What is God’s kingdom, and what does it mean to pray for its arrival?
Luke 17:20-21 NKJV 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.”
Jesus’ answer was that the kingdom of God was not coming in the manner the Pharisees were expecting. The kingdom would not be inaugurated with spectacle or splendor; there would be no great and magnificent leader who staked out a geographical claim and routed the Romans; rather, the kingdom would come silently and unseen,
Matthew 13:24, 26-33, 38-50 NKJV Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
In fact, Jesus says, the kingdom had already begun, right under the Pharisees’ noses. When Jesus said that “the kingdom of God is within you.” He was certainly not saying that the kingdom of God resided within the Pharisees’ hearts. The Pharisees opposed Jesus and had no relationship with God. The better translation would be “in your midst” or “among you.” Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus’ presence in their midst gave them a taste of the kingdom life, as attested by the miracles that Jesus performed.
There are three popular interpretations of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21 that the kingdom of God is within you (or among you): 1) the kingdom of God is essentially inward, within man’s heart; 2) the kingdom is within your reach if you make the right choices; and 3) the kingdom of God is in your midst in the person and presence of Jesus. The best of these interpretations, it seems, is the third: Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom as He changed the hearts of men, one at a time.
The kingdom of God is not something that is part of the political systems of this world. No government on earth truly represents God’s kingdom. Instead, Christians are citizens of a kingdom that will one day arrive in consummate glory. Our hope is not that the governments of this world will transform into the kingdom of God, but that the kingdom of God will come from heaven to earth in power and glory.
In Scripture the kingdom of God must be understood as something that is already here on earth but not yet fully present. In other words, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated.
This kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ, who urged his hearers to repent because the “kingdom of God is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17 (NKJV) From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Christians are now part of that kingdom. As Paul stated,
Colossians 1:13-14 (NKJV)13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Thus, even though we await the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in glory and power at the return of Christ, we are at this time living under the reign of God as his people—we are citizens of that kingdom.
You Bring God’s Kingdom To Earth
by Randy Robison
What exactly is a kingdom?
The classic definition is “the territory subject to the rule of a king.” But there is another definition equally as operative in the Greek for the word basileia, which is used in the biblical phrase “the kingdom of Heaven.” It is a “royal power, kingship, and dominion not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom.” In other words, a kingdom isn’t necessarily a tract of land or a collection of cities. It is a sphere of influence under the authority of a sole ruler.
When Jesus was brought before Pilate, just before His crucifixion, Pilate asked Him if He was indeed the King of the Jews. Jesus told him,
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm. — John 18:36
Christ’s kingdom is one of influence and authority, not borders and cities.
Another telling characteristic comes from Paul’s assertion that
the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. — 1 Corinthians 4:20
The proof of His kingdom doesn’t come on Sunday morning when the congregation is watching. It comes during the week when you’re alone. It’s not about how loudly it’s declared, but how soundly it’s lived. It’s easy to make a show of it through forceful words, but the real measure comes in the quiet times. When transgression takes hold, discord sets in, discontent reigns, patience evaporates, and every other fruit of the Spirit withers, the kingdom of heaven is not present. Even so, it is still near. It’s just a matter of changing our mind and renewing our spirit.
The way we live indicates whether we are abiding in His kingdom. Paul encouraged believers to
walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. — 1 Thessalonians 2:12
He goes on to say that we do this by receiving His word. This evidence that we have received it comes when it “performs its work” in us. Its work is changing our minds. When our minds change, aligning with His truth, it changes everything – the way we think, speak, and act. This enables us to spread His kingdom by expanding His influence.
This is not a call to abandon the temporary because of the eternal. In fact, just the opposite. Those with an eternal view are far more suited to steward the temporary. We just understand that there is more than what we can touch, see, and hear. We build our lives on more than the earth on which we live; we build it on an unshakeable foundation.
God’s kingdom is here and it’s for you.
You need not die to enter into His kingdom. It’s as simple and profound as, “Your kingdom come.” It comes when “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). It brings peace, joy, and righteousness. His kingdom in your life impacts those around you. It can be beautifully shocking to people, like a blind man who suddenly sees. The promise of power in the Holy Spirit means you can touch others with the supremacy of His kingdom, showing them the entrance.
You are the welcoming party for those ready to enter the kingdom of God.