The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, as Jesus Himself reveals:
(John 18:35-36) – 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (ESV)
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
This is an emphatic statement. Yet, Premillennialists still insist that Jesus will one day reign over a millennial kingdom in this present world. And from the Dispensational perspective, it will be a Jewish kingdom, where God fulfills His plan for that nation. However, what’s important to realize is that Jesus is not merely referring to the origin of His kingdom, but to the very nature of His kingdom. He’s also referring to His own origin and to His own nature. The two cannot be separated. The origin of His kingdom is important only because of the nature of it. The idea that Jesus is only referring to the origin but not to its nature, doesn’t make sense. The origin is Heavenly, which refers directly to its nature. In other words, the origin of Christ’s kingdom is important because of the nature of it. That’s the very point that Jesus is making here.
What separates the kingdom of this world from the kingdom of Heaven is that the heavenly kingdom is a place without sin, where God reigns in all His glory. This cannot be said of a so-called earthly, millennial kingdom. The earthly kingdom of Premillennialsim is a kingdom that is characterized by sin. Even though in such a kingdom, Jesus would be reigning on His throne, it would not be a world without sin. Indeed, it would be the very same world in which we live now, which is a world of sin. Crime may be under control and dealt with speedily with Jesus ruling the world, but sin would still be alive and well in such a kingdom. Sin would not be eradicated—because those who “survive the tribulation period,” will enter the millennial kingdom as the sinners they are.
Therefore, Jesus is not simply revealing the fact that He is not of this world or that His kingdom is not of this world. He’s revealing the very nature of His kingdom, which is a kingdom without sin and where He reigns in all His glory with the Father.
Dispensational Premillennialists come to passages like this and make assumptions about it based on an Old Testament understanding of Israel and the Kingdom of the Messiah. We must be careful not to form our doctrinal positions based on assumptions, or based on an OT understanding, because it’s the New Testament that reveals the proper interpretation of those OT Scriptures. We must interpret God’s Word with a NT priority.
What the NT reveals is that the kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom (Col 1:13). Christ’s Church is that kingdom. Positionally, in Christ, His Church is a kingdom without sin, which continues throughout eternity in the “new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1-2). There is no earthly kingdom between the return of Christ and our eternal state. Upon our resurrection, we go directly into the Eternal Kingdom.
Therefore, if the Kingdom of Christ were of this world, in the form of an earthly millennial kingdom, He could not say that His “kingdom is not of this world.”