qualities of many earlier rulers, both Israelite and non-Israelite. It gave them reason to believe that his rule would bring no burdensome taxation, forced servitude or any forms of exploitation. (Compare 1 Samuel 8:10-18; Deuteronomy 17:15-17, 20; Ephesians 5:5.) As Jesus’ later words showed, not only would the Head of the coming Kingdom government prove his unselfishness to the point of giving his life for his people, but all those associated with him in that government would also be persons who sought to serve rather than be served.—Matt. 20:25-28; see JESUS CHRIST (His works and personal qualities).
Willing submission vital
Jesus himself had the deepest respect for the Sovereign will and authority of his Father. (John 5:30; 6:38; Matt. 26:39) As long as the Law covenant was in effect, his Jewish followers were to practice and advocate obedience to it; any taking an opposite course would be rejected as regards his kingdom. This respect and obedience, however, must be from the heart, not merely carrying out a formal or one-sided observance of the Law with emphasis on specific acts required, but observing the basic principles inherent therein involving justice, mercy and faithfulness. (Matt. 5:17-20; 23:23, 24) To the scribe who acknowledged Jehovah’s unique position and that “loving him with one’s whole heart and with one’s whole understanding and with one’s whole strength and this loving one’s neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34) Thus, in all respects Jesus made clear that Jehovah God seeks only willing subjects, those who prefer his righteous ways and desire fervently to live under his Sovereign authority.
On his last night with his disciples, Jesus spoke to them of a “new covenant” to become operative toward his followers as a result of his ransom sacrifice (Luke 22:19, 20; compare 12:32), he himself serving as the Mediator of that covenant between Jehovah the Sovereign and Jesus’ followers. (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 12:24) Additionally, Jesus made a personal covenant with his followers “for a kingdom,” that they might join him in his royal privileges.—Luke 22:28-30; see COVENANT.
Conquest of the world
Although Jesus’ subsequent arrest, trials and execution made his kingly position appear weak, in reality it marked a powerful fulfillment of God’s prophecies and was allowed by God for that reason. (John 19:10, 11; Luke 24:19-27, 44) By his loyalty and integrity until death Jesus proved that “the ruler of the world,” God’s adversary, Satan, had “no hold” on him and that Jesus had indeed “conquered the world.” (John 14:29-31; 16:33) Additionally, even while his Son was impaled on the stake, Jehovah gave evidence of his superior power, the light of the sun being blacked out for a time, then a strong earthquake and the ripping in two of the large curtain in the temple. (Matt. 27:51-54; Luke 23:44, 45) On the third day thereafter, he gave far greater evidence of his Sovereignty as he resurrected his Son to spirit life, despite the puny efforts of men to prevent this, the guards before Jesus’ sealed tomb being ‘scared to death’ by God’s angelic agent used in connection with the event.—Matt. 28:1-7.
Kingdom rule from Pentecost onward
With Jesus’ ascension to heaven, forty days after his resurrection, his disciples began to comprehend the heavenly nature of his kingdom. Ten days later, on Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., they had evidence that he had been “exalted to the right hand of God,” as he poured out holy spirit upon them, empowering them to serve as his witnesses and ambassadors of his kingdom. (Luke 24:46-52; Acts 1:8, 9; 2:1-4, 29-33; 2 Cor. 5:20) The “new covenant” thus became operative toward them and they became the nucleus of a new “holy nation,” spiritual Israel. (1 Pet. 2:9, 10; Gal. 6:16; Heb. 12:22-24) Since Christ was now sitting at his Father’s right hand and was the Head over this congregation, it is evident that his kingly rule was in force toward them from Pentecost 33 C.E. onward. (Eph. 5:23; Heb. 1:3; Phil. 2:9-11) Thus, the apostle could later write: “[God] delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transplanted us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.”—Col. 1:13; compare Luke 22:53.
Yet, as regards those not willingly subjecting themselves, Christ Jesus was not then to take action but, rather, to sit “at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Heb. 10:12, 13; Acts 2:34-36; compare Hebrews 2:8.) Jesus had foretold that there would be an interval of time between his ascension to heaven and the time of his rendering judgment toward both approved subjects and opposers, likening himself to a man “of noble birth” who “traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.” Rewarding his faithful servants, he would then put to death those who were enemies of his Kingdom rule.—Luke 19:11-27.
THE KINGDOM TAKES UP FULL POWER
The apostle John, writing toward the close of the first century C.E., by means of divine revelation also foresaw the future time when Jehovah God, by means of his Son, would make a specific expression of his rulership, so that, as in the time of David’s bringing up the Ark to Jerusalem, it could be said Jehovah ‘has taken his great power and begun ruling as king.’ This would be because his Deputy King, his son, would now enter into a special, more extensive, phase of rulership and the “kingdom of the world [would] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” The arrival of this time would mean Jesus Christ’s now taking all necessary measures to clean out opposition to God’s sovereignty both in heaven and on earth.—Rev. 11:15.
The initial action takes place in the heavenly realm; Satan and his demons are defeated and cast down to the earthly realm. This results in the proclamation: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.” (Rev. 12:1-10) During the short period of time remaining to him, this principal adversary, Satan, continues to fulfill the prophecy at Genesis 3:15 by warring against the “remaining ones” of the “seed” of the woman, the “holy ones” due to govern with Christ. (Rev. 12:13-17; compare 13:4-7; Daniel 7:21-27.) Jehovah’s “righteous decrees” are made manifest, nevertheless, and his expressions of judgment come as plagues upon those opposing him, resulting in the destruction of mystic Babylon the Great, the prime persecutor on earth of God’s servants. (Rev. 15:4; 16:1–19:6) Thereafter the kingdom of God with Christ Jesus as anointed Ruler sends its heavenly armies against the rulers of all earthly kingdoms and their armies in an Armageddon fight, bringing them to an end. (Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21) This is the answer to the petition to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) Satan is then abyssed and a thousand-year period begins in which Christ Jesus and his associates rule as kings and priests over earth’s inhabitants.—Rev. 20:1, 6.
The apostle Paul also describes the rule of Christ during his second presence. After Christ resurrects his followers from death he proceeds to bring “to nothing all government and all authority and power” (logically referring to all government, authority and power in opposition to God’s sovereign will). He then “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,” subjecting himself to the “One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.”—l Cor. 15:21-28.
Since Christ’s kingdom is specifically and repeatedly shown to be an everlasting kingdom, having no end, it is apparent that his ‘handing over the kingdom to God’ is in a particular sense. (Isa. 9:7; Dan. 7:14; Luke 1:33; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 11:15) During the thousand-year reign Christ’s rule toward earth has involved priestly action toward obedient mankind. (Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:6; 21:1-3) By this means the dominion of Kings Sin and Death over obedient mankind, subjected to their “law,” ends; undeserved kindness and righteousness are the ruling factors. (Rom. 5:14, 17, 21) Since sin and death are to be completely removed from earth’s inhabitants, this also brings to an end the need for Jesus’ serving as a “helper with the Father” in the sense of providing propitiation for the sins of imperfect humans. (1 John 2:1, 2) That brings mankind back to the original status enjoyed when the perfect man Adam was in Eden. Adam while perfect needed no one to stand between him and God as a propitiatory covering. So, too, at the termination of Jesus’ thousand-year rule (1 Cor. 15:24), earth’s inhabitants will be both in position and under responsibility to answer for their course of action before Jehovah God as the Supreme Judge, without recurrence to anyone as legal intermediary or helper. Jehovah, the Sovereign Power, thus becomes “all things to everyone.” This means, then, that Christ Jesus has completed a particular phase of his rule, that his special “administration” to “gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth,” has now accomplished its purpose.—1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:9, 10.
It therefore appears that he ‘turns the kingdom over to his Father’ particularly in the sense of being able to present to his Father a sin-free earth, all its inhabitants once again completely submissive to his Father’s sovereign will. (Compare the ‘casting of crowns’ before God’s throne by heavenly creatures to represent full submission, at Revelation 4:9-11.) Earth, once a focus of rebellion, is restored to a full, clean and undisputed position in the realm or domain of the Universal Sovereign.
Following this, however, a final test is made of the integrity and devotion of all such earthly subjects. God’s adversary is loosed from his restraint in the abyss. Those yielding to his seduction do so on the same issue raised in Eden: the rightfulness of God’s sovereignty. This is seen by their attacking the “camp of the holy ones and the beloved city.” Since that issue has been judicially settled and declared closed by the Court of heaven, no prolonged rebellion is permitted in this case. Those failing to stand loyally on God’s side will not be able to appeal to Christ Jesus as a ‘propitiatory helper, but Jehovah God will be “all things” to them, with no appeal or mediation possible. All rebels, spirit and human, receive the divine sentence of destruction in the “second death.”—Rev. 20:7-15.
The kingdom of God by his Son, Christ Jesus, thereafter continues its rule as the royal instrument for expressing the Sovereign will to all future times and in whatever assignments God’s boundless wisdom and love determine. Its domain embraces heaven and earth, angels and humans being subject to it, while it continues subject to Jehovah, the King of eternity.—1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 1:5-9; Rev. 5:10; 21:1-4.
KINGS, BOOKS OF THE
Books of the Holy Scriptures relating the history of Israel from the last days of King David until the release of King Jehoiachin from prison in Babylon.
Originally the two books of Kings comprised one roll called “Kings” (Heb., Mela·khimʹ), and in the Hebrew Bible today they are still counted as one book, the fourth in the section known as the “Former Prophets.” In the Septuagint the Books of the Kings were called Third and Fourth Kingdoms, the Books of Samuel having been designated First and Second Kingdoms. In the Latin Vulgate these books were together known as the four books of ‘Kings’ because Jerome preferred the name Regum (“Kings”), in harmony with the Hebrew title, to the literal translation of the Septuagint title Regnorum (“Kingdoms”). Division into two books in the Septuagint became expedient because the Greek translation with vowels required almost twice as much space as did Hebrew in which no vowels were used until the Common Era. The division between Second Samuel and First Kings has not always been at the same place in the Greek versions. Lucian, for one, in his recension of the Septuagint, made the division so that First Kings commenced with what is 1 Kings 2:12 in our present-day Bibles.
WRITING OF THE BOOKS
Although the name of the writer of the Books of the Kings is not given in the two accounts, Scriptural inferences and Jewish tradition point to Jeremiah. Many Hebrew words and expressions found in these two books appear elsewhere in the Bible only in Jeremiah’s prophecy. The Books of the Kings and the book of Jeremiah complement each other, events, as a rule, being briefly covered in one if fully described in the other. Absence of any mention of Jeremiah in the Books of the Kings, although he was a very prominent prophet, could be expected if Jeremiah was the writer because his activities were detailed in the book bearing his name. The Books of the Kings tell of conditions in Jerusalem after the captivity had begun, indicating that the writer had not been taken to Babylon, even as Jeremiah was not.—Jer. 40:5, 6.
Some scholars see in the Books of the Kings what they consider to be evidence of the work of more than one writer or compiler. However, except for variation because of the sources used, it must be observed that the language, style, vocabulary and grammar are uniform throughout.
First Kings covers a period of about 129 years, commencing with the final days of King David, about 1040 B.C.E., and running through to the death of Judean King Jehoshaphat in 911 B.C.E. (1 Ki. 22:50) Second Kings begins with Ahaziah’s reign (or about 920/919 B.C.E.) and carries through to at least the thirty-seventh year of Jehoiachin’s exile, 580 B.C.E., a period of about 340 years. (2 Ki. 1:1, 2; 25:27-30) Hence the combined accounts of the Books of the Kings cover about four and a half centuries of Hebrew history. As the events recorded therein include those up to 580 B.C.E., these books could not have been completed before this date, and because there is no mention of the termination of the Babylonian exile, they, as one roll, undoubtedly were finished before that time.
The place of writing for both books appears to have been, for the most part, Jerusalem and Judah, because most of the source material would be available there. However, Second Kings was logically completed in Egypt, where Jeremiah was taken after the assassination of Gedaliah at Mizpah.—Jer. 41:1-3; 43:5-8.
The Books of the Kings have always had a place in the Jewish canon and are accepted as canonical by all authorities. There is good reason for this, because these books carry forward the development of the foremost Bible theme, the Kingdom of the promised Seed. Moreover, three leading prophets, Elijah, Elisha and Isaiah, are given prominence and their prophecies are shown to have had unerring fulfillments. Events recorded in the Books of the Kings are referred to and elucidated elsewhere in the Scriptures. Jesus refers to what is written in these books three times—regarding Solomon (Matt. 6:29), the queen of the south (Matt. 12:42; compare 1 Kings 10:1-9), the widow of Zarephath and Naaman. (Luke 4:25-27; compare 1 Kings 17:8-10; 2 Kings 5:8-14.) Paul