What is the Kingdom of God? Where is it located?

Does it exist already, or is it only going to be established in the future? Or, is it merely something ‘in the hearts of men’?

For the latest version of this document, click here: www.biblepages.net/noa010.htm


In the Bible, the phrases “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of Heaven” (or “of the Heavens”) are used interchangeably. Sometimes, the phrases “the Reign of God” and “the Reign of Heaven” (or “of the Heavens”) are used instead. But really what is it, the Reign or Kingdom of God? And, where is it located? There is also the question, does it exist already, or is it only going to be established at some later time, in the future?

There are many views in regard to what God’s Kingdom or Reign is or consists of, and regarding where and when it is or is to come. Some churches have claimed, copying old Catholic dogmas, that their church-organisation is “the Kingdom of God” (or its “embryo”), with a ruler (a “deputy” or “representative” of God) present, and so on. Some others have claimed, possibly because of the way certain bible-translators have rendered Luke 17:21, that the Kingdom of God is not tangible or real at all but merely something “in the hearts of men”. Some have even claimed that this world, the planet Earth, is (or will be) “God’s Kingdom” or “God’s Reign”.

What should one think of those different claims? Is any of them true? This article considers what we can learn in the Scriptures, concerning that matter.

In New Testament Greek, the word for ‘kingdom’ or ‘reign’ is basileia.

The relevant phrases in the Greek text of the New Testament are hê basileia tou Theou and hê basileia tôn Ouranôn, and similar. For the most part, those phrases are best translated as “the Reign of God” and “the Reign of Heaven”.

The old Greek noun basileia referred to such things as “royal power”, “kingship”, “dominion”, “rule”, and by extension also “reign” and “kingdom”. Later in this article, there is a bit more on that word.

What is it that God rules over?

The old Catholic-type Earth- and man-centred “theology” has caused many people to think that God only has one tiny planet to reign over. But, that is nonsense. Obviously, the Reign of God encompasses the entire universe, including the heavenly sphere – and who knows what more. It is likewise obvious that Heaven, where God’s throne is, is the government seat for all of that Reign.

Psalms 103:19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything. (NLT04)

Today, this planet which we call Earth, is not a part of God’s Reign.

As of now, this planet is in the hands of wicked rebel spirits (and their fleshly cronies). And so, it is not a part of God’s Reign. In the future when Jesus returns, he will put the Reign of God into effect even here on Earth, just as it is in effect in Heaven and, we can assume, elsewhere in this universe. At that time, the rebels who today control this planet will be replaced by God’s righteous government.

Again: The Reign of God is not in effect here on Earth today. Anyone can easily see this, just by taking a look at what is happening here.

Consider these words in Matthew 6:9–10, in the so-called “model prayer”:

“Hallowed be your name. Your Reign come, your will be done. As in Heaven, so also on Earth.”

Praying in that way, is the same as asking God to put an end to the rule of rebels here on Earth, and to bring even this planet within his great Reign, so that God’s will will be done also here, just as it is done in Heaven. – More in Matthew 6:

[…] And deliver us from evil: [a] For yours is the Reign, [b] and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13)

a Or, “deliver us from the Evil one”, as many translations have it.

b “Yours is” and so on – praying in that manner, means admitting that the right to rule belongs to God, and asking him to free (deliver) mankind from its oppressors.

A note: Some bible-translations omit in Matthew 6:13 the words “For yours is the Reign and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” But, that passage is included in many Greek manuscripts. And, the truth contained in those words is of course unquestionable – that the right to rule and judge, and all power, and praise, belong to God.

The rulers of this world.

Certain New Testament passages contain wordings which could cause casual bible-readers to think that God has appointed the present-day rulers of this world and that they are his servants. But, as anyone should be able to see, that is not how things are. The Scriptures make it clear that when Jesus comes, the rulers of this world will fight against him. But, he will conquer and destroy them.

The article nwa021.htm has some notes on this world’s present rulers.

The article nwa010.htm considers why God has allowed evil, pain and suffering.

Matthew 3:2, the translation ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’.

Matthew 3:2 is the first New Testament passage which literally refers to God’s Reign or Kingdom.

Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (WBS)

That is a translation, of course. It could be that John spoke in Aramaic, but the book of Matthew (the manuscripts we know of) was written in Greek. The Greek text of that verse can be interpreted even this way:

Repent, for the Royal Majesty of the Heavens has come near!

What did John mean? For, as we can see, this planet is not ruled by Heaven – not even today, 2000 years after John spoke those words. Rebels are still in control here (wicked spirits and their fleshly cronies). Thus, it is clear that John the Baptist did not mean that God’s Reign would come into effect in this world soon after he had spoken those words. So, how should we understand that passage?

The Greek wording in Matthew 3:2 is metanoeite êggiken gar hê basileia tôn Ouranôn which literally means something like “repent, for the Reign [or Royal Majesty] of the Heavens has come near”. – That verse must be understood in the light of the following one. John the Baptist was proclaiming Jesus, “preparing the way” for him. Verse 3 refers to John:

Matthew 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (AKJV)

So, the basileia or Royal Majesty [c] of the Heavens which verse 2 mentions, had “come near” in the form of Jesus the Son of God from Heaven. For, he represented the Reign of the Heavens, in person.

That did not mean that Jesus was at that time going to put an end to the rebellion which was and is still in process here on Earth. Matthew 3:2 only means that in those days, the Reign or Royal Majesty of God had “come near”, in the person of Jesus the Son of God. And yes, on the practical level that also meant that through Jesus, people would be offered an entry into God’s Reign or Kingdom.

But as for the Reign of God (the Reign of the Heavens) in the meaning “government” – the time when it will come into effect on this planet, is still in the future. That will happen when Jesus returns, this time in power, as the Ruler, and destroys the rebels.

c The old Greek word basileia had several meanings, and it was even used in connection with persons. Here is the entry on the noun basileia in the OLB Greek lexicon:

1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule
a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom
2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king

3) used in the N. T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah

Luke 17:21 – did Jesus mean that the Kingdom of God was ‘in the hearts’ of the Pharisees whom he was talking to?

The background of Luke 17:21 is that some Pharisees had made questions to Jesus.

Luke 17:20 And when the Pharisees put questions to him about when the kingdom of God would come […] (BBE)

Verse 21 records how Jesus answered them. There are different interpretations of the Greek text in the last part of that verse. Here are some examples:

So, how should we understand that verse? Jesus was talking to some Pharisees. Was he saying that the Kingdom of God was “inside” those Pharisees, “in their hearts” as some have suggested, or, was he saying that God’s Reign (Kingdom) was present right there, in the midst of that group of men, in the form of Jesus the son of God?

We know that Jesus often castigated persons in the Pharisee party. And, he warned people about their teachings. On one occasion, he asked certain Pharisees how they thought they would escape the gehenna judgment.

So, it is obvious that Jesus did not mean that the Kingdom or Reign of God was “inside” those Pharisees, in their “hearts”. But again, the Reign of God was at that moment present right there, in the midst of that group of men, among them, in the form of Jesus the Son of God. He represented God and his Reign. Clearly, this must be what the last part of verse 21 means and refers to.

(The article noa120.htm has more on the Pharisees.)

God’s Reign is not Earth-based. It is a heavenly Reign, not an earthly one.

We read:

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (NRSV)

“This world”, Greek tou kosmou toutou. Here, it is good to know that the old Greek word kosmos did not have the meaning “cosmos”. In this kind of context, it simply meant “world”.

“My kingdom is not from this world” – what did Jesus mean? That is not clear, but we know that Jesus’ Reign, which is the same as God’s Reign and government, is not located here on this planet. It is based in Heaven, where God’s throne is. We also know that right now, God’s Reign is not in effect here on Earth. Nor was it that when Jesus lived here as a human. But again, God’s Reign is huge, much larger than we humans can even fathom. The book of Psalms has this:

Psalms 103:19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. (NASB95)

Another translation:

Psalms 103:19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything. (NLT04)

Again: God’s Reign is based in Heaven, [d] and it has existed for times longer than we humans can even understand. And obviously, it rules this universe, including the heavenly sphere. But right now, that Reign is not in effect in this small world of ours, the planet Earth, because wicked rebel spirits and their fleshly cronies are still in control here. When Jesus returns, he will crush those rebels. At that time, even this planet will become a part of God’s great Heaven-based Reign.

d In some churches, people have been subjected to confusing dogmas which claim that God’s Reign does not exist yet but is only to be “established at a later time”. Some of those dogmas even claim that at such a time, God will leave his dwelling and throne in Heaven and move to the planet Earth. But, the Bible does not contain any mention of God abandoning his seat of government in Heaven.

A note: There are many ridiculing stories about Heaven. Those things have caused many people to consider Heaven as laughable or suspicious, and many even think that it does not exist. Those things have led to that many people have difficulties with understanding the matter of the Reign of the Heavens. More: Believe it or not, there are even churches which have anti-Heaven dogmas. – The Bible has only good things to say about Heaven.

The article nba040.htm has more on Heaven; see even the article nxa100.htm.

The article noa100.htm considers what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to “seek the Kingdom of God”.

Matthew 16:19 and ‘the keys of the Reign of the Heavens’.

Let us consider this verse:

Matthew 16:19 and I will give to thee the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.’ (YLT)

Another translation:

Matthew 16:19 I will give thee, the keys of the kingdom of the heavens,––and, whatsoever thou shalt bind upon the earth, shall be bound in the heavens, and, whatsoever thou shalt loose upon the earth, shall be loosed in the heavens. (EB)

The Catholic Church claims that Matthew 16:18–19 refers to that church and its leader, the “pontiff”. Many non-Catholic preachers have copied that dogma and applied it to themselves and their own churches. And then, people in general have accepted dogmas of that kind, without thinking much about the matter and without checking things up. But, Jesus was not talking about churches or their leaders.

The story begins in verse 13 which records how Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I the Son of man am?” The disciples answered him, verse 14. Jesus then asked them a new question, “But who do you say that I am?” (verse 15). This time, it happened to be Simon Peter who gave the answer – “you are the Messiah, the son of the living God”. And so, Jesus directed his comments at Simon. But of course, the other apostles were not “sorted out as second rate” just because it was Simon Peter who happened to give the answer to Jesus’ question. Other New Testament passages such as Matthew 19:27–28 show that even the others were promised the same as Simon. – In short, without going into the details: It is obvious that when Jesus mentioned “the keys of the reign of the Heavens” and “binding” and “loosing”, Matthew 16, he referred to the fact that when the apostles had become immortals, they were to act as judges on behalf of the Reign of the Heavens.

The article nba070.htm has more on Matthew 16:19 and its context. The article naa010.htm has some notes on Matthew 16:18 and the “true church” dogma.

Summary.

The Reign or Kingdom of God is not something that is merely “in the hearts of men”. Nor is it something that is only to be established here on Earth, at some future time.

God’s Reign or Kingdom is a real, tangible Reign which is greater than we humans can even imagine. Once again:

Psalms 103:19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything. (NLT04)

We can assume that God’s Reign rules the whole universe, and maybe even more. Its scope and width is larger than we humans can grasp or understand.

But again, as of now the planet Earth is not a part of that Reign. In the future, it will be freed from the wicked rebels who now control it. At that time, Jesus will bring God’s Reign into effect, even here.

A note: Certain New Testament passages contain wordings which could cause casual bible-readers to think that God has appointed the present-day rulers of this world and that they are his servants. But, as anyone can see, that is not how things are. The article nwa021.htm has some notes on that matter.

See also the “recommended reading” section, below.

Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm

Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters

An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm

Are the rulers and governments of this world appointed by God? The so-called “divine right of kings” – is there such a thing? → nwa021.htm

Why does God allow evil, sickness, pain, war and suffering? → nwa010.htm

What does the Bible say about the Pharisees? → noa120.htm

What does the Bible say about Heaven? Were the saints to go there? What about others? What does it look like, in Heaven? → nba040.htm

Hebrews 4:9, the sabbatismos or rest which the saints were to enter – a clarification of its actual nature. → nxa100.htm

Matthew 6:33, “But seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”. What did Jesus mean? How were the disciples to go about “seeking the Kingdom”? → noa100.htm

Matthew 16:19, the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and “bind” and “loose”. What kind of “keys” and “binding and loosing” was Jesus talking about? → nba070.htm

Matthew 16:18, “I will build my assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”. What and where was the ekklêsia or assembly which Jesus said he would form? Was it an earthly religious organisation as some claim, or something else? → naa010.htm


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