Thanks for taking the time to understand the main themes in my lengthy post and to address them in turn. A reply here and then probably some more thoughts on your second and third posts (thinking and writing time permitting).
While I tend to consider the context in reading verses and passages, perhaps I hadn’t really appreciated the overarching eschatological context for much or all of the New Testament, as you see it, so that may take a while to appreciate and allow it to colour my thinking; I tend to be an “osmotic learner” (a phrase I coined; hope it makes sense), which inevitably involves a bit of time, sitting around in a different environment. So I appreciate the input and look forward to see where it takes me.
I’ll highlight a few of my reflections and inner journeying here.
On kingdom: Where does the focus lie in NT thought?
Where I probably most struggle to tune into your interpretation of kingdom in light of the narrative-historical method is that, like the angel speaking to Mary, I see the kingdom narrative focusing on the one who the angel said “will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:33) – i.e the King and his rule, and therefore not so much limited to a specific event or events, and certainly not only past events.
Does that make sense?
I think there was an expectation among Israel of a king, Messiah, the Son of Man - i.e. not just divine intervention to judge and to restore, but of a person through whom that judgement and restoration would take place, with ongoing-ness (beyond lasting consequences) - and especially those with keen spiritual sight, such as Simeon and Anna (mentioned by Luke). That focus on a person - and his immanence - is only strengthened when it comes to NT church.
Having said that, I’ve just re-read the “end of the age” passages and seen Luke 21:31 “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near” - so I finally understand (one of the reasons) why you strongly associate events of judgement and restoration with the kingdom. Though, on balance, at the moment I would still struggle to see it exclusively - or even primarily - that way.
Detour to the end of the age passages
I also for the first time much more clearly understand how people arrive at seeing the terminus of Jesus’ end of the age teaching as at the destruction of the temple (i.e. answering the disciples on when it would be that the temple would be destroyed; end of the age as opposed to end of time; apocalyptic as opposed to literal language; etc).
I still have questions re: a) “until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled; b) the gospel being preached to all nations before the end comes; c) the gathering of the elect.
I welcome your perspective on these, if you have time.
On participation in kingdom activity
The context of Jesus’ statement on the necessity of the new birth in order to see and enter into the kingdom of God - and of the dynamic of the Holy Spirit - were in response to Nicodemus’ conviction that Jesus was from God and God was with him evidenced by the signs he performed. Jesus’ reply was not moving off topic; he was - I believe - addressing Nicodemus’ enquiry. Jesus was equating what he was doing as the activity of the kingdom (a display of the powers of the age to come, as Hebrews calls it) and saying that one needs to be born again in order to participate in the activity of the kingdom.