top of page

What is the Kingdom of God?


“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

(Matthew 13:44-50, CSB)


You probably noticed that the Matthew scriptures above used the term “kingdom of heaven” instead of “kingdom of God.” The two terms are synonymous. Scholarly consensus is that Matthew uses the “kingdom of heaven” term in conjunction with Jewish sensibilities, avoiding using the divine name. Mark, on the other hand, is written to a more Gentile audience, perhaps living in Rome. He uses the "kingdom of God" terminology. 


With that in mind, we see Jesus asking the disciples if they understood the kingdom concepts he was laying out in the parable of the treasure, the pearl and the net. They said they did. Jesus concluded the lesson this way: “‘Therefore,’ he said to them, “every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.”” (Matthew 13:52, CSB)


I’m going to share with you three central truths about the kingdom of God as we move into more detail later on the Gospel of the kingdom of God.  


First, we need a fresh understanding of kingdom of God concepts. 

I’ll give you four important kingdom concepts for our purposes in this blog. 


One, everyone has a kingdom. It's a realm that is uniquely our own, where our choice determines what happens. It is true that we are made to "have dominion" within an appropriate domain of reality. This is the core of the likeness or image of God in us  and is the basis of the purpose for which we were formed.  “We are”, as Dallas Willard said, "all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God's great universe." We should never forget this. 


Two, our kingdom is the range of our effective will. In short, our kingdom is only what we have say over. That is our kingdom. When you think about what you really “have say over”, our kingdom is not as big or as impressive as we want it to be. 


Three, every kingdom has these elements: A ruler, a realm of subjects and the exercise of that rulership. When we go back in the Scriptures and read of the creation of humans, when God made mankind he not only made humans in the image of God but also created them as a ruler. Adam’s realm was the earth and all its creatures were his subjects (Genesis 1:26-31). 

Four, God has a kingdom. So applying the definition of a kingdom, God’s kingdom is the range of his effective will. It is where he wants done is done. Everything that obeys those principles of his kingdom, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom. 


Just a couple of more things about God’s kingdom. First, it is not made by anyone but God. Nobody has helped him and no one could help him. In Daniel's vision of the four kingdoms (Daniel 2:44-45), he sees the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman kingdoms come and go in succession. It is the kingdom made without hands (God’s kingdom) that will destroy any of the ones made with hands. 


One other thing about God’s kingdom that is different from any human kingdom. God’s kingdom has always existed (Daniel 7:14; Psalm 145:13). Daniel was seeing a vision of the clash of kingdoms and how the kingdom of God has not always existed but will outlast and out shine all other kingdoms and the Ancient of Days will sit on its throne. When Jesus directs us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," he does not mean we should pray for it to come into existence. Rather, we pray for it to take over at all points in the personal, social, and political order where it is now excluded: "On earth as it is in heaven."


Second, The kingdom of God was central to the mission of Jesus. 

“From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”” (Matthew 4:17, CSB)


Jesus came to ultimately usher in a new age, a new era. He was the culmination of all the promises of God and what God is going to do in this realm. There are three things I want you to see in this passage of Matthew 4:17. 


First, In Jesus the kingdom of God is made available. I wrote about this in a previous blog, but will mention it again here because it is so important. Jesus was preaching that people should change their minds and realize that now, the kingdom of God is within their reach. It is not something far away, or something that only a few could earn entrance into. It is now available and now available in relation to Jesus the Messiah. 


Second, the kingdom of God is a reality in which to live. We live in the kingdom of God as long as we submit to the range of God's effective will. That means we cooperate with God in doing what he wants done. When we are doing that, then the kingdom is a reality in which we live. As you submit to Jesus the Messiah, to that degree you live in the Kingdom of the heavens (God). Jesus always lived in the kingdom of the heavens. He never walked outside of it. Never. Jesus was careful to only do what he was the Father doing and only say what he heard the Father say. 


Third, the kingdom of God is present and now working in this world. There is a divine co-action. Jesus sent his apprentices (the disciples) out to do what he did. As they went they were to heal the sick and announce that "the Kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 10:9). Though this kingdom of God is "at hand", there are other kingdoms currently present. They too are "at hand." Sometimes the places where God's effective or actual rule is not yet carried out, and his will is not yet done, lie within the lives and little kingdoms of those who truly have been invaded by the eternal kind of life itself. 

We call this the “clash of kingdoms.” When a child says, “no” to a mom who has just told her to pick up her toys, there is a clash of kingdoms. The kingdom or “effective rule” of the child comes into conflict with the “effective rule” of the mom. Of course, mom wins for now. But not always and not forever. 


All of us, both the obedient and disobedient, operate within the scope of God’s kingdom. His reign and rule is so great that it can include our decisions, whatever they may be. While our decisions may not affect the outcome of God’s rule and reign, they do determine our fate. 


This brings me to my third and last point on God’s kingdom. 


Third, the kingdom of God is meant to be personally and individually sought and received. 

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”” (Mark 10:15, CSB)


We enter into the kingdom of God through a new spiritual birth, one that takes place when a person comes to a saving faith in the person and work of Jesus the Messiah. While we still live in the kingdoms of this world, we are, through faith in Christ, citizens of another eternal kingdom. 

I’ll just say two things about life in this new heavenly kingdom. First, we should each personally pray for God's kingdom to become a reality in our personal kingdom, that is, in our lives. Jesus taught us that in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 


Second, we should personally seek God’s kingdom every day. Jesus told us that in the midst of our anxious life, to first seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness, then all the other things we are concerned about will be added to us. 


What is the kingdom of God for you? It is God’s rule and reign in your life. Or as James, the half brother of Jesus wrote: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10, CSB)

131 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page