The Gospel in Action
Editor's Note: Apologist Jacob Michael presents a succinct Catholic Apologetic based on the Holy Scriptures. He has chosen to call his column Quid Dicit Scriptura? - What Saith the Scriptures? He utilizes the approved and superior Douay-Rheims Roman Catholic version in his apologia and holds to the Council of Trent's decree to "accept Sacred Scripture according to the meaning which has been held by Holy Mother Church and which She now holds. It is Her prerogative to pass judgment on the true meaning and interpretation of Sacrd Scripture and will not accept or interpret it in a manner different from the unanimous agreement of the Fathers." Jacob continues with the fifth installment of a multi-part treatise on the meaning of the Gospel as the title indicates - "The Gospel is the Kingdom."
Some passages below are highlighted in blue bold for emphasis.
Finally, we arrive at the narratives that shows us the infant Church in action: the Acts of the Apostles, penned by St. Luke. In these narratives we see, over and over again, the gospel of the kingdom being placed at the center of the preaching and teaching of the apostles. Right in the book's opening verses, we find:
To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
For forty days before the Lord ascended to receive His throne from God the Father, He spent hours on end with His soon-to-be royal ministers, teaching them... well, teaching them what? St. Luke says He spoke to them, above all, "of the kingdom of God." That subject which was the opening act of Jesus' ministry ("do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand") is also the subject with which Jesus closes His ministry. The gospel is about the kingdom, from beginning to end.
In fact, the restoration of the kingdom is so very much at the center of this mission, that as Jesus prepares to leave the earth, His disciples are anxious to know, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" (Acts 1:6) They understood quite well the meaning of the prophecies, that the Davidic Messiah would restore "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6, 15:24), and that both the northern and southern tribes would be reunited under one Davidic shepherd.
Also in this opening scene of Acts, we see the transaction take place, as the conquering Savior returns to His heavenly home to receive the kingdom that was promised Him. The kingdom officially became His upon His return to Heaven:
And when He had said these things, while they looked on, He was raised up: and a cloud received Him out of their sight.... I beheld, therefore, in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of Heaven and He came even to the ancient of days: and they presented him before Him. And He gave Him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve Him: His power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and His kingdom that shall not be destroyed... the kingdom, and power, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole Heaven, may be given to the people of the saints of the most High: whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kings shall serve Him, and shall obey Him. (Acts 1:9; Dan. 7:13-14, 27)
As we follow the Apostles to the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was poured out on them and they began to build the Church, we find St. Peter emphasizing the Davidic Throne in his first sermon:
Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David: that he died and was buried; and his sepulchre is with us to this present say. Whereas therefore he was a prophet and knew that God hath sworn to him with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon his throne. Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell: neither did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath poured forth this which you see and hear. For David ascended not into Heaven; but he himself said: "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy enemies thy footstool." Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, Whom you have crucified. (Acts 2:29-36)
With our brief study of the term christos and mashiyach as background information, these words of St. Peter should take on a slightly different meaning for us as we read them now: "God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus." In other words, at His ascension, Jesus was exalted and made "the anointed," just as King Saul was "the Lord's anointed," and just as David was "the Lord's anointed." In being made the christos, the anointed Davidic King, St. Peter says that Jesus fulfilled the oath sworn by God to David, that "of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon His throne"
Note that this is the climactic revelation and conclusion of St. Peter's message to the Jewish crowd that day: Jesus of Nazareth is the anointed Davidic King who, by taking the throne, restores David's Dynasty after 500 years of true "sedevacantism." The gospel message that St. Peter preached that day was entirely centered around the Davidic Kingdom, and after he makes this startling revelation that "your Davidic Messiah has come, and you killed Him," it is then that the crowd "had compunction in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles: 'What shall we do, men and brethren?'" (Acts 2:37) Not only St. Peter, but also St. Philip and St. Paul made the kingdom - and the Davidic Kingdom in particular - central to their preaching:
But when they had believed Philip preaching [euangelizo] of the kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)
And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills." Of this manís seed, God, according to His promise, hath raised up to Israel a Savior Jesus... And we declare unto you that the promise which was made to our fathers, this same God hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus, as in the second psalm also is written: "Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten thee"... And therefore, in another place also, He saith: "Thou shalt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption." For David, when he had served in his generation, according to the will of God, slept: and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption. But He Whom God hath raised from the dead saw no corruption. (Acts 13:22-37)
In St. Philip's case, we see the Greek verbal form of "gospel," or "good news" (euangelizo) used in association with "the kingdom of God." In St. Paul's case, he brings out even more explicitly - as did St. Peter - the Davidic promise and covenant that was at the heart of Jesus' mission. He links Jesus biologically to David ("Of this manís seed, God, according to His promise, hath raised up to Israel a Savior Jesus"), and states quite plainly that "the promise which was made to our fathers" - that is, through the prophets - God "hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus."
St. Paul in particular goes on to emphasize the central place of the Davidic Kingdom as the kingdom of God in his preaching, as is seen in Acts 14:21-22, Acts 19:6-8, Acts 20:25, and Acts 28:23, 31. When he stands before King Agrippa, he says, "And now for the hope of the promise that was made by God to the fathers, do I stand subject to judgment: Unto which, our twelve tribes, serving night and day, hope to come. For which hope, O king, I am accused by the Jews." (Acts 26:6-7) This "promise" of which St. Paul speaks, notice, he says is a promise "Unto which, our twelve tribes, serving night and day, hope to come." He speaks of "twelve tribes," referring to the prophesied reunion of the divided kingdom, north and south.
Lastly, we now look at St. James' speech at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. As the debate raged over whether or not circumcision was a salvific requirement for Gentiles coming into the New Covenant Kingdom, St. Peter decreed that this "yoke" of the ancient Jews, which they could not bear, was not to be placed upon the necks of the new Gentile converts. With that decree, all obstacles were removed, and the Gentiles could freely enter the restored kingdom. Seeing this take place before his very eyes, St. James proclaimed:
Men, brethren, hear me. Simon hath related how God first visited to take to the Gentiles, a people to His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written: "After these things I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down: and the ruins thereof I will rebuild. And I will set it up: That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all nations upon whom My name is invoked, saith the Lord, who doth these things." (Acts 15:13-17)
What St. James perceives in this event of the council is the fulfillment of Amos' prophecy. The kingdoms are being reunited in a spiritual way (St. Paul spends the majority of his epistle to the Romans trying to defend this complex thesis), and as a result, the Gentile nations are once more streaming into the spiritual - yet earthly - Davidic Kingdom. This again shows us that the restored kingdom on earth is the Church, for in seeing the Gentiles come into the Church, St. James sees the fulfillment of the prophecies which spoke of the Gentiles coming to Mount Zion, to Jerusalem, to the Davidic Kingdom.
That this Davidic Kingdom is the heavenly kingdom, and that this heavenly kingdom is manifested on earth in the Church, can be proven by examining a few other passages:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered Himself up for it: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That He might present it to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church: Because we are members of Him, body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother: and shall cleave to his wife. And they shall be two in one flesh." This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the church. (Eph. 5:25-32)
In this passage, St. Paul establishes solidly the relationship of Christ to the Church: it is the relationship of Bridegroom and Bride, Husband and Wife, and "they shall be two in one flesh." It is the Church, which is on earth and also in Heaven, that is at once being sanctified and yet already pure and blameless. This is the same bride that St. John speaks of in his apocalyptic vision, but he chooses a different way of referring to this bride than calling her "the Church":
And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)
This bride, which is the new Jerusalem, is undoubtedly the kingdom of God, the restored Davidic Kingdom. It was David's earthly kingdom that was established on the earthly Jerusalem mountains, and it is the heavenly Davidic Kingdom that is established on the heavenly Jerusalem mountains, upon the heavenly Mount Zion. The writer to the Hebrews speaks similarly when he draws the contrast between the New Covenant worship and the Old Covenant worship:
But you are come to mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, and to the church of the firstborn who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24)
From these verses, we must conclude: the restored Davidic Kingdom is the heavenly kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, which is the Church. Put another way, A=B=C. These are three ways of referring to the same thing.
We have now come to the end of this study on the history of the Davidic Kingdom and its restoration by Jesus the Messiah into a new, heavenly kingdom, which manifests itself on earth as the Church. What are the ramifications of this information?
To know and understand that the Church is nothing short of the miraculously restored Davidic Kingdom cannot but impact the way you view the Church. What should the Church look like, if it is a restored version of the Davidic Kingdom? We need only look at the Davidic Kingdom as it is described in the pages of the Old Testament to see what the blueprint is, and to judge what the finished product should be. If ours is the true Church, a true restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, then it ought to have royal ministers. It ought to have princes. It ought to have a chief steward, a Prime Minister, such as was Shebna, and after him Eliakim. These men are spoken of in Isaias 22:15ff, and of Shebna's position in the royal palace, one commentary says:
"treasurer -- 'him who dwells in the tabernacle' [JEROME]; namely, in a room of the temple set apart for the treasurer. Rather, 'the king's friend,' or 'principal officer of the court' (1 Kings 4:5, 18:3, 1 Chronicles 27:33, 'the king's counsellor') [MAURER]." (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible)
Additionally, the Church which is a true restoration of the Davidic Kingdom must have a gebiyrah, a "Queen Mother." Every Davidic King had a mother who became Queen by virtue of her relationship to the king, and this office was considered highly important. The Queen could enter into the king's court and make requests of him on behalf of her subjects, and she is named in all of the records of the Kings, right alongside the king's name.
These are all things that must necessarily affect the way we view the Church, the way we view Jesus, the way we view Mary, the way we view the Apostles and their successors, the way we view St. Peter and his successor. In future installments, I hope to build upon this foundation of the Church as the Davidic Kingdom, specifically to explore some of these very areas that I have just mentioned.
For now, we must absorb the information we have just collected. In summary, the gospel, the "good news," is that the Davidic Kingdom has been restored, a son of David sits on the throne again, and because of this, there is now hope for the Gentile nations to learn the ways of Wisdom of Righteousness. The reason Jesus came to earth, suffered, died, rose again, and ascended into Heaven, was to bring about this restoration of David's Kingdom, to have the Kingship conferred upon Him, so that all Mankind might once again hear the Law, which goes forth from Mount Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem. Yes, truly, the Gospel is the Kingdom.
Mother's Medicine: Mary as Mediatrix
If you want to ask Jacob a question, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and we encourage you to visit his site A Lumen Gentleman - Lumen Gentleman Apologetics.