What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

Amanda Casanova

What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know Friday, May 4, 2018

Theologists and religious leaders have long discussed and debated the phrase, “The Kingdom of God.”

It’s one of the phrases Jesus himself consistently uses in his teaching and one of the most important tenants of Christianity. It’s also one of the more mysterious phrases, drawing opinions from religious experts and others.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the Kingdom of God.pPhoto courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Ralwel

What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

1. The phrase is seen many times in the New Testament.

We see the phrase “Kingdom of God” heavily used in the New Testament. According to some experts, the phrase or mention of “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” appears some 86 times in the four Gospels. Also, Acts through Revelation contains references to it.

In those books, we see a few directions and definitions on the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 5 and 7, we see Jesus talk about how to enter the Kingdom and later in chapter 12, Jesus talks about the “truth” of the Kingdom of God. He also talks about sharing the Kingdom with the disciples and finally, bringing the Kingdom to those who are blessed.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

2. There have been a few opinions on what exactly it is.

There are reports that the Kingdom of God was associated with the formation of the Christian church, and later, Protestant churches viewed the Kingdom of God as a kingdom yet to come. This opinion was called “consistent eschatology.”

By the middle of the 20th Century, churches came to believe “realized eschatology,” which said the Kingdom of God was already here. Finally, the “inaugurated eschatology” view arose, which said that the Kingdom of God is here and some biblical prophecies have been fulfilled, but other aspects have not yet been fulfilled.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

3. It’s not an actual location.

It’s easy to think of the Kingdom of God as a physical place. After all, kingdom brings to mind a grand, physical place or piece of land. Just as Jesus used parables to teach, he used a phrase that the people of that time could understand.

Some eschatologies and others, however, believe that the kingdom of God will become a physical manifestation one day. Others say it’s a spiritual kingdom and that it is already here on earth. It is the power of God and Jesus working in the world today. It’s not in some building or place or church.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

4. It's not heaven.

This is an oft-confused thought. It’s thought that the Kingdom of God or Heaven is actually heaven. Views can differ on this (and much comes from the fact that Jesus himself interchanged Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven), but many Christians believe that the Kingdom of God is a reign of God over heaven and earth.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In this prayer, Christians are praying for God’s reign to come— a reign that isn’t from this world. But all this does not mean that this view says there is no Heaven. God’s reign is above heaven and earth.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

5. It’s not the church.

The Kingdom of God is not just the church. As God’s reign is over all things (point 4), the Kingdom isn’t just the church. Instead, the church is meant to be a way for others to see life under the Kingdom. The church is meant to “model” God’s rule with mercy and justice and submitting to God’s authority.

“The kingdom creates a realm, the kingdom creates a people, but the kingdom of God is not synonymous with its realm or its people,” John Piper says. Instead, the church are the people who are preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven and showing others what that Kingdom will look like with God. Jesus tells us to prepare for the Kingdom by repentance (Matthew 4:17).

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

6. It is a promise of things yet to come.

Jesus’ return is also part of the Kingdom of God. Revelation 11:15 says: “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” This means that the Kingdom of God isn’t finished yet.

Most Christians take the view that the Kingdom of God is already here and more is coming or is yet to come. “ Sin must be fought, Satan must be resisted, sickness must be prayed over and groaned under (Romans 8:23), and death must be endured until the second coming of the King and the consummation of the kingdom,” Piper says. We can be a part of the Kingdom in today’s world, but the coming of Christ is also a Kingdom that will come and we will later be part of.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

7. It is the power of God.

The Kingdom of God is a manifestation of his power because he reigns over all. D.A. Carson, a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, says, “God reigns, and everyone, everything, every event, every item, every matter, every thought is finally subject to that sovereignty.”

In the bible, there are events that point to the Kingdom of God’s power. Jesus healed and cast out demons. He fed the hungry and even raised the dead. Later, Jesus defeats death on the cross and we see the power of resurrection— all part of the Kingdom of God when we understand that God reigns over all things.

God’s full glory and poweris yet to be fully seen, however, which will happen when the Kingdom of God comes with his second coming.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

8. It can be a mystery.

Piper calls the Kingdom of God a “mystery” because it is both here on earth and still yet to come. Jesus preached on the Kingdom of God and its mystery baffled and angered many. In Matthew 13, Jesus describes the Kingdom as a mystery as well. He says that his parable are meant to teach those who cannot spiritually “see, hear or understand.”

This is where many have differed before: Is the Kingdom of God a physical place that is coming or is already here? The mystery, Piper says, is that the kingdom of Heaven has come, but “final consummation” will happen when sin is defeated and sickness and suffering are destroyed and Jesus returns again.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

9. It’s one of the main messages of Jesus.

The central theme of Jesus’ message is the Kingdom of God. In Luke, he says he must “preach the good news of the Kingdom of God.” Because it is such a mysterious topic, he used parables to teach the message. In one, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus says that a man scattered seeds and some were eaten by birds, others fell on rocky places and others were scorched or had thorns. Finally, seeds that fell on good soil produced a crop. Jesus was talking about what can happen when people hear about the Kingdom of God.

In another, Jesus tells of a man who sowed good seed. His enemy sowed weeds among the good wheat and both sprouted. When the man’s servants asked if he wanted the weeds pulled, he said that uprooting the weeds would also uproot the good wheat. Instead, they would both be harvested at same time and the weeds would be burned and the wheat would be gathered. Here Jesus gave a picture of the Kingdom of God to come on the day of judgment.

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What is Meant by the Kingdom of God? 10 Things to Know

10. We are meant to prepare for the Kingdom.

In Jesus’ life, Christians saw how to demonstrate the Kingdom of God. He showed goodness and grace and just how God’s power can destroy darkness and death. He shows us what the Kingdom of God is.

He also tells believers they are meant to herald the good news of the Kingdom (the great commission). This is how Christians can prepare for the part of the Kingdom of God that is not yet come. Mark 1:15 says “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” That is the mission of believers. Until he returns for the final victory and consummates his kingdom, our purpose is to minister to the world.

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Publication date: May 4, 2018