Kingdoms of the World

When Jesus was being tempted, the tempter showed him "all the kingdoms of the world" (Luke 4:5). At that time Rome was the only real kingdom, so he would not have used the word "all" if he was just referring to it. The devil was not just referring to Rome, but all the kingdoms of the world: past, present and future. That included the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Denmark, the United States of America, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Republic of South Africa, and every other earthly kingdom that has ever existed and will exist in the future. The devil claimed that they had been given to him, and that he could give them to whoever he chose.

Jesus could have accepted control over all these kingdoms and used them to establish his rule on earth, but he chose not to take this step, because the price he would have had to pay was to worship the powers of evil. Instead, he stuck with God's plan to establish a completely different government, the Kingdom of God, in a totally different way.

If we follow Luke's account right through, we reach a disturbing conclusion. Many Christians are trying to use a "kingdom of the world" to advance the Kingdom of God, but it cannot be done. If we continue to put faith in our particular kingdom of the world, we are effectively bowing to the devil, who controls and manipulates human government, because it relies on coercion, force and imposed authority.

Ekklesia

The Greek word translated as "church" in the New Testament is "ekklesia". It was not a group of people that gathered to meet on Sundays.

The literal meaning of ekklesia is "called out ones". It does not refer to people who have been called out of the world into the church. Rather it refers to people who have been called out of the Roman Empire, or whatever kingdom rules at that time, into an alternative kingdom, the Government of God. They have been called out of the kingdom of the world, out of the Roman Empire, out of their nation-state, out of the political system that controls to become a Kingdom Community with its own independent government under God.

Ekklesia was a political term. In the ancient democracy of Athens, ekklesia (Greek: ekklesia) was the principal assembly of all male citizens who had qualified for citizenship. This was not democracy as we know it, but a meeting of the rich and powerful, who controlled the rest of the people. The word is used in this sense in Acts 19:38-39 where the town clerk said to the mob of Ephesians who were stirred up against Paul.

The courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly (ekklesia).
The ekklesia was the governing body of a city, albeit constrained by submission to the power of Rome.

Many Christians have noted that Jesus talked incessantly about the Kingdom of God, but Paul used the word kingdom relatively infrequently. They have assumed that Paul was less interested in the Kingdom of God, but that is not true. In contrast, Paul was actually describing how the Kingdom of God would come into being, as God called people out of the Roman empire and formed them into Kingdom Communities in the places where they lived. Each one was referred to as an ekklesia, because they were called out of the kingdom of the world to form a community within the Kingdom of God.

Ekklesia and Kingdom

Paul applied Jesus' instructions and would go with a companion to a town, city or village and stay in the home of a person who welcomed them. This home became the base for a Kingdom Community. Paul referred to this as an ekklesia, as it was made up of people called to shift their allegiance from the Roman empire to Jesus.

According to Luke 10:1-12, when two people enter a town or village and stay in a house, and heal the sick and cast out demons, the Kingdom of God has come near. The Kingdom becomes a reality, if the people in the neighbourhood give allegiance to Jesus and commit to loving and serving one another in the power of the Spirit. A Kingdom Community is a group of people living in one place and loving each other, and serving those who live around them as the Holy Spirit leads.

The communities that Paul established were an alternative polity that were loyal to Jesus. From time to time, it will be bullied and pushed around by the human government that controls the neighbourhood where it is based, but as far as is possible, a kingdom community will operate as an independent government, providing justice, welfare, and protection for everyone living within the neighbourhood where they lived.

The elders were the overseers of an ekklesia. In Antioch, the ekklesia was overseen by elders, including prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1). They were the leaders of a Kingdom Community that had God had established there. They led an alternative Kingdom, that was loyal to Jesus.

Once a Kingdom Community has been established and people who live within the neighbourhood have been trained up to oversee this ekklesia, the apostle would be sent out with a companion to start a new kingdom community in another neighbourhood. This is what Paul and Barnabas did. In this way, the Kingdom of God would advance an expand out over a broader territory.

Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God was near. Once the Holy Spirit has been poured out, Paul was able to establish the Kingdom of God by calling people into a Kingdom Community in the towns and cities that he visited. Paul implemented the plan that Jesus had announced.