The Kingdom of God Came With Power
In this article, we going to examine the kingdom of God came with power according to Mark 9:1. Before we delve directly into the subject, let me share a true story with you.
Several years ago, Don Preston and I would attend the lectures at ACU in Abilene, TX, where we had a booth set up. We shared Covenant Eschatology with any who would talk to us. In the beginning it was only a few, but over the years more and more people would stop by the booth and engage in conversation. Also, as the years progressed, the facial expressions passed from anger, to suspicion, to inquiry to friendliness. For this we were grateful.
One year, I decided to drive the distance. It was over a ten hour drive from Memphis to Abilene. Now, if you know anything about me, I hate driving anywhere that is more than four to six hours. But, I decided, I was going to drive. I did. Alone. Making the trip was fine. After leaving Dallas, I saw a lot of dust and wide open plain and for a time, I wondered if it would ever end. After arriving, we hooked up with Don Preston, Larry Siegle, and maybe Jack Scott, but I cannot remember for sure if Jack was there.
Then, after the event, it was time to drive home. So, we parted company. I started the drive, calculated my time of arrival to be about 10 to 11pm that night. All was good, or so I thought. After, about seventy miles out of Memphis, driving at night, I became extremely road weary. I was dozing at the wheel. I started looking for a rest area, which was several miles down the road. I determined I would stop once I reached it.
However, I was having serious problems staying awake. On one occasion, I started to pass a semi and remember seeing it’s back wheels as I began to pass it. But, before I could get to the front of the truck, I dozed off. What happened next, you won’t believe. I am grateful that I lived to tell the story. I woke up. Yes, that’s correct. I woke up before I got to the front of that trailer. Then it happened. I fell asleep again before reaching the cab of the truck. And I woke up again. At this point, I was in a state of panic. I wondered if I would even make it to the rest area.
Well, thank God, I managed to make it. You have never seen a car pull off the road as quickly as I did that night. It was about 10:30 p.m. I pulled around back, brought the car to a stop, made sure the door was locked and fell asleep behind the wheel. I was so tired, I didn’t even attempt to get in the back seat to stretch out for a good nap.
Then what happened next, you won’t believe. I woke up traveling eighty miles per hour. I was about twenty five feet from the rear of another semi directly ahead of me. I could hear my tires hitting the concrete on the road, the wind blowing around the car the light beam contrasting in the darkness of interstate 40 in Arkansas and no way to avoid hitting that truck. Then, boom, it happened. I woke up. I was dreaming that I was still driving at eighty miles an hour to get home. The truck ahead of me was at a complete stop. So was the vehicle I was driving. The engine wasn’t even running. I looked up at the stars and thanked God that I had enough sense to pull off that road that night and take a nap. After that, I was refreshed and fully capable of driving the remaining 70 miles to safely reach my destination.
Now, what is the point of that story? There are several, but the one I want to focus on is the very end of that story. It is the state of mind that one is in after having done, seen or believed something for so long. You see, I had driven so many miles that my brain couldn’t shut off the experience, even after I went to sleep. My subconscious mind remained awake and continued to live the experience.
This is what I believe has occurred with many preachers in the churches of Christ who have been taught that Mark 9:1 refers to the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, i.e. in A.D. 30. They reason that the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, as the promise of power. They also note that the church began on Pentecost. They conclude that this fulfills Mark 9:1, assuming that the power mentioned in the text is that of the Holy Spirit.
Why Mark 9:1 Is Not Referring to the Coming of the Holy Spirit
While most if not all preterists who were associated with the churches of Christ believed and taught the same, after a more thorough investigation of the Scriptures we’ve learned that it teaches something different. We woke up from the dream. In the next few lines, I hope to make that clear.
We Agree That Mark 9:1 Teaches The Kingdom of God Would Come With Power
We have no problems with the language of the text. It says what it says and means what it says. Our question is what does it mean when it says what it says?
When we examine the promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus taught the apostles to wait for the promise of the Spirit. See Luke 24:49. “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” So, here we find a promise of the Holy Spirit, spoken of as “power” to come in the city of Jerusalem.
Examining Acts 1:4-8
As we approach Acts chapter one, we are given some chronological information regarding the time Jesus spent with his disciples prior to his ascension. Verse 3 tells us that he spoke to them for forty days after his suffering, speaking to them of things pertaining to the kingdom of God. That means he died on the Passover and they were waiting for the Day of Pentecost which was 50 days later. Thus, the ascension occurred about 10 days before the Day of Pentecost, when Christ spoke the following words.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:4-5)
As faithful Jews, the apostles were well aware of the next major event in their festal calendar. They also knew from history that the Law of Moses was given on Pentecost. It is very likely, they knew the Holy Spirit would bring about the good news and new revelation that would guide them into all truth on the day of Pentecost. Thus, in 10 days, it’s possible they reasoned that the Holy Spirit would come. However, they did not associate the coming of the Holy Spirit with the coming of the kingdom. Why not?
The Time of the Coming of the Holy Spirit and The Coming of the Kingdom
In the very next verse, (6), the apostles asked the question, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Now one should note that the Lord had just mentioned that the Holy Spirit’s power would come upon them “not many days from now”. We’ve shown this to be about ten days. It was just over a week, and a very “at that time” event. Then they asked, will you at this time. Now it may be the case, that they are directly referring to Jesus’ words, “not many days from now” when they ask, “…at this time”. In other words, will the kingdom be restored to Israel, not many days from now? Jesus’ answer is quite emphatic to the contrary.
Jesus Answers No
No, the kingdom of God would not be restored to Israel on Pentecost at the coming of the Holy Spirit. “And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (v. 7) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. ” Acts 1:8.
The “Times and Seasons” Versus “Not Many Days From Now”
Hopefully, it is clear to the discerning reader, that Pentecost which was not many days from Jesus’ ascension, does not equate with the times and seasons for the coming of the kingdom which was placed in the Father’s own authority. In other words, this refers to a time only the Father knew. It refers back to the parousia per Zech. 14:7 and Matt. 24:36, Mark 13:30 as the day and hour which no man knew except the Father.
That is the time of the coming of the kingdom of God referred to in this text. Otherwise, Jesus should have told the disciples, yes, it will arrive in 10 days. But he did not. Wake up from the dream!
The “times and seasons” is a reference to the Lord’s second coming, and not to Pentecost. Paul, writing thirty years after Pentecost of Acts 2 revealed the following words to the Thessalonicans. “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thes. 5:2-3.
The day of Pentecost did not come as a thief in the night. It always came on schedule as part of the Jewish summer harvest feasts. It was always on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath from the Passover. He could not be speaking of that event. However, the feast of trumpets was a day that no man knew but the Lord. It corresponds to the eschatological day per Matt. 24:31, which is the time of the sounding of the trumpets in the end time. It is to this latter day that Paul refers in 1 Thess. 5:1-2.
But Where’s the Power of Mark 9:1
This brings us to the question of what power is under discussion in Mark 9:1? It also raises of the question of what does it mean to “establish” the kingdom.
When the parallel texts of Matt. 16:27-28, and Lk. 9:26-27 are examined, one should notice that they are not separated by
man made chapter divisions. They constitute one context. In other words, the Lord says: “For the Son of man would come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:27-28). This is one single context. Don Preston has pointed out, that whenever the Lord uses the phrase lego humin, or assuredly, he never changes the subject, but always uses it to reinforce the previous verse.
When these verses are compared to their companion texts in the Old Testament, (Isa. 40:10-11; 62:11-12), they are both referring to a time of judgment. See the same in Rev. 22:11-12. When one compares Mark 8:38 with Mark 9:1 as one single text, the judgment context of the Mark 9:1 is clear.
The Holy Spirit Is Not Coming In Judgment But Going Away!
The ministry of the Holy Spirit does not arrive at the time of judgment, but it ends at that time. By ministry of the Holy Spirit, we refer to the eschatological Spirit poured out in the last days according to Joel 2:28-32 and Micah 7:15. The latter text says God would perform wonders and miracles according to the days of Israel’s coming out of Egypt, thus for 40 years. Calculating from Pentecost of AD 30, that would bring us to 70AD and the destruction of Jerusalem.
In harmony with that conclusion is Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 1:7-8, that the Holy Spirit would continue until the return of Christ. Thus, the power of the Holy Spirit does not arrive at the “times and seasons”. It consummates or terminates. Thus, again, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost cannot be the time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel which is an eschatological event, the time of which was held within the Father’s secret knowledge.
The Power Exercised in Jesus’ Parousia (His Return)
The power that is overlooked is the sovereignty of God in the destruction of the formidable enemies of man. When Daniel spoke of the kingdom, he said God would set up (i.e. establish) a kingdom that would exercise the power to destroy all human kingdoms. It would break in pieces and consume all earthly kingdoms and would “stand” forever.
Thus, an endtimes battle would engage in which the kingdoms of the world would fight against the kingdom of God, i.e. the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. (Dan. 2:44-45) The kingdom of God would come out the victor. Not only would a battle be fought in the realm of human kingdoms, but it would likewise be fought in the realm of spiritual principalities and powers.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12). Compare also Eph. 1:19-21, where God speaks of a power that dominates all dominions. In Jesus’ resurrection, he demonstrated his power over the hidden spiritual forces of evil. “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15).
Now some would say, that this is virtually the same time as Pentecost because it refers to the death and resurrection of Christ. That is true but the point that must be made is that this is an “already but not yet”. In other words, the defeat of these enemies began in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension but were not consummated until their complete defeat. This is why 2 Tim. 1:10 speaks of death being abolished, but 1 Cor. 15:26 also says the last enemy which is “being” destroyed is death. Not until the resurrection, i.e. the last trump or the “times and the seasons” would death and Satan be defeated.
The already but not yet of the defeat of all enemies, principalities and powers under the feet of Christ is more clearly expressed in Hebrews. “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him”. (Heb. 2:8)
Hence, we have the last days battle alluded to in Rev. 12:8-12 and in Rev. 20:9-11. The authority and power of Christ to defeat these enemies would occur at his return.
“Which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15). Thus, when we examine the texts in Luke 21, we see clearly that power was excercised in the defeat of Jesus’ enemies at his coming in A.D. 70.
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”. This is a quote from Daniel 7:13-28, where the Son of man and the dominion of the kingdom defeats his enemies and the dominion under the whole earth is given to the saints. Note in verse 31, this is also the time the kingdom of God comes. “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Lk. 21:31) Compare with Rev. 11:15-18. Neither of these texts refer to Pentecost.
Thus, the establishment of the kingdom, refers to the time when all of its enemies are defeated. It is not the same as the “beginning” of the kingdom.
The Kingdom Was Established In Judgment
The kingdom of God would be established in judgment. That means not until judgment occurred would the kingdom be “established” i.e. having withstood all of its enemies. “Of the increase of his government, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this. (Isa. 9:7).
Jesus taught that he would build his church, give to Peter and the apostles the keys of the kingdom of heaven and that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it, (Matt. 16:18). The gates of Hades did not prevail against Christ at “his” resurrection. However, it would not be until the “time of the end” (1 Cor. 15:24), that the defeat of Hades would occur for the saints, 1 Cor. 15:54-57. That is when the church was established and when the kingdom came with power.
Once it is understood that Mark 9:1 is a judgment text, then it can be appreciated that the Lord said, some who stood in his presence would not die until the kingdom of God came in judgment. That means his second coming has occurred (2 Tim. 4:1).
Your comments are encouraged on this article. We’d like to hear what your thoughts are, especially if you are associated with the churches of Christ.