King Of Kings – It’s Not What You Think It Means

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King of kings?

Lord of lords?

We hear Jesus referred to as “King of kings” but what does it mean? We have a great deal of “Christianese” of this genre that we are prone to throwing around, arrogantly expecting that everyone who hears our pious, self-righteous, spiritual jargon will (A) understand us and (B) be impressed with how we wield that sword. For example, I recently gave a young man a book with the word “Christ” in the title. He couldn’t even pronounce it, uncertain as to whether the “CH’ were pronounced like a “K” (as in Kitten) or as the “CH” in “Children.” In case you did not know, “Christ” comes from the Greek “Christos” which refers to the “Anointed One.” Every king and high priest was anointed on the head with holy oil in ancient times, a tradition that continues during coronations of monarchs of European and Arabian history to this day. The Hebrew word for “Christos” is “Messiah.”

Many believe that “King of kings and Lord of lords” refers to Jesus Christ’s supremacy over biblical kings such as Herod, Pontius Pilate, all the rulers whose names are mentioned in the Old Testament. Certainly, history’s kings like Charlemagne and Henry VIII, even America’s Presidents were all much lower “kings” than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the phrase refers to something much more important than earthly kingdoms and territorial governments.

God, through His Christ – the Anointed King – broke into the world to establish His own sovereignty in the lives of every man and, thereby, defeat the powers of Satan (I John 3:8). Logically, the message we have to offer the world should center upon this. Sadly, too often it does not. A primary example of this – a major issue within the Body of Christ that serves to do little more than create or fuel the fires of dissension – is that we are unwittingly, if not deliberately, preaching a Gospel of Salvation rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom as Jesus exemplified.

Think about it! From one denomination to the next, the methods regarding how an individual is “saved” are legion. Baptism, professions of faith, adherence to dogmas and doctrines of men, recited prayers, mere membership…the list goes on and on, especially in “Christian” America. The Kingdom message has cosmic dimensions WAY beyond conversion of the masses (Jesus instructed us to make disciples, not mere converts). It calls people to repentance on the basis of the works of the King – NOT their own deeds. This King governs a spiritual Kingdom; He loves them and desires to rule with them in the world. Once that commitment is made, one can be properly discipled to reflect the nature of this holy God in whose image we were made, spirit-beings whose earthly mission is to advance the Kingdom by sharing this Good News with others, NOT converting them or even merely dragging them to a church service.


Our King elected a people to become His kingdom even though all the world was already His (Deut. 7:6-8). Apparently, Kings can do that sort of thing. His chosen people – the Jews – were to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6). As the Levites were priests of Israel, so Israel was to be a kingdom of priests for the world. In case you don’t know or have forgotten, priests represent a people to God; prophets deliver the will of God to His people.

Under the New Covenant, Jesus is, of course, our HIGH priest with His followers (you and me included) serving as priests.

No pecking order.

No hierarchy.

No titles.

Just responsibilities motivated by love.

In the Old Testament, we see Israel as the only nation ever in the history of mankind living according to a theocracy with God Himself as the Ruler of His Divine Government. Muslims would, of course, argue that point. Wrong god actually.

But Israel wanted an earthly king like all the nations had. They preferred someone they could elect and unelect. But that does not describe a king, does it? No, because kings are BORN, not elected. The prophets Gideon (Judg. 8:22-23) and Samuel (1 Sam. 8:1-8) told the Israelites that God was their king. That wasn’t good enough. So, God allowed them to have their earthly counterfeit, warning them that their king would take their sons to do his fighting and their daughters to do his bidding and their belongings as taxes. Unphased, they persisted and Saul was eventually anointed the first king over Israel with the words “Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over his inheritance?” (1 Sam. 10:1). Obviously, the rule of God would always be sovereign over the rule of the king. Earthly kings who followed the reign of God, were blessed. When they forsook Him and acknowledged the sovereignty of other gods, or took the reigns themselves, even declaring themselves to be god, they were driven out of their promised land (2 Kings 17:13-18). In the case of King Saul, just as surely as he was chosen by God to be King, the Lord rejected Saul when he failed as King. I Samuel 13 records how Saul disobeyed a direct order from the Lord and how the prophet Samuel immediately told the king that his lineage would not continue as Kings of Israel and that the Lord had already chosen another to take his place as King. Though Saul continued as a sort of “lame duck” king for a while before David became king, God’s blessing was no longer on him and Saul and his house ended in tragedy.

Today, when we forsake the New Testament concept of “Jesus is Lord,” (“Lord” coming from “kyrios” meaning “owner”) what we are actually doing is choosing another god (note lower case “g”). Whether it’s power, money, prestige, fame, addictions, careers, even religion…many are the gods who are vying for rulership over our lives, essentially, holding us in bondage as their slaves. While we’re convinced that WE are in control, the truth is that we are mere puppets in their icy grip. As Bob Dylan sang, “We’re gonna serve somebody.”

Although Israel was God’s special kingdom of priests, God ruled over ALL nations and they were ALL accountable to Him for their sins (Amos 1-2; Ezek. 25-32). In other words, He is God whether one acknowledges Him or not. WARNING: Every counterfeit kingdom WILL fall and fall hard. You may recall that God, who freed the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, also delivered the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir (Amos 9:7). God not only gave Canaan to the Jews but also gave the Moabites and Ammonites their own lands (Deut. 2:16-19). God sent the Jewish prophet Jonah to save the Assyrian city of Nineveh. The theme of Daniel is that “the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men” (Dan. 5:21). “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19).

So, Israel was elected by God to become a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6), chosen to represent God to the entire world (Deut. 7:6-8) as “a light to the nations” (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). Unfortunately, Israel abandoned her priestly role and followed after the gods of other nations, forsaking the Kingdom of God.

The expectation that God’s rule would be experienced more fully by the entire world in the person of the Messiah was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied that one would come and proclaimed “Your God reigns!” (Isa. 52:7). Ezekiel raised the expectation that Israel and Judah would be reunited and that God’s “servant David” would be king over them (37:24; 34:23, see also 30-31). The chapters of Daniel that deal with the setting up of a great Kingdom compare the kingdoms of the earth to the coming spiritual Kingdom of God (2, 7, 8). God’s Kingdom, which will “never be destroyed” (2:44), will crush all earthly kingdoms (7:13-14, 17-18). The Messiah, who would bring the Kingdom, ruling it as the Anointed One, or Christ, was given “dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him” (7:14).

These passages give a sampling of the Old Testament’s prophetic Kingdom concept. The Jews of Jesus’ day wondered aloud if He could be the foretold Messiah who would bring in the expected kingdom (John 7:40-43). The difference was, they were expecting an earthly King to establish an earthly kingdom.

Matthew comments that Jesus “went throughout Galilee,…preaching the good news of the Kingdom” (4:23). This proclamation was backed up by the deeds that defeated the powers of Satan: demons were cast out by the finger of God and the sick – most of them anyway, according to their faith – were healed (Matt. 4:23-24). By Mark’s account, those who heard Jesus’ Kingdom message were told to “repent, and believe in the Gospel” (1:15).

That’s it?

All He required of them was to believe in the Gospel He proclaimed? The word “Gospel” means “Good News.” What good news? The Good News that the Kingdom of God was now in operation among them; the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matt 3;32;4:17;10:17; Mark 1:15), in other words. It was within reach; touchable. It was Jesus! It was now time for each person individually to respond to the mighty acts of God as displayed by Jesus Himself.

With many having expectations set upon the establishment of a new earthly kingdom, in excited anticipation, the people came to see Jesus in droves. When they heard His message and experienced His miracles, many believed and He was acclaimed as being the long-awaited Messiah. Word spread fast, as anyone living in a small town knows. We cannot imagine the ruckus Jesus must have caused!


1 Peter 2:4-10 reads as follows:

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture,

” Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,” The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,”


” A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

The Lord wants His priests and kings to start believing in their calling. How can we when so few ever hear this message taught?

2 Chronicles 6;18 begs the question, “But will God really dwell on earth with men?”

Will God dwell among us? It appears that He has already begun the process: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23). Yes, God is with us.

God is a family man, so to speak. He desires intimacy with His kids. Now, because of the resurrection of Jesus, Romans 8:37-39 says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God …” That’s exactly how He planned it.

Paul tells the Ephesian church, “I pray, that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” (Eph. 3:16). Where is the Hoy Spirit? Apparently, Paul says He’s within us. He adds, “… that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” (Eph. 3:19). Yes, Jesus Christ has taken up residence within us.

More proof? 1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that, “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit WHO IS IN YOU, whom you have from God, and you are not your own…”

He dwells not merely among us but WITHIN us: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11)

We have residing WITHIN us, all that we need to advance God’s kingdom here on earth as His priests and kings.

Where the King dwells so is His Kingdom. Luke 17:20-21 declares, “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

What’s this Kingdom like anyway? Frankly, it’s like no Kingdom on earth. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. The first shall be last. The weak are strong. We are instructed to pray for those who abuse us, love our enemies, give to receive, befriend sinners, the greatest will be the servants.

More? We have to become like little children if we ever hope to enter into it. We have to roll-back our grown-up habits and programming – even our theology. It helps to visualize an upside down pyramid, not a Corporate Pyramid with the bosses at the top. With the upside-down pyramid, Jesus is at the very bottom playing a foundational, supporting role to everybody else as servant of all, setting an example for every king and priest who will follow.ALL THE KING’S MEN

So…are we kings?

Revelation 1:5-6 says we are: “…and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the prince over the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Logic says that, if we have been given authority to declare the decrees of the King, we are, essentially, as good as being King. After all, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). Also, 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us: “It is because of Him [God] that you are in Christ Jesus…”

We are in Him and He is in us.

In other words, God made us kings; it was His idea.

To help us understand this concept, I offer the following story which I overheard from a missionary in Africa years ago, He was pulled low to the ground by his African guide, forced to bow to the courier who was running past them carrying the royal baton, the symbol that this runner was an ambassador of the King. We, too, are ambassadors of a kingdom. In most cases, we just don’t know it yet.

Paul said it best, I think, giving us a wonderful example of HOW to share with others what we have been given: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Much better than, “You’re a sinner, bud, and you’re going to Hell.” Most people already KNOW they’re sinners…they want an answer to that problem.

In Daniel 7, the prophet sees one like the “son of man” ascending to the ancient of Days to receive all power and dominion. This does not refer to a “second coming,” but predicts the ascension of Christ. Jesus, the Last Adam, would overcome the four empires of the ancient world, and would be enthroned at His Father’s right hand.

It’s important to note that the rule of this “son of man” also involves the rule of the “saints” (Daniel 7:18, 22). Verse 27 is worth noting: “…the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the saints of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him.” The situation that results when dominion is “given to the saints” is called “His kingdom.” Jesus’ ascension establishes not only His reign but the dominion of His people. The apostle Paul understood this concept. In Ephesians 2:6, he says, “…[God] raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Those who were formerly dead in transgressions and sins have now been exalted into the heavenly places in Christ. Being positioned in the heavens means we are enthroned (see also Ephesians 1:21-23).

In short, we were crucified with Christ.

We were resurrected with Him.

We are enthroned with Him

We are already kings…not in the future but NOW!WARRIOR KINGS…THAT’S US!

Kings not only rule but they engage in warfare, too. Even when he ascended to the throne, King David continued to wage war against the Lord’s enemies and his own. Jesus is enthroned, but He is also the Warrior King who leads His people in conquest.

Likewise, we are warrior kings. The training for kingship means having our fingers trained for battle, our hands to make war.

How? In Romans 6, we have been given the power, by the Holy Spirit, to wage war against the flesh and to subdue it. In James 3, the apostle speaks of dominion over the tongue by comparing it to Adamic dominion over animals. This is a crucial point. Adam’s fallen children continued to take dominion, building cities, discovering metallurgy, composing music (Genesis 4), but the result of their dominion was a world filled with violence and evil. Unbelievers may have astonishing cultural dominion, but outside of Christ they remain slaves of Satan, sin, and death.

In our homes, unbelieving and believing parents are supposed to rule. There should be a significant difference in HOW they rule. Ruling a family as a Christian means ruling it according to the King’s decrees as noted in Scripture. The Bible has a great deal to say about how we are to rule our homes. It teaches about relationships between spouses (Ephesians 5:22-33) and parents to children (Proverbs). Paul warns against provoking children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4). Being a Christian king means ruling your family in obedience to Christ. Children are more likely to follow this example when they see it modeled.

Christians as kings will also seek to rule in the workplace in obedience to the King’s decrees in Scripture. Christian employers, for example, will keep the biblical command to give employees a “Sabbath”in which to rest (Exodus 20:8-11) and to provide fair and timely wages (Lev 19:13; Deut 24:14-15; James 5:4). They will give the Lord a tithe of business profits (Malachi 3:7-12), and will not run their business as if Mammon were their god (Matt 6:24). No matter where we labor – even as volunteers or within our own gardens at home – it can be done in obedience to Christ and for His glory. Even slaves, as Paul wrote, should not work to please men but to please Christ (Ephesians 6:5-8).

I was once given a vision of miniature white castles dotting the landscape – dozens of them. The Lord revealed to me that these were churches with many ministers either setting themselves up, or being looked upon, as kings. One thing that the Lord has never given man dominion over is other men. As we revert to our Adamic nature to be ruled over by people – just as the Children of Israel desired a king like all the other nations had when they already had God Himself – we ascribe greatness to others and, true to form, start believing our own press, reveling in the adulation and popularity.

This happens even in the Church.

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