What is the kingdom of God?

How would you answer if asked: What is the kingdom of God? Perhaps, thinking back on historical kingdoms, you might say any kingdom is defined as the territory over which a king rules. Since we understand that God is the Creator of all things (Gen 1-2), then God’s Kingdom must be the whole universe. It follows then that since He reigns everywhere, the kingdom of God is everywhere.

That answer makes sense given that the Creator is sovereign over all He has created. However, when reading references to the kingdom of God in the New Testament, there seems to be something more being presented. For example, when John the Baptist announced, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt 3:2) And again, when Jesus says: From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17) The question then is: If the kingdom of God consists of all the universe over which God reigns, why would John the Baptist announce, and Jesus affirm, that the kingdom of God was near or about to come to pass? It seems obvious that John the Baptist and Jesus meant something more about the concept of the Kingdom of God.

As we read further in the New Testament, it presents the central theme of these kingdom of God pronouncements as the idea of God’s messianic kingdom. A kingdom that will be ruled by God’s appointed Messiah, who will not just be the Redeemer of His people, but their King. So, when John speaks of the radical nearness of this breakthrough, the intrusion of the kingdom of God, he’s speaking of the kingdom of the Messiah. And when Jesus went about preaching the same thing, it was God Himself saying “amen” to John’s words.

Some believe that His kingdom has nothing to do with the present, but is something that comes only at “the end of time” when Jesus comes again. Why then during His earthly ministry, would Jesus make comments such as, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). Or, when Jesus sent out seventy disciples on a preaching mission, He instructed them to tell cities that refused to repent “The kingdom of God has come near you” (Luke 10:11b). How could the kingdom be upon the people or near them if it were just a spiritual kingdom far off? The kingdom of God was near to them because the King of the kingdom was there. Not a future event, but the here and now. I believe it’s clear that Jesus’ second coming will be the consummation of His present reign, for He inaugurated the kingdom of God during His first coming.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”(Mark 1:14–15).

Christ is King right this minute, given all authority in heaven and on earth. When we seek to be used by God to lead others to the truth, we bear witness to King Jesus. And as we go before His return, it is through our obedience to the Kings command that the Father will call people to worship Him and the Kingdom of God will become more visible to the world. (Matt. 28:18–20)

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