Thinking Cap # 24 - Kingdom of What?
Most Bible readers are not very careful in their reading habits. We tend to gloss over
small details that can have a very significant impact in proper interpretation. Such is
the case with the "kingdom of God," the "kingdom of heaven," and the
"kingdom of their Father." Most people mistakenly read the parables and make
totally wrong statements about "heaven" because they do not pay attention to
small details. So, just what is the difference between these three "kingdoms?"
Or, are they synonymous, as most people assume? How would you respond?
This is just my opinion, but here is how I would respond to the question. First, let's
look at three verses in the Book of Matthew which use the subject phrases. If all three
refer to the same thing, then there would be no need for different wording. Prov. 30:5
tells us that every word of God is pure. Therefore, my starting point would be to assume
that the Holy Spirit is giving us key words to help us understand and rightly divide the
Word. Note also in Rev. 11:15, the Bible tells us of kingdoms (plural).
Matt 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Matt 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Matt 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of
their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
- There is the "kingdom of God", an expression that relates especially to
salvation. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jo.
3:3). It is a spiritual kingdom (Ro. 14:17; 1 Cor. 15:50) and it is inside people (Lu.
17:20-21). It is the mystical body of Christ (as opposed to the material and the memorial
bodies of Christ).
- There is the "kingdom of Heaven", a highly technical expression found only in
the gospel of Matthew, a gospel with strong Jewish emphasis. This expression refers to a
literal and physical kingdom, not currently present on the earth. Reading Acts 1:1-6, lets
you see that the disciples wanted the kingdom of Heaven to be literally restored to the
Nation of Israel at that time. It is the literal visible reign of Jesus Christ over the
"kingdoms" of this earth. Jesus did not deny the literal kingdom was coming to
Israel; in fact, the implications of His answer prove this kingdom will come.
- It is important that you distinguish between these two kingdoms. Certain parables are
used in connection with both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, but similarity
in some points does not mean identity in all points. Unsaved people are included in the
kingdom of the heavens, and these will ultimately be removed (Matt. 8:12; Lu. 13:28-29).
There are no unsaved people in the kingdom of God (Jo. 3:3,5). Confusing the two kingdoms
can cause you to misinterpret many of the "kingdom" parables.
- Both kingdoms (God and heaven) were present on the earth and under the control of Adam.
The Kingdom of God is currently present on earth through the Body of Christ. The Kingdom
of Heaven will again be a literal kingdom on earth under the reign of Christ during the
- The mystery parables of Matthew 13 make clear that the kingdom of heaven will not be
brought in by the gradual conversion of the world to Christianity, but will be established
by cataclysmic judgments. It will be imposed on earth by divine power at Armageddon.
During the Millennium all people will be made subjects of the kingdom (1 Cor. 15:24-27).
- As a result of the subduing of all iniquity and opposition to God, the kingdom of the
Father will be brought in (Matt. 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:28). This expression refers to the fixed
state that will prevail in eternity when sin and sorrow will be forever banished (2 Pet.
Berean Baptist Church
West Palm Beach, FL
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