In Proposition 98, George Peters states:
“That the church is not the Kingdom promised to David’s Son was the belief of the early church.”
If it often declared and rightly so that in order to best understand the writings of something, one must understand what was written from the framework of the author. If we take this approach and apply it to Scripture, specifically the doctrine of the Kingdom, we have to therefore grasp the doctrine of the Kingdom from the pages of the Old Testament first and foremost to include how the Kingdom was covenanted with the people of God. Next, we have to determine if anything changed as declared by God in the writings of the NT authors regarding the Kingdom, some sort of alteration of understanding in its application. No such alteration can be found thus demonstrating the idea that the church is the Kingdom of God on earth was not preached nor believed to be so by the early church.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 98 is the following:
“If the church is the predicted Kingdom of God, we certainly ought to find some direct passage teaching this, either in the writings of the Apostles or their immediate successors. But such an one cannot be found. For two reasons it ought to be contained in the Epistles. (1) If the Apostles at one time in their ministry misapprehended (as learned men tell us on Acts 1:6, but which we deny), the nature of the Kingdom, then surely at a later period, when, as we are again told, they understood that the church was meant, we should reasonably expect that on so vital a matter some decisive utterance should be given, explanatory of the mistake made in their previous teaching and confirmatory of a change of view. Simple justice to the truth and to themselves required this at their hands, in view of their peculiar position. (2) The Jews held that the predicted, covenanted Kingdom was an external, visible reign of the Messiah on the restored Davidic throne, etc. Now in consequence of having continually to meet such prejudices, it is peculiarly significant that they employ no reasoning so prevalent at the present day, viz.: that the church is the Kingdom, etc., when such would have been in place and eminently proper if the Jews were in error. If the reader says that other errors of the Jews were not noticed, we reply, that all that were of importance in their relationship to the Christian dispensation the Apostles met and refuted. And this one, if really an error, is of such magnitude and weight, had such a direct influence, viz.: “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” that it is impossible to believe that they would have passed it by without a distinct rejection and a substitution of the truth. A whole nation under a mistake respecting the Messiah’s Kingdom which the Apostles were specially commissioned to preach, and yet an error so fundamental is not directly corrected, but must be inferred or implied! Is it reasonable or credible? The truth is, that no such repudiation of error was needed.”
Peters aptly notes in further detail in this observation that if the construct, declaration, and understanding of the doctrine of the Kingdom changed from how it was noted in the OT to how it was taught in the NT, there has to be clear, undeniable, and provable facts to support a shift in the covenant God made. Some seem to have a desire to suggest the NT authors taught a different approach to the Kingdom, namely that the church is the Kingdom of God. Even a cursory analysis of the NT writings reveals such a notion to be false. If the doctrine of the Kingdom was an error in Jewish understanding, it would go without saying that the NT authors, also Jews, would have been inspired by God to correct any errant beliefs. No such correction can be found anywhere in the NT.