“Your kingdom come,”
Key Word Analysis
σύ βασιλεία ἔρχομαι
The second phrase of the passage addresses God the Father directly. It declares that σύ/your, or God’s kingdom should come. Used by the believer in this way, this phrase is the declaration of a choice and a desire for a final outcome.
The word used for your is a very common second person pronoun, used almost 5000 times in the Bible. The use of such a common word is significant. It implies that this phrase should be an everyday assumption on the part of the believer. It should be a common thought and implied in the words, thoughts and everyday actions of the believer. The kingdom of God is what matters and it will one day come completely! The kingdom referenced in the prayer belongs to the receiver of the prayer, The Father.
The word chosen for βασιλεία/kingdom is also in the common language of the day. Kingdom here means any royal dominion or territory. It is used to describe not only the kingdom of God but the kingdom of other biblical greats and even Satan. (Mathew 12:26) The use in the passage implies that the believer has a choice in the kingdom they chose to support and the use of this passage shows their choice. To the believer, there is only one kingdom that matters.
Jesus used this word often. It “was the dominant word of His Gospel”. He often used it in reference to the Kingdom of God. Here are examples of Jesus’ use of this word just in Mathew:
“the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
“the gospel of the kingdom.” Matthew 4:23
“for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3
“for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:10
“shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:19
“you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:20
“yours is the kingdom and the power.” Matthew 6:13
“seek first his kingdom.” Matthew 6:33
“enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 7:21
“Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 8:11
“sons of the kingdom will be cast out” Matthew 8:12
“proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” Mathew 9:35
“The kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Mathew 10:7
“who is least in the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 11:11
“until now the kingdom of Heaven suffers” Mathew 11:12
“the kingdom of God has come upon you” Mathew 12:28
“the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 13:11
“the word of the kingdom” Matthew 13:19
“The kingdom of Heaven may be compared” Matthew 13:24
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed” Matthew 13:31
“The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven” Mathew 13:33
“the sons of the kingdom” Matthew 13:38
“gather out of his kingdom” Matthew 13:41
“the sun in the kingdom of their Father” Matthew 13:43
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure” Mathew 13:44
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant” Matthew 13:45
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet” Mathew 13:47
“a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 13:52
“the keys of the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 16:19
“the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” Matthew 16:28
“you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 18:3
“he is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 18:4
Jesus used this word to describe not only “Christ’s description of the Kingdom of God, the sphere of God’s rule”, but also the “character of the citizens of the kingdom.” The use of this word by Jesus was to give description as well as to express action. The believer that seeks the Father seeks not only that his kingdom will come but that the believer will be a part of that kingdom.
The kingdom will someday ἔρχομαι/come at the declaration of the believer in this passage. This form of come is also common and implies action. It is not a word used to communicate only an idea only but also the movement from place to place by a person or object. It implies movement, not just desire.
“For we saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
“…report to me so that I too can come to worship him.” Matthew 2:8
“…it came and stood over the place where the child was.” Mathew 2:9
“I will come and heal him.” Matthew 8:7
“When Jesus came unto Peter’s house…” Matthew 8:14
“For I came to set a man…” Matthew 10:35
“…and the birds came and ate them up.” Matthew 13:4
“…they came to land at Gennesaret.” Matthew 14:34
The phrase in the key passage declares that the kingdom of God will literally come to the place of the speaker. It is a declaration of both prophecy and desire. If the life of the believer is lived to be part of the kingdom of God, that life helps bring the kingdom to come in the life of the believer.
Historical Theology Analysis
The context in which the disciples heard the phrase “your kingdom come” is the next focus. Based on their backgrounds, education and personal circumstances they heard this phrase with very specific implied meanings. There is one verse in the Torah which closely matches these words of Jesus.
In 2 Samuel 7:12, Nathan was commanded to tell David that David’s kingdom would lead to the kingdom of God one day after David’s death. “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendants after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” God’s kingdom would come after the Earthly kingdom of David. Your kingdom come was an extension of that passage.
This passage from Samuel was speaking to the Kingdom of God in the future, the kingdom that would come to be as a result of David and his descendants. This parallels closely the words of Jesus in this passage of the prayer. Jesus was speaking to the future Kingdom of God, the one to come after Jesus’ time on Earth and the coming work of his followers. The Jewish followers of Jesus of that day wished him to be the promised Messiah, bringing to an end their earthly struggles and beginning the new Kingdom of God. Jesus was telling them in his words that the Kingdom of God was still yet to come. He was not the promised Messiah in the form they desired.
There are multiple historical references to two word combinations of the three word phrase your kingdom come in your kingdom. Your kingdom has fourteen Old Testament references.
“now the Lord would have established your kingdom” 1 Samuel 13:13
“your kingdom shall not endure.” 1 Samuel 13:14
“your kingdom will be established.” 1 Samuel 20:31
“your kingdom shall endure” 2 Samuel 7:16
“I will establish the throne of your kingdom” 1 King 9:5
“provinces of your kingdom” Esther 3:8
“uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom” Psalm 45:6
“speak of the glory of your kingdom” Psalm 145:11
“the majesty of your kingdom” Psalm 145:12
“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.” Psalm 145:13
“your kingdom will assured to you” Daniel 4:26
“a man in your kingdom” Daniel 5:11
“God has numbered your kingdom” Daniel 5:26
“your kingdom has been divided” Daniel 5:28
The disciples would have put the phrase your kingdom in the context of a kingdom with personal ownership of a king or heavenly being. In both the Samuel and King’s references, the phrase was used to communicate the direct and personal ownership of Saul and Solomon of the Nation of Israel. This phrase indicated intimate ownership of a kingdom.
In contrast there are no direct Torah or Old Testament references to kingdom come. There are many indirect references that refer to a future kingdom.
“let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 1 Samuel 11:14
“He will set his face to come with the power of his kingdom” Daniel 11:17
“To you it will come…the kingdom” Micah 4:8
Each reference implies a kingdom to come or develop in the future. The words of Jesus here would have been heard by the disciples as the desire or declaration of God’s Kingdom to come at some point in the future, later today or many years in the future. The time frame was unclear.
From the historical perspective of their backgrounds, the disciples would have heard your kingdom come as a declarative statement, speaking to the future-coming kingdom of God the Father. The prayer was not just an expression of longing for this day but a statement of faith that this day was coming. The timing of the Kingdom from the Disciple’s historical perspective would have been different from what the modern believer perceives today.
Jews of that day were looking for the messianic kingdom to rule their current world. They likely hoped that Jesus would “reign from a throne in Jerusalem over the whole Earth.” That was not his plan or intention but any analysis of the historical theology, the historical perspective of the Disciples hearing these words for the first time would be incomplete without a discussion of what they hoped Jesus would be as compared what and who he actually was. Jesus would teach them in the day s to come, by his words and his actions, that the Kingdom of God was yet to come, not yet coming to Earth.
Yet the Disciples at this time would have heard these words in support of their desired Earthly kingdom, The Torah and the Old Testament had clearly laid the foundation for a Kingdom of God on Earth. The Earthly messianic kingdom was predicted to be spiritual, political, ecclesiastical, economic, physical and moral. Jews of that day saw it as the ultimate end to the centuries old struggle of their people over evil. “The Jews thought of a visible material kingdom, like that of David.” They were “fed up with the other kings they had had for long enough.”
“A descendant of Judah will come to rule.” Genesis 49:10
“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:6
“Let us set a King over us…” Deuteronomy 17:14-20
“Your house and kingdom will endure forever before me…” 2 Samuel 7:11-12
“the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6
“The Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 24:23
“The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day…” Micah 4:7-8
As is the case today and always, what the speaker was saying and what the audience was hearing were not the same things. There will be an Earthly Kingdom ruled by God but it was not to be the immediate kingdom the Disciples were likely seeking to hear in the words of Jesus that day.
Contemporary Theology Analysis
The coming kingdom of God is inevitable, on Heaven and on Earth. “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Mathew 25:34) “Because God is eternal, so are all of his plans. To pray and to live in anticipation of the Kingdom is to align with the Scriptures and the actual words of Jesus in this passage. To openly declare “your kingdom come” is both a prayer and a declaration!
The Christian life is one desiring a closer relationship with the creator today and in future. “Our deepest longing is that God’s honor be fully vindicated in all creation, that the triumphant, loving sovereignty of God be no longer a mere hope clung to desperately by faith, but a manifest reality.” As Christ taught and lived, “this kingdom is the highest good for mankind, the goal of effort, the reward of consecration, the abode of blessedness.” The believer lives in anticipation of the kingdom, with the world lives in denial.
Much as the Disciples, Christian seek an earthly as well as heavenly kingdom. Later in our key passage “on Earth” will complete the phrase. The Kingdom of God will ultimately connect Heaven and Earth. The two are “interlocking arenas of God’s good world.” To pray and declare the Kingdom to come is to physically join those two arenas. As the Disciples were, modern Christians are also fed up with the current world leadership.
To live in anticipation of the coming kingdom is both the challenge and the thrill of the life of the believer! We are encouraged, fed and “saved by the hope” of that coming kingdom. Although “the kingdom will come by itself without our prayer”, the declaration of our desire and alignment with the will of God through both our prayers and our lives is a loud and open statement of our faith, perhaps the best any believer can express.
The second phrase of the focus passage calls on the Father directly, declaring the desired outcome of the believer that your kingdom come! It is the ultimate goal of every believer that the Kingdom of God would be alive, both emotionally and physically. Emotionally today in their everyday walk and physically at some point in the future. The prayer longs for that future day and declares its coming all at the same time.
Jesus used common language in this phrase, words every listener would easily understand. They clearly understood that he was calling for the Kingdom of God to come to Earth and allow those around him to inhabit it. The Disciples may have thought he was describing the kingdom that Jesus himself was about to establish on the Earth but they would soon learn otherwise.
The coming of the Kingdom of God to Earth is inevitable, predicted clearly in scripture many times. Only God knows the timing! For the believer of today to both pray and live this phrase is an open declaration of their longing and readiness for it to soon arrive!