God has always been in full control of his creation and always will be. But the unfolding kingdom of God refers to a particular way that God reveals, displays, or demonstrates his sovereignty over creation throughout history. So, while Scripture confirms how God revealed his kingship in heaven, biblical authors give most of their attention to explaining how God unfolded his kingship on earth.
In the beginning, God visibly displayed his kingship in the Garden of Eden. He put the first human beings in that sacred garden and commissioned them to extend his visible kingdom throughout the world. They were to fill and subdue the earth as royal and priestly images of God. But Satan led Adam and Eve into a major setback for the kingdom. In response, God cursed his creation and made humanity’s task more difficult. He divided humanity into two rival factions: those who served God and those who continued to join Satan’s rebellion against God.
This rivalry took many forms throughout biblical history and led to many challenges for God’s kingdom. But the Scriptures indicate time and again that in the end God will have victory over all who have opposed him. His image will succeed in filling and having dominion over the earth, and the wonders of God’s kingdom will be revealed everywhere. And at that time, God’s victory over all rebellion will be so great that every creature will acknowledge him as the King of creation.
As the apostle Paul described in Philippians 2:10-11:
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).