The Kingdom of God in the Church Age

The Bible indicates a prominent shift from the preaching of Christ (and the apostles during the ministry of Christ) to the preaching of the apostle Paul. Christ’s preaching during His earthly ministry emphasized the kingdom, while Paul’s preaching certainly emphasized the apex of God’s grace. Yet, this remarkable shift in prominence does not indicate that Christ’s preaching was graceless; nor does the shift signify that Paul’s preaching ignored the kingdom. In fact, there are four references in the book of Acts stating that Paul preached the Kingdom of God. For example, consider the following:

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom ofGodshall see my face no more.

Yet, some teachers discount this mentioning of Paul’s preaching of the Kingdom of God as only applicable during Paul’s Acts missionary journeys. However, this simply is not the case. The final chapter of Acts records that Paul, while in Roman bonds, continued to preach the Kingdom of God.

Acts 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

The Kingdom of God—spiritual in nature

The Kingdom of God1 is presently spiritual in nature (the spiritual dominion of God) within only the redeemed—accessible only by grace through faith.

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

God commissioned the Jews with the responsibility to evangelize the world, but they rejected their Messiah. Yet, the Lord prophesied that Israel’s rejection would mean that the Kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a fruitful nation—the Gentiles.

Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nationbringing forth the fruits thereof.

The Kingdom of God is within the believer and enters the new believer at salvation—it is all about a relationship.

1 Kingdom of God appears 70 times in the New Testament with one of the references signifying possessive: “the kingdom of God’s ().

From the Introduction of the book

Sometimes long held dogmatic assertions, although erroneous, are the most problematic to overcome. The teaching concerning seemingly irreconcilable differences between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God has baffled dedicated students of the Bible for decades. Here are two of the most widely held definitions by those who view the two “kingdoms” as separate and distinct.

A. Definition for the Kingdom of Heaven: the earthy, physical, visible, Jewish, Messianic kingdom promised to Israel both in the past and in the future. This kingdom will be consummated upon the earth on the Day of the Lord.

The book of Daniel among many others foretold of this kingdom.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

B. Definition for the Kingdom of God: the spiritual and moral kingdom that cannot be seen because this kingdom is within believers. The spiritual elements are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The books of Luke and Romans define this kingdom.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joyin the Holy Ghost.

Those who recognize the differences between these two kingdoms teach that God took the physical kingdom(Kingdom of Heaven) from the Jews and offered a spiritual kingdom (Kingdom of God) to the Gentiles that is entered by a spiritual rebirth. While this is certainly all true, there is more to the story! In fact, there are very real problems associated with the dogmatic assertion that the Kingdom of God is a purely spiritual kingdom and only within all believers. The following seven proof texts teach that people receive the Kingdom of God and go into it, see it, sit down in it, drink and eat in it, and press into it—hardly something limited to a spiritual kingdom.

  1. People will Receive the Kingdom of God and Enter Therein

    Luke 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

  2. People will Go into the Kingdom of God

    Matthew 21:31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

  3. People will See the Kingdom of God

    Luke 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

  4. People will Sit Down in the Kingdom of God

    Luke 13:29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

  5. People will Drink of the Fruit of the Vine in the Kingdom of God

    Mark 14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

    Luke 22:18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

  6. People will Eat Bread and the Passover in the Kingdom of God

    Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

    Luke 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

  7. People will Press into the Kingdom of God

Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

The next passage reveals why so many Bible teachers teach that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are synonymous. In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus equated the two as equal when He spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and then said “again I say unto you” as He repeated the same truth concerning the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

In other words, Jesus equated the two “kingdoms” together during His ministry when He stated a truth about the Kingdom of Heaven and then said, “and again I say unto you and made the same statement of truth concerning the Kingdom of God.

The controversy surrounding this teaching and the vitriol spewed toward those who take differing positions are indicative of the problem with all Bible teaching—including dispensational teachings. If truths were easily grasped by everyone, there would be no controversy. The Kingdom of Heaven versus Kingdom of God has befuddled some that see no difference and others that see only differences between the two. It is likely that the Kingdom of Heaven is simply a subset of the overarching Kingdom of God which is why there is so much confusion.

The Kingdom of Heaven—the future fulfillment of the past pronouncements

The Kingdom of Heaven2 is strictly a political Jewish institution that will exist when heaven rules the heavens—which includes the earth. The book of Daniel expresses an example of what happens when God takes rule over earthly kingdoms as He interjects His will into the world.

Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

Matthew, written from the perspective of Christ as King, reveals that the apostles were sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.

Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

After the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus announced that the Kingdom of Heaven had suffered violence and the violent take the Kingdom of Heaven by force.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Following Christ’s ascension, Peter and the other apostles offered one final opportunity to the nation of Israel concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. Of course, we know that the Jews rejected the preaching of the apostles. However, this same good news of the kingdom will again be preached to the Jews during Daniel’s Seventieth Week (aka the “Tribulation period”).

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

The Kingdom of Heaven awaits Christ’s return and the salvation of all Israel (). At that time, He will take the kingdoms of this world by force and destroy His enemies. He will re-establish and sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem. There will also be a gathering of the Gentile nations.

The kingdom is referred to by many names including “the kingdom of our father David” (). It is a literal and physical, visible and tangible kingdom centered in Jerusalem that will be entered at the time of the Second Advent. Although the Kingdom of Heaven is strictly Jewish, Gentiles share in the blessings through the Kingdom of God.

2 Kingdom of Heaven appears 33 times in the New Testament with one of the references signifying possessive: “the kingdom of heaven’s” ().

Separate Aspects of One Future Kingdom

In the past and at present, the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are separate and distinct aspects of ONE future kingdom that will replace all earthly kingdoms at the Second Advent.

The Bible refers to this millennial kingdom interchangeably as “my Father’s kingdom” (), “the kingdom of Christ and of God” (), the kingdom of his dear Son” (), “his kingdom” (), or the “kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (), etc.

It is important to note that the Kingdom of God enters a person at salvation, but the saved do not enter the Kingdom of God until it merges with the Kingdom of Heaven into ONE millennial kingdom. Revelation chapter 11 refers to the counterfeit kingdoms taken back by the Lord and placed into His one kingdom.

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

With these truths in mind, many students find the study of the historical aspects helpful.

The Historical Kingdom

Adam was given dominion over all the earth, both the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. He was told to have dominion over the earth and its inhabitants.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominionover the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

He quickly lost his “throne” to Lucifer. Lucifer never ruled over the Kingdom of Heaven, but his evil kingdom displaced the Kingdom of Heaven by commandeering the same piece of real estate—Jerusalem. Two thousand years later Abram (Abraham) and then his descendants were chosen to inherit the earth. Another thousand years later, David was promised the kingdom and an eternal reign.

God intended to rule Israel as a theocracy and for Israel to be a kingdom of priests with God reigning over them.

Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Yet, the people asked for a king, thereby rejecting God’s way because they wanted to be like all the other nations.

Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

The Jews Looking for the Kingdom

The kingdom will again be offered to Israel during Daniel’s Seventieth Week but not commence until the Second Advent (). This is the future kingdom and man’s inheritance.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

The nation of Israel was looking for a King and a kingdom, and this was the message given to John and continued by the Lord. The kingdom message was the focal point throughout the Gospels because God’s ministers primarily addressed the Jews.

  • John the Baptist’s preaching concerning a future kingdom needed no explanation for his audience. This shows that the Jews were anticipating the restoration of the kingdom.

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

  • The apostles were told that they would sit upon twelve thrones in Christ’s kingdom judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

  • The mother of two of Christ’s disciples wanted her two sons to sit by His side in the kingdom. Christ did not think her request absurd but simply stated that seating in the kingdom was a matter for the Father to decide.

Matthew 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

  • Christ’s response to another question is again revealing concerning the focus and future kingdom of Israel and the literal fulfillment of the Jewish prophecies.

Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

The Kingdom of Heaven Not All Inclusive

Teachers sometimes use the following verse to teach that the Kingdom of Heaven refers to all the earthly kingdoms that ever existed, including those existing during Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

There are problems associated with this assumption. History reveals a struggle between God’s kingdom and the Devil’s earthly kingdoms. If the Kingdom of Heaven has always included all the earthly kingdoms, Jesus would not have said that the Kingdom of Heaven was “at hand.’ Yet, Jesus repeatedly stated that the Kingdom of Heavenwas “at hand.” Something at hand cannot be an institution present throughout all of man’s history.

Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Additionally, the Lord specifically distinguished between the Kingdom of Heaven that was “at hand” and the kingdoms of the world,” which would indicate that they were not synonymous while He walked upon the earth.

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

The kingdoms of this world cannot be the Kingdom of Heaven if Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. The millennial kingdom was prophesied throughout the Old Testament but will not be realized until after the Church Age, after Daniel’s Seventieth Week, and upon the return of Christ at the Second Advent. At that time, all the worldly kingdoms will become the kingdoms of our Lord.

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

This all takes place at the Second Advent (Second Coming): “the kingdoms of this world become “the kingdoms of our Lord” in the millennial kingdom with Christ ruling.

Bible definition of a kingdom

The simple breakdown of this compound word shows that a kingdom refers to the domain of a king. The Bible repeatedly associates two words to define kingdom—kingdom and dominion (rather than domain).

Psalm 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Jeremiah 34:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying,

Daniel 4:3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

Daniel 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Daniel 7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Daniel 11:4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

Micah 4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

The word kingdom or kingdoms occurs 399 times in 369 verses. Of those instances, 172 references in 168 verses use the word kingdom or kingdoms with a preposition modifying the noun kingdom(s), thus identifying which kingdom (or kingdoms) is referenced. The noun (kingdom(s)) is modified or identified by a word following the preposition “of” and that falls into one of two categories: (1) a person—generally the ruler (e.g., “the kingdom of Sihon”) or (2) a place (e.g., “the kingdom of Persia”). Technically, two variations in wording could refer to an identical kingdom—one emphasizing the ruler and the other emphasizing the place.

The Dominion of a King

The Bible first used dominion when referring to Adam being given dominion (or rule) over the kingdom on earth (), and Psalms reaffirms this pronouncement stating that God made man to have dominion over “the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (). Man was made to rule the earth. Yet, Adam voluntarily delivered his power over to the Devil who became the god of this world (). Later, God chose a man and his descendants to eventually establish His kingdom upon the earth. Here are the details.

  • Abraham was given a piece of real estate (“a land”) upon this earth—the Promised Land around Jerusalem—that he was to use to build a great nation ().
  • The Hebrews were uniquely chosen by God to govern themselves according to God’s precepts (); to them were given the “oracles of God” ().
  • God gave to Moses the Law by which the children of Israel were to be governed.
  • Joshua and the judges were to conquer the land upon which this earthly kingdom was to be established.
  • God established David’s throne for the governing of the nation of Israel. Note: this throne will again be reestablished in the midst of the promised land on Mount Zion.
  • Because of disobedience, the glory of God departed from the nation:
  1. In the Old Testament ()
  2. In the New Testament ()
    • The Son of Man has been ordained to sit upon David’s throne as King of the Jews and King of kings () to establish an everlasting kingdom governed by the Law of Moses over the descendants of Abraham ().

One designation—the Kingdom of God—emphasizes the Person OF God and the other designation—the Kingdom of Heaven—emphasizes a place, Heaven.

ONE Future Prophesied Kingdom

The most common usage of the word kingdom in the Old Testament refers to earthly kingdoms ruled by men. Furthermore, every scripture reference to kingdoms (in the plural) points directly to carnal or earthly kingdoms. Even the passage emphasizing the plural—the “kingdoms of our Lord”—still points to the kingdoms of this world when they become God’s ONE kingdom.

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

This passage clearly refers to the transference of multiple earthly kingdoms into what will become the ONE PROMISED FUTURE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM. Further confirming this truth is the fact that every prophetic reference to a coming kingdom promises a kingdom (singular).

  • Three times in Psalm 145, A KINGDOM was prophesied ().
  •  promised that the Lord would establish His KINGDOM.
  • The prophet Daniel agreed and spoke frequently about a singular prophetic KINGDOM ().

Even the fulfillment mentioned in  refers to “the KINGDOM of our God.” If multiple kingdoms are to exist in the future, the Lord Jesus had ample opportunity to set the record straight concerning multiple coming kingdoms; but He instead stated, My KINGDOM is not of this world: if my KINGDOM were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my KINGDOMnot from hence” ().

These truths point to the fact that the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God will certainly be two aspects of the SAME kingdom as they are merged together. Yet, most people focus on the present reality that shows that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are distinct from each other. The Kingdom of God is always present, but the Kingdom of Heaven was present during Jesus’ earthly ministry … is NOT now present … but will be present again during the millennium as it merges together with the Kingdom of God. This is what makes rightly dividing the Bible so very important.

  • Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peaceand joyin the Holy Ghost.

  • Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

These few passages when considered alone certainly seem to prove the generally assumed dissimilarities of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. These verses teach that the Bible says that the Kingdom of Godis not meat and drink (physical properties). Instead, it is a spiritual kingdom involving righteousness, peace, joy, and power (spiritual properties). The Kingdom of Heaven is a literal, physical, visible kingdom. These verses say that men enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the Kingdom of God enters men. Those who stop at these definitions fail to realize that the truths in one dispensation may not apply to every other period.

If these few verses settled the matter concerning the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, then the doctrine would fit nicely into our preconceived boxes! Yet, there is much more when we consider the entirety of scripture. Man wants all the answers and grows ever impatient when God delays the explanation and understanding. It is important to note that man trying to understand God is always going to be a challenge!

The more we learn concerning the truths of scripture, the more we realize that there is so much more to learn! Bible study is a never-ending journey that far too many find cumbersome. People who study their Bibles should be delighted when God answers questions but never grow weary when the answers are not immediately forthcoming. God has dealt with His creation with infinite mercy in fascinating ways. He always seems to be giving man one more chance.

Properly understanding these two phrases and grasping their biblical meanings only takes place when considering what the scripture says concerning each of these designations. This chart may seem overwhelming, but simply consider the description and whether the Bible points to one or both designations.

The Kingdom of God in the Church Age

Description The Kingdom of Heaven The Kingdom of God
Said to be “at hand” during Christ’s earthly ministry
Preached by Jesus when John was imprisoned
Given to the “poor” in spirit and to those persecuted for righteousness’ sake
Contains some who are least (those who break commandments and teach others to do so) and some who are great (those who do and teach the commandments) and requires righteousness beyond the scribes and Pharisees
Not entered by a mere profession
Will be entered and inhabited by some descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with others from outside of that lineage, while some of the physical descendants of Abraham will be cast out into outer darkness
He that is least in it is greater than John Baptist
Suffereth violence and is taken by force
Given to the disciples to know its mysteries
Likened unto a man which sowed seed
Likened unto a grain of mustard seed
Like unto hid leaven, hid treasure, a man seeking goodly pearls, a net cast in the sea, and a householder bringing things from his treasure ?; 
Its keys were given to Peter
One had to become like a child to enter it
Like unto a king which forgave a servant
Some were eunuchs for its sake
It is hard for a rich man to enter into it
Like a householder who hired labourers
Like a king making a marriage for his son
The scribes and Pharisees shut it up against men
Like virgins meeting a bridegroom
Like unto a man travelling into a far country delivering his goods unto his servants
Its coming unto men was related to the casting out of devils by the Spirit of God
Publicans and harlots enter it before some Jews
There were some that would not taste of death, till they had seen it come with power
It would be better to enter it with one eye than to be cast into hell fire
Jesus promised not to drink the fruit of the vine or eat the Passover until it was fulfilled in it
Men waited for it
A man looking back was not fit for it
It was preached since John
Cometh not with observation
Nearness is indicated by signs
Only be seen by those who are born again
Preached by Christ following His passion
Preached by Philip and by Paul
Preached using the Law and the Prophets
Not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost
Not inherited by the wicked
Not inherited by flesh and blood

This chart does not incorporate every instance of the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God found within scripture. Yet, it does provide some tremendous insights. Additionally, before formulating any conclusions based upon this chart, it should be noted that there are many instances where the descriptions apply to both kingdoms; but since the scripture does not define either designation, the chart does not include that particular verse. Likewise, one should consider the very real probability that some of the descriptions are indeed true of both phrases; yet the scripture only referred to one of them.

Unfortunately, Bible teachers have somehow chosen to overemphasize the differences between the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God by allowing a couple of Bible verses to be the driving force behind the definitions. When considering the magnitude of the evidence, the sameness of the two designations far outweighs the statements unique to one or the other. Perhaps the better practice would be to first identify the common thread and then to seek to understand the perceived differences, the timing of the differences, and the timing of the similarities.

The Parallels Between the Two Designations

Those already fully convinced and dogmatically entrenched will think it almost sacrilegious to suggest a study concerning the similarities of the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God. As already discussed, it is important to allow the scripture to speak for itself. For instance, the Lord warned “That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” in . Notice that the VERY NEXT VERSE, , opens with a declaration that the truth just stated would be REPEATED—“And again I say unto you.” Only this time, Jesus substituted the phrase “kingdom of God” for the “kingdom of heaven.” If the two designations are not meant to refer to something similar, then the Bible cannot be taken literally. Read the two verses together which equate these “two kingdoms” as the same kingdom.

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Verse 23 states a truth about the Kingdom of Heaven, and then verse 24 REPEATS the same statement by attributing the same truth to the Kingdom of God.

  • Verse 23: it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven

And again I say unto you”

  • Verse 24: it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.

The similarities are not limited to this one instance. In fact, both the Kingdom of Heaven ()and the Kingdom of God () are used to identify the future millennial kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament (). These three references point to both aspects of one future kingdom.

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

The kingdom’s mysteries were revealed to the apostles () prior to the revelation of any of the Church Age mysteries revealed to the apostle Paul. Some of the Jews and Gentiles will be welcomed into this kingdom, while other “children of the kingdom”—the Jews—are rejected from the kingdom ().

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Additionally, entrance into this kingdom will require childlike humility and faith (). The saved will enter the then-visible Kingdom of God at the Second Advent when it merges together with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Aspects of a Singular Kingdom

Interestingly, a few verses suggest that this kingdom (the Kingdom of God) is not a literal, physical kingdom—), yet the overall body of evidence overwhelmingly shows that the Kingdom of God will be something physical. For instance, the Kingdom of God can be seen (). Both the Kingdom of Heaven () and the Kingdom of God() are said to be entered intowith the publicans and harlots going in before some of the unbelieving Jews (). Those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven () or Kingdom of God () sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The occupants will eat bread in the Kingdom of God (); they will eat the Passover () and drink of the fruit of the vine () with the Lord Jesus Christ.

With these truths firmly established, to get a better understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God, it is wise to consider the prophecies concerning the millennial kingdom. Throughout the Old Testament, the kingdom promises are two-fold: (1) physical blessings of a seed, land, and physical peace, and (2) spiritual blessings of God dwelling in the midst of His people and the resulting joy, righteousness, and peace. These aspects do not signify two separate kingdoms—but two aspects of one singular kingdom.

Many of the promises God made to the Old Testament Jews guaranteed their future physical prosperity. The promises involved seed, as the sand of the sea, or as the stars for multitude. The promises also testified of a return to and permanent planting in the land of Israel—commonly designated as the Promised Land. Additionally, promises were made that a king from the lineage of David would sit on a throne ruling God’s people. Every one of these promises will be fulfilled!

In addition to the prospects of future physical blessings, God also promised a New Covenant. The covenant promises to Israel say of God that I “will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people … for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (). Hebrews confirms the nature of this covenant and concludes “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (). These spiritual blessings will come as a direct result of the King of kings and Lord of lords dwelling in the midst of His people.

The distinction between the physical aspects of the coming kingdom and the resulting spiritual blessings may very well provide the solution to the Kingdom of Heaven versus Kingdom of God controversy. As stated previously, the word following the preposition “of” serves a particular purpose—identifying the place or person whose kingdom is being identified. One phrase emphasizes the place—Heaven; the other emphasizes the person—God.

Interestingly, the preaching concerning the Kingdom of Heaven was minimized after the Olivet Discourse, while the preaching of the Kingdom of God continued. Furthermore, there are passages indicating that the Kingdom of God is available to be within a man (). This is very likely what the scripture means when it says that the Kingdom of God will first be received by men who will later enter therein (). With that in mind, it is important to understand that many of the spiritual benefits of the New Covenant can be enjoyed internally by the individual who trusts Christ as Saviour today. God’s children will not enjoy the promises made concerning the seed and the land until Christ establishes that kingdom upon earth; but, in the meantime, we can enjoy the Kingdom of God in our hearts—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (); fellowship with God (); and forgiveness of sins ().

Additionally, the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God point to one future millennial kingdom ruled by the King of kings and Lord of lords. Another perspective to consider: if a preacher said he was going to teach on the Saviour one week, the Messiah the next week, and the Lord Jesus Christ the next, would he be preaching about One person from three perspectives or three different people? The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God can be viewed in this same fashion—two different perspectives of one future kingdom when the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God merge together.

  • Are the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God two different kingdoms today? Yes!
  • Are the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God two designations of one future millennial kingdom? Yes!

The Kingdom of Heaven never came to fruition for the Jews in Jesus’ day and falls under the umbrella of the Kingdom of God as a subset of it. They are different and distinct until the King of kings merges them together into one kingdom in the millennium. They are separated in time by the parenthetical Church Age.