Demystifying the Kingdom of God

Castle

Jesus taught more about the kingdom of God than any other topic.

Actually, that’s not the best way to put it. It would be better to say that the kingdom of God was the subject of everything Jesus taught, whether he used the word kingdom or not.

The very gospel Jesus preached was the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). He spent the majority of his earthly ministry proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that relatively few Christians really understand the kingdom of God.

Ask an average believer about the kingdom of God. If you don’t get a blank stare, you’ll probably hear that the kingdom is the millennial reign (or the eternal state or heaven) or that it is the church. Or you’ll get my favorite response—the kingdom of God is “now and not yet” … because that really clears it up.

In a sense, those answers are correct. These are all aspects of the kingdom of God. But they are incomplete answers. And they do relatively little to actually explain the kingdom.

One source of confusion about the kingdom seems to be Matthew’s reference to the kingdom as the “kingdom of heaven” while the other Gospels consistently call it the “kingdom of God.”

Thankfully, this one is easy to clear up. The “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven” refer to exactly the same thing. I’ve written on this before, so check out my article, “What’s the Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?” for support of this understanding.

But perhaps a larger source of confusion is the word kingdom.

Don’t get me wrong, kingdom is a very accurate translation for the Greek word basileia. However, it tends to conjure up in our minds (or at least in mine) a connotation that is not true of the kingdom of God.

When I think of a kingdom, I tend to imagine a medieval king with knights and castles and swordfights. You know, King Arthur stuff.

In fact, the Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for something like that as well. Even Jesus’ own disciples expected him to overthrow the Roman Empire and establish an earthly Israelite kingdom. But Jesus made it very clear that this was not his purpose.

Thayer’s Greek dictionary defines basileia (kingdom) as “royal power, kingship, dominion, rule.” It goes on to clarify, “not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom.”

If I had to pick a single English equivalent, I would say that the word dominion best captures the meaning of this kingdom.

With all that in mind, I’m about to define the kingdom of God. Are you ready? It’s actually very simple.

The kingdom of God is everything over which God has dominion.

There. That’s it. Simple enough, right? No more confusion.

But wait. Doesn’t God have dominion over everything? Does that mean that the whole world is the kingdom of God?

Not quite. But I’ll explain that tomorrow.

The Kingdom Series