Summary: "The Kingdom" is a mystery to many Christians--Is it physical or spiritual? On earth or elsewhere? Present or Future? The Bible’s answers on some of these questions may surprise you. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Template.
Understanding the Kingdom Of Heaven
[Prelude to “Parables of Power” Series]
The general "theme" of Jesus’ parables is "the kingdom of heaven"
a. Many of the parables start with "The kingdom of heaven is like..."
- Mt 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47
b. In explaining why He spoke in parables, Jesus made reference to "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" - Mt 13:11
It is indeed a mystery to us, but God’s Word can help us clear up much of the fog…
2. We also should note that "the kingdom of heaven" was the theme of...
a. Jesus’ itinerant ministry - Mt 4:17, 23
b. His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:3, 10, 19-20; 6:10, 33; 7:21
3. Because "the kingdom of heaven" is such a prominent subject in the parables of Jesus (as well as His overall preaching)...I thought it might serve a good purpose to give a careful look at what "the kingdom of heaven" means.
[Let’s begin our effort to define "the kingdom of heaven" by comparing it with "the kingdom of God"...]
I. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN -vs- THE KINGDOM OF GOD
A. IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
1. Some try to make a distinction (e.g. Scofield Reference Bible)
2. But a quick comparison of the gospels indicate that the terms refer to the same thing
a. Cf. Mt 4:17 with Mk 1:14-15
b. Cf. Mt 5:3 with Lk 6:20
c. Cf. Mt 13:31 with Mk 4:30-31
B. WHY THE DIFFERENT EXPRESSIONS?
1. We find that Matthew used the expression "kingdom of heaven" almost exclusively, while the other gospel writers used the phrase "kingdom of God"
2. It may be that since Matthew wrote his gospel to the Jews, he chose to use the phrase "kingdom of heaven"...
a. Because of the Jews’ reluctance to use the name of God (out of reverence)
b. Because of the Jews’ misconception of the coming kingdom
1) Many anticipated a physical kingdom
2) The expression "heaven" (literally, "heavens") would emphasize a spiritual kingdom
[So our first observation is that any effort to distinguish between the
"kingdom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God" is really without warrant.]
Let’s now consider what Jesus meant when He spoke of the "kingdom of heaven"...
II. THE KINGDOM INVOLVES FOUR INTER-RELATED PARTS
A. IT IS THE REIGN OF GOD...
1. The term "kingdom" as used by the Jews often stressed the abstract idea of "reign" or "dominion", not some geographical area surrounded by physical boundaries.
a. Possibly used this way by Jesus in Lk 17:21
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
b. It is used this way by Jesus in Mt 6:10
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
2. Thus, the "kingdom of heaven" (or "kingdom of God") is wherever the REIGN or DOMINION of God (who is in heaven) is manifested.
a. In one sense, the kingdom of God has always existed
For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
b. But in a special way the rule or reign of God was yet to be manifested with the coming of Christ.
1) As foretold in the time of Daniel (ca. 500 B.C.) - Dan 2:44-45
1) As proclaimed by John the Baptist - Mt 3:1-3
2) As preached by Jesus - Mt 4:17; Mk 1:14-15
3. Indeed, it is in the Person of Jesus Christ that the "reign of God" is being expressly manifest today –
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.