The idea of Jesus’ kingdom comes from Jesus Himself, but was Jesus’ kingdom established when He walked on earth in the first century? The question of “When?” regarding Jesus’ kingdom is debated.  Some even say that Jesus came to establish His kingdom but he failed. What will Scripture tell us?

how Scripture answers "Was Jesus’ kingdom established in the first century?"

Jesus’ kingdom was established in the first century1,3,5,7,8. Jesus came to preach about the kingdom2,4 which was an explicit purpose for His mission on earth. Peter confirms Jesus’ kingdom beginning on the day of Pentecost10, not many days after Jesus Himself testified to it being “near”2. These “latter days”1 continue until “the end” when Jesus returns the kingdom to His Father9 and all the saints are together in the heavenly kingdom6.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
1

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,

In his second year, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a  dream that bothered him but nobody could interpret for him.  Until he called on Daniel. His dream (vss 32-35) was of a large image, “The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

The interpretation [from God] was that each component represented kingdoms that would follow his own, until in the latter days there would be a kingdom that stood forever.

How does it inform?

Based on the interpretation that God gave to Daniel, the “latter days” would consist of a kingdom with three distinct qualities:

  1. Set up by the “God of heaven” (2:44),
  2. Represented by a “stone cut from a mountain” (2:45) that itself “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35),
  3. Lasting forever, bringing other kingdoms to an end (2:44).

While Daniel doesn’t tell us exactly when this happens, we can track it based on historical fact. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream included his own (the head of gold) followed by three more (the last being a “divided kingdom”) before the final, everlasting kingdom from God. History records these kingdoms following Babylon: Medo-Persia (the silver), Greece (the bronze), Rome (the iron and eventually mixed, iron/clay). This would be put God’s eternal kingdom (stone) during/succeeding the Roman kingdom.

Does it apply? Yes

2

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jesus began preaching for everyone to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is here.

Jesus is beginning His public ministry, taking over from John the Baptist who had the exact same message (

Matthew 3:2
).

How does it inform?

Jesus testified that the kingdom [of heaven] was near.

Does it apply? Yes

3

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He has taken us from the world of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son who redeems us from our sins.

Paul’s opening/greeting to the “brothers in Christ at Colossae” (vs 2).

How does it inform?

Paul is writing to Christians in the first century who had been “transferred” (past tense) into the kingdom [of Jesus].

Does it apply? Yes

4
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.

In the morning he left and went to a desolate place.  But the people came to him, attempting to have him stay, by he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus is beginning His public ministry and is in Capernaum at Simon’s house healing his mother-in-law and others.

How does it inform?

Jesus was sent to preach the news of the kingdom [of God].

Does it apply? Yes

5
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
As a result, let’s be grateful for joining a kingdom that cannot be moved and offer acceptable worship to God  – with reverence and awe – for He is a consuming fire.
In a letter dedicated to reminding the faithful to “hold fast” and remember the “better” things in Christ, the writer is making a final plea in a series of “Therefore’s”.
How does it inform?

The kingdom had been “received” by first-century Christians.

Does it apply? Yes

6
The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
God will rescue me from every sin and bring me safely into the kingdom of heaven. To God be the glory forever and ever, amen.

The closing comments of Paul’s second letter to the young evangelist Timothy.

How does it inform?

Paul, who has written many times to Christians about he/they already being in the kingdom while alive, eludes to his own death and his final delivery into the [heavenly] kingdom.

Does it apply? Yes

7
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

But if it’s by the Holy Spirit that I [Jesus] case out demons, then God’s kingdom has come upon you.

Jesus is in the midst of his public ministry.  He is teaching harder sayings and the division between those that accept him and those that don’t is becoming starker.
How does it inform?

Jesus makes an “if/then” statement. Since it was true that He was casting out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit (the “if”), it’s also true that the kingdom [of God] had come upon them (the “then”).

Does it apply? Yes

8
But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.
The fact is, there are some here today who will not die before seeing the kingdom of God.
Near the end of Jesus’ public ministry and eight days before (vs 28) the transfiguration before Peter, James and John.
How does it inform?

Jesus says there some standing with him right then that would see the kindom of God.

Does it apply? Yes

9
But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
But in order: the coming of Christ, then those that belong to Him.  Finally, the end when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed every rule, authority and power.  Because of this, He must reign until He has put all of His enemies under His feet.
Paul is making a great defense for the resurrection of Jesus and what that means for the Christian’s faith.  Without Jesus being raised, their faith would be “in vain” (vs 14), they’d still be in their sins (vs 17), the dead “in Christ” would have truly perished (vs 18) and everyone else “in Christ” should be “most pitied” (vs 19).  He then shifts to highlight what will happen because He was resurrected and confirm the raising “at his coming those who belong to Christ” (vs 23).
How does it inform?

Paul writes about a future time when Jesus the Son delivers “the kingdom” to God the Father (e.g. “the end”).

Does it apply? Yes

10
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
We [apostles] are all witnesses to the fact that God raised Jesus up.  He has been glorifed to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured it out [on us] and it’s what you are seeing and hearing.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost after he witnessed Jesus ascending into heaven.  The apostles had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, able to speak in foreign tongues and having what appeared to be “tongues of fire” resting on them (vss 3-4).

How does it inform?

Peter confirms Jesus’ installation as king at the right hand of God – proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, first-century.

Does it apply? Yes

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