Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is the Church Only

Under Construction


Order of Contents


Thomas Ridgley
Charles Hodge
A.A. Hodge
Geerhardus Vos

Kingdom of Power vs. Kingdom of Grace

Henry Bull  †1577
William Fenner  †1640
John Brinsley Jr.  1645
George Downame

Christ’s Two Kingdoms as Creator and Mediator

Martin Bucer  1550
Niels Hemmingsen                                              Apollonius  †1657
.                                                                           William Guild  1657
.                                                                           William Prynne  1666
Gervase Babington  1588                                   Thomas Vincent  1668
William Perkins  1597                                         Thomas Manton  †1677
Thomas Cartwright  †1603
Thomas Wilson  1612                                          Stephen Charnock  †1680
.                                                                            Ezekiel Hopkins 1689
William Ames  1623                                              Christopher Ness  1696
Thomas Taylor  †1632                                          James Walker  1888
Heinrich Heppe  1629-1698                                  Herman Bavinck
Henry Hall  1644
James Ussher  1645

Interpretation of the Scriptures: Ps. 2, Matt 28:18 & Eph. 1:22

Desiderus Erasmus  †1536
Miles Coverdale  †1568
Theodore Beza  1599
The Dutch Annotations  1637
The English Annotations  1645  **
Samuel Clark  1683
Christopher Ness  1696


Historical Background

From the Early-Mid 1600’s

W.D.J. McKay, An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie (Rutherford House, 1997), p. 57

The landscape begins to look rather more familiar when Gillespie’s views [of Christ’s two kingdoms] are compared with those of other seventeenth century writers, particularly the Continental Reformed theologians often designated Scholastics.  When this is done, it becomes clear that Gillespie was not expressing some idiosyncratic view of the nature of Christ’s kingship but rather that many others shared his position, at least in general terms.

[McKay then quotes Wollebius, Alsted, Burman and Heidegger (the last three as quoted by Heppe), all of which quotes, and more, are below.]



Articles  (in chronological order)

Ridgley, Thomas – Concerning the Exercise of Christ’s Kingly Government towards his Enemies  in his Body of Divinity: being several lectures on the Larger Catechism, vol. 2 (of 4), on Question 45, part 2, pp. 362-4  1731

Hodge, Charles – ‘Christ’s Dominion over the Universe’ and ‘Sitting at the Right Hand of God’ 1872, 2 pp. and 4 pp., from his Systematic Theology, vol. 2, pp. 600-601 & 635-638

Hodge uses the traditional category of Christ (who is the incarnate Mediator and Head of the Church) exercising universal and absolute dominion over creation for the good of his Church.

Hodge, A.A. – The Westminster Confession of Faith: a Commentary, Ch. 8, ‘Of Christ the Mediator’, Section 1, Part 3, pp. 189-190  1869

Vos, Geerhardus – Reformed Dogmatics, Ch. 4, ‘Offices’, Questions 93-4 & 98, being pp. 175, 181-2   1896

Vos teaches that Christ, the Mediator, has been given the ‘kingdom of power’, which is universal over all creation, in addition to his spiritual kingdom, the Church.




Kingdom of Power vs. Kingdom of Grace


Henry Bull  †1577

Christian Praiers and Holy Meditations, pp. 94-95

Thy Kingdom is in two sorts to be considered universally and particularly:

Universally, according to thy power, wherewith Thou gouernest all things everywhere in earth, heaven, hell, devils, angels, men, beasts, souls, fishes and all other creatures.  Of this Kingdom spake David when he said: ‘His kingdom rules ouer all.’  

Particularly thy kingdom is to be considered according to thy grace, wherewith Thou reignest only in thy Church and elect people, ruling and governing all and every member of thy Church, to thy glory and their eternal comfort.  Not that out of this Church I exclude thy power, (for as there with Thou defendest thy people, so thou punished thy enemies:) but because thy grace is specially considered being (as it were) the very keeper that keeps and guides thy people.

The time will be when this kingdom of grace and power, now being as distinct, shall be united and made one kingdom of glory: which will be when Christ shall give up his kingdom into thine hands, that is, in the resurrection, when death the last enemy shall be subdued, and Thou shalt be all in all.

In the mean season, this kingdom of grace is miraculously and mightily propagated, enlarged, and governed by the true ministry of thy Word and sacraments, through the working of thy Holy Spirit: and this is the mean and way whereby, as Thou didst first plant, so dost Thou enlarge, amplify, and preserve the same.



William Fenner  †1640

The Spiritual Man’s Directory Guiding a Christian in the Path that leads to true Blessedness, pp. 106-107

Q. 143.  For the Second Petition, ‘thy Kingdom come’, what say you of that?

A.  God hath a four-fold Kingdom:

First, the kingdom of his power: whereby He is over all, 1 Chron. 29:11, and rules over all, Ps. 103:19, and reigns in the kingdoms of men, Dan. 4:32, and has the Keys of hell and death, Rev. 4:18, devils and reprobates and all shall bow to this kingdom passively, as well as the good angels and elect actively, Rom. 14:11, though they yet say, He shall not reign over them, Luke 19:14.

Secondly, the Kingdom of his Gospel, whereby He reigns over the Christian world, both good and bad, Matt 13:47, which God threatens to take away, when people are unworthy, Matt 21:43, which is called a Kingdom, because it offers men a kingdom, Matt 4:17, and because by it Christ reigns in his saints, Rev. 15:2, and in his enemies too, but in a different manner, Rev. 19:15.

Thirdly, the Kingdom of his grace, whereby He rules only in his elect; for this kingdom is within them, Luke 17:21, consisting in righteousness, and peace, and joy, Rom. 14:17, bringing every thought into obedience, 2 Cor. 10:5, and making them kings too, Rev. 1:6, and to rule as it were with God, over sin and the world, and the Devil, Hos. 11:12, and this Kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36.

Fourthly, the Kingdom of glory, that flesh and blood cannot enter into, 1 Cor. 15:50.



John Brinsley Jr.  1645  Brinsley was a reformed puritan. 

The Doctrine and Practice of Paedobaptisme, Asserted and Vindicated, pp. 47-48

The Kingdom of God (by way of explication) in phrase of Scripture is three-fold, his Kingdom of Power, Grace, Glory.  You have them all three put together in that pithy doxology; the close of the Lord’s Prayer; [‘Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory’]

First, God’s Kingdom is his Kingdom of Power; [ 1] even the powerful government which God exercises, in, and over the world, and all the Creatures in it, all which are subject to his Providence, even the least, and most contemptible amongst them.  The sparrow upon the house top; the hair of our head, both of them numbered and ordered.  This universal government is God’s Kingdom. (‘The Lord has prepared his Throne in the Heavens, and in his Kingdom rules over all.) Ps. 103. viz. his Kingdom of Power. (‘Thy Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom,’ (says the Psalmist, Ps. 148) What Kingdom?  Why, his Kingdom of Power.  So he explains Himself, verse 11. [They shall speak of the glory of thy Kingdom, and talk of thy Power.)

2. Secondly, God’s Kingdom is his Kingdom of Grace; even that special gracious government, which He exercises over his elect; whom having predestinated to grace, and glory, He calls out of the world, to have union and communion with Jesus Christ the head of this Kingdom, guiding and governing them by his Word and Spirit.  Of this Kingdom, we find frequent mention in the New Testament. (‘Seek first the Kingdom of God (says our blessed Savior) viz. his Kingdom of Grace.  So the following words explain it. (The Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness;) viz. righteousness of justification, and sanctification, wherein this Kingdom of Grace consists.  (The Kingdom of God is righteousness, (saith the Apostle,) [The Kingdom of God is within you, (says our Savior.) His Kingdom of Grace.

3.  Thirdly, God’s Kingdom is his Kingdom of Glory; even that glorious and blessed estate, wherein Himself reigns, and shall reign, with millions of saints and angels unto all eternity, full of heavenly glory and in felicity.  Of this speaks our Savior. (‘Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s will to give you a Kingdom;’ the Kingdom, viz. the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the Kingdom of God. (‘Know ye not’ says the apostle) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.) A three-fold Kingdom.



George Downame    1656

The Doctrine of Practical Praying together with a learned Exposition on the Lord’s Prayer, 1656

What ‘Kingdom’ here signifies

But first of his Kingdom, which here signifies:

1. Generally the universal Kingdom of God, which some call the Kingdom of his Power, whereby he Rules and governs all things, Ps. 103:19; 2 Chron. 20:6, and in regard whereof the right of all things belongs to him, Deut. 10:14; Ps. 24:1.

This then teaches us two things:

1. That our heavenly Father is the absolute Lord and owner of all his creatures; who as He is the Creator so is he also the possessor of heaven and earth: in whose hand all good things are to bestow as it pleases Him.  This therefore must encourage us with assurance of faith to make our requests to our heavenly Father, of whom we cannot ask any good thing, whether spiritual or temporal, which is not his to bestow.  And therefore it is well said of Seneca, Audacter Deum roga, nihil eum de alieno rogaturus, Ask boldly of God, seeing thou canst ask nothing of him which belongs to another.

2. That our heavenly Father is the sovereign King and absolute Lord and Governor over all his creatures, ruling the good, and overruling the evil; to whose commandment all the good creatures obey, and at whose beck they are ready to do us good: And as for the wicked either men or angels; they are so overruled by the almighty providence of God, that when they seek to annoy us, they are against their purpose made the instruments of God to do us good.

And whereas our Savior teaches us to say, Thine is the kingdom, we are to observe that the kingdom of government which Kings and Princes have, it is the kingdom of God; whose ministers and lieutenants they are, Rom. 13:4, by whom they reign, Prov. 8:15, and from whom all authority is, Rom. 13:4.  Which as it must teach them to subordinate their government unto the Lord, and in him to rule their subjects, because the kingdom which they exercise is not theirs but God’s, their judgement is not theirs but the Lords, 2 Chron. 19:6, so does it teach all subjects to be subject to their governors so far forth as they are subordinate to the Lord; because in obeying them they obey the Lord, and in resisting them they resist God, Rom. 13. 2. But if Magistrates and Kings shall leave their order, in commanding that which God forbids, we are bound to be subordinate to our supreme King, whose the kingdom is, in whom only we are to obey the inferior governors, Eph. 5:21, that so far forth as in obeying them we obey also the Lord, for better it is to obey God then men, Acts 4:19. & 5:29.  And as to obey an inferior magistrate which rebels against his Prince, is to rebel with him; so to obey a prince or magistrate rebelling against God, in that wherein he rebels, that is, in unlawful things which he commands, it is also to rebel against God.  So that not only good but also evil princes and magistrates are to be obeyed; but neither good nor bad, unto evil.

2. More especially the kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Grace in this life, and the Kingdom of Glory in the life to come.  In the former the Lord communicates grace to his servants, ruling in them by his Word and Spirit: In the latter He communicates glory to his saints, vouchsafing unto them the fruition of himself, who shall be to them all in all.  Do we therefore desire grace in this life or glory in the life to come?  God is the King of grace and of glory: let us sue to his throne of grace; for He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly, Ps. 84:11.



Civil Government is from God the Creator, the Church from Christ the Mediator


Martin Bucer  1550

Of the Reign of Christ, in Melancthon and Bucer, ed. Pauck (1969)

Ch. 1, p. 179

In order that we may more clearly and surely realize what the nature and power of the Kingdom of Christ are, and what is necessary for is restoration among us, let us discuss what things are common to this Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world, and what things are specifically different.

Ch. 2, p. 189

How much more, then, is it necessary to see to it that all governors of commonwealths, when they realize that all their power is from God alone and that He has appointed them shepherds of his people, govern and guard those subject to them according to his judgment, and take care lest any one of those entrusted to them by God, their Maker, Father and Lord, should weaken in faith or abuse his laws or in any manner take away his honor from Him.



Niels Hemmingsen  1569  Hemmingsen was a Lutheran.

A Postill, or, Exposition of the Gospels that are usually red in the churches of God, p. 267,  1569

The commandment [in Mt. 6:33] is that we should seek the Kingdom of God, and the righteousness of God.  Here it is demanded what manner of things God’s kingdom and righteousness are.  And again, after what means they are to be sought.  

The kingdom of God is of three sorts in the scripture: that is, to wit: of power, of grace, and of glory.  He bids us not seek the kingdom of his power, but of his grace: from whence is the passage to the kingdom of glory.  

What is the kingdom of grace?  It is that kingdom whereinto we are received of mere grace, while we believe the Gospel.  For the Gospel is as it were the voice of a crier, where∣by they are called too this Kingdom.  Of this speaks Christ in another place: ‘The kingdom of God is among you.’  Then is this Kingdom, the grace of God which Christ’s Gospel offers…



Gervase Babington  1588  Babington was a reformed Anglican.

A Profitable Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, by way of Questions and Answers, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ p. 148 ff.

To be then as plain as I can, the Kingdom of God is said to be of three sorts, to wit, of Power, of Grace, and of Glory.  

The Kingdom of Power is that sovereignty which the Lord has over all the things in this world, directing, guiding, ruling and disposing of every one of them as his good pleasure is, and causing all the creatures in the world, yea, all the worlds, works, and thoughts of men, to serve to his glory, wisdom and will, whatsoever is intended by man, or any means to the contrary, which the heathens have called destiny, or inevitable necessity.  This Kingdom is not here meant, when we pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’  For the Lord never has, neither ever will loose this Kingdom, it is, as I say, this authority, and power over all things, to make them serve to his pleasure, and to bring to pass what He will have, whereby we should need to pray for it, that it may come.  Of this Kingdom may it be said that is in the Psalm: Whatsoever pleased the Lord, that did He, in heaven and in earth, in the sea, and in all depths.  For it subjects, as you see, to the Lord, all these, and all their works whatsoever.  And then what is exempted out of this kingdom of power, if heaven, earth, sea and deeps be ruled by it?…

The Kingdom of Grace shall much better be understood, if we consider how we were created, how by sin corrupted, and how now in mercy daily by grace renewed.  The creation of man you know is laid down to have been according to the Image and likeness of God Himself…  begetting us anew to a better life, and restoring that image of his in us again, whereunto we were first created, and which so fearfully we were fallen from.  Our mind He illuminates with some heavenly light whereby it begins to know aright God, and grace, our will receives a new strength to embrace the Word, to rest in it and to incline itself to the testimonies of the Lord.  Our heart is purged and loves the Lord, and all the members of the body, before the weapons of unrighteousness unto sin become by measure, the weapons of righteousness unto God.  So sin dies, grace lives, and we love Him, fear Him, trust in Him pray to Him often, and in all our wants, with such like.  This is now the Kingdom of Grace, and this is that we pray for here immediately.

The Kingdom of Glory is that happy and eternal estate which follows in heaven after this life, which we also pray for here, but mediately as we say, that is, when the kingdom of grace in this world is ended.

Thus much being said then for plainness of these three kingdoms, the kingdom of power, of grace, and of glory, as also of which of them the petition is meant.



William Perkins  1597

A Golden Chain, (1597 ed., 2010 reprint), p. 41

Therefore Christ, as he is God, has under Him, emperors, kings, princes to be his vicegerents; who therefore are called gods (Ps 82:1).  But as He is Mediator, i.e., a priest, prophet, and king of the church, He has no vicegerent, vicar, or lieutenant, who, in his either kingly or priestly office, in both, or but one, can be in his stead.




Thomas Cartwright  d. 1603

Source unknown

The other fault of this distinction [i.e. between spiritual government of the Church and external governments] is that it confounds and shuffles together the authority of our Savior Christ as He is the Son of God only before all worlds, coequal with his father: with that which He has [was]  given of his Father and which He exercises in respect [as] He is mediator between God and us.  For in the government of the church and superiority over the officers of it, our Savior Christ Himself has a superior which is his Father: but in the government of kingdoms and other commonwealths and in the superiority which He has over kings and judges He has no superior, but immediate authority with his Father.  Therefore the moulding up off the two estates and governments together is to lay the foundations of many errors.


As related by James Walker, in The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, 1560-1750, ch. 5, ‘The Headship of Christ and Erastianism’, part III, p. 153

Once, more.  It is not merely [in the 1500’s and 1600’s Scottish theology] that Christ was King in His Church; but that the Church was His special, if it was not His only, kingdom as Mediator. 

Some great divines have certainly held this latter view.  The question was debated in England, for instance, between [Thomas] Hooker and [Thomas] Cartwright.  The great Puritan [Cartwright] taught ‘that the civil magistrate comes from God immediately, as Christ does, and is not subordinate to Christ;’ that Christ governs ‘kingdoms and commonwealths as the equal of the Father; but the Church, as His mediatorial kingdom, as the Father’s delegate and deputy.’…



Thomas Wilson  1612

A Christian Dictionary (1612) pp. 272-273.  Wilson was a reformed Anglican.

The Kingdom of God

1. His powerful government, generally over the whole world and every particular in it, even to the sparrows of the house top, and hairs of our head, which he preserves and disposes of, according to his own will (Ps. 145:13).  Thy Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom (Mt. 10:30).  This is his Kingdom of Power; whereunto men, devils, and all creatures are subject.

2. His special gracious government and rule over the elect, whose hearts He enlightens and guides by his Spirit, effectually moving them to believe his promises, and do his will: Mt. 6:33, ‘Seek the Kingdom of God.’  Jn. 3:3, ‘Except ye be born again, ye cannot see the Kingdom of God.’  Rom. 14:17, ‘The Kingdom of God, is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’  Luke 17:21, ‘The Kingdom of God is in you.’  This is the Kingdom of Grace.

3. His glorious and blessed estate, wherein He reigns with million of saints for ever and ever, full of heavenly majesty and felicity.  1 Cor. 6:9, ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?’  This is the Kingdom of Glory.



William Ames  1623

The Marrow of Theology, ed. Eusden (reprinted 1997) p. 133-134

21. The Kingship of Christ is his power to dispense and administer all things pertaining to the salvation of man with force and authority, Ps. 2:6; Dan. 2:44; Luke 4:36.

22. The properties of this kingship are, first, its universality.  It covers all ages, Matt 22:43-45.  It is relevant to all kinds of men, Dan. 7:14; Rev. 17:14; and it applies to all creatures so far as they in some way further or enhance the salvation of men, Eph. 1:21,2.

23. Second, it holds sway in the very souls and consciences of men, Rom. 14:17.

24. Third, it dispenses everlasting life and death, Rev. 1:18.

25. Fourth, it is eternal, Dan. 2:44; 7:14.

26. Fifth, it brings the greatest peace and most perfect joy to those who are its heirs, Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:16; Heb. 7:2.

27. Therefore this kingship is called throughout the Scriptures the kingdom of God, the kingdom of peace and glory (see the places above cited).  It is also called the kingdom of Light and glory, the kingdom of Heaven, and the world to come, Heb. 2:5.

31. The kings of the nations are not properly subordinated to Christ in their authority, but rather to God.



Thomas Taylor  †1632

Christs Victory over the Dragon, on Rev. 12:1, p. 510

By Kingdom in Scripture is meant two things:

1. The absolute sovereignty of God over all things, to whom appertain all kingdoms: this is called the kingdom of power, and [is] appropriated to God; ‘The Kingdom is the Lord’s;’ that is, originally and in his own right, all other in the creature is sovereignty derived, and delegate, Dan. 2:27.

2. That special administration and government, which He exercises in setting up, and upholding his Church, at which our text aims.

The difference betweene this and the former, is: In that we are all by nature; in this, only by grace; in that we only live and enjoy the benefit of creatures, in this we live happily, and enjoy the benefit of new creation, in redemption and sanctification.

Now whereas this special kingdom is either of grace here, or glory hereafter, the former is here meant, even that kingdom of grace which the dragon specially opposes, who resists not so much the kingdom of power, nor at all the Kingdom of glory, but most fiercely assails the kingdom of grace; as is plainly convinced by the particle, Now is strength and the Kingdom of our GOD in heaven.


The Principles of Christian Practice Containing the Institution of a Christian Manpp. 348-9

The Kingdom of God is twofold:

General, and

The former is called the Kingdom of power, whereby the Lord powerfully governs the whole world and every particular, to the very sparrows, and the hairs of our head: unto which kingdom of power all creatures, men and angels, yea devils themselves are subject.

The special Kingdom of God is his gracious rule and government over his elect: called the Kingdom of Christ, because He is the head of it: and the Kingdom of heaven, because it tends directly thither: and the Kingdom of the Son of man.

Of this Kingdom are two degrees: of grace, of glory.  The difference of these two, is:

1. In time: the former is begun on earth, the latter is consummate in heaven.

2. In manner of government: the former is governed mediately, by his servants and ministers, the latter immediately, by Himself, when He is all in all.

3. In the manner of subjection: the former in the militant estate is environed by enemies and assailants: the latter is triumphant, in perfect rest and peace, without all assault.



Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Bizer, transl. Thomson (1861, reprinted 2007), p. 481.  Heppe’s 19th century work is an anthology of reformed theology from the 1600’s.

32.  The third office of Christ is his regium munus [kingly office], whereby ‘He rules by his Word and Spirit and guards and preserves it against all enemies’ ([Johann] Heidegger [d. 1698], 19, 98).  To be distinguished  are the regum Christi [reign of Christ] in the more general sense of the word, the regnum essentiale, naturale or universale [essential, natural, universal reign], which as the eternal Son of the Father He exercises over the world with Him and the H. Spirit, and the regnum personale or oeconomicum [personal or economic reign], the kingdom of grace which accrues to Christ as the God-man.  [Johann] Alsted [d. 1638] p. 587:

Christ’s kingship is twofold, essential and personal; the essential, which is also called natural and universal, Christ holds with a glory and majesty equal to the Father and the H. Spirit; the personal, which is also called the donative, the economic and the dispensative, Christ administers as the Theanthropos in a single mode; and it is of grace or of glory; the former is the Church militant, the latter the Church triumphant.’

[Samuel] Maresius [d. 1673] p. 143:

The kingly dignity in Christ is twofold, the natural which belongs to Him as God, the second, the economic, which is his as the Theanthropos.

33.  This mediatorial kingship is assigned for Christ, because by his propitiatory sacrifice He has prepared for Himself a people which is his peculiar possession, and which He therefore guides and rules and guards against all attacks.  Of course the power of Christ does not extend merely to the community of believers, but also to their enemies, in fact, to all creatures generally in heaven and on earth, since Christ makes them serviceable to Himself for the benefit of his kingdom.  But the regnum Christi [reign of Christ] itself is only the kingdom of grace, the Church, and comprises (I) the gubernatio [government] and (2) the defensio [defense] of it.

[Johann] Heidegger [d. 1698] (XIX, p. 99)  ‘Kingly power was bound to be conferred on Christ, because He acquired it by his death and secured for Himself, as his prerequisite or substance, a laos periousios, a people of his very own, Tit. 2:14  i.e. as a treasure set apart, preserved, guarded, so that by it He might be reckoned wealthy as its possessor and might display his magnificence.’

[Jacob] Alting [d. 1679] (p. 102)  ‘Christ’s kingship is that by which as head of the Church He rules it by his Word and Spirit and guards it against enemies.’

[Johannes] Wolleb [d. 1629](p. 72)  ‘The kingly office is to govern and preserve the Church.  The divisions of it are the government of the Church and the defeat of its enemies.’

Rissen (XII, p. 15)  ‘Christ’s kingly office is the power of applying everything which he has merited to the salvation of those for whom he merited and of warding off what is contrary.’

[Frans] Burman [d. 1679] (V, xv, 3)  ‘Christ’s kingly office is the power and authority of the mediator, by which being constituted king and head of the Church He flourishes with supreme power in heaven and on earth and governs all things concerned with the Church with full rights and rules and perfects it both by the Word and by the interior power of his Spirit; and guards it against the assaults and power of all sorts of enemies; and will at last crown it victor in heaven forever, perfect in body and mind.’

Hence it is not right, when it is said that according to Reformed doctrine the kingship of Christ also extends over the extra-Church sphere (of nature).  Of course Christ has power over this also, but only for the purpose of exercising his mediating Kingship over the Church.  Hence [Frans] Burmann [d. 1679] of course says (and quite correctly) (V, xv, 29):

‘(But) just as the spiritual, so also the universal kingdom of the Messiah is the faithful of all ages and all lands, nay embracing also in its ambit the power of universal nature.’

-Hence (10):  

‘All things are subdued to this kingship and all creatures are its servants’;

-meantime be it noted,

‘not because all men properly belong to that Kingdom, but because it could not be administered without that infinite power.’



Henry Hall  1644   late fellow of Trinity College in Cambridge

Heaven Ravished: or A Glorious Prize, achieved by an Heroical Enterprise: as it was lately presented in a sermon to the honourable House of Commons, at their solemn fast, May 29, 1644,   on Mt. 11:12, printed by order of the said House.  p. 4-6

1. There is first a Kingdom of Power and providence which Christ has, as God over all the world; angels, and men, and devils, being put in subjection under Him, and of this the prophet speaks, Ps. 102:19, ‘The Lord has prepared his throne in heaven, and his Kingdom rules over all,’ this is not meant here [on Mt. 11:12].

2. There is a Kingdom of Grace, which Christ as Mediator exercised in a more special and peculiar manner, over the Church and commonwealth of the Jews, before the time of his incarnation and coming into the world; for even the Jews as well as we, were unto God a Kingdom of priests and an holy nation, Ex. 19:5, and the Lord was their King, Judge, and Lawgiver, Isa. 33:22, and Solomon, after David his Father, is said to reign over Israel sitting upon the throne of Jah, 1 Chron. 29:23, and hence as one of the ancients well observes out of Josephus, The politic state and form of government among the Jews, It was neither a monarchy, nor an aristocracy, nor a democracy, but a theocracy or divine government, the Son of God being in that commonwealth Commander in Chief, and ordering all things therein according to his own will.

Christ therefore reigned over the Jews as Mediator many hundreds of years before He was born of the Virgin Mother, the Kingdom and government even then was upon his shoulders, yet you shall never find throughout all the whole Scripture, that State and manner of Christ’s Reign over the Church of the Old Testament called The Kingdom of Heaven, and the principal reason seems to be this, because the whole policy and form of it, was typical and ceremonial, all things being carried then in clouds and shadows and mystical prefigurations of good things to come, the truth and substance whereof was not yet exhibited and revealed.

But now this Evangelical state of the Christian Church, called the Kingdom of heaven, it is either Militant or Triumphant, the State of Grace or the State of Glory, which for kind and nature are both one, and differ but only in degrees; for the State of grace what is it else but glory begun: the way to the Kingdom is not without some first fruits of the Kingdom, saith Bernard. 

And the State of glory on the other side, what is it else but grace fully perfect and consummate. It is the former of these which is here principally meant, to wit, the Militant Estate of the Christian Church, in which men are brought to live under the gracious and mild government of Christ; their minds being enlightened, guided, and powerfully moved and over-ruled.

1. To repent of all their sins, and then,
2. To accept of the pardon and remission of them in such sort as it is offered in the tenor of the New Covenant.
3. To render back as a Tribute of thankfulness a free, cheerful, universal and constant obedience to all the revealed Will of God.



James Ussher  1645

A Body of Divinity, on the Lord’s Prayer, pp. 360-361

What is to be considered in the second Petition?  ‘Let thy Kingdom come.’ Matt 6:10; Luke 11:2.

What is meant here by ‘Kingdom’?

That government which our Savior Christ exercises; first, in the world, then in the last day, both in the whole Church, and in every member thereof: For by the Kingdom of God we must understand here not so much that universal sovereignty, which as Creator He exercises over all creatures, disposing them all to their proper ends for his glory, Isa. 5:6; Ps. 95:3, etc., as the spiritual regiment, Psalm 110:2; 1 Cor. 15:25, of the Church, and of all things, for the good of the Church: wherein God has appointed Christ to be the King, Psalm 2:6; Hos. 3:5, the saints his subjects, Rev. 15:3, the Word his Law, Job 22:22. the angels and all creatures his servants, Heb. 1:6, the ministers his heralds, and ambassadors, 2 Cor. 5:20.

Finally, the devil’s kingdom, Matt 12:26, that is, wicked angels and men, enemies to the Kingdom of Christ, Luke 19:27, his footstool, Psalm 110:1.






Samuel Rutherford  1646  **

The Divine Right of Church-Government and Excommunication, London, 1646,

p. 601

The Magistrate as a Magistrate is not the Vicar nor Deputy of Jesus Christ as Mediator.

p. 611-612

All power mediatory in Heaven and in earth, that is given to Jesus Christ as Mediator, is all spiritual, all ecclesiastical power; and therefore Christ upon this receipt of all power, Matt 28:18, draws a conclusion, v. 19., etc. ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations, etc.’  But a Kingly power of this world by carnal weapons, and by sword to fight, is not given to Christ mediator; for he denies expressly, John. 18:36, that He has such a Kingdom as Mediator, or that He was instructed with the sword as Mediator, Luk. 12:13.  Now as God and Creator of the world, Christ could not deny but He had a Kingdom worldly, and that He has a regnum potentiae [kingdom of power], a universal Kingdom of power, as Lord of Hosts; to dispose of all the Kingdoms of the world, and to rule amongst the children of men, and to rule over the children of men, and to give them to whomsoever He will, Dan. 4:25; 8:18; Jer. 27:6-9; Ps. 24:1; Ps. 50:12.  Nor is this Kingdom and Power given to Christ, nor is He made Prince and a King as God; but as Mediator to give repentance to the House of Israel, and forgiveness of sins, Acts 5:31.





Apollonius  d. 1657

Apollonius was an eminent Dutch ecclesiastical writer.  As given in James Walker, The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, 1560-1750, ch. 5, ‘The Headship of Christ and Erastianism’, part III, p. 153

The economical kingdom and dominion of Christ as Mediator is different and of another nature from the kingdom of God and the natural universal sovereignty of the Son of God, as He is one God with the Father; which kingdom of divine excellence and majesty is independent and supreme.  The universal kingdom and natural sovereignty the Father possesses in common with the Son and the Holy Ghost, qua omoousios Deus [as one substance with God]; but the special economical kingdom is proper and peculiar to Christ, as depending on His mediatorial office, and having from its origin and its constitution.  By such differences as these the kingdoms are distinguished:

1.  The mediatorial kingdom, viewed in itself and economically, is subordinate to God, dependent on Him; and in it the King Mediator is less than God, and inferior to God, unequal to Him, and His servant,-which things cannot be affirmed of the natural universal divine kingdom. The right of the Mediator’s sovereignty is based on the merit of the satisfaction which the Mediator performed in place of the Church; but God possesses the right of natural and universal dominion from His divine nature, and the glory which belongs to His Deity.  Hence the act and effect of the sovereignty of the Mediator is the acquisition, government and defense of the Church; but of the universal King is providence, government, and disposition in regard to the whole world, and all things in it.  The office and power which the magistrate bears is not subordinated to the mediatorial kingdom of Christ, but to the universal kingdom of God…  In respect of his office, the magistrate is not, nor is called in the Scriptures, a servant of Christ-Mediator, to fullfil his office in Christ’s name, a legate of Christ, or in the name of Christ to acquit himself of his legation.



William Guild  1657

Love’s Intercourse between the Lamb and his Bride, Christ and his Church. Or, A clear Explication and Application of the Song of Solomon, on ch. 1:4, p. 28

As this blessed bridegroom of his Church is a King, so He has a threefold Kingdom, of power, grace, and glory:

1. His kingdom of power is his supreme sovereignty, whereby, as David speaks, He rules and reigns as Head over all, 1 Chron. 29:11.

2. His kingdom of grace is that whereby He rules in a special manner by the sweet influence of grace in the hearts of his elect and erects there his throne.

3. His kingdom of glory is that which is the inheritance of his saints in Heaven, prepared for them before the beginning of the world, which is called, the kingdom of God and the father, Mark 10:14, à donatitione, therefore says our Saviour, ‘fear not little flock,’ etc. Luk. 12:32.  And sometimes the kingdom of Christ, ab acquisitione Eph. 5:5.  Therefore the thief said, ‘Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’ Lk. 23:42.



William Prynne  1666

An Exact Chronological History and Full Display of Popes’ intolerable usurpations upon the ancient just rights, liberties, of the kings, kingdoms, clergy, nobility, commons of England and Ireland, 1666, pp. 33-34

For the 1. It is generally agreed by Fathers, Pontificians and Protestants, that Jesus Christ has a three-fold kingdom, set forth in the premised Scriptures, if strictly pried into.  

The first is, a Kingdom of power, and absolute Dominion, which extends it self not only to all men and angels, but likewise to all other unreasonable and inanimate creatures whatsoever in heaven, earth, and under the earth, yea to the very devils themselves; This Kingdom belongs unto Christ principally as He is God, and the Creator of all things, which comes not within the verge of our present discourse; however Popes seem to usurp it.

The 2. is a Kingdom of mere purchase, or Grace, confined properly not to angels or mankind in general; but to such as are truly elected, called, justified, sanctified, redeemed, saved by Christs precious blood; yet in the largest sense extended to the good Angels, and all visible Members of the Church Militant professing the name and gospel of Christ, as his Subjects; though not actually regenerated, justified, sanctified, saved: Of this Kingdom there are two distinct parts: the one Triumphant in Heaven: over which no Pope or Mortals on earth can pretend the least Kingship or Dominion; the other Militant upon Earth; the latter in its largest extension comprehending all who bear the name of Christians, whether good or bad, regenerate or unregenerate: This is the Kingdom of Christ of which the Pope as Christs Vicar General, and Peters fictitious Successor pretends himself the Supreme and sole Governor.

The third is the Kingdom of Glory, not really different from the former, long since begun, and increasing every day more and more, by new additions of departed saints thereto, which kingdom shall be fully completed, when all the elect shall be gathered, the Church militant united to the Church triumphant and actually glorified with Christ in the kingdom of heaven.



 Thomas Vincent  1668

Words of Advice to Young Men Delivered in Two Sermons, pp. 4-5  1668

1. What are we to understand by the ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Righteousness of God’ [in Mt. 6:33].  There is a three-fold Kingdom of God:

1. The Kingdom of his Power.  1 Chron. 29:11, ‘Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all.’

2. The Kingdom of his Grace.  Lk. 17:21, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’

3.  The Kingdom of his Glory.  Jn. 3:3, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’

The Kingdom of God’s Power be sure is not here spoken of [in Mt. 6:33], some understand hereby the Kingdom of his Grace: But I rather think, that in this place the Kingdom of God is to be taken for the Kingdom of his Glory, where the chief and perfect happiness of men does lie, which our Savour would have them to seek, and not be solicitous about earthly things which are so empty and transitory.



Thomas Manton  †1677

An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, in Works, vol. 90-91

‘Thy kingdom come.’

Now, God’s dominion is twofold:

1. Universal

2. More particular and special

First, there is a universal kingdom over all things; over angels and devils; over men elect and reprobate; over beasts and living creatures; and over inanimate things, sun, moon, and stars.  This is spoken of: 1 Chron. 29:11, ‘Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.’And again: Ps. 103:19, ‘The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.’…

Secondly, more particularly and especially, God has a kingdom over a certain order and estate of men.  Of this especial kingdom there are two notable branches and considerations.  One is that administration which belongs to the present life, and is called ‘the kingdom of grace;’ and the other belongs to the life to come, and is call ‘the kingdom of glory.’

1. The kingdom of grace is spoken of in many places, specially that: Lk. 17:20-21…  He speaks of a kingdom of God that was already among them in the dispensation of his grace by Christ…

Now the kingdom of grace may be considered two ways, as externally administered, and as internally received.

1. As externally administered in the ordinances and means of grace, as the word and seals, and censures and the like.  In this sense it is said: Mt. 21:43, ‘The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.’  The gospel or means of grace administered in the visible face of the church, they are called God’s kingdom upon earth, and a very great privilege they are when they are bestowed upon any people…

2. As internally received; and then by it is meant the grace of God, which rules in the hearts of the elect, and causes their souls to submit and subject themselves unto the obedience of Christ and unto his scepter, and to his Word and Spirit, that this is that kingdom properly which is within us…

Well, then, that by the kingdom of God is here meant [in the phrase ‘Thy kingdome come’], not his general empire over all the world, and all the things of the world, though that be not wholly excluded, but his special kingdom, which He does administer by Christ: and that either as externally managed by ordinances and visible means of grace, or as internally received and administered in the hearts of the elect… 


150 Sermons on Several Texts, Sermon on Lk. 19:14, p. 850

5.  We shall be unwillingly subject to his Kingdom of Power if we be not willingly subjects to his Kingdom of Grace: God’s decree is past that every knee must bow to Christ, by force and constraint, or willingly and readily: If by constraint we are subjects, ’tis our ruin and destruction; If willingly, we have our reward.

Christ will utterly destroy the obstinate, they shall feel the effects of his merely regal, not his pastoral power: He will break them with a rod of iron, Ps. 2:9.  But his pastoral rod and staff are a comfort to his people: Ps. 23:4, for He rules them with a saving and gentle government.  

Now you are left to your choice, which pleases you best; his iron rod, or his pastoral rod; to perish with the obdurate world, or to be conducted to heavenly glory: to refuse your remedy, or submit to the motions of his preventing grace.  

Or let me thus express it: Christ, who is set upon the throne for the exercise of his regal power, has a sword and a scepter in his hand, to subdue his enemies and rule his people. The sword is his all-powerful providence.  The scepter is his all-conquering Spirit: Now ’tis better to be in the number of humble and obedient Christians than to continue his obstinate and spiteful enemies: to consecrate ourselves and all that we have to Him, than to fall a sacrifice to his justice and the revenges of his indignation.




Stephen Charnock  †1680

The Existence and Attributes of God, in Works, vol. 2, ‘A Discourse upon God’s Dominion’, p. 407

There is a threefold dominion of God:

1. Natural; which is absolute over all creatures, and is founded in the nature of God as Creator.

2. Spiritual or gracious, which is a dominion over his Church as redeemed, and founded in the Covenant of Grace.

3. A glorious kingdom at the winding up of all, wherein He shall reign over all, either in the glory of his mercy, as over the glorified saints, or in the glory of his justice in the condemned devils and men.  

The first dominion is founded in nature; the second, in grace; the third, in regard of the blessed, in grace, in regard of the damned, in demerit in them, and justice in Him.



Ezekiel Hopkins d. 1689

Works, vol. 1, A Practical Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, pp. 77-80



Christopher Ness  1696

A Complete History and Mystery of the Old and New Testament

Ch. 30, on Revelation

But Daniel doth more plainly declare the four aforesaid Kingdoms; all which he expresly compared to four foul Beasts, Dan. 7.3, 4, 5, 6, 7. then, after the final fall of all those four Beastly Kingdoms, he addeth a fifth Kingdom, which he calleth [the Kingdom of a Man] verses 13-14. to wit, of God-man, the Lord Jesus, whose Kingdom shall never be destroyed. N.B. Christ’s Kingdom has not a finis consumptionis,but only a finis consummationis: Though it shall be consummated when his Mediatory work ends; yet then it will not be consumed, but only swallowed up by his Essential Kingdom, which shall then comprehend it to all eternity; his Mediatory Kingdom lasts until He has made all his foes his footstool, etc. 1 Cor. 15:24-28, because He is both the Master and the Maker of the Macrocosm, or great World, and able to subdue all, Phi. 3:21.

The tenth Cordial is; This King of Sion hath a true right and propriety to his fifth Kingdom, even to all the Kingdoms and Commonwealths in the whole world.  ‘Tis told us in express words [whose Right it is, &c.] Ezek. 21.27. Now the Lord Christ hath a Royal Right hereunto by three manner of means or ways;

as first, by a Divine Eternal Ordination, He was verily fore-ordained for this transcendent Royalty, 1 Pet. 1.20. which word holds forth, how careful our heavenly Father was to make all matters sure concerning Man’s Redemption by the Messiah; this great work was God’s eternal purpose, Eph. 3.11. and such a profound Mystery was in that work, as made the holy An∣gels not only to admire it, but also desirous to peep into it (as the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signi∣fies) 1 Pet. 1.12. and Eph. 3.10. 

Secondly, Christ came to this Royal Right by his Father’s free and gratuitous donation: The Father bids the Son ‘Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession, Ps. 2:8-9.   N.B. If all things were conveyed to Christ Himself by way of asking, why then should we, poor Christians, expect any good thing without asking, especially when He bids us ‘Ask and ye shall have, &c.’ Matth. 7:7-8.

Christ indeed had a Natural and Essential Kingdom (as He was God, co-equal with the Father, Phil. 2:6)  This He had not by way of asking, but did enjoy it from all eternity, and shall hold it to all eternity: But his other (the Mediatory, Oecumenical, and Dispensatory Kingdom) Christ has as a donative and gift (upon that Eternal Covenant made between the Father and the Son) for his faithful fulfilling the great work of fallen Man’s Mediator, as his Rich Reward; and this is that Kingdom which he will deliver up to the Father when the End of it is accomplished, and then the Son (as Man) shall be subject, that God may be all in all, 1 Cor. 15.24, 28. 

Thirdly, Christ has this Royal Right by way of special and peculiar exaltation.  ‘Tis said, Christ humbled Himself, etc., wherefore God exalted him, etc. Phil. 2:8,9, the word [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] signifies, Christ did empty Himself in his state of Humiliation, passing through many little deaths all his life long, and at last underwent that cursed and painful Death on the Cross as to his Body; and as if this had been too little, his soul also was sorrowful to the death, Matt 26:38.  Yea, He humbled Himself so low as to lay down his body three days in the grave, etc. Therefore God declares his decree to give him Royal Honour, Psal. 2.6, 7. and to exalt Him so high, as not only to be above the grave in his resurrection, and above the earth in his ascension, yea and above the heavens also in seating him at his right hand upon a throne of glory in the highest Heavens.  Beside all this, God sets his King upon his holy Hill of Sion, above all other Hills, and advances his Son’s Scepter above all worldly Scepters, yea and dignifies him with a Name above every Name of Honour and Dignity both in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth, Phil. 2:9-11.  Then the Sun of Righteousness, Mal. 4:2 (which had lain long under a lasting eclipse) breaks forth into its former native splendor and glory.

The eleventh Cordial is; This King of Sion, who hath now a true Title to, and a Right Propriety in a fifth Kingdom, will in due time become the full possessor of it, whereof He is ever the right proprietor and owner: So ’tis said Ʋntil he come whose Right it is, and I will give it him’ Ezek.21.27. which intimates, there is a time appointed by the Father, wherein he will give to his Son a plenary possession of all that he hath purchased a propriety in by his death; and to explain what this is, we are told that Christ will take to Himself his great power and reign, overturning all that oppose, and causing them to comply with this Conquerour; then all the Kingdoms of the World shall become the Lord’s and his Christ’s, Rev. 11.15, 17. Christ indeed says, My Kingdom is not of this World, John 18:36.  Yet is it in this World; Christ is better called ‘King of Nations’ than Tidal was, Gen. 14:1, as well as he is called ‘the King of Saints’ Rev. 15:3.  For when any grievous calamity was about to come upon the Church of God from any of her evil neighbours, Jer. 12.14. to wit, the cursed nations that compassed her about (as so many greedy Tigers, Bears, Boars, Lions, Leopards, Wolves, &c. saith Luther) then God sent his Prophets to comfort his Church against this coming Calamity with this soveraign Cordial of Christ’s coming as a King to Relieve and Rescue her from those Ravenous Beasts by his Irresistible Power and Regal Authority. There be many famous Instances hereof, not only that great text, Zech. 9:9 and that also, Ezek. 21:27, but likewise (tho’ many more might be mentioned) I shall here add only one more, namely, that of Isa. 9:6-7, at which time there was to come a most unparalleled calamity upon the Church, Isa. 7:17-19 and 9:1.  Then to preponderate and out-weigh the perplexity of that matchless misery, the Prophet of God there does comfort the Church, not only with the birth, but also with the Kingdom of Christ, saying, ‘the goverment shall be upon his shoulders, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, and of the Increase of his Kingdom there shall be no end’ Isa. 9:6,7.  The same may be observed in those two Prophets that followed Isaiah, namely, Ezekiel and Zechariah, as above quoted, all intimating the truth of Father Bernard‘s excellent notion [Tamen Christus Rex est etiam in hoc Mundo, scilicet, in ordine ad Ecclesiam] that is, though his Kingdom be not of this World, John 18.36. which wholly lies and wallows in wickedness, 1 John 5:19 and whose God is the Devil, blinding their minds, etc. 2 Cor. 4:4.

Yet Christ is King in this World, in his ordering and over ruling all the affairs of the world, so far as they do relate to his Church in the World.  Thus Christ is called ‘Lord of all’ Acts 10:36.  If it be asked ‘of all what?’ ’tis answered, he is Lord of all persons, of all things, of all kings, of all kingdoms; He is Lord of his Church, and He is Lord of the World, and therefore He will not suffer his Church to be long wronged by the World.  Now, in order that this proprietary Christ may become possessor of his royal right, the Lord resolves to overturn, overturn, overturn all Impediments, etc. Eze. 21:27, which threefold repetition declares both the certainty and the frequency of that overturning work; there must be many overturnings both of the Jewish and of the Gentile Nations:

The Lord saith [Yet once, and yet once more will I shake both Church and State, etc.  Then the ‘desire of nations shall come,’ Hag. 2.6, 7, and then, that which cannot be shaken shall remain, Heb. 12:26-27, and then shall we receive a Kingdom which cannot be removed, verse 28. In the mean time we are told of an [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] He who now letteth, will let, to wit, Antichrist, until he be taken out of the way, 2 Thess. 2:7.  Namely, by the breath of Christ’s mouth and by the brightness of his coming, verse 8.  Those be the means whereby the mystery of iniquity shall be overturned, and if one over-turning will not do, God will overturn three times, etc.




James Walker  1888

The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, 1560-1750, ch. 5, ‘The Headship of Christ and Erastianism’, part III, p. 153  1888

Once, more.  It is not merely [in the 1500’s and 1600’s Scottish theology] that Christ was King in His Church; but that the Church was His special, if it was not His only, kingdom as Mediator. 

Some great divines have certainly held this latter view.  The question was debated in England, for instance, between [Thomas] Hooker and [Thomas] Cartwright.  The great Puritan [Cartwright] taught ‘that the civil magistrate comes from God immediately, as Christ does, and is not subordinate to Christ;’ that Christ governs ‘kingdoms and commonwealths as the equal of the Father; but the Church, as His mediatorial kingdom, as the Father’s delegate and deputy.’…

The subject was also largely discussed by continental divines.  The celebrated work of Apollonius, the Dutchman, on the rights of the civil power circa sacra, is, you may know, based on the doctrine that Christ is only King of the Church as Mediator; and King of the nations, Lord of the universe, in respect of His essential Deity.  This distinction, he maintains, is of itself sufficient to settle the Erastian controversy…



Herman Bavinck

Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 3, p. 479-480

In this way Christ is and always remains our eternal king as well.  Although He was also anointed with respect to his human nature, He began to act as king only upon hi exaltation.  Then He received the name ‘Lord’, was designated Son of God, and received all power in heaven and on earth.  Christ is first of all king over his people in the kingdom of grace (Ps. 2:6; Isa. 9:6; 11:1-5; Lk. 1:33; 19:21-23; 23:42-43; John 18:33; 19:19; etc.) and demonstrates this kingship in gathering, protecting, and ruling his church, leading it to eternal blessedness (Matt 16:18; 28:20; Jn. 10:28).  

But in the New Testament, because his kingship bears a very different character from that of the rulers of the earth, He is much more often called the head of the Church (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19).  He rules not by violence but by justice and righteousness, by grace and love, Word and Spirit.  

In the New Testament He is also specially denominated ‘king’ whenever there is reference to his victory over his enemies.  For in order for Him truly to gather, protect and lead his church to eternal salvation, He must as the mediator have power over all creatures (Ps. 2:8; 72:8; 110:1-3; Matt 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:24,27; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 1:5; 17:14).  This implies not that Christ concretely governs the world but that it is under his control, subject to Him, and will one day, be it unwillingly, recognize and honor Him as Lord.  Specifically belonging in this category is his power over the realm of Satan. 




Interpretation of Scriptures: Ps. 2:8, Matt 28:18 & Eph. 1:22-3




Desiderus Erasmus  d. 1536

Paraphrase on the New Testament, vols. 1 & 2

On Matt 28:18

Therefore Jesus drawing near unto them… spake unto them… declaring that by his death, He had obtained a kingdom and authority both in heaven and in earth.  In heaven, wherever He reigned with the Father; in earth where hereafter He should reign, not by tyrannical powers and aides, but through faith of believers; and that He should dispose the office of this evangelical kingdom unto his disciples who should follow his steps, committing unto them the office to preach the Gospel, not only to the Jews, but also to all nations: and also authority to baptize, and by the Holy Ghost, to forgive sins to all men that will profess an evangelical life with a sincere heart…

…Because I have suffered all these things willingly and of mine own accord for the health of man: my Father has raised Me from death, and rewarded Me with the glory of immortality, and has lifted me up to the fellowship of his kingdom, and has submitted unto my power and rule, all things that be in heaven and earth…

On Eph. 1:22-23

Erasmus’ translation:

‘which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead; and set Him on his right hand in heavenly things, about all rule, and power, and might and dominion, and above every name [that] is named not in this world only, but also in the world to come: and has put all things under his feet, and has made Him above all things, the Head of the congregation, which is his body, and the fullness of Him, that fills all in all.’

Erasmus’ Paraphrase:

…who of his mighty power having raised from death to life immortal, He has exalted unto so high honor, that He has set Him on his own right hand in the kingdom of heaven, and given Him authority over all other rule, potestate, power and lord∣ship, and every other name of dignity or power, how excellent so ever it be above these afore-rehearsed, either in this world or in the world to come, that He may be Lord not only over bodily and earthly things, but also over spiritual and heavenly things.  So far has He subdued all things without exception under his feet.  And to make our hope more steadfast and certain, that we shall also come to the fellowship of the same glory, for as much as He has made Christ Lord over all things, his pleasure was also that he should be the Head unto all the whole flock of the believing, that cleave so fast to Christ, as the whole body is coupled to the head, that the one can not be dissevered from the other.  



Miles Coverdale  1568

Fruitful Lessons upon the Passion, Burial, Resurrection, Ascension, and of the Sending of the Holy Ghost, Gathered out of the Four Evangelists, with a plain exposition of the same, 1593

On Matt 28:17-18

Although the disciples (as men yet somewhat carnal) do ask questions concerning the restitution of a bodily and temporal kingdom, yet makes He no answer unto their demand, but directs them unto that which is for their profit, and belongs to their office, drawing their hearts from the earthly kingdom (from the which they ought to be mortified) unto the kingdom of heaven, even unto the kingdom of God, in the which He Himself is king, and into the which they now were received as citizens, that they should declare the same throughout the whole world and offer it unto all men.

This is the gospel of the kingdom of God, which for a testimony unto all nations, must be preached in the whole world, to witness the grace of God unto the elect…

The kingdome of Christ that is published and offered through the Gospel, is not a cor∣poral but a spiritual kingdom: neither consists it in outward things, but in a pure and faithful believing heart, and yet reaches it throughout the whole world, and amongst all nations.  In the hearts of all faithful believers does Christ reign through his Spirit, and there overcomes He the Devil, sin, and death.

And to the intent they should well understand this kingdom, He commands them to wait for the Holy Spirit, whom He had promised them: as if He would say; Now go I to my Father, now enter I into my kingdom, that I may mightily reign upon the earth: this thing ye understand not, but when the Spirit is given you, ye shall perceive it well.  All things in heaven and in earth, are given into my power: In those that are mine shall I reign, and make them righteous through faith: yea invincible shall I make them against all enemies: hereof shall ye bear witness when ye are baptized through the Holy Ghost.

This my kingdom shall ye publish in all nations, from one end of the world to another.  Thus shall I reign from sea to sea, of the which my kingdom the Prophets spake so much before.  Of this kingdom does Christ take possession through his ascending up to the Father, at whose right hand, and in this kingdom He sits, reigning much more mightily in his Church, and working more effectuously in those that be his, than He did before when He lived yet corporally with them.



Theodore Beza  1599

The New Testament translated out of Greek by Theodore Beza, 1599

Eph. 1:22-23  ‘¹And has made all things subject under his feet, and has given Him over all things to be the ²head to the Church, which is his body, even the ³fullness of Him that fills all in all things.’

¹ That we should not think that that excellent glory of Christ is a thing wherewith we have nought to do, He witnesses that He was appointed of God the Father head of all the Church, and therefore the body must be joined to his head, which otherwise should be a maimed thing without the members: which notwithstanding is not of necessity (seeing that the Church is rather quickened and sustained by the only virtue of Christ, so far off is it, that He needs the fullness thereof) but of the inf*** good will and pleasure of God who vouchsafes to join us to his Son.

² Insomuch that there is nothing but is subject to Him.

³ For the love of Christ is so great toward the Church that though He do fully satisfy all with all things, yet He esteems Himself but an ashamed and imperfect head, unless He have the Church joined to Him as his body.




The Dutch Annotations  1637  These annotations were ordered by the Synod of Dort in 1618 and published in 1637.  These Annotations were recommended in 1646 by 35 members of the Westminster Assembly, including: Twisse, Rutherford, Gillespie, Ballie, Henderson, Burgess, Goodwin, Byfield, Greenhill, etc.

On Ps. 2:8

‘Ask of Me and I shall give You the heathen for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.’

i.e. not only the Jews, but all the inhabitants of the earth shall be subjected to your Kingdom: of whom you shall save the faithful, and deal with the refractory, as follows [in v. 9]… 

On Ps. 2:12

‘kiss the Son’

i.e. honor Him as mine eternal Son, take and acknowledge Him for your King, believe in Him, and be obedient to Him…  

On Matt 28:18

‘Unto Me all power is given in heaven and on earth’

That is, all authority, and faculty, or ability, as Head of the Church, to gather, govern, and defend the same throughout the whole world.


On Eph. 1:22-23

‘And has subjected all things’

That is, even those that are strangers to, yea and the very enemies of his Church, 1 Cor. 15:25-26.

‘under his feet’

that is, under his power and command, Matt 28:18

‘and has given Him to the Church, for an head above all things’

Namely, not only to govern, but also to defend the same and to give them spiritual life and motion, as the head does to the members.  See Eph. 4:8,10, etc.  Col. 2:10,19.

‘Which is his body, (and) the accomplishment of Him’

That is, whereby Christ is made as a perfect person, consisting of the head and his body: as the word ‘Christ’ is sometimes taken for both.  See 1 Cor. 12:12,13, because of the near union that is between both…




The English Annotations  1645  **  See here for an introduction to this commentary.  6 of the 11 commentators were Westminster divines, and thus the commentary became popularly to be known as the Westminster Annotations

On Matt 28:18

John Ley  **

‘All power’

Absolute power without restraint and limitation, all dominion and authority to rule and govern.

‘is given unto Me’

God the Father has given it to Me; and I have now received it as man, who as God had the same power with the Father from eternity (Phil. 2:7) and now unto Me did He give the same in the fullness of time: now I have put off the form of a servant, wherein I was to suffer death for man’s redemption; therein I was obedient, but now God has highly exalted Me, and given Me a name above every name, etc.  Phil. 2:8, etc.

‘in heaven’

Which comprehends power of sending the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:33, power over angels, Phil. 2:10; Heb. 1:4; Col. 1:16, power to give heaven to all his, Mt. 25:3-4.

‘in earth’

Power to gather a Church out of all nations, Ps. 2:8; Mk. 16:15-16, and to rule over all.  See Acts 10:36,42; Eph. 1:20-22; Rev. 17:14; Dan. 7:14.


On 1 Cor. 15:24

Daniel Featley  **

‘delivered up the Kingdom to God’  

Christ has a double Kingdom:

1. Essential, as God, and this Christ possesses with his Father and the Spirit forever.

2. Economical, as Mediator between God and Man; and this Kingdom which He received from his Father, He shall surrender up again to his Father after He has subdued sin and death, and put all his enemies under his feet.

‘put down all rule’  

Or, ‘made frustrate[d]’, or, ‘taken away’.  That is, all his enemies, which shall be spoiled of all the power they have.


On Eph. 1:21-23

Daniel Featley  **

‘every name that is named’

Above every thing whatsoever it be, or above all persons, be they of never such power or excellency.  Honorable and famous men are called men of name, and the Name of the Lord is often taken in Scripture for the Lord Himself (Phil. 2:9).  The apostle’s meaning is, that Christ, even as man, is exalted, not only above all States and Potentates upon earth, but also all angels and archangels in heaven.

‘and has put all things under his feet’  

See Ps. 8:6; 1 Cor. 15:25

‘head over all things to the Church’  

Christ is said to be the Head of the Church in three respects especially:

First, in that He is above the Church, and rules it, as the head guides the body.

Secondly, because He conveys life into it, as the head does to the members.

Thirdly, because He provides for it, as the head does for the members, and participates in the same nature with it, as the head does with the members.

‘the fullness of Him that fills all in all’

The love of Christ is so great to the Church, that though He does fully satisfy all with all things, yet He esteems Himself but as a maimed and imperfect head, unless He have the Church joined to Him as his body.



Samuel Clark  1683

Annotations on the New Testament  1683

On Matt 28:18, ‘…saying, All power¹ is given unto Me in heaven² and in earth.’³

¹ cf. Mt. 11:27, see there note 64.  Supreme absolute authority and ability.

² So as (1) To prevail with God to be reconciled with man.  (2) To send the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:33.  (3) Over angels, Phil. 2:9; Heb. 1:4; Col. 1:16.  (4) To give heaven to all that believe in Me, cf. Mt. 25:34.

³ To prevail with men to be reconciled to God, and so to gather a Church out of all nations, Ps. 2:8 ; Mk. 16:15-16, and to rule, govern and defend the same against all its enemies, Acts 10:36,38,42; Eph. 1:20-21; Rev. 17:14.

On Eph. 1:22-23, ‘And hath put all things¹ under his feet,² and gave³ Him to be the head¹¹ over all things to the Church,¹² which is his body…’

¹ Ps. 8:6-8; Matt 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:27; Phil. 2:10; Heb. 2:8.  All creatures whatsoever, both friends (as his creatures) to worship Him, and enemies (1 Cor. 15:25) to be destroyed by Him.

² In the lowest degree of subjection to Him, Heb. 2:5.

³ It was a gift (first and chiefly) to Christ to be made a Head, and to have a Church to be his Body; and (2) to the Church to have such a Head, and her to be his body.

¹¹ cf. Mt. 3:15 & 5:23 (the Head to the Church) in respect of (1) Eminence, Col. 1:18;  (2) Influence, communicating life (Gal. 2:20), Motion (Phil. 2:12), Strength (Phil. 4:13). 

¹² John 17:2, i.e. above and besides all his other dignities: He that was Lord of all before, had this added to Him, to be a Head to the Church.  



Christopher Ness  1696

A Complete History and Mystery of the Old and New Testament

on Matt 28:18

‘All power in heaven is given to Me.’ 

He had it from eternity as God, Phil. 2:7, now ’tis given him as man (for redeeming mankind) at his resurrection, verse 8.  Here Christ promises his power, yea and promises his presence, Matt 28:20, the better to persuade the apostles to undertake this work, his great work of subduing the world to the obedience of faith: to encourage them therefore therein, he says, ‘I have all power in Heaven’ that is, to send the Holy Spirit thence to you, Acts 2:33, and to take you into Heaven when your work is done, Matt 25:34.  ‘and on earth too’, that is, a power to gather my Church out of all nations, Ps. 2:8; Mark 16:15-16, and to rule as Lord over all, Acts 10:36,43; Eph. 1:20-22; Rev. 17:14; Dan. 7:14. 

‘go ye therefore forth’ 

in this my strength (as Gideon did Jud. 6:14) execute your office and fear not the face of Man, doubt not of success for though ye be but barley cakes, course and contemptible, yet in my Name ye shall overthrow the weak tents of a wicked world, and the strong holds of the subtle Serpent, Jud. 7:13.  Your despised Lamps and Pitchers shall Achieve great matters





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