By Paul Smithson
As He stood before Pilate just before His crucifixion, Jesus declared, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:33-37). This statement leaves no room for doubt that Jesus is King, He does indeed have a kingdom, and it is not of this world. Many think Jesus’ reign is yet to be. These look for a coming earthly kingdom. Yet, Jesus says He has a kingdom and it is one that is not of this realm.
What is a kingdom? A kingdom is made up of three things; a king, laws, and subjects. All three of these things are essential for any kingdom to exist and all three exist in Jesus’ kingdom.
However, Jesus’ kingdom is different in that it is not of this world. For there to be a kingdom and it not be of this world, that kingdom must have a king that is not of this world. This is exactly what God’s spiritual kingdom has. Jesus is eternal. He existed before the world was (Jn. 1:1-14; Philip. 2:5-11). Jesus stated to the Jews, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” Jesus is not from this world, and when He came into this world it had no influence on Him. Satan used everything in this world to tempt Jesus, yet He remained without sin (Heb. 4:15; Jn. 14:30)
With all other kings, their reign comes to an end when they are defeated or they die. Jesus will never be defeated and His death only enabled God to declare Him as “the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” and to sit Him down “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Rom. 1:4; Heb. 12:2). When Jesus stops reining it will not be the result of defeat, but when He has complete victory over all things. It is then, at His second coming, that He will willfully deliver His everlasting kingdom up to the Father and subject Himself to Him (1Cor. 15:24-28). Jesus is truly “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Tim. 6:15)– truly a King not of this world.
A kingdom that is not of this world must also have laws that are not of this world. And be assured, Jesus’ kingdom does have law and its origin is not of this realm. The law of Jesus’ kingdom is not from men. It is a divine law set forth in the gospel– the doctrine of Jesus proclaimed through His inspired apostles. The apostle declared, “For I would have you know brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man” (Gal. 1:11; cf. 1Cor. 2:10-13; 1Thes. 2:13). This divine law does not appeal to the flesh, but to the spirit bringing men to faith– convicting, persuading and converting. The ultimate aim of the law of Jesus’ kingdom is to save. “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21). This “word” James later also refers to as the “law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25). It is such a law that if obeyed, gives eternal life and fellowship with God. It is a law that is truly not of this world.
Like the king and the laws, the subjects of such a kingdom are not of this world. The King demands that we believe and be baptized in order to be saved by Him (Mk. 16:16: Ac. 2:38). In our obedience to Him we are told that God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Thus we are urged, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”(Rom. 12:2). If our thinking, values and objectives are still rooted in the world then we are not citizens of Christ’s kingdom (Col. 3:1-2; 1Jn. 2:15). Those who are subjects in Christ’s kingdom are not of this world. The One whom they serve, the law by which they abide, and the eternal home for which they long, are all of another realm (Philip. 3:20). Are you a citizen of Christ’s kingdom?