N.T. Wright on John 18:36 – “My Kingdom is not of this World”

The audio recordings of A Missional Reading of Scripture conference which was at Calvin Seminary this past November are now available. You can find them here. They also have a video of N.T. Wright when he was at Mars Hill church. One of the things that Wright said at Mars was that John 18:36 (“My kingdom is not of this world”) is often misunderstood. I checked his commentary on John and here’s what he says,

“Jesus answer is both apparently incriminating and deeply revealing. His kingdom (yes, he agrees he has a kingdom; Pilate seizes on this) doesn’t come from this world. Please note, he doesn’t say, as some translations have put it, ‘my kingdom is not of this world’; that would imply that his ‘kingdom’ was altogether other-worldly, a spiritual or heavenly reality that had nothing to do with the present world at all. That is not the point. Jesus, after all, taught his disciples to pray that God’s kingdom would come ‘on earth as in heaven.’

No: the point is that Jesus’ kingdom does not come from ‘this world’. Of course it doesn’t. ‘The world’, as we’ve seen again and again, is in John the source of evil and rebellion against God. Jesus is denying that his kingdom has a this-worldly origin or quality. He is not denying that it has a this-worldly destination. That’s why he has come into the world himself (v. 37), and why he has sent, and will send, his followers into the world (17.18; 20.21). His kingdom doesn’t come from this world, but it is for this world. That is the crucial distinction.” (114-15)

And here’s how John 18:36 is translated in The Kingdom New Testament:

“My kingdom isn’t the sort that grows in this world,” replied Jesus. “If my kingdom were from this world, my supporters would have fought to stop me being handed over to the Judeans. So, then, my kingdom is not the sort that comes from here.”

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About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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