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Bible verses about Kingdom of Heaven
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Some scriptures speak of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, they mean just what they say: the Kingdom of heaven, not the Kingdom in heaven. The word "of" denotes possession, not location: It is Heaven's Kingdom.

In explaining this point, Herbert Armstrong often compared the grammar of the "Kingdom of Heaven" with that of the "Bank of Morgan." We could use the Bank of New York as a more modern example. If I say, "I'm going to conduct business at the Bank of New York," you would assume that I will be going to a local branch, not to the head office in New York City! It is the Bank of New York, not in New York, although its head office is in New York.

Similarly, it is the Kingdom of Heaven, not the Kingdom in Heaven, although its headquarters is in heaven. Our place in God's Kingdom is, in fact, being reserved by Him in heaven right now, until Jesus Christ brings it with Him:

» [We are begotten again] to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. (I Peter 1:4)

» And, behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according as his work. (Revelation 22:12)

Staff
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?


 

Matthew 5:3

Jesus was not saying that Christians go to heaven. In these verses, "of" shows possession, not location. It could just have correctly been translated, "heaven's kingdom" just as we often use "God's Kingdom" rather than "Kingdom of God." After comparing the ways He interchangeably used the terms "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God," it is obvious that He is referring to the government (Isaiah 9:6) that He will bring from heaven and set up on the earth when He returns.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Matthew 5:5

Jesus' words paraphrase the words of David in Psalm 37:11: "But the meek shall inherit the earth." Notice that neither Jesus nor David says anything about inheriting some mystical place in the heavens.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Matthew 11:12

Christ was perhaps recalling His wrestling match with Jacob, centuries earlier, when He commented that "the violent take [the Kingdom] by force". J. B. Phillips has it: "The Kingdom of heaven has been taken by storm and eager men and forcing their way into it." It takes sweat.

Charles Whitaker
The Israel of God


 

Matthew 11:12

The Kingdom of God will be the recipient of slings and arrows and wars and temptations, and its own people will need to be violent in return. He means "forceful." It will take a titanic struggle to enter it because so many things are acting against us. Jesus warns us it will not be easy. We are going to have to work vigorously and "violently" at times, to force ourselves to do what is right, because the Kingdom of God is now under siege in so many ways. Therefore, we have to fight as warriors in battle and violently engage the enemy.

From John 17:11-18, we know that the Kingdom functions in the world, and Jesus is not going to take us out of it. But He asks His Father to give us His protection from the Evil One so that we can at least have that added strength. We must constantly deal with the world, human nature, and the Evil One himself, as well as his demons.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 2): Leaven


 

Matthew 11:12

The key to understanding Jesus' words lies in understanding how the phrase "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven" is used. We know that the Kingdom of God has a future aspect, when Christ will rule over the nations and His glorified brothers and sisters will reign with Him. There is also a present aspect, as we have already been conveyed into the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13), and now our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We are already part of that heavenly Kingdom. It is a present reality for the firstfruits—though not in its fullness—and in the near future, it will be a worldwide reality.

Yet, there is another way to understand the Kingdom. When Jesus said that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17)—meaning nearby—He was referring to Himself. When He told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was among them, or in their midst (Luke 17:21), He referred to Himself. The king is always the highest representative of a kingdom, so when the king is present, the kingdom is also present.

We can see this in a couple of scriptures: "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28). Here, God's Kingdom is defined as Jesus' exercise of His power. The King, in exerting His authority over unclean spirits, displays the reign or the rule of God. The Kingdom of God is found in the Person of Jesus Christ.

This can also be seen in Mark 9:1-2:

And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.

Jesus tells them they will see the Kingdom of God present with power, and within a week they see Him transfigured. His being revealed to them in glory was a demonstration of the power of God's Kingdom. Even without the glory, what stood among them was still the Kingdom of God. Because He is the King, as the central figure of the Kingdom, wherever He went, the Kingdom was present. In the book of Acts, the message of the Kingdom is inextricably tied to the central Being in that Kingdom (Acts 8:12; 19:8-10; 28:23, 31). To take this a step further, where the King abides in any person or where a person is in Christ, the Kingdom is also present.

We can now apply this principle to Christ's statements. Matthew 11:12 says that from the days of John the Baptist's preaching until that of Jesus—and even to today—Christ and those in whom He dwells suffer violence: physical or verbal assault, affliction, oppression, constraint, and perhaps even martyrdom. This world's forceful and self-willed people "seize" that Kingdom as they would a fortified city, through opposing its citizens in some way.

Similarly, in Luke 16:16, Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone uses violence against it, signifying opposition in one form or another, to constrain or repress the King and His citizens. As John records, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11).

In other words, the gospel message was not popular. It bore fruit in those who were being called (Isaiah 55:11). Others hoped that the kingdom of Judah would be restored, and they were probably content to wait and watch this Man as He went about—as curiosity-seekers rather than opponents. However, for those who had a vested interest in maintaining the political and religious status quo, the gospel was seen as a threat, and those linked with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ were the object of all manner of resistance and persecution, both before and especially after His death.

Notice, for example, Jesus' words in Matthew 23:13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." Some were then in the process of entering the Kingdom, and the resistance and oppression of the scribes and Pharisees were obstacles to that entrance. John 9:22 records that "the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue." The scribes and Pharisees, as well as those influenced by them, persecuted those God was drawing into His Kingdom. There was such animosity that the King Himself suffered the most awful violence that has ever been perpetrated: a mob of creatures wantonly crucifying their sinless Creator.

We face a similar circumstance today. Even nominal Christians suffer Muslim persecution in one part of the world, while others are blocked, ridiculed, and constrained by secularists and humanists in another. True Christianity is denounced as being heretical and cultic, and its adherents suffer violence in various ways. This violence does not have to be physical violence. It can be verbal. It can be passive. It can be persecution or opposition in any number of ways.

Wherever the spirit of Satan is present, his children make the way difficult for those who are in Christ or who are being drawn to Him. They reject the royal law of the Kingdom and ridicule God's sovereignty. They sneer at His inspired Word. The violence that the Kingdom suffers will vary by degrees, but it is found wherever the ruler of this world has influence.

This is why Jesus says in John 16:33 that in the world, we will have persecution, but He also says to "be of good cheer." He does not say He will remove persecution right away, but instead, He says that He has overcome the world. He sets limits on how much violence He will allow, and what He does allow He will redeem for His own good will. The violence we suffer will never compare to the violence that He suffered for us. One day soon, though, the violence against the Kingdom will be defeated, and the violent will be given the opportunity to worship the King whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10).

David C. Grabbe
Taking the Kingdom by Force


 

Matthew 13:11

Jesus' frequently uses the words "Kingdom of Heaven," especially in Matthew 13, as in "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..." We should be careful not to be fooled by this. It does not mean "the Kingdom of God when Jesus Christ returns." That is not what Jesus means.

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is not just a future matter, but also a present reality. It is not on earth right now as a government, in the form of a nation or a kingdom, but the Kingdom of God exists. Colossians 1:13 says that we have already been translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. The word translated is better rendered as "transferred." This is not the Protestant idea of "the Kingdom of God is within you," but the Kingdom of God does exist. Notice Matthew 12:28: "But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you." It was present then in the person of Jesus Christ and working.

Mark 12:34 contains another example: "So when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the Kingdom of God.' And after that no one dared question Him." In Luke 10, Jesus uses the term in a present-tense situation. The Kingdom of Heaven is something that happens now or can happen now. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, telling them what they are to do when they go out preaching the gospel: "And heal the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you'" (Luke 10:9). This is similar to what He says to the scribe in Luke 17:21: "Nor will they say, 'See here!' Or 'See there!' For indeed the Kingdom of God is among [as it is better translated] you."

These examples show that Jesus taught His disciples that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven exists now, but it is in a different form from what it will be when Jesus returns and sets up His government. When we yield to God, and when we are accepted by Him as His sons and daughters, as it were, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. In a sense, then, we all are in the Kingdom of God now.

Nevertheless, we are aiming for that future reality when Jesus Christ comes back and sets His throne upon this earth—when all people will stream to Jerusalem to become part of God's Kingdom. The entire Bible looks forward to this time, but there is a present reality of the Kingdom among His sons and daughters. Paul concurs: "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20); "We are ambassadors for Christ" (II Corinthians 5:20; our allegiance is to Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God); we are "strangers and pilgrims" in a foreign land (I Peter 2:11). Our land is the Kingdom of God. The country we live in is an alien nation. In true members of God's church, the Kingdom of God is already ruling in them. This is what Jesus means when He speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some scholars want to throw out the word kingdom when it is used this way, feeling that it is a misleading translation. Of course, many of them are Protestants, who look at it from the understanding of "the Kingdom of God is within you." Nonetheless, they believe that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13 should be rendered the realm, dominion, or reign of God. He is already our King, reigning over us right now.

Another rendering is a word we should all be familiar with—the sovereignty of God. Have we come under the sovereignty of God? Yes, indeed. We did it voluntarily when we accepted Christ as our Savior. So in this sense, we are in the Kingdom of God, and its rules apply to us.

This is what Jesus means in Matthew 13. He is not doing away with the idea that He will return to this earth and set up His government here after putting down all other government's rule, but He is saying, "Those of you whom I have called out are in the Kingdom of Heaven right now—in a spiritual sense—and you have to live by its rules and fight its enemies. So beware! This is what your life in My Kingdom now will be like."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 1): The Mustard Seed


 

John 3:5

In this verse, Jesus introduces a second facet of the Kingdom of God, teaching that a person can enter into it, as well as that one must be "born again" to bring about the entrance. The question arises, "How long must one wait before entering it?"

Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15), as did Paul (Acts 28:30-31). The Bible states plainly that the Kingdom is an entity that one can enter into even before Jesus' return. Note Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus adds in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord.' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.'" Moreover, Jesus declares in Matthew 18:3, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Clearly, a person can enter into God's Kingdom, but there are also requirements. Can one meet the requirements now?

In Mark 1:15, Jesus dogmatically states, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." "The time is fulfilled" implies that nothing can be added to it, that time will be extended no longer. That the Kingdom is "at hand" means that it is near or close. It does not suggest distance in either space or time. By using these phrases together, Jesus indicates that it can be entered into at once when God's basic requirements are met. The most basic requirement is taught in John 3—to be born again. Jesus thus announces when the Kingdom could be entered—immediately.

Luke 17:20-21 finds Jesus speaking to a group of Pharisees:

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."

It is evident that the Pharisees' conception of the Kingdom of God differs from that of Jesus. They believed in a spectacular, visible establishment of the Kingdom, even as we look forward to its fulfillment in the near future. However, in Luke 10:9, 11 and again in Luke 11:20, Jesus plainly says that it was already present, whether in the persons of the apostles or Himself, as exhibited in their acts. Acts can include miracles, conduct, and their messages. His statement in Luke 17:20-21 explains that they should not expect a visible manifestation of the Kingdom as they perceived it at that time.

Theologians may argue over the interpretation of words, but Jesus' own testimony undoubtedly implies that the Kingdom of God was in their presence in His Person and ministry. Therefore, the last phrase of Luke 17:21 should be translated as, "The kingdom of God is among you." Barnes' Notes, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Expositor's Bible Commentary, The New International Biblical Commentary, and The Interpreter's Bible all agree on this conclusion. He was in their midst, and He was within the Kingdom of God.

When this is combined with John 18:36 (where Jesus declares that His Kingdom "is not from here") and many other scriptures pointing to the establishment of God's Kingdom with power at Christ's return, we can understand that it is both a present and a future reality. In addition, it has both heavenly and earthly aspects. On one hand, it is present and near in the people to whom God has given His Spirit and has chosen to represent Him. On the other, it is distant in terms of time and as a geographical and governing reality. As a present reality, it is small, goes virtually unnoticed, and rules over little. Yet, in the future, at Christ's return, it will dominate and rule the earth. It is certainly not established in its fullness on earth now. Nonetheless, Scripture also proves that it is a present, earthy reality having earth-bound, flesh-and-blood citizens who are, in the Bible's terms, "spiritually minded" or "in the Spirit."

We are all familiar with Matthew 13, in which almost every parable begins, "The kingdom of heaven is like" (verses 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52). Jesus then illustrates a matter that directly involves instruction for the church and its membership. In doing this, He is using the term "kingdom of heaven" in place of "the church"—He is virtually equating them. Why? Because church members are citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Notice especially verse 41. How can angels gather tares, not just from any old place, but from out of Jesus' Kingdom on earth, if it does not yet exist on earth? Christians are not only presently God's children in the Kingdom, but tares fellowship with them in the church! Again, in Mark 12:28-34, Jesus converses with a scribe whom He had complimented after seeing the man respond wisely, saying, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." He means that the scribe is not far from being converted and entering the Family of God.

When Jesus and the apostles preached the gospel, they were inviting people to become part of that Kingdom immediately without having to wait for the resurrection at Christ's return. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual entity. Its headquarters is in heaven, but at the same time its agents—initially Jesus of Nazareth then later the apostles and the church—were, as children of God, laboring on earth to make it better known and expand its citizenry.

The Kingdom of God is that entity in which those who are part of it recognize and submit to the rule of the Father and Son. A person becomes part of it by being born again, and those who are born again become sons of God. God's Kingdom as presently configured consists of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and all the children of God who have entered the Family of God by means of God's calling, being born again, and receiving God's Holy Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part One)


 

Acts 8:12

It is quite plain what the apostles preached (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). They preached the Kingdom of God with the same zeal as their Master, who had given them the example. To those who have ears to hear, it is clear that the gospel of the Kingdom is the gospel. Otherwise, why did Christ not call it something else?

Every time the word gospel appears—if Jesus qualifies the word at any point—it is always "of the Kingdom of God" or "of the Kingdom of heaven." That is what He preached! He preached the coming of a great Kingdom that would turn this world upside down and establish His Father's rule over all things.

That is what He lives for—and I use the present tense purposely. He still lives for it! He is just anxious to come back and finish His work—this time as King of kings and Lord of lords with the authority to make real changes. This is the same gospel—the same message—that His ministry must teach. We must preach the Kingdom of God.

We know that grace, peace, salvation, and Christ's life and example are certainly part of that preaching, but the primary thrust is the Kingdom of God. Our hope of being resurrected and changed to be part of that Kingdom, and all of the things that come with it, will all come about because the gospel of the Kingdom is the focus. This is how God works through human, physical, fleshly people. He gives them the gospel, and He sends them out. It must be preached, for by it salvation comes (Romans 1:16).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Philippians 3:20

While some may spiritualize this fact away, Paul's words come across as literal and real to those who understand that God has called us out of this world (John 15:19) and transferred us into His Kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

Having our citizenship (conversation, KJV) in the Kingdom of God by definition makes us aliens in the physical country in which we live. Like ambassadors of a foreign government, we cannot participate in the politics of another country, a practice that would distract us from our real spiritual goal. However, we realize that the apostle Paul has challenged us to be ambassadors for Christ: "Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5:20).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Philippians 3:20

This adds another proof that we are already part of the Kingdom of God if our citizenship is in heaven. The Bible looks upon the church as an outpost on the earth of the Kingdom of God in heaven. We already have citizenship in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 

Colossians 1:13-17

Jesus Christ is not only our Savior but also our Creator. He is the subject of the powerful description in Isaiah 40:9-18, and it is into His Kingdom we have been translated, meaning conveyed or transferred. Paul must mean that this translation is spiritual because God's Kingdom has not yet literally been established on earth. God "calls those things which do not exist as though they did" (Romans 4:17). We are to conduct our lives and represent God before the world as though we were literally a part of it even now.

Philippians 3:20 reinforces this: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." The Kingdom of God is still in heaven and will be established on earth at Christ's return. However, we are already considered its citizens. Thus, our loyalties and submission go to it before everything else.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part 2): War! (1997)


 

Find more Bible verses about Kingdom of heaven:
Kingdom of heaven {Nave's}
 




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