The Kingdom of God (Sample Lesson)
The following is a sample lesson from the Gospel Era Bible Journal Class.
Jesus’ teachings focus primarily on God's kingdom, yet most people have no idea what these phrases mean. The significance of the Kingdom message for Jesus cannot be overstated.
- announced the Kingdom in his preachings
- exemplified the Kingdom in his miracles
- defined the Kingdom in his teachings
- illustrated the Kingdom in his parables
- displayed the Kingdom in his healings
The kingdom of God is also known as the kingdom of Heaven. The Hebrews did not use God's holy name (YHWH). They frequently used the phrase Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God, just as we do now when we say "God help me." We are not requesting divine assistance. We are requesting God's assistance. In Luke 15:18, the prodigal son replied, "I have sinned against Heaven," referring to his sins against God.
Too frequently, the teaching of Jesus is overlooked in favor of the person of Jesus in Christian preaching. In the end, we risk overlooking the significance of the kingdom of heaven and obscuring the challenges, obligations, requirements, and advantages of being a follower of Jesus.
The Kingdom and Eternal Life
Eternal life and the heavenly kingdom are two distinct ideas. The kingdom of heaven is a concept that relates to God's redemptive activity and submission to his will. If you look up the phrases "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" using a concordance, they appear approximately fifteen times in Mark and over thirty times in both Matthew and Luke. The phrase "everlasting life" appears around three times in each synoptic gospels.
Christ proclaimed, "The Kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). What did he mean? “At hand” means here and now. Not something in the future. Jesus talked powerfully about his Father the King, His character, and the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Greek word engiken means 'near to appear' or 'nearly here.' If, however, the verb karav is translated back to Hebrew, it means "to come up," "to be where there is something or somebody." The kingdom in Greek is far away. It's here in Hebrew! The Messiah of Jesus is here and now–not in the future but in a present reality!
Marvin Wilson explains, “Simply defined, therefore, the kingdom of God is the reign or rule of God. In Scripture, the expression is primarily an active or dynamic concept, not a sphere or geographical realm where God’s sovereign rule is exercised. “Kingdom of God” refers to God’s authority, his kingly power, taking charge in the lives of individuals, and the events of humanity. In the present, God spiritually exercises his kingdom through his reign in human lives; in the future, at the end of history, God will perfect his rule on earth, fully establishing his sovereignty over persons and nations.”1
God's kingdom plan involves "mending the world,” as depicted in the parable of the Good Samaritan, i.e., bandaging the wounds of the suffering and pouring oil and wine into them. God's mercy is manifested in real ways: healing for the sick, food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, friendship for the rejected, rest for the tired, protection for the exploited, and love for the abandoned.2
As Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). What does that mean? Seeking God's kingdom "first" means making it our highest priority. Jesus illustrated this idea by comparing the Kingdom to a "priceless pearl" (Matthew 13:45-46).
Biblical linguist Brad Young explains in his commentary on this passage that the meaning of the verb "reign" is that God now rules eternally since his work of redemption has established his monarchy. Young notes further that this reading is backed by Aramaic translations and the Septuagint, which employs the present participle (basileuon) for the verb "reign." Young concludes, "The concept of God's kingship is unrelated to time." God rules; he is actively interested in the salvation of his people. 3
Some have completely associated the kingdom with the church, but while the church is unquestionably a part of and represents the kingdom, most theologians would agree that the kingdom is a bigger idea in its full and final sense. The church is a missionary organization, whereas the kingdom is more commonly thought of as the outcome of that mission's accomplishment.
The Kingdom in The Old Testament
The subject of God's kingdom may be found virtually back to the beginning of the Old Testament. The phrase "kingdom of God" does not appear, but the concept of God's reign or kingship does. God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. Here are just a few verses:
- The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. Psalm 10:16
- I am the YHWH, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, and your King. Isa. 43:15
- YHWH will reign forever. Exodus 15:18
- “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 2 Chronicles 20:6
- O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Isaiah 37:16
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob appear together at a heavenly banquet, dining with the righteous in God's kingdom. (Luke 13:28, 29)
God is uniquely portrayed as ruler over Israel in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 12, the prophet Samuel rebukes Israel for pursuing a monarch like the avaricious, self-serving kings of the surrounding nations. Israel's yearning for a great earthly king was motivated by fear and a focus on the material world (see 1 Sam 8:4-9). The people of God did not take comfort in the idea that God was their monarch and would defend His covenant people.
The Kingdom in New Testament
The New Testament's most important spiritual concept is “kingdom." It mentions God's kingdom 80 times. In English or Greek, it is a static concept, but in Hebrew, "kingdom" is active; it is action. God rules in men's lives. The Kingdom of God is ruled by God.
In addition to miracles, signs, and wonders, "Kingdom" means God's rule. God's power demonstrates his "Kingdom". "Your sons saw Your Kingdom as You split the Red Sea before Moses," says the synagogue's weekly Sabbath prayer. How to see God's Kingdom If "kingdom" is correctly understood as something verbal and not static, then it is possible. We see God's Kingdom in action.
People saw the Kingdom when they saw Jesus act.
When asked, What denomination are you?" my oldest son replies, "I am a Monarchist. A man awaiting his king."
"But if by the finger of God I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you," Jesus said (Luke 11:20). Jesus referred to his followers, his movement, as a "kingdom" His disciples were now to live out the Kingdom of God. "The kingdom of God has come near!'"
Jesus instructed his disciples. (10:8-9). The announcement of the disciples (just three phrases in Hebrew) must be rendered into English "You witnessed God's work. God now reigns over us. Satan has lost. The miracles you just witnessed are evidence." God's miracles validated the disciples' testimony.
Your Kingdom Come
"Your kingdom come" is perhaps the most commonly prayed prayer and the least understood. Jesus put the accent on bringing Heaven to Earth. He taught his disciples to pray that the Kingdom of God would come on Earth.
Jesus saw that kingdom as a potential current reality rather than a future place. The kingdom exists wherever God reigns as king in people's lives and communities.
In his status as king, God was invoked. This prayer asked God to have the same control over Earth that he has over Heaven. This sentence captures the paradox of God's rule, which will be realized at the Second Coming but is already present in the lives of true followers.
The kingdom of God is the range of God’s effective will, where what God wants to be done is done. It is, like God himself, “from everlasting to everlasting.”
- We're daughters of the heavenly King and have everything we need to do his job on earth. All our good derives from his infinite kindness, and His mercy conquers all our flaws. We are blessed, walking in the light. Recognize and remember this.
- God, our King, has endowed us with every spiritual benefit. We receive all of our blessings via Christ alone. What's remarkable about the blessings God bestows on us is that we don't have to work for them. We already have it. It's already yours because being the King's daughter entitles you to the throne. We have been justified by God's grace, according to Titus 3:7, so that we can have hope of eternal life. That indicates Jesus' sacrifice made us heirs! We are blessed not just in heaven but also on earth. Those who love Christ have been promised an inheritance (James 2:5).
Joseph Frankovic said, “Interpreting the Bible is a question of acute relevance because how we understand Scripture ultimately determines to a large degree how we put it into practice.” We are God’s beloved. We need to proudly walk in his kingdom!
For More on this Topic
Download The Kingdom of Heaven (36-page pdf) By Joseph Frankovic.
Sample Pages from the Gospel Era Class
- Wilson, M. R. (2014). Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
- Brad Young, The Jewish Background to the Lord’s Prayer (Dayton, OH: Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, 1984), pp. 12–13.
- Dr. Dwight A. Pryor. Unveiling the Kingdom of Heaven (Kindle Locations 60-62). The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies.
- Frankovic, Joseph. The Kingdom of Heaven, Jerusalemperspective.com. Download Kingdom of Heaven (36-page pdf)