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Faith & Wisdom

Kingdom Of God: Meaning and Interpretation From The Bible

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Those familiar with the teachings of the Christian doctrine will have heard the phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ and the wider concept of God as the ultimate judge and ruler over the earthly empire many times before. 

While not often discussed in detail, this notion is central to the faith, and if you want to enhance your understanding of God’s will, it’s a concept worth studying.

Often misunderstood as another description for heaven, the real meaning of the Kingdom of God is not clearly agreed upon among religious figures. 

What’s our understanding of the Kingdom of God, and are these views the same across all denominations? 

We’re analyzing the scripture to answer these questions and more.

What is the ‘Kingdom of God’?

The ‘Kingdom of God’ is a concept that places the whole of humanity under the spiritual rule of the Christian God. 

Just as kings rule over empires within their geographic domain, so does the Lord — but over all of creation. In this sense, we see God as the ultimate judge of all things, someone whose authority is greater than that of any person. 

The idea of God as a king originates from the Old Testament, which often refers to the Almighty as “the judge of all.” 

Despite the concept’s prominence in the Christian faith, the kingdom of God idea is a consistent feature of all Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). 

People often compare the Kingdom of God to the concept of heaven, and with good reason. The terms are used interchangeably across the gospels, notably with Matthew referring only to the kingdom of “heaven” due to the Jewish custom of never uttering the name of God. 

Let’s turn to the Bible to further enhance our understanding of this phrase.

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The Kingdom of God in scripture

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Let’s take a look at four key references to the Kingdom of God across the Bible to learn more about its meaning and significance. 

Luke 17:20-21

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The Kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

This verse from Luke communicates a foundational principle within the Kingdom of God concept — that it’s a constant feature of the present moment to those who have faith.  

It speaks to God’s omnipresence that, while He certainly does reside in heaven, we can also feel His presence and authority here on earth. This was true back during Biblical times, as well as right up to the present day. 

Mark 1:15

“The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Though brief, this line from Mark neatly summarizes the ‘conditional’ aspect of residing in His kingdom and Christian salvation in general.

As a result of our collective sin, we must repent before God’s ultimate judgment if we want a chance at eternal life, and we must protect ourselves from sin and Satan at all times. 

Matthew 6:33

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

In this verse from the gospel of Matthew, we see the phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ used in a less literal sense. 

Usually referring to God’s rule over humanity, here Matthew uses the phrase to encompass the breadth of the Christian faith and doctrine in its entirety. In this scripture, ‘seeking the Kingdom of God’ means to follow the Ten Commandments and live according to Christian principles. 

1 Corinthians 6:9

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God?”

Finally, Corinthians reminds us of the other side of the conditional aspect of the Kingdom of God — sin that leads to a person’s exclusion from God’s reign.

Those who commit sins will be punished in the afterlife, which begs the question of exactly when is the Kingdom of God?

Where and when is the Kingdom of God?

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With its conceptual similarities to heaven, the Kingdom of God is often thought to be identical to heaven, a paradise where righteous people spend eternity after their final judgment. 

But different denominations of Christianity hold different ideas about when the kingdom of heaven arrives. While these ideas are all based on scripture, different interpretations lead to different conclusions.

Protestant churches adopted the ‘apocalyptic’ interpretation of the Kingdom of God. Under this view, the Kingdom of God didn’t start in the first century after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, but it will instead commence after a future apocalyptic event that is yet to take place.

Later interpretations adopted a different view, however.

They see the Kingdom of God as non-apocalyptic, positioning it as the manifestation of divine sovereignty over the world through the ministry of the Messiah Jesus Christ. This dates the kingdom beginning from the events of Jesus’s crucifixion to the present day.

Others take Luke’s view that ‘the Kingdom of God is within you,’ meaning the faithful experience God’s reign internally as a result of their beliefs. 

There‘s still no strong consensus regarding the realization of God’s kingship, but the notion that the righteous will reside in the Kingdom of God and heaven and sinners won’t is demonstrated across all denominations.

Kingdom come

The Kingship of God views God as the ultimate judge of humanity that supersedes any authority in the earthly kingdom. 

Scholars and theologians disagree about when the coming of the kingdom occurs, with some Christian denominations claiming it’s now and some suggesting it’s an apocalyptic point in the future.

This conflict has given way to a revised understanding of the Kingdom of God that we as worshippers can act upon — We should live our lives according to the Ten Commandments and other key principles of the Christian faith in preparation for our day of judgment. 

To always stay connected to God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit, download the app in the iOS App Store or on Google Play.

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