The Issue of God’s Kingdom
Throughout my years of being a Christian I have been exposed to a number of views on God’s kingdom. It is my purpose in this Learning Activity to portray what I see the Scriptures to say on this subject.
The issue we need to look at are the two expressions used to label God’s kingdom: “the kingdom of God,” and “the kingdom of heaven.” The first expression, “the kingdom of God,” appears seventy times in the New Testament. The second expression, “the kingdom of heaven,” appears thirty one times all of which occur in the Gospel of Matthew. Let’s take a close look at some of the uses of these two expressions.
1. Matthew 5:3
2. Luke 6:20
3. In the two scriptures above both passages are in what is known as the Beatitudes message that Jesus spoke to the twelve apostles (see Luke 6:13). If these passages are speaking about the same event, why does the scripture use two different names for the kingdom?
4. Matthew 8:11
5. Luke 13:28, 29
6. What do you see about the two scriptures above and the kingdom?
7. Matthew 10:7
8. Luke 9:2
9. What do you see about the two scriptures above and the kingdom?
10. Matthew 11:11, 12
11. Luke 7:28
12. Both of the passages above speak about the position of John the Baptist in the kingdom. What do these passages tell you about the kingdom title?
13. Matthew 13:11
14. Mark 4:11
15. Luke 8:10
16. The three scriptures above all speak of the “mysteries of the kingdom.” What do these passages tell you about the kingdom?
17. Matthew 13:31
18. Mark 4:30, 31
19. What do the two passages above tell you about the name for the kingdom?
20. Matthew 18:3, 4
21. Mark 10:14, 15
22. Luke 18:16, 17
23. All three of the above passages speak of being as little children in the kingdom. What do these three passages tell you about the name for the kingdom?
24. Matthew 19:23, 24
25. How does Jesus label the kingdom in the two verses above?
26. Mark 10:23–25
27. Luke 18:24, 25
28. What title is used for the kingdom in items #26 and #27 above?
29. Are the scriptures in items 26 and 27 talking about the same thing as in item #24?
30. What do the scriptures in items 24 through 27 tell you about the title for the kingdom?
31. What do you conclude about the name for God’s kingdom based upon the above study?
There remains the issue of why Matthew continually refers to the kingdom as “the kingdom of heaven”? It seems to me that the best answer to this question is that Matthew was primarily writing to a Jewish audience. Since the Jews were looking for a physical, earthly kingdom, Matthew was attempting to make it clear to them that the kingdom was not earthly but spiritual in nature and fact. The fact of the kingdom being spiritual and not physical is born out by Jesus’ own statement “…My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36). This same truth appears in Luke 17:21 where Jesus told the Pharisees, “…the kingdom of God is within you.”
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