I have good news for you.
Our world’s biggest problems will be solved!
Evil and suffering. Conflict and wars. Global poverty. Corruption in government. Crime and terrorism. Lack of education. Political instability. Food and water shortages. Climate change and destruction of natural resources.
The list goes on.
We have learned that the true gospel Jesus brought from God the Father was the good news of the Kingdom of God. But just what is the Kingdom of God?
Pastors and religious leaders are all mixed-up about this vital subject. Some say it is heaven. Some say it is the Church. Others say it was the British Empire. Still others say it is the reign of God in the hearts of men. How confused can people get?
Yet, they all claim they got their teaching from the Bible. So, is God mixed-up and confused as well? Of course not. It is Satan who is the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)! He has blinded people’s minds (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
So, what does the Bible really say about the Kingdom of God?
What the Kingdom of God Is Not
Before we can begin talking about what the Kingdom of God is, let’s first talk about what the Kingdom of God is not.
1. It is Not Heaven
If the Kingdom of God were synonymous with heaven, why did Jesus Christ teach His disciples (in the “Lord’s Prayer,” perhaps the most popular prayer in Christendom) to pray for its arrival — for it to come down here to earth?
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
[COMMENT: If the Kingdom of God were truly heaven, does it not make more sense to say, “May we fly up to your kingdom?”]
This passage above tells us that the Kingdom of God is not heaven, but the political or territorial unit ruled by God. When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are affirming the fact contained in the next phrase — that God’s will is not yet being fully “done” or obeyed here on earth, as it is [being done] in heaven.
This is how the prophet Daniel described the Kingdom of God:
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.
[COMMENT: Where are the kingdoms “under the whole heaven” except the kingdoms that are here on this earth? All the kingdoms of this earth will one day be turned over to the Messiah and His saints, the people of God. Please compare this with Revelation 11:15.]
2. It Is Not the Church
Jesus answered and said to [Nicodemus], “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom of God can only be seen by those who are “born again.” [Please be sure to read our article, What Does Born Again Mean?] Can carnal people who make no claim to having been “born again” see a church? Yes, of course. Therefore, if Jesus is to be believed, the Church, or any church, cannot be the Kingdom of God.
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
~1 Corinthians 15:50
The Kingdom of God is something that can only be entered into by those “born of water and the Spirit.” It is something no flesh and blood human can inherit! Can flesh and blood people enter into the Church or any church? If so, the Kingdom of God cannot be the Church.
What do you think the “Church” is? Is it a building? Flesh and blood people can and do enter buildings and cathedrals called “churches.” Is it the converted people? Mortal, flesh and blood people can and do enter into the membership of the Church or any group of people that may call itself a “church.” But since flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God, the Church is not the Kingdom of God.
3. It Is Not the British Empire
The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire — it didn’t last forever. All the people there are flesh-and-blood humans. They did enter the British Empire — but they cannot enter the Kingdom of God, in their present mortal state. So the British Empire cannot be the Kingdom of God.
4. It Is Not Set Up In the Hearts of Men
The Kingdom of God is not some ethereal sentimental feeling or something set up in men’s hearts. If so, then the Kingdom of God enters into a mortal human. But the Scriptures teach the opposite: It is people — after they are no longer flesh and blood, but resurrected or transformed into spirit-composed bodies — who enter into the Kingdom of God.
Is the Kingdom of God “within you”? No. It is not something that was born inside of man, nor has it ever entered into any human. Rather, it is something man may enter after he is “born again” as an immortal, spirit being.
But, someone may ask, “Didn’t Jesus Himself say that the Kingdom of God is ‘within you’?” This is the verse in question:
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.”
Sadly, this is a mistranslation which has led many to suppose that the Kingdom of God is some thought, feeling, or sentiment within man. They fail to note just who Jesus Christ was speaking with — unconverted, carnal, hypocritical, lying, and hate-filled Pharisees.
The Greek words Luke wrote were translated into the English words “within you.” But, if you have a Bible with the marginal references, you will notice that this is alternately rendered, as “in the midst of you” (ESV and RSV), “in your midst” (NIV and NASB), or “among you” (NLT and HCSB).
Also, the Moffatt translation of the same verse reads: “He answered them, ‘The Reign of God is not coming as you hope to catch sight of it; no one will say, “Here it is” or “There it is,” for the Reign of God is now in your midst.’”
The Pharisees knew that their Messiah was to come. This, they anticipated as the Kingdom of God. While they had an incomplete conception of the Kingdom of God — that their Messiah would only be a conquering political-military hero and not a suffering Servant — at least they did know it was to be a reign — a government.
The Bible uses the terms “king” and “kingdom” interchangeably (see Daniel 7:17-18, 23). The king of the future Kingdom was, then and there, standing in the midst of them! That was what He meant! But Jesus was not saying that the Kingdom of God was within the hearts of those Christ-hating, hypocritical Pharisees.
What the Kingdom of God Is
The Kingdom of God is not exclusively a New Testament idea. It was written about extensively in the Old Testament, especially in the prophetic book of Daniel:
This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron…
This is speaking of literal kingdoms — specific governments that bear rule over the people on earth. It is not speaking of ethereal sentiments “set up in the hearts of men,” nor is it referring to churches.
Four Ancient Kingdoms. Two More Coming.
The Kingdom of God is a real kingdom — a government ruling over literal people on the earth. The great metallic image represented national and international governments — real, literal kingdoms. It represented a succession of world-ruling governments:
- The head of gold — Chaldean or Babylonian empire
- Chest and arms of silver — Medo-Persian empire
- Belly and thighs of bronze — Greco-Macedonian empire
- Legs of iron — Roman empire (The two legs meant the fourth empire would be divided, with capitals at Rome and Constantinople.)
- Feet partly of iron and clay — [the future] United States of Europe
Now — let’s read verse 44. Here is God’s explanation of what the kingdom of God is:
And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
“And in the days of these kings…” It is here speaking of the ten toes, part of iron and part of brittle clay. This is referring to the new European Union which developed out of the former European Common Market (see Daniel 7, Revelation 13 and 17) or European Economic Community (EEC). Revelation 17:12 makes plain the detail that it shall be [in the future] a union of ten kings or kingdoms which shall resurrect the old Roman Empire (Revelation 17:8).
So, mark carefully the time element: “In the days of these kings” — in the days of these ten nations or groups of nations that shall, in our end-time, resurrect briefly the Roman Empire — notice what shall happen:
“… the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever”!
The Kingdom of God Is Coming Soon!
Now here we have described four universal world-empires — the only four that ever existed! Revelation 17 shows that after the fall of the original Roman Empire, there would be seven revivals which would be ruled over by a Gentile church — the “daughter” of ancient Babylon — a church claiming to be Christian, but actually named by God “Mystery Babylon the Great” — or, more plainly, Babylonian Mysteries! (Revelation 17:5)
Six of those have come and gone. The seventh is now forming — the last, final, brief resurrection of the Roman Empire by ten European groups or nations. These are the ten toes of iron mixed with clay.
In their days — and they shall last but a very short period of time, possibly no more than two to three-and-a-half years — shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.
This will be the Kingdom of God!
When Christ comes, He is coming as King of kings, ruling the whole earth (Revelation 19:11-16). His kingdom — the kingdom of God — said Daniel, is to consume all these worldly kingdoms:
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
This is the Kingdom of God. It is the end of present human governments — the governments that rule Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Germany — yes, and even the United States and the British nations. They shall be absorbed and replaced by the government of the Lord Jesus Christ, then King of kings over the entire earth.
This makes completely plain the fact that the Kingdom of God is a literal government. Even as the Chaldean Empire was a kingdom — even as the Roman Empire was a kingdom — so the Kingdom of God will be a literal kingdom — a literal government. It will take over the government of the nations of this world!
What many fail to realize is that Jesus Christ was born to be a Ruler! Most people just focus on His suffering and death during His first coming. But they utterly neglect prophecies about His majestic second coming.
Christ Was Born to Be a King
Jesus answered [Pilate], “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Many overlook the fact that Jesus was born to be a real, literal king — not an ordinary king, mind you, but the King of kings!
Notice this Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Now, here is the New Testament fulfillment of that prophecy:
And behold, you [Mary] will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus [His birth name was not Jesus, but Yahshua (some say Yeshua), a contraction of Yahushua (some say Yehoshua), meaning “YHWH (Yahweh) is salvation.” He was a Jew, and had a Hebrew name]. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
The angel of God proclaimed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, prior to His birth, that Jesus was born to become a king. God is supreme Ruler. Jesus was born to be a king — He is going to rule all nations of the earth — His Kingdom shall rule eternally.
The Kingdom of God will rule over the peoples and nations of the earth. Yet these mortal peoples and nations will not BE the Kingdom, not even IN the Kingdom of God. They shall be merely ruled over by it!
Can you, as an individual, ever become a part of this Kingdom?
You Can Be Part of the Kingdom
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.
Jesus distinctly said that some would definitely not be in the Kingdom of God.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
~Hebrews 11:13And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
The Kingdom Is Not Here Yet
Abraham (and others) are not yet in the Kingdom now. They have all died in faith, not having received the promise. But they will one day be in the Kingdom of God.
… The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [has drawn near]. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Jesus did not say that the Kingdom of God had already been established. Only that it was “at hand” or had “drawn near.” It is now being preached and proclaimed.
Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
Why did Jesus speak this parable? Because some mistakenly thought the Kingdom would appear immediately — perhaps some thought it would be the Church!
Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return…
Jesus Christ is the nobleman in the parable. He has not yet returned!
But when He finally returns, what will He say to those who had been faithful?
The Saints Will Receive the Kingdom
And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’
This is speaking of the second coming of Christ — and of His delegating authority to rule to the called, chosen, and faithful saints (Revelation 17:14).
As we have already seen, the Kingdom of God is a literal government, to be set up at Christ’s second coming — not before! The Church, then, cannot be the Kingdom of God. But the true Church of God is to be changed, by a resurrection and instantaneous change from mortal to immortal, into the Kingdom of God.
The Church — all those called-out ones who have, and are being led by, the Spirit of God — when all its members have been changed to immortality — shall become the Kingdom of God.
I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
The Kingdom Will Be On This Earth
Christ ascended to the throne of God in heaven. God is Sovereign over the entire universe. This vision shows God Almighty, the Father of the resurrected living Christ, conferring on Christ dominion. Dominion means sovereign or supreme ruling authority. Also given to Him was “a kingdom.” Where is that Kingdom to be? It says “that all people, nations, and languages should serve him.” The people, and the nations speaking different languages, are here on earth. Jesus Christ is given dominion over all nations — the whole world!
[speaking about Jesus Christ] … whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
It says the heavens have received Jesus Christ until — not permanently, but just until — a certain time. Until when? Until “the times of restitution (or restoration) of all things.” Restitution means a return to, or a restoration of, a former or previous state or condition. It is speaking of restoring God’s laws, God’s government — and of restoring happiness and universal peace and prosperity.
Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
Jesus Christ won’t be ruling alone. His saints — that is, true Christians — those begotten as children of God — are to take and possess the Kingdom! They are to rule under, and with Christ! In the New Testament, it is recorded that converted saints are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17)!
I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
The saints (converted Christians) — then no longer human flesh and blood, but immortal — are to possess the Kingdom, at the second coming of Jesus Christ!
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations — “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels” — as I also have received from My Father;
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The Father’s throne is currently in the third heaven — where Jesus Christ is now. But Christ’s throne, where the saints shall sit with Him, is the throne of David, in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32; Jeremiah 3:17) — not in heaven, but here on this earth!
And [you, Christ] have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
Let’s always be ready, because as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, no one (not even the angels) knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return, but the Father only.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.
So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
Summary and Conclusion
The Kingdom of God is a literal kingdom. It is not heaven, the Church, or the British Empire. It’s not a mere idea, nor a mere sentiment in the hearts of sincere and well-meaning people. The Kingdom of God is the majestic, all-powerful, world-ruling government of the returning Messiah and His immortal saints.
We only have two options. Either there is a God who is about to intervene with supernatural and supranational force to bring us peace — or else all human life would be obliterated (Matthew 24:22).
If the Kingdom of God is not literal, then humanity is doomed. All life is in danger of extinction. But — thank God for the truth — the Kingdom of God is coming soon!
BEFORE YOU GO: Please share this article with your family, friends and contacts. Don’t keep this good news just to yourself. We could all use a little HOPE — especially from God’s sure and precious Word!