Summary: What does the "Kingdom of Heaven" refer to in the Bible? The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” within the Gospel of Matthew has been a major concern for early Christians and even New Testament scholars today. Is the "Kingdom of Heaven" a place? Is it in your hea
The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” within the Gospel of Matthew has been a major concern for early Christians and even New Testament scholars today. “It has been observed that the phrases “the Kingdom,” “the Kingdom of God,” and “the Kingdom of Heaven” are used interchangeably throughout the Gospels. The specific phrase “the Kingdom of Heaven” is confined to only the Gospel of Matthew” (Orr 1805). Matthew preferred a usage that would communicate better in the Pharisaic-type circles in which he was engaging” (Keener 68). “The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is found 32 times in the Gospel of Matthew. The phrase “the Kingdom of God” is only found 5 times in Matthew’s Gospel. Out of reverence for the Holy name of the Lord, the Jews would not mention “God,” but would substitute the word “Heaven.” The prodigal son confessed that he had sinned “against Heaven,” meaning, God. In many places where Matthew uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven,” the parallel passages in Mark and Luke use “Kingdom of God” (Wiersbe 30). This study will explore the different views of Matthew’s theology of the phrase “the Kingdom of Heaven.”
In earliest Christianity, the Jewish culture was persistent with mixing up the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Pharisees and the scribes, which were the religious leaders, had the tendency to pervert God’s message. They of all people knew the prophesies foretold in the Old Testament about the Messiah’s coming, but rejected Him to His face. “In the New Testament, the word kingdom means “rule, reign, or authority” rather than a place or specific realm. The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” refers to the rule of God. The Jewish leaders wanted a political leader who would deliver them from Rome, but Jesus came to bring spiritual rule to the hearts of people” (Wiersbe 30). Wiersbe shows us that this Kingdom that is mentioned is Christ’s reign over our lives as believers. The Jews were seeking for earthly deliverance, but Jesus came to offer the ultimate deliverance. This is a deliverance from sin. Their idea of the Messiah was so distorted that they didn’t even realize he’d come. “Jews were continually thinking of earthly kingdom, and on this account rejected our Lord’s spiritual teaching of new sovereignty from Heaven” (Thomas 57). The difference can not better be expressed than by saying, “as is done by B. Weiss, “that He and they laid the accent on different halves of the phrase, they emphasizing “the Kingdom” and He “of Heaven.” They were thinking of the expulsion of the Romans and of a Jewish king and court. He was thinking of righteousness, holiness, and peace, of the doing of the will of God on earth as it is done in Heaven” (Orr 1806). In essence, the will of God is being done on earth through believers as they continue to help people see their desperate need for a Saviour whose name is Jesus Christ. The moment they receive the gift of faith, they enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Citizens of the Kingdom had to enter it one by one, not in a body, as the Jews were expecting. Straight was the gate; it was the narrow gate of repentance” (Orr 1807). Jesus wasn’t looking for good behavior, He wanted total surrender and repentance of the heart.