Two Kingdoms

As we start a new year, I want to begin a new blog series on the two kingdoms that Christians inhabit. These are the kingdoms of the right hand and the left hand, or the church and the state.

Every Christian belongs to two kingdoms: one is spiritual and the other is earthly.  Lutheran theologians call these the kingdoms of the right hand (the Church) and the left hand (the State).  There are distinct differences between the two, and these differences will be the focus of future blogs.

You can find examples of these kingdoms in many passages. Here are just a few. In John 18:36 Jesus told Pontius Pilate, an earthly ruler in Judea, about another kingdom, heaven. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from another place.'”

The writer to the Hebrews gives examples of both in Hebrews 11:13-16. It says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Paul, a Roman citizen, states that Christians have another citizenship in Philippians 3:20. He says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A great example of both kingdoms is found in Acts 16:35-40. Paul shares the Gospel as a member of the Church, and but also objects to mistreatment by the Philippian rulers as a member of the Roman empire. The test says, “When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: ‘Release those men.’  The jailer told Paul, ‘The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released.  Now you can leave.  Go in peace.’  But Paul said to the officers: ‘They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison.  And now do they want to get rid of us quietly?  No!  Let them come themselves and escort us out.’  The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.  They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.  After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them.  Then they left.”

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