before Pontius Pilate,
Roman governor asked the Lord, “
Are you the king of the Jews?”
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom
were of this world,
my servants would have been fighting,
that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.
But my kingdom is not from the world”
(John 18:36, ESV).
As Roman governor in Judea, Pilate’s primary
responsibility was to maintain peace and order.
The Jewish high council
wanted to put Jesus to death,
so they sent Him
to Pilate because he alone
held the power to pronounce a
The high priest Caiaphas had to convince Pilate that
Jesus was a troublemaker and a threat to
He accused Christ of claiming to be a king--a charge
that would insinuate Jesus in the crime of recruiting
rebel forces to launch a revolution
against Roman authority
Caiaphas hoped that, to avoid a rebellion,
Pilate would determine
Jesus to death.
When Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world,”
He was, in essence, telling Pilate that He needed no earthly defense because
His kingdom wasn’t from the world.
Christ admitted He was head of an empire,
but not one that
Rome needed to fear as a political rival.
If His kingdom were of this world, His servants would have been fighting to defend Him.
But Jesus had restrained His disciples
from preventing His arrest
Pilate realized that Jesus had no interest in stirring up a rebellion.
He posed no threat to Rome.
Directly following this conversation, Pilate told the Jewish leaders,
“I find no basis for a charge against him” (John 18:38).
“My kingdom” refers to a spiritual kingdom of truth where Jesus reigns as Lord over the lives of His people. Jesus told Pilate,
You say I am a king.
I was born
and came into the world
testify to the truth.
All who love the
recognize that what I say
Jesus did not come to earth to rule over a mortal empire. He came to bear witness to the truth of who He is—the Messiah, Savior of the world. Everyone who loves and recognizes this truth is a citizen of Christ’s kingdom.
The Jewish high council wanted Pilate to condemn Jesus under the pretense that He was raising a rebellion against Rome and proclaiming Himself “king of the Jews.” But that scenario was inaccurate, and Jesus cleared up the distortion, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
The Lord hit on the word truth as if to say,
“The real truth is this, Pilate: they want me dead because
they are horrified by the truth of my claim--
that I AM ‘
I Am, the promised
Jesus offers the truth of intimate fellowship with the only true God.
He was born into this world for this purpose: “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3, NLT). His kingdom presents the opportunity to know the truth that sets us free from sin and death (Romans 8:2; John 8:32). Only those who are born again can see Christ’s kingdom (John 3:3).
And only those who are born of water and spirit can enter His kingdom (John 3:5).
Once, Jesus told the Pharisees,
“You are from below; I am from above.
You are of this world; I am not of this world
” (John 8:23).
To His disciples, the Lord explained that the world and
the “prince of this world” held no power over Him
The world hates
Christ and His followers, “
are not of the world
” (John 17:14, 16).
The statement, “My kingdom is not of this world,” relates to the origin and nature of Christ’s kingdom, not the location. The authority and power of Christ’s kingdom are drawn from a source outside of this world—from God, our heavenly Father. Christ’s headship is not of human origin but divine.
Christ’s kingdom is unlike any on this earth: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Other kingdoms are rooted in the realm of this world, but Christ’s is unique. His kingship is spiritual. It comes down to us from heaven and gives life to the world (John 6:33).
While not of this world, the Lord’s kingdom is most certainly in this world, exercising authority over this world and impacting this world. Jesus Christ and all of His disciples take orders from above, not from below. We are to set our minds “on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). When it comes to obeying the law, the apostle Peter said, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29, NLT).
As believers in Jesus,
we are subjects of Christ’s kingdom.
This world is not our home
(Hebrews 13:14; Philippians 3:20; 1 John 2:15–17).
We are citizens of heaven,
owe our highest allegiance
Just as He declared, we, too, can say,
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
When we read of
in the New Testament, we are reading
the Greek word cosmos.
Cosmos most often refers to the
and the people who live on the earth,
functions apart from God.
is the ruler of this "cosmos"
(John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19).
By the simple definition that the word world
refers to a world system ruled by Satan,
we can more readily appreciate
Christ’s claims that believers
no longer of the world--
we are no longer
ruled by sin,
nor are we bound by
principles of the world
In addition, we are
being changed into the image of Christ,
interest in the things of
to become less and less
as we mature in Christ
Believers in Jesus Christ
are simply in
the world—physically present--
but not of it, not part
of its values
As believers, we should be
set apart from the world.
This is the meaning of
being holy and living a holy,
be set apart
We are not to engage in the
the world promotes,
nor are we to
retain the insipid, corrupt mind
that the world creates.
we are to conform ourselves,
and our minds,
to that of Jesus Christ
This is a daily activity and commitment.
We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness.
We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us.
Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice.
Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.
Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us,
but we are not to immerse ourselves
in what the world values,
nor are we to
chase after worldly pleasures.
Pleasure is no longer our calling in life,
as it once was,
but rather the worship of God
one word could sum up the nature of the apostle Paul’s
the call of Christ on his life,
it would be excellence.
Paul desired to excel
everything He did
for the Lord
(2 Timothy 2:15),
so he tackled
his God-assigned mission
preach the gospel
with all-out fervor,
giving himself entirely to the work
He warmly encouraged fellow believers to do the same
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord
labor is not in vain”
(1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV).
When Paul said to always
be “abounding in the work of the Lord,”
he may have had these words of the prophet Jeremiah in mind: “
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD
(Jeremiah 48:10, ESV).
Paul knew that life as a
was arduous work
(2 Corinthians 11:23–28).
It was often tedious and thankless work, too,
so he encouraged Christians
“grow weary of doing good,
due season we will reap,
if we do not give up”
(Galatians 6:9, ESV).
The term abounding means
“being abundant or plentiful,
going beyond, or producing or existing
in large quantities.”
The work of the Lord refers to
preaching, teaching, and being a
gospel of Jesus Christ
Paul’s wording in 1 Corinthians 15:58 closely resembles his question in 1 Corinthians 9:1 when he defends his work as an apostle: “
Don’t you agree that I’m an apostle?
Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord?
Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord?”
(1 Corinthians 9:1, GW).
Paul said that his ministry protégé Timothy was “
doing the work of the Lord, as I am”
(1 Corinthians 16:10).
And of Epaphroditus, his “fellow worker and fellow soldier,”
Paul said, “
He nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life
” (Philippians 2:25–30, ESV).
Believers can always be abounding in the work of the Lord
no matter what we do to further the kingdom of God.
Whether we are onstage preaching the message or behind the scenes cleaning toilets or cooking for the crowds, we ought to devote ourselves to it
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving”
To church elders, preachers, teachers, and ministry leaders, Paul taught, “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind.
Let everything you do reflect
the integrity and
seriousness of your teaching.
Teach the truth
so that your teaching can’t be criticized.
Then those who oppose
us will be ashamed and
have nothing bad to say about us”
(Titus 2:7–8, NLT).
We can always be abounding in the work of the Lord if we
keep the same tenacious attitude as Paul.
He completed the job
with unswerving dedication,
recognizing that serving Christ
involves real labor.
The rewards of heaven are worth going all out for, which is what Paul meant
when he said
our labor is not in vain.
When the going gets tough or unexciting,
ministers of the gospel must remember
to “never tire of doing what is good
” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
We are not called to idleness but to diligence
(2 Thessalonians 3:6–15; Hebrews 6:11–12).
Jesus taught this principle in the
parable of the sower
The sower of the seed labored, knowing that some of the
seed would fall on good ground
and “produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a
hundred times what was sown
” (Mark 4:20; see also Matthew 13:1–23).
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”
(1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV).
This verse concludes a chapter
that details the future resurrection of our earthly bodies.
Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to remain faithful to
everything he had taught them.
When we see the word therefore in Scripture, we should
always back up to see why it is there:
what is the “therefore” there for?
The word usually indicates a summation of what was
previously stated. In this case, Paul addresses
those who had fallen away
original teaching on the resurrection.
They were embracing heresy and introducing
contrary to the gospel.
Paul restates the
of Jesus’ death for sin and bodily resurrection
and then exhorts them
to remain firm in that
To be steadfast and unmovable
is to be
A steadfast person knows what
and cannot be
tossed back and forth by the waves,
and blown here and there by
An unmovable person
can hear false teaching,
engage doubters, and defend truth without
it shaking his own faith.
In his other epistle to Corinth, Paul expresses his concern for this church: “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”
(2 Corinthians 11:3).
Even believers who had been personally taught by the apostle Paul were victims of deception. How much more vulnerable are we?
To remain steadfast and unmovable
we have to
know the Word of God.
Second Timothy 2:15 says,
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a
workman who does not need to be ashamed,
accurately handling the word of truth”
To accurately handle
the word of truth, we must not only
read the Bible, but we must allow it to
become part of us.
Its truth should
so penetrate our minds and hearts
that it shapes
our thinking and our actions.
It should so fill our minds that we can detect error when we hear it. Satan uses Scripture for his own purposes, twisting it to sound as though it says something it doesn’t say (Luke 4:9–11).
If we have not been diligent in our study and meditation on truth, we are vulnerable to error. The false religions of the world can be persuasive when they quote Bible verses to support their error. Even Christians can be duped by smooth-sounding heresy if they do not have a solid grounding in the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It is God’s desire that we grow daily in our understanding of Him and His Word so that we will remain faithful to the end (John 8:31; 2 Peter 1:2; 3:18; 1 John 2:24).