The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
July 22, 1990
1) God's Kingdom and the "Parenthesis Theory"
God's Kingdom and the "Parenthesis Theory"
by Tom Edwards
Looking for the physical rather than the spiritual was one of Israel's
problems of old. Even the Lord's apostles had been waiting for their
physical kingdom to be restored and had been expecting Christ to be the
One who would bring this about.
The kingdom that Christ established, however, is not earthly. As Jesus
told Pilate in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world."
In Daniel 2, prophecy is made concerning this spiritual kingdom in
which God would establish. In this chapter, four earthly kingdoms are
mentioned which would each rule successively as a world ruling empire.
They are Babylon, the Medes and Persians, Greece, and Rome.
Daniel 2:44 declares: "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven
will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left
to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to
an end, but it will itself endure forever." The expression "In the time
of those kings" has reference to the kings of the Roman empire, and it
would be during their time that God would establish His kingdom upon
Christ and John the baptist lived during this time, and the major
thrust of their sermons was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
Many premillennialists believe in what is called the "Parenthesis
Theory." According to their view, Christ came to set up His kingdom,
but was hindered by the rejection of the Jews. As a consequence, he had
to use a substitute instead -- the church; which is supposedly a "new
concept" and "never mentioned in the Old Testament," as seen in this
following comment by J. Dwight Pentecost:
(The church is) "the inception of an entirely new, unheralded, and
unexpected program...The church is manifestly an interruption of God's
program for Israel, which was not brought into being until Israel's
rejection of the offer of the kingdom."
The Bible teaches, however, that the church was part of God's eternal
plan and not some spur-of-the-moment design or a last-minute substitute
for the kingdom. Ephesians 3:10,11 reads: "to the intent that now
unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be
made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, (11)
according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our
Lord." Clearly, this passage shows that God's intention for the church
in proclaiming the truth was "according to the eternal purpose" of the
Lord. Every Christian is to be a teacher of the gospel in whatever
capacity he or she can.
The church has been bought by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28) through
the Lord's propitiatory sacrifice that was planned before the
foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:18-20). Peter also states concerning
the death of Jesus in Acts 2:23 that He was "delivered up by the
predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God...."
Obviously, God knew that His Son would be rejected, but rather than
interfere with His scheme of redemption and the establishment of His
kingdom (church), this rejection would serve to bring that plan about
through the cruel death of Christ on the cross.
Perhaps the "Parenthesis Theory" was started because men were not able
to see the connection between the church and the kingdom. It's
interesting to observe that the church and the kingdom (when referring
to the church) are always
spoken of in the future tense prior to Acts 2, but from Acts 2:47 on,
both are shown to be in existence; and, actually, the terms can be used
interchangeably, for they both stand for that same blood-bought group
of God's people. There are no separate rules for the kingdom and
separate rules for the church. The same laws that God has given to man
which express how he is to gain access into the kingdom and live
therein are the same laws that he must obey to gain entrance into the
church and live properly in it.
Prior to Acts 2:
Matt. 16:18, "...I will build My church."
As we have already seen, Jesus, John the baptist, and the disciples of
the Lord had preached that the kingdom "was at hand." As a matter of
fact, it was so near that the Lord had stated in Mark 9:1, "I tell you
the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they
see the kingdom of God come with power."
This passage indicates that the kingdom had not yet come, but would
during the life of some of those who were listening to Jesus at that
From Acts 2:47 Onward
Acts 2:47, "...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
Colossians 1:13, "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and
translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,"
John testified toward being in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9) and related that
God "has made us to be a kingdom" (Rev. 1:6).
The church (kingdom) was established after Christ ascended to the right
hand of God: "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like
the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the
Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was
given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and
languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be
destroyed" (Dan. 7:13,14).
This is a prophecy of the ascension of Jesus. He is shown going back to
the Father -- not coming from Him in order to set up a kingdom on
earth. Notice what is given Him at this time:
Dominion (EPH. 1:18-23; Zech. 6:12,13)
Glory (Christ was exalted and glorified at the right hand of
and a Kingdom
One of the purposes for Christ having received this kingdom is so that
"all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him." If His kingdom
were not yet established then its purpose could not be fulfilled.
Consequently, we who are Gentiles would then be without hope and
The premillenialist teaches that Christ will return from heaven with
the raptured saints, raise the righteous dead, and rule on David's
throne for a thousand years. But, according to 2 Sam. 7:12,13,
David would not be around when Jesus would establish His kingdom and
reign in it. The passage reads: "When your days are fulfilled and you
rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will
come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall
build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his
kingdom forever." According to Acts 2, the one who fulfilled this was
Jesus Christ Himself. He built the "house" ("the house of God" is "the
church of the living God," 1 Tim. 3:15; "I will build My church," Matt.
16:18). This would be done when David's "days are fulfilled," and
he would "rest" with his "fathers" (2 Sam. 7:12); and, as we saw in
last week's bulletin, this would also be the time when Christ would
reign from the throne of David (which was the same as the throne of
God). Gloriously, Christ is doing this now and reigning over His
kingdom as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland,
Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards