“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14 (ESV)
A kingdom usually consists of a least three elements; a king, a realm and subjects. The subjects are the people who are submitted to and ruled by the king. The subjects of the kingdom of God are those people who have submitted to Jesus Christ and have come under the mastery of his lordship (Romans 10:9; 13:14; Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 1:18). These subjects have other identities such as “the church” or “the body of Christ” or “saints.” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 1:24) The church is not the kingdom but rather the community of the kingdom.
The church cannot be the kingdom of God because it has not always been a part of God’s kingdom. These subjects were once in darkness but are now children of light (Ephesians 5:8). Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13, that these subjects, the church, have been transferred by God from a kingdom (domain) of darkness into the kingdom of his Son. Jesus, God’s son, was the light that shone in the darkness (John 1:5) the true light which gives light to every man that comes into the world (John 1:9). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) He also said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46 ESV) Peter wrote that God called his chosen people out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
Another way we know that the church is not the kingdom is because scripture teaches that the church (saints) will inherit or possess the kingdom. The following passages are from Daniel’s vision. “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.” (Daniel 7:18 ESV) “. . . and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:22 ESV) “And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.” (Daniel 7:27 ESV)
Paul spoke of the heritance of the saints (Ephesians 1:11, 14, 18; Colossians 1:12; 3:24). The writer of Hebrews speaks of an eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15). Paul also spoke of God’s children being heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). He wrote that if we are Christ’s we are heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). James wrote, “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5 ESV)
God told Moses to tell the children of Israel that if they would obey his voice and keep his covenant that he would make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6). God stripped the kingdom from the hands of those who did not produce it fruits and gave it to a people who would (Matthew 21:43). God’s kingdom today is not one comprised of any one nation, nor is God’s kingdom relegated to one specific location. Because of the blood of Jesus, a new and better covenant has been made (Hebrews 8:6; 12:24). God has ransomed a kingdom of priests out of every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9-10) and made them holy (1 Peter 2:9).
Peter wrote that God has caused us to be born again to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading; preserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Jesus said that his sheep will inherit the kingdom which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). He said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom; (Luke 12:32 ESV) in part now, in full later.
That’s why we praise him!