I was thinking about the difference between a kingdom and an empire, and the difference between a king and an emperor.
Let's start with some basic definitions...
(Note: Some words have been boldfaced for added emphasis, and [bracketed phrases] within quoted Bible verses are added helps and not found in the original translation)
Old English cyningdom; see king (n.) + -dom. Cognate with Old Saxon kuningdom, Middle Dutch koninghdom, Old Norse konungdomr. The usual Old English word was cynedom; Middle English also had kingrick (for second element, see the first element in Reichstag). Meaning "one of the realms of nature" is from 1690s.
a late Old English contraction of cyning "king, ruler" (also used as a title), from Proto-Germanic *kuningaz (source also of Dutch koning, Old Norse konungr, Danish konge, Old Saxon and Old High German kuning, Middle High German künic, German König).
This is of uncertain origin. It is possibly related to Old English cynn "family, race" (see kin), making a king originally a "leader of the people." Or perhaps it is from a related prehistoric Germanic word meaning "noble birth," making a king etymologically "one who descended from noble birth" (or "the descendant of a divine race"). The sociological and ideological implications render this a topic of much debate. "The exact notional relation of king with kin is undetermined, but the etymological relation is hardly to be doubted" [Century Dictionary].
early 13c., from Old French empereor "emperor, leader, ruler" (11c.; accusative; nominative emperere; Modern French empereur), from Latin imperatorem (nominative imperator) "commander, emperor," from past participle stem of imperare "to command" (see empire).
Originally a title conferred by vote of the Roman army on a successful general, later by the Senate on Julius and Augustus Caesar and adopted by their successors except Tiberius and Claudius. In the Middle Ages, applied to rulers of China, Japan, etc.; non-historical European application in English had been only to the Holy Roman Emperors (who in German documents are called kaiser), from late 13c., until in 1804 Napoleon took the title "Emperor of the French."
mid-14c., "territory subject to an emperor's rule;" in general "realm, dominion;" late 14c. as "authority of an emperor, supreme power in governing; imperial power," in Middle English generally of the Roman Empire.
From Old French empire "rule, authority, kingdom, imperial rule" (11c.), from Latin imperium "a rule, a command; authority, control, power; supreme power, sole dominion; military authority; a dominion, realm," from imperare "to command," from assimilated form of in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + parare "to order, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").
From Psalm 45:1 -- "...I address my verses to the king...":
מלך - meh'-lek
Definition: meh'-lek; a king:—king, royal.
From a root word with the same consonants:
mâlak, maw-lak'; a primitive root; to reign; inceptively, to ascend the throne; causatively, to induct into royalty; hence (by implication) to take counsel:—consult, × indeed, be (make, set a, set up) king, be (make) queen, (begin to, make to) reign(-ing), rule, × surely.
While there is some overlap in meaning between "king/kingdom" and "emperor/empire", there's enough separation to get a general sense of the difference: an Emperor is a military ruler, while a King is a royal ruler. Empire implies force, subjugation, and plunder, while Kingdom implies the domain a ruler of noble character; someone (ostensibly) qualified to lead by quality of character and training.
I think a lot of what we're seeing with Evangelical and Nationalistic Christianity is a confusion regarding the nature of the Kingdom of God.
Like the children of Israel of old, nationalistic Christians are clamoring to have a king that will rule for them with a rod of iron, and subjugate their "enemies" before them.
But that's not our King.
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.
Zechariah 9:9-10 ESV
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
[Justice also implies restoration, not merely righting of wrongs or punishing those who do harm]
Jesus answered, “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 [religious authorities]. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
John 18:36 ESV
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
It is tragic and heartbreaking to see the Gospel so twisted as to serve such destructive goals as xenophobia and racism, which has subtly (and in some places NOT so subtly) crept into so much of the Evangelical church today.
Even though the prophesies of the second coming of the Messiah are more violent-sounding, it's important to read them in the context established in the New Testament: Our enemies aren't people or even governments, but rather of a spiritual nature:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the [spiritual] rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV
It is tragic that so many American Christians have so quickly left Christ to follow an imaginary idol of power and force to fill void in their hearts left empty by the lack of the knowledge of the beauty of Christ.
Content Warning: This is straight-up Bible stuff from a very Christian perspective. If that's not what you're looking for, I'm sure I'll have other posts you'd be interested in soon. Cheers.
Content Warning #2: Ummm, guys... don't blog angry. Maybe skip this one. XD
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