I want to address a somewhat popular cliché that I believe misses the mark on what the New Testament teaches concerning the kingdom of God. Here’s the cliché:
“Jesus mentioned the church only twice, but He mentioned the kingdom over a hundred times. So He really doesn’t care about the church as much as He does the kingdom.”
Have you heard it before? Maybe even passed it on?
Allow me to take dead aim at this line of thought. It’s specious reasoning at best.
Behold I show you a mystery: Without the church, there is no kingdom. And without the kingdom, there is no church.
Jesus Christ incarnates the kingdom, and He is inseparable from His body.
When the church is functioning properly in a given place, she is the manifestation of God’s ruling presence. She reveals Christ; that is, she expresses the kingdom—the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
She shows forth the rule of God, makes visible the reign of God and the justice, freedom, and peace that go with it.
To separate the kingdom from the church is like separating light from visibility.
Having said that, I believe the “Jesus-only-mentioned-the-church-twice-and-the-kingdom-over-a-hundred-times” argument is based on a superficial analysis of the Gospels that is grossly misleading.
This line of reasoning is not dissimilar to those who say, “The Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible; therefore, to say that Father, Son, and Spirit are three yet one is false.”
The term Godhead is used only three times in the New Testament. Does that then mean that the Godhead is not mentioned or referred to in the New Testament? Or that it’s not important?
In like manner, John 14, 15, 16, and 17 are dripping full of the Godhead. So is most of the gospel of John. Though Godhead isn’t mentioned once in John’s gospel. And neither is the word Trinity. Yet the Godhead is present all throughout the book of John in living color.
by Frank Viola, author
For more information, see Reimagining Church