Kingdom of Christ on Earth

    According the witness of the Gospels, Jesus not only does not refuse Old Testament expectations of  "earth kingdom of God", but confirms them. Opponents of this idea often refer to words of Jesus:
«My kingdom is not of this world».
 
They do not want to notice the conditional sense of this statement which proceeds (in the same phrase) so:
 
«If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence» (In. 18:36).
 
Evidently the word "now", changes the sense of phrase to opposite. The Catholic church, in avoidance the "confusion of minds», has removed this word from Latin translation ("Vulgata"). But it is contained in the most ancient and reliable Greek texts of the gospel (νυν). This word is preserved in translations on new-Greek and church-Slavonic. It also is kept (according to the Greek text) in the Bible of the King of James (now) and in the Luther Bible (nun).
 
Thus Jesus asserts that only at present, now, nowadays His Kingdom on the earth is impossible, but so will be not always.
Before Jesus ascension apostles ask Him the last, most for them important question:
«Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
 
And they receive the answer:
«Not your business to know times or terms which the Father has put in The power» (Acts. 1: 6-7).
 
It is not rejection of the Messianic kingdom on the earth, but is the testimony that it is indispensable, but only «times and terms» are not opened yet by God.
 
One would be hard put to discover elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures another prophecy so straightforwardly and unambiguously worded. However no other passage has aroused such controversy.

  In the scene on heaven one of 24 elders  said:

   "Behold, he Lion that is from  the tribe of Judas, the root of David, has overcame."   5:5.

And  further:

"Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and  people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be  kings and priests to our God;  and they will reign upon the earth."   5:9-10.

  When speaking of "the souls of those who had been beheaded for the sake of God's word and  their testimony to Jesus" St. John proceeds with the account of his vision:

  "They came to life again and reigned with Christ for a thousand years, although the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Happy indeed, and one of God's own people is the man who shares in this first resurrection! Upon such the second death has no claim; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him for a thousand years."                    20:4-6.

   The controversy around Christ's kingdom on earth first raged when the Church was in its infancy. Though the  belief in the reign of the Messiah was self-obvious for converted Jews, many of baptized pagans thought that to look forward to such a reign was unworthy and unseemly. For this reason  the Revelation of St. John was incorporated within the canon of the books of the New Testament only after much objections.

   However the prestige was too great possessed by those who believed in the authenticity of the Revelation of St. John and in the prophesied kingdom on earth. St. Barnabas, one of the seventy apostles; the St. Justin Martyr and Philosopher who in the early second century lived in Ephesus, where St. John the Divine had preached so recently before; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a father of the church who was a disciple of one of St. John's disciples; St. Hyppolitus of Rome; St. Methodius  of Olympus; St. Lactantius – they all left recorded evidence of their belief. Nor must it be forgotten that the kingdom of the Messiah on earth was basic message subject  for the biblical prophets.

  The Christian's awareness is not restricted to life on earth, for a man eternal life begins at the moment he is born. The  woes and joys he experiences on earth, the tragedy of death as the soul's temporary parting with the body – are only the first, though extremely significant, episodes of his eternal life that promises universal resurrection, a meet with beloved friends in a new land under a new sky, endless advance and increase under the rays of Divine love. With our contemporary mind we are incapable even of imagination of this prospect:

   "Things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him."    1 Cor. 2:9.


   Yet, why should the Christian abandon hope of the triumph of Jesus Christ already on this earth? May be, because very life on earth is understood  rudely on a heathen manner? Or perhaps because lacking of faith that the reality of earth life is able be permeated and inspired by Divine energies, that the Kingdom of God may come down to us "in power" (Mk. 9:1-7) or that God's will be on earth as it is in heaven?

   At any rate there prevailed in the real history of Christianity St. Augustine's view that the Kingdom of Christ on earth has already come and that He reigns just now thanks to the Triumph of the Church. Eusebius of Caesarea stressed, that when Christians were of aware the honors that the Emperor Constantine heaped upon the Church, many of the devout wondered whether the kingdom that St. John had forecast had not come just now. So the ecclesiastic tradition, from time of establishment of Christian Imperium, no longer accepts a literal understanding of the prophecy as to the dawning full triumph of Christ on earth.

  The distorted, vague dream of that Thousand-year Kingdom, which hierarchical ecclesiastic awareness eschews has devolved upon rebellious popular movements, especially over the second millennium of Christian history.

  It must be noted that the teaching concerning the Thousand-year Kingdom has encountered more that simply lack of faith in God's powers of transformation. There is also a serious theological difficulty.

   The point is that accordingly the Revelation of St. John the "kingdom of Christ" is not eternal, because the victory over evil is not final and full. Absolved of sin, and saved from the "second death", which apparently means the  destruction of the soul, are only those "who have revived", whereas the rest have yet to make their final choice. The "kingdom of Christ" ends in insurrection:

  "The nations in the four quarters of the earth... marched over the breadth of the land and laid siege to the camp of God's people and the city that He loves. But fire came down on them from heaven and consumed them".     20:7-9.

  The very possibility of rebellion against Jesus Christ reigning on earth appeared to belittle His power and majesty. On this basis Apollinarius from Laodicea was alleging that the Son is less than the Father, inasmuch as the kingdom of the Father will be eternal, whereas the kingdom of the Son – temporal and unstable. The Second Ecumenical Council condemned the using of idea about the Thousand-Years Kingdom in connection with the Apollinarius heresy, that belittled the Son's dignity.The Council contrasted it  by incorporating the words within the Symbol of the Faith: His (Jesus Christ) Kingdom has not the end. So the Church has not denounced the very teaching as to the kingdom on earth, provided it does not belittle the dignity of Jesus Christ.

   Then how is conceivable the temporary kingdom of Christ ?
   Note that in the text relating to the Thousand-Year Kingdom the word "christos" does not necessarily imply Jesus Christ. The Revelation assigns to Jesus the names of "Lamb" and "God's Word" among others names that unquestionably relate to Him. Meanwhile the Greek "christos" is no proper name but only means "the anointed" which thus may be applied to any kingly personage. This point is stressed in the ancient texts of the Revelation of St. John by their not having in  Chapter 20 the grammatical member preceding "christos", which  would be obligatory before a proper name.

  So who then is "the anointed", the king of the Thousand-Year Kingdom?

  The answer is self-evident. It is the Michael mentioned in Chapter 12, for it is he who is ordained to exercise "authority" over all nations. Though he is the loyal servant of Jesus, he nevertheless does not possess His might and power and hence battles with the enemy on "equal footing", sometimes winning, sometimes losing.

  Accepting the image of Michael as head of the Messianic kingdom on earth gives an  explanation  of  the characteristic duality of the biblical prophecies as to the Messiah. Indeed the very Jacob blessings to his sons, were imply that there will be two Messiahs, one – from the tribe of Judas, the other – from the tribe of Joseph. All Christian interpreters assign the first to Jesus:

"The scepter shall not depart from Judas, nor a lawyer from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be".       Gen. 49:10.

  But to whom, if not to Michael, does the blessing with respect to the tribe of Joseph pertain? And is not this the sole explanation for the astounding cosmic scale of the image comparable exclusively to Chapter 12 of the Revelation?

"From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel. Even by the God thy Father Who shall help thee: and by the Almighty, Who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb. The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers."
Gen. 49:24-6.


  Finally in the Gospel Jesus Himself insists that He will send the "another Comforter", Who is usually regarded as the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41). That may doubtlessly be taken as the first and immediate meaning of Jesus prophecy.But it is necessary here to make  some more precise definitions. The Holy Trinity have one nature and one action; meanwhile Christ is One in Whom

"the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied" (Col. 2:9).

  The Divine Energies belong not to One of God's Person but to the Whole Trinity as the Triune God. Consequently any thought that the deeds or actions of the Persons of the Holy Trinity could be separated is totally unacceptable; also inadmissible is the concept of God's embodiment otherwise than in Jesus Chris, or separate Advent of One of God's Person – the Holy Spirit.

   According to teaching of Palamism, it should be implied not the personal Descent of the Holy Spirit, but the descent upon the counsel of apostles of the fullness of Divine Energies, that the Bible always names as the Holy Spirit (Is.63:10-11;  Ps.50:13) or as the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2; Job. 27:3).

   However the image of Comforter, which is given by Jesus, has such qualities of created personality that are not compatible with the event of the Pentecost. It is completely impossible to attribute to uncreated Divine Spirit this description:

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak".    John 16:13.

  Thus not eschewing the traditional interpretation of the Comforter, we simultaneously  may attribute this promise of Jesus  to the embodiment of the Archangel's Michael, who, retaining herself as Angel,  becomes also Man. Similarly as Jesus-God vowed to Adam and Eve that He would come also as Man ("seed of woman"), so are He gave promise to the Apostles about the forthcoming embodiment of Michael.

  Thus three highest human Beings: Adam, Jesus and Michael represent the fullest created image of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Comforter is not the Holy Spirit, as One of the Holy Trinity Persons, but Third God's Person supreme created image. About this Comforter Jesus says:

"When He comes He will confute the world, and show where wrong and right and judgment lie. He  will convict them of wrong by their refusal to believe in Me; He will convince them that right is on My side, by showing that I go to the Father when I pass from your sight; and He will convince them of divine judgment, by showing that the prince of this world stands condemned."        John. 16:8-11.

   But when will the final indictment of lack of faith, the glorification of Jesus and the condemnation of "the prince of this world" occur if not during the times of Apocalypse? And who if not Michael will throw "the dragon" down from the heavens and subsequently expel it from the earth? (20:1-3).

   Naturally the surmise that there may be two Messiahs complicates the picture of Holy history. Yet who has said that history should be so simple? What is far more important for the Christian - to evolve an convincing interpretation of the prophecies spelled out in the Holy Scriptures.

   As it has already been stressed – there cannot be and should not be one monosemantic interpretation of prophecies generally. Before one can practice what one preaches one must necessarily believe in the freedom of the human being, for if we fail to accept the primary value of freedom, that would be tantamount to abjuring faith in God as the Creator of the world and man. The Kingdom of Christ on earth may come only when mankind will desire it.