What is the nature of the Kingdom of God? What do the scriptures reveal about the Kingdom of God? Are we to expect a physical Kingdom here on earth? Scripture has a lot to say about this subject. Jesus Christ manifested Himself to bring this Kingdom into reality. The phrase “Kingdom of God” appears sixty-nine (69) times in the King James Version Bible. That fact alone should give us a sense of the importance of the “Kingdom of God.” The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is found thirty-two (32) times in the KJV. Other phrases used by Jesus such as “my kingdom” are used five (5) times. In my opinion, the main message that Jesus and John the Baptist proclaimed was the arrival of the “Kingdom of God.” First, let’s look at how the Jews of the first century received that message.
A Conquering King?
The Jews of the first century, living under the heavy yoke of the Roman government, yearned for a conquering King that would throw off that yoke. But these first century Jews got the Kingdom of God all wrong as do many Christians today. Their misunderstanding of the nature of the Kingdom of God caused them to reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah. In their minds, they thought that the city of Jerusalem and it’s magnificent Temple was their future. They assumed that this earthly Kingdom was theirs alone and that it would last forever.
What the Jews failed to realize is that God would never again live in a Temple on this earth. God would never again live in a Temple made with human hands. The Kingdom of God that Jesus promised was NOT a physical kingdom that could be destroyed or lost. It is a Kingdom that would never decay. The book of Acts sums it up this way: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet “- Acts 7:48 (KJV).
Did Jesus Intend to Establish a Physical Kingdom?
Is there a mystery to the nature of the Kingdom of God? Not according to Scripture. Jesus revealed the nature as well as the timing of the Kingdom of God clearly and plainly. Those that opposed Jesus as well as many of His followers were looking for a physical Kingdom led by an earthly King! To illustrate this, we turn to the story of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews who sought out Jesus under cover of night. Jesus immediately spoke of the Kingdom of God. Let’s look at this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3:3-8:
John 3:3-8 (KJV) – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Jesus is clearly stating that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom.
Can Jesus be any clearer and straight to the point? What’s interesting in this exchange is that the scriptures do not even mention Nicodemus asking about the Kingdom of God yet Jesus immediately brings the subject up. Jesus is clearly stating that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom. It is NOT a physical Kingdom. Of course, this is not what the Jews of the first century expected. In fact, it was just the opposite of what they expected. Most missed the meaning of their Old Testament prophets. And in rejecting the message of the Kingdom of God they also rejected and lost that kingdom.
Matthew 21:42-43 (KJV) – 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? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The Nature of the Kingdom
God was and is looking for a different kind of people. The people that God seeks are not looking for an earthly, physical temple. God seeks believers who want to be part of an eternal Kingdom that is beyond this world.
John 4:23-24 (KJV) – But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 18:36 (KJV) – Jesus answered, 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 kingdom not from hence.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV) – While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Mark 10:23-24 (KJV) – And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
When Will the Kingdom of God Arrive?
Time statements in Scripture are hard to ignore. Many Christians believe that the reality of the Kingdom of God is some future, far away event. Scripture reveals the timing of the Kingdom. Such phrases as “is come unto you,” “at hand” “shall not taste of death,” and “come nigh unto you” give us a sense of the timing and arrival of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 12:28 (KJV) – But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of Godis come unto you.
Mark 1:14-15 (KJV) – Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Mark 9:1 (KJV) – And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Luke 9:27 (KJV) – 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.
Luke 10:9 (KJV) – And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:11 (KJV) – Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 11:20 (KJV) – But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
Luke 17:20-21 (KJV) – 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: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
The Kingdom of God Prophesied in the Old Testament
What message did Jesus come to earth with? The message was that the Kingdom of God was “at hand”. It had arrived and was available to everyone. Jesus came to testify to the reality of the Kingdom. The same Kingdom proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets. A Kingdom not of this earth but one of Spirit. This Kingdom would be everlasting, heavenly, having no end. Jesus challenged the believers of His day to search the scriptures. The scriptures they were searching were the Old Testament scriptures.
John 5:39 (KJV) – Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
The Old Testament prophets foretold of this everlasting, Spiritual Kingdom. Daniel spoke of such a Kingdom that will “stand for ever” and that “shall not be destroyed.”
Daniel 2:44 (KJV) – 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.
Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV) – I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 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.
Jesus came to earth clearly proclaiming the arrival of this Kingdom. We are not left with a mystery. The Kingdom of God had arrived, and Jesus is the King! His first century A.D. disciples would experience and “see” the Kingdom in their lifetimes. Note the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:28:
Matthew 16:28 (KJV) – Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
The disciples understood that the Kingdom of God would be spiritual in nature.
The disciples of Jesus came to understand the nature and timing of the Kingdom of God. This reality is reflected in their New Testament writings. The disciples understood that the Kingdom of God would be spiritual in nature. It would be of a “heavenly” nature. It would be a Kingdom that would be incorruptible.
1 Corinthians 15:46-50 (KJV) – Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God……..
The nature of the Kingdom of God can not be known using our physical senses. It is not observable with the human eye nor can we hear it with our human ears. It comes to us by the Spirit of God. It is not the wisdom of man but the wisdom of God. Our teacher is the Holy Ghost. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him. Why? Because they are spiritually understood and discerned. Scriptures reveal this fundamental truth:
1 Corinthians 2:9-14 (KJV) – But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
What Then Shall We Do?
The Kingdom of God is not some far off distant reality. Jesus and His disciples announced the Kingdom’s arrival in their lifetimes. It would be a Kingdom of the Spirit. Therefore we should set our minds on the spiritual and not the earthly. We must be careful not to make the same mistake as the Jews of the first century. The Kingdom of God is not perishable. It is not corruptible. It is not temporal. It is not of this world, and it will never be. Christ already sits on His throne. He sits in a position of power and authority.
Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV) – If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Romans 14:17 (KJV) – For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” to “see” the Kingdom of God. The Greek word for “see” is “οἶδα” which means to “know”, “perceive” or to “be aware”. Jesus went on to explain to Nicodemus that he must be born again of the water and of the Spirit to enter into the Kingdom of God.
Do you want to learn more about being “born again” and how to enter the Kingdom of God? Here are a series of articles that address this subject: