Summary: The kingdom is more than a future reality. It is already present. The Pharisees did not have to wait for it. The disciples were already part of it. Even today the kingdom as Jesus established it is present wherever people acknowledge Jesus as King.
Lessons on the Coming Kingdom
(Gen. 6-9) Luke 17:20-37
Jesus Speaks on the Spiritual Nature of God’s Kingdom
(Luke 17:20-21) And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
The Pharisees and their many followers were looking forward to the arrival of an outward, earthly, visible kingdom, one in which the Jews would occupy a very prominent place. They were hardly able to wait for its arrival. They were so anxious to know when it would be established that they were willing to obtain information with respect to this subject from any source whatever…even Jesus. By this time in Jesus’ ministry the Pharisees had rejected His main message of the gospel, but they were still curious—as many people are even today—to know His opinion about the timetable of the kingdom.
Jesus, however, in his answer indicates that they believed a misconception concerning the nature of the kingdom, that is, that it would arrive with loud proclamations, prancing horses, marching armies and military music. In other words, they believed it would be announced with a loud outward show. If that were so, people would be greeting its arrival by shouting, “Here it is!” or “There it is!" But Jesus tells them that they are wrong. He states that the kingdom of God is essentially spiritual in its essence. It is within, or if one prefers, inside a person. Wherever God is truly recognized and honored as king, there one finds His kingdom or Kingship. The kingdom is not an outward visible entity so that people would be able to point to it and exclaim, “There it is!” Rather, it consists of inner qualities, such as “righteousness and Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” These qualities exist wherever God is recognized as king.
The word “within” (Gr entos) is used in the New Testament only twice, here and in Matthew 23:26. When He said, “The kingdom of God is within you”, He could not have meant the Godless and hostile Pharisees, and so a better translation is “The kingdom of God is among you.” That would be true, since He was there and His disciples were scattered among the crowd.
The miracles of Jesus showed the presence and power of the King. On another occasion, Jesus told the Pharisees, “If I drive out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Matt. 12:28).
The kingdom is more than a future reality. It is already present. The Pharisees did not have to wait for it. The disciples were already part of it. Even today the kingdom as Jesus established it is present wherever people acknowledge Jesus as King. You don’t have to wait to be part of it. It is spread by the new nature that Christ places in the heart of every believer.
Jesus Speaks on His Coming Again
One of the greatest delusions of our time is that man is going to improve himself and his world; that he is going to build the kingdom of God without God. He expects to bring in the Millennium without Christ.
Now the glorious day of the Kingdom was the subject of much of what Christ had to say. In fact, He emphasized the future—the change that was coming and His return.
In this passage before us Christ warns His disciples not to be concerned about His return.
Now the return of Christ is in two phases. The first phase is what we call the “Rapture of the church” which is the taking away of true believers (detailed for us in 1 Thess. 4:13-18). But in this passage He is talking about the second phase of His return, which is returning to earth to establish His Kingdom. This will take place after the Rapture and the great tribulation.
(Luke 17:22-23) And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
The first time He came, they failed to recognize Him because they were looking for a conquering Messiah to come and deliver them from Rome. Instead He came as a baby and lived as a peasant. The next time He comes it will not be in an isolated place like Bethlehem, but He will come in glory. Therefore He warns them not to pay any attention to those who say He is here or there—or He is coming at a certain time. This is one reason you cannot set a date for the coming of Christ.