For over several months I have been showing, even in the words of Jesus, as they are recorded in the New Testament Gospel narratives, that the Kingdom of God bears little, if any, resemblance to what we have been told by the three futurist eschatologies—i.e. premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism. The predominant teaching coming from these groups is that one day Jesus will return to this earth out of heaven and establish a utopian, Edenic paradise on a restored earth, and Jesus will reign here in a physical body over a physical Kingdom, headquartered at physical Jerusalem. Absolutely nothing like this is promised in the scriptures.
During the forty days after his resurrection, Jesus had been teaching his disciples, in a language they were able to understand (cf. Luke 24:32, 45), about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Before he ascended into heaven, he told them to remain in Jerusalem, until they were endued with power from heaven (Luke 24:49), and at that time they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Then he told them
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 – emphasis mine)
Jesus commissioned his disciples to tell the world about him. After they were empowered by (clothed by) the Holy Spirit, they were to preach the Gospel to the world, beginning at Jerusalem. In order to understand what Jesus was doing, we need to see the prophecy that serves as the fountain of his command. Notice what Isaiah told Israel in the Old Testament:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God (Isaiah 43:10-12).
Israel was to be the Lord’s witnesses to the world. They were to show the world that he alone was God and beside him there was no Savior. Israel knew his great works. Therefore, they were to be God’s witnesses. This was the modus operandi under the Old Covenant.
In Acts 1:8 (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry the good news of what Jesus had done to the world. They were his witnesses. They knew the great works Jesus had done, and they were to spread the news to the world after they had been endued with power from on high. In other words, Jesus was inaugurating his Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. He sent out his messengers, ambassadors of his Kingdom, to the kingdoms of this world. But, what happened on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples? Did the Kingdom of God suddenly burst into view? Did Jesus physically reign from Jerusalem? What sort of Kingdom was inaugurated? Was it physical, or was it spiritual in nature?
Truly, Jesus’ disciples did declare him to be the only Savior under heaven (Acts 4:10-12), and, truly, they declared unto those in Jerusalem that the time of the restoration of Israel had come (Acts 3:19-21), and the Prophet that Moses predicted would come had arrived (Acts 3:22), and anyone who did not submit to his word would be cut off from among his people (Acts 3:23). Truly, the Kingdom had begun to be restored, but it wasn’t nationalistic in nature. One couldn’t point to it and say; ‘there it is’ (Luke 17:20-21. Rather, it existed in the hearts of men who began to yield to Christ who was in heaven, not on earth. Truly, the disciples reigned on thrones (Matthew 19:28), but their reign wasn’t a physical one. Rather, folks continued in their word (Acts 2:42-47) not through military force or governmental obligation, but voluntarily, from their hearts, where God reigned unseen by the physical eye (Luke 17:20-21). We know we are in the Kingdom of God when we desire to do his will!