These terms, dominion and kingdom, are two of the most important words in the Bible. Unfortunately, they may also be the most commonly misunderstood terms.
Mention either of these words in the “wrong” context, and you will have contention. If you believe, and confess that Jesus is establishing His kingdom on the earth, some Christians will stare at you as if you have two heads. They may assume that you’re an imbecile who wants to forcibly overthrow the government and replace it with a Christian regime. They may even hate you and make false accusations against you.
It’s a shame that such a thoroughly biblical idea is the source of so much strife and division today. As you can see from the Scripture passages below, God always intended to establish His kingdom on the earth. This is why the Jews, and even the early Christians expected their Messiah to reign in this world.
The Stefaneschi Triptych – Christ Enthroned (c. 1330)
Since even Satan offered Jesus an earthly kingdom, how could the Father of our Savior have done any less? In fact, the Bible explicitly states that God the Father gave Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18-20, also quoted below). Given that all authority belongs to our Lord, should we passively let Satan reign (Jas. 4:17)?
Admittedly, God doesn’t call Christians to lord it over one another, nor over anyone else. We are still learning about the meaning and application of terms such as “dominion” and the “kingdom of God.” Still, there’s no reason to judge Christians who believe in the relevancy of these concepts as fringe lunatics who don’t understand the Bible. Anyone who wrongly judges another is subject to God’s judgment.
Throughout the Bible, we read about God exercising dominion through His people, both in promises and in the fulfillment. That’s why I’m a postmillennialist. This means I believe Jesus reigns now, and that He will continue to extend His kingdom on the earth until He returns. I can’t fully explain this here, but if you’d like to learn more about postmillennialism and the end times, see my article collection at Scoop.it. For church and state-related issues, see this link.
Anti-dominion, pietist Christians can quote a few verses, but their misinterpretations are easily refuted. For instance, when Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36), He was merely saying that His kingdom is not materialistic or worldly. Jesus definitely believed that His heavenly kingdom was breaking forth in this world (Mt 4:17, 11:12).
Jesus also said, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:21). Christian pietists like to quote this verse, as do New Agers. However, Jesus didn’t teach that religion was only a matter of the heart or spirit. He taught that whatever is in us will also come out of us (Mt. 12:33-35, cf. Jas. 3:11-12). The kingdom of God starts and ends with the human heart as life touches life, but in the process it transforms the world.
If, in your mind, you’ve shifted the kingdom of God to a future time after Jesus’ Second Coming, I would like to suggest that you think instead about how you can help build His kingdom in this lifetime.
Sometimes the best “Bible study” is to simply read what the Bible says for yourself. All of the following verses are taken from only one version of the Bible–the English Standard Version. The only added element in some verses is the italics.
Bible Verses on God’s Dominion and Christ’s Kingdom
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:28)
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:17-18)
…all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. (Num. 14:21)
Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. (Dt. 10:14)
And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God… And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them. (Dt. 28:1-2, 11-13)
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. (1 Sam. 2:7-8)
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1 Kgs. 8:25)
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. (1 Chr. 29:11-12)
As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Ps. 2:6-9)
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. (Ps. 22:27-28)
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. (Ps. 24:1)
Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah (Ps. 46:8-11)
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted! (Ps. 47:7-9)
May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! (Ps. 72:11)
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! (Ps. 110:1-2)
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. (Ps. 138:4-5)
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa. 2:2-4)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isa. 9:6-7)
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9, cf. Hab. 2:14)
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow upon this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isa. 25:6-8, cf. 1 Cor. 15:54, 2 Cor. 3:12-4:6, Rev. 21:4)
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isa. 45:22)
Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame. (Isa. 49:23)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:33-34)
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:35)
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed… But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever. (Dan. 7:13-14, 18, cf. Mt. 24:30, 26:64)
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zech. 9:9-10)
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Mt. 5:5)
You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world… (Mt. 5:13-14)
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt. 6:10)
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Mt. 13:31-33)
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt. 16:18-19)
“Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Mt. 22:9-10)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20)
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Lk. 1:32-33)
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (Jn. 3:16-17)
Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (Jn. 12:31-32)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33)
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:6-7)
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47, cf. Isa. 49:6)
“…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:17b-18)
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (Rom. 5:15)
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:18-19)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:31-32)
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom. 13:12)
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Rom. 16:20)
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Rom. 16:25-27)
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:22-26)
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18-19)
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8, cf. Gen 12:3)
…according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph. 1:9b-10)
…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:19-23)
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col. 2:15)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people… This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1, 3-4)
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil. (Heb. 2:14)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (Jas. 4:7-8)
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 Jn. 2:2)
…the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (1 Jn. 2:8)
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 Jn. 2:14b)
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jn. 3:8)
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 Jn. 4:4)
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (1 Jn. 4:14)
Jesus Christ [is] the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (Rev. 1:5)
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. (Rev. 2:26-27)
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Rev. 12:9-10, also Rev. 21–22)
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev. 20:6)
(Source: Appendix A of Return to Genesis).
Do you know of any Bible verses that I didn’t include in this list? If so, please let me know by commenting below.