Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. -KJV
What is the Kingdom?
For years I have prayed- “Thy Kingdom come” with only a vague idea about what I was praying for. Usually I had in mind the end of history and the Second Coming of Jesus when he is going to come back and set up His Kingdom and rule the World.
I had the perspective that right now the Kingdom of God was “not of this world” but in Heaven. Other times I viewed the Kingdom as merely another word for the church.
However when you look at the original Greek word used here for ‘Kingdom’ it seems to offer so much more that could apply to this life. The Greek word is: ‘Basileia’. It doesn’t necessarily refer to a geographical location like a country, but means: ‘rule’. So wherever God rules there is his Kingdom. So when we pray for his Kingdom to come we are really praying for an extension of his rule and authority.
Here’s the actual Greek word order from the prayer:
“Let it come- the- kingdom (or rule)- of thee”
The Kingdom in the Teaching and Ministry of Jesus
It is in the teaching and actions of Jesus that the Kingdom is more clearly identified for us. Wherever Jesus went he proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was near:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” –Matt 4:17
In fact Matt 4:23-24 tells us that where ever Jesus went he preached about the good news of the Kingdom and healed the sick. But what did he really mean when he said that the Kingdom was “near” and what did those listening to him think he was saying?
The Old Testament prophets talked about the coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom that he would establish and what it would be like. It was going to be an incredible life under the Messiah—no sickness, no more slavery or servitude, plenty for everyone and perfect justice. Totally different than the Roman Empire and the puppet kings like Herod they were suffering under.
When Jesus preached about the Kingdom and healed the sick the people received it in the context of a hope for the coming Messianic Kingdom of justice. In fact when the disciple of John the Baptist showed up asking if he was really the Messiah, he indicated that the Kingdom was being demonstrated in his ministry:
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” –Matt 11:4-6
Then when he returned to Nazareth he was asked to read from the scriptures in the synagogue:
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:17-21
This was the context that the disciples and regular folks understood when they heard Jesus talking about the Kingdom. The Messianic Kingdom of freedom and justice, healing and no sickness, plus abundance for all.
Today when we read the words of Jesus about the Kingdom we think about the life to come in Heaven or about the millennium at the end of time itself. For us the context is mostly future and we are asking for the ideal future to come.
The Kingdom -‘Basileia’
However the prayer is not future, we are asking in the present for his kingdom to come now—Thy Kingdom come—let your Kingdom come right now. Let healing come, let oppression cease, let freedom ring, let abundance come to the poor, let God’s justice reign.
Again, the original Greek word for Kingdom – ‘Basileia’ actually means ‘rule’. So wherever God rules there is his Kingdom. So when we pray for his Kingdom to come we are really praying for an extension of his rule and authority.
I believe that it is our calling as the representatives of the Messiah—his body-to extend the ‘rule’ of God in this world. To bring healing and justice, and freedom and hope for the poor and oppressed. We are to be agents of the Kingdom in this world and the world to come.