Jesus Christ, king of the kingdom of God
: royal discourse in Christian literature before 150 CE

  • Tyler Andrew Hoagland

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


Scholarship on the kingdom of God has built different conceptions of the kingdom from the multiple occurrences in the Synoptic Gospels, to which all other occurrences in early Christian literature are compared. This approach is unable to explain the use of the phrase βασιλεία θεοῦ outside the Synoptics. It often equates the kingdom with the age to come as an eschatological signifier of a future state of affairs, but this does not explain the limited but persistent use outside the Synoptics. This thesis avoids the problem by beginning with the use of the phrase βασιλεία θεοῦ in 1 Corinthians, Acts, and the Shepherd of Hermas.

A different starting point provides a different perspective. These three texts demonstrate that the king of the kingdom of God is not God the Father, but Jesus. In ancient kingship discourse there are consistent expectations regarding the role of the king. While the details can vary, the key royal responsibilities are often expressed as confronting enemies, judging justly, and mediating the divine. While the articulations vary, each of the selected texts present Jesus assuming these royal responsibilities over the kingdom of God. In 1 Corinthians, Jesus defeats death, bringing the kingdom of God at his return through the general resurrection. In Acts, Jesus confronts an enemy in Paul, who is then made one of Jesus’s representatives after Jesus’s ascension, taking the kingdom of God with him. In the Shepherd, Jesus mediates the divine and maintains order through just judgment over the kingdom. Jesus’s kingship of the kingdom explains the comparatively less frequent use of the phrase βασιλεία θεοῦ in the early Christian texts outside the Synoptic Gospels and raises the question of the link between the presence of the kingdom and the bodily presence of Jesus, its king.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorDavid J. Johnston (Supervisor) & Madhavi Nevader (Supervisor)


  • Kingdom of God
  • Kingdom
  • Kingship
  • 1 Corinthians
  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Shepherd of Hermas
  • Kingship discourse
  • Royal responsibilities
  • Royal discourse

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 21 March 2029

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