Understanding the Kingdom
What exactly is the kingdom?  Is it the Church?  Is it something for the present only, or is
it something for which we wait in the future?  There are some solid answers as we take
time to examine relevant biblical texts.  Just think of the huge importance of the kingdom
in the teaching and preaching of Jesus – and the whole of Scripture!  John the Baptist
began his preaching with, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”, Matthew 3:2. 
The same message came from Jesus lips as He began his ministry, “From that time on
Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”, Matthew 4:17. 
Who can study the parables of Jesus without noticing the kingdom theme – especially the
greatest New Testament concentration of parables found in Matthew 13 – each one
beginning with the introduction, “The kingdom of heaven is like...”?  Jesus compares the
kingdom to a man who sowed good seed in his field, to a mustard seed, to yeast, to a
treasure, and to a net.  Then, after Jesus’ resurrection, his main emphasis with his
disciples was the kingdom – for a period of forty days -- before his ascension.
Remember as you read your Bible, God’s kingdom always refers to his reign, his rule, his
sovereignty, and his kingship.  This reminder will help us immensely as we do our own
study: Jesus must rule in our lives through personal faith if we are to be part of his
kingdom!  The following questions and corresponding Scripture passages will help us
crystallize our understanding of the kingdom:
Are the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of Christ” the same?  Ephesians 5:5: “For
of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater
– has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”  “The seventh angel
sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of
the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He will reign for
ever and ever.”, Revelation 11:15.
Are the “kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” the same?  “Then Jesus said to
his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of God.”. Matthew 19:23-24.
Is the kingdom a present reality?   Matthew 12:28, “But if I drive out demons by the
Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”  “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell
you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God
ahead of you.  For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did
not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.  And even after you say this,
you did not repent and believe him.”, Matthew 21:31.  Mark 10:15: “I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John.  Since that time,
the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way 
into it.”  Luke 17:20-21:  “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom
of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful
observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of
God is within you.”  Romans 14:17:  “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating
and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Colossians 1:13
“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom
of the Son He loves.”
Is the “kingdom of God” a future reality?  Matthew 8:11: I say to you that many will
come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 13:43:  “Then the righteous will
shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  
Matthew 16:28:  “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death
before they see the Son of Man coming in the kingdom.”  Matthew 25:34:  “Then the
King will say to those on his right, ‘Come  you who are blessed by my Father; take your
inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”  
I Corinthians 15:50:  “I declare unto you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”  I Peter 1:11b
“…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ.”  Revelation 11:15:  “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there
were loud voices in heaven which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the
kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
As we read the above verses, we realize the kingdom has many facets to it – both present
and future.  Some in the past have attempted to define the kingdom in terms of the
Church – like Augustine and much of traditional Christianity.  Some have tried to make
the kingdom either present or future, but a simple reading of kingdom Scriptures shows
such attempts fall far short of taking biblical texts as they actually are!
This is a great lesson for us – one which I hope we all will remember.  It is extremely
important for us to determine our understanding of theology by taking into consideration
all biblical data rather than making the biblical data conform to our theology!