When Jesus was brought before Pilate, he was essentially accused of being a kind of rival king, a usurper to the throne. But when asked, he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” What are the implications of this statement for us as Christians? For example, should believers separate themselves from the world? The hosts will also discuss the significance of Pilate’s words when he said, “Behold the man,” as he presented Jesus to the crowd wearing a purple robe and a crown of thorns.
Shane Rosenthal: What do you think that Jesus means here when He says, “My kingdom is not of this world?”
Chris Gordon: I think you have to take this in context and I think here in the question of Pilate, “Are you the king of the Jews?” It’s a ridicule kind of question. The question for Jesus is, “Are you coming to claim to be a king in opposition to Caesar?” and Jesus is saying here he has not come to overthrow the emperor. I’m not so convinced Christians today are separate from the world. If anything, our swords are out trying to chop off our neighbor’s ear.
Term to Learn
The two kingdoms doctrine teaches that God rules all things, but rules all things in two fundamentally distinct ways. In the Reformed version of this doctrine, the civil kingdom consists of the state and other cultural institutions and activities of this life. God rules this kingdom as creator and sustainer, bestowing rain and sunshine and all sorts of other earthly goods upon all people and upholding some measure of justice and prosperity in their cultural lives. The spiritual kingdom, on the other hand, is a heavenly, eschatological realm, but one that has also broken into the present world through the ministry and life of the church. God rules this kingdom as redeemer, bestowing not temporal provisions of natural earthly life upon all people but the blessings of salvation and eternal life to his redeemed people.
(From David VanDrunen, “Life Beyond Judgment,” Modern Reformation Oct/Nov 2008)
Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage.
They condemn also those who do not place evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but in forsaking civil offices, for the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart. Meanwhile, it does not destroy the State or the family, but very much requires that they be preserved as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, Christians are necessarily bound to obey their own magistrates and laws save only when commanded to sin; for then they ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
(From The Augsburg Confession, Article XVI)