What then is the relationship between the church and the kingdom? The theme of the kingdom is referred to 100 plus times in the gospels. Through Jesus the kingdom has broken through. Can the term basileia always be substituted for ekklesia? No. However closely related, they are not defined by each other. What then is the relationship?
Ridderbos says: (354)”…basileia is the great divine work of salvation in its fullness and consummation in Christ. All Kingdom authority is his. Ekklesia is the people elect/called by God who share in the bliss of the kingdom.” The church is constituted by the people of the kingdom. The church is the people of God, called by God that already share in the bliss of the yet to be consummated kingdom. There are three things we can say about the church and the kingdom:
(1)The church manifests the kingdom. The church is the family to which the working of the kingdom gives birth. The church on earth is an interim imperfect pre-eschatological manifestation of the kingdom. This is one of the main themes of Mt 13; parables of the wheat and the tares. The tares are mixed up with the good seed. Despite the presence of the tares, the righteous grow. The purpose is to indicate that the presence of this community is a present manifestation of the kingdom… it is the pre-eschatological form of the manifestation of the kingdom.
(2)The church is the sphere in which the kingdom expresses itself in this age. Mt 4:23ff There is a contrast between the now and the then. The present working of the kingdom is a not yet consummated working. Where can I see the kingdom of God working? In the church. The church is the sphere in which the transforming power of the kingdom is visible.
(a)The beatitudes are expressions of the Kingdom through Jesus in the church. Miracles are not just acts of power, but localized works which show what the kingdom will look like when all things are restored. A momentary glimpse of how it will be. Miracles are Jesus momentarily switching on the light. There is going to be a final regeneration of all things. The power is seen not only in miracles but in the moral transformation of those whose lives have begun to be transformed to the kingdom.
(i)The life of a disciple is the moral version of the physical miracle. In this imperfect form, we are given illustrations of what it will be.
(3)The Church is the instrument of the establishment of the kingdom in the world. The church is salt of the earth; light of the world; a city that can’t be hidden. The church is seen as the temporary manifestation of the Kingdom. It becomes the bridging community of the Kingdom, until it fills and transforms the entire universe.