Beyond Today

Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow | Learn more...

You are here

The Kingdom of God

The Heart of Christ's Message

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

A king is a supreme ruler. An absolute monarchy, the undivided rule of a single person, is not a form of government familiar to most of us. Most people are more aware of the personal profiles of princes and princesses, along with exposés of their errors and excesses, than they are of the monarchy itself.

Fewer still are aware that the concept of a monarchy is to be found in the New Testament and that it has a direct connection to the future of mankind.

In Matthew 6:9-13 Matthew 6:9-13 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
Jesus Christ gave a model for people who wish to learn how to pray effectively. Most people know this passage as the Lord's Prayer. But do they consider its content?

Twice in this prayer outline Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God. First is a plea for that kingdom to “come”; then follows an acknowledgment that God indeed has a kingdom. When we acknowledge that God has a kingdom, we also acknowledge that He is royalty.

Scripture shows that the Kingdom of God is yet to come, and the world will see an obvious, dramatic occurrence when it is established. Few religions, however, believe this. Few even acknowledge the word kingdom except in an ethereal sense.

What does the Bible have to say about the Kingdom of God?

Kingdom theme in the Gospels

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says this about the Kingdom of God: “The word 'kingdom' is found fifty-five times in Matthew; twenty times in Mark, forty-six times in Luke and five times in John. When allowance is made for the use of the word to refer to secular kingdoms and for parallel verses of the same sayings of Jesus, the phrase 'the kingdom of God' and equivalent expressions (e.g., 'Kingdom of heaven,' 'his kingdom') occurs about eighty times . . . These statistics show the great importance of the concept in the teachings of Jesus . . . There can, therefore, be little doubt that the phrase 'the kingdom of God' expresses the main theme of His teaching” (Vol. III, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 804).

Studying the preceding references to the Kingdom in the four Gospels gives us much understanding. Consider, for example, these points:

  • The message Jesus commissioned His early apostles to teach is called the good news, or gospel, of the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2 Luke 9:1-2 1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • Jesus used the same words to announce the message His Church should broadcast through the ages: the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
    American King James Version×
    ; Luke 8:1 Luke 8:1And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • The Gospels frequently summarize Jesus' teachings with the same terminology: “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23 Matthew 4:23And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
    American King James Version×
    ; 9:35; 24:14).
  • Jesus equated gaining salvation with entering the Kingdom (Matthew 19:16 Matthew 19:16And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    American King James Version×
    , 23-24), and He explained the loss of salvation in terms of rejection from the Kingdom (Luke 13:28 Luke 13:28There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • The message of salvation is called the Word of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:19 Matthew 13:19When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • The hope and comfort of a Christian are said to be in entering the Kingdom (Mark 10:15 Mark 10:15Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • The principal goal of a Christian is to seek first the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • Righteous people are called sons of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:38 Matthew 13:38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • The undisputed theme of many of Christ's parables is the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven (verses 44-45, 47).

Duality within the office of the Messiah

When Jesus' impending birth was revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel, the unborn child was declared to be the King of a kingdom (Luke 1:30-33 Luke 1:30-33 30 And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
American King James Version×
). He is clearly the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah, the chosen leader who was to deliver God's people both as Savior and King (Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
American King James Version×
).

Shortly before His crucifixion, Christ entered Jerusalem in a triumphant procession during which citizens, as a high tribute, laid their clothing in his path along with branches cut from nearby trees. To grasp the significance of this event, we must review an ancient prophecy-Zechariah 9:9-10 Zechariah 9:9-10 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on an ass, and on a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace to the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
American King James Version×
, a prophecy of a Messiah King who is also the Messiah Savior.

There can be little argument that Jesus Christ is our Savior or with the concept that He rules in our minds through the indwelling presence of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25 Galatians 5:22-25 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
American King James Version×
; Colossians 3:15 Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
American King James Version×
). Yet there is even more to Christ's kingship than ruling in the minds of believers.

Many of Christ's own countrymen, like their ancestors, expectantly waited for a kingdom to be brought by a Messiah King. The overwhelming majority, however, missed the need for and significance of a Messiah Savior.

In a similar error, traditional Christian churches have long focused narrowly upon Jesus as Savior to the exclusion of His role as coming King.

Christ knew He was King

The bold prophecies of the Old Testament, combined with the Gospels and apostolic writings of the New, show that Christians ought to understand Christ both as Savior and as returning King (Daniel 7:13-14 Daniel 7:13-14 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
; Acts 1:1-11 Acts 1:1-11 1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power. 8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.
American King James Version×
).

It was Jesus' deliberate association of Himself with the prophecy in Daniel that inflamed the chief priests and settled the resolve of the Sanhedrin that Jesus must die (Mark 14:53 Mark 14:53And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
American King James Version×
, 61-65).

Jesus did not want His followers to expect an immediate kingdom (Luke 19:11-12 Luke 19:11-12 11 And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
American King James Version×
), but He did purposefully cultivate their expectation for a kingdom in the future with Himself as its Monarch. The act of cutting and scattering tree branches that marked His entrance into Jerusalem shortly before His death was done as a tribute to the Messiah King in fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy. This significance was not lost on the Pharisees (Matthew 21:1-11 Matthew 21:1-11 1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying to them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them to me. 3 And if any man say ought to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell you the daughter of Sion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
American King James Version×
; Luke 19:28-40 Luke 19:28-40 28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when he was come near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go you into the village over against you; in the which at your entering you shall find a colt tied, where on yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him here. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do you loose him? thus shall you say to him, Because the Lord has need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said to them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them, Why loose you the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord has need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments on the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37 And when he was come near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said to him, Master, rebuke your disciples. 40 And he answered and said to them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
American King James Version×
).

This teaching cost Jesus His life. When He was soon to become the Messiah Savior through His death and resurrection, He would not deny being Messiah King (John 18:33-37 John 18:33-37 33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, Are you the King of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it you of me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me: what have you done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
American King James Version×
). When Pilate questioned Him about His kingship, Christ replied, “For this cause I was born” (verse 37).

This became the focus of the soldiers' ridicule and torture (John 19:1-3 John 19:1-3 1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
American King James Version×
). It also formed the closing argument of Christ's accusers, who used this seditious charge to force Pilate into issuing the order to have Jesus put to death (John 19:12-16 John 19:12-16 12 And from thereafter Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend: whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
American King James Version×
). The derisive comments made to Jesus as He was crucified further confirm He was killed because He claimed to be the Messiah King (Mark 15:31-32 Mark 15:31-32 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
American King James Version×
). Jesus' kingship was clearly marked on the sign above Him as He died (John 19:19 John 19:19And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
American King James Version×
).

Continuing Kingdom message

Both Jesus and the writers of the New Testament had countless opportunities to sever links to expectations of a coming king and kingdom spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. But, rather than cut those links, Christ and His disciples deliberately built upon them.

Daniel 7:16 Daniel 7:16I came near to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
American King James Version×
, 18, 22 and 27 record the promise, not only of a kingdom, but that God would give believers a part of it. The words inheritance , inherit and heir in English translations of the New Testament are taken from Greek words meaning “a lot, or a portion,” and “to possess” ( Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words , pp. 300, 325). They are used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 9 Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
, Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
and Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5:5For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
American King James Version×
in the context of warning that habitual sins will prevent a believer from inheriting the Kingdom of God.

Paul again uses this language, in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
American King James Version×
, a powerful reference to Christ's return, revealing that flesh-and-blood believers must be changed to spirit to inherit the Kingdom. James wrote that God selects those who are rich in faith, although they may be poor in material possessions, to be heirs of the Kingdom (James 2:5 James 2:5Listen, my beloved brothers, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him?
American King James Version×
).

Jesus, in Luke 12:31-32 Luke 12:31-32 31 But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you. 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
American King James Version×
, connected His teaching with Daniel's prophecy: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Jesus Himself summarizes much of the teaching of the prophets and apostles: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 Matthew 25:34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
American King James Version×
).

The message of a kingdom to come is indeed central to the Bible. The power of God's Kingdom is present and active in individual believers, as well as collectively in the Church, but the Kingdom has not yet come. It does not come until Christ does.

So it is with good reason that we pray, “Your Kingdom come”. GN

You might also be interested in...

The Kingdom of God was a central part of Jesus Christ's message and thus a...
Many believe they will spend eternity with God in heaven after death. But is...

    Comments

  • cantool
    You almost had me thinking that you knew the True doctrine that Jesus preached. Don’t you understand that “Christ” isn’t Jesus’s last name? Christ means the “Anointed”. When Jesus left this earth, the Comforter came to all of those believer in the upper room. You should know that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit. And when His Spirit abides in you, then the kingdom of God is within you too!
  • nathanalbright
    You should probably do a bit more reading on this site before you make comments. We are very aware that Christ was not the family name of Jesus (given that the Jews of the Second Temple period did not use family names as we do), but rather that Christ meant Messiah (alluded to above with regards to the dual purpose of Jesus on this earth). Concerning your question, you have a particular interpretation of the Kingdom of God being within each individual believer, as opposed to there being a literal Kingdom of God ruled over by Christ that will govern the whole world, as is described in detail in such books as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation, among others. As we look forward to the fulfillment of the prayer that, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we appreciate not only the work that God does in us through His Spirit, but also the work he will take in the future to renew and rebuild our troubled world.
  • Ivan Veller
    Hello Cantool, the following articles of interest are available: “His Spirit…is His mighty power acting within in us, assisting us in living righteously…‘Comforter’” (“What is the Holy Spirit?”): http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-lesson/bible-study-course-lesson-9-transf… “[Not] so much a proper name as it is a title…[:] Christos, meaning ‘anointed’” (“The Meaning of the Name ‘Jesus Christ’”): http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/meaning-name-jesus-christ/ “Christ…was prophesied to [be anointed with] ‘the Spirit…’ (Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
    American King James Version×
    )…Christ portrayed in His personal conduct the divine attributes of Almighty God through completely living by His Father’s biblical standards through the power of the Holy Spirit (compare 1 Timothy 3:16 1 Timothy 3:16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
    American King James Version×
    )” (“The Holy Spirit Is Not a Person”): http://www.ucg.org/booklet/who-god/holy-spirit-not-person/ That same power “helps provide the willpower we lack (Philip[.] 2:13). It also provides the divine love of God that allows us to obey God’s law”—the Father’s biblical standards which we must also live by (“How Does the Holy Spirit Help?”): http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/treasure-digest-how-does-holy-spiri…
  • Ivan Veller
    “Obedience to God’s law is required of those who will receive the gift of eternal life” (“What Does God Require for Eternal Life?”): http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/what-does-god-require-eternal-life/ For a future of “eternal life in His Kingdom,” God “requires a transformation to God’s way of life in the here and now (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
    American King James Version×
    )…([Mt.] 19:17). This does not earn salvation, but it is a condition for salvation…God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
    American King James Version×
    ), and this love entails obedience to God’s commandments (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
    American King James Version×
    ). As we yield to God’s Spirit, we become more and more like God in our character” (“Your Down Payment on Divinity”): http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/your-down-payment-divinity/ “Many people believe Jesus Christ taught that the Kingdom of God is something that exists only in the hearts and minds of believers” (“Is the Kingdom Within You?”): http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gospel-kingdom/promise-coming-kingdom/kingdom… However, “His teaching about the Kingdom of God concerned a literal, world-ruling kingdom” (“What Is the Gospel Jesus Christ Taught?”): http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/what-gospel-jesus-christ-taught/

Join the conversation!

Log in or register to post comments