23. The Kingdom Of God


The Jewish nation during the first century A.D. was filled with one great hope. It was looking for a Messiah who would re-establish the kingdom of Israel and reign in Jerusalem upon David’s throne.

Even the apostles of Christ were apparently still possessed of this hope at the time of his ascension for they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6.

Christ did come to earth that he might establish a kingdom, but it was not the kind of monarchy for which the children of Israel were looking. One of the chief reasons that Jesus was never fully accepted by his own people was that they did not comprehend his mission.


In many places in the New Testament, a divine institution composed of the people of God is mentioned. This body is designated in several different ways. It is called “the church”, “the way”, “the body”, “the kingdom of heaven”, “the kingdom of God”, “the kingdom of his dear Son”, “the kingdom of Christ and of God”, and “the kingdom”.

While these terms are not identical, they refer to the same body. For example, Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, and Luke 8:10 are parallel passages. In Matthew, the kingdom is spoken of as the kingdom of heaven, while Mark’s and Luke’s accounts call it the kingdom of God.

Similarly, the church is identified as the kingdom. After Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus pronounced a blessing upon him.

He concluded it saying, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19.

Notice how Jesus here used the terms “church” and “kingdom of heaven” interchangeably, showing that they are the same institution.

In Colossians 1:13 Paul speaks of “the kingdom of his dear Son”, and then in Colossians 1:18 without a break in thought describes the same entity as “the body, the church.”

Likewise in Hebrews 12:23 and Hebrews 12:28 we read of “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” and “a kingdom which cannot be moved.” The significance of these identifications is that we may conclude that the characteristics of both the church and kingdom are the same.


In a previous lesson Daniel’s prophecy relating to the great image was studied. King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in a dream a little stone cut out without hands which smote the great image (representing four universal empires) and broke it in pieces.

In his interpretation Daniel said of the stone, “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” Daniel 2:44.

We also learn from this verse that the kingdom was to be set up during the last of the four universal empires, the Roman, and that its duration was to be perpetual.

Furthermore, he states that the little stone would become a great mountain. In view of this, a prophecy of Isaiah takes on special significance.

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Isaiah 2:2-3.

Thus, the kingdom would be established in Zion (or Jerusalem), and it would extend to all nations. The fulfilment is described in the following passages, “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire to darkness, gloom and storm.” Hebrews 12:18.

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22-23

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28.

This passage refers to the kingdom of the prophecies. The mountain is Zion from which Isaiah said the kingdom would emanate. It is called an immovable kingdom corresponding to that mentioned by Daniel which would never be destroyed.

We conclude that at the time of the writing of Hebrews, this kingdom had been established and that its beginning must be sought prior to that time.


John the Baptist heralded the coming kingdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2. The expression “near” or “at hand”, as other translations have it, signifies that which is imminent.

Soon afterwards Jesus also declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17. He told his disciples as he sent them forth, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 10:7.

Later he added, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:28.

Mark records Jesus as saying, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 9:1. Then, the kingdom as to be established with power during the lifetime of some then present.

After his resurrection the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8.

He also admonished them to “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49.

The fulfilment of these promises and prophecies took place on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. Read Acts 2:1-8. At that time the apostles were baptised by the Holy Spirit according to the Lord’s promise that the Holy Spirit would come upon them with power. It was during the lifetime of some to whom Jesus had foretold the coming kingdom, even as he had predicted.

And the locality of these occurrences was Jerusalem (or Zion) as prophesied by Isaiah. Three thousand were baptised as a result of the preaching of the apostles and the church is thereafter spoken of as being in existence.

We conclude that the kingdom of God, the church, was established on this Pentecost at the time that the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Any theory which teaches that the kingdom was established before Pentecost is necessarily false. Likewise, the premillennial teaching that the kingdom is yet to be established is equally false since it denies the Old Testament prophets, the promises of Jesus, and the plain statements of the apostles to the fact that the kingdom is now in existence.


The spiritual nature of the kingdom of God was never fully comprehended by the Jews. When Pilate asked Jesus if he were king of the Jews, Jesus stated “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36.

When the Pharisees demanded of him when the kingdom of God would come, he replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21.

In these passages, Jesus taught that the kingdom would not come with an outward show as would any temporal kingdom. The kingdom cannot be seen with the naked eye, because, being a spiritual kingdom, it exists in the hearts of men.

As people are converted to Christ and he comes to dwell in them, the kingdom spreads. Of course, the people in whom Christ dwells are visible and in that sense, the kingdom is also visible, but its domain cannot be measured in geographical terms as can other kingdoms.

The premillennial theory asserts that Jesus is yet to establish a temporal kingdom. The proponents of this idea make the same mistake that the Jews did in the time of Christ when they expected the Messiah to reign on David’s literal throne in Jerusalem.

They fail to comprehend that the spiritual nature of the divine kingdom makes impossible a temporal kingdom since the “kingdom is not of this world.”

Paul says of Christ, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17. If the king is eternal, immortal and invisible, it follows that his kingdom must partake of the same characteristics.

It must therefore be eternal, without end; immortal, it will never die; and invisible, it is spiritual rather than temporal and the citizenship of the subjects of the king is heavenly, “For our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 1:20.


The prophet Zechariah declared that the kingdom should extend “His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:10. Isaiah foretold that all nations would flow into it. Isaiah 2:2.

The parables of Jesus relating to the kingdom demonstrated that it was to have a small beginning, but experience a tremendous growth. Therefore, as prophesied, the gospel of the kingdom was preached to everyone who would believe, the Jew and the Gentile. Romans 1:16.

So rapid was the kingdom’s spread in the first century that the apostle Paul was able to declare within a few decades that the gospel had been preached in all creation under heaven. Colossians 1:23.

Truly, as prophesied by Daniel, the little stone cut out without hands was now a great mountain that filled the whole earth. Daniel 2:35 / Daniel 2:45.


The kingdom of God will not terminate with the second coming of Christ. It is called “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:11.

However, when Christ returns he will deliver up the kingdom to God, and he himself shall then be subject to the Father. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.


As shown in the lesson on “The New Birth,” the only entrance to the kingdom of God is by being born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5. Since citizenship in the kingdom of God is necessary for eternal life, the new birth is essential to a home in heaven.

And since the birth of water is accomplished in baptism, one cannot inherit eternal life and be saved unless he is baptised into Christ.


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