The Reign of God Is Within You

The Reign of God Is Within You

The Reign of God Is Within You

The Reign of God Is Within You

When we think about the reign of a king, we think about the authority the king has to accomplish his purposes. In order to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “The Reign of God is within you,” let’s consider the nature of kings and kingdoms. Imagine a kingdom where there’s a rule that you must give 50% of your income to the king. If you refuse, then king can confiscate your property and throw you in prison. The king gets what he wants and then some. You have no authority in the matter.

Now suppose there’s rule that you must pledge your allegiance to the king. If you don’t pledge your allegiance to the king, he can confiscate your property and throw you in prison. But this doesn’t mean the king can get what he wants. You have authority over your allegiance. Even if you lose everything, your freedom, or perhaps even your life, there’s nothing the King can do to get your allegiance. Do you see the difference? The reason for the difference is that the king’s authority does not extend beyond the physical world of the kingdom. The spiritual realm is beyond his authority.

Now suppose that there is an imaginary kingdom. not a somewhere outside of yourself, but inside of you. It is made, not with roads and houses or property and prisons, but who you are, what you do, what you want, etc. The king of this kingdom wants everything, not just 50%. This king wants you to pledge your allegiance to him. Do you think that the king of this kingdom has the ability to get what he wants? His authority extends into who you are, what you do, what you want… everything.

How do you feel about a kingdom like this? Do you find this king offensive?

Maybe you don’t think it’s fair for him to own everything. Maybe you imagine him exercising some sort of mind control over you, destroying your sense of self, making your will conform to his own. If you could use one word to describe this king, maybe you would choose the word death.

This is the blog post three of four. The first one is New Wineskin for the New Wine: Raising Hell, Resources, and More… and the second one is The Fragrance of Life or Death: Reexamining 2 Cor. 2:14-16.

Here’s a quick recap:

In New Wineskin for the New Wine: Raising Hell, Resources, and More…, I wrote,

For someone with eyes to see and ears to hear, but whose mind or heart is not prepared to explore the depths and heights of the exceeding greatness of Christ’s power, the content, or new wine, of this website, or wineskin, seems like a symptom of some contagious new disease that threatens the body of Christ. Some would say that my efforts are wasted on them.

[God] is leading us in triumph in the Christ, and the fragrance of His knowledge He is manifesting through us in every place, because of Christ a sweet fragrance we are to God, in those being saved, and in those being lost; to the one, indeed, a fragrance of death to death, and to the other, a fragrance of life to life; and for these things who is sufficient? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

And in The Fragrance of Life or Death: Reexamining 2 Cor. 2:14-16 I wrote,

The Complete Jewish Bible translation, in my opinion, conveys more of the meaning that is lost in translation, without confusing the English-reading person:

But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task?

I still take issue with this translation…

Lost in Translation

The problem I have with the CJB translation of this passage is inconsistency. Notice the words fragrance, aroma, smell, and sweet smell.

Fragrance. Aroma. These are pleasant words.

The English word fragrance comes from the Latin word, fragrantem, and has held the meaning “sweet smell” since the mid 15th century. Likewise, aroma is from the Latin word, aroma, meaning “sweet odor.” But the word smell (etymological origins unknown) replaced the Old English word stenc, from which we get the word stench, sometime in the late 12th century. Stench is a word that has been used from the 13th century on to convey an offensive odor. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

5 English Words = 2 Greek Words

The Greek or New Testament words for fragrancearoma, smell, and sweet smell are osmé and euódia. Osmé inherently carries neither a negative nor positive connotation. It is a neutral word describing the fact that one’s nose is functioning. Euódia, however, is a positive word describing both that the nose functions and the mind is pleased by what the nose smells.

So far, so good. Now, onto the problem.

The English word smell is used twice, once in the phrase, “we are the smell of death,” and again in the phrase, “we are the sweet smell of life,” but the Greek the word osmé is used four times. It can be found in the following phrases:

  • the osmé of what it means to know him
  • we are the osmé of the Messiah
  • we are the osmé of death
  • we are the sweet osmé of life

The fourth time it is used, it is accompanied by the English word sweet. I suppose that the translators justified adding sweet even though it is not found in the Greek, because of the word euódia, which is said to be “among those being saved.” Fair enough. I can live with that. They’re just trying to convey the meaning of the text.

Translator Bias Revealed

But if we examine the structure of verse fifteen, we see that euódia is also said to be “among those being lost.” Why should the English word sweet be used to describe one osmé and not the other? This demonstrates a bias on the part of translators, who see the words death to death and assume the worst. The text literally says,

… to moreover God [be] thanks always leading in triumph us in Christ and the osmé of the knowledge of Him making manifest through us in every place. For of Christ euódia we are to God in those being saved and in those perishing, to one indeed osmé from death to death, to one moreover osmé from life to life, and for these things who [is] sufficient?

God is pleased that osmé is doing what it does.

Remember, osmé describes the knowledge of Him and how that knowledge impacts those who smell it. Euódia is God’s opinion of the osmé. Regarding the functions of osmé, this passage says that osmé is:

  • of Christ
  • to God
  • in those being saved
  • in those perishing

Euódia, or God’s opinion of the osmé, is positive. God is pleased that osmé is doing what it does, whether it is the smell from life to life to those being saved or the smell from death to death to those perishing. This may be of little consequence to believers who are ignorant of what perishing really means. For more information about this, read If God Swears, Then What About… I do not subscribe to the idea that being saved or perishing is strictly limited to believers and unbelievers, and I certainly don’t believe that it’s about the eternal destiny of heaven-bound and hell-bound people.

Osmé is everywhere and in everyone.

Osmé, or “the fragrance of what it means to know him,” can be offensive to people who:

  • don’t believe God exists
  • believe God exists but don’t believe He can be known
  • believe God exists, believe He can be known, but don’t believe He is worth knowing
  • believe God exists, believe He can be known, believe He is worth knowing, but don’t believe He has made Himself known to them
  • believe God exists, believe He can be known, believe He is worth knowing, believe He has made Himself known to them, but don’t believe the knowledge of Him
About the king at the beginning of this blog post…

What if I told you that the king of the kingdom within you loved you more than you love yourself? What if the king…

  • …despises the idea of you being held captive, and has taken drastic measures to be sure you are set free?
  • …is generous and never withholds anything from you unless it is for your highest benefit?
  • …would never do anything to betray your trust in Him?
  • …would defend you, protect you, and even die for you?
  • …would never give up on you?
  • …doesn’t force your allegiance, but inspires it by demonstrating He is worthy of it?
Paul’s take on the King

The apostle Paul explains a few of the reasons why his allegiance is to the King of the Kingdom within Paul. He writes,

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named, that He may give to you, according to the riches of His glory, with might to be strengthened through His Spirit, in regard to the inner man, that the Christ may dwell through the faith in your hearts, in love having been rooted and founded, that ye may be in strength to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, to know also the love of the Christ that is exceeding the knowledge, that ye may be filled to all the fulness of God; and to Him who is able above all things to do exceeding abundantly what we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us, to Him is the glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus, to all the generations of the age of the ages. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Most believers would agree that living in subjection to Christ the King in the Reign of God or Kingdom of God is better than being one’s own “king.” It usually happens like this. They first believe God exists, and then they believe He can be known. And although some people take longer than others, eventually they feel like He is worth knowing, because in Christ, He makes Himself known to them. But as He makes Himself known, many believers don’t believe the knowledge of Him. Some of them don’t believe the knowledge of Him out of ignorance, that is, they simply haven’t been exposed to it yet, while other don’t believe the knowledge of Him because of reasons I’ll mention shortly.


We’ve slapped a label on the knowledge of Him, or at least, the attempt to gain the knowledge of God. We call it theology.

C.S. Lewis said,

In a way I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology. I remember once when I had been giving a talk… an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, “I’ve no use for all that stuff. But mind you, I’m a religious man too, I know there’s a God, I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night; the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!”

Now in a sense I quite agree with that man. I think he probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he will also be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of colored paper.

When God reveals Himself, our tendency is to embrace any notions of what we think He is and reject anything about Him that goes against our current understanding. I think that’s why Paul prayed for believers to have the strength to comprehend. Why would believers need strength to comprehend? Let’s look into it.

Strength is:

1840 eksisxýō (from 1537 /ek, “completely out of from” which intensifies 2479 /isxýs, “aggressive strength, filling a need or void”) – properly, “strength at work,” such as overcoming difficulties in understanding (“getting past knowledge-gaps”). It is only used in Eph 3:18, referring to apprehending (decisively laying hold of) the fuller dimensions of knowing the Lord (His love, calling, presence). — HELPS Word Studies

Perhaps like many blog readers, you like to scan the page and read what jumps out at you. If so, you may have scanned past the definition above. Or maybe you read it in its entirety but didn’t happen to notice something very important. See that little word ek? Does it look familiar? We’ve seen it before…

1537 ek (a preposition, written eks before a vowel) – properly, “out from and to” (the outcome); out from within. 1537 /ek (“out of”) is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mis-translated) Greek propositions – often being confined to the meaning “by.” 1537 (ek) has a two-layered meaning (“out from and to”) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object). — HELPS Word Studies

It is the word from in the phrases, “from death to death” and “from life to life.” Strength is necessary to move out from preconceptions about God and into the knowledge of God. Where does this strength come from? It comes from “love having been rooted and founded” and this love, according to Paul, is “of the Christ that is exceeding the knowledge.” If we don’t comprehend the love of God in Christ, we won’t have the strength to retain the new wine when the knowledge-gaps are being filled. We can’t know Him to the extent that He is revealing Himself, because the old wineskin breaks when it is filled with new wine. The love of Christ “that is exceeding the knowledge” gives us the capacity to gain knowledge of Him without bursting a seam.

In the next blog post, we’ll explore the significance of “from death to death” and “from life to life.”
  • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Why, Alice, do YOU reverse the order in your written statement above: the smell from life to life to those being saved or the smell from death to death to those perishing?

    See Fragrance Lanny A. Eichert August 18, 2014 at 1:26 am Don’t you see the ORDER in the sentences? #1 are those actively being saved; and #2 are those actively perishing. #1 is the sweet smell of death; and #2 is the sweet smell of life. The number 1′s go together and the number 2′s go together. Therefore death belongs to those being saved; but life belongs to those perishing. Why in the world would any one reverse the “order” of the words? Christians are the smell of death to one another, but they are the smell of life to those actively perishing. HOW are the unsaved going to be saved if they don’t get the message of LIFE in Christ. They need the “solution” because they know the condemnation. Christians need to present a picture of abundant living characteristic of being “in Christ” even as that which they have is called eternal life from the very moment of their conversion. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. How am I going to let it shine? By realizing my death to the sins of this world and living victoriously above them so that my sins don’t sidetrack my evangelism (smell of life unto life) to the lost and perishing. The Christian challenges his Christian friends to do likewise, meaning to reckon themselves dead (smell of death unto death) to their sins and get on with their ministries.

    Also where do you get “from death to death” and “from life to life” since it is not your quote: a fragrance of death to death, and to the other, a fragrance of life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) above where of is used not from?

    • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 2:05 am

      Alice, in Fragrance August 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm I asked, who smells death and who smells life? Don’t you see The Complete Jewish Bible translation got it wrong adding two words NOT in the Greek, namely the latter and the former in the wrong order reversing the text and making a lie. You used it even though you stated, I still take issue with this translation, but it seems not the incorrect word order. The former properly comes before the latter if they’d get it accurately. See, here is where unregenerate logic makes a mistake due to ignorance of salvation. They appear to not know the crucified life of God’s saints in Galatians 2: 20 and Romans 6: 1 – 7: 25.

      I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 2:32 am

        Alice, unregenerate logic makes a mistake due to ignorance of salvation means you make the same sort of mistake regarding your insistance of “both” without Greek textual support. For the same reason Mary forces her concept of gender equality even where subordination is the topic and she reverses the text making a lie, also. Neither one of you are prophetesses and teachers of the Truth. You, two, have not been Biblically born again regenerated by God, so all you two do is expose your profound ignorance of God’s salvation. Look, Alice, your confession of deliberately not being actively associated with and working in a local church congregation proves your rebellion against God and His work in the world. Since both you and Mary refuse a literal historical interpretation of God’s Holy Bible, you two further confirm your rebellion against God. By two undeniable proofs you both expose your unbeliefs and degenerate natures. Yet there’s still hope for each of you as long as there’s breathe in your bodies enough to make the correct confession of faith. The same holds true for all your readers who agree with you in their ignorance.

        • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

          You write, “You, two, have not been Biblically born again regenerated by God” as if you were God, Himself, looking straight into our souls.

          • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

            Alice, I have supported my conclusions with the performance characteristics of each of you two. James 2: 18b shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Please face the facts that your works prove you have the wrong faith. Once you do that you might be ready to receive the truth and be saved. It is possible and that’s why I say there’s hope for you.

      • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        Interesting point…

        • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 5:04 pm

          Alice, I saw it coming with the CJB and tried to warn you, that you should not reverse the word order.

          I’m still curious:

          Also where do you get “from death to death” and “from life to life” since it is not your quote: a fragrance of death to death, and to the other, a fragrance of life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) above where of is used not from?

    • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      I hadn’t noticed I reversed the order. I hadn’t noticed the CJB did either. I wasn’t trying to convey some hidden meaning through the arrangement. Maybe I had the CJB in the back of my head while I wrote that line. I don’t know.

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

        Alice, careless exposition is a trademark of those who don’t know what they are talking about. That territory comes with not having being born again, and you wonder how I am able to discern whether or not you and Mary are born again? Very basically true rebirth is based on the historically literal interpretation of the perfect Holy Bible. Faith is trusting God and if you can’t seem to trust His Holy Bible, you can’t trust God. It is that simple, dear Alice.

        • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm

          I never claimed to be infallible. In fact, on the home page it says, “Test everything. Hold on to what is good.” and “THE VIEWS ON THIS SITE AND IN THE RESOURCES BELOW ARE EXPRESSED BY FALLIBLE HUMAN BEINGS. TEST EVERYTHING. HOLD ON TO WHAT IS GOOD.”

          • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm

            Alice, it is not about mistakes, but carelessness in exposition. You wrote that you didn’t even NOTICE two things: what you wrote and the CJB. That’s an admission of carelessness.

        • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm

          I bet you’ll love the next blog. I caught a mistake, and I’ll be putting it out there. I’m surprised you didn’t catch it first 🙂 “Iron sharpens iron…”

          • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

            No, Alice, I don’t enjoy seeing you make a fool of yourself on line. I’d by far rather like encouraging you with praises if you were a fundamentalist born again Bible believer of whom I could be proud before my friend, your daddy, Sean Dean. Instead my heart is broken for your family, all except Sean in whom I rejoice.

  • Mary Vanderplas August 20, 2014 at 5:08 am

    I don’t agree that this rendering is a mistranslation, reflecting bias on the part of the translator. I think the sense of the text is that this fragrance that is of Christ and is a pleasing aroma to God is recognized by some and thus brings life while being rejected by others and thus having the smell of death and leading to death. I don’t agree that “perishing” means anything other than destruction and that what is in mind here is being eschatologically lost (the opposite of being saved) – though, as I’ve noted previously, the verbs are in the present tense, suggesting a process, not a completed result.

    I don’t disagree that there are different reasons people refuse to accept the Christian message, not least of which is that they haven’t come to see God as the all-loving and –merciful God that he is, whom to know and serve is true freedom. I love your portrait of the King and his ways with those whom he loves. And I like what you say about preconceived ideas about who God is and human efforts to define God standing in the way of receiving true knowledge of God – which alone liberates and gives life. I agree that strength is needed to go from holding onto preconceived ideas (and attempting to define the undefinable) to encountering the “tremendous mystery.”

    • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Mary, “being eschatologically lost” is not present tense continuous action. The text is a “now” temporal condition. Your own logic proves you can’t take God’s Holy Bible at face value, which is consistent with your unregenerate state as an unsaved sinner. You need to be Biblically born again before you can understand Scripture and teach anybody. As long as you have breathe in your body there’s still hope for you to embrace Biblical Fundamentalism and get saved. There’s no other way. John 14: 6 Jesus is The Way, The Truth, & The Life. You certainly need ALL three.

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2014 at 1:34 pm

        Mary, James 1: 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. It was written to believers already saved, and even though it is an aorist infinitive, their salvation was a continuous on-going process in their daily lives, not an eschatological event. In John 3: 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. The unbeliever is continuously under the WRATH of God in this temporal life in a continuous state of perishing, not yet eschatologically lost, because just like you, as long as there’s breathe in the body, they still could change their mind and believe the Biblically Fundamental Gospel and be saved.

    • Alice Spicer August 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      It never ceases to amaze me how you can boil my verbosity down to succinct little sentences 🙂 Thanks, as always for reading and commenting.

      • Mary Vanderplas August 21, 2014 at 6:32 am

        It’s a pleasure. You always make me think – big-time.

        • Lanny A. Eichert August 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

          Mary, not big enough. God is sooo big He ably produced His Holy Bible literally perfect throughout the centuries of human history. Too bad you choose not to believe Him. That’ll cost you eternal torment unless you turn to Biblical Fundamentalism and get saved.

  • Stephen Helbig August 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    ( YOO – O – DEE’ – AH ) ~ εὐωδία ~ God smells and is pleased ~ Thanks for the Blog Alice ~ Truly a sweet and fragrant smell.

    p.s. ~ ”Believe God exists, believe He can be known, believe He is worth knowing, believe He has made Himself known“ 🙂
    ~ This is our ROMANCE for God is the epitome (epi tome) of LOVE

    p.s.s. Looking forward to ~ “ fuller dimensions of knowing the Lord (His love, calling, presence).” ~ True times of refreshing

    p.s.s.t. ~ Be Knowing, Agape is your genesis ~ your “I AM” ~ 🙂

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