Wednesday, November 18, 2015

KINGDOM OF GOD vs KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Isa. 11:6
KINGDOM OF GOD (pt. 1)

While there are a couple of oblique references to the kingdom of heaven in the Old Testament, the exact phrase is never used. Neither is the phrase “the kingdom of God.”


Both are essentially NT concepts that Jesus introduced during His ministry on earth, and both are packed with powerful concepts for the followers of Jesus today.

KJV STATISTICS: (all are found in the NT only.)

  • Kingdom of God occurs in 91 verses, plus “kingdom of God’s sake” in Lk. 12:39.
  • Kingdom of heaven is found in 40 verses.
  • Father’s kingdom is found once.

It has been my experience, limited as it is, that few people from the United States actually know what a kingdom is or how it operates. Yet, an understanding of such is crucial for any who would name the name of Christ.

Having a kingdom mentality is necessary for those who would “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

Too often, those from a democratic society such as the United States apply biblical principles through the filter of a democratic mindset. Yet, democracy is a foreign concept in the Bible, and is certainly not a term that operates within a kingdom of any kind, especially the kingdom of God.

I invite you, then, to join me on a journey as we unpack some of the biblical principles concerning the kingdom of God and of heaven. We will look at things such as:

  • kingship
  • citizenship
  • duties
  • privileges

I promise you that you will be challenged along the way. You may find your thinking has not been aligned with the Bible, or that your actions have been contrary to those expected of kingdom citizens.

Not to worry.

You can be saved and go to heaven without ever truly understanding kingdom concepts; however, to enjoy the full benefits and privileges of kingdom living in this life, such understanding is critical.

DEFINITIONS:noun
1. a state or government having a king or queen as its head.
2. anything conceived as constituting a realm or sphere of independent action or control: ie, the kingdom of thought.
3. the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ.
4. The domain over which the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ extends, whether in heaven or on earth.
(definitions taken from dictionary.com—numbers 3 & 4 were removed because they referred to biological terminology not important to our discussion)
Because of the context of our subject, it is fairly obvious that we are talking about God’s kingdom over which He rules.

Very simply, a kingdom is the realm of the king’s domain, hence kingdom.

In order for us to proceed with a clear view, it might be necessary to point out there is no difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven.

Many believe that there is, and go to great lengths to prove it. Most of these teachers have the view known as “dispensational” and teach that there is a difference between the millennial kingdom and a future kingdom beyond that.

I do not hold that view.

I also do not hold that this is a primary doctrine over which believers should separate. It is not nearly as critical as the doctrine of salvation through the atoning death of Jesus Christ. There is no need to break fellowship nor put someone out of the church for holding this view.

I would go so far as to say that I would allow them to preach from my pulpit.
It is just not that important.

However, for my purposes here, it is important that I make it clear at the outset that I believe the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven to be one and the same. It is necessary in order to avoid any future confusion that could arise over various scriptures that may come up.

For those of my readers who are at least as noble as those in Berea and practice the discipline found in Acts 17:11, what follows is a brief outline of the scripture concerning this topic.

The phrase “kingdom of heaven” occurs 32 times in 31 verses of the NT and only in the Gospel of Matthew.

The phrase “kingdom of God” occurs 68 times in ten different books of the NT.

The main passage that shows the two to be the same is found in Matthew 19 in the story of the rich young ruler—
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 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. (Mat 19:23-24)
Notice that Jesus uses both phrases in his summation of the situation.

Other proofs for the similarity of the two can be found in parallel passages of the Gospels. Mark and Luke both used “kingdom of God” in many places that Matthew used “kingdom of heaven.” (Remember, you can hover your mouse over each reference and read it immediately on your screen. Quite a time-saver, don’t you think?)
Matt. 11:11-12           with Luke 7:28
Matt. 13:11                with Mark 4:11 and Luke 8:10
Matt. 13:24                with Mark 4:26
Matt. 13:31                with Mark 4:30 and Luke 13:18
Matt. 13:33                with Luke 13:20
Matt. 18:3                  with Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16
Matt. 22:2                  with Luke 13:29
In each instance, Matthew used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” while Mark and Luke used “kingdom of God.”

Clearly, then, the two phrases refer to the same kingdom.

I ask you to remember this as we delve deeper into this study, for I will be referencing verses that have one or the other phrase, and I do not want to incur the necessity of having to repeatedly say the two are the same.

I will probably link back here from time to time, and would expect any challenges—which are welcome at any time—on this subject to originate here.
Thank you for reading this far.

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