would govern the affairs of the nation of Israel with Moses. They would govern God’s purposes for His people.

 

Numbers 11:16-17

 

16 So the LORD said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.

17 Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

 

There are two Hebrew words that describe this Ekklesia (Governing Body) within the greater Ekklesia (the nation of Israel). The whole of God’s people was known as the Edah. The governing body within the Edah was known as the Qahal. Moses and the 70 elders were the Qahal (Ekklesia – governing body) of the Edah (the whole nation).

 

This shows us that there are various applications of the Ekklesia concept. Firstly, the whole Body of Christ across the world is His Ekklesia, called to govern His Kingdom purposes. Secondly, congregations in communities, cities, and nations are Ekklesia that fulfill Christ’s Kingdom purposes at various levels. Then the governing bodies of each congregation of believers are the Ekklesia that governs the function of the local assembly.

 

In the New Covenant, the King has established Ekklesia within His Body. The New Testament calls the Qahal (governance) of the Edah (the Body of Christ), the Five-Fold Ministry and elders.

 

1 Corinthians 12:28

 

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28 And God has appointed these in the Ekklesia: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that…

 

Ephesians 4:11-16

 

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 

To be effective in the Kingdom of God, we must be equipped (V12), edified (V12), matured (V13), established (V14), and empowered (V15) until the whole body is effective (V16) in fulfilling Kingdom purposes. This cannot happen if we are not a committed, functioning member of a local congregation that is overseen by Five-Fold ministry (eg. A local pastor and input from apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers).

 

[3] The Kingdom and the Church

 

In order to represent our King and fulfill His purposes in the earth, we must understand that the Kingdom is spiritual, but the Ekklesia is physical. The world cannot see the Kingdom of God, but it can see the church.

 

We are all members of the Kingdom of God. We are also members of His church (Ekklesia). We are maturing in order to fulfill Christ’s Kingdom purposes more effectively in the earth. We are the physical manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, both individually and corporately.

 

How did the first-century church function as the authentic expression of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world?

 

Acts 2:42-47

 

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47 praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 

  • Firstly, they continued steadfastly.

  • Secondly, they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine – their instruction and example

  • Thirdly, they continued steadfastly in fellowship (Koinonia) – doing life together, and fulfilling Kingdom purpose together under the covering of the apostles

  • Fourth, they continued steadfastly in breaking bread together – coming together over meals daily and making Christ the centre of everything (Communion)

  • Finally, they continued steadfastly in prayers – every way in which we communicate with God, and He communicates with us

 

The result of continuing steadfastly together in these things can be seen in Verses 43-47. The Ekklesia manifested the Kingdom to their city, the surrounding regions, and ultimately to other nations.

 

To summarise:

 

  • We cannot separate the Kingdom and the church.

  • We cannot be in the Kingdom and not in the church.

  • We are to mature and learn how to govern ourselves.

  • We are to function together in congregations to fulfill Kingdom purposes.

  • We are equipped and authorised by the King to govern His Kingdom purposes.

  • We have government in the church exercised by the Five-Fold ministry and elders.

  • We, the church, are called together to be the authentic expression of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world.

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Phil Spence was commissioned as an apostle in 2010 as a recognition of the grace, function, and fruit of his life and ministry over many years. He leads Enlarj, a relational network spanning eighteen nations, and is based in Brisbane, Australia. Phil may be contacted via phil@enlarj.com


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